Into the Mist

Information about the Misty Miasma and its features

The Misty Miasma is known best as a dark bedtime story, but others know all too well that the stories of this mystifying, deadly place are undoubtedly true. Adventurers keep wary eyes upon the horizon, wondering if and when they'll run into the stanch waters of the misty miasma. No one knows when they'll come across it. All they can do is hope they are prepared and pray they never find themselves within this place...

Into the Mist

Postby Maltruism » Sun Jun 07, 2015 6:16 pm

*OOC Note: This location requires a moderated thread.

THE MISTY MIASMA
There are a number of swamps to be found on Idalos. But none are as peculiar, or as mystifying, as The Misty Miasma. Having no set location, it comes out of nowhere, for no reason, and extends longer than any common theory can explain. This is because its origins have nothing to do with the geophysics of its random surrounding countryside. It is not a result of a segment of the land sinking due to being undercut by some hollow in the bedrock. Nor is the composition of the soil inclined to prevent drainage of what runoff is diverted from any nearby river. There is no back-current stifling and stagnating the progress of the water as it moves through this inhospitable circuit.

The actual cause of this vast fen is the same as many of Idalos’ other oddities: The Shattering. Where many individual immortals wandered the face of the world in solitude or in pairs. There was a gathering of many of these deities together in fellowship in one location on that fateful day. The cataclysm swept over them en masse, shredding their essences and combining their domains in a storm of horror, despair and disbelief. The resulting swirl of fractured elements changes the land, the water, the creatures, and even the very air, wherever it appears.

Theories abound that its seemingly random locations follow some pattern based upon the domains of the deities that died there. But since none know which deities these may have been, this is of little help. One can only assume that their collective domains spanned numerous spheres of both geographical and conceptual influences from all over Idalos. At any rate, this phenomenon can appear anywhere in Idalos, with no predictable pattern to its location.

The change in the land itself was probably the least remarkable. But only in that the sucking, murky muck that replaced the original firm, rich topsoil is not really any different than the mud which can be found in any swamp. Again, it is only that there is no natural cause for this change to have occurred. There are paths of stable ground that wind through the mire, but they seem to change direction on the whims of mischief. And quicksand can turn up at any time. Even those few experienced outdoorsmen who have traversed The Misty Miasma before will find the paths altered the next time they encounter it.

Nor does the water follow the expected current. It switches back on itself in patterns that may seem random. But even a random series of back flows and redirections should occasionally lead a person out. The currents in The Misty Miasma will lead you away from where you planned to go far too often to be coincidence. But this detail is not that well known because it would not be wise to travel by boat anyway.

THE RAZORFIN
It is unwise to travel the bog by boat primarily because of the creatures in the water. Chief among the threats below the water’s surface is the presence of the Razorfin. Not much bigger than a typical trout, this fish has an exaggerated pair of dorsal fins on its back. The first secretes an oil that softens and thins the skin of creatures it rubs against. And the second, in testament to its name, is rigid, and topped by a razor sharp edge of scales, which slices into the weakened hide of its unfortunate target.

These fish travel in large schools in search of blood in the water, which it passes through gill-like structures for nourishment. They have no actual mouth and must absorb it this way, which drives them to make repeated passes at the bellies of creatures swimming across the surface, to put as much blood in the water as they can. Though boats resist this attack better than skin, they eventually fall prey as well, as the razorfin batter at the underside of it with increasing frenzy as their efforts fail to yield blood right away.

Razorfin are not bad tasting, and the oil in their front dorsal fin is much sought after by leather workers for its ability to soften leather. The second fin never retains its structural fidelity long enough after death to be used in a weapon capacity. This danger is beginning to be recognized in neighboring waterways as schools of Razorfin have begun to find their way free of The Misty Miasma.


THE IRONSCALE
The Razorfin only have eyes for what is above them, on the surface. So a determined individual could swim beneath them. But this would only bring them into the grip of the two predators in the depths. The first of these is the Ironscale. A monstrous reptile with powerful jaws and front claws, backed up by a massively strong, short snake-like trunk. It is unusual for an Ironscale to grow beyond ten feet long, but at that length, it would be well over 300 lbs.

The Ironscale wait, at any depth or proximity to shore, then spring with surprising speed to lock their jaws onto prey and drag it beneath the water. They also devour the blood-drained corpses left by Razorfin schools. They are comfortable in or out of the water, and will hunt in either environment, but are much quicker while submerged. Their scaly bodies resist the Razorfin oil completely, so they pay them no mind, except to watch for deserted corpses to eat.

