River of the Defiled

Treat the River with respect, and it will consider giving it back to you.

Content warning: picture of a snake below


The River of the Defiled is a "river" that runs through the entirety of the Thenian state of Kezig. In addition to being sacred to the Ravkan religion, it is typically also an important part of Kezens' national and cultural identities. The River's name is derived from the Ravkan pantheon, the Defiled, and it's said that the Defiled look favorably on those that honor the River. Although it's a saltwater river, it still supports a wide variety of unique flora and fauna. Because of its religious importance, rare flora and fauna, and overall importance to those that live on its banks, the River of the Defiled is a large tourist draw.

Kazza had lived in Skruj Drae almost his whole life, and he was still a mixture of frightened and respectful of the long river that snaked its way through Kezig. It was definitely sacred to him as a Ravkan, but it was more than that: it was also equal parts imposing and secretive, and he was always on guard when he was on the River. His father had told him once that the flora and fauna he saw on the River were truly blessed beings (as they had been returned to nature as part of the sacred River), but Kazza had always secretly hoped his afterlife took him elsewhere.

Geography

The River of the Defiled meanders through the entirety of Kezig, and only Kezig: its source is at the very northern tip of Kezig, and it terminates right before Kezig's border with Votha. Because of this, Kezens consider the river to be an important part of their national and cultural identities. Because most Kezens are Ravkan, the River is important to both of those identities. The River also runs directly through Kezig's capital of Skruj Drae and makes up the Kezen Canals. Although the term 'river' is perhaps a misnomer (truly, it's the Sea that has bisected Kezig), it would be unwise for other Thenians to tell a Kezen or Ravkan this.

Localized Phenomena

The River of the Defiled is a mysterious river. It is said that nothing acts quite as it should around the River, including weather, flora/fauna, and perhaps most importantly, people: some people's moods seem to be adversely affected by the River, ranging from anxiety to paranoia to rage (thankfully, this phenomena is rare, and it's unknown why some are so adversely reactive to the River).   Thick fog hangs low over most of the River, and the temperature, no matter the season, is always bone-chillingly cold. In some parts of the River the water flows so fast that gigantic whirlpools form that are able to swallow entire boats. (There are some parts of the River that tourist boats are forbidden to traverse for exactly this reason.) Large thunderstorms also develop along the River and its banks; the wind from these storms can cause the river to become violent and unpredictable. Luckily, these storms don't largely affect the Kezen Canals, but they're not unheard of.   Although it's considered a sacred river to Ravkans and Kezens, all Thenians are wary of it; for even though it's said to have the Defiled's blessing, the number of casualities from ignoring warnings about its weather, flora, and fauna may point to otherwise.   An often-repeated saying is "treat the River with respect, and it will consider giving it back to you."

Fauna & Flora

There are a few species of animals and plants that only exist in the River of the Defiled. The flora and fauna are also big reasons why people visit the River. In some cases, the flora and fauna can be dangerous (the Basilisks, for instance, are venomous), so visitors are urged to be cautious in and around the river (this is also one of the many reasons it's absolutely forbidden to swim in the river).   There are a few unique plants that grow on the banks of the River or on the River itself: Vervaine, Marshstars, Fangstrife, and the Salixna.   There are many different animal species unique to the river, but a few that people look for are: Basilisks, Krakens, Grindylows, Kelpies , Nguruvilus, Rusalka, and Afancs.

POSTED WARNING

The River of the Defiled is sacred; do not disturb the flora or fauna of this area! Breaking this law will result in a fine.   FURTHER, be warned of the many animals that make this river and its banks home: if you're bitten by a Grindylow, seek help immediately; if you're bitten by a Basilisk, please pray to your gods.   Please enjoy our beautiful River!

Natural Resources

There are very few natural resources the River can provide; some of the flora is gathered and sold as herbs or decorative flowers, but that's about it, as the saltwater makes it impossible to drink.

History

There is a history of humans living on the river since at least the 800s, as evidence of settlements has dated back to that time. In 1767, when Ravka was officially founded, the mythological stories of the river were already famous. It is said that when the Creator made the world, he split Kezig in two to represent the dualism of creation and destruction and to remind Ravkans of that. It's also said that although the Creator did, indeed, make the river freshwater to begin with (to provide drinking water), the Creator and the Corrupted had an epic battle; when the Corrupted was defeated, this corruption besmirched the freshwater and made it saltwater.

Tourism

Ravkan tourists from all over Thenia flock to visit the river; in addition, even those that aren't Ravkans come to witness the river and the architectural wonders that are the Bridges of the Defiled. For obvious reasons, there is no way to charge a fee to view the River or Bridges, so it's the perfect tourist destination for those who cannot afford luxury trips and have to settle for walking along the banks of the River. However, there is a thriving business in riverboat tours and expeditions in Kezig for those who have expendable income.   Ravkans, especially, relish the opportunity to visit the River of the Defiled, as it's important to Ravkans to be able to visit, witness its wonders, and participate in the religious activities that accompany visiting the River. Many Kezens visit the river often, while Ravkans that do not live in Kezig usually try to visit at least once a year.   Because of the large tourist draw of the River, locations near one of the Bridges of the Defiled, especially, are often inns, restaurants, and Ravkan shrines/temples.

