New update! Two more creatures with their own lore, and part of a short story I'm working on.
The country of Cenogé, one of the largest in the continent of Tokarey and indeed in the world of Einea, is known for many things.
These include horn music with boisterous drums, humidity, mosquitoes the size of seagulls, purple honey… and the bayous. Cenogé borders much of the inland sea Ula Mea, and is crisscrossed with rivers coming down from the immense Great Divorcing Range to its east.
By the time those rivers wind their way through the jungles and thickets and hills, they can become sluggish. This is the ideal home of the bayou beetle
, a relative of the oceanic greater diving beetle that’s adapted to hunt in Cenogé’s murky bayous.
They’re smaller - three metres long instead of nine - with proportionally larger eyes with which to pierce the muck or to peer over the surface. Though they look bulky, they are capable of rapid bursts of speed, and young crocodilians, most birds, smaller mammals, and young humans aren’t safe from them.
One thousand years before present, a last-ditch effort to win a war went spectacularly wrong.
The defenders were the Lefaneie - possibly the greatest magicworkers Einea has ever seen. The attackers were the Meirese, a people fed up with centuries of Lefan interference, and wanting to end it once and for all.
End it once and for all they did
. The Lefaneie had a secret weapon that proved to be far more effective than they'd anticipated.
The Sudden Shock, as it has since come to be called, split the multiple dimensions, or 'layers' in which magic resides in Einean space, right down the middle. The city in which it took place, the Lefan capital, fell in to the layers beyond. These layers aren’t meant to hold physical matter, so they were twisted and disintegrated. Parts of the city's ruins rapidly transmuted into water and hair and flesh and other matter, bending out of shape, and they were transported two hundred kilometres to the east due to a failure of locality. There was a catastrophic physical explosion, too, which sent Einea as a whole into an ashy, irradiated winter for seven years. If the ash coverage had been total, all life might have been snuffed out.
Every sauropod in the world died in or soon after those seven years, and everything that had preyed upon them and couldn't adapt to smaller prey died along with them. Most pterosaurs went extinct. Most ceratopsians. Most tyrannosaurids. The world was reclaimed by the smaller, more adaptable megarthropods, dromaeosaurs, birds and mammals.
There were, of course, exceptions - like the tsuoba
, a predator and scavenger that lives in Tileé and surrounding islands as of 1042 years post-Shock.
The tsuoba’s ancestors were hibernators, able to weather the long stretches of ash darkness and cold in a catatonic state for months at a time. Many of them wasted away or froze in their sleep. Those that woke fed on the cold-preserved dead, and, eventually, some of them lived to see the sun once more.
Tsuoba means ‘tundra sneaker.’ While it may not look so sneaky here, this is a male in full breeding season flush, his horns a bright yellow-red with blood. When this season is over, the horns (which are smaller on females) are near-indistinguishable from short boughs. A sleeping tsuoba can look like nothing more than a pile of snow and some firewood - or, with its summer coat, a pile of *leaves* and some firewood.
Tsuoba are opportunistic, hunting seals and oceanic platypuses at the shore, thumper beetles in the tundra plains and smaller dinosaurs and mammals in the forests. They are also remarkably quiet, tiptoeing through the snow with less sound than a human walking. When they do make noise, though, to flirt or to threaten, it's so low that it's felt rather than heard - like the onset of an earthquake.
An Excerpt of an Einean Short Story: A Boy and His Sail
The Most Holy Mondine Basilica, Canalas City, Greater Meir
14 years after the end of the Iro-Canalian War
225 years before the events of The Ancient Wound
16 years after the founding of Cinura
Something I heard over and over in my year on the corps was that ‘there’s no bond quite as strong as the one between a boy and his sail.’ I think daydreaming generals came up with that one to make themselves feel better as they stooped behind cover far behind the lines and we lost our lives in the sky above them.
I was eleven when I was drafted. Yes, eleven. Do not
give me that pitying stare, priest. It unmans me. Do you understand that?
Thank you. Please, just listen. It’s taken a lot of time - a lot of thought - for me to be able to sit here and tell this to you.
I was eleven, and I lived in a nowhere town. A satellite of a satellite of the capital. My family farmed goats, had done for centuries. Sometimes hunted stag beetles and sold their carapace for cheap armour. I hated it - rebelled whenever I could. Made trouble. I was a shitty kid - sorry, bad kid - and nothing my parents ever did could rein me in. I wonder if a part of them, even a small part, was relieved to see me hauled away on that cart. I won’t ever know. I never could find them.
They took us - a group of maybe fifty, nearly all boys, nearly all short and thin-framed - in these carts that we all swore must have been used to carry meat before they took us on. They stunk
. They were open at the top, and the mosquitos drank their fucking - sorry, they drank their fill, egregiously
so, every night on the way.
The way… that was a confusing time. They didn’t tell us much, where we were going or who we were fighting. Iroi was a martial culture, y’know? Masculine. You couldn’t cross a street in the capital without tripping over a phallic symbol. The classic Iroian man in every commemorative statue held his sword like he was wanking it off. We were told ‘you’re going to fight some people, and those people deserve it for what they’ve done to us’ and that was enough. No more elaboration. That was enough, for all
End of excerpt.