Rust Lake

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Rust Lake is a rural fantasy story written and illustrated by Ptarmigan. It ran in Issue 70 at Larger versions of the illustrations can be seen here!

Story summary[edit]

An unusual murder in the isolated logging town of Rust Lake brings magical detectives Larus Sovat'ye and Albedo Al'satye up north to investigate the crime and watch a terrible movie about a talking moose.

Author's notes[edit]

Finally, an answer to the question nobody wanted to ask: "What if elves wore flannel?"

The setting of this story was something I sort of accidentally stumbled into, inspired by a tiny quest hub in World of Warcraft: A small population of elves living in a lodge in a mountainous, woodland area neighbored by dwarves and otherwise fairly cut off from the rest of the world and their elven homeland. I play on a (fairly dead) roleplay server and had the idea of playing an elf from this area, and reckoned he'd be something a bit more backwoodsy than one might expect from an elf, and from that sprang an entire pocket culture of charming lumberjack elves that I pulled whole cloth out of my ass just to justify why my character had a Minnesotan accent, a fondness for dwarves, and fancied cotton workshirts over silk robes. Being that I play on a dead server the roleplay wasn't happening and I didn't have much of an outlet, my good friend Iron Eater encouraged me to take my homebrewed Minnesotan elf worldbuilding nonsense (lovingly nickamed "Canadian Elf Hell" in the liner notes because developing this oddball setting all but consumed my life these past few months) and put it to use as an original story. It probably should go without saying that I plan to do more with this setting, not just with the characters from this story but introducing new characters in the future as well.

About the elves in particular, I thought it would be kind of funny to play around with how we as humans tend to romanticize things (especially animals) while brushing aside or choosing to ignore their less-than-charming aspects. Foxes are a spectacular example of this and that's why I chose them as the base from which elves evolved from -- on the outside, we view foxes as cute, charming, and clever animals while in reality they're stinky little critters that make awful noises, eat garbage, and poop everywhere and get away with it because we think they're cute. There are maniacs who wants foxes as pets even knowing that everything in their house is going to get pissed on and it's gonna smell like skunk farts (seriously, google it, foxes are purported to smell as bad as skunks if not worse). Foxes are gross. I love them so much. I can't believe I lived almost my entire life without knowing how gross foxes actually are and liking them is way more socially acceptable than raccoons or opossums because of that romanticism thing (for the record, I love raccoons and opossums too, but it would be harder convincing people to read a story about a sentient fantasy race that evolved from opossums).

Some elves will deny their stinky, trash-eating origins while others embrace it, much like how there are humans who deny that we're apes. Although it never comes up in the text, the creation story for these elves reflects their ancestors' dumpster-diving prowess and will be worked into a future story if I can figure out a way to do so without shoving it down readers' throats.

Larus is named after a genus of seagulls and I couldn't resist throwing in a joke about french fries. I'm not sorry.