A to Z: S is for Swamp (or Stone Heads)Posted: April 21, 2011
I’ve been drawing and redrawing the maps for Aldeboran for years… moving things around and changing them… but the lower left hand side of my map always seems to be occupied by a large swamp variously named ‘Soutron Swamp’ or “Southron Swamp’ or something similar.
These swamps are notable for the difficulty they present to the traveler… and thus have become a haven for hermits, bandits, cultists and others who would just prefer to be left alone. Inhabitants include swamp snakes, giant rats, gators, gar, poisonous insects, voodoo priests, swamp-dwelling lizard men and other creatures. Hazards include poisonous gasses, quicksand and mires, ghosts, diesease and other dissapointments.
The swamps are dotted with gigantic stone statues or stone formations that resemble men’s heads, hands and other body parts. These statues are always sunken into the muck and mud and covered in vines and moss, so their true extent and size is difficult to determine. Some insist that these ‘statues’ were not carved from stone, but are the petrified remains of a race of giants.
One particularly amusing (and probably apocryphal) tale from the swamp concerns an expedition by the famous adventurers, Karrl and Bluddo. These two worthies had set out from Eord with a band of mercenaries into the swamps on some errand or another. While there, they approached one of the stone heads and began to poke around in the massive cave that served as the carvings’ mouth. Here they found a large quantity of a possibly valuable substance that resembled gigantic slabs of ivory embedded in the walls which they eagerly began to remove. Since the mosquitos and biting flies were quite unpleseant, the mercenaries built a fire in the mouth of the cave to drive away the bugs.
At this point the tale grows less clear and the many different versions diverge. Some of the more rational tales claim that the mercenaries were too greedy and removed too much of the ivory-like substance embedded in the walls, provoking a collapse in which everyone in the cave were killed. Karl, Bluddo, one or two other mercenaries and the crew of the boat they had hired rowed back to civilization where the of ivory that had been removed from the cave was sold. Others claim that an earthquake crushed the mercenaries inside the cave.
One particularly lurid tall tale claims that the giant, provoked by the fire in his mouth and the pain of having several of his ivory teeth removed, awoke and began to stir, freeing his massive stone body from where it had been buried in the swamp. The majority of mercenaries were ground to death by the giants’ remaining teeth or spit out to fall to their death to the swamp that was suddenly hundreds of feet below when the giant abruptly stood up. A few unlucky mercenaries who had been exploring the twin caverns of the giant’s nostrils were shot hundreds of miles to the east when the giant sneezed.
Karrl And Bluddo, who had been seeking to explore the shaft that was actually the giant’s throat via a rope tied to the giant’s uvula, were nearly killed when Karrl, in desperation, invoked a nausea-inspiring spell that caused the giant to fall to his hands and knees and vomit them into the swamp.
An individual of dubious reputation who claims to have witnessed these events along with the crew of a swamp boat and a mule named Daisy (Djamm Flenders, recently of Eord and suddenly enriched by unknown transactions), claims that the stone giant, estimated to be at least two hundred feet tall, was last seen staggering off into the swamp in a southeastern direction.
In any case, the single large slab of ivory that was retained later found it’s way to the King’s palace where it has been rumored to have been used to manufacture a royal toilet seat and other various items of domestic royal comfort.