Valley of the Sidj
Near noon, an odd sight immobilized Bowmark. He stared for several moments, then poled the raft half onto land and trotted over to a bone-white, hollowed tree skeleton. Branches radiated around a central hole that resembled a screaming animalistic head. Sight, touch, and the dry click when he tapped the different pieces together told him that the tree skeleton truly was bone. Bone. On the ground a handful of variously shaped animal skeletons with shreds of scales or dried hide on them dotted the ground. What kind of tree grew bones? “You are not from here, so you do not understand the horror. Since I must beg, I do beg of you: please, if either of us die in this valley, please weight our bodies and throw us into deep water where fish will eat us.”
Situated in basin and range system several hundred kilms north of Megaloth City, the Valley of the Sidj is a desolate and picked-over wasteland. One primary river flows northward through the eroded and cracked lands, ending in a large stagnant lake. Formerly a reasonably fertile valley, once the sidj invaded -and were subsequently walled in- everything was ruined.
Fauna & Flora
The land goes through multi-decade boom and bust cycles thanks to the sidj who have been trapped there. "Pay attention. The sidj cycle begins with one, maybe two starving mother trees in the entire valley. With so few sidj, there is little hunting pressure. Grazers and their predators wander down from the mountains. Idiotic humans who refuse to remember what happened two decades before, move to the bluestone mines.” “What—” “Bluestone is ground to a fine powder and used as a brilliant, permanent pigment in an expensive paint. Do not interrupt. The valley fills with game. The well-fed sidj give the meat of predators to the mother tree. She grows more and more sidj who feed the tree more and more meat. “The mother tree sprouts mobile trees. The mobile tree breaks off and runs away on root pads. About half the sidj tribe follow the new tree and try to direct it to a fertile spot. The new mother tree runs for one or two days without pause. When the new tree does stop, its root pads force themselves into the ground, and the new mother tree never moves again.” “How—” “The mobile sidj throw gobbets of flesh into the central hole at the top of the tree. Stop interrupting. Now the sidj feed the tree both predators and grazers so they can exploit all the food sources of the valley. The new mother tree sprouts more trees and sidj. Some have horns. Some have multiple legs. Some, some, and some. There is a fantastic mutation rate. The ones that are born useless are eaten by the mobile sidj. If a great hunter dies, he is fed to the mother tree."
The Bluestone Mines in the southwest of the valley are the primary export. Bluestone produces the pigment for paint and dyes that create a much sought-after color for paint and cloth.