Notes about this race are laconic and hidden under a veil of funny stories and legends, but the true face of these creatures can be found in the books of the Halflings. Many centuries ago, in the halfling Book of Dreams, they were called Dyniaqs, beings from the dimension of sleep, which, thanks to mesmeric portals, enter our world to feed on our nightmares. In some regions, they are also called Koshmarions or Pumpkin Heads.
Dyniaqs usually wander at night, passing among old villages and houses accompanied by flutes, bagpipes, and drums. They are covered by a mysterious fog, which is their inseparable companion. In the glare of the lanterns they carry, their shadowy figures, greenish skin tones, and leaves appear to grow out of their bodies. It happens that their eyes take on an ominous appearance and radiate a bizarre blue aura that can receive energy from hostile creatures. However, they don’t do it rashly, but only when someone disrupts their parades or rituals.
The Halflings’ Book of Dreams tries to convince us that the Dyniaqs do not belong to the world-destroying evil, but are only a manifestation of the Mother’s secret side. Few believe in these theories…
The Eternal King
Dyniaqs worship the great king called Qabak, the grim ruler who rests on the plant throne, looking at his land of nightmares. Few came to Neew-ollah, and even fewer came back alive, but some say it is a land of ancient rites, during which its inhabitants gather around mysterious, half-living trees, worshiping them and whispering spells. Thanks to them, energy is to be formed, which allows Dyniaqs to shape plants, create new creatures, as well as portals and corridors to various dimensions.
He has been since time immemorial, giving orders and telling new stories during the annual holidays. Each of the stories is a cluster of what was with what is to come. For his attentive listeners, these are tips that help to avoid dangers and give knowledge about the mysterious world of other races. Gathered around his great throne, which stands on a hill made of prosperous, holy pumpkin fruits, Dyniaqs listen to every word of the Eternal King and sing songs, which are accompanied by the melody of their instruments. He is the only one who doesn’t leave the Secret Garden, but his knowledge of the world goes far beyond. It comes from any plant that, if it is strong enough to have a magical aura, transmits information to the earth like a nerve. Listening to her voice, the Eternal King can read signs and symbols that very clearly depict what is happening in the universe.
Only Treemen know this symbol language and can convey information over unlimited distances. The energy of the earth is felt everywhere, that’s why for centuries the Treemen Druids, despite being in different regions of the world, are always perfectly oriented in many matters and considered, like King Qabak, as the greatest sages.
For the Eternal King, the Secret Garden and his subjects are part of a grand plan that is inevitably realised every day. Evil is constantly growing in strength, which is why great Dyniaq processions are more and more frequent events, which for some prove that Dyniaq is a race of evil, and for others – a race that has a mission to prepare the world in an incomprehensible way to fight this which comes from the lands of Sheol-morg. It is difficult to finally give a verdict on what the Dyniaqs are guided by and what the Eternal King’s orders will be, which is why many try to get to know the inhabitants of the Secret Garden, often violating their territories and attacking them during parades. For the inhabitants of Morten or Istania, the view of the Dyniaq is not so scary, but it arouses fear in Boria and open aggression in the monasteries.
However, there are areas where King Qabak doesn’t send his processions, because even he is afraid of what is hidden in the valleys and cities of Vartevia. This is the only place where the Liches are waiting to kidnap the Dyniaqs and drain them of energy that will allow them to wield the domain of earth magic much more efficiently. The loss of the Dyniaq procession, which would be cruelly tormented, would be unacceptable to the Eternal King, so for centuries the only place in Vartevia where you could see Dyniaqs was Valhelia. However, even there it is a rare view.
The Holiday of Dreams
Many Halflings villages and towns of the people of Morten worship the inhabitants of Neew-ollah by celebrating and having fun dressing up as nightmare and dream creatures once a year. However, there are regions like Boria, where this holiday is ignored or even forbidden to cultivate, and Witch Hunters organise mysteries to drive fear out of the timid villagers.
For many, however, the Holiday of Dreams is one of the ancient holidays that is associated with the forgotten god Mamroth and his cultivation is dangerous. Not only can you go insane, but also become the target of the divine wrath of Moruviel or the Lady of Secrets – Morgue. There are villages in Undorh that seem to ignore the current gods and pay tribute to old secret gods, and they regard the Holiday of Dreams as one of the most important holidays, but they celebrate it in a much different way than in Morten. In Undorh this holiday is associated mainly with the greeting of winter, the time of the end of the harvest and the moment when the border between the material world and the world of ghosts is blurred. Big fires are burned then, and priests try to ward off demons and the undead who wander around many areas of the land.
