Who are the Viridium people? What happened to them? What can they do to save Viridium? Read the Novel below.
Chronicling Eurythmus Syr’s long captivity on the Dancing Moon:
It has long been the favorite mystery of the Astromancers why our moon so bashfully flees out from our night sky; there for a rare moment, then gone. I had my own theories, of course: fits of invisibility, a lack of Geas like the old stories say—I even once had an intuition that Time was at the center of the enigma. As it turns out, the fault for our Dancing Moon's mercurial habit was simple. I am to blame.
I am to blame for a great many things. But we shall get to that in time.
Time. Hah! A sticky subject, indeed.
At the very moment I activated my beloved Cicatrix Engine, I know for certain that two things happened. First, the world of Viridium was destroyed. I watched as the core of my planet tore a hole into reality and shattered itself like a pane of glass. I only live to tell this tale because of the second thing that happened in that same instant–I, and a great portion of my lab, were transported to the surface of the Dancing Moon and we were unglued from the promise that today turns to tomorrow and all our yesterdays lie in the past.
I had but a moment to witness the apocalypse wrought by mine own hand before the moon and I were flung backwards from the moment of the accident–back to the very crucible of time. I stand now on the face of my new lunar prison, looking up at the first seconds of the universe ticking by. Even now I cannot help myself. If history had deigned to start one breath sooner I could have beheld with my own eyes the thing which I have pursued my life entire, and at the cost of so much destruction.
It is no use. I know this. The Primaridix, the Ur-Element, died in order to bring time and space into being. All I can do is marvel at the beauty of its death. Here, in the only beginning I can know, there is a vast nothingness broken only by the body of the Primaridix, split into quarters and given new life.
These are the Four Mothers, just born themselves, and ready to begin their work.
I must take note, for I know not how long I have before the moon and I go dancing again.
These are the first: Aura, Anima, Vitae and Geas. The Primal Elements. They shaped the stars and gave birth to our forebears. Nothing can be guessed of that which came before. It is beyond our grasp.
The winds of change, and of fate.
She is stitched through all of existence. Without Aura there would be no time, for nothing would be changed by its passing.
Her winds carry curiosity, haste, cunning and unpredictability wherever they blow.
The fires of creation, and of power.
The will of existence to make itself so. She fueled the forming of every extant thing from ash and when she is gone all will be ash again. Formless. Useless. Without purpose.
Strength, passion, artistry and drive are kindled in her forge-flames.
The firmament itself. Solidity, certitude.
She keeps our bodies wrapped around our bones and our feet planted on the earth. If a thing can be relied on, it owes its character to Geas.
Her bedrock is sewn with veins of confidence, dependability, habit, and law.
The waters of life, and of fruition.
That which makes the few into the many; the small into the vast. She trickles across the wastes and leaves lush bounty in her wake. Every green thing finds its root in Vitae.
Compassion, nurturing, joy & knack flow freely from the font of her headwaters.
Even now as I watch, the Mothers wend their way through the empty void, and wherever they go, creation blossoms in their wake.
We tell our children a story in the land where I was born. It is the tale of how the cosmos came to be. The Four Mothers wanted more than just themselves, but they could not decide what to bring into being.
Geas, ever certain, went first—but her immutable influence was too great. What was born became the vacuum. The space between the stars, unchanging and cold. They began again.
Swaggering Anima tried her hand. Thus was formed the roiling sun, a flame born anew in every moment.
It is said that next Aura shaped the Dancing Moon and this is why it spins across the sky unchained and ready at any moment to disappear.
Wise Vitae, last of her sisters, saw in each of their creations flaws that could have been tempered by the aid of the other three. She beckoned her siblings to try again and with her soft encouragement they at last bore a fruitful child.
The world they made is called Viridium in her honor, for she loves all growing things. It was my home.
To tell the truth, watching the birth of my planet looks very little like the simple story of my youth. Nothing so polite. From my far promontory on the Dancing Moon it seems nearer to battle. Or intimacy. The ending is the same, though. The Mothers fuse together in a rush of steam and smoke and dust, and there it is. Viridium. Just as green as its name suggests. Even now life flourishes in the lush and wide stretches of forest, field, swamp, hill, beach, and swelling sea. Energy teems in roiling caldera and rushing rivers. Power dwells in thunderheads and halls of stone. It is a plenitude–enough for all and more besides.
