orcs of the
Northern Sarvonian peninsula of Caaehl'heroth have long depended on the
rivers of their homeland for food and religious worship. Of the three major
waterways of the Cartash region, none holds more significance for the
orcen tribes than the mighty Kharim River. The
Kharim is a wide and fast moving river that begins in the
Caaehl Mountains and runs for approximately
1100 strals southeast where
it forks at the Kaaer'dar'shin
settlement of Eph'denn. Both forks then empty into the sea on either side of
the peninsula. The Kharim is a bountiful waterway teeming with life that have
provided generations of orcen tribes with fresh
fish, crab and clean nourishment.
Description. The Kharim is a long river of fresh, clear water that begins its trek in the Cartash region. A lake known to the local orcs as the "Hen'ta Faan" (lit. orcen "Hero's Pool") sits at the base of the Caaehl Mountains surrounded by vigilant stone statues of ancient orcen heroes. The southern edge of the lake falls several peds down a rocky wall and begins its fast moving journey. The Kharim is perhaps four peds wide at its birthsite but widens quickly as it flows through the flatlands.
|Image description. View on Hen'ta Faan (also known as "Hero's Pool") with its legendary stone statues, supposedly once created by orcen hands. Picture drawn by Arbaon.|
The first major geographical location the river meets is known as the Fields of
Oun'tran'phu (orcen lit. "golden grass land") where the Cartash orcs farm vast
crops of moon pumpkins and alth'ho grass. The fields are also embraced on the
southwest side by another of Caaehl'heroth's major waterways: the Avessa River.
Both bodies of water provide essential
nourishment for the Oun'tran'phu fields, but only during summer months. Come
winter, the Kharim and Avessa at this location tend to freeze over but remains
useable for ice fishing.
Once past the Oun'tran'phu Fields, the Kharim runs past its first major settlement: the village of Hell'wrung. Long has this outpost been a subject of ancient bloody skirmishes as the Kaaer'dar'shin and Osther-Oc fought over its resources. What makes Hell'wrung so significant is twofold: first, the village occupies rich fields of hrug'chuk grass that feed large herds of thunderfoot beasts, an animal of great importance to both the orcs and Kaaer. Secondly, control of Hell'wrung means control of the entire central Kharim river where a great number of stone crabs thrive, also a major source of food for both tribes.
Once past Hell'wrung, the Kharim flows through the Heaths of Eph'denn, a large field of different varieties of flora that the local Kaaer have made use of. Lythien moss, alth'ho grass and the juk'lan bush all grow in the heaths and along the river in great abundance. The heaths have been a source of conflict for the Kaaer themselves, as past warring clans have fought over it. Nowadays, the region is quiet and serves as breeding grounds for the Landesh pony and the ulgaroth beast.
The Kharim then forks southeast and southwest at the Kaaer settlement of Eph'denn. This large village occupies this river, with parts of Eph'denn even built around it. Where the river splits and onwards to the seas, are the breeding grounds of two types of fish: the Northern lysh and the red salmon. Although the lysh are more typically found farther north closer to Cartash, they will venture all the way to the southern fringes if their prey are in seasonal abundance. Red salmon can be found in both river forks in good numbers, though they can be eaten by the more aggressive lysh during the fall months. Sometimes, the Kaaer have to net the river at the heaths to keep the lysh from swimming too far south and driving off the salmon.
Finally, the Kharim's journey is at an end when it exits into the seas on either side of the peninsula. The eastern fork flows partially into the Themed'lon Forest and past the fishing hovels of Anif. It is here that the red salmon enter the river and early season fishermen of Anif can catch some of the large breeding females for their eggs (a Kaaer delicacy). To the west, the breeding fish are not as abundant as those sea waters tend to be colder.
Location. The Kartash river is located in the Northern Sarvonian peninsula of Caaehl'heroth on the easternmost side. It originates from the central Cartash region in the Caaehl Mountainswwhere is flows in a southeasterly direction through the Fields of Oun'tran'phu where it forks at the Heaths of Eph'denn. Finally, the river exists into the Gulf of Oh'Cant'aelwyn.
People. The two
principle tribes of Caaehl'heroth have made use of the Kharim for centuries. The
first was the ancient orcen tribes known as the
Aeh'os'th'er'oc (ancestors of the present day
Osther-Oc). These early
orcs settled at the base of the
Caaehl Mountains range where they discovered
the river's lake of birth, the "Hen'ta Faan" (lit.
orcen "Hero's Pool"). An old tale tells of how the Kharim began when the orc
hero Karfu slew a shadow dragon and the creature's blood turned to purifying
water and began to flow south thus creating the Kharim.
Today, the Osther-Oc tribe still occupies the Caaehl valley and manages the upper river's resources. The waterway and its smaller child streams nourish the Fields of Oun'tran'phu and provide the tribe with fresh lysh, stone crabs and an assortment of flora. The Osther-Oc control the river as far south as the Hell'wrung settlement where their lands border their half-orc cousins.
The southern half of the Kharim and the two forks provide food and water for the Kaaer'dar'shin tribe. The Heaths of Eph'denn are the home of several types of beasts that graze the open tundra where the river flows. The Landesh pony, the ulgaroth and the thunderfoot are vital resources of food, clothing and religious importance for the Kaaer. The river holds another special significance for the tribe in that they believe the nature spirit known as Bynapryl is a manifestation of the water and is a part of the five natural essences of life.
