Princes of the Apocalypse
Long ago, before there were roads anywhere north of Tethyr, the Dessarin was known as the Road to the North.
The river reaches up past Waterdeep to the Evermoors, and into the eastern end of the Spine of the World.
When humankind first explored the North, we chose the surprisingly fertile Dessarin delta for our first settlements. To this date, more humans live in the long, broad valley of the Dessarin than in any other part of the Savage Frontier. The farms and ranches of the delta feed the North, nourishing remote mining settlements as well as the orc hordes that sweep down the Dessarin every decade or so.
The Dessarin region is known for its spectacular sunsets and wide sky above. It is favored by those who like to gallop horses long and hard. Minstrels often describe the Dessarin as a sword thrusting up into the heart of the North. In fact, the river itself was once known as the Sword. This is important knowledge to those puzzling out Netherese and other ancient writings, trying to locate important sites or priceless treasure.
Travelers planning overland journeys in the northern Dessarin should bear in mind that the lichen• and shrub-covered moors are a favored dwelling of trolls. No matter how often these loathsome creatures are eliminated from the Evermoors, they still creep back down from mountain fastnesses again. Many nearby settlements send expeditions up onto the moors to give their fighters battle experience, because one can always count on meeting some trolls there.
The Long Road, running parallel to the river along the west side, is definitely the best road in the North. Much of interest may be found along this avenue.
Travelers are advised not to hunt large game on lands claimed by a lord or village. It is also highly inadvisable to take down cattle or trample crops in any case. Small foraging vermin of the sort that consume crops, however, may be freely killed and eaten. Large herds of deer are found along the western edge of the High Forest, and those eager to hunt are directed to Noanar’s Hold. Be warned, though, that satyrs sometimes drive the deer in order to lead human hunters into ambushes and pitfall traps.
A word of warning about the Dessarin and its tributaries•cross only at bridges. There is Zundbridge at the mouth of the river, and a bridge that has only recently replaced the old ford at Ironford. You may also cross at Dead Horse Ford, but don’t attempt this in the spring, or you may well learn firsthand how the ford got its name.
The Surbrin is bridged just north of its confluence with the Dessarin, at Yartar, and at Nesmé. The Rauvin is bridged at Everlund, at Sundabar, and at Silverymoon, where it is spanned by the famous Moonbridge. The Laughingflow (known as the Trollflow in nearby Nesmé) and the Rauvin are not safe rivers; orcs, trolls, and barbarians wait to attack river travelers. Someone busy poling a raft will probably find it hard to dodge volleys of arrows fired from cover along the bank, so dress accordingly.
The Dessarin itself is fast-flowing, cold, and deep for most of its length. It is navigable as far north as Dancing Falls, at the base of the Lost Peaks. A small boat turning up the Rauvin can paddle and pole as far north as Dead Orc Pass, northeast of Sundabar. You can navigate up the Surbrin almost to its source, or up the Redrun as far as the Citadel of Many Arrows.
The Dessarin is home to many silver, troutlike fish that grow to two feet in length. These are called shalass, and they’re highly prized on tables throughout the North. These are best caught in a particular type of fish basket called a cone net. Such baskets are mounted on long, sturdy poles, and they require great strength to hold. Expert fisherfolk use long spears to stab the swimming fish from the bank, or from a raft or boat.
The persistent traveler can also find catfish, coldwater crabs, and small brown fish known as lout. The last are tasty when pan-fried, but you need seven or so to fill the pan. The chilly waters of the Dessarin also hold larger and more dangerous life, so beware!