Iteru

  Life blooms around the river Iteru, a heartvein of the Argosian Desert and the longest river of the Morning Realm. Iteru begins in a basin high in the Boiling Mountains and winds its way south, forming a natural border between Argos and Heartia, until it finally spills out into the ocean in Olbia.   The river's floodplains are the only viable farmland in the desert and of great spiritual importance to the people of Argos. Iteru is hailed as the birthplace of humanity and civilization and even in some regions worshipped as a mother-goddess.   During late antiquity Iteru was also infamously the hoard of the legendary dragon Vritra until her defeat by the Philosopher Kings.
Iteru
TypeRiver
Length1565 mi ( 2520 km )
Countries
  • Argosian Empire
  • Heartia
  • Olbia
  • Major Cities
  • Isetur
  • Urdjet
  • New Sios
  • Olbet
  • iteru.png

    At the Source

     
    At the root of the Boiling Mountains several streams join together and rise into the great river Iteru. Some of these streams consist of ice cold meltwater from the glaciers of the Worldspine, while others are mineral springs from deep inside the earth. The spring water of Iteru is considered an especially potent source of living water, an important ingredient for traditional Potions of Healing and modern Elixirs of Health.

    A Disrupted Food Chain

      The highland desert is cold and arid. A few hardier plants push their way up through the gravel or cling to small pockets of dirt in the craggy rock. Once, the argosian highlands were home to grand herds of auroch, great bovine beasts. These herds are rare today as most have been taken into captivity. This has lead to the highlands being plagued by aggressive rocs now that their typical hunting grounds have depleted.
    Highland Encounters
  • The party sets up for the night around a small mineral pool, blissfully unaware of the hallucinogenic fumes released alongside the water. Those who sleep are plagued with hyperrealistic nightmares.
  • A large shadow casts over the party, rapidly expanding. Barely a moment later a roc closes its claws around an unattended horse or other beast of burden and attempts to take off with it.
  • A manticore trails the party, waiting for someone to lag behind....
  • Lifeblood of a Deity

      The dawn drew to a close when the first of gods pierced the heart of their lover-opponent with a spear. Two streams of blood spilled out from the wound.   The hot blood, or lava, curdled in Ea's chest and became the Boiling Mountains, while the cold blood ran down their body to become Iteru.   And where the hot blood crested to stone against the cold blood so too was humanity born, as foam and flesh.
    — Myths of the Argosian Highlands

    Shifting Sands

    Water is a precious resource in the Argosian desert. None of the great cities of Argos would exist without the three rivers are known as the heartveins. Iteru is the greatest of these heartveins, running down the very center of the desert. On its banks are the former city-states of Isetur and Urdjet.   Indeed, water is so valued in the desert that modern dracologists believe that Iteru itself was the hoard that spawned Vritra, a legendary dragon who devastated the desert during the late antiquity.

    Floodplain Fauna

      While the fauna of the desert migrate to Iteru and the other heartveins to drink and socialize, an entire unique ecosystem exists in the waters and floodplains. Hippopotamuses and crocodiles wade the waters among the reeds and river lilies. The turquoise feathers of the eblis crane are highly desired, but only those naturally shed. The eblis are seen as daughters of the personified mother-godess Iteru, and harming one is said to curse a family for seven generations.  
    Desert Encounters
  • A female form seemingly of pure silver appears in the distance, with a dress that swirls in the desert winds. As the party get closer, she evaporates.
  • A nearby herd of hippopotamus are upset at being disturbed.
  • A featherless eblis promises a fine reward if the party will help her carry out her revenge.
  • The Rise and fall of Vritra

    The first sightings of Vritra, the great dragon, was shortly after the collapse of the First Kingdom of Argos. Promerus the Immortal, the last king of the first kingdom, lived for over a century and outlived all of his heirs. Without a clear successor, the Kingdom fractured, engulfing the desert in civil war.   Rumours of a massive shadow enveloping villages began to spread. Anyone outside, livestock or human, would disappear. These rumours were interpreted by some as a creative description of the consequences of war, but with the sighting of a enormous lizard it soon became clear what the people of the desert were facing.
    As Vritra grew, so too did the river Iteru, which overtopped its banks and destroyed the homes of countless farmers. Oddly enough the displaced farmers left for the highlands and built a dam and artificial lake. Vritra returned the farmers with a message. If anyone displeased her or threatened her reign, Iteru would flow no more.   As the city-states rose to the dominant power in the desert, the philospher kings of these city states decided to work together to defeat Vritra. Led by Iset and Djet, rulers of Isetur and Urdjet, the philosopher kings were able to defeat Vritra and restore access to Iteru.

