The River Valley lies at the base of the Black Mountains, and is home to several tribes of humans, including the Northmen and Southmen.
The land in the valley is fertile, thanks largely to the river. There are woodlands around the river with large trees, extensive undergrowth and rich supplies of game. The valley tribes have cleared some areas of woodland, or used natural clearings, and planted grains and crops. The soil is rich in nutrients from the river and for generations the crops have been plentiful with celebrations like the harvest games to give thanks for the harvest.
The river valley is also inhabited by wolves, hobgoblins and rogue trolls. These groups are all known to attack the human tribes, although they only visit the river valley sporadically and usually out of desperation. The Broken Bridge in the Badlands helps protect the river valley from most rogue trolls.
When the river began to dry up it quickly affected the river valley tribes. Land has become barren, crops are failing and the harvest is small. This was due to the trolls in Troll Mountain manipulating an ancient dam so that they could force the inhabitants of the river valley to pay them tributes before restoring the river flow.
Within the valley itself, several groups of humans have made their homes within villages, the largest being the Northmen and Southmen villages. Little else is known about the other villages.
Between the river valley and the Black Mountains is a ribbon of barren land known as the Badlands. Humans rarely venture into this area as it is full of dangerous predators, like wolves and trolls.
The Badlands was once a healthy forest with thick trees, clear streams running off the river and human inhabitants. Over time, as the trolls have continually cut off the river supply, many of the trees have disappeared, the streams have dried up and the humans have moved to better land. Now the Badlands provide a kind of natural barrier between the humans in the river valley and the creatures of the mountains.
Most of the Badlands is a stinking mass of swamps and marshes. A few areas of tree growth remain but bracken and thornbushes dominate the land. Wolves, especially lowland wolves, and rogue trolls roam freely and attack any humans foolish enough to venture through the Badlands. Other animals – birds, snakes, frogs, flies and rabbits – find shelter and food in the thornbushes and swamps.
Humans occasionally hunt or practise their fighting skills on the edge of the Badlands, but rarely venture through it, except perhaps on the way to Troll Mountain to pay a tribute. An old dirt track winds through the Badlands from the river valley to Troll Mountain, crossing muddy streams and numerous swamps. This track crosses Brocken Bridge. With speed and luck, a human could cross the Badlands in three days.
The hermit Ko is one of the few people to still call the Badlands home.
To the west of the Badlands lies a vast flood plain with a diverse range of vegetation and wildlife, depending on the state of the river.
When Raf's father was a boy a great flood destroyed many crops in the north and the flood plain to the west was covered in brown water. This water brought the flood plain to life with new growth, small insects and many birds flocking to feed. After a flood, the flood plain is a diverse and rich source of life.
In recent years, the flood plain has been dry as a result of the trolls cutting off the water supply into the river valley and drying up the river. Several small groups of outcast Southmen have moved onto the flood plain building small dwellings at the fringe of the last flood and living off the plant life.
The Broken BridgeEdit
The Broken Bridge is a key landmark in the Badlands region, located roughly halfway between the edge of the river valley and the foot of the Black Mountains.
The bridge provides a crossing over a broad muddy stream, part of the once mighty river that used to run into the river valley. Over centuries, the river had pushed through the landscape creating a channel about thirty feet across and fifteen feet deep with sheer walls. In the past a large sturdy bridge had been built across the channel, but it was washed away in a flood and now all that remains are a number of stone pillars. The pillars aren’t too far apart – a human or wolf could easily jump from pillar to pillar and make it across the bridge. Trolls, however, find crossing the bridge much more difficult due to their lack of balance. For this reason the Broken Bridge provides the Northmen live in the river valley with protection from rogue trolls.
Although the water in the stream below the bridge has dried up, the stream bed is now a bog of lethal gripping mud.
- The river valley land is said to be set to the east of Ko's homeland, which is suggested to be within Asia.