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Swanlynn in the Faynereach

A Riverman "port" on the Brandywine, at the mouth of the River Reedly. Not the most pleasant location on the river, it provided a home to swarms of mosquitoes, gnats, and neeker-breekers. Most of the village's population lived on barges and boats anchored inshore of the mud bar at the mouth or "nape " of the Reedly, where it entered the Brandywine. The Calamity was the oldest of the barges anchored in the Nape. Its actual age was a matter of some dispute, as the vessel had outlasted any number of owners. It was reputed to have once had a charm placed on it to ward off worms, rot, and leaks. Vengaree, the last owner, dealt in smuggling , gambling, slave-trading, and any number of other vices. Attempts to raid the Calamity invariable failed, as the Rivermen hired by the Cardolandren or Arthadan authorities to guide and row their boats routinely tipped off Vengaree. This allowed him to hide evidence, and , if necessary , disappear into the marshes for a time. Unknown to anyone living, the hull of the Calamity was made of magical dirwood cut in Beleriand during the Elder Days. Part of the spoils from the sack of Menegroth, it was salvaged from the ancient battlefield of Sarn Athrad by Sinda refugees and carried east to build the doors of an Elvish frontier keep in the early Second Age. Just how the wood came to be used for hull timbers on an eriadoran river barge was obscure, but the decisive events occurred in S.A.1694 during the war between the Elves and Sauron. What remained was a virtually unsinkable watercraft with a curious escape hatch. The existence of this "Elf-door " was masked by the filth and debris that littered the floor of the barge's hold. Picking up the door by one of its two carved handles caused the debris to recede from its edges; it returned when the door closed. Vengaree and Idris, his wife, both knew of the portal's existence, although they understood few details of its varied functions or its past. They used it to cross to other boats in the area and occasionally to escape to land when legal harassment got too intense.

Anyone in the hold of the Calamity who had sailing or similar skill could notice that there was almost no seepage in this hold. The debris on the floor was dampened by condensation alone. If the Elf-door was located, a similar perception should note that the uncovered hatchway was in the bottommost hull of the barge. It should, therefore, open directly into the river and sink the boat. The Elf-door was quite invisible from beneath the barge; the bottom of the Calamity's hull was draped with mold, scum, and barnacles just like the other vessels anchored here. There were actually two ways to open the 3'x 3'Elf-door, since two of its sides each had a handle formed by notches carved into the wood. Which passage one opened depended on which handle one pulled. Neither of the two passages existed on the natural plane; both led through realms of spirit and shadow. Northern Handle—(Forden ) The door opened into a damp earthen tunnel. It led, with each new opening, to different locations roughly 400-4000 yards away on the east bank of the Brandywine. If the tunnel walls were chopped at, the digger would discover only saturated mud no matter how far he got. At its far end, the escape tunnel opened under a rock slab, a matted mass of roots, or a section of sod. When the last person left the tunnel and closed the escape door, it disappeared. If it was left open more than 10-100 minutes, it collapsed and resealed itself. No bodies of anyone thusly trapped would ever be recovered. Southern Handle—(Harden) Opened on a constructed passage of leather supported by hardwood slats. The lattice of slats appeared to be holding back considerable water pressure. If anyone pierced the leather of this passage, all within IO' feet would be struck with a water bolt in time it took the passage to reseal. This leather passage led into the neighboring boat of the opener's choice.

Idris , Vengaree's wife, ran the family business whenever he was away, particularly when he believed, rightly or wrongly, that he was in trouble with the law. She had such a docile, domestic nature, that no one had the nerve to confiscate the barge with her on board. Idris was, of course, tough as nails under her tame, motherly exterior; she would not have survived long on the Calamity, if she were as fragile as she seemed.

Swansong Nape in TA 1640

The folk of Swansong Nape are just becoming aware of the existence of Muddling Annis, a horrible creature. The name derives from Eriadoran lore, belonging to an evil female spirit who drowns men in the Overbourne Marshes. The inhabitants of Swansong Nape have, through their own wickedness, inadvertently given shape to this legend. The most horrendous of Vengaree's crimes, one about which he actually has nightmares, involved several young girls kidnapped in Cardolan by brigands intending to sell them on the slave markets in Umbar. When outraged parties from Sarn Ford and the Freeholder's League searched the length of the river to find their missing children, the girls were beaten senseless and dumped in the river to drown with stones tied around their necks. One of the victims, Remlis Helmsdottir, had an intricate tattoo on her shoulder containing a protective curse composed by her grandfather, a local spiritualist. The spell embedded in her shoulder didn't save Remlis' life, but instead summoned an evil spirit, a Feadegnir, into the world, with Remlis' as its focus.The Annis lives on the river bottom near Swansong Nape, fearing and hating mannish life and the lights of the mannish world it once knew. It desires revenge, having a dim awareness of who was responsible for its murder. Three people have gone missing in this area , murdered because they went out into dark, muddy areas at night and happened to resemble Remlis' kidnappers. The Annis remembers the name of Vengaree, and has watched and hated him from a distance—this is one of the reasons he has nightmares. However, she has not attacked him, for reasons she does not understand. Vengaree, Idris, and their two henchmen Handir and Urvalt, are coming back to Swansong Nape sometime this season. Urvalt, and no one else , knows that it was Idris who clubbed the kidnapped girls and ordered them dumped in the river. Vengaree, who respects his wife's strength but has only an inkling of her true ruthlessness, thinks that Urvalt did it on his own initiative. For the nonce, the confusion about who instigated the murders is one of the things keeping the Mudling Annis at a distance, along with the protections written into the Calamity and the monster's fear of light.Vengaree and the Annis continue to live in abundance of fear and hatred. He avoids going into dark water at night, though he is not sure why; she only appears to him at a distance, when he might mistake her hideous head for the body of a muskrat, bird, or turtle. The power of her hatred gives him bad dreams and a recurring nervous twitch; it causes him to start suddenly in conversation, thinking that someone has whispered his name while thinking of pain and death.

Swanlynn about 3019

Conflict with the Shire Hobbits eventually drives most of the Rivermen away from Swansong Nape in the centuries following the fall of Arthedain. However, industrious Hobbits from the Southfarthing are able to start a true port at the river mouth and eventually build a town, called Swanlynn, on dikes and banks high enough to avoid the worst of the spring floods. Swanlynn prospers after a fashion. Hobbit boatmen run small barges and boats from here south to Sarn Ford; north to Haysend, Bucklebury, Stock, and Bridgby; and east up the River Sarig into the Red Hills. A few Riverman barges remain anchored in the Nape, a last outpost of that people on the western side of the Brandywine. The Calamity, renamed many times, lasts through the centuries. No owner or other local lives long enough to realize how indestructible it is. In the 31st century of the Third Age, the barge is called the New Venture. The vessel pays for itself by serving as a trading post for the steady trickle of river traffic. However, it still draws loose-living folk from all directions and also sup port s questionable card and dice games. Its owners supplement their gaming income by trafficking in bad liquor and narcotic herbs. The Brenthaws, the wealthiest Hobbit family in the Faynereach, the area around Swanlynn, get a "rent" from Arteveld Holman, the owner of the New Venture. Both are actively involved in trafficking with Sharkey's minions during and after the War of the Ring.

Inhabitants

mid Third Age: Handir Idris Muddling Annis Remlis Helmsdottir Urvalt Vengaree

late Third Age: Arteveld Holman

References

  • MERP:The Shire

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