Marina's River Rituals

It's that time of year: Hexenight! For an all-inclusive price, join us for a night of traversing our beautiful River! An Excori will accompany us as we pay deference to the Defiled on this sacred night. Although we can't guarantee it, we're almost certain to see a Kelpie galloping the banks or the cresting of a fierce Afanc. Book by the 13th, and receive a bundle of Fangstrife for your home's protection!
Alternative Name(s)
The River (in Kezig only)
Type
River

Fast facts

Location: Kezig
Resources: Tourism
Landmarks: Bridges of the Defiled


Related Articles

Ravka
Organization | May 16, 2022

State religion of Kezig

The Defiled
Character | Apr 26, 2022

Pantheon of Ravka

Kezig
Organization | May 10, 2022

State in Thenia



Cover image: Fog by 21967857

Comments

Author's Notes

Okay, so when I first saw this prompt, I was a bit wary of it because I didn't think I'd have a lot to say about a river, but some 1900 words later, I was wrong. This was fun, and I think I'll spend more time on geographical aspects, since I typically haven't in my worlds.   I borrowed mythological animals from various countries to make up the fauna of this article; this was super interesting to research!   I'll definitely edit this until the end, so if you have any comments, I'd love to hear them!


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6 May, 2022 11:33

I feel this strikes a nice balance between good worldbuilding, a delightfully moody goth vibe, and a touch of capitalist shilling (Marina's River Ritual sounds hilariously close to pamphlets I've seen for ghost tours while on vacation)!   ----------------------------------------------------------------   Feel free to check out my Rivers/Waterways entry: Loch Mesner

6 May, 2022 17:50

Thanks so much! I 10000% based that on the ghost tours that are around me, so I'm glad that came across! I'm just somewhat morbidly fascinated by the capitalist endeavors that come out of virtually anything, even a sacred, haunted river. Thanks for reading!

6 May, 2022 18:17

No prob. Part of me really wants to explore the notion of people capitalizing on anything and everything they can (I literally describe one of the nations in my world as 'a country of merchants and traders'). Plus I love how writers like Terry Pratchett just satirize the whole idea into hilarity, but I'm not sure if that much humor would work tonally in the world I'm working on.   ----------------------------------------------------------------   Feel free to check out my Rivers/Waterways entry: Loch Mesner

Sage RandoScorpio
RandoScorpio
14 May, 2022 01:50

I love the way this was organized and broken up with images! I also think it's cool that the river affects some more than others, I wonder what would happen if you took some river water and gave it to someone in a necklace as a 'good luck charm'?

If you have the time, stop by The Ravmor River, my entry for May's waterways and river challenge. I love to hear feedback and see what others love or hate about what I've written. What do you want more of? Less of?
The Ravmor cuts through the dense Aristosa forest. Hiding terrifying monsters beneath its deep, fast currents, and ignoring forgotten legends could end the world around it.
16 May, 2022 16:48

Thanks so much! I also LOVE the idea of doing something with that water, especially in the guise of something nice. That actually fits in really well to a plot point I want to make, so thanks so much for that great idea!!

16 May, 2022 19:22

Ooh I really like this! It's got some excellent worldbuilding, and the disclaimer about if you get bit by certain creatures, I find to be hilarious. XD

*TimeBender*
28 May, 2022 18:18

Thanks so much for reading and commenting! I also appreciate that you found the disclaimer to be funny because that was the exact vibe I was going for: the rest of the article is kind of depressing, so I wanted something light in there, too. Darn basilisks! :)

30 May, 2022 18:59

Adding humor to lighten up depressing worldbuilding is a good idea for the most part, and it worked really well with this article! I'll have to be sure to stay away from those pesky basilisks! :)

*TimeBender*
17 May, 2022 03:08

I thought this was a really good blend of both religious and geographical lore! It all fits into the overall aesthetic well, and the tourism aspect suits it perfectly.   Also, I was wondering what an Excori is? It's in the 'Marina's River Rituals' bubble, but I couldn't find any article or explanation for it.

28 May, 2022 18:22

Thank you so much for reading and commenting! That really means a lot to me, because I try to balance those aspects and sometimes I miss the mark, so it's good to know I didn't here.   Also, thanks for reminding me that although I mentioned Excori, I haven't finished the article yet! They're essentially a priestly class for Ravka, which is the religion that considers this river sacred. Marina's River Rituals would want to advertise that THEIR river cruise is attended by an Excori, although it's really not that special (any river tour could have an Excori attend, if they asked). But capitalism is prevalent everywhere! :)

Grandmaster DMFW
David Worton
17 May, 2022 09:44

Great page and a super piece of art at the head of the article.

28 May, 2022 18:19

Thank you so much! I still can't believe the luck I had finding a picture that matches my vision of it pretty much to the T!

19 May, 2022 14:35

Great read with some very good worldbuilding. I think you have set a good mood for the general atmosphere of the region. The small warning was a fun addition although tragic for those who encounter a basilisk :p

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!
28 May, 2022 18:16

Thanks so much for reading! I'm so glad you like the warning because it was a last-minute addition I've really come to like!