M is for Marak, Margoose and Mora

MARAK: colonial city situated on the western fringes of the Eastern Canopy. It is a relatively recent settlement, established over the last fifty years, with a mixed population of Argosians and Nurians. Grave tensions persist between the colonists, the native inhabitants and their Argosian rulers at ‘home’. Marak colonials are mostly merchants dealing in Treespice, the one plentiful natural resource in the Eastern Canopy. The entry in the seminary encyclopedia under ‘Marak’ reads as follows:

When the first Argosian traders crossed the Gap and settled on the west fringes of the Domains in the Year of Green Grace, 1131, they found the former Empire of Nur in disarray. The Eastern Canopy was prey to bandits, the degenerate Nurian chieftains unable to maintain the rule of law and order. Superstition and unbelief were rife among the population. The Priest’s Council in its infinite mercy sent soldiers to guarantee the traders’ security and missions to spiritually guide the natives. If the colonists subsequently found themselves in positions of power and influence it was only due to sound business practices, moral rectitude and the guiding will of God.

For a few years, the colonies prospered under their rule, Nurians and Argosians alike responding to the revivifying power of righteous rule. The Domains paid their tithes in Tree-spice to the Mother Canopy and in return, Argosian money developed the mines and transport systems that ensured their prosperity. The early Argosian missions set up schools, hospitals and libraries for the local population, helping to bring the backward Nurians into the twelfth century. Alas, even in the early years these well-meaning efforts were met with graceless dissent, and once an open riot in Marak that led to the imposition of martial rule. Ultimately, however, it was not revolution that saw the downturn of our fortunes in the colonies. It was the weather.

Though the Eastern Canopy had been barren of its leaf-forests for at least three centuries before our colonists arrived, the native inhabitants cursed for their unbelief by the All-Father himself, rainfall had always been enough to carry on the old vine-farming techniques. But within a generation of the establishment of Marak a lasting drought hit the region, caused some maintain by the stubborn refusal of Nurians to practice true Tree worship, despite the seminary’s efforts. They took to dew-farming but the yield was pitiful and impossible to exploit on any large scale. Businesses began to suffer, even our own. Tree-spice was the one resource left in the canopy that guaranteed a decent living. It was harvested from the dry sap wells and used in a wide variety of medicines and foodstuffs. The spice trade continues to this day and motivates all Guild presence in Marak.

Margoose: flightless bird raised for eggs and meat in Argos. Margeese lack feathers on much of their bodies and have a scaly, leathery hide.

Mora: stifling season before the onset of the autumn rains in the Eastern Canopy. Temperatures soar and the weather is oppressive and overcast. The word is a Nurian one, of course, co-opted by the colonists. 


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4 Responses to M is for Marak, Margoose and Mora

  1. Bahiyyih says:

    Would love to know what margoose tastes like, plus a couple of typical recipes, as well as the exact procedure used in the seminary kitchens for the removal of those disturbing leathery scales. Is there anything useful that can be done with the scales? Do they serve for shoe soles, for example, or waterproofing, or maybe the material used for tents? And where is waste dumped in Argos? Are margeese bones thrown with impunity into the Storm clouds, or are there strict compost regulations in this earthless world, to ensure top soil for the vines? Wish you had a recording of margeese cackling. Do they have beaks? Straight? Curved? Or otherwise? Love the little illustrations for this dictionary, by the way. How perfect to have them all gathered into a little book, like a medieval text.

    • MaryV says:

      Good lord! I would love to know all those things too. But you’re asking for a Tolkien-esque level of commitment to detail… Alright.

      Margeese certainly cackle, hoot and honk like their earthly cousins the geese. I imagine them like small half-feathery dinosaurs. Their hide, though scaly on the outside, makes marvelously soft inners for shoes and the like once it is scraped with hardwood knives. Think of sealskin. All offal and by-products are naturally used for compost – no waste in the Tree. How else would you make loam? Only humans are given ritual ‘burials’ in the Storm…

  2. Bahiyyih says:

    Of course I’m asking for Tolkein-esque details: TCOTT is in the same league, frankly. Let the future prove me wrong.

    • MaryV says:

      Ah, you’re kind, but until people start learning Nurian, wearing leaf clothing and practicing Grafter rituals at geeky conventions we have far to go.

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