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The Fly River.

(Extracted from Quite simply, the countryside, by Delphine Medieval.)

"The Fly River divides the country roughly in half, flowing from the Two Shows Ranges in the south to the Bay of Ex in the north. It is the country's largest and most conspicuous natural feature. Sluggish in some places, lively in others, changing from dark brown to light brown to clear as it sweeps soil down from the mountains and disperses it along its banks in chocolate-coloured strata, the river feeds, ferries, entertains and drowns its people with generous ease.

Two breeds of people are associated with the Fly. One breed make their homes near the riverbank; they are the inhabitants of villages such as Nibble in the south, and Rest and Trio in the north; or they are lone folk who live in isolation, listening to the eternal gurgle and mutter of the water running past their walls. The second breed are the ferrypeople or ferryists who spend their lives carrying goods and travellers from one end of the country to the other. Sometimes they travel on lightweight rafts, and at other times on houseboats. They spend their lives on their boats, rarely setting foot on land. They regard the river as their country, with its own set of grimly obeyed customs and rituals.

A few species of fish roam the length of the Fly, but most confine themselves to one or two areas where the water has a flavour and mood to suit their fishy temperaments. The villagers in the south know that they will never see the white-eyed jet-black stickleback, as long as a child and with the faint taste of apples in its blood, that the villagers of the north pull out of the water in such abundance; while the northeners will never net shoals of tiny southern finger-fish, so satisfying when you tilt your head back and drop them down your throat, still whole and raw and full of minute bones, delicately curved and exquisitely pointed, which come out in your shit hours later. The middens of the south are peppered with tiny, rotting eyes.

Both ends of the country are wary, however, of the carnivorous hippopotomi which have been known to take off a person's leg in one bite. The hippopotomi prefer to eat fish, but they are not averse to any other meat they can find. They are to be found most often where there are large trees lining the bank, for when they doze, they doze in shade."

Read more about the Ferrypeople.