>The Red Land

>The Red Land (Barsoom in its former inhabitants’ own tongue) was once the home of a great civilisation. It is now a howling desert, and its people scattered to the four winds.

The desert brings no storms to wash away, nor damp to rot, nor plants to choke, and thus their ruins stand unravaged by time. Only the underground-dwelling rats-with-human-faces still live there, and they have no interest in precious spices. Nor will they attempt to carry away the stones of the temples for fear of the guardian golems, the “silver-studded, sabre-toothed dreams.”

Records of the Red Land are written on tablets of unknown metal. They rise from the desert about a mile, so that from a distance they seem like a city. It is unknown how much is buried beneath. Those who have read them say they claim that the Red Land was created first, centuries upon centuries before the rest of the world. It has been suggested that this might be a misreading, and records may be poetically noting that the civilisation discovered the rest of the world centuries after its founding, or that it was civilised while the lands around wallowed in barbarism.

One thing that is certain is that the inhabitants of the Red Land were not the Great Race. For their artifacts are unlike any others. No Glorious Hand has been found in the Red Land, and radium swords are found nowhere else.

The civilisation of the Red Land had declined greatly before its final destruction, and so there are few records of its fall. However it appears that the land relied on a certain plant, to purify the atmosphere of poisonous vapours that were otherwise prevalent. This plant appears to have faced extinction. It also appears that their system of canals had fallen into disrepair. These canals, miles wide and connecting every city-state, seem to have served as roads as well as methods of irrigation.

They appear to have had two entirely separate priesthoods. One performed weddings, funerals, and other priestly duties that we would be familiar with. The other was entirely devoted to the maintenance of the canals. No written records of the canal-priests’ fate survive. Oral tradition speaks vaguely of a descent into wickedness. Certainly this priesthood is dead among the Red Land community in Teleleli, and other cities where such exist.

Their canal-priests may be compared to the priesthood of Healos Athair. However they appear not to have had the same smothering dominance, and the cities of the Red Land appear to have never been united in empire. Or perhaps the Red Land was once another Healos Athair, but the priesthood were thrown down by disaster or rebellion?

Physically the inhabitants of the Red Land are rather like lizards or crocodiles, but with six limbs rather than four. In colour they range from red to green. Many of the pets and herd animals they have brought from their home are likewise six-limbed. Some of their scholars claim that the lizard-folk of other deserts are related to them. In support of this they cite a supposed legend of the lizard-folk, that their ancestors had six limbs, but the gods caused two of them to drop off in punishment for various sins, or that they agreed to lose them in return for permission to commit certain acts necessary for survival in the desert, such as killing excess children.

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2 thoughts on “>The Red Land

  1. >I like this a lot! It's evocative, and leaves lots of possibilities open without losing a sense of meaning and direction. This sounds like something I would want to explore as a PC, or include in a certain kind of campaign as a GM.

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