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Eyrezer

[Freebuild] Something was rotten in the forest of Notomys

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The build: Something was rotten in the forest of Notomys

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The story:

After the archery graduation ceremony at Slågö Farm, Tarra rejoined her litter mates at their trappers’ camp in the forest. While she loved the women in the local archery militia – their steely determination to protect their families, their commitment to mastering their skills, and the warmth of community they shared – they were still foreign. Human ways were different and often strange to the ways of Tarra’s people, the Jerboans.

Take for instance, the women’s militia garb. It wasn’t a uniform – they were too informal for that – but most chose to dress in green robes thinking this would help them blend into the Enchanted Forest. Maybe it did if you relied so heavily on sight, but for Jerboans, whose ears were as large as heads, all it did was generate many sounds foreign to the woods: leather rubbing on wool; wool rubbing on burlap; burlap rubbing on furs. She’d tried suggesting the women wear less but that idea had only gained traction with Scythia the Cyclops – and even Tarra herself opposed that idea!

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In her absence, Tarra’s litter mates Otis and Bibly had continued trapping and skinning martens. This season they’d set up temporary camp near a pond that provided ready access to fresh water. Marten furs fetched a good price at the hamlet of Notomys and it had been a bumper season.

“Look at this monster,” said Otis eagerly on Tarra’s return, showing off a plump marten. “I should get double for this pelt!”

“‘We’ will get double”, she corrected as she deposited a freshly caught hare by their hut. The camp was simple – not like the elaborate structures her human friends built: a simple semi-circular hut, covered in treated hides; a small cooking brazier; a drying rack; and a few supplies that couldn’t be foraged from the surrounding lands.

This was another difference between the Jerboans and Humans – the former preferred more nomadic or semi-nomadic lifestyles while Humans seems to prefer to hide behind large stones. As Humans had moved in the Jerboans had accommodated them but it led to the curious naming of the hamlet Notomys. The word “Notomys” literally meant home in the Jerboan language but it had become just a place signifier in the common tongue.

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About a week later, the trappers received an unexpected visitor – another Jerboan accompanied by a white swap wolf.

“Bayawarra!” called Tarra, recognising their guest. While Tarra and Bayawarra were from different packs, they had fought alongside each other in the Notomys militia years earlier. “It’s been too long. Do you know Otis and Bilby?” she said, introducing her litter mates.

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After introductions and niceties, Bayawarra took Tarra aside, his nose wrinkling as it did when he was contemplating something serious. “This isn’t just a friendly visit,” he began. “Have you … have you seen anything strange recently?”

“Strange? Yes, definitely”, chuckled Tarra nervously, “I saw Bibly do some actual work!”

“Oi! I can still hear you from over here,” interjected Bilby from the other end of the camp, “these ears aren’t just to make me pretty!”

“But seriously, no, we haven’t seen anything odd that comes to mind. Why?”

Bayawarra continued, “I’ve increasingly been coming across animal corpses in the woods, but they haven’t been eaten – or even touched by wildlife – as you’d expect. And some have had … well mutilations is the best work I can think of. Hearts removed but nothing else. And what concerns me most is that I can barely find tracks to follow.” He paused, petting his wolf. “Simma here can pick up a little scent, but I can tell it’s unfamiliar to her.”

“Gosh – no we haven’t seen anything like that. It sounds creepy! You don’t suppose… no… Look, if you can’t track it, I’m not sure that I can do much better.”

“Perhaps, but you know this area far better than I do. I’m starting to miss the Inner Marshes. I would really appreciate your help tracking this down – if you’re free to come that is.”

Tarra knew a request like this from Bayawarra would only come if he was deeply worried. What could she say but yes?

“Sure, Bay, I’ll come. Can you stay for some tucker first or do you want to move straight away?”

Bayawarra agreed to spend the rest of the day at the camp. That night they all traded stories over the campfire; Bilby adding levity with his comic impersonations of friends and foes alike; Otis delighting with a few of the simple magic tricks he was practicing; and the tracking animals – Bay’s  marsh wolf, Otis’ corhounds and Tarra’s fox – sniffing and grooming each other.

It was a moment of rest and tranquility that poorly foreshadowed what was to come.

Build notes:

Spoiler

This was actually the first build I did for GOH, back in August last year. I intended it to be my first post introducing a small Jerboan encampment but then got sidetracked onto the CMF challenge and others. The build no longer exists but I wanted to post as it contributes to my world-building. I think it shows that this was my first build - I feel like I've come a long way since then, but it was a nice challenge to try and use that baseplace (I think it was from a MegaBlocks dinosaur set from when I was a kid).

For names, I've look for inspiration from some of the large-eared species:

  • a jerboa is a rodent in North Africa and Asia
  • notomys is the genus of hopping mice in Australia
  • both bilby and kultarr are Australian marsupials (kultarr became jultarra)
  • sticking with the Australian theme, Bayawarra was a character in the film High Ground, which I definitely recommend.
  • I can't remember why I choose Otis...

You'd think with all those Australian references that is where I'm from :pir_laugh2: but no, I save New Zealand names for my tree folk! Hope you enjoyed.

More photos on my Flickr album.

Edited by Eyrezer

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So this was your first build!!  It's not bad by any means, but you have come a ways. :grin:  I do enjoy the way you've blended in that raised baseplate.  You seem to have a thing for those!

Enjoyed reading this story!  But those poor martens... :cry_sad:

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Haha yes, I smashed it out wanting to introduce the jerboan race without having to painstakingly build terrain. Even the hut is actually heavily taken from a Star Wars set. Then as I sketched out an idea for a story this one kept being pushed back. I’ve almost got the sequel build finished but have a backlog of two stories to write and post first 😅

The martens are unlucky. If I redid the build now, it would probably be squirrels on the chopping block!

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Neat build! Its cool to see how far you have come since then :classic:  Also very cool work incorporating the baseplate!

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