THE THAEHELVIL RIVER ("YELLOW WANDERER")

DESCRIPTION - LOCATION - PEOPLE - CLIMATE - COAT OF ARMS
FLORA -  FAUNA - RESOURCES - MYTH/LORE - HISTORY

The Thaehelvil River is the name of the longest river in Santharia, though it is dwarved by the great river complexes of the northern continent. The river's source is in the Kairian Teeth, the Hills south of Elsreth, and it winds its slow flowing way through the province of Sanguia before finding the sea in a large delta. The river has an annual pattern of flooding, bursting its banks in early spring almost every year since records have been kept. Flooding is usually very minor, and helps to keep the Thaehelvil's flood plain fertile. However, interference with the River's path or its surroundings have caused these floods to be exacerbated.

The Thaehelvil River
View picture in full size Image description. The longest River found in the United Kingdom of Santharia, the Thaehelvil, also known as the "Yellow Wanderer". Picture drawn by Reegen.

Description. The river takes its name from two composed Styrásh words, Tháeh (Tháeh) meaning yellow, and Helvíl (Helvíl) meaning Wanderer. The elven name of Tháeh'helvíl has been rounded by the surrounding Tharian speaking human populations to its common name, though humans are well aware of the original meaning. A inscription by an unknown resident of Santhala, enscribed on a tree on a vantage point above the river reads:

"Where is thou bound, Lonely yellow traveller,
That you pass us by /Our city, /With scarce even a sound."

The river derives its name mainly from its murky waters, coloured yellow by the sulphur and ash that stains the soil on the foot slopes of the Volcano Argor.

The waters, especially in its lower courses carries one of the largest loads silt and alluvium per unit flow in Caelereth. When the river annually breaks its banks, the waters deposit this sediment, creating the huge alluvial plains that surround the river.

The river's upper course is know to be virtually unpassable. Near the source rapids rage ceaselessly. Hence in Elsreth the river is also known as the white waters. As the water loses gradient near the dwarven mines of Tyr Thromgolin it accumulates the yellow colour it is famous for.

The river has moulded the landscape around it like the Alluvial Plains west of Argor and south of Santhala. The river may as well be in part responsible for the formation of the Anaios Gap. This is one of the most senic spots on the river: Here the Thaehelvil divides in two, one part of the river plunging down the gap to form a huge waterfall, before converging with the rest of the river.

At its mouth the Thaehelvil forms na alluvial delta west of the seaside town of Brinsley. Though the delta is larger than it first appears. The first branch of the delta is the small river Aieryn that flows through the Quallian. This large delta area and its surroundings are known as the Thaehelvil Estuary and is one of the most fertile areas of Santharia, and combined with the warm climate and almost continual growing season makes the southwestern corner of Santharia lush and green. The river in the lower reaches of the delta is tidal, with daily high and low water marks, and the water in the delta is distinctly salty to the taste. From Chylikis or Brinsley one can see the force of the river's flow as great torrents of yellow are pushed out for miles into the clear blue Aetryam Sea.

The Thaehelvil is unusual in that for such a large river it has very few tributaries. The only tributary of any note is the Wide River, flowing out of the Vale of the Brownies. Instead the river is fed by run off from precipitation that falls on the highlands of Rimmerins Ring, that surrounds the river. Return to the top


Location. The river dominates the Midland region of Santharia, originating in Enthronia, the River mainly flows through the province of Sanguia. Flowing through the central part of Santhala, the Thaehelvil provides a water supply for many towns in the area. Return to the top

People. The river is the lifeblood of the Santharian Midlands. It is vital to the people living in five towns. To them the river is a drinking source, an abundant source of food where fisheries do good business, a place to bathe, a place of leisure, a source of power - driving mills and waterwheels, and an important means of transport.

The river is home to a group of mostly elves, named by the residents of Santhala disrespectively as the "Water Rats", after the vermin that populates the river. These elves are members of a large extended family who travel in small numbers up and down the river and the surrounding coast lines. Some have even been, so they will tell you, to Aeruillin and the Northern Continent. They travel in small numbers, believing that you cannot be close in thought to Avá's Dream if you remain always in the place you were born - in the forest, away from other races! Urban ledgend in New-Santhala says that when questioned by a Quaelhoirhim merchant about their life style, a member of the group responded, "How can you belong to the land if you know not what it is to belong to the Sea? Can you be close to the Dreamer if you do not look upon all of Her Dream?" The Water Rats make a living from doing odd jobs, and making small items to sell. Many residents dislike the Rats because they do not pay city taxes (hence their name), yet may moor in cities and towns for weeks at a time. They are also often blamed for leaving the river bank in a mess! However, most "Water Rats" hold the River in the upmost respect.