A few adventurous natives have outfitted their boats with an exterior lining of these creature’s scales, to be safe from Razorfins. An Ironscale itself is unlikely to assault a boat, as it would not see any spot narrow enough for its jaws to close upon. Ironscales could be used for armor as well, but have not been widely employed in this way. Mostly, when gathered at all, the scales are ground up to create a musky-smelling powder that covers human scent and tends to repel predators.


THE CRUSH VINE STRANGLER
The other danger for those trying to elude schools of Razorfin is the Crush Vine Strangler. It is hard to say if this is a plant or an animal. It manifests as one trunk of a clump of Vine Maple, or as a root of any number of swamp trees. This odd entity will then try to either drown its victim, or strangle him, depending on the proximity of water. Those who have fought them insist that the anchored end was truly part of the tree. But on later examination, either the extension was fully wooden, and not prehensile at all, or it was not present, and left no nub or stump indicating it had ever been there.

Successful attempts to capture all or part of this menace have only resulted in a length of ratty wood, with no suggestion of a mouth or eyes. Cutting it open has revealed nothing remotely akin to a skeletal structure or internal organs of any kind. Even more frustrating to those who have fought with them is the presence of a powerful narcotic, which has consistently been used to dismiss these tales of a predatory root, or tree branch, as the hallucinations of those unintentionally drugged by this organic hallucinogen. The fact that this narcotic element is never present in any other part of the suspect tree is admittedly inexplicable, but still “no proof of such outlandish nonsense.”

This drug itself is not difficult to process, by simply grinding the wood, boiling the grounds, straining them out and then treating the resulting liquid in whatever fashion brings about the medium the chemist wishes it to take. The Crush Vine Strangler also grows on the spongy land of The Misty Miasma, but always in Vine Maple form.

Theories abound that the narcotic is transferred via spores, released into the water and absorbed through the skin to cause the hallucinations that victims are accused of suffering. In the case of land-bound incidents, it is blamed on these same spores being released by the strangler into the mist, which frequently affects the area.


THE MISTY BOG MOLO
The mist itself is an odd phenomenon, for two reasons. The first is the inconsistency of its actual visibility. When travelers first reaches the boundary of the Miasma, their vision stretches unhindered through and beyond to the distant landscape, with no trace of mist or fog. But as they wander into the swamp, the mist slowly coalesces to thicker and thicker degrees, almost as if it waited for a mortal presence to respond to.

But more than just obscured vision rises with the fog. Particularly thick fronts of mist herald an occasional confrontation with the Misty Bog Molo. Until this brute is right in your face, it is nearly impossible to tell that anything is there but a singularly thick swirl of mist. When it grips you, you can feel its inhuman strength. Look in its eyes and you can see its pitiless ferocity. But there is also an odd impatience and childlike eagerness.

The Molo desires things with magic or shiny beauty, especially metal. When it confronts you, its first action will be to make you understand that you will not be leaving if it does not allow it. This can either be through a bear hug embrace, or a body slam to the turf, with it then placing itself atop you. It possesses an innate resistance to magic, but is not invulnerable to normal weapons. But angering it without having made a gift of something first is sure to get you killed.

The more you give it, the more it will consider you to have the right to protest its additional demands. It will still try to intimidate you for a further gift or two after it reaches this point, but will become increasingly willing to accept your tribute with each surrendering of a new bauble. Many people that neglected to carry some cheap trinkets into the Miasma have been too proud to be bullied into giving up their possessions. Without exception, these people have ultimately been made to surrender far more than they would have if they’d been more generous to begin with.

The thought of what sort of “treasure” a Molo may acquire in a lifetime of this toll-bridge attitude has been the very motivation for many an ill-fated trip into its domain. There are rumors that a “Sand Molo” can sometimes be confronted in desert sandstorms, and an “Ice Molo” may harass those taking shelter in a blizzard. It is likely that adventurers have at times deliberately ventured out into these storms seeking “Molo treasure”. There are no tales of success.


THE FOGWEAVER
The Fogweaver is another unexpected presence in the mist, though its “fog” can be plainly seen looking from beyond the boundary of the swamp. It is astounding how much web a mated pair of Fogweavers produce. It is enough to cover trees or a patch of ground encompassing hundreds of square yards. What’s more astounding is the potency of the psychotropic chemical infusing the web.

The Fogweaver’s actual venom is nothing out of the ordinary. Sufficient for digesting insects, it poses no threat to humans. The spread of web though, with its magnifying affect on aggression and fear makes a threat of even the normal creatures that come into contact with it, as they go rampaging off in madness. The chemical in the web was originally only strong enough to make insects quiver more profoundly and reveal their location to the Fogweaver, hundreds of yards away. But the constant inundation of the fracture-empowered mist and dew has given rise to a potency beyond nature.

