I heard it first. The deep, distant roar, low and powerful. At first just on the edge of hearing, but louder minute by minute, hour by hour. I knew what it was, what it had to be. The River.
It has no other name, it needs no other name. The myriad streams, creeks, brooks and springs that crisscross our land are but poor imitations of the River, tamed, harnessed and serene.
What could you call a torrent of water, moving faster than a horse could gallop, faster even than a rythan could fly, wide enough that the other side can be but dimly seen even by the sharpest-eyed scout and cutting the land apart as sharply as a knife cuts through cheese?
From the first I heard the roar, it was still three days travel to reach the edge of the River. I had been here once before, as a boy. It’s a rite of passage, to travel to the River and spend three nights on the edge. It hasn’t changed much since then, but I hadn’t expected it to. The River is eternal.
Imagine it, if you can. The woodland thins out, you can smell the water in the air, see the haze, see the moisture on the leaves, hear the deep, visceral roar which blends into a vibration from the ground itself. As you get closer to the River, so the vegetation thins further until the ground is bare rock. Bare rock which suddenly drops away revealing a sheer-sided chasm through which the River flows, its surface easily a spear-throw below the edge. An expanse of water too wide to see across, roaring past, white-flecked and violent carrying debris from lands afar.
And I have to get to the other side.