But paradise wasn't good enough for us, was it?
Chronicling Eurythmus Syr’s long captivity on the Dancing Moon:
I doubt that any eye save mine shall ever behold the words of this journal, yet I shall write on–for what a bounty they might hold for you if I am wrong. I work tirelessly for as many hours as I can afford. What part of my lab is left to me still holds many useful tools and I hope to craft some means of communication with Halcyon once it has been built. Perhaps the skein of fate is not woven in iron. Perhaps I can fix my mistakes.
As always, the problem is time. I haven’t got enough of it. I observe the world below me through my lenses and prisms and with every blink of my eye years flit past. Even now I watch the first stumbling steps of the Synechism as they evolve from the vulgar beasts they are, and into the six thinking, feeling races they will become. I fear that ere my work is done, a young Eurythmus Syr will be born down there, head full of dreams and plans to forge the Primaridix.
No matter. Despair avails me naught. I have some little time yet before I must return to my prototype. I shall document the birth of our peoples. I knew many a historian who would sell their soul to see what I see now.
All Viridian bloodlines traces their origin to a seam on the newborn planet where two of the Four Mothers met. Each embodies, in their own way, the aspects of these Patron Elements. This is our birthright.
None of us could ignore the call of the Four Mothers for long. They fascinated us, and lent us strength in return for our curiosity. Each of the six Motherborn races grew into their power by probing the secrets of the Primal Elements. This was our one utter commonality, and it’s what bound us together in the end.
It did not take long, in the grand scheme of things, for us to unite and form the Synechism—six peoples made into one. A federation founded under the banner of study. We would learn everything the Mothers had to teach us, and then we would seek deeper lore: The Primaridix. It was peace in our time; our greatest achievement. We set aside all petty squabbles to join together seeking answers to life’s greatest mysteries.
If only we had known what that noble goal would herald, we might have stuck with selfishness and warmongering and profited greatly by this lapse. Some secrets come at a price too dear to bear...
Born of Aura’s wind and of Geas’ stone.
Stable and stout, with skin like the last glimmer of dusk. They have no hair, but instead sprout gemstone stubble from their crowns, brows and chins. They were earliest of us all to come into their consciousness. From the moment the first two Djet descended from the peak of Mt. Auberon, a hive-mind of perfect logic was born. What one Djet knows, all Djet know. This is the foundation of their entire culture: the desire to know everything. Strategy, Heuristics, Djeti Philosophy–all born from cold calculation and centuries of accumulated data.
They care little for the comings and goings of others, but were convinced to join the Synechism in common search of elemental lore; where to harvest them, how best to wield them. In this, at least, they resemble their kindred races. Despite their coldness, they are highly valued allies. Each Djet is a repository of knowledge that spans back to the birth of their race, and there is more besides–all that is needed to send a message across vast distances is that each party has a Djet nearby. Tell one, and they all know.
The Djeti are many years in the making. They grow only at the peak of Mt. Auberon, and it is a slow and capricious process. There’s no telling when a bit of ore will decide to grow into a Djet. Even then, each nascent Djet sleeps decades in the stone, sucking minerals from the strata likes roots pull water from soil.
They wake fully realized and integrated into the hivemind.
Born of Geas’ iron and Anima’s embers.
Forged in a massive boiling pit of magma, The Shend were well tempered by the rigour of their origin. Tusked, tattooed and ten burly feet tall, they tower over other races decked in furs and leather. Every Shend holds rank--each and all warriors on reserve. They drill daily wherever they are. One Shend alone in the wastes will line up for roll call and do their PT. Discipline keeps you alive when the blood starts flowing, and blood tends to flow heavy when there are Shend on the field of battle.
Yet, do not mistake them–they are neither mindless killers nor barbarians. They are merely prepared. It is the common claim of Shend across the stretches of Viridium that war is not chosen. It is merely left behind when all choices have been taken from you.
On the whole, they prefer hammer-shanks and axe-shafts to sword-hilts, for most Shend are skilled artisans and craftsfolk. Anything of Shend make is the best of its class you can find. Shend armour turns all blades. Shend ceramic will not shatter. A Shend cleaver cuts bone like butter. Every Kitvos airship is set with Shend sailcloth. You must dismantle Shend walls brick by brick to break them.
