Cairnhoom (as they are called by the merchant Faen men and their customers who
have only heard of these creatures through their stories) are a very mysterious
group of gigantic creatures that inhabit the mountain ranges of Germon Doilth and
Therrein Nermarem (or "Shifting Mountains" due to the activity of these
creatures) in the Northwest of Nybelmar.
The Cairnhoom, also known as "Shukinu" (literally "Stone Spirits") by the
renowned mercenary clans of the Tsohamin men, "Doil Tenasi" by the short
statured Morchini humans (meaning "People of
the Doilth") and Shiingarath by the elegant and accomplished Tarshiinite men
("Spirit [of the] Mountains"), have the amazing natural ability to shape stone
on various degrees via unexplained magical
means. These phenomenal beings appear to show sentience in some of their
actions, and by many are considered a race in their own right, though no
evidence can be procured of Cairnhoom culture, history or traditions. This fact
greatly separates them from the neighboring societies who all boast quite rich
Depending on who you ask, you may be led to believe that these creatures are unusually (and unexplainably) hostile towards others, particularly if you are asking a Tsohamin. Despite the fact that the Cairnhoom have undeniably shown territorial tendencies in the past towards "intruders", a logical deduction from the research compiled would be the consideration that these creatures are (though completely obstinate in their acceptance of others) quite '"tame". Their generally forboding appearence and frightening capabilities however would seem to be factors contributing to a much worse view of the Cairnhoom.
Knowledge of the Cairnhoom’s appearance is drawn mainly from numerous witness
accounts with varying levels of reliability. The
Compendiumist in question
(Decipher Ziron) would like to make it very clear that he himself has never
encountered such a creature and as such should no statements made towards the
credibility of these descriptions be placed as inaccuracies on his part.
Many accounts describe the Cairnhoom in various ways - differing from those appearing as men encrusted entirely with small rocks and pebbles to huge, cumbersome figures composed of varying sized boulders (resembling something more like a young child’s self-portrait composed of stone than a regular humanoid entity). At any rate though, descriptions of Cairnhoom do show some trends. Firstly, it should be noted that Cairnhoom would appear to be fashioned exteriorly (if not entirely) of stone in a roughly humanoid shape (since it is difficult to deduce a valid conclusion to how akin in design a Cairnhoom and a man would be). Whether or not the creatures are made of genuine stone is also a matter of contention amongst the scholars of the Tarshiinite priesthood, since despite its appearance no one claims to have been close enough to Cairnhoom to actually feel the texture of its element, let alone take a sample of it (well at least no one who most - including the Compendium - would take any notice of).
As well as continuity in accounts of their surface appearance, Cairnhoom are often noted be quite high in stature. Some claim they have seen Cairnhoom reaching heights of up to thirty peds, though more conservative descriptions place the creatures at heights closer to three or four. Though most descriptions would place these creatures at heights just surpassing that of men, the vast variety in their height would suggest that in at least a few instances these creatures can become quite gargantuan. Such images (i.e. images of stone giants) are something many, especially those who are far away from the mountains, regard as most memorable. If you were to utter the word "Cairnhoom" in the Plains of Zhun the locals would quickly describe rocky creatures of unbelievable stature. Despite Cairnhoom of these proportions being those who are the most greatly popularised, evidence would suggest they are highly rare. However, despite the almost ridiculous nature of the claim, the Compendium has due course to confirm that such beings do exist.
Additionally, though this could very well be a by-product of their rocky composition, Cairnhoom are often noted to be of extremely bulky forms. Even descriptions that do not perpetuate the idea of lumbering piles of rocks (describing forms similar to men) state that they appear as though they were made of flesh they would be incredibly muscular, despite the fact that we cannot actually prove or disprove Cairnhoom possessing any muscles.
Also, Cairnhoom are often noted for being very loud but slow in their movement that (in conjunction with their size) generally entails a noticeable noise accompanying the creatures wherever they are spotted. Cairnhoom also seem to have the ability to speak with each in sounds resembling rumbling earthquake tremor s- leading to the Tarshiinite expression "Shiingarath Throat" for a person of unusually low voice pitch.
The most prominent ability of the Cairnhoom is their unfathomable ability to
shape and "grow" rock. Without the aid of any rituals, incantations or
(presumably) training the Cairnhoom are able to produce and fashion rock. The
mountain ranges of Therrein Nermarem are also known as "the Shifting Mountains":
Cairnhroom meddle with the natural construction of the rock surface in the area,
causing the position and location of valleys and peaks to "shift" from time to
time. Their presence is so obvious in fact that the mountains are now in a
seemingly impossible shape - varying from jutted rocks shooting out from rock
faces to more complex constructs such as ‘natural’ bridges over valleys that
were not there before. Since the Cairnhoom (judging by the stories) are able to
change or produce large amounts of rock in a very short space of time, it is
often remarked that Therrein Nermarem is impossible to navigate without expert
help, experts being notoriously hard to come by due to constantly altering
mountain surfaces. In many tales, the ability of the Cairnhoom to produce rock
is often used in a hostile way against the story’s protagonists, leading the
Cairnhoom to have a very bad reputation in the areas surrounding Germon Doilth.
