Mossmounds of the Drifting Woods are
among the greatest natural mysteries of
Nybelmar. Neither plant or animal, these huge growths, along with their
Mosschildren are vital to the woods' survival. However, despite their apparent
longevity and immobility, very little is known about them, leaving them shrouded
in mystery much as they shroud themselves in clouds of steam.
Appearance. As their name implies, Mossmounds resemble giant piles of living moss that may have reached the heigth of eight to ten peds or more, and at this point almost thirty peds in diameter. However, even with a structure resembling that of moss both internally as externally, the way it has grown immediately dismisses any thought one is looking at actual moss. From the main mound various structures have been formed, each with its own function.
The most obvious of these are the large steam vents that dot the entire Mound's surface, ranging from large shafts, wide enough for a man to enter and often several peds high, to shorter ones that reach no higher than the waist. Whilst the former of these constantly spew forth large clouds of steam, the latter will remain inactive for a period of time, followed by a short and violent eruption of fumes and vapour.
Second, but probably the most common are the water outlets, of which three types can be found.
The first of these are nothing more than holes in the exterior of the Mound, varying from fist sized to large gashes of a ped wide. These are the most common outlets, and produce water in varying degrees of temperature, ranging from only slightly warmer than the surrounding air to positively warm.
The second type of water outlet resembles the steam vents, but instead of reaching up into the air, they stand out a few handspans from the surface in a horizontal or downward angle. This type produces very hot water, that can easily burn whomever would be foolish enough to touch it. Also, the water does not simply pour out of the hole, but jets away, as if it were to be squeezed out.
The third type of water outlet is much more rare. They are pools of still water, located in round depressions on the side of the Mossmound and encrusted with minerals around the edge. Compared to the other types of water outlet they appear quite tranquil, and perhaps an easy place to drink. However, this would be a fatal mistake. Called "Death Pools" by the Ter'ei'Vikh, these pools are extremely poisonous to most animals and plants, and even the smallest sip causes a slow and painful death for any human being.
The last kind of opening that can be found on a Mossmound is directly related to their most mysterious aspect, the Mosschildren. These are the tunnels that lead deep into the mounds, used by the Mosschildren for an unknown purpose. All that is known about these tunnels is that their entrances can close itself when something tries to force its way in or when a Mosschild is attacked and flees back into the mound. The only things that seems to come out of them are the Mosschildren themselves, and occasionally the shards and bits of volcanic glass and rock they carry out.
Mossmounds have only a few special abilities. They are able to move, in a
certain way, and react to heavy impacts by withdrawing themselves slightly from
the impact spot, not unlike a slug when one touches it. Noteworthy however is
their natural defence against just about anything that might want to damage a
Mossmound. Would one place a blow against a Mossmound, one would find their fist
to sink into the tissue, not unlike a deep patch of moss would. However, upon
withdrawing, the skin will be agitated severely by the acidic secretions that
appear to permeate the entire 'body' of the Mound. The more one disturbs the
tissue, the more of these acidic substances are released, and the more powerful
they get, to the point that excruciating pain and permanent scars are the
A last point of interest to note here is their apparent invulnerability to magic. Although the Compendium has not been able to do extensive studies in this respect, the Ter'ei'Vikh claim their magical songs cannot exert any influence over the Mossmounds or Mosschildren whatsoever. Of course this has greatly limited the amount of knowledge available on these Mounds, and may be considered one of the reasons they remain a mystery in many ways.
Territory. Both the Mossmounds and the Mosschildren can only be found in the depths of the Drifting Woods on Nybelmar. As far as the Compendium knows no Mound has ever been seen outside of these woods.
Habitat/Behaviour. Mossmounds do not show much 'behaviour' in the usual way. They produce their fountains of water or steam, but there seems to be no pattern in these occurences apart from the few 'regular' vents, that erupt at set intervals. They seems to shy away from heavy objects running into them, such as a falling tree, but only slowly. This movement seems to serve no other purpose than to gradually, often taking several days, remove the fallen tree from the mound as the slopes of the mound are adjusted to allow it to slide downwards easily. Without this mechanism, the Mossmound would slowly be covered with the debris of the jungle's cycle of life and death.
Diet. No one has ever seen a Mossmound of Mosschild actively eat or drink anything at all. It is suggested that the Mossmounds feed directly from their surroundings in much the same fashion as a tree would, and that the Mosschildren find some kind of nourishment inside the Mound, but neither of these theories has ever been proven true or false.
Mating. As far as known, Mossmounds do not mate, or in fact, reproduce. No one has ever seen a sick or dying specimen, nor has anyone ever seen a creature that might have been a 'larval stage' or something similar. They are presumed to be sexless, and immortal. Ancient lore of the Ter'ei'Vikh has it that Mounds can indeed shrink into nothingness, slowly growing smaller over the years, and eventually disappearing below the water's surface. Likewise, new Mossmounds were claimed to appear sometimes, slowly growing from below the waters into the open air. However, no such occurrence has been recorded for at least three hundred years, and no official records are known to include such an event at all. This is perhaps one of the greatest unanswered questions about the Mossmounds, but unfortunately the lack of young Mounds makes further research impossible.
Myth/Lore. As Mossmounds, with their enormous heat production are obviously a vital part of the Drifting Woods tropical climate, the myth of the Three could very well be considered a true story. The underlying thought of this myth is that, like many other mysterious creatures and phenomena, the Mossmounds are the physical incarnations of Sar'estvokar's Guardian Spirits.
The story goes that in ages long past, during the period known to the people of Santharia as the Year of Darkness, or to the people of Nybelmar as the Breaking, the world went cold as ice. Large parts of the Drifting Woods were dying from the intense cold, and the people were suffering. As life around them faded to a pale imprint in the snow and ice that descended from the skies, the surviving Vikhari, as they called themselves, fled to the very heart of their realm. There they called upon their most powerful magic, and built a living dome around the Lake of the Three, a trio of giant Mossmounds, said to reach higher than all but the tallest of trees. There, sheltered from the elements and drawing strength from the heat of the Three, the people of the Vikhari survived the cold, and with them did many animals and plants that would have died anywhere else.
When at last the sun returned to Caelereth, it was from this great shelter that life was returned to the forest. After the Breaking, the Three had spent all of their power, and slowly receded beneath the waters and disappeared. Many years later, the descendants of the people they saved, the Ter'ei'Vikh returned to the lake at the heart of the woods to build their greatest creation, the capital of the Drifting Woods, Mūn'ti, the hanging city. But still the Ter'ei'Vikh claim that, would they ever be needed again, the Three will rise from the lake again and save the woods as they have before.