The Fogweaver recycles its web in the same manner as all spiders, by eating it. Digestion purifies it and directs it back to its spinnerets. Something in the combined hormones of the mated male and female trigger the creation of the psychotropic chemical. So the web does not carry this property until both the male and female have recycled the web in full. At this point it becomes quite valuable to chemists. The webs of Fogweavers found in other parts of Idalos are also valuable, and for the same reason. But the webs in The Misty Miasma are many times more potent.


NEEDLE MIDGES
It’s possible that this fractive element has also passed from the web of the spiders, to a species of bug commonly caught in that web. Perhaps, in the seven-hundred-plus years since The Shattering, enough of these stinging insects broke free and eventually established a nest. As prolific as bugs are, it would stand to reason that a magically-infused insect would soon become dominant.

It is not that these insects cast spells, or have any inherent resistance or affinity to magic. But they are capable of stripping elements of a person’s capabilities from them with their sting. As well, they can also bestow such upon an unsuspecting target. This can be anything from an allergy, to a memory, or weapon training; to something like knowledge of the basics of magic.

This will not provide a conduit to someone without one, but it may give them knowledge of where a suddenly memory-ravaged magic user keeps his. Or it may give someone a helpful insight to counter a previous vulnerability from a magic attack. More likely it removes knowledge of magic training from a practitioner, making them the vulnerable one. Someone swimming could be stung and suddenly forget how to swim and drown. Or more likely, they are stung and are stripped of knowledge about the many perils in the water, and die from any of those causes.

Some degree of physical capability can be stripped as well; making an expert knife fighter, for example, into a merely competent one. This is more from the stripping of the body’s own “memory” of its conditioning, rather than the brain forgetting its training. In extreme cases, the brain can forget more than simple training. It can forget it's own identity. Then a different midge may inject a memory from a different source, causing serious confusion.

Now, gaining the sudden, partial understanding of magic can be disastrous as well for the previously untrained individual. He may suddenly gain just enough knowledge to hurt himself, or those around him. These effects can last for several breaks, or until the stress of confused identities and abilities gets everyone killed.


CANDLE BLOOMS
Though there is a marked absence of water birds, there is something that is found floating on the water among the reeds and lily pads. These are a unique plant called Candle Blooms. Almost invisible in the misty shimmering of daylight, they shine in the dark with an inner light. Unfortunately, they attract Needle Midges, which attract birds, frogs and other creatures that eat bugs, which in turn attract larger creatures, and still larger and larger creatures. The end result being that trying to acquire these blooms is a perilous venture indeed.

But it is worth the effort. For these blooms provide a rich source of dye, a phosphorescent enzyme, a fragrant oil and a unique additional benefit depending on the color of the bloom. They come in three colors, each color consistently providing its unique treasure. The spores from the center of the bloom are dried and ground up to provide the basic element, which is then purified for sale or use.

The Blue Candle Bloom yields a serum which makes it very difficult for a victim to lie. The Red Candle Bloom surrenders a powerful aphrodisiac, and the Yellow Candle Bloom provides a tonic which greatly eases recovery from all types of addiction.


BRUMMAFERN
The Brummafern is a very mysterious and beneficial plant found only in the Misty Miasma. It is fairly common in the swamp, but its properties are unlike anything else. It stands about two feet above ground, or six inches above water's surface, with a thick, coiled crown of wet, pulpy flesh, like a broken segment of an orange.

The crown of this plant mimics the properties of what its exposed flesh comes in contact with. In one aspect, if you crack it open to expose the fleshy interior, you can give yourself a small cut and touch the opening to the wound and the plant will take on the aspect of your bloody flesh. Experienced hunters use this to toss these bits into the water at separate locations to distract the Razorfin between them, making swimming far less hazardous.

Or, in the instance of a larger wound, repeated touches into the wound will help close it up with increased tissue development. It can be eaten, but it is best to give it a food to replicate first, or it will amount to a pseudo-cannibalistic meal, as it copies the interior flesh of your mouth.

Its mimicry is permanent, but its shelf life prior to mimicry is very short, so one had best have what they want mimicked on hand at the time. Also it has to copy substances of a reasonably comparative texture. For instance, it could copy the flesh of a valuable fungus, for chemistry purposes, but can not be made into diamonds. It's range of texture capabilities would lie approximately between a thick pudding and wet clay.

If a hunter has a small bit of scent-masking oil, he could let it soak into a sponge and touch the sponge to the Brummafern's flesh to create more oil-soaked sponges, thereby extending his supply. This sponge technique is the most common way of generating liquid elements with the Brummafern.

