A new personal piece for the gallery. This one’s been in limbo for so long now that I thought I better put it out there and move on:
They’d been travelling for almost a year now, a long journey through fens and swamps, badlands and scrublands, across the cratered plains where the huge trees grew- nervously watching the skies and scanning the tall grasses. At last they had reached the rift basin. They were close.
Signe waded knee deep through the tepid waters. The heat was sweltering- an oppressive, humid, damp that stuck her clothes to her skin and never allowed a single moment of comfort. Ragna sat high up on the back of Torvald- resting atop the truffle baskets and scanning the horizon with her scope. So far from the colony you could never be too careful.
It would soon be time for them to return, back to the distant frontier colony with their precious cargo of meteor truffles- the vast luminous fungi that grew only at the site of fallen meteors. One truffle could keep the colony going for half a year- lighting, utilities, recharging the energy rifles- it was all powered by meteor truffles. But truffle hunting was dangerous business, there were beasts aplenty, vast and harsh wilderness to traverse, disease , injury and starvation an ever present threat. Many hunters left the colony each year never to be seen alive again.
At the confluence of the great subterranean rivers, beneath the green glaciers and sheltered from the blinding snowfields lies the isolated settlement of Cavetown.
Many generations ago the nomadic tribes of the frozen tundra took shelter in this cave and have remained there ever since- their small band growing into the prosperous settlement you see today.
In the middle, towards the top- you can clearly see the temple garden where the high priests congregate. This is one of only three places in the cave where sunlight reaches, and where plants can grow, giving it great significance to the people. Only during festivals or ceremonies are citizens permitted to enter the garden, and fallen leaves from the holy red tree are worth a half-dozen catfish to the average villager.
To the left of the garden is the temple itself- its many lanterns burning fiercely. A typical example of Cavetown architecture- it uses a strong stalagmite as a central pillar on which the roof is supported- the roofs are thatched with long reeds that grow at the rivers edge in summer.
Towards the bottom right you can see one of the eel pools, where catfish and eels are farmed for food. They are also hunted from the lake far below and from the many rivers and lakes that extend deep beneath the mountains. High above some sacred finches fly. The local people believe the glowing birds are spirits of their ancestors, and tend to spoil them rotten. In return, the birds hang around, and their bioluminescent feathers provide a valuable light source to the villagers.
Light is a big deal to the people of Cavetown- so they adorn their houses with torches blazing with catfish oil, to show off their wealth and status. Light is also a necessity for navigating the precarious terraces and pathways that jut from the cave walls, so acolytes from the temple are tasked with keeping the pathway lamps lighted day and night.