Shend do not sleep, and they cannot be knocked out. From the moment of their birth to the second of their death, they are aware. They do not tire. They do not slow.
Born of Anima’s cinders and of Vitae’s wellspring.
A deluge. A flood. They are excess made flesh, and they are legion. Nasty little imps grown from spores of lichen that figured out how to think. Here, in the early days, they are the one great threat to the other races. They are a plague of pests that sweep across the land and leave only their offspring in their wake. Many of the early wars of Viridium would more truly be named exterminations. A burning off of the invasive weed called Widder. It’s hard work, though. Leave even a scrap undestroyed and it’ll grow back into a whole Widderling. Then one become two. Two become four. By then it’s too late. You’ve got another infestation on your hands.
Then there’s the problem of luck. When enough Widderlings get together, things just start going their way. The captain of the guard sent to wipe them out unseats his mount at the start of battle and the company is left leaderless. The fire-spitters built to burn them out malfunction and explode. Eventually the odds catch up with them, but for a while they can bend the rules of fate to their breaking point.
Even these gluttonous beasts, though, sought deeper knowledge of their Patron Elements, and its amazing how useful a hundred-thousand hands can be. A Widderhorde guided by the careful influence of the Synechism could raise a city in days, harvest a forest in weeks.
Born of Aura’s breath and of Anima’s flame.
Wee, cunning fox-folk, red of hair with jet-black eyes. They hail from a massive, knotted bramble-patch they call The Cradle in their own chattering tongue. Kitvos are natural-born scavengers and inventors. They developed tools before they developed a society. By the time they shared a common language, they had already discovered how to craft pulleys, wheels and axles. When finally they crept from their brier out into the world, it did not take them long to realize they were the runts of the elemental litter. Rather than slink back into their thorny labyrinth, ever the adventurers, they turned their eyes skyward.
In my day, Kitvos airships hold both renown and infamy across the Synechism. They are masterworks of elemental craft, a perfect synergy of Anima and Aura, and they are the fastest transport that money can buy–but not every ship is used for the common good. Many Kitvos captains are cloud-bound corsairs, tearing through the skies to pillage unwary travelers. They just can’t help themselves.
Of all their kindred races, it is my people–the Sypher–that the Kitvos tie most closely to. We share a curiosity and appreciation for ingenuity that gives us common cause, and for this reason many Kitvos have grown to love the idea of our polite society and affectations. Their chaotic nature gets in the way of social graces, though and the seemingly hyper-complex system of Kitvos civility is entirely improvised. Each one you meet will precede their name with a half-dozen unearned titles and appellations, and any two left in a room for long enough will start calling each other out for violations of the decorum that they’re both making up on the spot.
Still, most people agree its a good idea to keep a few Kitvos around, even if they’re hardly worth the trouble. They come up with some new contraption about once a week, and every fourth one is useful, even. They’re also engineers. If you want a job done perfectly, ask a Djet. If you want it done now, and for half the parts you thought you’d need, ask a Kitvos.
Born of Vitae’s tides and of Aura’s squall.
Blood of my blood. We Sypher stand near to the height of the Shend, but are thin and hunched with long limbs and necks. Our skin is coated in bands of reticulated scales that flex like wing-flaps to regulate our temperature, and they shift color to match our mood. We have independent eyes that can see clearly for miles and a prehensile tongue that serves for a third hand.
With great effort, adult Sypher can shift their form into mist for a few moments at a time. This has garnered a reputation of skulduggery with some of the other members of the Synechism, but this is a characterization we greatly resent. Sure, a Sypher sneak-thief is not unheard of, but we are as proud and true a culture as any other that walks on Viridian shores. Judge us not by our worst elements, lest the same be done to you.
We hearken back to a cavern-riddled cliffside that once towered over the Sea of Veils, and to this day prefer to sleep near the sound of moving water. We are a passionate people, prone to outbursts and mood swings. There’s plenty of stories of a Sypher wedding ruined by a disfortuitous shade of blue or a knife-fight stalled by the timely application of a beloved song. Thus, we are a mannered society, with carefully constructed rules to ensure proper form is kept. Follow them and all be well. Break them, and your life may be forfeit.
