Toxic mist rises and swirls creating a grey-green haze above Lok-Fen. An observer would likely assign the word “ominous” to the hulking silhouettes that moved within, but they would be worrying over nothing. The fenfolk are gentle creatures who show little interest in the world or people beyond their home. A traveller might nervously pass through under the curious and unblinking gaze of many eyes, but they would never be attacked without provocation. Aside from carefully observing any strangers in their lands, the fenfolk are happy to ignore everything but themselves and their fen.
Genetically speaking, fenfolk are more closely related to algae and fungus than they are to humans. Despite this, they are, in a lenient sense of the word, humanoid in form. They are six feet tall even though their backs are so hunched that their monstrous hands almost touch the ground. Aside from some moss and algae growing upon their bodies they are naked, but as genderless beings there is no embarrassing display of genitalia to worry about. Reproduction occurs through a complex system of spores and slime, in one of the least pretty displays in nature. All that is necessary to know is that some swamp-based activities occur and fourteen months later a fifty kilogram child rises up from the depths of the fen. Within two years of rising, a young fenling reaches full size and is full of genetically programmed incuriosity.
Unnb was different. They were afflicted with a condition rare among the fenfolk – wanderlust. Many in Lok-Fen called them “Unnbk’bnu fa ma hnn” which translates approximately as “Unnb who is unwise and ungrateful for our bountiful home”, but in a playful manner. Unnb was every bit as loved and respected as any other fenling, but the Druumm worried. The Druumm were the three eldest fenfolk, responsible for guiding the youth in life. Their guidance did not get through to Unnb who still gazed longingly from the edges of Lok-Fen. One day, they looked around cautiously, and then stepped beyond the boundary of their homeland.
Things suddenly seemed all too quiet, but Unnb carried on, even as the feeling grew. The intermittent bubbling and squelching of Lok-Fen had never once crossed their mind, but the lack of those sounds was a huge shock. The disturbing silence soon gave way to equally disturbing noise. The birds that used to call out barely audibly in the distance, never comfortable to enter the fen, were now up close. Their innocent calls felt like murderous screams, but Unnb carried on.
Unnb thought that on their return, they would like to known as “Unnbk’mo oaa” which is the closest phrase in the fenfolk language to “Unnb Who Carried On”. An exact translation does not exist as carrying on is not something that must be done in Lok-Fen. The thought lasted only briefly, and then Unnb realised it was a foolish thought. Noone would respect their choice to carry on with a journey unthinkable to fenfolk, and even if they would have done, Unnb could carry on no more.
Now an hour’s walk from home (perhaps more like twenty minutes for a human) Unnb felt exhausted. They looked around, and saw no mud hole or pond to rest in. One of their giant hands moved to touch their arm, and Unnb felt how dry their skin had already become. With a sad sigh, Unnb turned around and headed home.
The feeling of being enclosed once more by the Lok-Fen mist and sinking gently into its water gave Unnb great relief and great sadness. No fenfolk could last very long outside their natural habitat, but Unnb was determined to find a way. Their first venture beyond the fen was scary and brief, but it would not be their last, regardless of whatever the Druumm might have to say when they find out.