Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Groan-Yard

This is (so far as is known) the only abode of the Groaners.

They have the appearance of gigantic human heads - to be precise, the top halves of human heads - buried in the dirt. A Groaner's head generally sticks out of the dirt about six or seven feet.

Whether they have bodies underneath, or indeed entire heads, is unknown. They seem to consider the question offensive.

They are named for their language, which sounds like a constant muttering complaint. Those who claim to have deciphered it say that it is a florid and scholarly version of the trade-pidgin of Teleleli. They actually seem to be content with their lot. They gain nourishment from the rain, sun and soil in the manner of trees.

The only reason anyone pays them any mind, other than idle curiosity, is the marvellous powers of their spectacles, which are of such cunning construction that they can be used in many different ways. A single lens used one way might show things more clearly than any telescope, in another increase a tiny detail until it seemed to bestride the whole world, and in a third way distort the world beyond all recognition. For this reason unscrupulous poachers often try to steal them. A Groaner who loses their spectacles will utter a great sigh, then die. This sigh is so melancholy that many poachers have themseleves died before they could get away with their ill-gotten prize. The sigh is especially dangerous to those whose feet are touching the ground when it is uttered: deaf thieves have been known to die of sadness from the vibrations alone.

They are most sensitive to all artifacts from the Isle of the Wizard. Indeed the very mention of one in their presence can set off a round of groaning discussion which lasts for days.

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