Slummite Fables are a work of literature whose book lists itself as being written by GoatWhisperer. However, the book's text itself claims to be written by Dr. Snow Pseudoscience, V.hD., a snowman serving as Minister of Roughhousing in HUM who has previously been credited as the author of books such as Roughhousing as Simulacrum. It contains folklore allegedly collected by Dr. Pseudoscience from the Slummites, a group of improverished inhabitants of a low-lying valley next to HUM's main city of Properpolis called the Slums. Homes in the Slums are cobbled together from improvised materials, including scaffolding, melons, large mushrooms, carpets, ice, and other odds and ends collected from Properpolis's refuse.
Below is the text of the book in its entirety.
Elden Tales of Slummites, A Folk Anthropologic Collection
by Dr. Snow Pseudoscience,
Minister of Roughhousing,
HUM Federated Merchant Republic
Under Chairman GoatWhisperer, I was dispatched on a special mission of anthropologic importance. The Chairman asked me to determine "why are the inhabitants of the slums so strange?" He sent me to live among the slums for six sun-cycles to learn all I could about the Hummites' reclusive neighbors, the Slummites. My findings are beyond any current boundary of cultural Hummite scholarship, and I am ecstatic to share them with you now, interspersed with my own annotations. I hope you enjoy.
In the slums, I found a great amount of cultural practices and stories were passed through oral tradition. Writing in the slums seemed to consist mostly of crude drawings on rocks, but many atime a piece of furniture or building material would be set alight, and around it many stories were told, with much laughter, emotion and traditional songs sang. One such song detailed the arrival of the Slummite people to this part of the world, and every Slummite of every gender, age and severity of disease or decomposition knew almost every word. The tradition was breathtaking to hear firsthand, and I have transcribed an Overworld Common translation of the song below which appears to originate in some dialect of Mantrosikin...
- Ode to Home -
Well we sailed from the Trose one day,
Yes we sailed from the Trose one day,
The Water Boys had snatched our items,
So we were about to fight 'em,
We were just about to make them pay;
But then our map and compass fell into the sea,
Yes our map and compass fell into the sea,
We fished for hours, couldn't find em
We had nothing to rely on,
And we started to drift to the East;
We floated hours and we never spotted land,
Yes floated hours and we never spotted land,
Then we floated in a crevice
Next to your wealth and excess
And we started to make our stand
Hummites threw down rotten flesh and stones,
Yes Hummites threw down rotten flesh and stones,
We thanked our new neighbor
And started to do labor
To scrape together our new home;
Everything we needed we got from the Hummite's trash
Everything we needed we got from the Hummite's trash,
The crevice was where they dump their cans out,
We felt at home getting handouts,
So we added their trash to our stash!
The Slummites appear to have lashed together homes out of any materials that fell from the Hummite civilization up above. One hut appeared to be comprised of nothing but scaffolding. Another was composed of a large red mushroom top laid upon planks. One soul even had a bedroll on the open ground with a scrap of carpet left over from the construction of HUM Aquascissors Memorial Governance Building suspended across like a hammock to block the rain. Additionally, upon request an elder inhabitant might show you an ancient sword, shield or helmet that appears to be early Montrosian in nature, though deeply weathered. They tell me they are family heirlooms, and some of them seem to regard these items, as well as assorted materials falling from the sky, as coming "not from this world". When materials grow scarce they tell me they perform ritual sacrifices of baby cows, baby sheep, and even the occasional wandering trader to appease the "Material Gods" (as the term is translated in Overworld Common). Sure enough, they say, when a large enough sacrifice is made, a bounty of discarded materials will rain from the cliff above.
III. The Bandit
One of the only major contacts the Slummites have had with the outside world was when internationally sought criminal PizzasWithBone hid among their village during his first spree of terror. This event is quite significant and appears to be memorialized in a short folktale they call simply The Bandit. Translated into Overworld Common...
- The Bandit -
Many sun-cycles ago, when your father's father was learning to eat his first silverfish, this village was a wonderous, prosperous place. Rotten flesh abounded to all who were hungry, and almost everyone had their own hut to sleep in. One day, in the middle of the Cobblestone Festival, a stranger strolled into the town. Wearing a gleaming, wicked set of clothes whose sheen seemed to be comprised of spirits. Mothers carried their children inside and the town "warriors" ran away, claiming to be searching for their heirloom blades. The once-lively village now was deathly quiet as every inhabitant listened to this outsider sift through the now-deserted market, eating food and pocketing jewels. His armor's glint softly moaned and whispered, reminding the chief shaman of an ancient bow he had which did the same. The shimmering bow, stashed away in his home, was very damaged. But it should have enough for a single shot.
The shaman snuck from hut to hut, quietly moving so as not to attract the bandit's attention. When the shaman unfurled the bow from the discarded curtains he had wrapped them in, he found the single arrow he had stashed alongside it. He took them both, and crept up onto the roof of his home. The elder raised his voice as he shouted "[a word that has no direct translation, but appears to mean 'one who uses tools instead of their fists', in a derogatory sense]" and pulled back to fire the arrow. The arrow was ignited as the glow on the bow brightened. As the shaman released his grip, the handle of the bow snapped. The arrow flew askew and skidded to the ground in front of the bandit's feet. The bandit chuckled at the old man's antics and produced a bow of his own, which glowed twice as bright as the old man's had. He drew back his arrow toward the elder shaman trapped upon his roof, and steadied his aim... but before he could fire, a small boy from the village smashed a spruce trapdoor over the back of his head.
