Saturday, June 19, 2010

Tributary Gate: The Red Marshes

Just past the island of green egrets and the Bridge of the Six Fingered Glove, there is a small, sluggish channel that leads to a Tributary Gate.  The world on the otherside of this gate is registered as simply Red Marshes.  It was documented originally by a Siluroi canal-scavenger who was viciously mauled by a nastyjelly bloatslime that ruptured nearly a third of their exposed tissues when it injected a good deal of itself into her flesh.  That being how the bloatslimes kill their prey--injecting themselves into another creature through a fast-acting pressurized form of kinetic-osmosis.  They literally insert hundreds of microcappillaries into your body and then force themselves right on in, rupturing cells, ripping-apart blood vessels, and exploding muscle tissues.

She was fortunate to survive the encounter.

Her offspring have become very adept at hunting, trapping and taming a wide array of nastyjellies and they are specialists at handling bloatslimes.  It has become their family business.

The Red Marshes get their name from the deep red color of the ultra-humid skies, the red-tinted clouds, the predominently red chlorophyll of the plants, and so on.  The air is so humid that the glare from the sun makes it impossible for most people to discern where the water ends, the land begins and the sky seems to just swallow everything.  It's a misleading and disorienting place to those not used to it and even then it can be treacherous.  The Siluroi and Lutrin, Venduu and various turtle-descended species have established raft-camps, pontoon-towns and a few unregistered enclaves past the Tributary Gate.  The Siluroi might take you out to one of the known locations, if you can name it or give good directions, but they aren't likely to volunteer information to outsiders, and especially not for free.

You'll want a good Guide out in the Red Marshes; the nastyjellies aren't the only things that might try to get at you--there are some fairly wicked leeches, razorflukes and freshwater urchins to consider.  Some riverfolk have taken to saying that there are gavials, slasher-fish, hooksquids, devilfish (oversized freshwater pirahnas) and bad garfish out in the Red Marshes as well.  Things that might eat a person whole as soon as spit them out.  Then there is the matter of spawning pools.  No one wants to trespass on a Venduu spawning pool.  You might not be afeared of fish, invertebrates or poisonous crustaceans, but you sure as anything won't want to go mucking aroud in a Venduu's spawning pool.  You'd be wishing you'd ran into a big ol Gatorbear, a whole pack of hungry gatorbears, if'n you blundered into a spawning pool.

Nope, if you're going to visit the Red Marshes, you'll be wanting a Guide and your boots are the last thing you'll need to worry about.  And don't forget your copy of the River Almanac.  There's a recipe in there for sucker-spine crawdads that is simply out of this world.  Them's good eatin' y'know.  Or at least you would if'n you read the Almanac.

2 comments:

Trey said...

Cool locale. I like the casual dropping of the aquatic beasties names. And the admonitions about the Venduu!

One pedantic point: Chlorophyll means "green leaf" technically. The broader term is "photosynthetic pigments." There is an earthly red pigment, named (appropriately) erythrophyll.

NetherWerks said...

@Trey: Thanks! The Venduu are very, very significant beings in all the games I've run sinc the early Eighties--they are frog-descended, but not like HPL's critters. The Venduu have over 15,000 registered variations and sub-types--that they have allowed to be recorded. Like frogs, they are intimately integrated into their local ecologies and are the first to know of imbalances or pollution...and unlike frogs, the Venduu can and will do quite a lot about such things. I'll make sure that the Venduu get dealt with shortly. I'm still catching up on a few loose-ends and revising the whole Diodati sequence into about a week's worth of related posts.

We are seriously looking at Wikidot. The other services/options are far less engaging. Thanks for pointing that one out!

As for the pedantic point...well, yeah, you're very probably correct, however would most readers 'get' the reference or does just using chlorophyll wrong work better? I appreciate you bringing this point up--I've been wondering just how to handle this very thing lately. Using terms like 'heuristic' and 'hypostases' as well as getting all technical with actual real-life scietific terminology...that tends to intimidate and emasculate a lot of the head-bangers in the audience who just want to smash orcs with dull axes again, and again, and again...

I've looked at Clark Ashton Smith as a role-model in some ways, as well as Poe, but I'm starting to wonder if maybe it isn't time to re-read Cordwainer Smith and see how he handled this sort of thing.

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