The Silvermarshes is a geographically diverse area in the northern province of Nermeran, just southeast of Nyermersys and west of the Allsiscaey mountain range. There are three main areas to it: the northern upper marsh, known variously as the Helmondsshire, the Silvershire, or the Helmond Polder, which is settled by the hobbits. The southern lower marsh, where mullogs live, is known as Wetholm (hobbit name), Ga-lum-be (mullog name) or just the Lower Marsh, which is what most humans call it. These two main areas are separated by a gigantic ridge of greenery-covered stone, over which the upper marsh drains into the lower. It is known as the Water Gate. The third and much smaller area of the Silvermarshes is the dread Despondmire. Created by death magics many centuries ago, the aura of anguish and decay hangs around it still. Almost nothing thrives there, and even the mullogs avoid it assiduously.
Image description. The Glumboroughs, a part of the Silvermarshes, are perpetually grey, misty, and redolent with the scent of various molds and miasmas... Picture by Ingeborg.
Description. The single parts of the enormous Silvermarshes region shall be described in the following:
Helmondsshire, named after Gerenu Helmond, is the hobbit settlement of the marshes and it is by far and away the best-known and most beautiful area. Centuries ago, hobbit farmers dug canals and built dikes to make the land usable for farming. Helmondsshire is rich, green and fertile, producing bountiful crops of fruits/vegetables, flowers and hobbitlings. Two main rivers, the Lysalene and the Helmond Creek, run through the shire down over the Water Gate and into the Lower Marsh. Trade roads run to the human cities of Astran, Acht and Holm. Helmondshire is split into four subshires, known as North, South East and West Helmond - though there is no clear delineation between these segments. Each area is run by its own hobbit mayor (see the Hobbit Helmondsshire entry for more information).
The Gemmed Curtain
The Upper and Lower Marshes are separated by the beautiful Gemmed Curtain, a series of waterfalls tumbling over the sheer cliff between the two regions. Hung lavishly with peds-worth of vines, this undercut rock face rears as much as forty peds above the flat marshes. Tiny streams of water drain continually down the sheer faces or trickle over the edge to fall nearly twenty peds in glittering lines. The Curtain runs the length of the escarpment between the Lysh and the Galum Rivers, so it is defined by the Water Gate falls to the west and Trucklebright Falls to the east. In between there are uncountable numbers of miniature waterfalls, cricks, dribbles, and streamlets, all springing from the hobbit-drained polders above to fall into the damp marshes below.
Trailing mosses and lush vines form the drapery that gives the Curtain its
name, while the constant spray and fall of
water lends its transparent sparkle and depth.
Yet this alone does not constitute the bejeweled splendor of the Gemmed
Curtain: no, living gems flicker and shine against its rich green tapestry.
The Dalor flies glow with natural luminescence in the dusk, flashing and moving like faery torches near the spray. Ranlesh lizards scuttle to and fro on the leaves, while the spotted scarlet, green and purple seean beetles add their shimmering metallic colours. Here and there, white spiral butterflies dapple past, searching nectar in the vine blooms, their dainty wings like embroidery against shendarsilk. The vivid red and purple shades of the poisonous gnarco frog stand out in contrast to the emeraud mosses, and the chorus of his bachytrian brethren rises like a far-off choir from the pools below. During certain seasons, the migrating ceruwing butterfly may be observed like little blue clouds following the rivers. The ethereal beauty of the Gemmed Curtain is made the more eerie by its proximity to both the bleak grimness of the Despondmires (see below) and the cheerily pastoral snugs and burrows of the hobbitshire.
The main waterfall, known as the Watergate, is the most eastern end of the Curtain. It flows out of the Lysalene River, over a huge ridge of rock that juts out so far, it is possible to go in behind the waterfall at the bottom end, where the rocky overhang creates a large cavern. Daring hobbit lovers will often tryst here, in one of the many little coves of this big cave. However, one must watch out for kaimuni near this area. As the Mullogs prefer to remain for the most part on the southern side of the Lysh River, the Curtain (and its associated pools and runoff) is mostly inhabited by undisturbed flora and fauna. A few of the more adventuresome hobbits live 'over the edge', but this is confined to the eastern side of the Silvermarshes by and large.
Trucklebright Falls, the Falls-Lift and the
Where the Galum (or Helmond Creek as the hobbits name it) intersects the escarpment, the beautiful Trucklebright Falls sparkle like an elven veil. As the waterway also serves as a trade route between the shire and the humanfolk of Acht and Holm, there must needs be some way to traverse this obstacle. A combination of Brownie engineering, gnomish ingenuity, human persistence, and hobbit optimism produced such a way: the great Falls-Lift elevator.
This marvelous mechanism is counterweighted in such a way that even fully-loaded small boats can be taken up and down in the special 'boat cradle'. Generally, however, the 'passenger carriage' or the 'cargo crate' are used to convey people or goods either way past the falls; the huge hook is swung in over the dock, clipped onto the appropriate carrier, and then the ped-high gears rumble ponderously into motion.
