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Vodeo Flag.png The A20 isn't safe at night...
Curious Vodeo.png

If You Go Down to the Woods Today...

Our journey around the strange parts of Vodeo takes us deep into the interior today. Centuries ago this was all impenetrable jungle, cursed by the settlers for hiding good growing land, and beloved by the natives for hiding them from the settlers. Today, much of the wilderness is gone, long since felled for the sugarcane, tea, coffee, and tobacco plantations that brought such riches in the 18th and 19th centuries. But there are pockets where the wild Vodeo of years gone by is still to be found, and today we shall be visiting one such place - Auroa, on the Prihor-Cambria border.

Auroa was settled in 1804 as a farming town on the banks of the Auroa River. It was a small, humble settlement, linked to the outside world by the river boats that sailed to Longlac and further afield via the Waicohai and Pralack Rivers (you can't do that now, a huge dam went up at Stodadbri in the 1950s that forever ended those old boat trips). When Prihor (pronounced "prior") was separated off as its own province in 1843, the border was drawn along the Auroa River, turning Auroa into a border town in one stroke. It wasn't long, however, before the town was joined by Hoppers Bridge, and soon the two towns were thriving. Part of this was due to their proximity, which meant that what was forbidden in one town was sometimes allowed in the other - for a while in the 1890s and 1900s, Auroa was officially 'dry', so when the townsfolk sought to wet their whistles, all they needed to do was walk over the bridge, where no less than four pubs awaited them eagerly.

Auroa and Hoppers Bridge have long relied on their location on the important Endorie-Avington trade route, firstly by railway, and these days by the A20, which today skirts around the town but brings in a fair bit of trade nonetheless. The towns today are a lovely place, with a variety of shops, cafes, and restaurants that have helped to put both on the map. But that's not the biggest reason why the towns have become famous in recent years - behind their pleasant facades lies something more sinister that has intrigued both the townsfolk and hardy visitors for years.

To the south of Auroa and Hoppers Bridge lies the expansive Parlour River National Park, a large area of forest and swamp that managed to thwart multiple attempts to drain it over the years. Once upon a time, Auroa and Hoppers Bridge were both swampy ground, but were quickly drained, and yet just to the south is where the settlers' attempts hit a wall. The experts say it's because the ground is simply too marshy to bother with, but the local native tribe offers another explanation - there's something in the Parlour Swamp that doesn't want to be disturbed.

The Waicohai, the northernmost of the Etallic tribes that spread across western Vodeo, have told stories for centuries of a spirit or spirits in the swamp, none of which seem to have the best interests of humans in mind. One such phenomenon is the mysterious Parlour light, or eohranc, which has been seen in the swamp on occasion for hundreds of years. The light is described as a flickering ball that, although being bright, casts no light onto its surroundings. The light is also said to hover, rising and lowering slowly, as though someone is holding a torch or lantern. But following the light is ill-advised, since according to legend, the light will lead travellers far from their paths - sometimes getting them lost, other times leading them to their doom. Despite the eerie light's reputation, the townsfolk have embraced it as part of their identity - one of Auroa's cafes is named the Light Refreshment, and in 2003 a 19th century lamp post was erected outside the Waicohai County Council chambers, at night giving off a haunting yellow glow similar to that of the light itself.

This is just one of a number of depictions and descriptions of Auroa's famous "Noman". Dare you test your luck and head into his domain?

But there's another reason why the Waicohai warn to not follow the light - it's not the only thing lurking in there. Tribes across the country tell of monsters that lurk in rivers, lakes, and swamps. The names of the monsters vary between the tribes, but it's commonly agreed that they guard their homes vigilantly and don't take kindly to intruders. The Waicohai say that one named the Noman stalks the swamp around the Parlour River. After centuries of rest, it would seem that the arrival of civilisation has stirred it from its slumber. People exploring the swamp tell of a feeling of great unease, as if they're being watched. Something huge has been seen moving between the trees, branches ten feet off the ground have been found snapped off, and colossal splashes have been heard from time to time. Noman Water, a large pond inside the swamp, has a reputation all its own - as they near the pond, people report feeling a growing sense of impending doom, and around it there is complete silence. Beasts and birds won't go near the water at all; horses rise up in protest, and dogs freeze on the spot, their hackles raised as if they can see something their masters can't. The tribespeople say it's because Noman Water is where the dreaded Noman itself lives, and they refuse to go anywhere near it. Local legend says that over a hundred years ago, one soul drank the water to fulfil a bet, and was dead within 24 hours.

