Saturday, November 30, 2013

Maelstrom Malachite

© 2013 Edward Lockhart

Maelstrom Malachite

Purpose: A stunning spectacle of enormous natural power as well as a dichotomous setting to be endured, explored, and escaped. Smallhope and Hindgut highlight the extremes of dogged hope and surrender. One looking forward even though it is perpetually battered down; the other turning away and becoming forcibly insular.

Appearance:  The great turtle is unimaginably huge. Maelstrom Malachite's scaly skin and rocky shell are subdued shades of seafoam green. A whitish crystal-like ridge forms a spiny crest across its back. Sailors have mistaken it for some uncharted, wondrous islet. Few have lived to speak of their error.

When its cavernous jaws stretch open, the resultant suction is so great as to form an actual maelstrom. Whole caravels have been swallowed by the cyclopean creature.

It is always encountered in the open ocean (though legend speaks of Maelstrom Malachite [or its ancient kin] actively destroying coastal cities).

Descriptors: Like a typhoon, a tsunami, or an earthquake, Maelstrom Malachite is not so much a creature as an inexorable force of nature. It would take an absurd amount of power to slay the beast.

Ecology: Within the living walls of the creature's great gut, a pale candle of civilization endures. This is made possible by two ponds of fresh water and dim rays of sunlight filtered through its rock crystal spine.

A thick layer of swallowed sand coats the stomach bottom. The fleshy, pink stomach walls are surprisingly resilient. Though some few have tried to cut their way out of the belly of the beast, Maelstrom Malachite heals faster than they could mine.

The makeshift settlement of Smallhope lies close to the creature's maw. Its denizens wait in hopes of escape. Restlessly, they spin theories and make bets on when the mouth will open again. With every crushing swallow, the camp is washed away to be rebuilt anew. The populace ekes out a living searching through wreckage and flotsam, 'til they die or lose hope. The pond near Smallhope turns brackish with every swallow; this is when trade with Hindgut is the heaviest.

The GrayGreen Morass is a fetid marsh of vitriolic waters, foul vapors, and algae. Some speculate that this is Maelstrom Malachite's actual digestive tract. This would, of course, mean that there may be an exit contained therein... if you don't mind being digested.

The Fungal Forest is filled with tree-sized, woody mushrooms of a stunning number of varieties. Though many who wander its saprophytic trails are never seen again.

Hindgut is a small collection of permanent structures built of carefully salvaged flotsam and driftwood. The citizens rule themselves by direct democracy at weekly town meetings, held in Whalebone Hall. They even managed to farm a few shade-tolerant vegetables, mostly greens like kale and lettuce. By city law, full citizens are not allowed mention the outside world while in public.

So there it is. A really, really ridiculously big turtle, for your gaming pleasures.


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