Mossbacks of the White Soft
Still they stood in shining spore
And empty were their eyes
Shaking Jake drew sword and swore
“Now is my hour to die”
– From The Ballad of Jake the Lesser
Venture deep enough into Modui’s Heart and you will come to a strange border. The rich green of the jungle foliage is suddenly shrouded in bluish-gray fungus. Swarms of white moths glitter in the rare shaft of sunlight that manages to break through the dense canopy. Bizarre plants, their shape and fruit unlike anything seen before, burst from fuzzy mounds of the fungus. They grow unnaturally fast, surging up over the course of months or even weeks, until they are covered and subsumed in turn. This is the White Soft.
Little is known about this strange place, or the fungus that lends it its name. It grows on everything: rocks, plants and living creatures. The ubiquitous moths seem to have a symbiotic relationship with the Soft: it has been conjectured that they feed on it, while helping to spread its spores.
One thing is certain: a creature that comes into contact with the Soft will be changed. Someone who has touched or inhaled its spores will soon discover patches of the fungus growing on her skin. As it spreads, she will feel drawn inexorably back to the place she was infected, and will eventually disappear into the blue-gray depths of this alien place. If she is ever seen again, it will be after a strange and terrifying transformation: she will have become a mossback.
The Soft has strange mutagenic properties that cause incredible, sometimes gruesome anatomical transformations. An arm enveloped in it might emerge armored in plates of shiny chitin. Enormous, useless dragonfly wings might sprout from between the host’s shoulder blades. Eyes might become blooming flowers, their stamen transformed in turn to flicking anteater tongues.
The process is unique for each host, and no two mossbacks are alike. The sole similarity is the moths: they will inevitably be drawn to a mossback’s head, crawling over it in a thick layer and circling it in a fluttering cloud.
Mossbacks haunt the border of the White Soft. They stand, unmoving and silent sentinels, until some creature strays too far into their domain – at which point they will attack. Once the intruder is incapacitated or killed, he is dragged back into the jungle, and may later appear as a mossback himself.
No one knows what is on the other side of the Soft. Expeditions attempting to go through or under it have all vanished without a trace. Stories speak of the Isp, mysterious and ancient beings that live in a patch of jungle encircled by the Soft, but it is impossible to know if there is any truth in these tales.