WORMSKIN

11/19/2013

Underworld Lore #3 | Obscure facts pertaining to the lands of the Hyborian Age

Let's groupthink this!

Choose a territory/nation/state named on the map below and tell us one obscure fact* about the region. Multiple facts -- including facts that reference other facts -- are encouraged.



Example

Many Corinthians celebrate an annual festival called the Orgy of Atronis, a celebration of the Black Ram God. During this three-day function all social barriers between man and beast are forgotten as the populace partakes of the hornwine -- a powerful hallucinogen derived from the fruit of the saphian, a deep-rooted scrub found on the grassy slopes of local mountain ranges.


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*Your invention

31 comments:

  1. There is rumored to be a salt lake in arid southern Khoraja where a Kothic legion is buried. Who or what drowned the legion is unknown; Imperial records are strangely terse on it, other than to say it was "lost." Villagers living nearby whsiper tales of the undead corpses of the legionaries rising from the saline depths at night to catch the unaware and drag what hapless folk they can back down with them.

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  2. A valley in Keshan is the site of a ruined city of malachite pillars. No one knows who built the place. The still-paved sections are coated in a pestilent green dust that causes a slow, irritating rot, unless you take precautions, such as using a garlic poultice or washing affected ares with good Zamoran wine. One merchant, a Nemedian it is said, came back with a load of high grade malachite, chipped from some of the broken pillars. It fetched a good price. Before he collapsed into a frothing pool of blood and green ichor. For some reason a number of Stygians place an extremely high value on this stuff. It could be a lucrative trade...if one knew some way to not succumb to the green death...

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  3. "There are rumors of fabulous hidden ancient Atlantian cities of green stone and treasure hidden upon the border between Hyperborea and the tundra. Many have ventured there and few have returned. Those who have tell strange tales of ancient demons, frost giants and much, much, worse. Occasionally an ancient soap stone figure or piece will turn up in trade caravans. Some of these have proven to be pure Atlantian jade and gold. Tis true for I have seen such things with my own eyes. Would I cheat a reveaver such as you?"

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  4. In Eastern Shem, after the harvest is completed, the children of the farmers who worship Ishtar play a game called Kahsht.

    Villagers chose an outsider who is sacrificed in the hope of assuring another bountiful harvest next season.
    The chosen one's throat is slit, and the blood is collected in a stone pot which is then carried by a priest or priestess to each well on the farm, whereupon three drops of blood are added to the water.
    Afterwards, the corpses are burnt on a pyre along with other offerings. Before that, the heads are removed and then thrice bound in the discarded head wrappings of the elevated Sisters of Shem (ideally, each from a child, woman, and a crone).
    They are then given to the village children who hit them with a stick throughout the fields until the wrappings can no longer contain the remains. The field that the game ends in will then remain fallow for three harvests.

    It is said that the round-headed priests of Vendhyan are very much preferred for Kahsht, but that those of the Brythunians allow for longer matches, owing to the thickness of their skulls…

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  5. True Shem is a meter wide strip of land between Near Shem and Far Shem.

    The people of Far Shem believe their nation owns the True Shem. The people of Near Shem believe the people of Far Shem to be heretics, as all Near Shemites know that True Shem is ruled by Near Shem.

    Neither Far Shemites nor Near Shemites may pass through True Shem without the proper prayers and petitions and performing the intricate, sacred ritual of Ear Purging. Because of the demands of this ritual, Near Shemites and Far Shemites do not trade with one another. Thus have Korsh-Emish and Near Stygia profited by encouraging both Shems to pursue their claims against one another on the field of battle.


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  6. In Ophir there is a villiage from which you can see sigils in the elder tongue upon the nearby mountain. Those sigils I shall draw for you now (please cross yourself and prey to umtumtum for safety):

    H O L L Y W O O D

    None know what these runes portend, but some wager that it is the signature of Umtumtum himself, a final flourish at the end of creating all things.

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  7. When the Blue Yir flowers first bloom across the fields of Zaporoska each spring, the Zaporoskim all partake in the most anticipated festival of the year.

    The Yirsigga begins with the cooking of vast cauldrons of pottage created from the end of the stored winter grains. Great strands of green algae have been harvested from the Vilayet Sea leading up to this event and distributed across the land. The fairest maiden below the age of 16 in each village adorns herself with these algal strands that are tied into 150 intricate knots to become what is known as the Djeftina with the help of the Miggar, a group of old women who have all been the Djeftina in their younger years. This girl then performs the Tandzinark, a long exhausting dance commemorating the first arrival to Zaporska across the sea.

