The Vast Midriver
Parasangs wide, parasangs deep...
As seen in
Of all the places we traverse so frequently, there is none more truly terrifying than the Midriver. The beasts within we know of are great enough: the sharks, the dar, the survivors of the fallen race of dragons! Then the storms and depths are so great they hide the Sun herself; the Sea Bitch truly is her only match...
And yet, in spite of it all, we ship merrily along its unrelenting course as it switches back again and again, we trod along its shores and build damnable floating wharfs upon it! What madness is it when it's so plain to see...the Midriver is just...too...
The Midriver is an enormous expanse of flowing water, connecting the realms' two great Walls of Water to the Sun's Left and Right and making up the entire southern Wild Coast of the Empire's expanse. Remnants of the high plains and jungle crests of the Plateaux to the north make areas of rocky cliffs and bluffs against a mostly sandy shore at its edge. Additionally, a series of minor rivers emanate from the northern highlands and meet their deltas at its pitch, the largest being the Mira River from the Central Confluence.
The shore of the Midriver is relatively shallow, extending out perhaps a tenth of a parasang at a depth of only 2-3 cubitum. Beyond this shelf, the depth rapidly increases to between 1 and 3 parasangs, demarcating the open water from the shore sharply.
The beaches, estuaries, and cliffsides are home to a diversity of flora and fauna. At the coast, terrestrial and semi-aquatic animals act in roles as predator and prey, oftentimes both, due to the versatility of reptoidal and insectoidal creatures' diets.
The top of the food chain is dominated by Crocolisk subspecies, notably the Boat-Murder of the Left and Head-Skewer Crocolisks of the Right Plateaux. As mentioned, the food web is muddied by a chaotic mix of opportunistic Giant Teal Millipedes and Massive Trichrome Worms underfoot, highly aggressive Terrible Winged Juggernauts and falling Weedtree Crabs above, and of course Unicorns and Hoarlions betwixt.
Deep Water Ecosystems
Beyond the coastal shelf, the deeper water ecology is divided into two major regions:
Surface & Open Water
Amidst the sun-touched water, a variety of fishes and ichthyopterygiae preside as the dominant creatures. Periodically, migrations of semi-aquatic creatures such as the Hoarlion follow the tides of the Midriver and can be seen feeding on Waxtail and Chimaerae, but the more standard predators here are the Quicked Dar and the dreaded Skullbasher Shark.
In the calmer waters, coastal residents take to diving for Bear-foot Shrimp for eating and their useful shells; cheaper than bone, but still takes a rune easily. Added to the dangers of the open-water sharks and dar, divers must also be on the watch for the calamitous Exploding Clams that dot the underwater landscape.
Riverbed & Trenches
From the beaches to the farthest depths of the riverbed, Bonewhite Crabs can be seen putzing about as the bottom rung of the food chain, a staple food for a wide assortment of unseen creatures of the depths. Like wandering skulls, they titter about listlessly as a mother, and can pile into heaps around nutrient-rich effusions from underground. It is thought they are a wholly aquatic cousin of the Weedtree Crab, whose semi-arboreal lifestyle was derived from a split in behavior of an ancestor species; those who sought darkness descended to the depths as Bonewhites, and those who sought light moreso ascended perilously to the treetops as Weedcrabs. Regardless, both can pinch off a finger.
Every 275-450 days, the flow of the Midriver switches direction. When the current flows from Sun's Left to Right, it is called ab cūnābulō, or BC current. Conversely, when the current flows from Sun's Right to Left, it is called ad cūnābulō, or DC current. Both BC and DC current are named with respect to the direction of travel towards or away from The Mechanical Capital, from whence most cargo travels bound for The Outer Territory.
At every port, a guidepost is often maintained by an official hydrologist with reports on flow rates and expected reversal date. Ship captains heed these messages as dearly as the weather reports because it takes only 8 days to travel with the current, and at least thrice that against it.
The actual volte-face is a minimally impactful event. A wavefront referred to as a Reversal Bore can sometimes be seen off the shore in the deeper waters of the Midriver, rising to as high as 12 cubitum, and perhaps if one were caught off guard, the wave may toss them overboard where the real danger lies.
Of more concern is the rippling storms that usually follow in the wake's path. Turbulent updrafts from the Wall of Water are thought to give rise to heavy precipitation fronts at the reversal of the Midriver's current. This, coupled with warmer temperatures from the Outlands to the south, can create monsoons that rumble along the coastline. Water spouts are also not unheard of during these post-reversal storms.
It has been a consistent observation of pneumatologists that the Veil is particularly thin at the coast and interior of the Midriver. As a result, runic inscriptions are sometimes impotent or completely unpowered, leaving developments in sailing to mundane processes. Galleons bound for the shipping lanes are produced piecemeal inland where descrying can be performed readily, and are later assembled at the wharfside.
In addition to the weakening of passive runes, the thinned veil seems to impact Soul strangely. More simplistic magic is still easy to cast, but spells and dances of a particularly complex nature may have a different effect than intended, in perhaps quite unintuitive ways to a wizard without coastal training.
Of a great deal more concern, however, is the significant number of instances of immaterial individual appearances, post-mortem. It is thought the connection between Fate and the Soul is so tight that the thinning of the plane above impacts the plane below in eerie ways. The 'ghost stories' of yore are not a thing to be ignored at the water's edge; even for the most ardent epiphenominalist archmage, they are very, very real.
Fauna & Flora
An incomplete listing of the various species within and near the Midriver's ecosystems:
The chief resource the Midriver provides to the Empire is commodity transportation. Shipping lanes just off the coastal shelf see a consistent schedule of galleons traveling from as far as the Argent Raion to the Shielded Presidency in the ports of the Bay of Time. Flow allowing, the military's supply ofand rations is unending.
Locally, small shipping ports thrive from the transporters of these goods, soldier and civilian alike. Fishing and shrimping ensure survival, but a rich schooner full of Northern Black Dune Sand can be a huge boon. Fortunately, the inherent dangers of the Midriver and the omnipresent Battlemages of the Empire's military have ensured piracy is a non-issue to sailors. Besides, hospitality is reason enough to stay off the dark waters to trade, rest, and be merry.
The Allmother spread the bounty of nature o’er all the land, wandering north, south, then north again, jumping the vast Midriver, and landing in the hands’ embrace of the curling mountains...
The Left & Right Wall of Water (interlink)