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Saturday, 6 August 2011

The book of Fimm

Faeologist Francis Kiri, whose Faerie-hunting exploits are renowned throughout the Steampunk community and whose dried Faerie specimens are in high demand, has been busy travelling the Old World and Albion for information regarding the mythical Fimir...

Here's the lovely front cover, frontspiece and a page detailing the supposed hierarchy and caste system of the Fimir race. Work is ongoing on the full publication.

He has also unearthed a 'time spiral', supposedly depicting the history of the Fimir from the arrival of the Old Ones to the present day:

A sneak preview of Francis' introduction:

Throughout the Empire and Brettonia tales are told of sinister creatures which inhabit the fens, marshes and bogs of the Old World. To many these are fairy stories, told to frighten children and scare travellers gathered around a fire on a misty night, yet the wisest know that every fairy story has a root in fact, and some are truer than most would believe. So it is with the Fimir, one-eyed, sallow-skinned creatures which haunt remote swampland and prey on lost travellers, occasionally appearing suddenly to raid border villages and hamlets and disappearing as swiftly as they came. Long decades have passed since the last official record of a Fimir incursion yet wanderers in the fenland regions still discover deserted and ruined settlements which they attribute to these creatures. Still the Fimir are blamed for lost children, rustled livestock and ambushed supply wagons in certain areas of the Empire. In the forests and glades of Albion the villagers speak of the Fuathim, the ‘hateful ones’, who are the guardians of the waterways and must be appeased for safe passage through the wetlands.

Little is known for certain of the nature of the Fimir. Some scholars maintain they were once a race of humans, some of whom made an unholy pact with daemon princes and even the chaos gods themselves during the second chaos incursions. Others speculate they entered the world through the collapsed warp gates and are truly pure daemon. Still others say the Fimir were one of the early projects of the Old Ones, a primitive race of lizardmen, accidentally bred with a single eye and inherent female sterility and so rejected and cast aside by their creators. Those who say the Fimir were once human or were the pitiful result of genetic experimentation may be inclined to view their predicament with a degree of pity, whilst those who dwell on their daemonic heritage are far less sympathetic. Whatever speculation exists, a few facts are known about the Fimir. Firstly, their society seems to be based on a caste system, with members of each caste recognisable by physical traits. Secondly, Fimir female are sterile and so, in order to continue their species, they are forced to capture females of other species to propagate with. Their victims seem to be almost exclusively human, although a very few cases of elven abduction have been known. Quite possibly there have been more, but the elves prefer to keep such things unknown. Thirdly, Fimir are carnivorous. Their diet may consist mainly of animals which get trapped in the bogs and raided livestock from fenland settlements, but almost certainly human captives have met the same grisly fate and the Fimir may even turn cannibal if pressed by extreme need. Fourthly, when encountered in the open, Fimir are invariably swathed in clouds of mist. This is because sunlight is particularly uncomfortable for the Fimir and so they have developed an enchantment to generate a mystical cloud around themselves which diffuses the glare.

More myths which surround the Fimir include the tale that there is only one ‘fay city’ in which all Fimir in existence dwell, and their numbers are few. This city is built of black granite and does not exist entirely within the known world, being able to shift location to suit the needs of the Fimir. It is also said that the Fimir worship a chaos deity known as Balor, a one-eyed entity of enormous size and power. The legend is that it would take a dozen Fimir to lift Balor’s eyelid, and his gaze means instant death to all he looks upon.

Part of the reason that so little is known about the Fimir is that going unnoticed and operating covertly and mysteriously are vital to their survival. The race has dwindled close to extinction due to breeding problems and in-fighting between nobles. Should the Fimir attract enough attention to warrant a thorough search for, and attack upon, their settlements then they would almost certainly be annihilated. It is in their interests, therefore, to retain a mythical status and continue to exist as traveller’s nightmares and bogeymen. In order to reduce resistance when they raid the Fimir often sound their sorrowful uilleann pipes and their raucous carnyxes from the depths of the mist. At the sound of these instruments the wary inhabitants lock their doors and do not emerge until the sun is at its peak and the mists have fully cleared. There are, in fact, many, scattered settlements of Fimir across the Old World, though these are built principally of dark stone (although the exact material is usually chosen more for local availability than aesthetics) heaped in rough, low semblances of human castles. Beneath these fortresses, or ‘Sylphs’, the tunnels of the Fimir can run for miles, branching out into habitations and mines. In earlier days of their existence there was indeed only one great Fimir city, located somewhere in southern Albion.  They refer to this legendary city as Khulaine and many an adventurous Flaithmor has set off on a life quest to find it. None have returned to tell others of its location. The numbers of Fimir have been steadily decreasing over the centuries as more humans move from rural hamlets into the key cities of the Empire and most have now withdrawn to their homeland of Albion where isolated tribes are more plentiful and the threat of attack is lower.

