A great freshwater lake with hidden depths
The Semmerlak and environs.


The Semmerlak is a great freshwater lake bordered by Dawn (Semmerholm and Weirwater), Varushka (Karov and Karsk), the League territory of Holberg and by the Druj lands of the Mallum. Rivers rise in Varushka, and in Ulvenholm, and flow down into the basin; a navigable river flows south along the borders of Holberg towards the distant Barren Sea in the Barrens. While it is believed to be navigable, the presence of hostile orc forces means only the bravest captains are prepared to risk the journey. The lake is shallow around the shore, but drops off very sharply. It is surprisingly cold, and in winter it regularly freezes in great chunks - though rarely does it freeze completely and the ice is treacherous and breaks easily under the weight of an armoured human.

Dawnish enchanters know that there are several places around the southern and western shores where regio connected to the Summer realm can be found. They tend to be within a stone's throw of the lake, or even within the water itself - there is at least one regio in Weirwater that exists entirely in shallow water and is said to be inhabited by comely youths who leave their magical realm when the moon is full to frolic in the shallow water. The nymphs are friendly to those who approach them with respect, but are capable of creating armour and weapons of sparkling water to defend themselves from anyone who addresses them rudely.


It has always been a little more unpredictable than it should be as a lake - prone to storms and odd tides. Islands appear and disappear from time to time. Seabirds avoid crossing it from north to south or east to west. There are several stories of fat fish pulled from the depths that speak in human tongues, promising riches or hidden secrets; stories of poached salmon that when cut open are discovered to contain magical rings or odd metal coins.


A legend from Weirwater suggests that the lake has expanded at least once since the foundation of Dawn. it claims that there was once land to the east of Culwich, ruled by the Earl of Sedaret. Long ago the last Earl of Sedaret pursued a crusade against several cabals of weavers who refused to recognise her authority. At the height of a great banquet, thrown by the Earl to celebrate her apparent victory over the weavers, a great bell began to toll and the castle and its surrounding village was drowned beneath great waves and unrelenting rain. It is said by the people of Culwich that on Winter nights of the new moon when the sky is clear one can still hear bells ringing in the depths of the great lake, and see lights that are said to be those of the drowned Earl and her noble household, still celebrating in the depths.

Ladies of the Semmerlak

The waters of the Semmerlak are deceptively calm, but there is something terrible beneath their surface. The Varushkans call her Dho'uala, as Zoria did, but she has many names. While the waters teem with fish, sailors in along the shores of the lake in Karov, Karsk, and Ossium say that the lake exacts a dangerous price from any who take its bounty for granted. Dho'Uala is a sovereign, who claims the entire lake and the rivers that feed into and flow from it.

Some Dawnish scoff at these tales, claiming no such horror exists in their lake... but even they cannot deny that sailors, fisherfolk, and beachcombers sometimes go missing. They tell their own tales of the Semmerlak, and of the Lady they say lives on a mist-shrouded magical island somewhere off the coast of Semmerholm or Weirwater. She is not terrible, but powerful and proud, a golden creature of the Summer Realm who offers boons, especially to those who have been wronged by those they should have been able to trust.

The Golden Causeway

Just outside Lacre in Lacuve stands the white granite arch of the Golden Causeway. Completed shortly before the Summer Solstice 382YE, the arch was built as part of an opportunity provided by the Lady of the Semmerlak (the Summer Lady, not the Lady of the Deeps). A second arch stands on the Bittershore in Ossium. When correctly activated, an impossible golden bridge connects the two arches, wide enough for armies to march across. The causeway has only been used once, to initiate the invasion of the then Druj-dominated territory.

Rafts of the Mallum

To the east of the Semmerlak lies Ossium - now Varushka, one claimed by the Druj. In the reign of Empress Varkula they attacked across the Semmerlak in a fleet of weirwood rafts. While they were driven back, they did extensive damage to the Dawnish territory before they were defeated. There has been no repeat of that attack - but from time to time opportunistic Druj will raid the shores of the Semmerlak looking to spread chaos and discord.

The Druj are poor sailors, however - their boats are crude and they seem to have little respect for the lake. It is rare to see more than one or two of these raids in a ten-year period.

Further Reading