NIVATKA'S CROSSING

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This farming village of 800 or so folk is named for a spring that rises here to form a marsh and the brook that runs from the marsh to join the Shrike River. It was once so backward that its inhabitants were widely regarded as bumpkins. More than one son of the village who went to Court seeking to serve the king ended up in the Swordlords’ army with the derisive name Lord Nivatka.

Today, the village is well known for its splendid marrows and melons. They grow in such profusion during the season that the groaning carts set out in daily processions for the markets of Restov. The village is also known for the raw, fiery black wine known as utterdark (or less formally at black Crossing water.

Made in the illage by a closely guarded secret process, utterdark has an almost salty taste. Few enjoy it, but those who take to it can’t get enough. There are utterdark fanciers in Brevoy, Mendev, Andoran, and even in distant Cheliax. When used in a marinate, its powerful flavor can cover the taste of spoiled food, and that and its potency make it a favorite with the quartermasters of many ships plying the waters of the Inner Sea.

Various families in Nivatka’s Crossing add their own secret ingredients to the wine to make their own superior utterdark. These ingredients are generally spices such as crushed mustard seed and the juice of berries from their own land. Why anyone would want to drink a bottle of something that smells and tastes of mustard is a mystery, but one supposed a cook in a large kitchen could make good use of such a commodity. Among utterdark fanciers, the vintages sold by the families of Jhalonson and Ittreer are respected, and a vintage sold by the Athantal family featuring a recently rediscovered seasoning combination is rapidly growing in popularity.

Travelers find Nivatka’s Crossing to be a wild, unkempt place of tall grasses and bogs. Muddy tracks weave and crisscross the marsh, and the safe paths are marked with posts. Leaning posts, it should be noted, denote a placev where the footing isnt secure and the post is sinking away into the muck below. Folk and, more often, cats and dogs have been swallowed by the bogs, but its not a likely fate if the traveler stays on the marked paths and moves about only in daylight.

Amidst all this desolation stand the damp cottages of the villagers. Most are of stone roof with boards and turf and banked on the sides with earth planted with tomato vines and melons so that each house resembles a garden hill. Around each house is a melon patch and one or more cranberry bogs. Some families have little skiffs that they pole about in the wet. Using the skiffs, they jig for catfish, lunk trout, and frogs with hook studded lines baited with nightcrawlers, bits of fat, and moldy cheese.

Rumor has it that there was a Lord Nivakta some decades ago. He was one oft hose bumpkins who was ennobled by the Swordlords for loyal service to great danger. He vanished one night in his sixtieth summer while riding home drunk from a feast. Presumably he rode into a bog and drowned. His body has never been found- perhaps beause it was weighed down by the splendid gold chain and coronet that he always wore, given to him by the Council. The village is said to he haunted by his dog, who howls by night and leads unfortunates out into the marsh to their deaths to get them to rescue his drowned master.

PLACES OF INTEREST

The Leaning Tower of Thelgarl

The crazily leaning tower of Thelgarl the Thaumaturge is a long abandoned wizard’s home. Thelgarl perished over one hundred years ago, and his crumbling stone tower is said to be haunted it is guarded by at least one gargoyle. It stands alone in its own dark pool, avoided by the locals who don’t dare approach to look for the magic within.

The Utter Inn

The name of this damp place recalls the utterdark wine served here, though the inn’s mulled cider and warm ale – which sounds horrible but tastes surprisingly good – are both better. Unfortunately, the rooms are dimly lit, cramped cages of mildew.

NIVATKA'S CROSSING

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