Sionan Swamp Geographic Location in Enthion | World Anvil
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Sionan Swamp (SEE-oh-nahn SWOMP)

The Sionan Swamp, also called the Black Mangrove Swamp, is part of a massive system of swamps inland from the west coast of the Mistlands (Maka Tir Zhon), the focal continent of the world of Enthion.

Side note: Many refer to the continent as Enthion, as there is no appreciable difference to anyone save scholars, adventurers, and a few daring merchants. For everyone else, "world" and "continent" are the same thing. Still, "the Mistlands" is probably used most frequently to refer to the continent/world, and "my misty land" is a euphemism for "home," seen frequently in song. While there is appreciable mist across the continent, it isn't everywhere, nor does it need to be in order for the area to be referred to as part of the Mistlands.

Home to the swamp elves and the infamous aranu, a species of giant, sapient spider, as well as countless hazards such as: toxic, gas-emitting plants; giant reptiles; hostile, isolationist reptilian people; carnivorous eels; undead spirits and more. It may reasonably be said that there is no region on the surface on the continent more inhospitable than the Sionan Swamp, unless, of course, you are a native to it. Even then, survival does not come easy, and it is the difficulty of survival that ultimately led the aranu to work and bond with the swamp elves, known to many now as the spider-kin elves.

Hazards in the swamp can be roughly broken down into the categories of flora, fauna, and natural terrain.

The flora of the Sionan is vast and varied. It is also wildly colorful, and beautiful if you feel safe enough at any point to admire it. As beautiful as it may be, however, much of it presents a hazard and some of it is quite lethal. First, there are the mangroves. They dominate the swamp and, in many ways, make it what it is. But the black mangroves of the Sionan are particularly large, reaching 40 feet or more in height, as the clay-like reddish-black mud of the so-called 'lava slate' (based only on coloration, as the clay has no direct relation to volcanic activity) has proven to be firmer and more reliable for growth than in other swamps. As a result, the trees of the black mangrove sub-species reach heights even greater than their coastal counterparts. Their roots are massive bundles that splay outward in great bulbs, and while the trees need some space, they grow close enough that it's almost impossible to avoid these thorny root bulbs that reach from about ten feet up the exposed trunk above the water or mud line all the way down into the mud, where they are rooted. This makes travel slow-going on the best of days. At night, the swamp becomes very dark, as the mangroves form a thick canopy four stories above. They let some light through during the day, but not enough to keep nights in the swamp from being dark and foreboding.

Beyond the mangroves themselves and some of the harmless, colorful flowers and plants (some of these, even, are carnivorous but not dangerous to larger species, or may cause serious skin irritation when touched as they secrete protective liquids) there are the venerran blooms, plants that protect themselves with an expulsion of toxic gas triggered by disturbing the plant or its root tendrils, and as these are often hidden in the mud, many travelers and even some native species have fallen victim to the venerrans. They reproduce slowly, and twice a year they will produce a single, egg-like fruit wrapped in a smelly, ochre-colored skin at the plant's center, just above the waterline. The fruits are relatively rare based on their slow production and the region they grow in, and they have a sweet, appealing taste and even smell good when the mucus-like skin is peeled and washed off. They fetch a decent price on the open market.

Fauna include the mioscus, a lizard the size of a lion that usually keeps to itself and hunts smaller prey, but will attack just about anything if it's hungry enough. Sionan Jumpers are fist-sized, venomous spiders that leap from mangrove trunks at their victims. They tend to leave large groups alone, but will gladly attack someone lost or straggling behind, separated from the group. A clump of about a dozen will launch in unison, attempting to bite and inject a creature with venom. They do this in packs because their venom is not strong enough to kill on its own. It is, however, both paralytic and toxic, and the compounding effects will freeze a creature the size of an average, adult human after three or four bites, and kill the same creature outright with three or four more. Survivors speak of the horror of not only the spider ambush itself, but of the searing, acidic pain and the inability even to scream as the paralytic takes hold. Endless snakes can be found in the Sionan as well, the camouflaging vine snake among them. There are also several dangerous, sapient species in the swamp...the aforementioned spider-kin, the aranu, and the reperak, a species of tribal, lizard-people. None are keen on outsiders, but the spider-kin elves have a vast empire that extends well beyond the swamps and are the most approachable of the three.

As for the terrain, the clay and mud can be treacherous to walk in, and combined with the mangrove root bulbs, travel can be a slog. Quicksand is not uncommon, and the only giveaway is that it tends to be too thin to support the mangroves...which, unfortunately, means that unwary travelers head right for it, thinking the root-free areas will be easier to traverse. They are not.

None of the aforementioned even touches on the insect population, which is large and healthy, or the constant attacks from the eels that travel easily even in the muddy water less than knee-deep that they hide in. For most humanoids, the Sionan makes other swamps, even inhospitable ones, seem fair and desirable by comparison. And in what is roughly the center of it all, the Great Arcology of Sionan--the capital city of the swamp elves. Not surprisingly, tourist traffic to the city is rather sparse.
Wetland / Swamp

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Cover image: Castle by jameschg


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