The Steel Condemnations (open world)

Unrelated stories that take place in a setting besides Star Wars...

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Beorht
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The Steel Condemnations (open world)

Post by Beorht » Mon Dec 17, 2012 9:59 pm

OOC/ Who remembers this thread? Everyone picked a nation, much fun was had by all, maps were made. Know this: over the coming Christmas break, I'll be working on a general map with a lot of open space. For this thread, regardless of what way I go with my part of it, I want to create the same sandbox feel that makes the MBT and WOH so successful. Anyone can feel free to post, create things from scratch, whatever. This is as original or generic a fantasy world as people want it to be. It's a big world, and I'm dying for some non-SW politics. Envoys and kings and generals and emperors are fine, as are the royal heirs of the Mahrian Empire, where my part of the story starts. Even Amathei's student, the Big Bad, is fair game.

IC/

Amathei the Conqueror has been vanquished, her armies routed by the nations and empires of the world, her lands and holdings liberated. Now, less than one year later, rulers turn their eyes on each other for safety or for gain. Diplomacy and violence go hand in hand. War is the father of all politics, and the people of the world remember war all too well. And to the south, in dark cold lands, Amathei's student stirs. But soothsayers whisper that his is a subtler plan than Amathei's.

In Saherizad, capital of the Mahrian Empire, the dying Emperor's children ponder their next move.

The second son is His Highness Prince Tarennor, called Taren Godbreaker, a theurge and scholar of dark things. He is no battle-mage, and he has never taken to the sword or the spear. His weapon is fear.

In these arenas, that weapon is not always suitable.

***

Taren closed the book with a puff of dust and stared down the imperial magistrate who had dared disturb him in the library. "You don't know what you're asking," he said, voice flat. "Yes, I could keep my father alive forever. Beyond that, you know as much as I, and Mahrian cannot afford to risk unknown consequences on His Imperial Majesty's person. If you're coming to me, you've taken this to the Heir first and been declined, or else you seek to make me your credit. Your...beard. I won't do it, no matter how many magistrates ask, and it's not a matter of treason. It's a matter of risk. Is the matter closed?"

The magistrate would bow to the Heir, or to the Emperor. To Taren Godbreaker, the magistrate merely nodded. "A thousand apologies, Prince Tarennor," said the bureaucrat without sincerity. "I beg leave to depart."

Taren waved a hand, his mind and eyes already dancing over the next book of magic. The shelves overflowed, without rhyme or reason. "Go."

Blessed silence settled over the library, and Taren Godbreaker once more reached out to touch the mind of the library's hearth-spirit, as petty a god as could be imagined. Its blessing led him on to the next book, helped him find relevant things, showed him the treasures forgotten by a dynasty that placed the written word second to the demands of the moment.

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xfiend1013
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Re: The Steel Condemnations (open world)

Post by xfiend1013 » Tue Dec 18, 2012 9:40 pm

OOC: Oh snap. Now we've got a whole different "Australia" -style continent down SOUTH. I wrote up the history on a China Meivelle binge with heavy hits of sex, drugs, Discworld, and armed combat (me, not the writing).

So there's this continent in the south that does not have elves, dwarves ETC. It has a SPIRE (one mile high) and it used to have TWO SPIRES. The spires are towers of weird alien technology that never open (except when the plot demands it) and when they do, they drop magi-tech. (basically).

On this continent there are several empires, millions of years old. Trolls are made of rock, via magic. They live forever. The Trils (trilobytes with brains) rule the deep oceans. The Mulluscoid horrors rule the shallows. On land you had a race of vicious wasp-creatures with useless males and terrifying females. They ruled everything until frog-men came along. Then the frog-men were really all tops until humans got out of the trees, got some spire-tech and magic, and went freakin' NUTS.

Decades ago, the men and mer used all of their magic and technology to open the Northern Spire - the spire far from Janasport. The opening tore apart the fabric of magic, killing every last elf, dwarf, or typical fantasy race for thousands of miles (most of which were open ocean). Only the weird creatures of bizarre magical evolution are left. Nor was the expanse crossable - the field of chaotic and dead magic made any crossing impossible.

This continent has just reopened to the world. Paths have been found to these long-lost kingdoms. These paths lead through zones of magic that can uncreate a man, or turn him into a horrid beast. But they do lead to this long-lost Southern Continent.

Therefore, before the FIRST CONTACT, I present what was once a short story of mine, but became cannibalized:

IC:

FIRST TIME:

On the workbench, a book bound in worn leather, in a nest of pitted iron bolts, curled metal shavings, small springs, wheels, and cogs. The whole thing was covered in a fine dust, with occasional trails that meandered through the cludge, signs that something had recently moved. Two large pink crystals stood in elaborate metal cages, and all around them dust had lined up like iron filings in the presence of a magnet.

The book was propped open to a schematic drafted in thick ink. Neat paragraphs detailed the techniques – engineering, alchemy, and arcane puissance – that were required to create, animate and maintain a golem.

