The Fourth Story

The River Warden


If you were to look carefully at a map of Vàldovar (which, unfortunately, you would not be able to do, because no-one knows where a map of that country is to be found – if, indeed, one exists at all), you would see that there is only one river. This is the great Fluvisòlus (an appropriate name because, in the ancient language of Vàldovar, it means the only river).
    The Fluvisòlus has its source high in the Dorran Hills, whence it flows down to the broad central plain of Vàldovar, then on through the flower-scattered meadows and wooded valleys. On its meandering way, it gathers to itself the waters of many small brooks and streams until at last it becomes a deep, wide torrent.
    Tumbling and foaming over rocks, racing through steep-sided gullies, plunging as magnificent waterfalls over towering cliffs, the Fluvisòlus finally rushes forth from the land to join the stormy sea.
    Travellers journeying across Vàldovar find their way barred by the broad expanse of the Fluvisòlus and are faced with the difficult problem of how to get from one side to the other. There are two bridges by which this may be done, but these are to be found only in the upper reaches of the river, where it is narrow. Where it is wide, however, the Fluvisòlus can be crossed only by boat – and this can be difficult because (as everyone knows) rivers are fickle and uncertain things. One moment they are calm and gentle; the next they heave and churn with sudden anger.