Monday, 3 February 2020

The Vespershard


Attend, and hold your thoughts within the moment, for the second your attention drifts from what I say, the memory of these secrets will evaporate inside your mind like smoke

It is the nature of this treasure that knowledge of it will rest neither within memory nor record, but pass on, disappearing as a traveller, lately come, stopping for a moment in some lonely spot then moving off, into the mist, proceeding to some destination unknown.

Any word describing it will erase itself, or re-combine, breeding with adjacent words to describe disguising forms; some power, quest or treasure which is not the Vespershard, and which is not where the Vespershard is.

The Vespershards greatest defence is that, for those who walk the facets; (which accounts for all that are, except perhaps the Dreaming Gods, the Eldritch Founder and Ygsrathaal herself)  it cannot be consciously sought. All who come upon it must do so via a diagonal path, by happenstance, pursuing some other goal, driven by dreams and intuition or guided by madness.

It cannot be described within the worlds of Uud, and knowledge of it cannot be directly communicated.

There are legends without a core, heroes whose story did not end but only petered out and seemed to coil away into nothing. There are books with blank pages, or unreadable passages, whole chapters which wipe themselves from the mind, word-by-word and which reach into nearby descriptions, colonising, adapting and mutating story structures, covering and camouflaging themselves with a shroud of unreal semi-truth.

There are spells that cannot be taught, but only learned, and which, after use, not only erase themselves from the mind but which wipe out any knowledge that they can be used, or that they were used; filling in the minds of all who experienced their effects with substantive, but unreal memories.

There are hidden monasteries full of golems or blind monks endlessly translating and re-translating reams of core data so that, always in the act of translation, the information is never still and so can never be lost.

Neither, in that state, can it be truly read.






Where?


There are other realms or scales of Uud; para-realities linked to, or emanating from, the Waste-Lands in which Blackwater rests, accessible only through the shifting realm Marginalia, or through High Thaumaturgy.

In all these realms, and all these realities, the Vespershard exists, just as it does in the Waste-Lands, right at the hidden or secret centre.

In the Great Wheel and its Parliament of Orphan Moons, it lies within Agn - the great solar engine at the heart of that realm.

In ancient, vast and distant GreySpace, the Shard is hidden within the Angle-Adversarial, a fearful dimension of metacosmic smoke from the ruins of burning galaxies, there it lies within a nebulae, itself lost within that desolate realm, and is guarded by the Jewel-Swarms of the Carnivore Thought, yet even that terrible sentinel does not know what it truly protects.

In the Waste-Lands, the traveller must first reach Phosphorfall, the Turquoise City, which lies in the deepest Waste within unending whirling circles of annihilating storms.

Even reaching Phosphorfall is a feat of which few are capable, and of those who have gone there, none have returned.

The survivors make up the Cults of Phosphorfall; cryptic societies of cunning immortals, each following some hidden fate or secret cause, and guarding with magic and force, a city strewn with wonders collected and guarded over the long fall of Uud, the claiming of even the least of which might end a Saga in itself. But even these incredible artefacts are little but distraction and even these beings of great potency simply act as inadvertent guards for something they do not fully understand is there.

Hidden within Phosphorfall by the most subtle of illusions, is the Turning Palace. The greatest palace of creation, a place of veined marble floors and moon-bronze domes, guarded by illusions, the infinite recombinations of its corridors and by terrors drawn from the minds of those who would invade it so that to enter it is to step into living Nightmare.

At the centre of the Turning Palace is said to be the Hearts Desire of whomever reaches it.

And even this is nothing but a distraction.

For beneath the Palace is the Iron Web  - a writhing web-work labyrinth of oven-hot black iron tunnels. The heat is do great that the air vibrates and the black surface smokes. So burning hot that for ordinary flesh to touch them once would adhere it to the iron and cook it to a steaming chunk.

The Iron Web is guarded by Annihilation Golems and Terror-Fey drawn from this realities Apocalyptic End.

At the centre of the Iron Web, beneath the Turning Palace, hidden in storm-guarded Phosphorfall at the worlds axial centre, impossible to remember and impossible to find for anyone who actively seeks it out, is the Vespershard.




The Shard


A simple thing, at first sight.

A crystal with crystals within it, the facets glow glowing like noctilucent cloud or like smoke beneath glass, flickering with a pale light, shifting from bright to dark, casting strange shadows on the black iron walls made strangely cool by its slow turning.

But look too long and too thoughtlessly and the boundaries of the crystal invisibly expand, crawling and curling wall-wise, trickling round the vision-rim, the slight black exit to the web of iron closing like an eye, trapping you in an endless maze of silent images.

Within each facet, images shiver like the reflections in street-water. Look deeper into an image, send you mind questing, the grey-white pictures fluctuating according to your deepest unspoken desire

Exert will, decision and supreme focus, and the image can shift and skip, deepen into colour, emanate sound and smell, even expand until it seems like a portal to the scene beyond. Until it is a portal.