It is important to note that although this fern can be easily transplanted and grown elsewhere, they only carry this property when naturally sprouted in the Misty Miasma.


DIPLOMAT SCROLL LILY
The Diplomat Scroll Lily is another highly sought-after bit of foliage. The plant is comprised of a thick stem that ends with a tubular flare and a leaf flap the can fold over the opening. Following episodes of thick fog and dew, the tubular end of open Diplomat Scroll Lilies are often found to contain a liquid. If two creatures each drip a drop of their blood into this liquid, shake it with the leaf flap closed to blend the blood within the fluid, and drink equal portions, it creates a sort of semi-telepathic understanding that bypasses language confusion.

It will not disperse innate hostile feelings between two enemies that partake this way, but it will make an understanding of each others' point of view possible, greatly reducing the likelihood of continued aggression. It is hard to explain the nature of understanding, for it does not grant literacy, or serve as a true translator. But it allows an understanding, as if you are guessing what was meant by a sentence in a language you do not understand, but are guessing correctly, and know it.

If this liquid can be sealed in an airtight container, it will last for a full cycle or more. This is another liquid element that can be transferred by using the Brummafern sponge technique. But this is the only way to generate this valuable fluid. Filling an empty Diplomat Scroll Lily with water will gain nothing, regardless of subsequent episodes of fog and dew. It is also important to note that, like the Brummafern, even though this plant can be grown most places, it only carries this property when grown in the Misty Miasma.


THE COLONY
THE COLONY

Those who manage to get past the many hazards of the Miasma may come across The Colony. Out of the mist rises a rustic village that no two people describe the same way. Some people describe something resembling an actual town, complete with fences and streetlamps. Some have added windmills and worship halls to their memories. Some say that the streets are paved with stones, while others insist there was nothing more than packed dirt. The only consistent element is the mist, which obscures structures at the far end of the village from view. So those trying to make sense of the variations assume that the different visitors simply entered from opposite ends.

But that doesn't account for those who instead saw a village set in a dale in a highland setting, or a fishing village of just a few floating platform buildings, or even just a single, lone house, set on a stretch of farmland. Still, some others have described just a few stone buildings, like the out buildings of some castle, but with no castle to be seen.

Even more telling is the fact that this "Colony" does not seem to be populated by the same species either. Some have encountered humans, others Avriel or Ithecal. Same have even claimed to have encountered Mer. There is one possible clue in the fact that all these encounters were what the travelers had expected or hoped to find. Or were of a variety even better suited to meet their needs. But memories are frequently hazy later. Or perhaps "misty" would be a better term to describe it. People seem to become increasingly less sure of what they'd seen when they think back in an attempt to fully recall their encounter.

And there is a common theme of the villagers extending a warm, but guarded, welcome, followed by a proposal of some task to be accomplished for the village, in exchange for rare materials, valuable information, animals or strange spiritual companions, or even rare weapons and trinkets of power. The fact is, the reward, as well as the encountered environment and race, seem always to be almost exactly what the wanderer was anticipating or hoping for. Yet, after leaving The Colony, on whatever quest a visitor has been assigned, if they retrace their steps, they will not find it again. Not, at least, until after they complete their task.

This opens the door for a great deal of scoffing and disbelief, those having never been there assuming it to be tavern stories, told in hopes of a free drink. Even when the rewarded item is presented as proof, it is discounted as some heirloom, mundanely passed down, and not obtained in some wild quest in a mysterious ghost swamp. Occasionally, skeptics have asked these veterans if they ever asked about the encounters of others who claimed to have found The Colony. Those few who did had to admit that the villagers never acknowledged any previous visits by anyone else.
User avatar
Maltruism
The standard against whom all others are judged.
Storyteller - Rank 4
 
Posts: 1845
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2015 6:57 pm
Race: Prophet
Profession: "Mastermind"
Renown: 0
Plot Notes
Office
Partner
Player Review
Personal Journal
Medals: 23
Contributor of the Month (1) Story of the Month (1) World Developer (1) Painting With Words (1)
Dungeon Master (1) Vlogger Extraordinaire (1) Mentor (1) Ambassador (1)
Alpha Testing (1) Review Master (1) One Arc Later... (1) Pioneer (2)
Scandalous (1) Puppet Master (1) Survivor (1) Lol Worthy (1)
Storyteller (1) Holy Tax Accountant (1) Keyboard Monkey (1) King Kong (1)
Vhalar 716 (1) Idalos Awards 2016 (1)

Return to Misty Miasma