The three Deepclaw Lakes are the largest bodies of fresh water in the kingdoms, and are pivotal to the economy of Howlett. Large enough that they could be called inland seas, the lakes support a robust ecology and culture.
The citizens of Howlett who live near the lakes are hardy fisherfolk. Many of them are former slaves, or their descendents, who toiled on the water to feed the Gnoll and Orc armies that occupied the region under Athrintalec’s rule. While they do the same work now that they did as slaves, they have developed a fiercely independent streak; they are notoriously insular and self-reliant. They are represented in Howlett’s advisory assembly by 3 Electors, giving them the strongest voice in the nation outside of Kestral, but historically their primary goal in that role has been to limit the crown’s presence on the lakes.
In addition to the obviously strong fishing industry, the Lakefolk also produce very fine scrimshaw carvings, made from the bones of Skullfish, a species unique to the lakes. The fish can grow up to four feet in length and sport massive, bony headplates. The fish yield a large amount of meat, but are dangerous to catch, as they can easily crack the hull of a fishing vessel.
The largest of the lakes has been renamed after Howlett’s founding family; it was formerly called Queenswing, due to its shape. Many small fishing villages dot the shores of the lake and the small islands at the north end, while Kestral dominates the southeastern shore. Sathir is the only lake of the three that can host large sailing vessels, including the flat-bottomed river galleys that ply the Sathir River to the south. Thus, this lake enjoys the easiest trade with the other nations.
Trenaich, one of Athrintalec’s massive fortresses used to dominate a rocky tor on the nothern coast of the central lake. When she was killed, the magical backlash engulfed the citadel in a maelstrom of wild magic. When the effects cleared a smoking, glassy crater was all that remained of the once mighty fortress. From time to time, for no clear reason, a spectral image of the castle as it once stood looms over the lake. Considered a fell omen, the nearby denizens avoid the water and stay in their homes when the ghostly echo appears over the crater. This strange event is also held responsible for Ghostfish, a sub-species of the lake’s Skullfish that is completely invisible unless seen under moonlight. The creature’s meat and bones retain this quality even in death, making them a valuable curiousity.
The Lake of Sorrows
The smallest of the Deepclaw Lakes is nestled in the ancient trees of the Wychpines. It is also the site of one of Athrintalec’s largest and most horrific crimes against the Imal’eska. Six hundred years ago, a Gnollish soldier was killed in self-defense by an elven youth, who confessed the crime immediately. Not satisfied with so simple a punishment, the Dragon Queen had entire villages emptied in retaliation. 700 elves were forced onto fishing boats, sent to the center of the lake and burned alive. The lake has become a holy site for the elves, who have marked the occaision every year since, first in secret and now in a ritual that draws pilgrims of elven blood from througout the kingdoms.
Only a few fishing villages ply this lake, but the humans who do are among the only people in the kingdom who have frequent contact with the elves. Nearly half of the population on the lake is half-elven, and nearly every resident has at least a trace of elven heritage.