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Old 11-08-2023, 11:39 PM   #11
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: ORICHALCUM UNIVERSE: VERANIS (Dyaxor A V) in 2123...


The so-called 'Slath Tribes' are actually a highly heterogeneous group. An alliance, association, or confederation of highly various tribes of low-tech Vertaran natives, linked together by...well, actually, nobody outside their ranks is precisely sure what links them all together.

The word 'Slath' is an Anglicization of their term for themselves, and nobody else, even on Veranis, is totally certain what it means. The tribes do speak a common language, but it is a sort of 'creole', most of the Slath Tribes have their own native tongue that they use among themselves. There does not appear to be any sort of single 'chief of chiefs' or council or other central authority, but the Slath Tribes do manage to minimize their intra-tribal disputes with an apparent minimum of violence, somehow.

The Slath do communicate with each other fairly efficiently, considering their overall limited technology and the vast territory they inhabit. An outsider who offends against or is engaged in violence with one Slath Tribe is likely to find that the others, even hundreds of kilometers away, know about it and will recognize that particular outsider.

Something else the Slath have in common, in spite of the wide variety of cultures and societies they otherwise display, is that they are xenophobic. Exactly how xenophobic varies from merely insular and hostile to murderously hostile. Some Slath Tribes engage in cannibalism of outsiders, some make no secret of torturing intruders to death. Others will merely deal out a swift and efficient death, often by poison dart or a swift arrow.

The Slath Tribes control a strip of territory running from just south of the ruins of Talianickarisat south to the central mountain range that splits the continent, and running hundreds of kilometers east to west. It is a vast strip of (mostly) highland forest territory, cut by several major mostly-north-flowing rivers.

Native-wise Veranisians will warn a traveler that he or she or they are in danger on the Shan River starting about twenty kilometers upriver from the ruins of Talianickarisat. The Slath Tribes rarely come north of that, they hold the Lakegrandian ruins in deep dread, not just Talianickarisat but the other Lakegrandian ruins in their territory as well.

Which does mean that such ruins can provide at least a temporary place of safety if one is being pursued by hostile Slath, and most Slath are hostile most of the time.

The danger is not necessarily immediate, however. Though the Slath will likely attack an outsider north of that line, they will not necessarily be immediately aware of such a presence. The Slath control a vast territory, and one might enter it and get out again undetected, especially near the edges.

Still, they do watch the rivers fairly closely, especially the large ones like the Shan River. While one might not be attacked immediately upon crossing the outer edge, the further upriver one goes the greater the risk. The local Slath are past masters at stealth and concealment, when the attack does come it will likely come suddenly and without warning.

To be fair, the Slath consider the territorial markers they place at the edges of their domain to be a warning. As one passes about twenty kilometers south of the ruins of Talianickarisat, one passes stone pillars on either side of the river. These pillars are about ten meters tall, and are intricately carved with stone skulls, bones, twisted humanoid faces, and other pleasant imagery. To emphasize the point, in niches in the columns are actual Homosapient skulls, often those of children.

Similar pillars mark the edge of Slath territory along the other major rivers and flow down from the distant mountain range. Smaller versions of these pillars are placed here and there throughout Slath territory. If one encounters such a pillar in the forests, one is already in Slath territory and the wisest move is probably to retrace your route...quickly and quietly.

The Slath do have some limited contact with the outside world. A very, very few merchants are permitted by the Slath Tribes to enter their territory under a safe conduct. They trade metals, manufactured goods, rare foods and drinks, and anything else the Slath might like to have, for rare medicinal herbs, or a few other profitable native products (one Slath Tribe is known for weaving incredibly beautiful rugs out of native fibers, for ex).

These merchants are the main way information gets in and out of Slath territories, but even they do not have permission to travel at will, they enter by specific routes (usually a river route), meet with specific people, at specific places, and leave again. A Slath safe conduct is usually trustworthy, as long as one does exactly what they tell you do to, following every rule and restriction to a 't'. The merchants who manage to profit in this trade tend to be very good at following the rules, and know when to keep their mouth shut.

At one time, the Slath were known for raiding north of their territory, attacking other Vertaran natives for slaves, loot, or occasionally food, in the case of the cannibalistic tribes.

The Thakarian rulers more or less stopped this with some vicious reprisals. The current Terrestrian regime has mostly attempted to use more civilized methods, but with the Slath, nothing else seems to work. When the Terrestrians first took control, the Slath tested their patience several times, lethally, until a Governor-General resorted to targeting several tribal gathering places from orbit. After that, the Slath resumed their restive insularity. The Slath are insular, viciously antagonistic, and ruthless, but not stupid, and they are aware that the Terrestrians, like the Thakarians before them, can make the sky rain fire if antagonized sufficiently.

Exactly how much the Slath do know about the outside world is not entirely clear to anyone else, either. The merchants ask few questions, and even fewer of those questions are answered. It is known that some Slath seem to have more knowledge of the outside world than their insularity would seem to permit, but very little is known for sure.

A traveler on the Shan River who comes through the Talianickarisat ruins and meets the archaeological team will be warned about the Slath, if they do not already know, and told some horrifying stories about them that happen to all be true. The archaeologists never go further than five kilometers south of the ruins without a security escort, and they and their security team stop entirely at the ten kilometer line, by daylight. At night they remain within the ruins and usually within their encampment.

They will advise any traveler to do likewise, though they will not try to stop someone determined to keep going upriver.

HMS Overflow-For conversations off topic here.

Last edited by Johnny1A.2; 11-08-2023 at 11:46 PM.
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