The Observer of Buatrazaxi

A massive creature with the body of a barn owl and the limbs of a spider surveys an icy plain bordered by frozen pine trees. Its blurred eyes and the central black orb in its forehead gaze upon the clean bones of a horse-like animal displayed in a ritual circle painted with what appears to be blood.


Buatrazaxi (/bueɪːtrad͡zɑˈχi/; boo-AY-trahdz-ah-HEE), or the Unnatural Ice, is a circular expanse of icy plains in the otherwise tropical Palm Corridor of Central Fao. Some eighty miles in diameter, legends say that it was crafted millennia ago by lambent trolls hailing from the frozen islands of Fusìanamil, far to the north, at the behest of the ancestral Queen Siherud. Interred at the site of Mafrang Nu in the forest of Nithmi Varo, the existence of the frozen landscape is a monument to her will, and to the power and influence the trolls exert over the governments of Fao to this day.

In these lands roams the Observer, the ancestral guardian of Buatrazaxi. Appearing as a great, three-eyed owl bearing four razor-sharp, scorpion-like appendages, the Observer stalks the landscape, utterly silent. It remains unknown if the creature was purposefully crafted to guard the lands of Queen Siherud, or if it is a minor inherent deity who appeared spontaneously as a result of their creation. Nevertheless, its presence inspires fear and religious devotion in equal measure from the primitivist tribes of lambent trolls wandering the minor mountain range of Fa Faith, as well as a minority of residents within the town of Sihana.

Known to consume only bones, preferably clean of blood, regular offerings to the Observer are made so as to safeguard its good will toward the peoples of Buatrazaxi. Besides its protection of mortal life, the cleaned bones of dead trolls are presented to the Observer in complex pagan rituals. Those tribes who follow in this tradition believe that the souls, trapped in the bones of the dead, are freed from their prisons and ushered on to the afterlife within the great being’s care.

Atlas of Central Fao, Palm Corridor: Buatrazaxi


I used a baseplate of a very snowy forest, then painted ice over the blanket of snow before adding some snowy rocks and cracks. I might have gotten the perspective a little wrong on the sacrifice, but c’est la vie. I was learning at the time; this was one of my first matte paintings, and most of the work went into the central landscape, the magical sigil, and compositing spiders and scorpions into the body of a barn owl.