It is a point of pride for many Sypher that we were the ones to conceive of the Synechism and make the first overtures of peace. It was Sypherian diplomacy that framed an armistice to the Shendo-Kitvosian Wars, swayed the iron will of the Djet to consider cooperation, and brought the swarming Widderhorde to heel. It was Sypherian planning that founded the cornerstone that would become the great city of Halcyon, and it was Sypherian enthusiasm that infected the other races with a certainty that the secrets of the cosmos lay at their fingertips for the taking.
May the Mothers forgive us this hubris.
Lithe and wiry. Skin tanned and cracked like a salt-pan. They treat their bodies as terrariums–vines and roots twist across their limbs and torsos, seeds germinate in their pores. Their long braids of hair are nests for birds and hives for bees. Moss and cobwebs gather in beards and body hair. Each Lacuna is their own walking biome with flora and fauna, predator and prey.
They are a race of monks, but are markedly not ascetics. Rowdy, graceless and often crude; but kind and excellent healers. They are wood-wise and know the ways of many alchemical secrets. Their favorite recipe is a concoction brewed from orchid petals and dew siphoned from the bellies of pitcher-plants. It’s strong enough that the other races find it hard to stand after even a sip, but the Lacuna drink it by the gulped flagon-full and swear that no matter how much they take, they wake from wistful dreams the next morn clearheaded and calm of spirit.
The deep connection that every Lacuna holds with Viridium has borne them two bounties:
First, The Kinning. Any beast that makes its den on a Lacuna’s body owes fealty to its landlord. So long as they have touched the creature within the last lunar cycle, the Lacuna can give them instructions, see through their eyes and hear through their ears.
Second, The Wit. Lacuna have learned to channel the trace Primal Elements in their immediate area through their bodies. In this way they can summon fire and rain, cause rapid growth, and perform many other clever tricks through the careful manipulation of the Four Mothers. They are the only race in the Synechism who have learned to harness the elements with nothing but their own flesh and will.
Chronicling Eurythmus Syr’s long captivity on the Dancing Moon:
All efforts to communicate with Viridium below have failed but I am not yet out of hope. Our capacity of technology grew greatly after the raising of Halcyon in the depths and even now I watch this great metropolis being born. Perhaps now I will get through to them. Warn them.
The eldest component of the city of Halcyon was nothing so stately and proper as a marble cornerstone or a gilded nail. It was a deep and featureless hole that predated the Synechism by more than a hundred years. The Pillar had been part of an old Djeti coring project to survey Viridium for pockets rich in Geas and it descended nearly half the distance to the center of the planet. First we widened it and made it easy to traverse. Built the necessary facilities along its new spiraling stairs.
Then we began to dig.
In its first few centuries the Synechism was not a fruitful effort. We were allied but not cooperative. When we would learn something, we would share it with each other, but no efforts were made towards universal utility. A Kitvos schematic might’ve held a brilliant truth about the effort to contain and focus anima, but it was likely incomprehensible to a Shend. Some new development in the Wit would be of tantamount importance to every Lacuna, but was worthless to any other race without the context of wider application.
Between these first fumbled baby steps and some few uncontrollable factions in the Kitvos and Widderhorde, things almost fell apart before they could begin. Somewhere along the line, one of my people had a revelation: an armistice was insufficient. We didn’t just have to stop fighting and keep to our obligations. We needed to truly come together.
The banner to rally under was obvious—The Primaridix. It had been the cause of peace, it would now be its savior. We each had our own hopes for the Ur-Element; that it would strengthen our power, extend our lives, reveal secrets or provide a path to follow. With that goal in sight, all the littler overtures of alliance fell into place. We came together to build the city from which our new world would be shaped.
“Where?” was the first question. None of our own homelands–that was quickly agreed to. By all rights the Djet are masters of Erebus, The Kitvos masters of The Cradle, and the Shend masters of Crysciple. The same was true of we Sypher and the Sea of Veils. No utopia could be built where one of us could have claim to rule over the other five. We needed neutral ground.
We decided on the very center of things for our new home.