This is the realest and most unreal place in Uud.

A Cornucopia of Being. The Great Resonator, the Infinite Mirror, the Palace of Doors, the Hidden Axis of Reality and Sustained of the Cosmos.

Every single image is an individual reality. Not simply a world or 'Realm', but an entire, separate causality.

All are recognisably Uud in some sense. Many are similar - it would be hard to tell them apart. Others are truly wild, with different histories, geographies, aesthetics, languages, and populations. But more fundamentally, the texture of reality is slightly different in each. As if, in each strand of causality, some impossible meta-being had recreated the very substance of reality itself into an entirely individual form, with its own beginning and end, its own meaning and its own governing rules

In some the structure of probability swings widely back and forth between unlikely results. In some causality seems to ease events into neat comprehensible strands of cause and effect - like stories. In others it produces sprawling and chaotic histories the meanings of which are cryptic and unclear.

In some the world has ended. In some it never will.

For the shard, all that matters is that the adventures never end. Life and death, triumph and disaster, victorious peace or annihilating doom. Even an apocalypse can simply be another thread.

This is the power and movement and axis of Uud, The cosmic fulcrum upon which it turns. A Gem lit from within, itself sustained by the will, invention, empathy and courage of those who walk the facets.

Waves of reality emanate out from the Vespershard in coherent forms no sophont will ever measure, or even suspect. For these are the very substance of being, the blood of reality thrumming outwards like the beating of a great heart.




Its Creation


Who, or what, did this?

It could be the hidden weave of the Norns, of Fate herself, conspiring to re-weave and alter causality, re-knotting it strange new configurations as quickly as Yggsrathaal can unwind it. For fate is a spider with infinite limbs, each weaving in a different stream of time.

Perhaps the Shard itself is made from the vitrified ruins of heavens and hells and each path of time and strand of causality springs from the substance of a dreaming god. Is this why the gods sleep in Uud? And if a god dreams of dreaming gods, so those gods dream? A dream within a dream?

Or perhaps the Vespershard itself is made from the frozen substance of some silent and distant Meta-Creator, the birth of a hidden multiverse, an act of infinite meta-creation.

Yet, the shard itself is but a Golem Cosmos, something awaiting the breath of life and which cannot truly exist unless filled with the animating spirit of decision, action, emotion and adventure.

For each reality born from the substance of Uud exists somewhere in the Vespershard, and at the centre of each Uud is the Vespershard, or one accessible aspect of it, through which all the rest may be perceived and, perhaps, reached.

And for every facet of the shard which gleams with life, action and adventure, the power of the shard as a whole grows, secret and invisible at the heart of reality, strengthening and deepening what-is.






Its Powers


Mortal minds can only perceive what their own nature will allow them to understand so the powers of anyone standing in the direct, physical substance of the Vespershard are limited by their own nature.

But, given access to the fulcrum of reality itself, even a complete idiot can have substantial effects
(quite possibly unintended effects). And since the shard cannot be discovered by those who are looking for it, idiots, lunatics and the lost, are surprisingly likely to find it.

Before the Vespershard, an individual can scry all realities, searching for one with the qualities they desire, or focus only on a single one, looking for a single, individual aspect.

Powerful beings may even be able to shift the history of those images, turning time back and forth, witnessing the evolution of circumstance, or comparing and contrasting the fates of different worlds, or those of similar beings across multiple realities.

It may be possible to pull things, powers, or even individuals through the shard or even for an adventurer to pass through the shard themselves to a different table of existence.

(The spells and magical effects which move individuals between these fundamentally different causalities are thought to access the shard in some way, which explains why they erase knowledge of their own use, or even existance.)

Those of a deep intelligence and supremely focused will, could alter their own reality, or multiple realities. They could braid realities together so that they become linked and mutually responsive. They could possibly end realities.

Or even start their own.

6 comments:

  1. Thank you, somehow it is very hopeful idea.
    Question: if there a 'morning' counterpart to Vespershard?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not really. Its in 'Phosphorfall' so Phosphor would have been the day star while Vesper was the evening star, though the names don't have a deeper meaning (yet) other than that I found them beautiful.

      Delete
  2. so... this is gonna be a megadungeon, right? Phosphorfall, the Turning Palace, the Iron Web? the shard's cool and all but I just wanna fuck around among the Cults of Phosphorfall, see what the fuck they're all about, feels like the beginning of some woked-out Planescape-on-steroids shit to me. this might be the coolest fucking thing you've written in a longass time and that's saying a fucking lot, shit.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I traded my Vespershard for a psyduck. i thought, you know, since i found it so quickly, they were common? I know elsenow.

    ReplyDelete
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