Cyclopeatron's recent post about Poul Anderson and A. E. Van Vogt. You can find his post here. The book cover he included for Van Vogt features a pale, smooth-skinned floating-head dude. I doubt it means anything significant, but I did think it was kind of funny/strange. Huh.
Anyhow, on with this post.
The Dershav are a chthonic offshoot of humanity who live entirely deep underground in bizarre networks of shafts, sheer-walled tunnels and convoluted cavern-complexes often over-run with bioluminous fungi and cthonozoa. These spaces are not intended to facilitate walking and are treacherous in the extreme for anyone attempting to spelunk through them as well. Pockets of poison gas are maintained in low spots by clever reshaping of the ceilings and stalactites of choke-point passages. Every opportunity has been taken to facilitate interlopers falling to their deaths. Completely unexpected pockets of grit, sand, gravel or even ultra-fine dust are arranged to fill areas, flow through or across other areas, and to swallow up the unwary or the unlucky. Sharp projections are arranged so as to only be found once one has run into them being buried in powder or set within carefully arranged shadows just to catch someone on their needle-sharp points. In fact the entire expanse of the Dershav territories deep below the surface of Riskail are considered to be some of the most clever and devious death-traps known, and thus they are a source of challenge for various athletes and celebrities who seek to beat the Dersahv at their own game.
Only the Dersahv aren't playing at any games.
Extreme xenophobes, the Dershav are horrified that anyone would be so senseless as to not take the hint and leave them well enough alone. The constant deprdations of media crews, videolisti and the aforementioned athletes with their attendent clouds and swarms of papparazzi have motivated the Dershav to seriosuly up the ante. Which feeds into the cycle of challenge and only serves to encourage, embolden and spur on the intruder's efforts.
To add insult to injury, all the media attention has resulted in tour groups venturing down into the already cleared sections which are supposedly safe. The tour guides relate how this celebrity camped here or that athlete nearly lost it over there, and so on.
The Dershav have had quite enough of this nonsense.
But they are split as to just what they ought to do about it.
One group has sent a delegation to the exurban grotto-districts where they hope to bargain with Budoji for passage to some distant, unclaimed shell-world where they can rebuild their society in peace, free from all the trespassers and interlopers who now come barging into their carefully arranged pebble mobiles, telluric aura-sculptures, or delicate spore-vortexes, all of which have been trampled, ruined and destroyed by unwitting fools from the surface world in search of thrills.
The other faction doesn't want to leave their ancestral caverns. They have decided to fight a geurilla war against the invaders from above and they have begun to arrange some rather nasty traps utilizing telluric currents drawn from the deep Ley Lines of Riskail. Powerful, negative surges of force directed by the intensely focused hatred of the Dershav have begun to slash murderously through the camps of the celebutards, sporting enthusiasts and (un)reality contestants. Things are about to escalate. Badly. Wildly. In the worst possible ways. The Dershav have begun to take the heads of their victims as trophies. They wrap them in the same worm-rinds and snail intestines that they themselves wear as mummy-like protective coverings and then carry them about within their auras as macabre tokens of their status as warriors, for the Dershav have had enough of Civilization and have turned to savagery and barbarism to defend their lands from those who would trample their ancient thrones beneath designer spelunking boots or gem-encrusted sandals that look good on the Nets.