Even in those days it was supposed by some great thinkers that the core of our planet was an active molten cocktail of pure elemental power–each of the Four Mothers alive and unadulterated, boiling around each other in an ever-changing sarabande of raw energy. They were right. We dug down into the heart of Viridium, chasing this motherlode. When we found it we built the city of Halcyon around its shoreline. A net made of shining steel and polished stone and desperate people–and caught within was the promise of a future where we captained our own destiny and no force of nature was too great to be conquered.
It was a false promise, but a beautiful one and we cherished it dearly.
Complete, Halcyon was a bright inverted tower plunging down the Pillar in concentric rings of steel-and-crystal habitats tied together by the spiraling 100-Year Stair that stretched all the way down to the pit of existence where the city blossomed out into a hollow sphere. The Abyssal Gallery.
It was the proving-house for ten-thousand theories a day. By the creeping passage of those days we began to understand more and more of Viridium’s secret workings. All it took was time. In the last years of the Synechism, our theoretics had become sophisticated; our experiments, complex. Every new breakthrough was a bit more marginal than the last but it was a time of great progress for our peoples, as we learned to wield the Four Mothers and the other natural resources of our world with growing nuance. We held high hopes for all the tomorrows to come.
Each race had its own integral roles in the society of Halcyon.
The Djet were masterful planners and unparalleled archivists of data & history. Any architecture, record-keeping or long term strategics were done under Djeti management. They were spread as thin as possible to make maximum use of their instantaneous mental communication.
The Kitvos were brilliant engineers, and the best of them could even be given a goal and expected to keep to it with reasonable certainty. Their airships, as well, were the only way to transport large freight to and from Halcyon. They would rush up the Pillar like great billowing clouds of flame.
The Lacuna, as well as ensuring that the minds and bodies of the many hyper-focused Synechites were healthy, well-rested, and allowed a reasonable ration of relaxation and fun, were the best biologists and chemists of our numbers. If a question on the nature of Viridium lay long unanswered, it would always be a Lacuna who eventually found the answer.
The Shend could manufacture anything demanded of them on schedules that defied all expectation. You need a clear crystal that can withstand the heat of an adolescent sun? Sure. A metal that is pliable until frozen, after which it is as solid as diamond? Absolutely. An atomizable fluid that glows a different color on contact with each of the different primal elements? They just need to know what colors you want. All conceived, prototyped and perfected on a razor-thin timeline. They were also the last line of defense against any of the few dangers of Viridium that still threatened the Synechism. If a Widder-Beast stampede or a hungry Mythrax threatened Halcyon or one of the other homesteads of the Synechism, it was a legion of Shend warriors that everyone hoped to see standing between the two.
We Sypher were scientists foremost. We had developed methods of experimentation and iteration that surpassed even the plodding but certain plans of the Djet, and were less likely to explode in everyone’s face than something a Kitvos put together. We were also the unofficial diplomats of the Synechism. Whenever a disagreement bubbled up between two different factions in Halcyon, it was often we who would act as arbiter and counselor. It was a rare day, indeed, when a Sypher was involved in a dispute that proved intractable.
The Widderhorde were little-good for any subtle business or philosophizing, but quantity has a quality all its own. If something needed doing and anyone could do it, you left it to the Widderhorde. Blink, and you missed it. It wasn’t the sort of thing to get its praises sung in a poet’s ballad, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t the most important part of the whole affair. People tend to forget that once a brilliant idea is shaped and polished to a mirror sheen, there’s still the doing of it. An idea isn’t worth a breath of air if there’s no way to make it real, and the Widderhorde were a machine for turning ideas into things.
Not every member of the Motherborn races chose to come to the deep city. There were some who called it silly and, indeed, plenty who needed to keep Viridium safe and well-maintained in our absence. Not everything could be done from one city at the center of the earth. Still–it was Halcyon where the most passionate keepers of elemental lore gathered, and together we sought the Primaridix with a madman’s fervor. Every year that passed, old plans were discarded and new ones formed. We had a practically infinite store of elemental power to draw from and plans to match our passion. It seemed that nothing could stop us, but things aren’t always as they seem.
Chronicling Eurythmus Syr’s long captivity on the Dancing Moon:
The end is not the end.
When will I learn not to trust my own assumptions? If the end of the world couldn’t drive it through my thick skull, then perhaps I am hopeless on the subject.