The river is the major naviagable route connecting the capital of Santharia New-Santhala to the coast and the southern cities of Thalambath and Strata. For it is far quicker to take goods up the river, than attempt to make the long and difficult journey to and from the far south of the continent.

The river is also a place of trade, where it flows through the towns and cities, markets, docks and places of trade spring up. In New-Santhala one can also find floating goods boats, looking to sell to people on the ferry crossing from one side of the city to the other. The river is, also sadly enough, a waste disposal system. In its lower courses it carries much of the unwanted waste materials from New-Santhala, however, this seems to sediment to the bottom of the river, leaving the shallower reaches less effected. The river is also so important to argiculture, it is often channeled for irrigation of croplands. In the city of New-Santhala, the river is also canalized in to a sort of proto-sewer system and a canal system. This canalization however does cause problems, including heavier floods than is usual within the city. As a result certain areas of the city have extensive flood defences, such as Levys and land use strategies, putting parkland along the vulnerable edges of the river. Return to the top

Coat of Arms. The river itself has no arms, it belongs to no tribe or race, as it flows through many towns, daming could effect many residents downstream, so a long standing, unspoken agreement exists that while the river may be channeled for irrigation purposes, it may not be dammed.

The river itself, however, is represented on the the Coats of Arms of many of the towns it flows through, for the river is so important to many settlements. Return to the top

Climate. The River flows through the Midlands of Santharia that are warm, with mild and moist winters. Return to the top

Flora. The river has a diverse plant life both in and out of its Waters. Willows are along the length of the river, though the Marsh willow is restricted to the Lower river estuary where the ground in places is wet. The water is full of plants. In the upper course you can find many oxygenating plants like pullum weed, as well as tiny floating plants, algea, that would form a layer on the water's surface if it weren't for the strong currents created by the rapids. In the lower river, several types of water lilly are found that are related to the tyrscaru and enjoy the salty waters of the estuary. The estuary is choked in many places by the yealm water reed that grows prolifically. In the shadow of the volcano only the Algea seem to be able to cope with the sulphur content! Return to the top

Fauna. The animals you find in the river's waters depend on where on the river's course you are.

In the rapid waters or the upper course one finds wildlife typical of freshwater streams all over Santharia. In fact the rapids near its source is home to a vast ecosystem... perhaps because of the vast quatity of insect life one finds at its base. The ecosystem is too complex and varied to mention every creature that lives here, but below is an overview of the main creatures one will find:

If you visit the shores of the rapids at twilight, the first thing you will notice is that the river buzzes. Draw closer and the water appears black, right up until the moment you get to the water's edge. By the time you realise what is going on, you have probably been bitten! But don't worry - the bite is not severe, it may itch a little but that is all. Because, just above the river's surface, you have witnessed the daily mating dance of the madis, a tiny blood sucking fly with a life cycle of just 48 hours. The eggs are laid on the underside of vegetation overhanging the water. The hatching larvae then detatch themselves and drop into (hopefully calm water), metamorphosise in the river bed before, the next day, they emerge and hover over the water to begin the cycle once more. Another common resident of the Upper Course of the river is the ferryman, a small beetle that lives in the calm pools of water created by the very rocks that create the rapids. These strange little beetles float on the water's surface and "row" to move out of the way, often from one side of a pool to the other, rather like a ferryman. These larvae are to live in the waters and pupate in the river bed.

Both insects, in their larval stages are prey to another common river resident, the carris fly. When adult these are large moth-like insects that live a strange migratory life. They leave the Theahelvil in late summer after metamorphosis, as the waters at this time becomes rougher, due to increased flow and load from precipitation over the highlands, and breeding becomes to difficult! They fly to the calm warm waters of Occen's Lake near Bardavos to the south. Here they mate and die. The next generation then will fly back to the Thaehelvil River to begin the cycle again. The larvae are special because they are carnivorous. They incase themselves in vegetation or hollow sticks washed into the river, emerging only to grab their prey with their mouth parts!

Where the river waters are fast flowing, so only small or agile fish survive here. Swordfins and whitetails are common, while gumpies and jumper fish live in the deeper areas of the river. Large flatworms, called "mudworms", spend their lives semisubmerged in the soft mud areas of the river bed. However, the top of the foodchain is dominated by the creatures of the river bank.