If you're made of keener stuff and would like to try your luck at spotting the Noman, there's no need for a brave stroll into the forest (which you'd be doing on your own). A good place to go looking is around the railway line and the Penny Farthing Highway south of town, where a number of unusual sightings and encounters have been reported. The railway line was cut through the swamp in the 1870s, much to the horror of the Waicohai, who begged the railway company to choose another route. They were duly ignored and the line went through... following the mysterious deaths of four members of the construction team. The locals were pleased to at last have a rail link with Endorie, but the feeling was somewhat muted when the first train to make the journey was derailed when a trestle collapsed underneath it, drowning 19 unfortunate souls in the murky waters below. Train drivers have occasionally glimpsed something following alongside the train, keeping pace with the locomotive even at 80 km/h. Other drivers have seen a sudden red signal on the line ahead and thrown on the brakes, only for the red light to completely vanish as they get close; in daylight they learn that there are no signals on that stretch of track. Tribal legend says that the Noman has piercing red eyes that cut through the night and right into your soul, leading the drivers to wonder just what it was they saw.

It's no better if you're driving down the A20, either. There have been countless sightings of something big crossing the road in the dead of night, and the locals all know never to stop for any reason along the road through the swamp. The exception to this is the Noman Roadhouse, a popular stop for truckers making the long drive from Endorie to Avington, and widely regarded as the only safe haven between Auroa and Colambo. But don't wander too far from the safety of the main building - many a traveller and staff member has reported hearing a distant, unearthly roar echoing through the swamp both in broad daylight and in the dead of night. Skeptics say it's just traffic on the highway, or perhaps a big cat living in the relative peace of the swamp, but others aren't so sure. One staff member saw something moving outside as she tidied up one night in 2004, and swore that whatever it was was far too big to be any known kind of big cat.

The locals have adopted the Noman as a kind of mascot, and a statue of the famed Noman was erected in a park beside the Auroa Bypass when the road opened in 2007; as a further nod to the creature, its eyes glow a haunting red at night. If you're driving down the A20 at night and see two glowing red eyes, feel safe in the knowledge it's just the statue. Or is it?

Par's notes

Auroa and Hoppers Bridge are based on the towns of Echuca and Moama, which sit upon different sides of the Murray River in Australia, and like their Vodean counterparts, are also border towns - Echuca is in Victoria, Moama in New South Wales. The Parlour Swamp, though, was created for this entry and isn't based on anywhere in particular. Those of you who know about unusual phenomena and mythology may recognise the origins of the unusual goings-on in the swamp. The Parlour light, whatever it is, is based on the will-o'-the-wisp, common to many European countries, and the Min Min lights seen around Australia. The Noman, though, is very much a homage to the Bunyip of Australia and the taniwha of New Zealand, both of whom are said to lurk in waterways waiting for some poor soul to stumble across their domain. But such a ghastly, unspeakable monster needs a suitable name, and what better name for such a creature than that of a nightmare teacher from primary school? I've changed it slightly because no poor soul should ever bear her name, but even so. Take that, you heartless beast (and I don't mean the Noman).

In the final entry in this series, for Halloween we will be visiting a small town outside Saviso that has become notorious as perhaps Vodeo's most evil place. Prepare yourselves for a truly horrifying tale.

By order of the Lands Supernatural Department,
ParAvion (talk) 00:00, 24 October 2018 (CEST)

Comments go down here

Please affix your signature and timestamp. No Stopping Between Auroa and Colambo (We've Warned You!)

This is a terrible pun, but I guess the best name for the A20 south of Auroa is... the Noman's Land. *rimshot* Of course, maybe the scary thing is going into Prihor at all, because there isn't a lot mapped there right now. FictiveJ (talk) 00:16, 24 October 2018 (CEST)

I'm kicking myself for not having thought of that first. I suppose it's one way for the town to advertise itself, the other being that there's sod-all from here to Endorie, and there's not much more there, either. Prihor's a quiet place, but I'm slowly putting together some ideas for it. — ParAvion (talk) 12:00, 24 October 2018 (CEST)
Endorie. Like Radern, but without the border crossing. Or the lake. You know... at least we have coffee. - Prihor Tourist Board slogan FictiveJ (talk) 23:58, 24 October 2018 (CEST)
Endorie: You've come this far, you might as well take a look.ParAvion (talk) 21:30, 25 October 2018 (CEST)
And let's not even START with the other inland provinces. God knows what kind of horrors lurk there... FictiveJ (talk) 23:48, 25 October 2018 (CEST)