Usually small (one-man or one-hobbit) barges are designated to remain in their own section of the river - either Helmond Creek (above the escarpment) or Galum River (below) - and cargo is simply transferred from one deck to another at the Falls-Lift. The Galum barges have the more difficult route; though the river is much wider and easily navigated, there is always the possibility of a mullog 'raid' or some mayhem-minded beast such as the kaimuni attacking the small, flat-decked boat.
(Note: a mullog 'raid' scarcely deserves the term, as these retiring creatures prefer to avoid other races altogether. Generally it takes the form of a set trap, such as a log chain across the river to catch the barge, or a braided vine at about a man's knee-height above the water to sweep people or cargo off the deck. While the bollies (barge-men) are distracted, crates and oiledskin packages mysteriously vanish...)
The whole contraption of the Falls-Lift is overseen by a hobbit family who have their water-proofed burrow just back from the dock at the base of the falls. Though the current family hails from the 'Moochemuch' clan, and those before them were of the 'Brackendurry hobbits', they all go by the generic name of "Fallskeepers", which title is much respected in the Silvershire.
Wetholm (Glumboroughs, Ga-lum-be, Lower Marsh)
The Glumboroughs, as the hobbits call it,
are the lower sections of the Silvermarshes, demarcated by the Gemmed Curtain
escarpment to the north, by the Yealm Fens to the west and south, and which
fade out before reaching Flax Creek out of the Allisiscaey
Mountains on the east. Since all of the moisture that the
drained and diverted from the upper section of the Silvermarshes finds its way
down to the Lower Marsh, one can imagine that the general climate and
atmosphere is wet to the point of dankness. And indeed this is so; the
Glumboroughs are perpetually grey, misty, and redolent with the scent of
various molds and miasmas. Mushrooms and fungi of all sorts abound here, as do
willows, mosses and water-loving plants like the
others. Dark-barked trees rise here and there out of tussocks of yellow-grey
reeds and grasses, interspersed with patches of lush moss and equally-thriving
waterweeds. What appears to be even ground may in fact be a peaty bog, a clay
silt quicksand, or the heavily-overgrown surface of a shallow pond. Grey moss
beards the spindly trees and half-submerged logs. At dusk these grim
silhouettes take on newly fearful proportions, hiding as they might the bony
shape of a swamp
stalker or the scaled back of a predatory
This is where most of the more dangerous fauna of the Silvermarshes may be found, such as the afore mentioned swamp stalker and kaimuni, and the only known sentient settlers of this region, the mullogs. These somewhat furtive and reticent peoples seem to live as simply as any Crane or Flaxrat which shares their 'Wet-holm' with them. Many tiny lakes and creeks run through the Lower Marshes. The main ones are the Lysalene (which the mullogs call Lysh) and the Helmond Creek (they name it Galum) which merge into the Vandrina River further south. The air is almost always misty and wet here, and in the summer the Lower Marshes can be especially unpleasantly hot and humid.
Yet these desmenes hold far worse than mere dead trees or toothy reptiles. On the extreme edge of the Glumboroughs is a place of dread and ancient horror; the Fen of Tears, or the Despondmire...
Despondmire (Fen of Tears, Ga-hun-uth)
Image description. View on the edge of Despondmire, a very brooding place, haunted by death and ghosts of the slain. Picture drawn by Ingeborg.
This third and final area of the Silvermarshes is a place haunted by death and
“foxfires”, or the ghosts of the slain. Feared and avoided by even the beasts,
this blackly sucking bog holds almost no life, and only the promise of death,
for the ground itself is cursed.
Hundreds of years previously it is said that a dark elven mage attempted to call a Darkwind down from the skies into this area. The spell went horrifically wrong, and the mage was blown apart. For two years afterwards, black rains would fall during a certain moon-phase. For many years after this, quite a few human children from the nearby towns of Weyring, Acht, Holm and Astran were born with physical deformities. These children were considered to be cursed, or “Darkwinds-touched”, and were usually drowned in the marshes to appease Queprur. The grim swamp was also a convenient place to dispose of murderer’s victims or criminals and slowly the Despondmire came into being.
It is known, though rarely admitted to, that the Despondmire to this day is still used to dispose of "inconvenient" bodies or malformed infants. Due to the warping of the Darkwinds, little thrives there but the Queprur's Love mushroom and the black waterstar, a flower not seen elsewhere. It is said that voices may be heard luring people in, but almost none have ever returned. The Despondmire is dotted with dead trees. A greenish scum coats the still, murky waters. The smell of decay is everywhere. Will-o-wisps and the eerie shapes of the so-called watcher phantasms may be seen around the outlying edges of this area - few researchers dare venture much further in to explore, since wizardleaf grows ominously thickly around the edges, suggesting the failed attempt of bolder mages to determine what lies within. Humans and hobbits who live in the Silvermarshes use the Despondmire as a setting for their ghost-tales of Mewlips and Meguahari (see ghost story here).