    Sea of Grass

    The soil of the vast steppes of the Argosian South has historically been too poor to support agriculture, but recent innovations in the production of fertilizer and in druidcraft has seen the grasslands, especially those around Iteru, slowly converted into farmable land. In some regions this has caused the displacement of native semi-nomadic cultures. Agreements to preserve culturally important sites and grazing lands are under negotiation.

    Wildlife

      The grasslands are an ocean of tall grass and short shrubs. The occasional sparse tree dots the landscape. Most large animals, such as the wild horse, tend to form herds to protect themselves against predators like wargs and the southern griffon. This stretch of Iteru is home to vibrantly colored flamingos, but also the reed lizards which ambush animals seeking water.  
    Grassland Encounters
  • This wild horse has been abandoned by its herd. Perhaps the party could tame it?
  • The calm riverbed suddenly turns on the party as reed lizards surge out of the water and close their jaws around their legs.
  • A strange wooden figurine lays discared on the riverbanks. It seems like multiple nails have been driven into it.
  • The Lone Tree

      The sight of the lone grassland tree has captured the imaginations of many. Some cultures in the grasslands believe these lone trees house powerful spirits that must be appeased, while others believe the trees serve as a link between the gods and the people.   It is a common religious symbol in the steppes. The tree is seen as a symbol of the link between the celestial divine, and the earthly mundane. The branches stretch up towards the stars, while the roots dig firmly into the mundane earth. They also serve as a symbol of transcendent individuals, those rare few who define a decade or even a century.  
     

    Woodlands

    As the river winds further south, the grasslands give way to lightly forested lands. The woodlands around Iteru are incredibly rich, full of valuable hardwoods and enough precipitation to support crops since the beginning of recorded history. Many of the inhabitants are halflings, who fell trees and farm cleared land.   Aside from the groves protected by druidic cults, the influence of humans can be seen throughout the entire area.

    Wildlife

      The decidious forests of the southern coast are marked by a dry and a wet season. Vines wrap around the trunks of the prized ebony trees, whose dark hardwood fetches a high price at markets across the realm. Dwarf bears can be seen hunting for fish or scavenging for fruits, and small packs of cockatrices can be rarely spotted in the further reaches.
    Woodland Encounters
  • Odd, man-shaped rocks lie haphazardly discarded between petrified trees. The party must've stepped into the territory of a cockatrice.
  • Chanting echos through the woods as the forest itself closes in on the players, vines wrapping around their legs.
  • A curious bear sneaks into the camp to sample the party's rations.
  • Outlet

    Iteru is an important vein up into the southern half of the continent, so whoever controls it's outlet has been powerful. Extensive mud flats and mangrove thickets make navigating large ships up Iteru difficult, but plenty of barges visit the port city Olbet on the far east of the river mouth, bringing goods to be loaded on ocean-faring ships for transport to the far reaches of the southern continent. Fishing has traditionally been a key source of food for people living here as the saline soil makes farming difficult.

    Wildlife

      The mangrove thickets, and the mudflats enabled by them, host many species of wading birds, brackish molluscs and mudcrabs. The Olbian giant frog can be spotted on mangrove roots, catching any small animal foolish enough to wander within its reach.

    Comments

    Author's Notes

    A massive thank you to my girlfriend, who supplied me with ample coffee and reassurance. This article took ages to write and illustrate, and I would not have been able to do so uncaffinated.   I also want to thank everyone who cheered me on in the World Anvil Discord. You know who you are, and I hope you know I appreciate you deeply. It means so much.   Iteru is, of course, massively inspired by the Nile. The name itself is an ancient egyptian name for the Nile. Those of you familiar with ancient egyptian history can probably also recognize Promerus as an expy of Pepi II, who also outlived his heirs and was part of the fall of the Old Kingdom of Egypt. Vritra is inspired by the Vedic serpent by the same name.


    Please Login in order to comment!
    Eternal Sage AmélieIS
    Amélie I. S. Debruyne
    28 May, 2022 11:18

    Amazing article! I absolutely love the background and how you've managed to display the full river length with one drawing while also having the text displayed in the appropriate location. And I love how you've added little anecdote like the lone tree or the whole dragon emerging from the river (and I'm still deeply in love with this whole dragon concept you have <3 )

    To see what I am up to:WE list of articles and goals.
    Sage nnie
    Annie Stein
    28 May, 2022 18:18

    Thank you! It's a shame the formatting only really works for full width screens, but I hope my mobile adaptions aren't too bad either. I'm so glad you love the anecdotes and my dragons!

    Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022
    Sage George Sanders
    George Sanders
    28 May, 2022 16:36

    Amazing layout! The encounters are a nice touch too.

