Friday, 17 January 2014
Treasures of the Civilopede 31 to 50
31# Hunted In The Sky
Dense, lined tattoo on the flayed skin of a young girl.
The tattoo is in black on white skin and the nature of the canvas is not obvious until investigated. A single individual hides cradling their face, naked, in a tiny harrow-spot, beneath a hunting sky. The sky itself takes up most of the area. It has clearly been tattooed by someone who has never seen the sky and, hearing it described, regards it as a kind of predatory inverse landscape, seeing too much, following endlessly, knowing all and consuming without trace.
32# Wave Known When
Ink on paper, very small, about the size of a postcard.
A beautiful and powerful image of a black wave with a deep belly of amber and oak-brown. Wave curls dramatically right-left across the image, about to break. A dark ship hangs on its crest, coils of black chain spray from its prow, collared leviathans drag it madly into the surf. Some viewers see a light in the ship. This means they will see the Nightmare Sea before they die. (Painting 75% accurate and many viewers who did not see the light have seen the Sea, leading to some complaints.)
33# Six Silent Stones
A dinner scene, men of an unknown civilised race sit to eat in a group. Each schemes against the rest in some secret way, implied or shown directly to the viewer. The wall behind them is made of six separate kinds of highly polished stone. The grain and nature of each stone block has been brought out so perfectly, it seems more real than the foregrounded figures, almost as if you could reach out and touch it. Legend says that one of the seated figures is trustworthy and the nature of the stones provides the clue. Understanding the painting can provide a flash of insight into a possible betrayal.
34# Lady of the Ruined Sun
Yellow jasper, just over a foot high.
Just-over life sized head of an exceptionally beautiful woman. Half destroyed, smashed, leaving half a lip, a cheek and part of an eye. This woman wants to return to the sun and anyone standing in the presence of the statue will dream of the sun when they next sleep. Regardless of whether or not they have seen the sun before.
Or even know what it is. This has driven some mad in their sleep.
35# Elephant’s Trunk
Basalt, original statue about six feet high.
Finely carved trunk of an elephant holding a sheaf of corn. Only remainder of a long-destroyed temple and last relic of a forgotten faith. Rest of the elephant is gone. Almost no one down here knows what it is, what the corn is, or why it is here. If you told them about elephants they wouldn’t understand.
36# Soldier Meditating
Sandstone, four feet high.
There is no sign of weaponry or violence. The soldier is naked except for a loin cloth, legs crossed, eyes closed, stomach distended slightly in the moment of an intake of breath. Every line is smooth and the selfhood of the described man pushes forth exactly from the sculptures mass, making a perfect and elegant containment of life. All critical hits in the vicinity of the sculpture kill.
37# Coatlicue, Mother of Gods
A stone sculpture, almost three metres high. Her face is two rattlesnakes meeting, their tails become penises and cobs of corn in her belt. She carries a blouse of severed hands and human hearts over her breasts and a skull over her sex.
Her feet and hands are clawed. She is life and death, birth and grave, the living torrent of destruction that makes up every breath, she is the bomb as it ignites and the heart as it beats, she birthed the sun who killed the moon.
(This one is just a real thing, accurately described.)
38# Creation Phallus
Marble, five feet high.
A stylised erect penis, pointing directly up, carved from black marble. From its tip grows a lotus blossom shaped from polished iridium. The blossom splays out like a radio telescope, pointed at the sky and dully reflects any available light. The surface of the phallus is polished to a reflective sheen and casts back wrinkled images, especially of the radiating lotus petals above it, which seem to wrap the thing in silver. Sex in the presence of the phallus always results in conception, always of genius children. (Combined INT & WIS never less than 30)
39# Contest Victor
Black Marble, Drow, Life-sized
This statue of a Drow male is missing both arms due to abandonment and use as part of a wall in a later construction. The face has been mutilated. Remarkable for the virtuosity of the folds of silk cloth which fall from his shoulders, wrapping his body highlighting the form with carefully studied grace. The pressure of a touching hand upon the silk, its limb smashed off, is startling. Almost everyone who sees this statue unconsciously reaches out to caress it.
40# The Second Ascension of Lloth
Ebony, 9 metres high, laid at an angle on its back.
This alter-piece or icon was originally placed at the centre of a temple to Lloth. The central diorama shows Lloth ascending into her web as other Elven gods and heroes watch in wonder on either side, weeping and praying, and preying, for joy. Below, three smaller images show scenes from the ‘life’ of Lloth, her birth, her trial and her death and first Ascension. Four panels to either side show scenes from her godhood, her good works and her betrayal. Rising up from the centre are a series of single figures showing her inevitable victory, her vengeance and the resumption of divine order. The whole piece is arranged upon a carved web/tree whose tendrils interweave and snake off into the most delicate filigree. The quality, delicacy and beauty of the carving has never been matched by Drow culture, or perhaps, by any other. Any damage to this piece will bring the direct attention of Lloth. There is, of course, a significant bounty for its recovery.)
41# A Sealed Door
Blackened oak, 6 feet high.
A freestanding doorway set into a panel of deeply-carved oak. The sinuous asymmetric designs that lock around the door are winding shapes, branches perhaps, or snakes. They seem to feed each upon the other, shadows boil in their interstitial folds. The door itself is deeply set within the wood, often dark. Its surface carries knot-work like the wall, but shallow, graceful and self-reflective. There is no key or handle. The door was sealed with permanent intent. When you go round the back, nothing seems weird.
42# An Attempted Identity
(A rare piece recovered from near a suspected-active Möndmilch Pool.)
Oil on Canvas, roughly half a metre square.
