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
"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
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
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
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
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
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.