The Righteous Province

The Righteous Province is a secret society, headed by sorcerers, which forms a kind of shadow government in certain rural areas.

Branches of the society, headed by a ‘viceroy’, meet at night in hidden caves, lit by torches fuelled by human fat. There is also a cave, “doubly hidden”, which is the headquarters of the society as a whole and presided over by its ‘king’. This cave houses a lake, whose waters can reveal any secret.

Each of these caves has two guards. Both of them are kidnapped as babies and forced to serve the society, never leaving the cave for their entire lives. One guardian is deliberately deformed: their hands, feet, arms and legs are disjointed, and their head is gradually twisted around until the creature appears to be permanently looking over their shoulder. The official of the society in charge of performing these operations also never leaves the cave. The second guardian is left intact. Both are fed primarily on human flesh.

The society derives an income from ‘tributes’ extracted upon pain of destruction of crops and livestock by magic.

Although the society is hated wherever it exists, it is widely believed that it was once benign, and helped the people against their tyrannical rulers.

(My thanks to Paul, for his initial research into this phenomenon).

Nomads

Nomads, so the scholars of Teleleli say, are those barbarians who have domesticated animals but no agriculture, and thus must wander from place to place, since their herds quickly eat all the grass in a given area.

Among those nomads who ride animals, rather than walking or using chariots or wagons, women will often suffer miscarriages and other maladies of the womb. For this reason, such nomads are often unable to replace their dead through natural increase. Thus they will often be most eager to have new members join their number.This may lead to customs of the highest virtue – such as welcoming any refugee or exile who comes among them – or the lowest vice – such as raiding strangers that they may steal their infants and raise them as their own.

My thanks to Magister Noisms for his research on this subject.

The Anderson Gang

William T. Anderson, known as ‘Bloody Bill’, was the most pitiless and bloodthirsty of the Confederate guerillas in the American Civil War.

He was hunted down and killed in battle in 1864. Instantly, so it seemed to him, he found himself on a desolate plain which he later learned was the Abysmal Plain. Anderson believed that he had gone to Hell. Indeed he continues to hold this belief, stating that he sees no reason why the Almightly should not remove the memories of all the other condemned souls, but leave his intact so as to torment him further.

He is now the leader of a group of outlaws, no more merciful than the men he led on Earth, who hide in the Abysmal Plain and terrorise surrounding areas.

Dragon-Proof Trees

It is said that one may awaken the pride of trees by inducing a large number of birds, of sufficiently splendid plumage, to nest there. Once the tree’s pride is awakened, the tree will be anathema to crocodiles, lizards, snakes, dragons and similar beasts. Thus any bird which nests there, or any person who climbs the branches, will be safe against them.

If birds continue to nest there the tree’s pride will grow further, so that even the shadow of the tree will repel such creatures.

Alas, if the tree’s pride grows until it becomes arrogance, the tree will begin to poison the land around – for several miles, in some cases.

The Seventh-Day Inventists, ever impudent in their speculations, say that none of this is a matter of the tree’s pride, but is only a natural process. They say that the tree absorbs the poison from the creatures, and after a while vents it into the earth around.

Rahab the Just

The robot Rahab was told by a priest that, since it had no soul, it would never enter the afterlife. Enraged at the unfairness, it decided to prevent organic creatures entering the afterlife either. To this end it, and a small band of robotic followers, took to kidnapping wizards and scientists (to learn the secrets of extending life) and the very old (to use the secrets on).

The Celestial Traffic Police

This organisation maintains the speed limit in the Celestial Realm, which is the speed of light.

They have been known to sentence dangerous drivers to jail terms of several hundred years. Those who have been imprisoned report that it seemed to them that they were only in jail for a few days, but when they were released several hundred years had indeed passed.