The Lizardfolk of Rekkar-Sarrat rose up sometime after the Pharosi’s initial conquest, though it is likely that they existed along the river before that but simply avoided contact with other peoples. Even the Nomadi cannot quite place the exact point in history that they met the reptilian denizens of the marshes. Some say that the Lizardfolk evolved from the crocodiles of the river, while others say the magic of the displaced Shuka transformed them, while others still claim them to be a creation of the reptile god Ulksu. As far as the Lizardfolk, who refer to themselves as the Ssorisk, know, the southern marshes of the Lifeblood have always been their home.
Regardless of the timing of their origin, the Ssorisk were “discovered” by the Pharosi after they had already dominated the southern reaches of the floodplain. Initially, the Lizardfolk weren’t even regarded as a sentient species, but rather mere beasts or crocodilian monsters, and weren’t seen as beings to be conquered, subjugated, or exiled, so largely left them alone. The Ssorisk kept their distance, and their small numbers and lack of civilization certainly did make them appear as some manner of creature, which allowed them to slink into the darkest places of the marshes that had little to offer the conquering humans. As Pharosi settlements were built in the southern regions, the Ssorisk were sometimes forced into altercations. Regarded as shadowy demons of the river, the Pharosi spun tales of the terrible crocodile beasts that would drink the blood of children or poison the farmland. The Lizardfolk became a sort of superstition to these settlers, who would blame mishaps or disappearances on the “marsh monsters.” Sometimes the Ssorisk did earn their misrepresentations, as they would occasionally strike out and poach livestock from farms near the river or attack rafts and skiffs to take supplies. The Lizardfolk mostly did this out of a strong sense of territorialism , exacerbated by their predatory nature. There were occasions, however, when such strikes were done to sow fear and discord amongst the colonists.
These interactions brought the Ssorisk more and more out of their hiding, and led to meetings with the Nomadi as well. The Nomadi, of course, were found to be more agreeable with the Ssorisk, so the two groups gave each other some manner of respect and distance. As time went on, the Pharosi were eventually informed of the fact that the Ssorisk were indeed an intelligent people (this was likely information conveyed by the Nomadi). At this point, much of the Pharosi population had moved north to expand and conquer the other regions, leaving only sparse populations of their own people in the southern reaches. The northern regions proved to be more bountiful in resources and space, so the Pharosi settlements remained small and lightly populated. Seeing that the invaders were not keen on spreading into their marshland territory seemed to appease the Lizardfolk to a degree, and they made contact with the Pharosi for the first time as fellow sentient species.
Strangely, the southern Pharosi settlers and the Ssorisk seemed to get along. Most of the Pharosi who had remained in the south were those who had lived in the outer fringes of Old Pharos and both sought and enjoyed less populated and more removed areas. Hunters, farmers, wilders, and hermits, these Pharosi found they had much in common with the Ssorisk, and the two groups actually learned from one another. Both groups saw the importance of the hunt, self-sufficiency, looked down on weakness, and had a healthy respect for the land. A more interesting bond arose through religion, as the Pharosi believed that the Ssorisk’s god, The Marsh King, was merely an incarnation of a crocodilian god of the Pharosi pantheon, Ulksu. Ulksu was not commonly worshiped by the Pharosi, and in fact he was seen as a evil or at least trickster god, but was often revered by these fringers of Pharosi society. This commonality of religion seemed to foster good relations between the Pharosi and the Ssorisk, and to this day the southern marshlands of the river remain sparsely settled and populated by outliers.
The Ssorisk themselves remain reclusive, organized into loose tribes called Basks, which are led by Huntmasters. Ssorisk tend to be long-lived, but like to keep their numbers stable to avoid overpopulation of the marshes. Basks often quarrel with one another and assert their strength. Weakness is not tolerated among the Ssorisk people and any Basks deemed to be weak will often be eradicated by another Bask. Ssorisk are true believers in survival of the fittest and predator-prey dynamics, looking at all others as food, equals, or enemies. The Ssorisk have unique ways at determining these relationships, be it among themselves or towards outsiders. A Pharosi village and a Ssorisk Bask may have good relations one month, but the village could be attacked during the next if the Ssorisk has perceived the village as weak. How this perception changes is mysterious to outsiders, so the Pharosi must keep on their toes to not draw the ire of the Lizardfolk.
Ssorisk are cannibals and believe in the devouring of slain enemies. They usually only eat the fallen of their own people, but they have been known to feast upon Humans as well. Cannibalism is ritual in nature and not a means for daily sustenance unless a particularly hard time of hunting has fallen upon the marshes. Carnivores first and foremost, the Ssorisk eat fish, birds, snakes, frogs, and ungulates and detest having to eat flora, but will do so in times of need. Plants are, however, used for medicinal and spiritual reasons. Territorial hunting grounds are seen as sacred land, and Basks always seem aware of who owns what territory for hunting. Hunting on another Bask’s territory as an invitation for slaughter. Many humans have learned this lesson the hard way.
The Ssorisk’s do not build in the same way as the Pharosi or other peoples. Their settlements are more akin to camps, their structures little more than minimalist huts made of reeds. The Ssorisk do not use boats to travel the river or wetlands, but do have rafts that they use to move supplies. For a long time throughout their history they used only arms and armor fashioned from their prey or surrounding reasources – turtle shells for shields and armor, stones and obsidian for blades and spears, fangs for arrowheads – but they have begun to employ the use of steel in recent years as a result of their human interaction. The Ssorisk also are frequent users of poisons and venoms.
Some human and Ssorisk have known to join together and form strange nature cults, using the core philosophies of Ulksu and the Marsh King to build up strange belief systems. There have been reports of clandestine ziggurats around the marsh housing both Ssorisk and humans.