Fimir society is rigidly structured in a caste system. A creature’s caste is usually apparent from birth and infants are brought up into one of five society groups.

The lowest caste is the Shearl. These are the smallest of the Fimir, little more than human sized, and typically have shorter maws and longer foreheads than their cousins. Shearl have short, blunt-ended tails. The Shearl are the servant caste of Fimir society, performing the menial, everyday tasks such as cooking, making clothing and armour and fetching and carrying for their masters.

More muscled than the Shearl, with tails that are often clubbed, are the Fimm. The largest proportion of Fimir society are the Fimm and warriors are drawn from their ranks. Fimm warriors are led by Finmor and are organised into the service of a specific noble, or Flaithmor. Possibly all a Flaithmor’s retinue may have been fathered by the noble, or they may have elected to join him after he beat a rival in combat or by subterfuge. Flaithmor have horned or spiked tails. It is possible, if unlikely, for a Fimm warrior to rise to a position of Flaithmor, at which point the warrior’s clubbed tail begins to sprout horns as part of a hormonal process similar to the colour change on a silverback gorilla. The elite of the Fimm may be picked by a Dirach or the Meargh to join the Fianna Fimm, or personal guard. Fianna are led by a Flaith, effectively ranking the same as a Flaithmor but without his own retinue. Some Fimm are ordained into the service of a deity, Balor or a variation of is common, but different Fimir clans have their own allegiances to chaos deities. All Fimir have something of the daemonic in them which grants them an inherent affinity with the stuff of magic but these Fimm are blessed, or cursed, with accentuated powers and are known as Druí. Druí form a group aside from their kin and do not pledge themselves to the service of a Flaithmor, at least openly, but may accompany a Fimir warband if the goal is in the interest of their chaotic lord.

Mistmor are the largest of the Fimir, being about the same size as a troll when upright (although the Mistmor naturally slouch). They are incredibly strong and unquestioningly obedient to their masters. Although the Fimir caste system’s emphasis on prowess places the Mistmor as a higher caste than the Fimm, in reality they are subservient to Flaithmor. Mistmor are rare and highly prized.

The fourth tier of the caste system is the Dirach. These large Fimir are horned and have smooth tails. They are regarded with fear by even the most powerful Fimm and are known as ‘Daemon Fiends’ by Old World villagers. The Dirach are mighty wizards. Each settlement may have a few Dirach, they tend to keep themselves apart from the politics of the Fimir, preferring to focus on the more important issue of the survival of the Fimir race. The Dirach are most frequently the individuals directing Fimir raids to acquire captives for breeding or sacrifice, without their firm grip on the clan the Fimm would probably doom themselves to extinction.

The final and highest tier is that of Meargh. Each clan is led by a single Meargh (Or hag queen), the only female Fimir in the settlement. Female Fimir children are extremely rare, and those that are born are usually killed to prevent a rival to the Meargh’s supremacy from rising. If a Meargh is growing elderly she may tolerate a single female child to be raised as a successor. If a Meargh dies without a successor the clan will split, with Flaithmor taking their own retinues to join other clans or go it alone. Fimir without a Meargh, even Dirach, do not survive long. When a Meargh’s successor comes of age she may choose to pledge allegiance to her ‘mother’, in which case she remains in an advisory role until the death of the Meargh, or she may take a detachment from the settlement to form an offshoot clan elsewhere.

Fimir in the north have developed good trading links with Hobgoblins, who value the ‘bog iron’ they mine. This is, in reality, tin, not iron. Fimir have a strong aversion to anything iron and prefer to wield weapons and wear accessories and armour made of flint, gold, silver or bronze which is procured for them by the Hobgoblins.


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