Seems to be the self portrait of a human male with significant signs of Underdark environmental change. Pupils rimless, colourless skin, small growths on forehead and ocular ridge. Staring directly into the viewers eyes. He stands before a white wall and holds an image or locket. Beyond the wall is a lightless city whose windows seem to contain things. The locket, or icon, is open and contains them image of a young man, standing before a wall of stone. Beyond the wall is a lightless city. There are things watching from the windows of the city. The man exhibits signs of environmental damage, lips parched, skin burnt, pupils pin-pricks, some facial abscess. He holds a locket or icon, which lies open in his hands. In the locket is the image of a young man…..
43# Mother with Iron Eyes
Bust of a woman, two feet high, brass and iron.
The face and head of a beautiful and austere woman from a tribe in the Nightmare sea. Her origin surrendered by the elaborate weave of tooth-worm shells around her neck. They are valued only in the Nightmare Sea. Suspected royalty as her eyes have been inset with iron so that they glow with a separate light. (Eye replacement is rare for those tribes and usually only accorded to high-status individuals. Or heroic interlopers.) The softness of her features suggests youth but she wears the squid-ring cheek-scars of a mother.
44# A Discovery (142)
Etching, roughly a4 landscape size.
This etching shows a heap of bodies in a cave. The races seem human but many are only partially revealed. Blood pools from a series of puncture wounds. Alternating uniformity of dress and abandoned weapons on the ground suggest a military engagement. A single figure is pulling another body onto the pile, they figure seems to weep blood, perhaps close to death themselves. It is unclear if this new wound is the discovery alluded to in the title. Only remaining part of a large series, possibly a narrative.
45# Found Out
Oil on a large canvas, at least two metres high and six long.
Large dramatic canvas showing an attempted assault by stealth upon an unseen fortification, presumably Myconid. Two rows of dark figures climb across the shattered surface of a cavern wall. Clearly pioneer companies, they carry dulled weapons, rope and no light. Each group of nine is lead by a figure, assumed to be a magic user, climbing freely without holds. Each figure is in direct contact with one in front. They proceed in a line. Neither group seems aware of the other. The rear soldier of the first group (foreground) has their head tilted back, fungal matter is bursting from their eyes and mouth. The second-to-last figure from the first group is reaching back to check the infected soldier. The second group, (rearground) has been totally mutually consumed and now proceeds as one blind organism, a kind of fungal snake.
46# The Descent
Ink on paper, eight panels, each just under two metres high and one wide.
This sequence shows the annihilation of a people and their descent underground. Moving left to right; naked bodies lie unburied, mothers and children starve, the sky and air seem to weep blood and dark energy, the flowers die in the ground, a woman stands, the shape of her body shown only by the network of almost luminescent blood winding from her scalp. No enemy or cause of these events is shown. Towards the right of the sequence the naked and starving remnants of this people begin their slow descent underground, out of the bleeding sky and into the comforting dark.
47# Knotsmen Marriage Market
Oil on unknown animal skin.
A room made into two cells, the space between them patrolled by an armed guard.
In the first, a series of women stand and sit, some with children, ranging from newborns to about eight years old. In the other cell a small number of males look through the bars. We see from inside the male cell but the distance of the female cell is shrouded in darkness. It is not clear which group is actually imprisoned, or who, or what, is being sold. Both seem of equal status. The men reach forward or lean against the bars, not all of the women meet their gaze.
48# A Meal In Carcön
Rapidly-executed sketch, pencil on paper.
One page from a notebook holds an artfully sketched scene showing a formal dinner of the Pyroclastic Ghouls. Seven lumpen ash-carved humanoid forms sit round a rectangular table on which plates and silver knives (of several kinds) are neatly placed. Half-sketched figures standing up beyond the seated ghouls might be damaged statues, or something else. The head ghoul reaches for a knife with pumice ash-mitten hands. The others sometimes claw at cutlery which seems to scatter out of their grip, one gouges the table, one lifts a plate and eats directly with its face. The food is overwritten by the pencils tip so many times it is a black blur or scratches and torn paper. (What, or where ‘Carcön’ is, is not known. The name appears nowhere else.)
49# Study for the tomb of a dead saint.
Terracotta Diorama, one foot high.
Five figures arranged around the body of a sixth. These tiny models, (four female, two male) carry the very expression of joy. Each looks down upon the body in the centre, each contains or expresses the deepest pleasure, each in a unique way. Staring, beaming at the observer. Twisting, hand on face, glowing with supressed and hidden joy. One clutches her chest, forced double in laughter. One weeps and reaches to touch. One crouches and stares beaming. The last spins round in an impromptu dance, beautifully delineated folds of cloth whirling around her. The models are separately based and would be quite easy to pick up and steal. It seems that several are already missing, yet there is no means to prevent their removal.
50# Paired Shells from the tomb of Unknown King.
Mother-of-pearl shell, 20ft wide.
One of the greatest statements of power and wealth for the savage human volume-lords that rule for a century or so between the boundaries of eternal powers, is the shell of a ToRaptoise for their tomb. ToRaptoise shells are beautiful, shining mother-of-pearl and immeasurably strong. The ToRaptoise itself never (we assume) grows large enough in the wild for its shell to achieve the necessary size. An alpha must be captured, caged and fed a high-protein diet for many decades before it grows large enough. A ToRaptoise shell tomb is a massive investment of time, money, resources and food. Also it’s a predatory, murdering , gigantic armoured veloceraptor -tortoise. They are a bitch to keep. Only the strongest, longest lasting ruler can possibly afford such a thing. (Though they have been stolen.) It only pays off when they die. This is the only know pair of such shells to exist. Each is carved by masters with the foetal-curled profile of the occupant. A naked King and Queen. They seem at peace.