Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Downunderworld

The Downunderworld is a vast and gloomy underground desert. It is said that it was once a realm of forest and grass, and was called the Land of Long Golden Twilight. It became a wasteland, they say, because its king was wounded by a magical knife. The knife is still in him, and has rendered him immortal and yet unable to heal. The stated location of the wound varies; some say his feet, others his leg, yet others the male organs. All agree that he is crippled, and some say blind as well. The location of this king is likewise disputed.

Some will say that the pleasant realm that the land once was was not destroyed, but moved 'elsewhere'. Where this might be is obscure. The king is sometimes said to have gone with his realm.

It has been colonised by creatures from another world, called Australiens. They found it already occupied, but took over anyway under the doctrine of 'Terror Nullius', or 'no worries'. The Australiens were prisoners on their own world, and they are not at ease in their new home. Outside of the capital, Middle Perth, they fear the native wildlife, which includes kangaorcs (tamed and used for transport in the city, but wild everywhere else), wombalrogs, entalyptuses, kookabarrow wights, flaming galahs, frill-necked wizards and the Hoop-Snake. The interior is also overrun with feral robots. These creatures were brought by the Australiens as servants. However several escaped, and since they are able to make more of themselves their population has exploded. Settlements of any size are protected by robot-proof fences. These fences consist of a ring of insoluble logic puzzles which, it is hoped, robots will be unable to resist attempting to solve.

Despite all these terrors, the Australiens are more afraid of those of their own number who go mad, and of the country itself, which is said to be the agent of their madness. For example they speak of four brothers, all with the same name, who are so clever their earlobes drag on the ground (long earlobes being considered a sign of wisdom). One is painted black, one red, one green and the last blue. They crave blood more than anything else, but fear the inevitable punishment that would follow murder. So they had a witch cast the illusion of a billabong (a lake) on their home. When thirsty travellers discover the illusion, they inevitably swear and curse. The brothers then spring forth, challenging the one who insulted their home to a duel. The poor traveller can then be slaughtered with at least some pretence of legality. And slaughtered they will be, for each brother posesses weapons of unparalleled quality. One has a woomera (a spear-thrower) which can send a spear all the way to a tree on the horizon, and so hard that it lodges right through the trunk.

Australiens measure distance in jars; the distance being the time it takes a traveller on a cart to drink one jar of beer.

They are much concerned with status, which they call Good Honour (pronounced "good onya").

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