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Reichenowa River (ray-cheh-no-vah river)

"The River of Life?" That's what Reichenowa means? Oh dear... I seem to have been calling it the Reichinowa River in all of my notes...
— A scholar from Jun, upon learning what the name of the river means.


Streams and brooks run down from the Scorched Peaks, the mountains to the south of the Great Desert, into a large lake called the Zeshi by locals. Zeshi Lake lets out into the Reichenowa. The Reichenowa runs almost straight, all the way through to The Great Sea. There are very few other streams and brooks in the Great Desert and no other rivers. This river is almost always hidden from plain view by high dunes on either side of the banks.

The Banks of the Reichenowa by drwdowin

While the river is mostly straight, it does meander just a little from left to right and right to left through the dunes. It breaks up into an series of smaller deltas when it reaches the Great Sea.


The largest fish in the Reichenowa is the Great Fosh. There are a few smaller species of fish, from the minnescule desert goby to the larger desert catfish, but they are all dwarfed by and eaten by the Great Fosh. The Fosh is then caught by the Tars who trade them to the Zirat and the Zarat in exchange for their wares.

Ecosystem Cycles

Native to the Reichenowa River is the Great Fosh. This large species of fish can usually be found in the river except in the late fall and early winter months when it swims upstream to the lake at the base of the Scorched Peaks to spawn. The Tars of the Reichenowa River often spend their winter in this lake as well, feasting on the spawning fish and their eggs. The Tars take great care to only fish at the shallows of the lake so as to not depelete the population of the Great Fosh.
— From the notes of a scholar from Jun.

Localized Phenomena

This river floods every winter nearly up to the tops of the dunes on either side. This allows the Zirat and the Zarat fertile, irrigated land to plant in for three months of the year. They plant their crops as soon as the flood waters receed, and store them carefully for the rest of the year.

During the later part of the fall, before the winter rains arrive, the river dries up almost to nothing. This allows the Zirat and Zarat to freely walk along the bottom of the river bed and intermingle. Typically they hold a fesitval during the months until the winter rains.

Fauna & Flora

While there are not very many large creatures living in the Great Desert, a few of the Zirat and Zarat herd goats up and down the banks of the Reichenowa. These herders are careful to gather and store some grasses for their herds for the late fall months and early winter before the grasses have regrown enough to feed the goats.

Other fauna nearby are mainly lizards and various small mammals, such as the wild desert hares and a species of ground squirrel. All of these creatures rely on the Reichenowa for water and are rarely found out in the dunes of the Great Desert.

Natural Resources

This is main source of potable water in the Great Desert. While most of the desert is sand and dune, the banks of the river hold much wildlife and some sparse grasses. Trees are not unheard of on the banks of the river, but they tend to be smaller than those found in the nearby Forest of Cloud, needing to survive weeks or months without any water at all during the dry season.

The water in the Reichenowa is fairly clear, except when the river is first flooded every winter, when it picks up all of the mud from the bottom and turns brown for about three weeks. The goddesses Zira and Zara work with their clans to keep the river clean and safe from contaminants.


Zira and Zara, of Dawn and of Dusk
Twins who were born the same day
Zira turned to walk towards the dawn
And Zara walked the opposite way

Zira took the hard way
Through the cliffs and the marsh
The forest, it was easy
The desert, it was harsh

Zara walked through the plains
Through forest to belt of green
Past there was the forest dead
Which few have ever seen

Zira wavered back and forth
From desert heat to forest shade
Zara strode beyond the dead
To find what in the desert laid

When sisters both on desert walked
A vision and a dream began
Of a river cool and bright
And both knew where the river ran

Zira knew her sister well
That she would claim it for her home
Zara knew her sister too
And wanted no more now to roam

Across the desert, both went fast
As fast as each one dared
They arrived, one at each bank
They looked and laughed and stared

The sisters had both just arrived
Each at the same time
And so they share the Reichenowa
And so now ends this rhyme

Zira and Zara

Zira and Zara by Hero Forge

— Traditional oral history told by both the Zirat and the Zarat
As this oral history suggests, when Zira and Zara left the Sacred Forest they each walked in opposite directions. While neither poem nor any of the gods suggests why the twins walked in opposite directions, many scholars in Jun suspect they were arguing and recociled on the banks of the Reichenowa River. Our goddess Astara is strangely silent on this matter.
— A scholar from Jun about the above poem

Zira and Zara were the first of the gods to find the Reichenowa river, but they found shortly after they arrived that there were already two small human clans living on each of the banks. Zira adopted one and Zara adopted the other. With time, each clan took on the name of their patron goddess.