The river is also home to numerous small lizards and birds who live in and on the river. The dragonfly and the mako (a small green lizard) can often be found sunning themselves on the rocks near the river. In trees overhanging the river fisherbirds can be found, who sit in wait for their next meal to come too close to the river's surface. Dippers, can also be found wading through the shallows, with perfect adaptations to their feet to prevent them being washed away. The prieta can also be seen grazing the river's banks, where it often comes to drink. The pinicle of the foodchain are represented by adyrn, a small bird of prey, that is often seen hovering over the river and the fields surrounding the river, searching for its dinner, and by the herin, that lives in the trees overhanging the river.

In the shadow of the volcano, however, the sulphur content of the river rockets to levels that most fauna cannot tolerate! The only residents living in the shadow of the Volcano is the gumper, the ferryman, the mudworm and the red fisherbird, in far increased numbers. As a result the volcano acts rather like a transition point in the river.

By the time the river reaches New-Santhala, the sulphur concentration of the river has decreased sufficiently to allow much of the wildlife to return. However, here there is one noteable addition - rats, in particular the water rat, thrive in the Thaehelvil as it runs through New-Santhala. However, the prolific breeding of the rats on the water's edge has been combated by the increase in numbers of the lemouren - a large onimivour, that looks rather like a cat and spends the majority of its time in the water or in its tunnels on the river bank. Other small rodents such as mice and shrews also live in the river banks here.

As one works further downriver and reaches the estuary, more fish like the whiteback and pike are found, and oysters also populate the river, making the area a rich fishery. The Fisherbirds are outcompeted by the estuary falcon and the banded ricau, and so are not found around the delta, though dippers do return to the smaller streams of the delta. Some areas of the delta are so slow flowing that it provides ideal territory for species like the yellow bogsnappers. At the very mouth of the estary one may also find normally sea going species such as the kingell. The river then discharges into the Sea. Return to the top

Resources. The river is a drinking source, and is canalised in places into a sort of makeshift sewer and plumbing system. It is also canalised to form canals and for irrigation of farmland. The river is a place to bathe, to wash and to play. It is also the primary source of power in the region, driving mills and waterwheels, and a means of transport. The river is also a great source of salt and sulphur is distilled, and the yealm that grows in its lower course is used as a building material in many towns. Return to the top


Myth/Lore. The Thaehelvil River plays such a huge part in the life of the towns around it, that it seems inevitable that it shouldn't be associated with many many stories. In fact it seems the River has aquired a life of its own...

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THE AGE OF THE BLOOD
(YEARS 822 B.S. - 50 B.S.)
806 b.S.
to 804 b.S.
The First Great Flood in the Zeiphyr
From 806 to 804 b.S. extensive deforestation of large tracts of the Zeiphyrian Forest take place as the area comes under repeated attack in the First Sarvonian War. It is cleared by human forces to allow easy access, both on foot and by boat, to the fort of Elving, and to provide materials for fortifications and naval technology on both sides. The worst affected area is that around the stretch between the present border of the Zeiphyr and the Thaehelvil River.

On the first day of the Awakening Earth 804 b.S. the rains comeHeavy rainfall saturates the forest floors. Where trees once would have intercepted the water, rain flows straight into the Thaevelvil River. On the third day the river bursts its banks and floods a vast swaith of the land either side of the river, its immense power sweeping away everything in its path. The rain continues for three weeks, and the flood takes a further two to subside.

This first flood clears vast tracts of the remaining forest around the Thaevelvil River, widenes its course and its flood plain and creates the start of the delta with the Aetryam Sea, and creates the Aieryn River that today flows through the forest.
  

796 b.S. The Second Great Flood in the Zeiphyr
The Quaelhoirhim elves often refer to the second great flood as "The Severing". The second flood occurs in much the same way but affects a slightly lesser area, but it clears the last remaining fragments of forest around the river banks, cleaving the Quallian from the main branch of the forest. It also widenes the delta and deposits alluvial soils along its banks, making the whole area incredibly fertile.
  

776 b.S. Construction of the Town of Quia'antá
The building of the town of Quia'antá on the site of a smaller town along the river banks of the Thaehelvil River commences.

THE GOLDEN AGE OF KINGS
(YEARS 172 A.S. - 547 A.S.)
356 Dangerous flood in New-Santhala
The first canalisation of the river into a canal system in New-Santhala results in a worse than normal flood. New flood defences, such as levees are constructed to help prevent another severe flood.
  

419 First Mill on the Thaehelvil
The first water mill is built on the Thaehelvil River, harnessing its power to drive milling wheels.

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