The Bleached lands are said to lie in the far north-west, beyond the Glass Wastes beholden to the savage Mazhurians, but no map can guide one there and many have sought it out, only to wander the Glass Wastes until they crumbled, bleeding and desiccated. The Bleached Lands can only be found by those that know how to seek it.
Weird and immutable are the Bleached Lands, an otherworldly stretch of grey rivers, white mangrove forest and deep black lakes, sapped of any colour and bathed in perpetual twilight. It is said that men who travel to the Bleached Lands are always in search of some revelation, but not many have the strength of spirit weather the answers they seek. Madness is a frequent occurence among travellers, who are looked upon with bemusement and at times contempt by the Bleached Men who call this otherwordly place home. These madmen are often kept as pets by the tribes and used for simple chores, though some will use them for altogether more darker purposes.
Visitors do not stay long in the Bleached Lands, for the voices on the wind whisper to them of strange and unnerving things. Those that do eventually lose all colour and become as as grey and colourless as the Bleached Men. Some will eventually join them.
There are no great cities within the Bleached Lands, and when asked, the Bleached Men say simply that they have no need for them. Nought but tiny villages and sunken, giant stone idols. Hunters, warriors and fishermen are the Bleached Men, each carrying the tale of his family and tribe on his skin in elaborately patterened scars. Intwined with this history are glyphs that confuse and frighten the ephermal predators that lurk in the swamps.
Other then secrets, some men, greedy Gal’Alorians most of all, travel to the Bleached Lands for trade. Brightly coloured fabrics and even jewels will eventually lose their lustre and take on the same monochromatic aspect of all things within the Bleached Lands, but the Bleached Men will pay well for a brightly coloured gemstone or dye, for the colour is like opium to them. In return, they offer colourless pearls, pale roots said to function as a potent aphrodisiac and rarely the strange ghostmetal that only the shamans can forge, said to be able to hurt incorporeal or ultratellurian creatures. Those that seek to take these things by force seldom succeed, and to be captured by the Bleached Men is a dire fate indeed.
Able Sorcerers are the Bleached Men, who go into frequent trances atop their mounds of stone and talk with their future selves and the spirits of their ancestors. Some become lost and when they return they are not themselves. Some go too far into the future and awaken screaming and mad. These are quickly killed by their peers before they say too much. The Bleached Men know well the lore of the Nine Souls of Man, the Thorned Path, the Mastery of the Angled Sword and the Laws of the Spaces Between. Sometimes these Sorcerers will rally the tribes and wage wars against their peers but nothing ever seems to change as a result. The Bleached Lands cannot truly be changed.
The bane of the Bleached Men is the Io-Rach. Incorporeal and invisible, it steals the substance of men to become tangible so it may reproduce. Visitors are quickly drained of their colour and become transparent until they vanish from the world completely. The Bleached Men have some innate resistance to the process, but they are not immune.
(HD 4, MV unarmoured man (flight), AC (as chain) AT 1, Dam: 1 level. Spec: Naturally invisible and incorporeal. Each level taken means 1 HD of the creature becomes corporeal and vulnerable. HD remain vulnerable for 1 turn. )
From their ghost-flesh, the Bleached Men make potent ectoplasmic totems, and the flesh of the Io-rach is coveted by their Sorcerers for all manner of strange and unspeakable sorceries.
In the darkness between the Trees, amidst great stone heads carved by unknown hands, in the heart of the Bleached Lands, one may find another threat, far greater then the Io-rach. Spirit-speakers whisper of the Ri-al-Hadûn, or Greatest of Thieves. It appears as one of its former victims, for even its shape must be stolen. A vile gnostic predator, it overcomes its prey with tricks, enchantments and charm, before it moves in for the kill. Its very touch steals the memories of men, leaving them husks, which it skins and feeds to the maggots. So complete is this theft that the Ri-al-Hadûn can become the very person it killed, and there are tales of the Ri-al-Hadûn travelling far beyond the Darkness Between the Trees into the Bleached Lands and living amidst the family of its victim for decades, none the wiser, until it devoured them all during a coming of Age ritual. The Ri-al-Hadûn cannot help but kill, but the rest of its activities do not vary greatly from what its many victims would have done. Many are melancholy or guilt-ridden, and most are quite knowledgable. (about 8-12 HD depending on age).
In the very heart of the bleached lands, beyond the darkness between the trees and the maddening odyssey across the whispering plains and the Lake That Must Be Fed lies the crater that holds the cause of the Bleached Lands, the mighty Spear of Atun. A weapon of god-like potency, scattered during the Calamity, it landed in the heart of what would become the Bleached Lands. Its edge is so thin it can cut space itself, and no creature is protected from its touch, not even a god. To wield such a device without protection or knowledge is to invite certain doom upon the wielder, and those who would attempt this feat will be dead before the next sunrise, souls scoured under its gnostic radiances.
The Spear is kept by the Ruby Emperor, A horror so unspeakable the Bleached Men will kill any man who mentions it, for fear of attracting its attention. Said to be the unwanted offpsring of the Dead Gods, the father of all Io-rach and the master of the Lake that Must Be Fed, it alone is Bright Red in a land bleached of all colour. Behind its pale smiling mask of bone it laughs with nine lamprey mouths and thirty eyes like onyx. Its very presence diminishes one until its adversaries are literally nothing, sapped of strength and willpower. Its caress is agony to the brave, and those that feel even hint of fear dissolve at a touch. Many Sorcerers have sought out the Ruby Emperor, and now their hides have been fashioned into its robe.