- "Twice during this stretch of our journey we come into contact with the warrior women known as Amazons, and on both occasions I don't mind admitting they scared the living snot out of me. The first time, it was a drug-fuelled berserker, lithe and fast, yet gripped by the desire to shed blood. Purple and blue feathers hung from intricate plaits in her hair. Her body was spattered with the blood of three of my men who blundered into her upon the path. My men retreated before her fury, a score of bold lads sent scurrying by a maid. The second time, it was one of their leaders, a woman of serene countenance who bore magical artifacts. She cut down a dozen foes in a single actinic blast. That time, the woman made common cause with us against Lizardmen ambushers, though I have no doubt she would have wielded her weapons against us had we given her reason."
- —The journal of Johann Besksbein, day 48[1b]
The Amazons are an ancient civilization of Warrior-Women whom have made the deep dark jungles of Lustria their newfound home. Deep within the Lustrian jungle, death comes in many forms. No surer way exists than to incur the wrath of the elusive tribeswomen that dwell in its darkest heart.[1a]
Though the continent-spanning empire of the Lizardmen encompasses all the jungles of Lustria, these reptiles are not the only intelligent beings that dwell there. Those few explorers gifted, or lucky, enough to return from the interior tell all manner of tales. Many are dismissed as the ravings of men who have spent too long in the sun, such as those of diminutive, copper-skinned tribesmen akin to the Halflings of the Moot, or jungle spirits reminiscent of the Dryads of Elven lore. But, of all the accounts of the denizens of Lustria, it is stories of the warrior women known as the Amazons that have proved the most enduring.[1a]
There are many versions of the tales of first contact with the Amazons, dating back to when the Norse made their first landings upon the shores of the New World. The Norse, led by the infamous Losteriksson, quickly realized the extent of the riches to be found there, and set to plundering it with all the abandon for which their kind are known. Whilst Losteriksson sought to establish the settlement that eventually grew into the colony known as Skeggi, other chieftains led their men south, following the Cactus Coast, past the islands of Yuldca and Quetzl, and into the mouth of the River Amazon. Amidst the strangling mangroves, stifling humidity and coiling vapours, they spied an island in the midst of the river. Upon its shores reared the indistinct form of a mighty statue. Though they could not determine its exact shape, it appeared human and female. The invaders explored no further, for their longship was assailed by a storm of arrows and other, more arcane projectiles. As men fell, those not killed by their wounds soon fell victim to the terrible effects of the bizarre weapons.[1a]
The chieftains reluctantly ordered their men back to the sea. As they retreated, it is said that the ships' crews saw behind them a mass of warrior women, stood defiantly upon the shores of their island, intense hatred burning in their eyes. According to the sagas of the Norse, many battles have since been fought between the proud northmen and the fierce Amazons. Many descriptions of their appearance and society exist, but as ever, most accounts are contradictory.[1a]
The Heart of DarknessEdit
The Norse maintain another tale of Amazon roots, linking them to the female warriors known as the Valkyries and the writings of the brilliant, if unhinged, scholar Stilmensch. They believe the warrior women dwelling in the jungle are Norse outcasts - the remnants of a group of women who took to war whilst their menfolk were off plundering. Though plausible, this theory fails to address that tales of the Amazons go back as far as when the Norse first arrived in Lustria, suggesting very strongly that their presence there predates that of the invaders.[1b][1c]
In Search of the TruthEdit