Naming a beast after a beastly teacher is an excellent plan. I may just have to adapt the idea to something suitable in New Ingerland.--Turnsole80 (talk) 15:17, 24 October 2018 (CEST)

Part of me doesn't even want to acknowledge she existed, but this woman had a really warped hatred of me she didn't even try to hide. She eventually got given a dressing-down by the principal after one particularly absurd accusation, and I'm pleased to say she left me alone after that. Now, I could be the better man and move on, or I can throw her in a swamp and let her be demonised for the rest of eternity. It's one small way of payback. — ParAvion (talk) 21:30, 24 October 2018 (CEST)
Well, before I got into geofiction, I enjoyed fantasy writing for a while - and maybe in terms of naming monsters, I will have to do the same thing. FictiveJ (talk) 23:58, 24 October 2018 (CEST)
Something tells me there will soon be a proliferation of horrible monsters, demons, and cryptids running rampant across OGF, all because of a little town in a far corner of Prihor. Well, it's a claim to fame, I suppose. — ParAvion (talk) 21:30, 25 October 2018 (CEST)
Hmm, Xenica has a lot of undeveloped rainforest areas. I think you're onto something. FictiveJ (talk) 23:48, 25 October 2018 (CEST)
This is interesting you do that. I have named well over three dozen things in Mauretia after influential people in my life (good and bad). I understand where you're coming from, too. But, there is a difference between forgive and forget. You should forgive (for your well-being), but it doesn't mean that you forget what that teacher did. There was a teacher I had way-back-when that was so verbally and emotionally abusive to us as students, but the administration was a bit scared of her and didn't do anything. She quietly resigned about a decade later (well before retirement age too), and the school did everything they could to expunge her memory. I hold no ill will against her, but I sure am glad to not have seen her since. — Alessa (talk) 15:44, 25 October 2018 (CEST)
When I add influential people in my life to the map, I only go with the good ones; the Noman is the exception. I was very fortunate to not actually have her as one of my teachers - I was able to dodge her by getting bumped up a year early on. Fortunately, she crossed the line one day and brought the wrath of my parents down on her, hence the dressing-down and her leaving me alone in my final year-and-a-bit. It was a long time ago, so I'm not bothered by her now, but the chance to put her in the map as something evil and horrific was just too good to pass up. Honestly, though, no picture of the Noman can hold a candle to her... — ParAvion (talk) 21:30, 25 October 2018 (CEST)
2017 February 26: An Introduction by the Lands Survey Department March 5: Noticing North Harbour March 23: Coffee and Relations April 18: Of Late I Think of Crafers April 30: Why is Roger So Jolly Today? May 4: Listen While I Play My Green Tahorine May 11: Of Motorways and Men June 21: Oh Helensvale! July 3: Parliamentary Conduct July 9: Diplomatic Insanity July 16: A Better Saviso Bradford July 21: Go Where the Rhodes Take You August 8: Get to the Point September 11: When Real Life Writes the Script September 24: Mapping Politics October 15: Breaking the Gridlock October 26: 390 Not Out December 12: Good Cheer and Googie December 31: That Was the Year That Was
2018 January 26: Do These Suburbs Make My City Look Big? February 7: Carry On Doctor March 15: Bordering on Madness May 1: Putting On the Pounds June 1: Further Adventures in Finance June 30: We'll Have a Gay Old Time July 20: Aving Fun in Avington August 15: The Country Members September 26: RADern October 3: Living History October 10: The Hauntings of Holme October 17: Is There Anybody Out There? October 24: If You Go Down to the Woods Today... October 31: The Evil That Men Do November 16: Crawl Out Through the Fallout December 22: There's No Place Like Holme for the Holidays December 31: Looking Backward, Moving Forward
2019 January 30: The South Tonight February 20: Jeez Gerrise March 31: The Angles of Aslington April 30: All the Rivers Run June 23: Consolidation and Crafers July 22: The Pirate Kingdom September 9: Every Which Way but Loose October 3: Tender Loving Care October 10: Mystery in the Mountains October 17: Blood, Sweat, and Tears October 24: Highway to Hell October 31: Supernatural Saviso December 31: 2020 Vision
2020 February 3: This Old Holme