It was a flash of insight as I watched my own hand hover over the switch that activated the Cicatrix Engine. It was not luck that saved me from destruction. Not fate nor destiny either. As with all things related to the destruction of Viridium, I am to blame. The pile of hodge-podge inventions that were of such little use in sending word to the world below could at least perhaps receive something. I knew that I’d aimed the Lunar Attractor at the Dancing Moon. The balance of elements was at the very crux of the experiment. If I could use that to send myself along the beam of Aura…
I can only assume that I succeeded, for I am here and that me is standing at the very first moment of time, scribbling desperately at the opening page of this journal. What is even more surprising is that I am not now dead nor returned to the loop’s beginning. Time goes on as it always has. So, too, does Viridium in the sad state that I left it. I must watch and do what I can to help. I am the last of my team to survive. I cannot undo what has been done, but perhaps I can yet mend the damage that we have caused.
Any future still to come is one worth saving.
It is without a doubt the worst tragedy ever to befall my world. The misfiring Cicatrix Engine blew the planet into rubble, but its pieces are still held together like the shards of a broken plate form an echo of the whole they once were. They twist and whirl through the void, some few sad survivors clinging desperately to the wreckage. The whole mess is held together only by the gravity well of the awful crack at the center of the debris—the other bequest of my calamitous experiment:
A three-armed rip in the fabric of existence. It hisses and splutters, an angry storm-cloud of gray-and-black needles sewn through with the rich heliotropic hues of distant galactic clusters. Everything it touches is unmade and it is growing all the time. It sits at the center of the shattered planet, grown out from where my Cicatrix Engine dwelt, and as the shards of Viridium dance around it, bit after bit is pulled slowly into its event horizon and consumed. Gone forever. There are other little rips scattered across the shards nibbling at reality, but none half so big as the Triskelion. None even a tenth.
Like everything else, Halcyon was destroyed in the Shivering. No one in the Gallery survived, and it was a precious few from the Pillar that managed to escape. Now the shining chrome of the splintered city criss-crosses the Triskelion like a cage. All the greatest technology of the Synechism trapped so close to the rend that even an hour spent scouring the wreckage starts to rip apart the atoms of your flesh. It is a honeypot always calling to the foolish and the greedy.
No one knows what’s on the other side. The past? Nothingness? Another universe? All theories are mere guesses. All we know is that it eats everything and give little back: Only its children the Raishe, and its mockery of our Mothers, the Specular Elements.
Walking slivers of the Triskelion. They look like paper men cut from the anti-reality. They unravel everything around them if they stick around long enough, growing and growing until they bloat into another of the Mini-Triskelions gnawing slowly at the corners of infinity. The people of Broken Viridium have to send out regular patrols to overwhelm roving Raishe with purified primal energy. Highly concentrated blasts of any of the Four Mothers kill them–scour them from this reality as easily as they scour reality from itself. It’s dangerous work, but it must be done.
No one knows exactly where they come from or why they come when they do. The Triskelion just spits them out at irregular intervals. The few survivors of the Shivering have to keep their eyes peeled if they don’t want to wake up with what little home they have left devoured by a Raishe they didn’t notice.
A dark mirror for each of our beloved Four Mothers, the Specular Elements are rich, new veins of power.
Breath of lost time, and of lies.
Anti-Aura; the ethereal squall twisting out from the Triskelion. It settles in natural gates like dew in a spider’s web. Earthen arches, fairy rings, two branches met & twined—these become ghost-gates. Idola stretches like a sheet across them to show the world as it was. Before the Shivering. They are the only way most survivors have of getting from one shard to another safely.
Ash of waste, and of decay.
Anti-Anima; a smoldering smog of dilapidation leaking from the edges of the Triskelion. Its touch rusts iron; withers flesh. Nothing sees through it.
Ichor of death, and of pain.
Anti-Vitae; it wells up in thick red pools across Broken Viridium, running out in seeking rivulets to nurse suffering from the landscape. It is poison to drink, to touch, to smell. Its color gives you migraines.
Shards of misshape & glamour.
Anti-Geas; the crystalline facets of the Triskelion made solid and beauteous. As black and polished as onyx or as pure white as ivory. You see all your hopes realized in the faces of a chalcedonous crystal—a boon to the wise and driven, but also a hole for the hopeless and despairing to fall into.
