26 June 2012
The main setting for “Song of the Black Swan” is the city of Silvermist, the capital city of its country, Selen. Silvermist stands on an outcropping of dense rock at the top of a high palisade, in the middle of the River Argen, which, unable to wear away such dense rock, split into two, carving deep channels through the palisade before joining again at the falls overlooking the Low Mistlands and the Plains of Auren to the west, the agricultural heart of Selen.
At the bottom of the Argenfalls lies the Merdelune, a wide lake created by the endless erosion of the falls, and the river port town named for it just to the west of the lake, before the water continues its course down the Argen. The city and the lake take their names from the light of the moon which reflects off the water and the mist churned up by the falls. Where the River Argen ends its journey to the Andúnë Ocean stands the largest city in Selen, Seirene, larger even than the capital, and gateway to overseas trade with the lands of the Far West.
Aside from the interruption of the Argenfalls, The River Argen is fully navigable upriver from Seirene to Merdelune, and then again from Misthaven to Spring Harbor, where goods originating in the Mountains and High Mistlands begin their journey downriver. Above Spring Harbor, the land becomes too mountainous for the Argen to be navigable, but some limited trade travels back and forth to the countries of the East through the high mountain passes when they are briefly free of snow in the warmer months of the year.
Two stone bridges connect the city of Silvermist with the riverbanks to the north and south. Winding switchback roads cut through the stone both north and south of the city provide the only means to transport trade goods to the port at Merdelune. To the east, there lies a safe distance upstream another port town, Misthaven, where river-going ships may safely dock so that cargoes may be unloaded and transported over land to the city of Silvermist. Very few goods are transported by water directly to the city, but there is a small dock facility at the eastern point of the city that is used for barges that are secured with ropes in a chain from the southern bank to prevent them going over the falls, used for any goods that are simply too heavy to travel overland to the city.
At the western point, overlooking the Argenfalls, stands Castle Selen, the halls of government. Within the city is also the University of Selen, the oldest and most prestigious educational institution in the country, followed by the University of Seirene, the largest.