Children of the Woods
Myths and legends of the market, ISDA edition
The JC’s guide to the foundational mythology of the Aïessdiyé.™
The Synthæse, or Children of the Woods, were a prehistoric proto-civilisation of woodland sprites and hippies; a kind of peaceable pre-derivative, banking people, largely unconcerned with material wealth but blessed with a preternatural gift for option pricing. In the time before the First Men they inhabited the dark forests of Bretton on the low hills of the Ferrous Mountains, wandering around semi-naked, eschewing all earthly rancour, regarding physical settlement of disputes as sinful and instead voluntarily exchanging their differences in a standardised, non-physical, “synthetic” terms across a centralised marketplace.
Alas, they modeled their delta by using profoundly flawed value-at-risk techniques and wildly miscalculated their exposure to the First Men, a marauding race of mercenary derivatives salesmen from the ancient, doomed, city of Salomoné, who it is said, wiped them out in the late 1980s in one big bang, but not before they left behind traces of their enlightened methods of exchange which the First Men hungrily adopted when, in the fires of the Iron Mountain, they forged the One Agreement out of the remnants of the 1985 ISDA Code and an old LMA template and the Cross Default clause, which still afflicts the ISDA Master Agreement to this day.
The Children of the Woods are the prehistoric ancestors of what become known as the “mandria”: the civilian, untutored collateral in the Great Financial War.
They are handsome creatures: delicate but fundamentally stupid, supine, herd-like and oddly elderly — many having lived since well before recorded time began.
They have the beauty and longevity of elves but the familial parochiality, and love of home and hearth of hobbits. Though naturally wild they thrive in captivity, are easily domesticated and form by themselves into peaceable communities stay passive for years, yielding an odd sort of emergent, but nonetheless tangible, benefit — known in Lanchmani as “rehnt” — to those who take care of them.
They remain stupid and delicate, however, and are easily crushed in the gears of progress if not properly protected. What is more, when riled, their herding instinct can take over. If allowed to run, the Children of the Woods can display apparently supernatural powers of collective intuition which can cause panic and have devastating and unexpected consequences on their surroundings it, even in the face of powerful military force. This collective power (the “emergentiæ” — it resembled the murmuration of starlings) did not manifest in the hands of single wood-children, but only amongst abnormally large groups of them, when concerted and concentrated. The emergentiæ was in fact not magical, but a function of the wood-child’s instinctive tendency to copy her immediate neighbours, even when apparently destructive to her own personal wellbeing.
Thus, amongst the Mohloki and, to a lesser extent, the Lanchmani, the Children of the Woods inspired a peculiar mixture of pity, reverence, fear and respect.
Diet and environs
Wood-children were basic, eschewing all financial technology, dealing only in the amount of individual stoki (small rabbit-like creatures they hunted in the Woods) they or their families could eat.
but as they became domesticated they would supplementing their diet — in many cases abandoning their traditional diet altegether — with a manufactured puree the Mohloki made for them (called variously “etievs” or “etiens”) and the older specimens would eat a less-calorific preparation called “pensioni”. Generically, wood-children fodder is called “pripi”.
Being largely peaceable, conflict within the community was rare, but there were differences. The Synthæse regarded physical settlement of differences as sinful and instead voluntarily exchanged their value in a central market the town square. A custom emerged of buying and selling “contracts for difference”.
Protection and separation
In light of their delicate but, when gathered, dangerous nature, by regal proclamation, the Children of the Woods were kept separated, confused, uneducated, and in a perpetual state of disarray and bafflement and conflict with each other. This ensured they would not gather, and if they did they would argue with each other on trifling matters. The Lanchmani invented games and pastimes for them the accentuate these affiliations.
By the same token they were protected and, above all other civil and military priorities, it was forbidden to hunt or exploit the Children of the Woods, except with the special permission and authorisation of the King, who set up a ministry for that sole purpose.
In the castle the Mohloki, retained to feed and maintain the pensioni fields and manage the wood-children communities, are themselves paid a pittance and largely housed remotely in salted plains to the north. Occasionally some make it to the royal city to live among the Lanchmani but it is not encouraged.
Mohloki are fed an articulated slop called “compe” which comprising the crappy bits that don’t go in the Pripi: commercially harvested stocks and bonds, bones, brains, testicles, hallucinogenic juice of wilding fungus mushrooms which are designed to be, or at least give the impression of being, super nutritious — but periodically are riven with toxins and bacteria causing sudden, widespread bouts of dissentry, meningitis or even death.
The Lanchmani, the ruling class, do not eat this slop but instead extract a creamy essence off the Pripi - before it has a chance to go off — and eat that. It is a much prized delicacy.
Demise and extinction
Over time the Children of the Woods did not take well to intensive battery farming and they grew underweight, wan and sickly, and instances of negative emergentiæ grew more common.
Periodically, they would escape, break out, and over time more and more of the castle infrastructure was dedicated to controlling these errant wood-children] and ensuring the Mohloki did not shortcut their care and treatment procedures. No details were left unspared. Ultimately a great emergentiæ happened, destroying the local compliance network and cascading Pripi claims into the
When, at length, the Salomoné came under fire from a rival army from Carpathia, it was overrun, the citadel sacked and the area left for ruins. Salomoné was in time lost to archaeology, but in the excavations in the aftermath of the Lehman debacle, traces of the ancient settlement on the very same spot were revealed.