Location. The Silvermarshes are found in Nermeran, one of the northernmost provinces of the United Kingdom in Santharia, located in Southern Sarvonia. They are near the eastern shore, just to the west of the Allsiscaey Mountains and north of the Thaelon Forest.
Silvermarshes are settled for the most part by the
mullogs (a rare
crossbreed between halflings and
there are several human settlements in the
surrounding area. Hobbits have been in the
area for thousands of years. Human
settlements, such as Acht and Holm, where the
hobbits do much of their trading, came many years later.
Climate. The Silvermarshes is an area which gets a good bit of rain, due to the Allsiscaey Mountains in the east. The climate is temperate hear and the Upper Marsh is a very pleasant place to live or visit. The Lower Marsh, because it is so wet, is usually foggy or misty, even on warm sunny days.
Flora. This area is full of rich growing vegetation. Not only in the hobbits lovingly tended gardens, but also in the swamps, things grow lavishly. Trees grow throughout both marshes; the red birch tree, the fragrans tree, used for spices and by healers, the elessan tree, which grows nowhere else and is used to produce leithe wine, the meldarapple, which the hobbits cultivate, but which also grows wild, the peace pine, weeping and marsh willows and others.
Marsh grasses also grow in profusion here, particularly the life-reed, which the mullogs use, and the yealm reed. The alinfa lily, the lady fingers flower, the moon-moth, the lemertia, the pond-pad, the waterstar, the aomár, the paelmerin, the krakenweed; all these grow throughout the area. Mushrooms, too, are profuse, especially the squillae, harvested and exported by hobbits, the glowcap, the frent, which mullogs eat, though it is poisonous to other races, and the koeken. Flax is also grown in and around the Upper Marsh, by both human and hobbit farmers. It is a primary export of this area. Several variations of the ár’ó'bejón vine are grown here as well, and the wine is also (mostly) exported. Hobbits also grow pipeweed, though this is primarily intended for their own use.
Fauna. The Silvermarshes is rich in animal life. Both the Upper and Lower Marshes host a variety of Santharian frogs - the common Sarvonian frog, the gigantic hollup, the tiny green kyck-kyck, and the colourful, poisonous gnarco. They feast on the many insects which reside here, such as the lin'mar'joh, the dalor, the feylien, the seean beetle, the white spiral butterfly, the water dragonfly,and the whistling beetle. These are the most commonly observed insects in this region.
These insects also provide a tasty diet for the fish of the Silvermarshes. The commonest are the mithanjor, the sunset fish, the red lysh, and the mithralfish. Grass snakes, mudworms and Etherus worms, and any amount of insect life reside in the many reeds and swampgrasses. Snails and clams may be found in the waters of the Lysh. Corbies, snakes, cranes and swamp kaimuni also flock in both areas, though the latter two species are more common in the Lower Marsh. The fearsome swamp stalkers are rarely if ever seen in the Helmondsshire; they tend to avoid larger settlements and keep to the Wetholm.
Aside from the domesticated animals (brought in by the humans and hobbits) there are not many mammals in the Silvermarshes, and their populations tend to be higher in the Upper Marsh. The main ones are the flunki, flaxrat, water rat and of course mice. The marsh-loving stilted elk is known here as well, but its numbers are not high due to mullog depredations.
Although not precisely animals, will-o-wisps also reside here. They are never seen in the Shires, rarely in the Lower Marshes, and congregate most thickly in the Despondmire. Furthermore tales of watchers abound throughout the area of the Silvermarshes, and some say they originate from there, but this is highly speculative, to say the least.
Resources. The Silvermarshes are rich in natural resources. The Helmondsshire is noted for its rich farmland which produces vast quantities of fruit and vegetables for export to other parts of Sarvonia. Due to the amount of animal life found here, animal products such as meat and hides are also an export. Hobbit leather and silver crafts, gnarco poison, ár’ó'bejón wine, leithe honey wine, flax, squilla; all these come from the Silvermarshes.
History. The Silvermarshes have a great deal of history, having been settled for thousands of years, though the exact date is unknown. The Upper Marshes and surrounding areas were settled first, as the hobbits set about the business of draining and damming to form the now lush and fertile polders (see Helmondsshire Halflings entry for specific historical events concerning the Upper Marsh settlements). After the Dragonstorm (ca. 1650 b.S.) the area was slowly, painfully rebuilt.
The War for Ancyros (846-842 b.S.) severely depleted the Upper Marsh area again and things remained unsettled and unpredictable for a long time.
The Lower Marshes were not settled until after 288 b.S., when some halflings and orcs moved into the area. They began to intermarry with each other and have offspring, eventually creating the mullog race, which settled in the Lower Marsh. This crossbreed was looked on with great disfavour by the other races and so mullogs learned to be wary and cautious of any "otherfolk".
There is a great deal of myth and many tales concerning the Despondmire, (see "Once in a Red Moon", or "Meguahari" in the Compendium Library, for examples). It is not known when they were created, except that it was centuries ago.
"Through the Mists of Wetholm", composed and performed by
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