Though there have been Old Worlders in Lustria for centuries, their interest in the continent has remained largely financial. Though individual academics have set out on journeys of exploration, few officially sanctioned efforts have been mounted. This is perhaps due to the nature of the subject - Lustria is a savage land of mystery and enigma, and the world is full of more relevant and pressing challenges. Scholars have not studied the true nature of the denizens of Lustria - both reptilian and human - for fear of academic ridicule too. As a result the truth as to the actual roots of the Amazons, aside from these tales, is likely to remain hidden indefinitely.[1c]
Many stories suggest the Amazons were, at some point since the arrival of the Old Worlders in Lustria, in danger of dying out for lack of numbers. Since then, the frequency of contact with them has noticeably increased, and it has been postulated that their numbers were artificially swelled. Perhaps this explains the Valkyries' disappearance - were they lured off into the jungle, to replenish the depleted numbers of the Amazons? In so doing, were they granted the secrets of eternal youth and vitality that legend states, however unlikely it may sound, are enjoyed by the Amazons? Whatever the case, it is surely only a matter of time before outsiders go in search of the secrets of the Amazonian Sisterhood, and it is certain that when they do so, blood will flow.[1c]
High Age ArtefactsEdit
The sacred places of the Lustrian jungles hide many strange and valuable artefacts. Invaders seek such items as they are made from gold or gemstones, others that they hold power that mages may draw upon. Some are covered in mysterious text said to be the script of the gods themselves, and scholars covet these above all others. Of the utmost rarity are weapons of the so-called High Age. These can be staffs, rods, blades and other shapes, and many are more deadly than any other weapon known to the world. Some High Age weapons project shimmering bolts of light, others propel small missiles many hundreds of metres that bury themselves within the flesh of their target, only to explode, ripping it apart in a shower of gore. Such items are highly valued, more than the most potent of magical artefacts, and are the subject of legend amongst scholars. Entire armies have been raised at the mere hint that such a weapon may be found, and any cost will be paid just for the chance of acquiring one. To date, only the Amazons have been witnessed bearing such weapons, and it can only be hoped that no invader gains the power of a High Age artefact.[1a]
The earliest mentions of the Amazons are to be found in the Saga of Rothnikson, a bold explorer who was first to pierce the jungles south of Axlotl. Rothnikson describes their society as exclusively matriarchal, claiming never to have encountered a single male in over a dozen instances of contact with them. He states that the Amazons are ruled over by a priesthood of warrior-mystics, known as the Sisterhood, and every warrior is a devout follower. Many are said to be crazed zealots, berserker-women permanently in the grip of a jungle-brewed narcotic. Whilst under the influence of this highly poisonous substance, these women are the fiercest of warriors, said to equal the much-feared Norse berserkers.[1a]
Other details of the Amazons' world remain vague. Rothnikson describes their habitat as flimsy wooden dwellings built upon stilts amongst the ruins of Lizardmen temples. But although he mentions a number of such cities, he fails to provide any clue as to where such settlements might be located. Furthermore, Rothnikson goes on to offer tantalising glimpses of further mysteries — the Temple of Karra in Genaina, the Great Shrine of Rigg upon the shores of Lake Lokka and the untold riches of the otherworldly Royal Palace of the Sisterhood.[1a]
- "The more I learned of the gods of the lizard people, the more incredulous I became. Their pantheon was at that point indecipherable to me, and appeared to include one whose place is to exist outside said order, and to be worshipped by no True Children of the Gods'. Yet it is written that this outsiders shall be tended to unto the end of time by her 'Faithful Half-kin'. Was this being one of the Old Gods, or a mortal chosen to bear their seed? The answer came after many long months of patient research, and even then, I would question everything I had come to believe..."