Many survivors believe that these Specular Elements hold the secret to defeating the Triskelion and study them zealously. They’ve hidden themselves away in deep strongholds to probe these new elements seeking fresh power while their world dissolves around them.
Chronicling Eurythmus Syr’s long captivity on the Dancing Moon:
Viridium survives. This is certain, but its people are sundered as surely as its land. They are a factional folk, now hidden away in strongholds of iron and stone. They fear the cooperation of the Synechism. The vulnerability, and the doom that it wrought. In the wake of the Shivering there was nothing but confusion. A desperate scramble to make it through the chaos. It didn’t take long after things settled down for everyone to realize it was the machinations of some high minded idiot in Halcyon that caused the trouble.
Another feather for my cap. Suspicion naturally fell to me and my secretive team. My name is used as a curse, an accusation of hubris. I cannot complain. I have earned this much.
This fear goes too far, though. They cut themselves off from the curiosity that lifted us from our nurseries and prod the newly discovered Specular Elements with cold calculation and a liturgical devotion to loss aversion. No risks. No whims. Just safe steps forward, eyes ever on survival.
The few left alive want nothing more than to kill the Raishe and destroy the Triskelion. Kill. Destroy. These are not words for a plan; for a solution. They are words for a cudgel. Survival isn’t enough. If the people of Broken Viridium wish to defeat the Triskelion, they must remember why they want to live in the first place.
Four remain, scattered across the shards of Broken Viridium. One for each of the Specular elements.
The black-iron keep where the Shend were first forged in molten earth. The heat is nearly unbearable to all but the fireborn races, and everything is cast in an ember-shimmer glow, but the entire fortress is ringed in a moat of pure liquid Anima. The heat is worth it when you can sleep knowing any nearby Raishe are sure to boil away.
Crysciple is ordered with the same military efficiency as Shend culture in general and regardless of race, class or creed those stationed in its barracks are Kentarkha—soldiers in the army of Crysciple. Every Kentarkh is a cog in a 100-man machine outfitted with Geas-tempered armor that resists the gnawing rot of the Triskelion and its children, and a wickedly serrated claymore. This cruel blade hides a small reservoir in its core each Kentarkh can store any of the Four Mothers. Cut deep enough and it will pour out through the biting teeth of the blade. Et Voila: no more Raishe.
The Iron Legates of Crysciple Keep have a vast store of Fumagin cached in the molten dungeons. They plan to build a bomb and cast it into the gut of the Triskelion. This will never work. You cannot kill it with its own artifice. Your blade will turn in your hand. Still, most Kentarkha carry a bit of Fumagin with them. It’s good for burning through anything too tough for their fanged knives to cut.
A prism of ghost-gates riddling through a dying jungle. Every tree you touch is leafless, every vine and thicket wilting. What beasts remain are sad and starveling things. But through the gates are spied glimpses of the lush and vibrant rain-forest that was. A snatch of a waterfall or a thick canopy. The warble of a tropic bird, twisted by its travel through the thin film of Idola. You can approach, even pass through, but never stay there. Its promise is lost to Broken Viridium. It is a place of the past, but the people of Windlewist gird themselves in this sweet torture. Nostalgia clarified to a glass-knife keen.
The citizens of Windlewist are Scryers all. They can feel when a ghost-gate is near and with concentration, they can draw something from the other side. A weapon? Some treasure? Perhaps an angry beast? You never know what you’re going to get.
The Mirror-Lords of Windlewist hold Idola as the last best hope of undoing The Shivering. They surround themselves with a court of beautifully contrived ghost-gates, staring at a world they can no longer touch and trying to read hints of the future in their past. They think that if only they can pierce the veil of Idola, they could slip back into past and rewrite yesterday’s mistakes.
Would that I could warn them of this mind-trap…
A white and nacreous orb encased in a deep lake of ice. Once an underwater research station carved from the pearl of a Leviathan, it was thrown off its normal orbit during the Shivering and froze on the dark side of Broken Viridium.
The pious Inquisitors are the only life remaining in the frozen waste of Obelus, and they consider themselves the only true successors to the Synechism and Halcyon. They have turned the methods of science into a strict doctrine to be followed with holy penitence. Deviation from The Way, they have it, is to blame for all the little failures of the Synechism leading ultimately to the apocalyptic Shivering.