    Finally, as night falls, all the women of the village don long conical hats. The younger the woman is, the taller the hat is allowed to be. The variety of colors and paintings on the hats reflect the deeds of each woman's family throughout the history of Zaporska. Men then grab their Zhamar, a circlet of intertwined branches crafted of the Ghot bush. The men then chase the women through the fields, casting their Zhamarem at the women's hats in hopes of encircling them with a successful throw. A Zaporoskim man who makes such a throw is allowed to lay with the woman he has thus encircled for the reminder of that evening.

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  8. Beyond civilization of great Ƶembabwei with it's conical towers and protective walls, in the unforgiving wilderness hushed whispers tell of creature called kerit that eats only brains of it's victims. Some say it is a beast that walks like a man, some whisper it being an ancient sorceror that eats brains of men for longevity.

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  9. It is told that in Khoraja rules of hospitality are so strict that you may insult your host by receiving bowl of pomegranate soup in wrong manner. Travellers must also keep in mind that drinks must be completely consumed in one go.

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  10. Each of the Baracha Isles worships a different aspect of Barach, Petty God of Sacrificial Goats. One island worships The Black Goat, one The White Bleat, one The Mottled Liver, one The Marbled Eye, etc.

    On the high holy feast day of Barach, islanders from every island gather in a great flotilla in an isolated bay. of the largest island. Each island's representatives slaughter 100 goats, the sea turning red with froth. The high priestess of each isle drinks a tanked of the bloodied sea and prostitutes herself to the crews of other islands' ships. Any children of these matings are pledged to Barach's service.

    In this way, peace between the isles has been maintained for over a thousand years.

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  12. King Conan's harem is said to be filled with at least two women from each of the nations of Hyboria, but he prefers one of those who come from the wild tundra, as she reminds him of the first woman he ever laid with in his youth.

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  13. The Vilayet Sea was not always a sea. Vilayet was once a lush and fertile valley, a vast nation-state nestled between the Hyraknian Mountains and the Turanian Highlands. Vilayet was known throughout the world for its exotic fruits, fine-woven tapestries, and a particular breed of horse called the "fire mare," said to be able to speed across the lands faster than wildfire. Alas, a volcanic eruption in the northern part of Vilayet triggered a series of earthquakes that unleashed a previously unknown underground freshwater sea, and the waters rose to fill the vast nation-state's valley in a matter of days. It is said that the great treasure-house of Faroun El-D'hab, last emperor of Vilayet, still rests beneath the waves in one of his palaces in the capitol city.

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  14. 1. The mothers of Bossonia wean their children with radishes, so that they may get used to the bitter taste of war.

    2. Brythun'a elite calvary rides fearsome porcine mounts.

    3. Every Prince of Corinth'a who wishes to be king must convince a coterie of nobles of his worthiness by undergoing various feats of strength. The nobles are drawn from states allied with Corinth'a and the nobles themselves design the challenges. It is said the current king stole an item from a petty goddess's boudoir to win his current position.

    4. Zaporoska refuses to allow ships of other nations to dock in its ports. Any ship not flying Zaporoskian colors is immediately impounded and its crew sold into slavery--usually to slavers bound for Vendhya.

    5. Vendhya has the busiest slave market in all of Hyboria.

    6. Keshan's annual calendar begins at harvest time. Each harvest moon, the priests of Keshan burn a great effigy of the current Queen in an elaborate ceremony, during which the Queen cuts the throat of her current consort. A new consort is chosen from among the gathered priesthood by casting dice on the bloody hide of a recently flayed leopard. The elected is then stripped bare, scourged with whips dipped in the venom of the jubjub vine, and then wrapped in a blanket woven of nettles. The queen and consort publicly consummate the beginning of the new year on an altar in the capitol city's square constructed for this purpose each year. They then rule together for the following year. At the end of the year, the consort is clothed in finery and stuffed alive into the Queen's effigy to become the sacrifice for the coming year.

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  15. During the festival of the Yirsigga in Zaporoska before ceremonial harvesting of algae begins the throne of Old Zaporska is brought before the Vilayet Sea and ceremonial "king of the sea" is crowned.
    Coronation stone is oblong stone tablet with detailed map of lost Vilayet beneath the waves.

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  16. Picts have a legend that they are forbidden to speak of to outsiders. It describes, in great detail, a group of Pict warriors slaughtering a herd of unicorns and drinking their blood. Some conservative Picts consider this story one of the greatest, exemplifying every feature true warriors should have, and would pay rather handsomely for a live unicorn to partially re-enact the tale.

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  17. Sometimes during great storms on the steppes, six-legged horses can be seen, ridden by four-armed men. People believe that if one beat them in a duel, they would become loyal followers.

