Monthly Archives: December 2013
What a surprise! The Mountain at the End of the Earth is not at the end of the Earth. Beyond is the Faug Forest, but to an erfin it could well be the Netherworld. The forest is gigantic compared to the woodlands of Eol. It’s damp, hot and inhabited by all kinds of annoying creatures and plants — some quite dangerous. First in the dangerous category is the giant leech known as the gorkle that lives in the Bludstream. It will not only suck an erfin dry in minutes, but any attempt at chopping it into pieces only produces more gorkles. But its terrible reputation pales against the size and range of the much larger serpent called the snerk. These are green above and blue below, and their rattling sound can be heard far in the forest where its immense body slithers over the boughs of many trees. It visits the tree-top communities of the people who call this forest home — the faugs — and can consume several faugs in one venture. It is the most terrifying of all the creatures to the faugs who rarely descend to the ground.
The faugs themselves are winged like that of bats, and have bodies like gibbon monkeys. They do not fly, but rather glide from tree to tree or catch updrafts above the forest to travel greater distances. They eat fruits of the forest and a yellowish rodent called the tarmut. The tarmut lives on the ground and in the lower reaches of the trees, foraging for insects and other small creatures. The faugs also enjoy the fruit of merma, which is highly valued among faug folk for its many restorative qualities. The red berries can be eaten at night to restore energy while the juice is made into an invigorating and intoxicating beverage called merma-mead. The oil of the plant is made into Essence of Merma for healing wounds and soothing tired muscles. Merma is also an ingredient to create Essence of Yu, which has magical qualities.
The faugs enjoy playing games, and often use their archery skills to pop the amusing buzz-blop creatures that look like an upside-down fish flying in the air. Buzz-blops suck in air into their lung-like bodies while chasing insects, and will explode if they encounter a flame beetle. And it is this that the faugs use in one of their archery games.
One forest creature that is not a threat, but rather looked upon as a good luck sign is the cooit bird. This pink bird lives in isolated pockets of the forest, feeding on berries including the merma berry, which enhances its rainbow phosphorescence in the male’s fan-like tail. Its call is sweet and melodious, and once heard is never forgotten.
While the trees of this tropical forest are high enough, one tree stands higher than the others; in fact it is so high and so large that it rises above the clouds that permanently blanket this land. It is here in Greenfaug that the royal community lives within and around the Sacred Tree of Yu. The tree is said to embody the spirit of Yu who the faugs worship as their guardian deity. Even the snerks cannot reach up this far … in normal circumstances. The trunk of the tree contains the Sacred Chamber of Yu where the Prince and Princess take their thrones. Fresco reliefs of faug history are carved into the walls, and flowering vines and orchids drift down from an opening high in the chamber.
The faugs possess one other weapon — a slish axe — which is a double-bladed axe of quartz bound with twine and attached to a handle of Yu-wood or a lesser wood. It is usually carved with the design of a snerk or other creature, or the Yu-tree itself. All the carvings are done by the Daughters of Yu who live within the Greenfaug community.
I will mention one last plant — the thock — which is actually a tree with some dangerous attributes. This soft-barked light coloured tree is capable of absorbing any animal that lies against or near it. Thocks living at the edge of the forest also have the ability to move through and under the sands of the desert.
It all begins in a small valley called Eol which is at the base of three mountains – the highest and most revered being Mateote (Mountain at the end of the Earth). Its snow-capped peak is a misty place where the the predatory gakar birds command the sky, but in a dark time forces flocks of them to swoop down into Eol and attack the erfin villagers. The only deterrent Mirrortac can devise is to resort to the drastic measure of setting fire to the huts and escaping Eol. The Werd Stream flows out of a cave system and makes its way from the western edge of Mateote to the lake of the Waters of Three which is inhabited by blood-thirsty lorcs; slimy black creatures that will make a meal of any erfin or creature that ventures into the water. The erfins are essentially imprisoned in their valley, because of the mountain, the lake, and finally the woods where the ferocious nite-wolves dwell. The cat-like and furry erfins are further trapped by their superstition. They believe that the mountain is the end of the Earth, and that anyone who tries to go beyond it, will fall into the Netherworld, which is akin to Hell and Hades.
However, it is Mirrortac’s discovery of a mysterious sword in the woods that leads him to a meeting with an otherworldly stranger and a mission to go on a quest to find the source of the evil spreading across worlds. Like cultures elsewhere, the erfins worship their mountain god of Mateote, and have built a temple to serve that purpose. They are descendant from warriors who drove another tribe, the Madin, over the mountain, casting them over the cliffs into the Netherworld beyond. The sword arouses the ancient warrior rage in Mirrortac, reawakening an innate ability to wield weapons, and fight to survive.
The staple food of erfins comprises a poultry animal called fote, a herbal nifgrass and various small birds and creatures inhabiting the Eol wilds.
Of course, Mirrortac does take his people out of Eol and beyond the mountain to quite a different “world” to the fir forests and nifgrass flats of Eol. And that is the subject of my next post.