Bü‘ükopo Oabü (BOO-oo-KOH-poh oh-AH-boo)
Bü‘ükopo Oabü (Lüota for The Great River) is a sacred waterway in the land of Eden. Venerated by the four halfling tribes who call this place home, legend tells us that the beauty of the river is the reason these hearty folk chose to stay in Eden at the end of the First Interregnum.
Though they had been a seafaring people before the First Calamity brought them to this purgatorial paradise, the splendor of Bü‘ükopo Oabü was too much for the halflings to resist. And so, they traded oceans for a river and the lands it nourished—lands mostly unspoiled.
In the beginning, at least.
Rising from snowmelt in the foothills of Düku Güdi in the north of Munchkinland, Bü‘ükopo Oabü begins as Kako Oabü (The Great South-Moving Water) and flows southeast along Oz’s borders with The Free Cities of Nunya and The Grand Duchy of the Garden.
As the river crosses out of Oz, it skirts the northern edge of the Forest of Fangs—a place the river is said to be afraid of, according to Munchkin tradition. Once it has left the wicked woods behind, the river again turns southeast. It then runs along the border between the Garden and The United Kingdom of Wonderland.
Near the dividing line between the Wonderlandian provinces of Motherland and Fatherland, the river reaches its southern-most point and shoots 167 feet into the air at The Unfalls—one of the Seven Wonders of the Post-Apocalyptic World. The river then flows east along the northern edge of the Fatherland frontier—a stretch the halflings call Muko Oabü (The Great East-Moving Water) and the humans call Der Neuer Rhein.
Knowing that she would not be able to take care of the place all by herself, Eden took time to fill the continent with all manner of beautiful things—all in the hopes that one of these bits of natural splendor would be enough to sway a people to stay for the long haul.
Little did she know that one of her first creations, Bü‘ükopo Oabü, would be all that she needed.
A River as Beautiful as the Sea
Many of the halflings who survived the First Calamity arrived in Eden on catamarans and outriggers that they’d built to outlast even the strongest storms in their native Polynesia. And though some found themselves riding the waves of the Sea of Tears, or else washing ashore on the banks of Lake Whatever, most were deposited into the rushing waters of the Bü‘ükopo.
As they traveled across the length of their new homeland, the halflings—the Munchkins, in particular—fell in love each time they rounded another riverbend. And though they spied other sapient beings along the way, fearing how those peoples might ruin this place, they felt that this was a world worth fighting for—a second chance they could not pass up.
And when they reached the Unfalls and were lifted up and over that precipice by the magic of a land which they believed could sense their good intentions, that was game over. They were staying. There were no ifs, ands, or buts about it.
The Lüe and Kala Expedition
As part of their extensive efforts to find The Seven Voices, restart reality, and send everyone but themselves back to where they belonged, the halflings sent a pair of Winkie explorers to chart the full length of the river.
Lüe and Kala began their journey by spelunking the caves of Düku Güdi, the river’s source, and nearly tumbling into one of the mysterious Tunnels Beneath the World in the process.
And the adventure only grew more dangerous from there.
Along the way, they had to fight off pirates from Chelmsdale, avoid being eaten by a hungry pack of ambleworts who’d snuck out of Quadling Country, and to ignore the siren’s song of trio of mermaids who’d made camp at the edge of the Forest of Fangs.
And that was just the first week!
By the time they reached the Sea of Tears a month later, having spent the last of their gold paying the toll of a Highlands troll, they were quite happy to accept the offer of a pair of Neverland fairies to be magicked back home—not realizing that all fae magic has a cost, even if the caster swears there will be no charge.
Lüe paid with the life of the child she was carrying—Kala’s child. Kala paid with the love of Lüe, who would never speak to him again.
But hey, at least their countrymen had a fantastically accurate map now. Right?
This Far and No Further
After the first iteration of the Seven Voices sang a new reality into existence, the halflings were left alone in Eden to act as its custodians. It was a blissful time, with Munchkins, Winkies, Quadlings, and Gillikins spreading across the continent to dismantle any manmade structures they believed to be polluting or otherwise robbing Eden of its natural beauty.
And yet, this peaceful period did not last. Could not, perhaps.
The moment a sapient being once again sought to defy the grand designs of the goddess River, the deity broke reality with second Calamity. Refugees from across space and time poured into Eden as they’d done before, and they pushed the halflings off the lands they’d made their homes.
The halflings again did their best to help the other peoples return to the places from whence they’d come. But were they thanked for it? No. The other sapient species of the universe marched back to the third iteration of reality and forgot the halflings had ever existed, not to mention the sacrifices they’d made.
Then some idiot or other defied the will of the goddess for a third time, and it was back to square one.
This pattern would repeat itself again and again. And yet, each time the halflings were marched off their lands to make way for the ruinous ambitions of the colonizers, they drew the line at the Bü‘ükopo. You could push them that far, but no further. Oz was theirs. The river was theirs. And they would not cede either place. No matter the cost.
Flora and Fauna
The river is home to more two-thirds of the non-sapient species in Eden, making it a veritable cornucopia of biodiversity. And when you add in the sapient species which call this place home? Fuggedaboutit. This is one wild and crazy place.
Here you will find pods of river dolphins and merfolk, schools of sharks and nahnlaríx, and the world’s only wolaríxkín nudist colony. And that’s not to mention the plethora of bird species which call river’s rainforests home (silly geese among them), the toughest fish in the universe—which they’d have to be, in order to outwit the terrifying nahnlaríx—and, of course, the turtle-shelled beaver-raccoon hybrids known locally as splash pandas.
Legend tells us that these magical waters were also the birthplace of fabulous amicus imaginarium, a species which would go on to offer great comfort to children throughout Eden and the rest of the Clarkwoods Literary Universe in the ages to come.
Travel Along & Across
Watercraft are common sight on the river these days, from halfling outriggers to steam-powered riverboats and everything in between. And though the presence of the Unfalls makes an end-to-end trip impossible for all but the blessed halflings, rumors are spreading that Reekian scientists are hard at work on technological solution to this problem.
Because much of the river serves as an international border, bridges are limited. There is Yellow Brick Bridge which connects Oz with The Garden—and which was modeled by famed Winkie architect Kukü Gogüdi after his famous Bridge Over the River Quad—plus less grandiose spans connecting the Wonderlandian provinces of Promiseland, Motherland, and Fatherland to The Garden, as well.
Rumors persist of plans to build a bridge connecting Munchkinland with the Nunyan city of Chelmsdale, but tensions between Nunya and Oz rise every time the rumors grow louder than whispers.
The vast deposits of emeralds in the river’s underwater mines helped the Ozites to build their famed Emerald City, and remain closely guarded to this day. Nahnlaríx fat is the key ingredient of the dishes prepared and served at The Cheshire’s Meow, a cuisine hungered over by Edenians across the map. And the Unfalls provide enough clean energy to power the whole of the Fatherland—and most of the Motherland, to boot.
Aside from its mineral riches, its abundant wildlife, and the hydroelectric potential of the Unfalls, the Bü‘ükopo is also rich in magic. The river boasts the second-highest concentration of The Waters of the River Without End in all Eden (behind only its tributary, the River Chelmer, where the infamous Armor of Apathy is made.
It is this magic which is perhaps the river’s most important export, for it puts potion making and spellwork within reach for any person who can reach its banks—princess, pauper, and everyone in between. And it is that democratization of the supernatural which gives Eden its strange character.
For good, or ill.