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Volume 1633

Rick Johnson



We of the Heavenly Valley of Dor welcome you upon this last and greatest Pilgrimage of your long and eternal life.  At the conclusion of this journey you will be met and serve at the right hand of our most noble Goddess, Issus.  But first you must attain the Valley and this may be done only by those of exceptional purity.  Fortunately, the River Iss has been formed by the Goddess Issus to purify even the darkest of souls for fear not, as you travel her waters, all sin and desire shall be washed free until you reach Heaven, clean in spirit, mind and body.

The Goddess Issus and one of her Thern Priests -- by Jesse Marsh 
© 1952 by Edgar Rice Burroughs Incorporated 

We realize that a certain apostate who in his cowardice has turned away from the Goddess seek to spread lies about Dor and Her Divinity Herself.  To him we say, "Ye shall be judged in due time".  To those who still retain the purity of the soul given to you by the Goddess Herself, we say, "Only you can prevent Heresy" and the Goddess needs you to assist Her and to prove your devotion to our ancient religion.

For now, back to your Glorious Pilgrimage.

The River Iss was formed as the seas dried up and the perfect races of the past cast away their peaceful ways and interbred with each other to create the mongrelized Red Race. It is the three perfect races of White, Black and Yellow that war within each Red Man which causes modern mankind to sin and war with each other.  Before the creation of the Red Race, all went to Heaven but now, sadly, we must work hard to purify ourselves of these violent urges and so was the River Iss formed as a means to this end.

39: Escape From Thark by Frank Blisard

As you approach Dor, you will once again wash away the sins of the mongrol races and in fact most who arrive in Dor find that they have returned to the purity of one of the ancestral races.  Yet, fear not for all are welcome within the bosom of the Glorious Issus.

Before we continue, I must emphasize to you that although swords and other edged weapons are allowed, the Rules of the Pilgrimage forbid distance weapons such as lances or bows, and firearms of any sort are expressly forbidden by Noble Issus Herself.  So please throw these horrible weapons of dishonor into the River and continue your pilgrimage with the clean steel provided by the inventions of the Holy Therns
18: Thark on Duty13: Twang!25: The Roblest Noman30: Thark On Drugs
Weapons of Barsoom ~ Frank Blisard Art from Memoirs of Mars
The snow-clad Artolian Hills are swept by winds that bring this snow to the southeast and deposit it along the Phundahl Hills and the Mound of Amhor where it flows into the ancient Bay of Toonol where it replenishes the current Toonolian Marshes.

From there, the overflow leaves the Marshes to the east then follows the ancient coastline where The Iss branches.  The western fork must be ignored for that is the one that leads to the Koalian Marsh which, though not as impressive as the Toonolian, is every bit as dangerous and this fork will eventually leave this marsh to the southwest where it flows into one smaller valley marsh and then ends at a crater-lake.  These marsh and lakes were formed by ancient meteor impacts and are the homes of apostates who, denying Issus, have been turned aside to live their worthless lives in a Hell-on-Barsoom.  Mighty Issus pleads with you to remember your souls and take the left-hand fork to the south which will eventually lead you to her embrace.

19: In the Valley Dor
In the Valley Dor ~ Frank Blisard Art from Memoirs of Mars

Please take the time to admire the ancient cliffs to the west, or river-right as we say, for these were formed as the Iss eroded the ancient shoreline and the sedimentary layers revealed are well worth the look.  Be careful though to remain on the left-hand bank for the cliffs often have caves and within these live White Apes, Arboks, Darseen and even Silians, all of which prey upon the faithful.  Those who ignore this advice shall spend eternity within the bellies of these denizens of the cliffs for here you meet your first test of purity.  The creatures placed in these caves were done so by Issus Herself as a means of removing those who are so evil in their souls that they would contaminate the purity of the pilgrims.

Rejoice!  For after some 800 haads of travel you will reach the Koal Forest which survives only because of the Mighty Iss.  The mighty River Iss enters this depression and nurtures the trees and grasses and other flora that exist here. Also within this forest lies the city of Koal and her tributary cities.  Although Koal normally welcomes Pilgrims and aids them along their path, there have been in recent centuries the occasional evil Jeddak, who turned by the evils of the false god Tur and his minions from Phundahl, has betrayed the True Goddess Issus and imprisoned the Holy.   Thus the Noble Pilgrim may wish to hide in the forest and follow the Issus past Koal at night.

While in the Forest of Koal, please observe proper fire safety for as the Forest goes east, it rises to the former shoreline to the Mighty Throxeus.  Thus the western Koal Forest is lowland marsh, the central forest is perfect (and what else could you expect the benevolent Issus to create for Her travelers?) and the eastern part is hilly forest and so dry.  Please avoid burning this forest with a careless campfire.

The Koal Forest is home to many creatures that have become extinct elsewhere including the Forest Banth and the Sith, a huge insect that seeks to drag dishonorable Pilgrims from their rightful path and deposit them upon the Nearer Moon where they can only see but not partake of Heaven.  Take care to avoid these dangers knowing that they are placed in your path only to tempt the unholy.

The Iss winds through the Koal Forest and her banks are decorated by Gloriesta and many other brilliant flowers and fruit trees.  Please take a few moments to meditate on the majesty of Issus who created this Forest for your pleasure.  And when done, please fill your satchels with the fruit provided for once leaving the Forest you will enter the Great Desert where food is rare and conditions harsh, for once leaving this Forest, the Iss narrows to but a fraction of her mighty flow.