Few places are cold enough to freeze Mortre solid, but the heart of Obelus is one of them. The Glacial See stockpiles brick after brick of frozen Mortre here in the odd belief that if enough of the evil blood is congealed and hidden away, suffering will disappear from the face of Broken Viridium. The highest members of the priesthood use it, also, to mortify their flesh in repentance for the sins of their forebears.
A hulking machine of belching smog and screaming metal. Rusted plates of pig-iron flexing under the urges of hydraulic tubes and grinding gear-teeth. A sprawling slum built into the ductworks and maintenance tunnels that spiderweb through the guts of the mechanical beast. It crawls across the remains of Mt. Auberon like a roach picking scraps. It drills into the mountain roots, harvesting Calchedony then skitters up to the peak to look for nascent Djeti waiting to be born.
Those who hail from Kakkerlak call themselves Mechanists. They wear gear to help them see in the dark and work on the intricate inner-workings of their home, and most wield an arquebus—a hefty arm that casts bolts of pure elemental energy—when traveling afield.
The learned Twin Kings of the Mechanists have discovered a truly astounding property found in Chalcedony deposits of sufficient size. They can be consumed to rewrite history to your will. The cost in crystal is steep, but it has no other limit except that if you wish for something greater than your Chalcedony can buy, it is lost and nothing changes. The greatest expenditure of this kind was used to resurrect Hallux—King of the Crawl. It cost one ton of chalcedenous crystal. Since then, they have hoarded this resource, doing feverish calculation after feverish calculation trying to reckon the exact cost of wishing the Triskelion out of existence. Does wording change the cost? Is the black crystal worth more than white? Less? It doesn’t matter. There’s not enough Chalcedony in the whole of Broken Viridium to make this wish so. It’s too big a thing to ask for. We must do it ourselves.
Most Mechanists carry a paltry bit of chalcedenous dust on them. Just enough to undo one misstep.
Many of the larger hunks of Broken Viridium have something interesting to check out. These include:
The ruin of my beloved home. The Sea of Veils has broken its banks and all pacts that tie it to the earth as well. It floats in the void, an orb of salt-sea and the broken and cave-riddled cliff where I and every Sypher before spent their youths are sunk in the wash, unmoored and slipping through the water as it orbits the Triskelion. For days at a time, some portion of the caves might emerge as the seawater twists in gravity’s grip, but you never know when it will slip back under—and you really don’t want to be down there when it does.
The abandoned bastion of a group of hard-line Synechists. They alone believed that the Primaridix should still be sought, and carried on their experiments until a Raishe went supernova in their midst and a reality scar was born, tearing their fortress apart brick-by-brick. Now it stands, a dilapidated and drunken-leant tower, sucked up one shingle at a time by the scar hanging like an anti-moon overhead.
A ramshackle island of tied-together airships. Though some of the Kitvos were able to fit into the more rigorous life of the Synechism post-Shivering, many refused. They have formed a pleasure island of outrageous mock-ceremony and nonsense society. Few of the other races can handle an overlong visit to the Flotilla. It really gives you a headache trying to make sense of it all.
The Kitvos birthland, withered and fossilized in the Shivering. Thorny brambles turned to daggers of stone and vines to iron nooses. An unpleasant place. Something deep in there is causing a lot of Fumagin to form, though, and everybody’s looking to get a payday.
Chronicling Eurythmus Syr’s long captivity on the Dancing Moon:
Day 366 (Approx. 1000 HCR)
The great scar Triskelion has eaten everything. It sits fat and happy where my home used to be, the only hint left of Viridium a few specks of dust dancing at the edge of the tear.
It is quite close now. I can barely sleep at night for the uncanny canny light it casts. Even now it reaches a twisting tendril of annihilation out to meet my moon-prison. It has destroyed everything else.
Now it is coming for me.
I do not have any fear left to give it. Even were this the end of all things, I am ready, but I am also not so certain. I made the mistake before of thinking I could assume the future and was proven a fool. Who’s to say there isn’t something else on the other side of all this?
I have a danced a great while out here alone. It’s time to move on.