Jeff Brown
Exton, PA, USA
“Inouri the Gelfling Courier”

Judging Highlight:

“With his fur, feathers and flesh, Inouri is many things at once, yet his traits are clear and believable. The story of the Swoothu fits well with the mythology of The Dark Crystal, yet is completely new.”
– Cheryl Henson

Creature Backstory:

Inouri belongs to a species of flying beetlefur creatures call the swoothu. Before the cracking of the Crystal, these timid herbivores were naturally found in the dense brush and wooded areas of Thra. One of the more interesting characteristic of these Gelfling-sized creatures is their strange sleeping pattern. All swoothu sleep for three days, and then stay awake for three days. Hiding in the dense forests during their vulnerable three day slumber usually provided enough protection from predators. Unfortunately, after the Crystal cracked, much of their natural habitat died away and the sparse vegetation left them exposed. The majority of swoothu became easy, sleepy snacks for hungry beasts and almost became extinct.

Swoothu also have a great sense of direction and an amazing ability to fly long distances without stopping. Their strong set of four wings is normally folded inside their shells, only opening and expanding just before taking flight. They have poor eyesight, but excellent hearing, which is so sensitive, they can even hear the song of Thra itself. They use this melodic tune to navigate the world. Their ability to fly long distance, combined with their bizarre sleep schedule, means that they can fly continually for the entire three days they are alert. The Gelflings took notice of this, and luckily for the species, is what ultimately kept the swoothu from dying out.

While the seven Gelfling clans were spread far and wide across the vast expanses of Thra, communication between them was difficult. Contact between clans became even more important during a time when there were rumors of uniting. Since foot travel was slow and sometimes dangerous, and females couldn’t fly long distances, Gelflings began training swoothus to carry messages and goods between clans. Upon arrival into a clan’s village, a swoothu courier was greeted with food, shelter, and protection. It was this mutually beneficial relationship that eventually allowed this unique species to once again thrive on Thra.

Inouri was one of the first great swoothu trained for this. His parcel-carrying satchel was sewn by a fierce warrior Gelfling from the Spriton Clan. It’s made from the hide of one of the most ferocious Thra predators, an arduff. The amazing abilities of Inouri and the rest of the magnificent swoothu played a pivotal role in opening up communications between Gelfling clans in order to prepare for the Garthim Wars.

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