THE CIRCLE OF LIGHT
As the Serpent River exits Lake Ban and flows toward Lake Pyros, it passes by eight t’skrang villages known as the Stolen Nialls. Before the Scourge, these villages fell under the control of House K’tenshin, but since the end of the Scourge they have pledged their allegiance to House V’strimon. The reasons for the change are clear: House K’tenshin treats its subsidiary villages with contempt, while House V’strimon treats its villages with respect. Changing allegiance has brought enormous prosperity to these villages, which now compete directly with House K’tenshin to supply lumber and wooden items to much of Barsaive. The trade covenants at two of the villages, P’santos and Delenn, have devised ingenious sawmills that use the force of water running down the village towers to spin their cutting wheels.
As the river flows west of Ayodhya, it enters a densely forested region that gradually gives way to impenetrable jungle. About a hundred miles southwest of Ayodhya, the Serpent empties into the third and smallest of the Serpent Lakes, Lake Pyros. “Pyros” means flame, a Name derived from the fierce light emitted by the thick layer of phosphorescent algae that covers the bottom of the lake. The terrain around the lake, which is 55 miles long and 25 miles wide, varies. The lake’s eastern banks consist of firm ground and dense forest, while an impenetrable jungle and wetlands that extend many miles inland cover the western banks.
The land around the eastern end of Lake Pyros contains some of the most fertile soil in Barsaive. During the wet season, the lake rises 3 yards, then subsides to leave behind a rich layer of muck and mud. Farmers have a saying that “you can plant a lump of coal by the shores of Lake Pyros, and by autumn you’ll have swords and armor sprouting up through the ground.” Stories like these have sparked a land rush in the area, and waves of immigrants are competing fiercely for whatever farmland they can get.
The first post-Scourge settlers along Lake Pyros were elves who survived the Scourge outside the Blood Wood. When the Scourge lifted, they returned to the court of the Elven Queen, then fled in horror at what they found. These settlers came to the Servos in the hope of establishing a new elven community along the fringes of the jungle. They had hoped to keep their little portion of the Servos as close to its natural state as possible, with wide swaths of forested land between their scattered settlements. As successive waves of immigrants arrived, however, the elves retreated further inland so that they could continue living in the untouched forest. The elven villages around Lake Pyros have since become a vital center of the living legend cult known as the Seekers of the Heart.
Among the second wave of settlers were large numbers of deserters and refugees from Overgovernor Pavelis’ Grand Theran Armada, which disintegrated while marching toward Throal. Mostly humans and orks, these refugees were in no hurry to return to Vivane and labour once more for the Overlord of Sky Point. Upon discovering the beautiful land around Lake Pyros, they settled down, hung up their arms, and got down to farming. These immigrants carved out private homesteads, expanding their acreage with each passing year by clearing a few more trees. The third wave of settlers included members of all the Namegiver races, lured by the promise of prosperity on the shores of the lake. This wave included the Throalic dwarfs who harvest the phosphorescent algae from the lake’s bottom with ingenious mechanical suction devices that enable them to pull the glowing algae up to the lake’s surface through tubes. They then separate the algae from the mud, package it and send it to the many dwarf communities all across Barsaive that cannot afford light quartzes. Along with the dwarfs came hunters, fishermen, lumberjacks, and farmers to reap the natural bounty of the land. During this wave, House K’tenshin also began to carve out plantations from the shores of the lake and extort taxes from nearby settlements. This third wave of immigrants has had the greatest impact on the area by far. They arrived in large numbers and built entire villages in the space of a year, peeling back the jungle from the shore and setting up fences and boundaries. At this time, the last of the area’s original inhabitants primitive t’skrang and human hunter gathers retreated to the swampy western shores of the lake.
Today, the haphazard development of the region and its rapidly growing population have led to tensions between the various immigrant and native groups. The shores of Lake Pyros have also become favored hunting grounds for the raiders of House Henghyoke. Although the different groups of settlers remain suspicious of one another, they regularly cooperate to defend themselves against Henghyoke pirates.
Numerous t’skrang village towers dot the shores of Lake Pyros. According to all accounts, however, every one of these villages was lost during the Scourge. The advent of the Henghyoke raiders led settlers to carefully explore the village towers for signs of habitation, but all of them are apparently abandoned.