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[LOCATIONS] Preliminary Notes on Some Regions, Geographical Features and Petty Kingdoms of ERIDU

May 28, 2010

A Map of the World

All land is surrounded by the Bitter River, encircling Ocean.  In her depths Leviathans heave.

CEDAR MOUNTAINS, running east-west along the northern fringes of the world; thickly forested hilly flanks, riddled with ancient mines and caves, the abode of beasts. The ossified body of Humbaba the demon slumps recumbent amongst the peaks. On Mount Nimush lies grounded the hulk of Utanipishtim’s great Ark, the surrounding slopes perilous with all the escaped monstrosities it once contained.

LAKE VAN shimmers in a Cedar Mountain valley; the surrounding slopes gleam with the black radiance of abundant obsidian.  Secretive tribes gather the nodules of volcanic glass to trade and transform into valued tools, knives, jewellery, amulets and inlays.

SUBARTU, the rolling grasslands of the north between the rivers, stretching to the feet of the mountains. Scattered with the ruined forts, outposts, colonies and settlements of past empires, and some living enclaves of Men.  Nomadic tribes herd their sheep and goats, moving between their monuments and ancestral lands and burial places. The eastern extent of Subartu is held as

ASHUR, a petty territorial kingdom of settled Amurru ruled by Tikulti-Ninurta, who surrounds himself and his people with monumental art of hysterical terror and cruelty. Assyrians are slave-takers and resettlers of subject populations, but also wily merchants whose caravans extend across the Land; an Assyrian trader (like a Phoenician) may appear anywhere. Their settlements include Nineveh and Assur.

SINJAR MOUNTAINS, of eagles and Anzu-birds; a fortified pass in the mountains leads to the Subartu northlands and is the rumoured home of demon-worshippers.

ARATTA, a citadel and mountainous kingdom, ancient adversary of Uruk.  Famed for its mines of gold, quarries of marble and porphyry, and for the lapis lazuli obtained from veiled traders from beyond the mountains. Aratta’s king Ensuhgirana plots in an impenetrable fortress of lapis lazuli spires and red-brick walls.  Somewhere in Aratta’s vale dwells Urjirinuna the Summoner in a tower of obsidian, a sorcerer exiled from a land destroyed.

ZUBI MOUNTAINS, on the north-eastern flanks of Subartu, source of copper, tin, silver, gold and stone, all lacking in Sumer and Akkad and contested by the city-states; many mines and delvings riddle the peaks.  Across these fences of the world sweep atimes new tribes into the plains of Sumer and Akkad.

MASHU’S Twin Peaks, a double mountain, said to be where the sun rises and sets; its passes are guarded by a citadel of scorpion men and seven gates, and beyond it is rumoured to lie the jewelled garden of the gods.

THE BASALT PLAINS, a flat upland plateau riven with basalt outcrops.  Scattered across it are enigmatic stone formations, funerary cairns, enclosures, and dead cities of basalt entire: spirit haunted, picked over, and occasionally tenanted by a few families of awed degenerates.

THE ABOMINABLE DESOLATION, west of the plains of Sumer and Akkad, a fearsome desert, an Empty Quarter, abode of demons and whispering pleading wind-borne spirits. A few secretive tribes such as the Beni Howa, Sons of the Wind, pace between oases, nursing strange cults and timeless grudges. Remorseless dunes blow over the ruins of Antediluvian pleasure gardens.

SUMER AND AKKAD, The Land, the southern and northern territory Between the Rivers. A flat alluvial plain crosscut by the channels and canals of the Tigris and Euphrates, with lush date-palm groves on the levees and rich agricultural plots where watered.  Here lie the scattered city-states, estates of the gods, some the dwelling places of Men still, others lost or abandoned in horror. On the plains roam the tent-dwelling pastoral nomads, sellers of wool, milk, yoghurt; mercenaries; and destroyers of cities in times of drought.

THE BITUMEN PITS OF HIT, bubbling chasms and sumps of tar, where smokes and fumes constantly rise.  A shanty-town of squat mudbrick dwellings houses the harvesters of the bitumen, their ale- and whore-houses, and the trader caravans come to exchange for the stuff; but sorcerers are drawn to the sulphuric emanations too, gathering about the bubbling pits to harvest secretions or construct bituminous experiments.

THE MARSHLANDS of far southern Sumer; trackless and innumerable water-courses, ever-shifting; among tall reeds the fishermen and pastoralist marsh dwellers pole their long barks and fashion dwellings of reed and mud, and floating reed islands entire on which their settlements drift. Alongside lurk the lizardmen, degenerate remnants of genetic experimentations by the Ophidians, and their pets, prey and enemies, frogemoths and worse.  Scattered half-sunk and rusting in the marsh are the abandoned Machines of the shapeshifting Ophidians, and somewhere too their last settlement, Ubeyid, a temple-town in which they claim for themselves the title of Anunnaki.

DILMUN, a fabled Blessed Isle and vast necropolis, drifting in the waters of the Lower Sea.

ELAM, a continuation of the Mesopotamian plain to the east and territory of the city-state Susa, where, atop a high terrace surrounded by a necropolis, copper-axe wielding priests celebrate the orgiastic rites of the goat and murmur praises of the Elamite lugal.

THE LOWER SEA, flowing into the Bitter River; its banks are studded with scattered communities of fishers and pearl divers. What slumbers in the slime below even the Apkullu fish-sages of Eridu hesitate to say.

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