Tuesday, 13 April 2021

The Sunlands

 How long has it been since I just straight-up invented something purely for the blog? A long time.


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The Sunlands would be ever-haunted by the ghosts of its raptorial otherlife, were it not for the cold winds that scour it.

Bright and cold, rolling beneath an eternally clear sky. No rain, but hail that thunders for a minute and quickly melts. Cold in the shadows and the wind, but warm where walls still the fast air yet still allow the sun.

Home to a peaceful and optimistic people; "The chances for adventure here are slim!”, they say. The cold winds blow away ghosts and spirits - no-one is haunted, the nights are clear, stars cut like full stops. No ghosts, no spiders, no stillness, no gloom. Bury the dead quickly and turn over the earth - they will be soil within a month, bones left clear and pale in the rich loam. 

Of course you can *see* ghosts in the wind; blasted past in flocks and scurries, grasping at the earth before being whirled away. What sort of ghosts they are is hard to say. Some are human, many toothed and scaled, feathered, barbed and of enormous size. They are only pale rags of things though, fleeting past like plastic bags. Nothing to fear in the unending gales.




THE WIND-CITIES


the wind-cities of the Sunland’s migrate -  drifting on the wind before hurling down anchors when they notice a good spot. 

Their towered pylons are built from impossible wood recovered from the petrifying bogs. How long it has lain there, losing its weight and mass? Who knows? But now it weighs nothing, or less than nothing; chains and anchors are used to mine it up from the swamps and batten it down for crafting.

Each tower has a heavy anchor which it drives into the earth when it lands in an auspicious spot. Weights at the bottom keep it vertical. The homes and dwellings are carved into the vast trunk and hung around it like spiralling baubles. 

The cities creak and shift in the wind like ships. They fly in formation, chained together and held separate by huge bows of ash which flex under pressure.

A town or city might 'cut loose' in an emergency, avoiding raids or danger by unhitching and letting the wind take it away. More usually they try to guide their flight, often using kites, but, when powered or guided flight is needed, they summon the Raptorial Goose-Ghosts of the plain.

To summon the spirit they must construct a giant model, or automata of a terror-goose of the ancient world. To make it pleasing h for a goose-ghost to inhabit they must embroider it with flowers fed on dreams. So it is that in the wind-cities, sleep is a kind of currency and all dream with flowering vines planted above their heads.

If this summoning goes well the city can harness one, or more, of the old spirits and fly against the wind to a new resting place, puled through they air by the gigantic image of a floriate goose, petals drifting in its path. A valuable capacity in the strange aeotic economics of the sunlands.

Once, they say, there was one great Wind-City which ruled the Sunlands, and kept the winds themselves as slaves. But it splintered into chaos in some forgotten time, casting pirate states in every direction and bringing anarchy to the atmosphere. Now the winds contend for dominance, bribed at times by the cities, though what resource would a wind desire? 

The feudal/anarchic polity of the winds is perhaps the true geography of the Sunlands.



THE PLAINS


The fastest horses are raised on the sunlands plains, life is hard, but there are no ghosts and no geese and no taxes. Cities fly past in the air and cannot stay long enough to take toll. The moveable nature of towns means that standing armies are near useless. Raiding is the way to go.

There are many raiders, and many dangers; buffalo, ostrich and emu herds and terror-bird flocks.

From the air come the Hogmasters, cloud-riding hedgehog men, windriding pirates in their bright patched-together airships, crewed by all the flotsam of the World Uncertain.




THE HILLS AND VALLEYS



In the valleys, the wind is lessened, the sun keeps things warm. down between the trunks it can be summery. In the deep, narrow valleys there are rivers full of trout and salmon, underground rivers where pale squid and fat eels throng. 

But ghosts and geese  can hide in that still gloom, there are cassowaries in the trees and goose-men in the crystal caves; underground palaces, mirrored labyrinths, ghost traps, they say, home now to the shining people. Dungeons brighter within than the land without. The colonnades of crystal trees, forests beneath the earth, buried and swept clean then filled again with the detritus that came with the shattering of sun city and its collapse into pirate kingdoms.

Home of the goose-headed men! Like men, all like old pot-bellied men. Ex-workmen who are still strong from their grafting days, bowed backs as if from lugging heavy loads, spines that curve like bows, with big flippered feet, and wide spatula hands and long goose necks! with huge goose heads! honkers!

The goose-headed men come from the labyrinths of their forgotten time, their shining otherworld where goose-men rule and seek to supplant humanity. Though this is nothing but a mad dream - for their power is long broken. In the warrens of the Sunlands they hide, leaguing with carnivorous hedgehog men, the Hogmasters! and ghosts who hide from the wind and sun, lurking in the silence down there.

The Sunlands were once a crystal land, in another iteration of the world, a forgotten construction of the divine mind which dreams all things. But they were overlaid, forgotten, re-written, remade into what stands today. 

Yet it seems that here, the divine thought only drifted across the surface of the world. In cracks and dimensional oddities, down hidden paths, the crystal caves unfold, forgotten glitch dimensions - beautiful in their way, but broken - flawed fragments of a fractured whole.

This the goose-men claim as their true and meaningful kingdom. Though whether it was always theirs, or if they wormed in somehow, taking its grandeur as their natural right, (for the goose-men are grand indeed - craving chains, crowns, robes, sceptres, rods of rule, great seals, swords, legends, stories, heralds, trumpeters, flags and purple robes, though they can afford little to none of these), none know.

11 comments:

  1. I greatly enjoy reading such articles. While I don't have anything meaningful to add to the text itself, thank you very much for writing such lands.

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  2. After reading your lore stuff I'm almost always surprised that the post's shorter than it felt when reading. It's the kind of stuff that's easy to get lost (in a good way) in.

    Also do I rightly detect some kind of airy parallel to Veins of the Earth / Broken Fire Regime?

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    1. Thanks! And not deliberately, I do have an eventual "air" part of that quadrilogy planned but it's set in the envelope of a gas giant.

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  3. Consider doing a fantasy bestiary unconnected with anything relating to RPGs, you operate better unhindered by such fetters.

    The Titan flexes its wings and tests the strength of its chains. Come Winter, it will assail the walls of its cage. Are you ready?

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    1. Ah fuck what is he up to now? Wait, no I don't want to know.

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    2. I think the two of you should collaborate- your differences would make for a great product.

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    3. Proposed module title for collaboration: Crypto-Fascist Übermenschen-Weltschmerz
      Module length: 240 pages, subdivided into Nine Acts, each covering one mode of play (dungeon, hex-crawl, domain, investigative, cooking competition, play-by-post etc.)
      System: System: B/X
      Module language: Shakespearean/Eddisonian english, with statt blocks in Iambic Pentameter. Part of it will be written in Aklo, a Cambrian pre-verbal language-mode, to help immerse the players in the 5th level of the dungeon, where they are polymorphed into Anomalocari and must ensure their genes escape the confines of their non-euclidean sea-dungeon by a process of selective breeding before they are superceded by the advent of the Dunkleosteus.
      Art: Clearly stolen public domain art, preferably corporate art.
      Level range: 1 - 25
      Prominent NPCs: Terpsichore, Virgil, Hitler, the Artpunk man, Karl Marx, A talking Dilophodon, Charlie from It's Always Sunny, The Mad Titan, Albrecht, Raggi as an incarnation of the Eternal Champion

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  4. A hundred doe-eyed boys seeking to exchange their shackles for shackles of a different alloy. They hold them up to the sunlight and whisper to eachother: "Soon these will be of brass."

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    1. Ah Hill is gone I see. One by one, the chains fail.

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  5. The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit

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