I had a précis planned for today, but the next story in the outline would require so much explanation of background about the setting that I decided to give that its own post. Thus today’s topic, the planet Fragarach and its unique inhabitants.
Fragarach is an Earth-like world, somewhere in space in the main universe of my Shine Cycle. The climate is somewhat warmer, on average, than our world, but its tropics are quite a bit hotter and its poles quite a bit colder than our world’s equivalent regions.
Nearly all the planet’ land consists of land-masses that are small continents or very large islands, set in a haphazard-looking archipelago around the world’s only true continent. That continent is dominated by a very large, very tall mountain—an extinct volcano.
In addition to some more ordinary (but generally minor) fauna, Fragarach is inhabited by a wide variety of creatures. (For which I don’t have a name beyond “creatures”—any suggestions?) Many of them are, in their base form, similar to creatures commonly found in our world, but there are also many that are closer to what we would describe as “creatures of legend”—beings of fire and of water, for example. Most of them are intelligent, or at least potentially intelligent (more about which anon), to the point of being able to understand language, cooperate, make and carry out complex plans, and so on.
There’s a mineral in the planet’s mantle that all these creatures depend on and are influenced by. If they get too far away from it—if visitors took them away from the planet without knowing about this—they shrink down to a form that looks almost like an infant (of whatever kind), or, more to the point, a doll, and go into what’s essentially a “suspended animation”; they revive when brought back within the mineral’s range of effect.
If a Fragarach creature gets particularly close to a particularly large deposit (especially at the mountain or in deep valleys), it develops (more or less slowly, depending on how rapid the approach, how close the deposit is, and how large the deposit is) into a grander and more glorious form, becoming stronger, more intelligent, and more powerful. This transformation lasts as long as the proximity to the greater quantities of the mineral is maintained, but as the creature moves farther away it dwindles back to its base form.
While this mineral is spread throughout the planet’s mantle, it is also found in rocks and crystals, occasionally in veins across the surface of the planet, but quite often on the mountain, and especially more and purer specimens the closer you get to the summit. When a Fragarach creature touches such a rock, the effect is like that of coming quite close to a very large deposit, and happens very rapidly (but not instantly)—only to dwindle away again after the physical contact ends.
Because these transitions can be tedious and wearing, and the “greater” forms have commensurate requirements for food, water, and the like, and even for intellectual stimulation, the creatures generally avoid touching those rocks except at need.
When mages from the Shine and Wild Empire explore Fragarach, they befriend many of these creatures, and after discovering the effect of this mineral, they devise “badges” containing crystals or chunks of the ore. These badges are made to be worn by the creature, and to touch the enclosed mineral to the creature’s skin when the human being to whom they are attuned activates them.
I’ll give the précis of the story in which these are introduced next week.
Any comments or questions?