The Blackfens

The Blackfens are a wide, ever-growing morass of marsh and fen, where strange, forgotten things still lurk from earlier ages of the world. Once, they were the lush farmlands of the kingdom of Rhest, and the marsh only a small, ignored blemish on the shores of the lake. But after the kingdom fell the drainage efforts ceased. The murk spread, sucking down the tall walls of the city and creeping across the heart of its domains. Now the fens stretch for mile upon reeking, sodden mile, and keep the kingdom’s secrets looked beneath their slimy waters.

A strange, quiet folk dwell in the fens. They keep old, queer gods, and have congress with the hungry spirits of the marsh. Some say they are the last remnants of the first human people to populate the Vale; who built the region’s standing stones and barrows long before the proud folk of Rhest came there from the east. It is said they are as much beast as human, and you never know when a marsh-snake or bird is watching you with beady human eyes.

But when the Red Hand arose, the Fenfolk joined the people of the Vale in its defence. There weren’t many of them, but they brought their spears and their reed shields and their quiet tread and sharp ears and paid for their freedom in blood. And they paid a higher cost than many others – few of the Fenfolk returned home after the war.

The Fenfolks’ settlements are wet, rickety stilt-villages thrusting solemnly from the waters. The wood of them is preserved by the salty waters of the fen, and has stood – hard as rock – for numberless generations. Their inhabitants get about by means of secret, narrow trails or in their flat-bottomed coracles, light enough to carry on their backs.

It’s rumoured some of the Hand retreated into the fens following their defeat, and have been hiding there since, licking their wounds.

The Blackfens

Scales of War ChrisGardiner