The Namuri Village:
Quite a long walk from Mesteta: nearly 30 miles by track, and 20 directly through the marsh. It takes Diva and Tallen all day and well into night (with Raven). The walk is either along the beaten earth path, as with the coffin of Petra, or through the marshes.
The area of the marshes is about 70 miles by 100 miles = 7000 square miles. The Mount Palestron turning is about 6 miles on the way to the Namuri village from Mesteta.
The quickmire is characterized by very few trees, and its typically flat landscape. Those few trees it has are mainly of the papakura species. They can grow very tall but most become stunted at around 6 metres high. These twisted trees which have ‘knees’ – roots which project from the soil to aid in oxygenation. These trees are rather sombre, since they have few leaves, and give rather a gallows silhouette to the landscape. The largest papadura tree – and the oldest – is situated just at the beginning of the sacred marsh, near the Namuri village. It reaches over 40 metres into the sky, and its trunk is as big as one of the Namuri huts. It is so big that its branches are used to hoist coffins across the marsh, and it is still strong, despite the fact that it has been dead for a long time. The sibyla considers its shade a place for communion with the dead, and spends many hours in meditation there.
The quickmire also has many many small plants which thrive there, some with beautifully coloured flowers, some without. The whole area is basically scrubland –populated with many endemic species of shrub ... the most well-known of which is a scraggy leafy bush of about 1 metre in height with olive brown leaves, which grows irregularly. Normally you would expect to see one or two papakura trees on the horizon, and a few nearer than that. The rest of the landscape would be scrubland.
Underfoot, when you cross the marsh, you notice clumps of thick yellowy-leaved grass which has grown up throughout the quickmire, although there are also areas of sand and some few areas of whitish pebbles. These are taken as signs by the Namuri that there is namura stone close to the surface underneath, since the namura stone is quarried from the quickmire, usually where small cap rocks have resisted erosion to form peaks of hard rock, now underwater.
The whole area was formed aeons ago when a glacial lake melted in uneven pockets of land. These pockets were formed by a honeycomb pattern of domed caves, which had collapsed in many places due to erosion and pressure over the centuries. Only the strongest upsweeps of rock survived – especially that containing namura stone. These upsweeps are therefore like fingers, needles of rock. Near to these, the ground is safe. Away from them, it is mortally dangerous.
In this era, over the top of the pure water, there is centuries of vegetation, and much of this is completely safe. However, if you do go through the crust of the land, you sink completely and almost immediately (The quickmires on Coriolis are much, much more dangerous than those on Earth). There is no mud in the marshes of Coriolis; the water under the surface is as pure as any water can be. Despite the high organic content near the surface, underneath it has remained very untainted. In Namuri folk lore, this is due to the protective action of the namura stone, and is the reason they believe namura stone should always be returned eventually to the quickmire. They hate the meritocrats use of it to sharpen arms, considering this a sacrilege. This is also one of the reasons they bury their people in it, as they consider that the purity of the water will enable their souls to live forever.
The Namuri village is situated almost right in the middle of the quickmire, but in a plateau region which is considered safer. Geologically, it is now relatively stable. It is an area of rich deposits of namura stone, rather more papakura trees than in other areas of the marsh, and there is a small area of about 2 kilometres square which is completely stable and contains no marshy areas. This part of the quickmire is covered with a hard-pressed sand, and the village is built on top of this. The villagers used branches of papakura to build their huts, which are always raised slightly off the ground to avoid damp – a real problem in this region.
The sacred marshes are on the outskirts of the village, about 1.5 kilometres from the centre. They are the boundary between the safe, sandy area the village is built on, and the marshes. The marshes are used as a burial place for those who have lived bravely, and for the ceremony to choose the leader of the Namuri people, and for the ceremony of the naming of the new sibyla, which is really a celebration of the life of the previous sibyla.