- —Prelude to Chapter 3, 'In the Garden of the Gods', by the noted mage of the Jade College, Cyrston von Danling[1c]
Central to the tales of the Amazons of Lustria is the mass of often-contradictory mythology surrounding them. There are at least two explanations for the existence of the Amazons, and a mess of historical and mythological strands that appear to connect them to the Lizardmen, the Elves and the Norse.[1b]
One source is to be found in the somewhat curious writings of one Drivot the Diatribist. This bizarre character, thought to have been an erstwhile White Wizard of the College of Light, wrote extensively about the creation-myths of the Lizardmen, the Elves and of other races. Though there is no clear evidence that he actually traveled to any of the places of which he wrote, nor met any of the beings he professed to know so intimately.[1b]
The Diatribes of DrivotEdit
Not for nothing is Drivot known as the 'diatribist', for his writings are full of ranting meanderings that frequently lead the reader along paths of reasoning only a madman could hope to navigate. With wild abandonment, Drivot relates his tale of a (previously unheard of) Elven god of the sea, wealth and happiness, and his union with the Amazon goddess called Rigg. The result of this marriage was the 'Mother of all Amazons', Kalith.[1b]
The children of Kalith were given a special role in the creation of the world, Drivot claims. Alongside their godly creators, they became the special, favoured servants, the viziers of the masters of creation - the handmaidens of the gods. The Amazons shared in an age where the forces of boundless creation were worked upon the surface of the world, and other beings raised up by the servants of the Old Ones. Through this aeon of creation, the Amazons stood at the right hand of the creators. They were possessed of tremendous wisdom; each was clean of limb and never grew old. They were exclusively female, for as long as they stood at the side of the creators, they were nigh immortal, and had no need of conventional reproduction. They also wielded the power of the creators, going out in the world and transforming it according to the Old Ones' plans.[1b]
Most readers of Drivot's writings would slam the book shut at such preposterous nonsense, but he goes on to make even more astonishing "revelations". The Old Gods fell, claims Drivor, and with them fell the Amazons. Chaos was unleashed upon the world, and while the Old Ones fled or perished, their servants fought a desperate war against a veritable tidal wave of daemons. The Amazons, severed from their creators, found their powers much diminished, and retreated to the depths of the jungle. Here they established secret havens they would defend against all others, until the very end of the world.[1b]
Amazons and the Outside WorldEdit
Every account of the Amazons makes it clear that they are an overtly warlike people, but there are tales of them finding common cause with others. They appear to have a complex and ritualistic approach to their interactions with outsiders, and none can be sure whether they will remain on even remotely friendly terms for long.[1c]
This is particularly evident when it comes to relations with the Lizardmen. It would appear that the Amazons occupy at least one, and possibly more, sites that outsiders would take for being sacred to the Lizardmen. The ruins of temples within which unknown Lizardmen gods were once worshipped now form the foundations of Amazon settlements. The High Priestesses of the Amazonian Sisterhood bear items of undoubtedly Lizardmen origin, yet the Lizardmen make no obvious move to retrieve these. Rather, it appears as if the Amazons are accepted by the Mage-Priests as part of the natural order of things. This is not to suggest, however, that the two parties never come to blows, for it is known that they do. It has even been reported that an Amazonian Priestess was encountered by a merchant of the Empire adorned with the hide of a white-skinned Skink Priest, indication, if any were needed, that conflict exists between the two races.[1c]
Relations with other races are much simpler. The Norse, upon their first contact with the Amazons, attempted to plunder their treasures, beginning an age of conflict between the two that has lasted many centuries. Contact with other races is of a similar nature, and there have been some distinctly unpleasant instances of the warrior women themselves being the targets of raids sponsored by Imperial nobles seeking to abduct them and ship them back to the Old World as curiosities for the Imperial Court.[1c]
But not all contact with other races has been made upon the basis of conflict. On occasion, one or more Amazons have appeared to guide, advise or even aid an army fighting within Lustria. In most instances, this has taken the form of a Priestess lending council and magical aid to an army, forming a temporary peace until the battle is resolved. Exactly why they choose to help some armies and not others is an utter mystery, though some believe the Amazons follow some arcane prophecy that leads them to offer assistance in the defeat of certain foes, or the defence of certain sacred sites.[1c]
Furthermore, there are several instances of Priestesses of the Amazonian Sisterhood aiding opposing armies. Though the Priestesses have not been observed to directly attack one another, they have aided their respective allies in the defeat of their foes. It is possible the Priestesses regard such battles as ritual combat, but with the blood of others shed in place of their own. Perhaps they seek the ruination both warring armies, guiding each towards inevitable, and mutual destruction.[1c]
- Anakonda's Amazons - Anakonda Amazons are a famous band of Dogs of War mercenaries that hail from the deep, lush rainforest of Lustria. Anakonda and her Amazons are warrior women of the savage, yet noble Amazonian Sisterhood.
- Serpent Priestesses - Priestesses of the Amazon who have the mystical abilities of the Serpent God of the Lizardmen.