Falls of Orestes (/fɑlz əv orestiz/ (Aeillan: kataraktɪs oréstis/))
The Falls of Orestes has long been held by Aeilla peoples, and has for almost all of that time been considered the rightful territory of the Aeillan homeland, being held by the rulers from Apepsos since the days of the Ilosi Republic or perhaps even earlier. It however, is a major hazard, and thus a wide tracet of river is made unnavigable on account of the Falls.
The Falls of Orestes are located in the upper Ilos River, roughly where the hills running south of the Odric Mountains. This area has a brief narrowing of the Ilos, channeling much of the waters of the Ilos, into a small area of rapids just north of the falls themselves. As the hills take a major dip into the core lands of the Ilos River Valley, the river too makes a two hundred meter massive drop, this itself is the Falls of Orestes, which is one of the largest falls in the known world to come down in a single sheet.
The Falls of Orestes represent a barren area of the Ilos Valley, with the Falls themselves being intensive water hazards that are hard for anything to survive the dangerous falls. As a result the falls serve more as a dividing line between the ecosystem of the Lower Ilos, and the Upper Ilos than being its own ecosystem, with Orestes relatively neatly deliniating the plant and animal life of the mixed Oceangoing fish populations and other assorted organisms of the broad Ilos with the stream life upstream of the Falls.
There is a two season ecosystemic cycle in Falls of Orestes. As the northern reaches do get cold enough to freeze over, there is a proper freeze of the falls, or at least the areas upstream of the falls. Thus during the winters, the Falls become even more dangerous as sheets of ice go cascading over the falls and into the churning waters below.
The Falls of Orestes were once, in the Later Imperial, in the process of being tamed with the construction of Great Locks. A Even under construction the locks had begun to alter the flow of of the River and of the Falls. These locks, though abandoned with the fall of the Empire continued to alter the flow of Orestes, and even centuries later as many of the lock sections have fallen into ruin, the falls have peculiarities with their flow, especially in the morning and evening.
Fauna & Flora
The Falls of Orestes are well known as the mark of a true test of strength for fish trying to migrate upriver. The only known fish to be capable of such a feat is the Ilosi Salmon, and even then, only the strongest examples of the fish have managed to push that powerfully upstream. Thus salmon from streams north of the Orestes are considered a rare delicacy when caught.
The Falls of Orestes were first discovered, at least by peoples with a written language roughly 2,500 years ago, by the dwarves settling in the regions to the north. To them the Falls represented an edge of the world, and it quickly became a site of great religious importance, left mostly uninhabited but visited frequently by pilgrims coming from the Odric Mountians. It was in this largely wild state that Yulan-Tai sailors coming up from the mouth of the Ilos would find the falls. They too would find the site important, though the reasons why have been lost to time and the fall of the Yulan-Tai. This ironically, would be one of the few areas where fighting would not occur between the two peoples as neither wished to damage the falls, and thus the falls and the surrounding country would be one of the few areas where the two peoples coexisted in peace. After the Fall of the Yulan-Tai, the falls would remain an important holy site to the Cyrenic peoples, even as they slowly retreated back into the Odric Mountains, but the pilgrimages would eventually be abandoned when the Cult of Aquellus went into decline after the founding of Cyrenica. Falling into the hands of the Ilosi peoples during the Forging Era, the Falls became famous in Mytho-history as the Great Hero Orestes of Laskaros took a plunge over the falls to show devotion to the deitiy that would become Maretal, this action being immortalized in the modern naming of the falls. Many in the Ilosi Republican period would try to replicate this feat, though few would survive, and none would survive without severe injuries. During the Aeillan Imperial Period, as the Empire sought to use engineering works to provide work for angry, jobless, people, and to unify the country in the wracking conflicts in the Late Imperial started construction of a series of locks to force the heads of navigation up the main rivers of Aeilla. Those near Apepsos were completed first, and another was completed on the Tyros. Work was started on the works for the Orestes, but these were abandoned during the Feloran Invasions, and the works fell into disrepair in the centuries since. Thus the Falls of Orestes have remained as the visually impressive last stop for oceangoing ships coming up the Ilos River.
The Falls of Orestes have long served as a major religious site for most of the peoples that have settled in the area, and though pilgrimages have become less common, particularly from the Cyrenic dwarves who first discovered these lands, more than a few still do arrive at the falls to offer prayers to the gods of the waves. More than a few fools still do try to jump over the Falls as well, but many local governments have banned the attempts, with officials becoming tired of fishing battered corpses out of the Ilos.