The River Drasil

By Friedrich Wilhelm Heine (1845-1921). [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Friedrich Wilhelm Heine (1845-1921). [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The majestic ash tree Yggdrasil stands at the heart of the Norse mythological cosmos. Its branches reach up into the heavens, and its three strong roots stretch among the worlds to drink from three sacred wells. The tree nurtures and connects the nine worlds: 

  • Asgard, home of the Æsir gods
  • Álfheimrr, home of the Ljósálfar (light elves)
  • Svartálfaheimr, home of the Svartálfar (dark elves, or dwarves)
  • Midgard (Earth), home of humans
  • Jötunheimr, home of the Jötnar (Giants)
  • Vanaheimr, home of the Vanir
  • Niflheim, a land of ice and snow
  • Muspelheim, a land of primeval fire

 

Drainage pattern, Yemen; NASA shuttle Earth observation photograph STS-41G, #17-36-039

Drainage pattern, Yemen; NASA shuttle Earth observation photograph STS-41G, #17-36-039

 

My Vanir Dragon Series reinterprets the divine ash tree as a great river, the lifeblood that connects the realms of the nine peoples of the world.

The "branches" of the River Drasil begin high in the heavens at the tops of the eastern mountains. Here, the dwarrows dwell in their underground halls. 

The mountain streams flow into rivers, and the rivers join to form wide tributaries which flow, in their turn, into the main trunk of the great river Drasil. The broad river itself winds slowly across the open plains in the middle of the world, where the scattered kingdoms of humanity rise and fall in their ongoing struggle for dominance.

Photo by Andrzej

Photo by Andrzej

The vast forests at the edges of the plain are the jealously protected lands of the mysterious alfkin, ageless and wise. (And dangerous.)

The Deadlands lie far to the north, covered in ice and snow, peering out from behind the elder mountains known as the Spine of the World. Long ago, before the Breaking, the fae queen Hel ruled here over the ranks of the draug, the restless undead. Now her magic no longer holds her minions in check, and those that are left are free to wander the lands at will. 

Far to the south, the barren lava fields of the Firelands stretch to the horizon. No one dwells here save the scattered remnants of the once great fire yotun. And no one knows what lies beyond.

Photo by Katxijasotzaile, Victoria's Main Falls from Zimbabwean side. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Katxijasotzaile, Victoria's Main Falls from Zimbabwean side. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The great River Drasil winds ever westward, its flow growing broader and shallower until it ends in a vast, shallow lake full of ever-shifting sandbars and snags--and then slips lazily, in a wide curtain of a waterfall, over the Edge of the World and into the Crevasse. 

The Crevasse was formed when a geological fault line shifted, leaving a deep crack in the bedrock. The land beyond the fault line cracked again, forming three estuary channels, like roots of the great river tree, that carry the flow of the Drasil north, and south, and west to the sea. 

Photo by Adam Edgerton

Photo by Adam Edgerton

The two immense islands divided from the mainland, and from each other, by the narrow channels have long been the homes of the gods.

The island to the south, known as Faehold, was once the center of power for the uncanny fae, who fell in the Breaking of the World.  The ruins of their magnificent strongholds still stand.

And Vanahir, the northern isle, with its attendant archipelagos stretching even farther north into the icy mists and westward into the sea, is the home of the great Vanir Dragons and the humans and yotun to whom the dragons give shelter.

Photo by Katxijasotzaile, Rainbow at Victoria Falls. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Katxijasotzaile, Rainbow at Victoria Falls. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons