5 July 1936
Even within the metaphysical realm itself, the true spiritual nature of water is somewhat elusive. For most spirits going about their days on land or sky, the waters look much the same in that world as they do in ours. It is those few spirits who can dive deeper, slip not into the water but past it, that ever manage to find the true realm of water hidden behind the waves. There are a few distinct realms in Water; rain and clouds do not directly commune with rivers who work with but keep their distance from seas and oceans. They all work in concert, they all understand the importance of the others, and communication travels freely between them, but they are distinct and would remain so forever given the choice.
The River Network is as vast a plane as any in the metaphysical realm, stretching well past the borders of the actual rivers in the physical realm and branching out through underground aquifers and the artificial rivers mankind shapes with canals and pipes. It is a hectic, bustling realm, or collection of realms with oceans filling the enormous spaces between them. Scattered throughout the River Network are smaller waters, each governed by territorial spirits who cannot cross from one territory to another. The nature of these waters is a matter of ongoing dispute; in Africa, there is still a battle raging over whether the Upper and Lower Nile are two distinct waters or should be governed by one of the primary spirits in residence. A few other lands have access to the River Network, usually the homes of spirits associated with water but not part of it. Iravati is one such land, straddling the banks of many rivers near the Indus Valley.
Aaboukingon was once the sovereign over a river that shared his name, when the people he knew spoke of their river with no regard for the names it had further up or down its banks. When the white man came they renamed it the Allegheny, then debated among themselves for years before deciding the Allegheny ended at Pittsburgh where the Ohio was born. Aaboukingon, being out of commission for significant portions of this process, woke to found himself a very powerful resident of someone else's river. It took some convincing for him to reclaim his waters, even if under the authority of Ohio, and still retain the freedom to move among Ohio's other waters. As soon as he could, however, he sent out messengers to scour the River Network for Joanna. By that time, the pressures of society against her occult leanings had paired with the uncertainty of the Great Depression to drive her away from Ohio's banks.
When word returned that she had been located in a small cottage in Arkansas, he immediately went to petition Mississippi for passage. But Mississippi did not know Aaboukingon as Ohio did, and anyway, what is one mortal to a spirit as grand and powerful as Mississippi? After a great deal of pleading and rebuttals, Aaboukingon accepted that he did not have time to continue this route and instead sent one of his messengers to find her and tell her to come home, that he was waiting for her, that he would give her everything he had ever promised and more just to see her again. When the messenger arrived, Joanna was not at the bank of the river, and it called out for bird or land or any other spirit who could hear it and bring Joanna to receive her summons. All day and most of that night it called out, and as dawn began to break, a young man stopped at the edge of the water and knelt down.
"Who are you calling for?" he asked the water, softly to avoid drawing the attention of other mortals.
"Joanna Matteson, bride of Aaboukingon! He has been searching for her, and now would welcome her home; and I have been sent to bring her home, but alas, I cannot leave these waters," the spirit replied. "But you are Riverborn! Do you know her? Can you find her?"
"I know her," the man said, "she is my mother, and Aaboukingon my father. I am on my way to her now, I--" he paused and looked away for a moment, then turned back to the water. "She is not well. I will see what I can do for her, but you go. Tell my father I will bring her home, one way or another." The river spirit poured out thanks, and as Jeremiah stood and turned his back to the river, the spirit rushed north to carry its new message.