Termagant trog males were thin, short, weedy, and weak. They were bald as well, and were considered pathetic and simple-minded by the females of their species. The sap of the bloodoak tree was deadly poisonous to them, so they could not undergo the transformation known as Blooding.
Termagant trog females had two distinct phases in their life, before- and after-Blooding, and their characteristics in each phase were different. Before their Blooding, female termagant trogs were similar to pretty, young fourthling girls. They had light blue eyes, pale, almost translucent, white skin, and long orange hair. After their Blooding, which was made possible through the sap of the bloodoak tree, not poisonous to them, female termagant trogs “turned termagant.” They went bald and became three times as huge and strong. Their eyes turned bloodshot. They also turned hostile to their pets. However, if a female termagant trog missed her chance to become termagant then she would be stuck in the body of a twelve-year-old girl for ever.
Termagant trog colonies, called trogcombs, were founded by Cavern-Mothers in caverns beneath bloodoak trees, which sheltered them from bad weather. Dangerous animals and unwanted visitors were kept away by traps and the bloodoak and its tarry vines. In each colony an underground lake of crystal-clear dew-water could be found. On the lake shore, where the tangle of roots fanned out, the termagant trogs built their snug, round cabins of paper on top of each other to form a trogcomb. Each dwelling was separate but connected to all the others by communal walkways.
There was no cycle of day and night in termagant trog colonies, for the sun and moon were not visible underground, so the colonies were lit by the soft, soothing, pastel glow of wintertree and dew-willow roots. The raw materials for the trogs’ homes came from the roots of ironwood, leadwood, and copperwood pines. Their nourishment came from sweet-lullabee and yellow-sapwood roots, among other types.
Termagant trog females dominated their society due to their much greater physical strength relative to the males. They governed, guarded, and did the more physically difficult work such as root harvesting. The males were subservient and did tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and carrying the females’ tools for root harvesting. The males were not happy with this, and sometimes, like in Mag’s colony before Twig’s time, they revolted and tried to burn down the Mother Bloodoak. However, these attempts didn’t work because the females were too strong and could overpower the weak males.
Termagant trog females were tenderly and lovingly raised by their mothers. They were allowed to keep pets. The idea was that they would be encouraged to be good mothers by taking good care of pets. However, pets that could talk were not allowed, for they could give away the secret of the termagant trogs’ existence. Daughters were encouraged to let their pets free before their Blooding, or at least to leave them behind when the ceremony itself took place. Also, mothers took good care of their daughters’ hair, braiding it, beading it, plaiting it, and combing it, even though they both knew that it would fall out at the Blooding Ceremony.
The bloodoak tree that a colony was built beneath, called the Mother Bloodoak, was seen as sacred. The Blooding Ceremony that its sap enabled to take place was also regarded highly. The termagant trog sisters knew that it was time for a young female’s blooding when her hair had a deep orange lustre, her white skin a pearly bloom, and when her eyes glistened brighter and bluer than ever before. This time typically came around a female’s twelfth birthday. When the time came for a female termagant trog, she would go to the Inner Sanctuary, the natural dome made up of the roots of the Mother Bloodoak, along with her mother and the other termagant trog sisters. No one else was allowed into the Inner Sanctuary. A tap-like object would be driven into the bloodoak root so that the female whose Blooding it was could drink the frothing red liquid of the root. Drinking the liquid transformed the girl into her termagant, after-Blooding, stage of life, and then she was ready to raise her own daughter.
Clothes and Tools
Female termagant trogs wore robes made of a papery substance over their whole body, except for their head. These robes were decorated with images, and after their Blooding the females' bodies were decorated with tattoos as well. The males wore simple, undecorated robes around their waists, and had no tattoos. Females wore shoes but males didn’t. When the natural light of the roots was insufficient, termagant trogs used root candles for additional light. Scythes and root taps were used to harvest roots, and trugs were used to carry the harvested material back. Sumproot ropes were used as leashes for pets.
Like many other races of the Deepwoods, termagant trogs feared the gloamglozer. Mothers told their daughters that if they spent too much time in the dangerous world above ground then the gloamglozer would carry them off.
Notable Termagant Trogs
The word 'termagant' means 'quarrelsome woman'. The name is appropriate, given the aggressive nature of termagant females.