With a resounding battle cry, other villagers rushed forward with their own implements gathered from the ground - chairs, empty bottles, sticks and bones were all brought down upon the bandit's body as he stumbled. As he fell to the ground, the villagers beat him with such ferocity his shiny coverings began to come apart entirely. Now defenseless and unconscious, the bandit was taken to a nearby cliff and thrown into the ocean. The shaman performed a ritual to shield the mortal realm from this demon for "the longest of time [translated directly, 'one year and one day']". And to this day, they say, he has never come back to their village.
Moral: Many small good deeds can defeat a great evil, if they stick together.
IV. The Mole People
The Slummites are not the only people who lived in the periphery of the internationally known Hummites' homeland. Once upon a time, a race of underground-dwelling people called the Yanshu built tunnels underneath the Hummites' great city of Properpolis. These tunnels were discovered during an excavation to extend the main roads of the city. When they discovered, they were abandoned with the only trace of their presence being signs in their insular language saying: "Mole King Greets You"
- The Mole People -
Once, during the warm season, while the children were clawing at the rock face of the cliffs to see how big a rock they could pull off [a favorite childhood game in the Slums], a rock pulled away that left a deep, dark hole behind it. Slowly the children gathered around, with the braver ones poking inside with a stick or throwing torches inside to try and light it up. Suddenly, the hole burst open and the children shrieked and ran. Slowly, as they turned around, the children saw a pale figure with beady eyes and long claws squinting at the bright light. Slowly, the mole man and the children realized neither wanted to hurt the other, and other villagers came to gawk at the strange specimen. The mole man slowly took out a flask of mushroom stew and offered it to the Slummites. They took turns sipping it and could not believe the delicious flavor! Soon, more mole people began to cautiously make their way out of the hole, bringing gifts of various underground treasures such as lapis lazuli and iron. The Slummites gathered gifts from their world, such as flowers, grass, and a small child. Soon both parties were enjoying the gifts immensely, and a great party ensued. Shortly thereafter, the mole people returned to their hole and burrowed away. Some days, underground treasures would appear at the mouth of the burrow. The Slummites always made sure to replace them with treats from the aboveground for their friends below.
Then, after many sun-cycles, a cold season blew in. Any rotten flesh the Slummites could find was frozen stiff. The brown, murky puddle the Slummites drank from every day became a stiff, hard block of murky-brown ice. Needing sustenance quickly, the Slummites arrived at their last resort. The tribe gathered and clambered into the mole burrow. As they approached a cavern that appeared to be their home, a dark figure stepped in front of the tribe...and the tribal chief elder knocked it in the side of the head with a wooden pickaxe. The mole man let out a squeal as he flopped to the floor. The Slummites dragged their victim out of the cave while the mole people shrieked and scurried to safety. They roasted the mole over a flame and tore into the freshly cooked molemeat, eating ravenously. There was enough for everyone in the village to have their fill - something that hadn't happened in dozens of sun-cycles! Reinvigorated, the warriors of the village gathered up their various implements, from ancient swords to discarded logs, and reentered the burrow.
When they reached the cavern, the mole people were ready to defend their home, but were no match against the Slummites, who were armed not only with improvised weapons, but with the fiery determination that only true hunger, true starvation could ignite. The Slummites began a massacre of the mole people, with the Slummite children dragging the bodies back to the campfire as they fell. Some moles escaped in boats and seemed to run far away from here, but the rest were defeated by the raiders. As a result, the village's children from this year were the strongest and healthiest ever as the molemeat lasted the village for the rest of the cold season.
Moral: Sometimes when you have more friends than food, your friends must become your food.
This concludes the collection of stories I was told by the inhabitants of the slums of HUM's Properpolis. They appear to be a largely uncontacted tribe, allegedly hailing from an ancient detachment of Montrosian soldiers sent to the Water Boys. However, due to the pollution HUM continues to dispose of in this area, it appears that the people have grown phenotypically different from their ancestors, with characteristics of some Slummites being additional eyes and appendages, little-to-no perception of non-moving objects, and a deep distaste for hygeine.
This may be the most substantial work of scholarship investigating the Slummite people so far, but with such a fascinating culture, I do not expect it to be the last. Thank you for your time.
VI. Goat's Afterword
Sorry about this, everyone. Pseudoscience, our Minister of Roughhousing, happens to be a snowman. As bumbling snowmen tend to wander, it should be no surprise that when I left the door to his office open, he was nowhere to be found for six days until we found him in a cobbled-together hut in the Slums. He was reluctant to return, but when we finally apprehended him, he provided me this text and -insisted- I publish it. Due to it being written with coal and covered in melting snow, I was forced to rewrite it, but I hope you enjoyed Dr. Snow Pseudoscience, V.hD., as he performed a deep dive into the hole HUM throws its trash down. I don't get it.
Special Thanks to AbstractEgg, key architect of the Slums Project