    Check out my World Ember progress! Completed Articles

    Submit articles for Lavani to read by leaving a comment on her Reading List!
    Sage nnie
    Annie Stein
    28 May, 2022 18:17

    Thank you so much!

    Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022
    29 May, 2022 09:39

    I really really like the drawing here, because it helps supply something that many articles cannot: Direct insight as to where a place being described is located. It really helps make things more clear, making for an awesome article.

    Sage nnie
    Annie Stein
    29 May, 2022 13:18

    Thank you! I'm really glad it helps put things in context, that was the goal after all!

    Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022
    29 May, 2022 16:08

    This is amazing! I really enjoyed seeing the different wildlife along different portions of the river, and scrolling down is like traveling the river itself. So cool

    - Hello from Valayo! Featured work: How to Write Great Competition Articles
    Sage nnie
    Annie Stein
    30 May, 2022 20:15

    Thank you, I am so glad you enjoyed it!

    Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022
    29 May, 2022 22:48

    This is so incredibly well done! The way you've died the art and the writing together is perfect -- each header section creating a block of visuals and of excellent writing together in a concise section, I loved it. I really enjoyed the way we're taken down the river bit by bit, and the fauna + encounters section grabbed my attention each time. That, and I love the origin myth and the addition of Vritra emerging from such a hoard of water.   I also really love how you convey so much detail and aesthetics through the art -- what really stood out is how I was able to get such a good feeling for what each settlement might feel like, all through the small icons you drew for them.   This was amazing!


    Cathedris, the world of God-husks and New Magic, welcomes you.
    Sage nnie
    Annie Stein
    30 May, 2022 20:18

    Thank you so much! I can't act like your articles aren't a massive influence, they've really pushed the boundaries of what a WA article can be. I'm very glad you enjoyed it and that you appreciate all the details!

    Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022
    31 May, 2022 15:36

    I'm beyond happy to hear that -- as your work is incredibly inspiring to me as well :D


    Cathedris, the world of God-husks and New Magic, welcomes you.
    30 May, 2022 07:59

    The map on the background is awesome, I was ready to click like as soon as I saw it! I also enjoyed the Egyptian inspiration, and would have asked if Promerus was Pepi II if you hadn't told that in the notes already! :D I love weaving real-world history into my world building too. But I also like that the Nile inspiration is only a part of the river, not that the whole river is a Nile 2.0

    Check out my Summercamp Pladge and follow my progress here!
    Sage nnie
    Annie Stein
    30 May, 2022 20:32

    Thank you! I was reading up on various empires of history to try and get a sense for how those in my world might've evolved, and history is full of things much more interesting than something I could come up with. A kingdom falling because one guy just keeps on living is... It fit very well.   I try my best to make it it's own, and I am glad to see you recognize it as such! I'm very glad you liked it.

    Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022
    30 May, 2022 15:30

    Fantastic, just fantastic. The image background in itself is already cool but the fact that you managed to get the text next it that is relevant to that specific part of the river is amazing. Also loved the extra encounter ideas which is something that any game master could use if they want to set up a story near the river. Great work!

    Feel free to check out my WorldEmber 2022 page if you want to see what I am up to!
    Sage nnie
    Annie Stein
    30 May, 2022 20:34

    Thank you so much! Yes, I drew as I wrote to make sure it all matched up. Of course it looks a bit different on mobile, but adaptions are necessary. I'm glad you liked the encounters too! I had fun brainstorming for them.

    Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022
    Sage eccbooks
    E. Christopher Clark
    2 Jun, 2022 11:05

    Every time I come back to this one, I'm astounded again by the beauty of that background and how it leads—like the river—deeper and deeper into the story. So well done! You should be proud.   This time around, I was also struck by the story of the Lone Tree

    Check out my progress on WorldEmber 2022
    Sage nnie
    Annie Stein
    6 Jun, 2022 15:27

    Thank you so much! It was a lot of hard work and I'm very glad I was able to finish it in time.   The lone tree carries a lot of the same symbology in our own world too, which is where I got the inspiration. Think of worldtrees like yggdrasil, or Buddha awakening under a Bodhi tree.

    Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022
    6 Jun, 2022 11:47

    So beautiful. I'm so glad that you managed to realise your vision in the end! :)

    Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
    Sage nnie
    Annie Stein
    6 Jun, 2022 15:28

    Thank you! I am very grateful too, it was a closer call than I'd have wished!

    Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022
    Starfarertheta
    Starfarer Theta
    12 Jun, 2022 15:09

    I really like how we travel along the Iteru as we learn about it and everything related it. The article and the map are one and the same here. Great article!

    Sage nnie
    Annie Stein
    12 Jun, 2022 18:54

    Thank you! I hope you enjoyed the travel!

    Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022