The Rook of Singing Water

Rook of Singing Water Token

The Rook of Singing Water

Having chosen to climb the escarpment and travel along the crest to avoid the marshy ground at it’s base I found a game trail. Presumably, local wildlife preferred the higher ground as well. The bluff had a back-slope, and a small river ran parallel to my chosen route. As I travelled I could hear some falling water ahead, and was eager to take in the view from above this unseen falls.

The trees cleared and I found what I initially thought was a tribal marker, denoting the bounds of some claimed territory. A forked cedar branch had been propped up by a mound of stones some 3 feet in diameter. Strung from the branch by leather thongs were carved tokens of bone, stone and wood, and a hardened clay disc about the size of my palm, marked with unrecognizable runes. I have included a rubbing I made of this ornament.

I looked about the clearing and saw several more of these markers, arranged seemingly haphazard manner, but all had a similar decorated branch. It wasn’t a tribal border at all, the piled stones were graves. I was already well inside the territory of some unknown peoples, and treading amongst their dead.

I recited a short prayer for the unknown departed and hurried through the clearing, leaving the graves disturbed no further. Upon reaching the far side and the welcoming shade of the trees again, I was stopped by a figure on the trail before me. It stood about a head shorter than myself, was leaner, by half, and carried a stone tipped spear in one of its four hands.

It made a gesture bringing all four hands together at the centre of its chest and then spreading them outward, palms open, except for the hand which held the spear. Not being sure what else I could do, I did my best to mimic the gesture.

It was at this exact moment that the blue twin-crested peeper whom I had befriended a while back, with a sample of my rations and some grubs from a dead log, decided to leave its perch in my pack, and climb atop my head. Seeing this the strange figure gave a whistled-snorting sound, and made a drawing in gesture with one hand. I can only presume it was a laugh, as I must have looked ridiculous in anyone’s eyes with my warbling lizard for a hat.

I was fairly certain its intentions were benign. In my experience, anything wanting to eat a person doesn’t bother to invite them to walk themselves to the larder. So, with a small lizard still adorning my head, I followed. As we walked, two more of these strange beings melted out of the woods and fell in step behind me, the green and brown hues of their scales made for excellent camouflage.

The falls it turns out was formed by several brooks and streams all coming together at a small canyon carved into the bluff over time. The rushing water, and my guide, disappeared over the edge into a narrow cleft in the rocks.

Peering over the edge I saw that a deep grotto had formed, extending well back from opening. Thick vines descended to the surface of a dark pool, and my host was climbing down them with alacrity I could not dream to replicate. I glanced back towards the way I had come from beyond the shoulders of my twin escorts, and began my own descent.

  • Excerpt from the collected works of Meihas “Far Walker” Vorshaus, Naturalist, Historian, Lay member of the Temple of Vorsha

The Rook of Singing Water is a unique colony of Etausi-Mal, whom have established a home in a large grotto fed by several mountain streams which culminate at a large cave opening. Numerous streams of water cascade and drop down through the ceiling into a wide deep pool of clear water. Suspended amongst sturdy vines hanging from the roof of the grotto, are the individual dwellings of the Etausi. Giant baskets woven from the still living vines, hang like fruit, each housing a handful of the colonies population.

Below the large pool of the grotto flows down a wide stair-like formation, in a series of mineral crusted pools. These pools in turn drain into a shallow lake. The lake itself is dotted with the floating island lodges of common lodge lizards.

This small piece of paradise is maintained by the rook, who have taken to domesticating the lodge lizards, as a sustainable food source. They practice agriculture utilizing some of the floating mats as garden plots, adding a layer of rich loamy soil and scattering the seeds of wild cereal crops, melons, squash, and some berry bushes. The domestication of animals and sustainable agriculture is rare amongst the Etausi. Most groups remain exclusively hunter gatherers.

Etausi-Mal, have the same four-armed bipedal body form of other Etausi, with long whip-like tails, stand on average about 1.5 (5′) tall, weighing approximately 60kg (130 lbs), their scales tend to greenish hues, some shift through the seasons to yellow, orange or red in step with local foliage.

They wear little clothing beyond simple harnesses for carrying tools, and pouches of supplies. Their tools are generally manufactured from wood, antler, bone, and stone.

Lost Cities of the Waejiran Desert

Apeigadun

“Apeigadun, the ‘City of Tears’, the eyes of its few wary denizens watching as you walk alongside the wagons. People with almost nothing stare as a lifetime of wealth rolls past in wagons drawn by hardy rabbox”. – Trisios, Waejiran Teamster

Apeigadun was once one of the seven great cities which later formed the Empire of Waejir. It graced a wide verdant river which wound through the southern portion of the Waejiran desert.

A terrible earthquake in the western mountains caused the headwaters of this river to be rerouted, and eventually the sand swallowed the drying riverbed, the orchards, and fields. The loss of regular water destroyed the local agriculture and the population sufferred a great famine. Those who survived emigrated to other cities and towns in more hospitable locales. The abandoned city was nicknamed the “City of Tears”.

The ruins are located at the midpoint of the great caravan route in the centre of the Waejiran desert, and are a sand scoured shadow of their former glory. Many of the original city structures still remain, providing meager shelter for those who travel the caravan route which still passes through the site.

There is a small population of outcasts, refugees, and free folk that claim the city as their home. Life is often harsh and short for those who call the city their home, as it is a lawless city. The city adds to its population from the lost and travel weary whom find themselves too tired, or lacking sufficient resources, to finish the desert crossing.

Siladun

Your boots crunch the scaled earth of the vast salt flats stretching beyond the horizon; somewhere within this wasteland lays the ruin of Siladun, fabled home of the Goddess Silat herself. The words of warning from the old woman in the village still echo through your memory: “Beyond the endless thirst dwells eternal hunger.”

Siladun is a timeless fortress surrounded by the vast salt flats in the Northwern Waejiran Desert. Few have braved to cross the endless salt in an attempt to discover the secrets of the ruins. Fewer still are those who have come back; always and forever changed.

The mythic home of the Goddess Silat has been described as a crumbling edifice of concentric rings above a vast network of subterranean tunnels. This structure is surrounded by vast sun-baked salt flats, and is purported to be haunted by her monstrous multi-formed spawn.

Some say the great faceted dome of indestructible glass which caps the central chamber of the Silat’s temple in Waejiradur was brought forth from her fabled home at the conclusion of the God Wars millenia ago.

Vocandun

“It was a beautiful verdant garden, but also haunted… by what, I do not know. Something still lingers in that place watching from the shadows and amongst the leaves. Once I had recovered enough of my strength, I felt compelled to leave… to be amongst the living again.” – Lepia Thielau, Temple Sister of Thiela

Vocadun is the fabled city where the gods first gifted the Treahni with the Vocanei to serve them as slaves. The exact location and truth of this place is lost to myth, covered by the sands of the desert, and eroded by time.

Every once in a while some traveler claims to have stumbled upon a ruined city after being lost in the desert for weeks. They all consistently describe an urban oasis, with lush vines, and date palms. So beautiful they did not wish to leave it. However the loneliness of the empty streets and buildings kindled such desire to be with friends and family, that it drove them to return to the lands where people dwell.