Water Wrackets (1975)

 

The film begins with the idyllic images of running water in streams, then is interrupted by claps of thunder, and the image of a dead duckling in a stream. A narrator (Colin Cantlie) is telling us about a military manoeuvre around the year 12478. A character named Agateer gives orders to dam a stream in nine places to create nine lakes, although only five were made.

The first lake is called the Winter Lake. Some of the other lakes are joined by streams. The fifth lake is called the Palace Lake. The water in this lake was deliberately stained black, from the juice of the plant known as Agateer's Nightshade, which grew in the forest of Tersh. The Palace Lake was the deepest and widest of the lakes.

Greenaway on Water Wrackets:

"From my enthusiasm for J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. I invented a fictitious early population for that area called Wrackets. The Wrackets belonged in the swamps, the Mariotts lived in the hills, there was another group who lived in the forest; I was going to develop a very serious bogus anthropological-archaeological study of these mythical characters."

~

At Forkmeeter in 12478, the Wracket Dispersal had reached the first limit of its bounding eastward rush. Sackett and Mesander had seen it through the Bowring and the Allow had organised the First Continuance.
 
In the second quarter of 12477, Harteaster succeeded Sacksettor and the Marcream of Greable started the plunder of Piercing, Settle, Fastnest and the headstreams of the black reach of the Nadder. Greable's third son, Agateer, reached Pressing and Brindle in the first thaw of 12476. In the second quarter of that year, his Wracket Elite approached the Wardour Basin.
 
The Agateer Elite spread down the valley of the Semler Stream, killing or enslaving the local populations. The Elite gathered for a few days at Pike End and stayed long enough at Picking to stockade the Water-Reave and dam the river at Gristling and again at Powder. The high grey crests of the marauder Wrackets were first seen at Sedgehead at the spring equinox. And from then on, every Nadder hole and drain was smeared with grease and every culvert was noisy with the clack of armoured flails.
 
Agateer, comparatively free from the surveillance of a distant and ailing Harteaster, now had a following of 7,000, 1,700 of whom counted scotch each full moon. With this force, less than that deployed by Grenden at Sudgest, but twice as large as Mesander had lost at Creening, Agateer determined on establishing a tightly controlled, militarily secure settlement as soon as he could find a site that suited him.
 
In 12476, two nights after the second full moon since the spring equinox, Agateer's vanguard came upon the Horwood to Bridzor Valley.
 
After a hurried exploration, Agateer decided almost at once to dam the Horwood stream in nine places to form nine lakes. One lake each for the seven Creons, one lake for the Wracket shieldfleet, and the largest and most central lake for the Agateer household. Of the nine lakes, only five were, in the end, completed.
 
The first lake was the Winter Lake. Up until 11632, its margins bristled with palings and its guard wore blue-dyed goose feathers and carried cordrush stiffened with gum. Once riddled with passageways, the banks have long since collapsed and disappeared under the weight of rotting vegetation and water.
 
Where the water was deepest, there was an island where Agateer raised a 30-foot pole, notched and painted and tied with the colours of the Greable. It was on this date pole that Agateer's corpse was nailed at the end of the First Mariott War. His abdomen was stuck with pike teeth, his mouth held open with a gullet bar, and his nipples slashed and coated with gapaneen to attract waterflies that they might carry his strength back into the water.
 
12 scamaters, or 400 yards, further up the Horward stream, Agateer embarked on the construction of the second lake. Once wide with parallel banks, this lake retains some of its original shape at the southern end. At the northern end, it is now an uneven collection of swamps and ponds and thick overgrowth interrupted occasionally by pools of great depth. Agateer intended the lake to be a barrack water for the household of the Second Creon, and he left most of its construction to his eldest son, the solemn and pious Adanaster. Thanks to Adanaster, and the unexpected arrival of the relics of the Bowring Crusades, by the autumn of 12474, the lake had assumed some of the significance of a shrine and had acquired a sanctity that was to be respected well beyond the third axiom. It seems that the lake has always been prone to silting up, and the process of dredging and clearing it every third spring became a ceremonial penance for the total Wracket elite.
 
Originally, the second and the third lake were linked with a short straight, navigable channel. This channel has reverted to the shallow stream it must have been before the arrival of the Wrackets. And the lake itself has succumbed to the water-loving trees that had always threatened to choke it. When the stream was first dammed, the lake that formed here held two long, narrow and parallel islands, Bassender and Spast. These islands were joined with a row of seven high-arched bridges, each bridge dedicated to one of the sons of the Greable. It was from the fifth of these bridges that the Stackater ransom was dipped and rusted and then paid to the Surgeling. Agateer stocked this lake with carp brought from Forkmeeter wrapped in wet flags. As a symbol of longevity, the carp were protected until the end of the second axiom, when Sashatet was found guilty by his father of flailing the surface of the lake with a carp iron. He was garrotted with a fine fishbone hawser.
 
The third lake was joined to the fourth by a broad ceremonial channel marked out with spawning pools and the red-and-white pennants of the Grenden Horde. This channel is now a collection of streams running thinly over the remains of the old gravel bed.
 
The fourth lake was dredged and dammed largely by the Fourth Creon. And became, as a consequence, a site for exhibiting military prowess, and it developed the characteristics of a parade water. A row of seven small islands, Hog, Pole, Basset, Serge, Pale and Horridor, originally ran parallel
to the west bank, and they featured prominently in various water competitions, and acquired, by their distinguishing characteristics, a place in various ceremonies of oath and wager.
 
At the northern end of the fourth lake, the Wrackets reseeded a damp wilderness of birch and hawthorn with tar holly and black briar, and created a forest known as the Tersh. This forest protected, sheltered and isolated what was to be the fifth and final lake, the Palace Lake, the lake of the Agateer household. The water was deliberately stained black with the juice of a plant that grew in the Tersh and was known as Agateer's Nightshade.
 
The ritual and the privacy of the Palace Lake, hidden by the Tersh, encouraged any reputation it might have earned as a place to be feared. It was certainly both the widest and the deepest of the lakes.
 
It was here, in 12464, that the dying Harteaster came to be ceremonially drowned, and Agateer crowned himself the Third Leader of the First Dispersal and finally opened hostilities with the Mariotts of the White Sheet Hills.

 

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