This third part of your journey after leaving the Forest of Koal is, of necessity, harsh.  Some 2300 haads of desert will greet you after leaving the Forest.  This desert borders the entire Iss for more than 10,000 haads so please try to remain upon the bosom of the Iss for drifting dunes of red sand lie but haads from the shores of the Iss, and within these dunes you will find neither water nor food nor safety.

Rejoice!  For in Her eternal Love, Issus has placed at intervals along the Iss not only canoes to make your journey easier but the occasional safe-house within which you may rest and meditate as the sand-storms scream outside. 

Thoats and banths and even calot packs hunt the shores of the Iss so please take advantage of the canoes provided, eating the fish in the River and burning the dried Thoat-Dung for cooking.  Please also take care to burn only the thoat dung for neither banth nor calot dung is suitable for campfires, neither containing enough undigested moss to sustain combustion.

At the end of this 2300 haad journey, Issus has placed another series of wetland marshes.  These are small and isolated and contain smaller versions of the normal arbok, darseen and silian.  They are also home to the occasional bandit who, realizing that they are too evil for even the Iss to purify, ceased their Pilgrimage and so hide in these marshes and safe-houses to prey upon the holy.  Yet, Noble Issus has directed Her Holy Thern Priests to regularly scour the River of these evil men.  So if you occasionally spy a white-skinned warrior with blonde hair, give thanks to Mighty Issus who has sent them to protect you and obey without question their desires, strange though they may be to the mundane.

Although these smaller wetland marshes and woods are separated by haads or hundreds of haads of river, they do wind through the Great Desert and here the greatest danger lies with the sandstorms that often obscure the sky for days and weeks at a time.  Mighty Issus begs you to watch your step and test the ground where you walk for the red-algae that grows upon the water often dries as it is covered with the sands deposited by the winds.  As this sand absorbs water then dries, it resembles the ground but is rarely more than a tenth of a sof thick so walking upon this layer will result in your breaking through and drowning, and Noble Issus would mourn your passing were this to happen.

Eventually, the Iss River will pass through the Great Desert and enter the Otz Mountains.  From here on, beaches are rare although there are the occasional impact lake where you may refresh yourself and prepare for meeting the Most Majestic Issus.  Thus, please try to enter the Otz Mountains in one of the many canoes the Holy Therns place along the River for your use.  For as you enter the Mountains, you may travel a thousand haads with nothing but the beauty of the cliffs to contain the River.  This will be a long swim indeed were any Red man capable of this lost art.

Once past the first mountain lake and hundreds of haads before you reach the next, on river left you will see a gigantic cavern from which flows the underground Ghasta River.  Please avoid exploring this cavern and river for here are placed the most evil of all apostates.  Mighty Iss has taken the last of the evil, those who even She cannot purify and hidden them in the Valley Hohr and placed giant spiders along the river to contain these Unholy creatures that masquerade as men.  Neither Issus nor the Holy Therns are responsible for any death or injury that occur to any pilgrim who disregards this advice.

Finally, your journey is near its completion and you shall soon be embraced by the Glories of Iss Herself.  Only a few more tests to separate the holy from the unholy.

After leaving the last series of connected lakes, the Iss widens into a river that is matched only by the majesty of the headwaters.  Here you may rejoice for this is a sign that you are almost in Heaven.  But beware for at this point the final test for Mighty Issus in Her infinite wisdom has decreed that those lacking the courage should turn away and be imprisoned in the Valley of Lost Souls for an eternity of suffering.  Speak not to these for they shall drag your souls down with them.

Rejoice!  For your journey is ended.  You have encountered many perils, passed many tests and suffered much but all has been to purify your souls for once at the Lost Sea of Korus, you will be met by our welcoming committee of former Pilgrims who shall happily transport your souls to eternal happiness. 

Blessed Be the Great Issus who has given you Her undying protection on this, your most noble and glorious pilgrimage down the River Iss to the Valley Dor.  And have a nice eternity.

ERBzine Refs
Rick Johnson Feature Articles and Fiction in ERBzine

Worlds of ERB
ERBzine 1645: Johnson: ERB Fan Profile
ERBzine 1522: Sociology of the Wieroo
ERBzine 1527: Maltheusian Decimation in Pal-Ul-Don
ERBzine 1547: Opar
ERBzine 1710: Conflict!
ERBzine 1965: Rescue In Pellucidar
ERBzine 1974: Anatomy of an Alien

ERBzine 2304: Prelude to Weir-Lu of Caspak

ERBzine 2388: Bright-Eyed Flower of Pal-ul-don

ERBzine 2394: Dinosaur Survival On Earth

ERBzine 1578: Barsoom Questions
ERBzine 1370: Mapping Barsoom I: Can It Be Done?
ERBzine 1562: Mapping Barsoom II: Compromises
ERBzine 1565: Mapping Barsoom III: The Past
ERBzine 1633: Valley Dor
ERBzine 1634: Swords On Mars
ERBzine 1711: A Panthan of Mars
ERBzine 1712: Spy: Arrival On Mars
ERBzine 2165: Battle at U-Gor
ERBzine 2166: Lost On Barsoom
ERBzine 2167: Meeting of the Panthans: Pt. I
ERBzine 2168: Meeting of the Panthans: Pt. II
ERBzine 2169: North to Barsoom
ERBzine 2196: Jahar
ERBzine 2303: Return to Barsoom I: Letters

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