Climate. Colder climes dominate the entirety of the Kharim's journey through the peninsula. Cold, dry winds are a constant companion to those that live in and around the Caaehl Mountains. The region where the orcen settlements are receive thick blankets of snow in winter, usually five months out of the year. The soil has been tilled and worked over many generations and the orcs have learned to grow edible vegetation in their fields. The northern ends of the range become colder with the peaks having a near constant covering of snow. Injèrá's rays shine rarely upon the bleak cliffs and when they do, it is usually near the southern and central areas. On any typical day, the air is chill and dry.
The climate on the heaths during the winter season is cold and dry. Chill winds blow across the land bridge from the east gulf, often at below freezing temperatures. Snow covers the entire region during the months between Passing Clouds and Changing Winds. The spring and summer months bring milder warm weather, with no snow, but dry breezes and much sunlight.
Flora. An abundance of plant life suited for dry, cold tundras grows along the Kharim. Arnean trees, moon pumpkins and rock vines can be found in and around the Caaehl mountain region and south through the Fields of Oun'tran'phu. The treeline ends at the base of the peaks and mostly grows around the Hero's Pool. Small tundra flowers and thorny shrubs also dot the landscape along the river, but have no practical use for the orcs.
The flat shrubland of the heaths contains very little flora to speak of. Alth'ho grass covers the entire heath making the region a sufficient grazeland for the fauna that dwells there. The grass is tall, up to a quarter of a ped in height, and sways in the breeze creating a wondrous rippling effect.
The eastern side of the heath grows the wison's favoured food, hrugchuk grass. Approximately six to eight strals of blue coloured field indicate where the grass is growing. Small herds of the wison cattle can be found among the fields.
Small shrubs grow in sparse groups in the heath as well, as they are not large due to the low temperatures and short growth seasons. The juk'lan bush and the waterberry bush have homes in the heaths and grow primarily along the Kharim river that flows through the region. Both the Kaaer’dár’shín and the orcs make use of the juk'lan leaves and waterberries for various medicinal purposes, primarily to treat the symptoms of ghun'tlor disease, a sometimes debilitating disease that can affect those of orcen bloodlines.
Lythien moss is a commonly found ground cover in areas where the alth'ho grass doesn't grow. Most open patches of soil are covered with the moss, some patches are many peds in size creating a soft mossy bed.
Fauna. The Kharim is a major source of water for the peninsula's grazing animals. Herds of ulgaroth and thunderfoot beasts settle in the Hell'wrung area where they are often hunted by Osther-Oc and Kaaer alike. Landesh ponies are herded and bred near the Eph'denn settlement where the Kaaer use them as work and riding beasts.
The base of the mountains where the Kharim begins is home to the "inuk kmit" (orcen lit. "rock crab"). These powerful crustaceans can grow up to a ped in diameter and weigh as much as three orcen men. With massive claws and hardened shells like rock (hence the name), the rock crab is a formidable prey for the orcs. The creature burrows deep in the river mud with only their top portion of shell protruding. The colouration of this shell looks no different than the sandy river bottom. The crab waits for prey to step on its shell or even swim nearby it before it bursts forth grabbing its prey with its claws and twisting it so the victim falls into the water to drown. Once dead, the crab's prey is picked apart and devoured.
The red salmon and Northern lysh are two of the major types of fish that make the Kharim home. For generations, both of the fish has been a food staple for the orcs and Kaaer. The fish are either speared or netted at certain stream forks where they are scaled and dried. Unlike many fish, the Lysh are solitary creatures. They exhibit few, if any, of the social behaviours common to most animals. They come together only to mate and afterwards the female will frequently turn on her erstwhile mate and eat him if he does not escape quickly. They may often be found in shallow shady waters and tend to prefer cooler spots, especially areas thick with underwater plants where they can hide and lie in wait for prey.
In the river young red salmon (also known as "kuk'arg") hide under logs, undercut banks and riffles to avoid predation. Kuk'arg move up their birth river during the early fall beginning migration shortly after a heavy rain washes river odours into the sea and rekindles the salmon's interest in their nascent homes. Kuk'arg always migrate to their birth location. They can be found spawning and migrating in very shallow rivers and creeks where they attract and are accessible to a variety of predators.
Myth/Lore. The lake high in the Caaehl Mountains known as the "Hero's Pool" in translated orcen is considered a sacred place to the Osther-Oc clans who dwell there. The myth goes that long ago, the orcen hero Karfu slew a shadow dragon from the depths of the Netherworld who had enslaved the early orcen settlers. Karfu celebrated his victory by casting his weapon into a pool of the dragon's blood from whence the vile liquid magically changed into pure, clear water that broke free of the mountain valley to flow southwards for many strals thus forming the Kharim river. The orcs revere Karfu and his son (who himself slew a great many trollish tribes, arch enemies of the orcs) by carving their likeness in the rock. Their statues still stand today as solemn sentinels guarding the Hero's Pool for all time.
The Kaaer'dar'shin worship what they call the "To'ava" which are five primal nature spirits. This belief likely stems from early elven druids who settled the Themed'lon after the destruction of the ancient realm of Fá'áv'cál'âr. According to the Kaaer, one of the primal spirits is represented by a female water essence known as Bynapryl. The Kharim river is said to be the physical manifestation of Bynapryl and the tribe gives thanks to the spirit for her life nourishing water. To these half-orcs, the water represents healing and soothing influences. In addition to the water itself, the river is home to fish and stone crabs which are a large part of the tribes' diet. Also, smooth shiny river stones are held in high regard because they represent another primal spirit: Gynturg of earth.