The Mysterious Destiny
In the orthodox monasteries, the existence of the Dyniaqs is explained by the fact that the old gods have already given up the spirit, and their last material work are creatures of plants that wander the world and feed on nightmares to last. It is not difficult to see in these words a primitive approach to the subject, but there may be a grain of truth in it, which is confirmed by the monks of the Tao-fu Monastery. The Ratmen say they have the notes of their monk wandering 600 years ago, who was in the Secret Garden with King Qabak himself.
According to Sin-tzin The Grey, the old gods used plants and Wild Magic to create the Dyniaq race so that they could draw energy from the earth, because as the most primitive it would remain full of magic even after the Dark Gods mastered Solar energy, and with it all other Domains of Magic. This will allow the race from the Secret Garden to wield magic even when all domains are consumed by the abyss. Sin-tzin also adds that the Dyniaqs don’t feed on nightmares as the Witch Hunters want to see, but they draw some subtle energy from the nightmares, and even he wasn’t able to understand what it is and how it works.
Everyone who has come into contact with this race probably has its opinion on its origin and history, which is why there is not one guiding theory, but many that are often mutually exclusive. They depend on the region, the faith professed there or the imposed ways of thinking. The truth is scattered in many places, hidden between lines of lies or wild imagination, it can be quoted by a madman and hypocritical scholar, it can also be a great plan of old gods or only their whim. The fact is, however, that the Agalloch Forest hides a Secret Garden full of magic-filled beings and that they visit the cities of Humans, Elves and other races while remaining hidden.
The race of living plants that have taken on a subhuman appearance reminds everyone else that they not only don’t know the intentions of the gods but that they cannot be sure what the future will bring. Dark Gods are very perverse and have already used animals to create cruel races. The ancient gods used plants, but somewhere in the depths of water or deep in the rocks something may lurk the minds of scholars and no one can be sure whose god they will be children.
There is probably no race that would know more about portals than Dyniaqs. They can use mesmeric portals, which are among the fastest, but the creatures are lurking out there, which everyone is afraid of. These are dangerous old devices that were created long before the appearance of Humans. No one knows who their creators were, but they talk about a race older than humans, a race that either became extinct or returned to the stars with their help. Mesmeric portals are so rare that without special knowledge and maps you cannot reach them or use their power.
Colloquially, roads between portals are referred to as byways, but just like in the material world, there are better and worse byways. It also happens that the user of the portal never returns, or returns several dozen years older, and his mind is barely a scrap that doesn’t allow him to exist normally.
It is completely different in the case of Dyniaqs, because their magical aura partly protects them from the effects of mistakes, and in addition, unlike other races, they are not driven by an unhealthy desire to learn about portals or reach a legendary place. If they sense a magic disorder within the portal, they won’t take the risk of traveling or choose a longer but safer path. For ignorant Humans or vile Elves, such an obstacle will be the last they encountered in their lives, but despite the great danger, many daredevils are looking for portals in the hope of reaching forgotten places full of artifacts and other precious loot.
In many places of the Ancient Lands we can find strange plants, resembling gigantic vines that, like frozen in a strange pose, are a blot on the landscape. After a few deeper sips of Halfling wines, you get the impression that these plants move behind our backs, but as soon as we look at them, they freeze motionless. Because of their unpleasant appearance and stories about them, they have gained the name of Wicked Trees.
They change their colour similar to the leaves of trees, depending on the seasons, they are orange-yellow in autumn and intensely green in spring. Sometimes, however, that their color takes on unhealthy shades of rotten green and orange, thus frightening the local inhabitants. The tree then gains magical properties, and a strange liquid seeps from its gaps, which is collected during the Dyniaq processions and from which magic potions are made. Their properties depend on the tree, because one may have juices with medicinal or strengthening properties, and others – poisonous or causing hallucinations and strange visions. It happens that charlatans or mages looking for inspiration, strong sensations, or contact with another dimension of consciousness spend the night next to trees to absorb their specific energy. Unfortunately, not every tree provides experiences that allow you to survive. Trees with the darkest energy even torment such daredevils, driving them insane or driving them into eternal catatonia. Only the greatest mages can get out of this state, but then their sacrifice is not in vain, because the energy absorbed as a result of such sacrifices allows them to wield the powerful and destructive powers of mother nature.
Residents who became neighbors of such a strange tree, often found that cutting this plant is pointless because, in place of the destroyed one, another or even several are created. The only creatures that seem to possess such power are Dyniaqs, which use the power hidden in trees to perform their rituals or spells. If the power of the tree was used, a natural process begins, which was stopped for a long time. The Wicked Tree dies and decomposes, becoming part of the soil that absorbs remaining energy. Such land will never become a place where an ordinary tree or other larger plant will grow.
In some regions, Wicked Trees are called Holy Creepers, they become a place of worship for local inhabitants, and on the solstice night, the inhabitants bring their crops to them to pay tribute to old gods and those who walk at night in the light of the lantern. The Dyniaqs in their whispering language call them Thalbien, source trees, sacred bushes of mother nature.