Thursday, December 16, 2010

Monster Canyon


In the West of the New World is one of the geographical wonder. Nearly 400 years ago, when Eadlerdish explorers were first making there way across the western desert, they came to a huge, steep-sided canyon they described in their writings as “a great abyss.” The Natives told them it was impassable, and the abode of monsters. Those early explorers only went far enough to determine the apparent truth of the Natives’ words, and turned back.

It would be 200 years before any Ealderdishman found a way across, and thus proved it was not impassable. The “abode of monsters” part remains true to this day.

The feature is today known as the Grand Chasm, or the Colossal Canyon--and sometimes, the Monster Canyon. It's around 500 miles long, up to 20 miles wide, and reaches a depth of nearly a mile and a half. The Red River runs through its depths, cutting deeper into rock in a time-frame of eons, though some thaumaturgists believe the scale of the chasm indicates something more than natural forces were involved in its making.

The canyon has tributaries--”lost valleys” which boast flora and fauna long extinct in other parts of the world. Procurers for circuses and zoos sometimes enter these regions to bring out beasts for public show, as do alchemists in search of exotic botanical materials. Scientists point to the unlikelihood of viable animal populations surviving in such small places and suggest that vast cave complexes must underlie the entire region, providing a wider habitat.

Other places in the canyon attract adventurers and other treasure-seekers. There are ruins and entrances to caves, some of them previously inhabited or even perhaps made by some human hands. Tombs of the Ancients or some allied culture promise treasure, and ancient magics.

Any treasure to be found there is never easy to acquire. Getting into the canyon is difficult--the easiest way is to come downriver--though there are precarious trails that wind downward from the rim, if you can find a guide. Guides come at a price, and may not be completely trustworthy.


Once a way is found, things only get more dangerous. Wayward flying reptiles from the lost valleys pluck travellers from boats or trails. Cavern crawlers, cave fishers, and other strange creatures (the results of ancient magical experimentation gone awry?) crawl forth from hidden recesses of the chasm when they sense a meal. Then, there are primitive human tribes--some too debased to be worthy of the name--descended from Natives or lost expeditions often fallen to superstitious worship of the canyon's monstrous inhabitants, and sometimes cannibalism.

Still, adventure and treasure calls, and there are always those brave or greedy enough to make the descent.

(My article on the lost cities of the Grand Canyon in the world we know would be instructive and inspirational here as well.) 

7 comments:

Tim Shorts said...

Very cool as always. Wondering when you are going to put all this stuff into a PDF or print?

Harald said...

Now this is exactly the kind of place I would mount and expedition to, had I been looking to mount an expedition. I am certain that there is an old missionary station somewhere close by, and that in the writings of a long dead priest, clues to the whereabouts of a golden idol of some sort can be found...

Risus Monkey said...

Fantastic to have a "Lost World" location so close to civilization.

NetherWerks said...

Gwanji! How cool is that! Nice job blending this stuff into something fresh and engaging. Is there any chance of some Haggardian influxes in the near future?

Trey said...

@Tim - Thanks! The Weird Adventures setting book is heading your way, I promise. Though, since a couple of people have asked, I may do a pdf of expanded versions of some posts that won't really be covered in WA. We'll see.

@Harald - I think you've got it. ;)

@Risus - Yeah...Why should tropical islands and far-off jungles have all the fun?

@NetherWerks - Thanks. Since Ebon-Land owes a big debt to Haggard (and a smaller one to Burroughs, maybe), I suspect there's a good chance we can see some of that in the new year...

anarchist said...

Wouldn't the monsters live in Bronson Canyon?

Trey said...

Nah...Bronson Canyon just happens to look exactly like the canyons the monsters inhabit. Weird isn't it? ;)