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  18. 1. The Border Kingdom is not an actual kingdom. It is a representative republic, and the vote is given only to those who can afford to pay an annual tithe to the Temple of the Undying Sun. Only exiled nobles from other lands who pay an annual tithe to the Temple of the Undying Sun may run for office. It is said that the Goddess of Light is pleased with the current state of affairs, but may be persuaded to support another system of rulership for the right price--which is rumored to be the death of her rival Goddess, The Lamentatress of All Flesh.

    2. In the Black Kingdoms, there exists a ziggurat built upon an ancient temple built upon an ancient holy site built upon the remains of a giant tree. To the surface of the giant tree clings a phosphorescent colony of sentient, psionic bacteria, organized as a hive-mind. This creature controls the local population for a three-mile radius around the temple. The only humanoids immune to the bacteria's psionic control are goblins, who have been waging a slow-simmering, unsuccessful effort to destroy the temple for millennia.

    3. Zarkheba is a matriarchy ruled by women warrior-priests. The ruling council openly welcomes and shelters pirates, buccaneers, & privateers along its treacherous Southern Scurvy Coast.

    4. Kuthchemes is a rugged, mountainous jungle terrain. In the deep reaches of a distant mountain valley, it is said the most beautiful bird in the world makes it home. The bird is said to be larger than a man and it is reported to be flightless, living in burrows it digs beneath the rich jungle loam with its powerful talons. No one has ever brought back so much as a feather from its plumage, as the bird is rumored to be poisonous to the touch and possesses the ability to saw a man in half with one chomp of its massive beak.

    5. In Zamona, every rug merchant is also a member of the Assassin's Guild.

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  19. When you cross from Iranistan to Vendhya keep in mind many benevolent petty gods worshipped openly in Iranistan are thought as demons and evil spirits in Vendhya. It is generally thought as good idea to hide holy symbols, amulets and trinkets when going to Vendhya. Reactions to foreigners expressing devotion to what Vendhyans consider demons are varied, locals might just scoff at their ignorance or react with frenzy equaling Bossonian witchfinders.

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  20. Speaking of Bossonia, this land of rugged and self-sufficient people has defended itself from slavers and barbarians for generations but not without a price. Their mentality is unusually intolerant. Cimmerians and picts, if not able to defend themselves are usually lynched as spies, foreigners from other parts of the world are in general thought as plague carriers and witches. Economy has not developed and foreign merchants are harassed and Bossonians have hard time grasping that merchant must make profit and haggling is seen by Bossonians as insult.

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  21. Argos is known for it's many almost magical marvels. Most technologically advanced of young civilizations they grasp sciences and understanding none else have even began to understand. It is all wasted on frivolous things like mechanical owls that hoot at temple entrances or geared devices that track movements of stars and planets. They become weaker every passing year, border of Near Shem being like exposed soft belly in front of lean and hungry wolf.

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  22. Dispite the harsh conditions North and South Cimmeria produce the most beautiful people in the known world. Lean athletic types with cold eyes like jewels.

    Men of North Cimmeria often let their hair long grow long and seem to take great care of it. Dispite being rather blunt and dispising civilized ways they are remarkably vain.

    Women of South Cimmeria, known to be exceedingly handsome are often born with bodies of men.

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  23. The fierce nomadic warriors of North Hyrkania are some of the finest horsemen in the Hyborian lands. As they are constantly on the move, being literally "born in the saddle" is seen as a sign of good fortune.

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  24. The people of the steppes stuff their pillows with long grasses and fragrant herbs. The smell is said to prolong life and give women erotic dreams.

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  25. The improbable gods of Koth find the number 4 offensive. Consequently all carriages in the land have only three-wheels.

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  26. Girls of Sorth Cimmeria undergo ritual circumcision at nine months if age. The offending flesh is often worn around the neck in a cloth bag well into adulthood.

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  27. In the past year Gronosis, Tyrant of Kuthchemes, had three prophetic visions. When the prophecy is complete the forgotten god Blioberis will rise from his watery grave and consume the flesh of mortals.
    Two of these prophecies have already been realized.

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  28. The peasant revolt in South Aquilonia was instigated by the two warring sorcerers Fandelmas and Bechtheld. Their cruel magics and diabolical curses have transformed the countryside into a surreal landscape of tin-metal flora and melting fauna.

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  29. Every sixth night the hetmen of the nomadic tribes of North Hyrkania drink yak piss to ward off the silent curses of their wives.

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  30. The cavaliers of Brythunia paint their porcine mounts with elaborate designs in bright colors. The current Champion of the Lists favors ragged streaks of red against a background of green. The heir to the Lotus Crown rides a blue mount whose face is painted with white sunbursts.

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  31. In Bossonia fathers do not address their children by name until their eigth birthday. To do so invites ridicule and bad luck.

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