Saturday, 26 May 2018

The Wodlands 5 -The Vermillion Sea

From the Red-Sun sea, the Goblins came

The Vermillion Sea has always been a source of worry in the Wodlands. Even before the Master Masons fall and the creation of the Painted Plane, it was never exactly clear where exactly the Vermillion sea lead to, what shores it washed upon and what lay beneath its waves.

The sea is red for its flowers, which grow upside down, their translucent stems and roots forming a kind of liquid glass Sargasso on its surface.

Beneath the translucent roots, poking down into the water, are the red heads of the carmine lotus-poppies, and beyond them is the crimson of the Red-Sun World.

The sea itself is not a sea, at least not from both directions. Those who plunge beneath its translucent Sargasso surface drown, for the most part. Survivors speak garbled tales of a world lit by a Red Sun, a world in which the envelope of our reality curls around the diver like a sheath, choking and drowning them.

On the north shore of the Vermillion Sea, every month the black fjords of the Plain of Anaesthetic Fire fill with monthly transparent wrack and poppy heads in huge damp corroding piles.

To the east the beach shore of the old orange lands are stained with unpredictable fauna, lichen, vines and wild blue sugar cane growing in the red nocturnal glow of the sun beneath the sea.

To the south the sea fades slowly into a marshland of poppy heads and here the strange sugary flora from the Red-Sun world mixes with local species and the some slightly photographic or computer generated plants and animal species from the Pigment River. Mosaic-Nose Dolphins and Technicolour Hippos. By the time the marshes reach the Pigment River, they turn to near-solid ground. Then, beyond the river are the far Southerlies of the Wodlands reach, and then the Umber Woods where the PenumBeetles ruled, and still do.

On the surface of the sea, far out from shore, it is said that the Invisibeetles, glistening translucent isopod-men, built their palaces of bubblewrack on opalescent wrack islands. The isopod tribes are as translucent as their palace walls so the wrack does give them privacy of a sort - glass knights in glass castles. Beetles with a dignified sense, never seeing what they should not see.

(Quite different to the PenumBeetles of the Umber Woods, their cousins.)

Tales talk also of demonic Pteranodons diving upside from within the surface tension of the Red Sun World, bursting into our air as if t'were water and swimming in bounds while hunting for invisible knights.

So the sea lay, for many moons. At night the glow of the Red Sun shone upwards through its strange tides and the sea itself, unsailable, beating upon unknown shores and unchartable fjords and masking silent access to an unreachable world.

Then came Goblin men.

Upon the Master Mason's fall and the creation of the Painted Plane, in that time of chaos Goblins came goblinwise in copper-green ramshackle submarines full of loud noises and sharp-featured pigs, coming to build their Cube of Genius, their Large Goblin Collider and to deal in terrible herbs.

Whether the Gobins came from the Red-World itself, beneath the sea, or from some unbidden shore, they have neither spoke nor told. All we know and all they will say is that they came 'goblinwise'. Whether this refers to the building of the Copper Submarines, the employment of their anarchic Goblin genius in some way or, as some have theorised, to a direction and dimension that only Goblins can access or understand, none know.

Within a year the shores of the Vermillion Sea were crammed with decaying copper submarines and feral pigs. And within two, the first of the Apocalypse Peaches rose up from the Vermillion Sea.


The Peach was vast, a hundred feet above the water-line, and burst up out of the Red Sun world and went through the wrack like a fist through glass. As it rose up, purple sails unfurled and the peach surged towards land leaving a trail of sugary devastation in its wake.

Within the peach were the Apocalypse Wasps, terrible insect men from the Red-Sun World, violent, horrifying, utterly alien with red wasp minds and bloody thoughts. They killed half, took the rest to lay eggs inside and advanced on the Wodlands.

Absolutely every element of the Wodlands, the Goblins, the Humans, the Painted People and all others, joined forces to defeat the Apocalypse Wasps. Thousands died as the big peach rolled over all attempts to besiege it.

Eventually a small group of adventurers infiltrated the peach, crawling through its sticky tunnels, and somehow managed to sabotage it. Its structure decayed and split, the defenders gained access and tore the thing apart, massacring any wasp they found. All that survived was the Hideous Pit, later transported to Pitville for safe keeping.

Of the original adventurers, nothing was found. Since that day the Apocalypse Wasps have come forth 11 more times, sometimes they are destroyed still in the water. On one occasion they have reached the Wodlands before the peach was split with Goblin Technology, on another they besieged the Imaginary City itself. Each time the wasps were broken, but only at great cost. The terrible sugary wrecks lie ruined on the shore and the Hideous Pits, those that have been recovered, are taken to Pitville for study and control. Small bands of Apocalypse Wasps still survive and roam the poppy swamps and black fjords, a terror to all. Everyone hates them because of the invasions and egg-injections and a boundary exists on their wings.

Why the wasps come, if they were somehow summoned or triggered by the Goblins use of the Vermillion Sea, the Goblins will not tell.


Between what is now the Pigment River and the Umber woods, is Pitville, a micro-city built around the containment, investigation and, some would say - illegal worship of the seven Apocalypse Peach Pits that were recovered.

Peach Pit

Here the PenumbraBeetles of the Umber Woods join with the invisibeetles, the saner, less drug-addled goblins and humans from the Imaginary City, and other places, to study and to control the Hideous Pits.

The pits are like huge house-sized scholars stones - throbbing with wasp energy.

Scholars Stone

You just want to stare at them - they get you wasp minded. Only those with strong anti-wasp personalities can commune with them for extended periods, gaining visions of the red sun world.

Attempts have been made to burrow or burn into a pit with anaesthetic fire and painted blades. One can actually be explored but it’s gone totally House of Leaves inside and whoever comes out emerges utterly fucked. And also there might be dErO inside. Also it might be a labyrinth now so now it needs to be guarded from both sides.

Apocalypse Wasp Propoganda

Of course the Chaos Wasps want to invade Pitsville and get at the pits. But the pits are also desired by governments and rulers all over the realities and almost anyone may or may no be doing conspiracies and scams to get a pit, or at least to gain access to one.

There are rumours that in the depths of the poppy swamps one has fruited and birthed a world-destroying tree and that elements in the Imaginary City secretly protect it - hoping to grow their own apocalypse peach and re-invade the red sun world, or even just eat it.


  1. also would you recommend reading House of the leaves?

  2. Have you read House of Leaves yet? I remember this issue coming up in the comments a while ago.

  3. When people recommend you read house of leaves it means you already inside the house