Despite this, areas around Therrein Nermarem tend to treat in a better light,
though they are still considered to be a nuisance for their habits to re-plan
the format of the peaks. Due to the substantially awe-inspiring visage and
abilities of these creatures, they are also perceived with a deep-held respect
by these people; epitomising a "Mountain Guardian" role in their minds.
Additionally, the Cairnhoom would also appear to have substantial strength, greater than that of neighboring creatures and races. Many tales, particularly those of Tsohamin origin tell of Shukinu who conjure large boulders, which they then use as projectile weapons with remarkable accuracy.Though this strength could be a result of their physical build, there isn't actually much known about how these stone creatures are 'built', making anything hypothesised in relation to their structure impossible to prove.
Furthermore, Cairnhoom would appear to show signs of intelligence. Keen and veteran observers claim to of spotted a social hierarchy within groups and have also noted on their abilities to solve problems (such as treacherous mountain navigation). The fact that they seem to have developed (at least a very basic) language of their own would also stand as a testament to their intelligence (if not to some degree of sentience). The Tsohamin have also proposed that their language (which consists mainly of sounds resembling low pitched tremors) actually has the ability to cause avalanches, though the Tsohamin do consider the Shukinu as evil spirits incarnate, so claims of such a hostile nature may in fact be biased ones.
Territory. Cairnhoom, Shukinu, Doil Tenasi - whatever you call them, they have only been seen in two separate areas in Northwestern Nybelmar - the mountain ranges of Germon Doilth and Therrein Nermarem. Therrein Nermarem are more commonly referred to as "The Shifting Mountains" due to the influence the Cairnhoom and their stone-cultivating magic have had on the landscape. The rock face itself has been described as "beautifully unnatural, but terrible to navigate". The seemingly impossible structures achieved by forming stone in various ways makes Therrein Nermarem a unique spectacle that attracts many onlookers, but few are motivated enough to try and scale the peaks that have a tendency to rearrange themselves without you noticing. The reasons for these creatures only residing in these regions are unknown, since knowledge of their diet or climate preferences is completely unattainable. The scholarly branch of the Tarshiinite priesthood has developed a variety of theories concerning this very reason, including the idea that the Shiingarath are completely incapable of leaving areas composed of stone - requiring it for either familiarity or a reason more cryptic in nature.
Habitat/Behaviour. The Cairnhoom, it is fair to say, are amongst the most esoteric beings in all of Nybelmar (if not Caelereth as a whole). The extent of their power, let alone their motives and reasons for the way they act, is still not completely understood by those who have spent their lives studying them. As practically all of the information supplied in this entry is from secondary sources, how "true" to the actual nature of the Cairnhoom the information given could be contested. However, the Compendium has tried to produce a collection of most likely 'truths' presented through the available evidence.
An Encounter with the Cairnhoom. My day
had come. It was time for me, and the others drafted into my age category,
to become adults - and the final stage of the acceptance ritual was upon
us. As we staggered slowly upwards through the familiar foothills closer
to the actual mountains, sunset approached. As the glowing golden orb
slowly approached the horizon, swallowed by the defiant Germon peaks
prematurely, the tension amongst the group heightened. We knew we would
have to hunt the Fenru by night, but by no means that make us feel any
more at ease with our position. We set up a temporary camp, planning on
seeking out the Fenru by moonlight. In the meantime, we sharpened our
weapons and lit a few prayers to the
Bitakuni. Though this was only a ritual, we didn’t think we’d need
Despite the Cairnhoom’s
reputation for hostility amongst the Tsohamin, most other tribes treat them with
wary curiosity. The Cairnhoom would seem to want nothing but their privacy and
territory. All other realms of information in relation to these creatures and
their habits still remain untapped mysteries with regard to concrete
Diet. It is not in fact known whether or not the Cairnhoom actually eat at all. Their areas of residence are not famed for their abundance of edible material (unless the Cairnhoom have a penchant for the eating of the various monsters that live in the treacherous Germon Doilth). Tarshiinite scholars have developed two schools of thought on this point however. The first is the idea that the mountain itself offers sustenance to the creatures through some sort of "Hoshiin" (the Tarshiinite term for "Spirits of Nature". In Tarshiinite religion, the Hoshiin found in nature are thought to have a contributing factor in keeping the body healthy. The religious foundations of this theory though limit its widespread acceptance. The second idea is that the Shiingarath actually eat rocks, though the nourishment they gain from this is still disputed. Some accept this idea since it may explain where they attain the material to produce (at least the exterior) of their bodies from stone. However, since there is no proof that Cairnhoom actually have internal organs that could digest anything, this idea also lacks credibility and evidence.