Bobs and Tars

While many do not traverse the Great Desert easily, there are two specific groups of Bobs that traverse the desert and one river faring group of Tars that sails up and down the navigatable stretches of the Reichenowa. These two groups allow curiosity seekers to visit the settlements of Rata East and Rata West, and even both if they can convince the Tars to ferry them across the river. Although it is known there is a settlement at the start of the river named Tarton, few are ever allowed to visit, the Tars being a secretive sort.[/p

Reichenowa Tar by Squirrel_photos

There are also two towns on the shores of the Great Sea, Mers Landing and Sea Stay. While Mers Landing is an attraction for those seeking to see Great Sea Merfolk, Sea Stay is only an attraction for the Zirat during the hotter months of the year.

A Bifurcated City

In Rata East there are many glass makers. While some of the glass is used by local oracles, much is exported by the Tars and Bobs in exchange for spices from Jun, grain from The Green Belt, and Fosh from the river. Dawn in Rata East is a popular attraction for those seeking oracles, as at dawn Zira and her fellow orcales go to the river with a glass bowl to look for visions in the river's water. Although usually the oracles trade for specific visions, sometimes one will see something in the water at random. These visions are considered as holy and are etched into glass, even if the vision seeker does not know what the vision means.

Rata at Dawn by michaelaldridge

In Rata West there are many textile makers, specializing in linen cloth and silk brocade. While the linen is used mostly for clothing among the locals, silk is traded to and exported by the Bobs and Tars for the same items as in Rata East. Dusk in Rata West is a popular attration for those seeking the wisdom of dreams, as this is when Zara and her clergy go to the river for their last drink of the day. During the hours of dusk, Zara and her clergy will interpret dreams. Repeated dreams are considered as prophecy and those who have them are advised to seek the aid of Zira and her orcales.

The Festival of Forgiveness

One common festival in the bifurcated city of Rata is the Festival of Forgiveness. During this festival, people who feel they have wronged another in the past year present a piece of glass to that person. If the symbolic apology is accepted, the other person will take the glass. If they feel the argument goes both ways, a piece of cloth will be given to the glass giver. The more elaborate the glass or cloth, the bigger the wrong on either side. If glass or cloth is not accepted, it is considered the wrong has not been forgiven yet.

While the beginnings of this festival have been lost to the sands of time, it is suspected it began with Zira and Zara when they first arrived in Rata. No matter its origins, this festival takes place at the beginning of the dry season, as soon as it is safe to cross the river.


The river itself is home to good fishing in the winter and spring (although in winter, you are liable to get soaked due to the winter rains). In the summer months the heat become intense and even many of the Zirat and Zarat travel down the river to The Great Sea where it is cooler.

Alternative Name(s)
The River of Life
Location under

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Cover image: Down to the Reichenowa by Patou Ricard


Please Login in order to comment!
9 May, 2022 21:57

Good thing they don't overfish, I can only imagine how messed up the ecosystem would get with the biggest fish nearly extinct.

10 May, 2022 19:12

Given this world's gods, I'm guessing the Tar's god Suitar probably had a hand in that. ;)

18 May, 2022 22:37

So many fun details! I'm not sure if my favorite is the glassmaking or the festival.

The Atsawiya is an ancient underground river.
20 May, 2022 20:29

Nice article! Especially liked the way you added a bit of a oral history of the origin. I would myself be scared to swim in that river with those big fish around xp

Feel free to check out my River challenge article and my Secrets in the swamp Adventure article if you want to see what I am up to!