And of all the men and not-quite men in the world of Hern and beyond, few would have walked away from that book.

But Uniodon the golem maker did, he turned away from that most valuable of tomes, and walked through the warehouse he rented, shafts of light fell all around and the dust danced inside. He moved like an old river, past the detritus of the years: old skulls, alchemical distilleries, potent crystals. There were linen-wrapped carvings of silver, thick bundled robes, and glittering chains.

There was a knock again at the huge double door. Someone short, he realized. And weak. Likely a child, one of the endless number of filthy young men working as couriers in the City of Janasport.

Often, Uniodon was wrong. In this he was not.

Uniodon opened the door, and there was a boy of twelve, a knot of disheveled hair on his brow. He'd come a long way. In the dark of Dawn in the shadow of the spire, he'd climbed down from one of the many tattered ropes that came down from the Skirt, that ramshackle growth of slums and black-market shops that climbed the pristine and neigh-invincible walls of the Janasport Spire. People lived in the wretched bit of fuzz that marred the mile-high construct.

The old golem-maker walked past a low wooden table with manacles made from cast iron. He walked with a slow, furtive purpose, just as the messenger boy had, skulking past the Gilded Canal, where the Ridgejaw traders built homes of marble and porcelain and precious metals to hide the fact that they'd been eating humans and things very much like them for two hundred millions years..

They didn't eat men now, not anymore, not since men had gotten guns and magic and Spire-Tech and taken their place as evolutionary contenders rather than prey. Well, not when anyone was looking, that was the belief, and unlike many thoughts in Hern, it had more than a little truth to it.

And so, the courier boy was brave nevertheless, for though he thought he was in no danger, the myths about human predation were otherwise for a reason, and the people of Janasport believed their myths, unless they knew better.

They rarely did.

The messenger boy had come across one of the Stinger bridges, built from the waxy, stonish clay that the larval Stingers produced. That morning a work crew had been out, the dull-eyed and already drunken wasp-men were wedging the infant-sized grubs into a lattice, making crude jokes and chittering wildly when one of the larva would fall into the canal and vanish in the bullseye circle of waves, the pale cylindrical form visible as it sank into the clean concrete stream.

It was a trying trip for the boy. A couple of men in buttoned-up swaincoats had stopped him for a moment. One had a rifle with a fixed bayonet, and the one who spoke had mutton-chops and a pistol the size of a Stinger grub. They asked him questions and he paid his bribe and they shoved him down in the street. The boy went on his way while the guardsmen and the Stinger-men all laughed, loud enough that the clacking and chattering laugh of the stupid and sterile drones followed him into the Soothouse district.

Here and now, though, he stuck the rolled up scroll at Uniodon like a wand, and the old man took it. He did not tip, but simply closed the door.

The boy was named Yusef, and he headed back for another package, back across the shrieking, soot-choked Railyards, the only forest Yusef had ever known, with cranes for trees and copper wires for vines. He came to the canals, with the clay-worked streets of sun-dried brick that got soft during floods, and the huge gleaming concrete lanes of clear water.

The Ridgejaw lodge was a stone building half-submerged at the intersection of two canals. There, Yusef descended one of the huge stone stairways from the street and into to the canal. It came to a concrete-lined pool where a young Ridgejaw was swimming slowly, half submerged. His skin was slick and black, smooth and not yet scaled. The head was plump, there was the long finned tail absent in the adults.

This “child” was Yusef's boss, who gave him packages and routes after consulting with a small bit of paper which Yusef could not read. He was one of the polliwog, the water-dwelling young. Socially, the two young men were much the same – small-time juveniles, freelance transporters who were paid in cash and favors.

Biologically, the Ridgejaw had the advantage of fifty years, but it made him no wiser. His real clout came not from age or knowledge or physical prowess (though he could swim many routes to avoid the Police) but from the fact that his brood had been hatched in these pristine waters. It marked him, healthy and unafflicted, as apart from his ken who made do with the polluted waters of the trade canals and the alluvial Janapied.

The polliwog, named Blint, looked at the paper, scanned the scrawled pictographs that constituted the rarely-written Ridgejaw language. It worked best for simple messages and trivial mathematics, such as the note for Blint:

1 notice
10 copy
10 lodges
delivery known money 100

Uniodon knew that the planet Hern would exist for another four billion years before her sun would be torn apart by another star. But what worried him was that most peoples universe didn't tend to last longer than a few horrible years. The young cartel of errand-running children, of all species, that ran about in clothing stitched together from scraps, they bothered him. He closed the door and hoped no more of them would come.

He knew that the young ridgejaws, the polliwogs, had it much worse. They did not know their parents, their parents did not know them, and due to their metamorphosis, the two interacted almost as two different species. The adult ridgejaws, often six or seven feet tall, with stonelaced scales, would sometimes eat the polliwogs. The polliwogs, or tadds, or yetch, or gulpers or whatever you wanted to call them, grew up in clutches of close friends, hundreds strong. The next ten years would kill all but a small handful.

