This image is a two page spread from Hopeless Maine: Inheritance, which is now the second half of The Gathering. Ignore the website address on it, this is an old image, we aren’t there now, we’re here, which you probably knew on account of also being here…
In the foreground of this image, we see Owen and Salamandra collecting inedible things for the traditional Founders Day feast. Islanders spend the day staring at a table full of stuff no one wants to eat and reminding each other of how awful the island’s native flora and fauna really are.
In the background of the image, is a building. We don’t talk about it in the comic, although it is in the game. What you’re seeing here are the remains of the gnii factory.
For a while, Hopeless Maine had an economy based on catching and processing giant oceanic gnii. You’ve seen island gnii – the little lights bobbing about in the sky. The giant version is in essence just much bigger, but also migrates. These are like sky whales, and like whales, their fat can be rendered down and used for a lot of things. When the giant oceanic gnii disappeared, the processing factory closed, the money disappeared and the idea of Hopeless having industry disappeared too. This was back in the day when getting off the island was slightly more feasible.
The giant oceanic gnii are not extinct. I think we’ve got enough real extinctions to break our hearts over without having to deal with fictional ones as well. So, the giant gnii wised up and stay away from the island and are doing very well. They are doing far better than the people who tried to make money out of their oil. Sometimes they get awkwardly attracted to dirigibles and hot air balloons, leading to some failed breeding attempts and hurt feelings for the gnii, and terrible sudden death for anyone in the dirigible or balloon.
Mrs Beaten slept for a long time. It was a deep, unmoving, dreamless sleep into which nothing intruded from the waking world.
She awoke, eventually, with two thoughts in her head: Firstly that she must have tea. Secondly, that she must have oil. This had happened before.
Mrs Beaten took her gnii hunting net on its long pole, and went out after dark. Their fondness for little lights always gave them away. She caught one with ease, then pulled it forcibly from the stone it had been clinging to. It squirmed in discomfort, but not for long.
Always best to press them fresh.
You couldn’t get any fresher than still alive. The oil looked more golden than green as it dripped into her glass, accompanied by those final, muffled screams.
Mrs Beaten drank the oil slowly, and felt herself rejuvenated.
Mrs Beaten is strangely quiet. She hasn’t put up a single judgmental poster in more than a week. Has she fallen ill? Was she kidnapped? Or does it have something to do with the giant oceanic gnii?
Has she been silenced in favour of more exciting news? Would you be perfectly happy if that were true?
Back when Hopeless, Maine had an economy, and seaweed was not the primary content of everyone’s diets, the wealth of the island was due to giant oceanic gnii. Hopeless was on the migratory route of these amazing creatures. As a consequence traps were laid and a refinery built, and the oil and the money rolled in.
The giant oceanic gnii stopped coming after a while. Some thought they had become extinct, others that the clever beasties had simply learned to avoid the nets. Either way, no one has seen a giant gnii in a long time.
And yet this image is clear evidence that one has been by – there’s no other way of getting that sort of a view, and the tentacles and lamps are highly suggestive.
If you’ve seen the giant oceanic gnii and want to send in a report, please do!
At this time of the year, gnii suffer from the cold and damp, although the action of frost breaking up stones benefits them in the longer term. While some have tried to claim that they are an ill omen, gnii are gentle creatures, their bobbing lights charming at night, and their presence an essential part of the Founders Day celebrations.
Make sure the gnii in your garden are thriving. Put out your candle stubs for them and check that there is exposed rock for them to feed on and play with.
Currently there are a flotilla of gnii feeding by the harbour. They appear to be using driftwood and seaweed, burning brightly and for short periods and falling dramatically from the sky like tiny shooting stars. I wonder if this is how the island looked before the advent of people, and candles.