Here There Be Piglets (An excerpt from “In Footsteps of Zebedee”)

Author’s Note:

Marsden Zebedee was an explorer and cartographer who was elevated to the position of myth during his time, though the name has become obscure in our time. He lived during the First Age when mankind began to trickle out of the heavens and down the Ranges, when the sky still held a second moon. Because the world of Anondendron existed long before human beings (or at least, the latest iteration of our species) occupied it, almost all of the cities in the Twin Kingdoms, as well as Gjerdan, Ys, and even the Sick Kingdom were built on the ruins of cities that had stood there unfathomable eons before. ***

Building on the bones of the past made sense, as whoever had left behind the ruins knew where the land would be farmable, the water accessible, et cetera. The problem was, in the ages in between, these ruins were swallowed up by the Outer Wilds– then, nearly impenetrable swaths of forest (we use the same term for any untrod wilderness today).  Venturing into the wilds in any great number without a discernable destination was akin to a formal request to vanish into thin air.

Marsden Zebedee found success by moving in small groups and slowly, (no more than five, and on several occasions, venturing into the interior on his own) mapping and marking his every step; this allowed settlers to clear a path, settle a town, which would eventually be raised into a city, and so on… And, of course, all this was repeated over centuries, even after the Good Sir Zebedee disappeared as a white-haired old man. Incidentally, the library mentioned was one of the first structures discovered, and one of the first settlements was built around the stony building, which is a mystery in and of itself- full of books in numerous dead languages, the Nittyin Library rises five stories tall, and contains stacks far deeper; it’s true depth is unknown.

The following are notes from Zebedee himself.

Moldering in the depths of the archives of the Great Nittyin Library, which can be found in an otherwise bland settlement on the outskirts of Valdendana’s capital city of Gunden Chantyyr, I found a small hand written and leather-bound tome. Its pages were made of a queer, translucent paper composed of pressed leaves.

Its title (or so the Glass Mages who can tap into that sort of knowledge- the language was a messy pile to my eyes) was The Book of Pigs– or some such nonsense, and written within was a strange treatise on a small society, buried in the Outer Wilds; a community of pigs, led by one Prester Hog- who led an enlightened, fair, balanced, and well nigh idyllic society, shining like a perfect political diamond in the depths of the wilderness (if one were to believe the source, that is).

The tome included a map to the supposed location, and was only a week’s travel through the forest, just a hook around the place where the red ferns thin out. I was familiar with the general area, having started mapping close to the point, so I decided to set out on my own. What I found was… well, a very strange thing indeed! A little world… a main street with houses and what appeared to be a pub, and another building a grocer- all meticulously clean and tidy. It was indeed, a miniature city, built with the proportions of pint-sized porcines (I only entered the larger of the buildings, and had to do so on my hands and knees…even standing upright would have proved disastrous for the little berg).

I was amazed by the complexity of the settlement and wished very much to meet the inhabitants… I called out an eager, “Ahoy!” and a few of the beasts emerged from what I perceived to be a gathering hall. I had foolishly raised my hopes, only to find that the creatures were… nothing but pigs; ordinary skittish mammals exactly like our domesticated hog in every respect except for their diminutive size, and their manner of dress…Yes! Some madman had meticulously crafted small outfits for the beasts. 

One strange parting note, however…I did make an attempt to camp the night within the “City Limits”, but quickly left because of an uneasy and unshakable feeling of being watched… whether it was by the pigs themselves or the as of yet unseen lunatic who had organized such a madness, I do not know; and in this case, I am very happy in my unknowing. 

 

***Note: The lone exception, of course, is the island nation of Pug, who simply razed everything to the ground and started afresh–hardly a surprise, given the fact that all indigenous species to that isle were quite literally eaten to extinction before the infancy of the first age had passed- an impressive, if not absolutely insane dedication to the most zealous form of gluttony– this is why all food is imported to that singularly wealthy kingdom, even to this day.

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