Of all the tribes who have contact with these beings, the Tsohamin regard their Cairnhoom as terribly hostile creatures, though this is usually due to their religious bias. Though they explain this through the fact that these beings are the physical manifestation of the Shukinu spirits (a feared member of the spiritual pantheon), their stories concerning their behaviour cannot be completely disregarded due to their religious alignment. One such recorded text (translated from Tsohamin script) belonging to the now extinct Bitakunimin clan has been added to the Compendium's records:
Mating. It is not known how the Cairnhoom mate, or even if they mate at all. Since there is no distinction between male and females of the species (assuming the Cairnhoom actually have genders) we cannot even deduce whether certain social practices which are rarely observed could be considered as mating rituals. At any rate, there are no reports of ‘Young Cairnhoom’ and as such we leave this section with ultimately no conclusion on the matter.
Myth/Lore. For such exceptionally remarkable yet relatively withdrawn creatures, most of what is considered as fact regarding these creatures is actually simply widespread myth and folklore. The rather rustic but ruthlessly religious Tsohamin that inhabit the Doilth lowlands consider the Cairnhoom the physical manifestation of the Shukinu spirits, a member of their spiritual pantheon. Unlike most members of their pantheon, these spirits are generally ignored rather than being venerated/encouraged (if they are associated with positive aspects of life) or emulated/respected (if they are associated with negative aspects of life). These spirits traditionally were thought to bring with them terrible luck, financial disaster and agricultural destitution (which perhaps explains why they are so willing to push them as far away from religious focus as possible). As such, the Tsohamin are extra vigilant towards these creatures, regarding them essentially as the ultimate harbingers of sorrow. By a cruel twist of fate however, after the Tiquaitan Republican wars, the Tarshiinites annexed a vast majority of the crippled Tsohamin territory. As such, in current climes the Tsohamin have been forced to live in the Germon lowlands, forcing them closer to their heralds of misery.
Alternatively though, the Faen believe the Cairnhoom are under the patronage of the deity Ac Jrith whose contribution to Creation was Stone - the very substance the world is composed of. The Faen (who practically dominate Western trade in current climes) are very much a travelling people, the distant opportunties to make profits calling them like a Siren's song (except usually with better results). Due to their trading relationships both with the Tsohamin, the Tarshiinites and the Trumarim, they are required to journey through Germon Dolith wherein they (somewhat regularly) experience Cairnhoom activity. This, in conjunction with their generally docile relations, leads them to hold a sense of respect and reverence for the creatures that otherwise they would simply treat as an impairing factor on long distance trade routes.
Another West Nybelmarian race that would seem to show interest in the nature of the Cairnhoom would be the Tarshiinite men. A relatively ideological and accompished civilisation who encourage intelligent thought, the Tarshiinites are never short of scholary folk to pursue Cairnhoom activity. Due to a lack of religious creation traditions in this respect, the Tarshiinite men have spent a lot of time considering the origin of these creatures from a rational and logical perspective. However, it could be considered to be the case that due to a lack of constraints (besides their imaginations) these ideas are relatively poorly developed and rather fanciful in conception. One such example is that of the "Mountain Reliance" idea. Essentially, the Shiingarath and the mountains themselves have an interdependent relationship, the Shiingarath actually being created by the mountain to maintain it. However, this does not solve the issue since it does not explain how the creatures to be nor how the mountains developed their own consciousness.
The Morchini residents of the Kazai, noted for their incredibly strict caste system and their ingenious fungal modes of living, live on the northern limit of Cairnhoom of territory and as such their encounters are sparse.Despite their somewhat rare encounters, the Morchini do place some religious emphasis on the Cairnhoom, considering the Doil Tenasi as the servants of the somewhat mysterious"Hand" deity. In keeping with the fearful climate of the mentionings of "The Hand", the Doil Tenasi are treated with equal anxiety. Being the wardens and executors of His will within the Germon Doilth. However, since the combination of the mysteries of the Hand's will and the goings on of the generally dangerous Gemon Doilth culminates in the form of Doil Tenasi, the Morchini attitude towards these beings is similar in nature to that of the Tsohamin: Avoid them for your own safety!