Uniodon stepped past a ledger, filled with actuarial tables that could have shown the curves with neat graphs, peaks and valleys of datum printed out by one of the female stingers over near the Spire, in their high-piled concrete towers. She'd use a regurgitated stomach acid to coat cast die that would be used to strike a paper, burning it slightly. The female Stingers were the only ones that seemed to count, unless you needed someone beat up or some help moving a couch.

He'd normally use a golem for that. But all his did lately was sit up, and mope. He considered this a problem.

Then he read the package that the kid – whom Uniodon pegged as most likely dead already, statistically speaking. The city of Janasport felt the same way about children as any other collection of animals would.

It was a flimsy flap of newsprint, a long article with no lurid headline.

He re-read the message. Looked down at the ledgers piled carelessly into a wooden crate. “Madame Alice” - the nom` de gastric of a Stinger who ran the shop where they'd been printed – had been caught printing and distributing racist literature slurring all the races on Hern who didn't live in hives and weren't Stingers. Humans, Ridgejaws, Trills, all the molluscoids, (though no one seemed to be complaining about that) the Craw, and even the Terminds, whom everyone loved - especially at the point of a jaw.

That was surprising. Not that a Stinger would be racist. A non-racist Stinger would be an exception. But they usually left the other arthropods alone.

Uniodon folded up the broadsheet and read the note scrawled in Ridgejaw runes across the back. “Mdm Alice up to something, I think. Master Gifford at the Shaper Terminal wanted to talk with you about golem. Construct quarter unrest. Race riots. Jana save us.”

Uniodon sighed. Jana – the woman who Janasport had been named after, had been dead for three hundred years. But Ridgejaw lived a long time, and had terrible memories. He couldn't know if Basa-Juan, the ridgejaw who'd sent the message, was using some sort of religious oath, or just having a lapse.

Basa-Juan had been there when Jana had led twenty thousand men and a thousand Ridgejaw into a last frantic, impossible battle against the provincial stronghold of the Stinger empire.

They'd been saved at the last minute by the Kua-Kua, the feather-maned raptor-men of Blaylock, across the Deadening Seas.

The Kua-Kua cosmology held that every planet, solar system, and galaxy were actually all nothing but the tiniest bits of a larger universe, the photons and electrons and quarks of some thing larger than us by cosmic exponents. Their highest priests, whom Uniodon had dined with, had received divine transmissions revealing that the galaxy in which Hern resided, the marble whorl, was part of a supercluster that was, in fact, a charged particle in some laboratory in a higher universe, a particle heading inexorably (in 15 trillion years) towards an end, vaporizing upon giving it's energy to a filament.

Therefore, as they saw it, the only good that could come of all the effort in the galaxy was one singular quantum effect, a wave interference pattern that would spare the galaxy.

This was a hard thing to fit into decree, and over the milennia, the Kua-Kua priesthood had faded away Into nothing more than a few obscure references in the prestigious journals “ Thanto-physics” and “Applied Theoretical Philosophy.”

Uniodon had once been included in the pages of “Thanto-Physics,” just as the Kua-Kua had once been majestic allies to humanity, just as the Ridgejaw had snacked on primates, just as everyone had discovered the
Spires.

That is, to say, a very long time ago.

Now he was mostly dead, a few years too close to necromantic pallor. The old Golem maker wondered what the Shapers might want with him. It had been years since he'd dealt with the College, other than turning in his dues and refusing to donate to the Alumni fund.

He'd have to find out, and to do so he'd have to cross Janasport.

Much of it. Near the Spire, near the Canals, cross the River Janapied. There would be well-marked streets, clamoring marketplaces, busy public spaces, a menagerie of species and spellweavers and engineering marvels. Gondolas and monorails, cable-cars and living cranes.

He was checking his maps, the old scrolls showing puissant places and the new clean crisp gridworks showing electrical cables. The zones in which a golem might pass, the patchwork turf of the Negators, the rough polyglot youth who'd grown up in mystic fields and become immune, who hunted down mages, wizards, priests, and the various and sundry whatever-o-mancers just to steal their expensive wares.

On a hunch, he reopened the door. Yusef was still there, leaning against the glyph-inscribed doorway, digging his dirty fingernails into an arcane symbol etched in old blood.

“Where'd you come from?” Uniodon asked.

“The Skirt.” Yusef said, picking his nose. The fringe was the mouldering fringe of the Spire, those hardscrabble buildings, rickety and constantly collapsing against the perfect eternal architecture. The works of the Spire were so sturdy, so linear, so fine and indestructable that human (or Stinger, or Ridgejaw, or Trilloid) construction would never adhere, the leaning piles of filth were dangerous, people vanished from them – taken into the Spire, it was said. Stolen by the mysterious Spire-Walkers.

“Come in.” Uniodon said. “I need you to take me to the Gilded Canal.”

Yusef did not come in. Instead he held out a hand. Uniodon glared at him in that way that only very old men can glare at young children, and pressed a single silver coin into his hand.

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