Rubber-Palm Trees

The equatorial jungles of Redoubt consist primarily of rubber-palm trees. The mutant rubber-palms used in the plantations differ in the distribution of rubbery material between the trunks and the leaves. Normal rubber-palm trees have stiffly flexible trunks and leaves. Mutant rubber-palms have inflexible trunks and very flexible leaves. The following pictures are a demonstration of the difference in flexibility of tree parts between the two types. The mutant rubber-palm tree is on the right-hand side, and the normal rubber-palm tree is on the left-hand side. The dragon is able to bend the trunk of the normal tree while only marginally bending the leaf. Under the same stress the mutant rubber-palm tree trunk remains unbent and the leaf flops down. Because of this difference in the distribution of rubber, only the leaves of the mutant rubber-palm trees need be harvested and the renewal of the resource is much faster than if the entire tree were taken. The extraction of the rubber is also easier because it is concentrated in a smaller amount of plastic material.

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Rubber-palm leaves are harvested by native workers who live on small islands in the coastal swamps near the jungles. The leaves are carried up the river by boats to the rubber factory in the Town/Technic region. There the rubber-palm leaves are soaked in hot plasticizer and then pressed dry. The liquid obtained from this process is boiled down and then poured into molds and allowed to solidify into tires and rubber bands. The residual solids are ground up and formed into green bricks.

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The swamps are a maze of small waterways through snake-infested rubber-palm jungle, and are inhabited by a plethora of large crocodiles. It is ill-advised to attempt to follow the workers home through this maze as they are reputed to be quite savage in the defense of their swampland homes. It is even rumored that at one time these folk were cannibals. The crocodile-chewed remains of ill-fated explorers littering the swamp provide an alternate explanation for the source of the skulls that these folk use for their lamps.

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The village is really quite simple in appearance, with one single longhouse made of palm trunks. The windows are covered with palm leaves which can be rotated sideways to admit air and light. The village outdoor area is lit by plasticizer lamps made from human skulls. The kitchen midden, consisting entirely of crocodile rib bones, gives some insight into the normal diet of the swamp dwellers. Despite the primitive appearance of the village, cooking is done over a plasticizer stove inside the longhouse. Working as rubber-palm leaf harvesters has changed the lives of these villagers. Near the canoe landing are the obligatory kittens always found with crocodile-nasties and snakes-in-the-grass.

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There is a dancing area in front of the dwelling. The swamp dwellers like to dance around a large metal container of solvent-grade plasticizer which they buy at a cut rate from the plastic factory. If a dancer feels like imbibing, he or she simply scoops up a handful of it in passing. The drums are beaten by the sons of Big Kahuna, who are both known simply as Junior. That at least one member of an adventuring party was rescued and brought into the village is evidenced by the red hair on some of the women. These red-haired women are highly prized by Big Kahuna and the Juniors. According to Big Kahuna, "Their maw was a real wildcat, and me and mah boys are hoping these 'ul be the same".

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All in all, the swamp is a colorful place to visit but you probably wouldn't want to live there.

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