Z’shi (Foundation)

A world of endless towers, this.

Towers of purest precious ice, delicate and ethereal, a colourless beauty to steal one’s breath.

A realm of shining latticework minarets, of smoothly bulbous spires and clockwork obelisks, of ever-shifting, ever-growing, ever-branching towers upon towers that build themselves upwards — ever upwards — and onwards, forever towards the glittering white-crystal dome of the heavens above which may be, in turn, yet more growing, splitting, duplicating, fusing, elaborating towers.

As they climb ever higher these fragile structures change, the ice of their structures now glassy, now frosted, now whirled and patched with dead-white milky zones; now a touch of silver, now deepest azure or most royal teal, forms precious and rare; now sharp as razors, now smooth and bulbous.

A new sub-tower branches free; a lacy bridge reaches delicate fringes to cross — to maybe cross — the frigid span of emptiness as countless spans have crisscrossed, above and below. Sometimes a plaza slowly spreads, a dizzying plate of ice, hanging over the endless heights below.

Sometimes there are great curving balconies and balustrades, thick with intricate ornamentation; sometimes the ice grows strange pistons and levers and gears delicate as snowflakes.

Sometimes there are delicate gardens, growing from grains of ice instead of soil, trailing luxuriant vines of a million shining leaves and tiny blossoms over slender rails and down curving tower walls.

And sometimes towers fall.

Oh yes, they fall.

They shatter — losing entire sections, whole spires — under their own weight, under a flawed growth-angle, under the onslaught of would-be conquerors not satisfied with the ephemeral beauty they already possess.

They fall, losing part of themselves, until the ice begins to flow and grow once more towards the glittering silver-white perfection far above.

* ice * fragility * pathways * rejuvenation * patterns * beauty * ephemerality *

Yroon: Foundation

There are mysteries in the deeps; mysteries and secrets and lost things, and the spinning tales and of unfathomable beings to be found nowhere else but in the fathomless deep. And then, there are also those that prefer to keep themselves amongst those lost and secret things —

The darkness of water conceals all: the dead, the dreaming; the seeking, the broken, the pining; the silent and the strange; the hunter and the prey. And Yroon is very dark indeed, a watery darkness of teals and ultramarines, black as emeralds and fathomless in truth, an ocean without beginning, ending, bottom or surface.

But not featureless, no.

Beyond the ripples of great serpentine forms that glide through the depths, just out of reach, beyond what little is to be seen in the wan shimmer that light-sources offer — for all such things brought to Yroon are muted, tinted, lessened — and the ghosts of all finned things, there are yet things that may be touched. Drifting globes of tangled weedery, lacy and plump and violet-green, tawny-rust, blackened bronze, bleached pearl, the size of cities. Communities of the hidden, perhaps cities themselves, in delicate, cherished, carefully pierced and sealed orbs — of bubbles — of silk-thin nacre.

Lesser things: drifts of clinging silt, of melting iridescent jelly, of burning salts, of slicks of clay, that shape and spawn strange wonderful things on fins and ghosts and the blood of the deeps.

And now the currents whisper of something else: something that will unfurl in the deepest darkness, and …

* water * hidden * darkness * infinity * nurture * secret * secrete *

Xenos Philios

That’s right, doing terrible things with other languages now to fit letters —

How about a few interesting folks to meet on your travels? Love and friendship not, alas, guaranteed; but it’s not impossible ~

01. Linet Woodwalker

Born and raised in Rowan’s Cross, a sprawling broch complex in the Shadow, Linet sports both the milky eye-tint common to the locals and their casual unconcern for death and what might come afterward. The latter serves her well when she’s bartering her services as a guide and portal tracker to lost and confused newcomers to her neck of the (metaphorical and literal) woods; maybe not so much when her brashness takes her through the Shadow and into a Corerealm. Linet honours all her contracts regardless. It’s the principle of the thing — and once she reaches one hundred contracts fulfilled, the salt-and-shell curse will be lifted from her sister.

: driven : delver : practical : punctual :

02. Silphil

Most fleshy throats cannot pronounce this scintillant mathemagician’s actual name, so “Silphil” it is. It doesn’t mind; no more than it minds the necessity of simulating fleshy words in eerie tones by vibrating scores of its rapidly rotating light-rings together. Silphil wants the calculations of the afterworlds, and it collects them constantly and eagerly, identifying those calculations by its own inscrutable standards — proofs and poetic stanzas, perfect solids trapped in realm-stuff and intangible integers tangled in thought, it absorbs them all into its chiming form. It’s happy to crack mundane esoteric maths if approached politely, seeing it as a gentle hobby.

: melodic : flighty : acquisitive : enchanter :

03. The Water-Lion

There’s not a trace of actual felinity in this senior Ringwalker’s bearing; but any questions about his name are met with nothing but a faint smile and a shake of his head that sets his mane of silver-shot sooty hair swinging. The Water-Lion’s taught more would-be explorers than he likes to think about, these days, and far too few of those have come back to Guildhouses intact, a fact that gnaws at his innards and dulls his silver-bright eyes — and keeps his prodigious notations private and his riversteel blade in its scabbard. But the right reason, the right cause, could well lure him out; and he knows both many strange magics and the secrets of delving hearts and minds.

: experienced : timeworn : honourable : haunted :

04. Malifleur

He was the heart of a world, once. That’s what Malifleur claims, anyway, to anyone who listens — or finds themselves trapped in his grip, or entranced by the grinding rumble of his broken voice. He’s a sight to behold, certainly, with his titanic stature and his brazen skin, tangled crop of blood-rust ringlets and eyes like blue-green suns. Pay no mind to the wounds of throat, palms, navel, brow, eternally weeping ichor; pay no mind to the ghosts of shattered aureoles that dog him like a faded mockery of peacock-eyed lost glory. Malifleur brings far greater things to be concerned over: the goldshadow echoes of his might; his drive to claim any knowledge, any power that may restore him; and the possibility that his claims may be true.

: prideful : resentful : primordial : lessened :

05. Aatacana

Inquisitive and insightful, with a canny mind behind her lilting tongue, Aatacana has been traveling throughout the realms for a very long time indeed. She can be found throughout the Manifold Palaces — having less interest in the Foundations of the planes — and currently chases down whispers and gossip about the dreaming Mirror, willing to pay in starjewels and honey-dust and even mundane coin. Pay no mind to her great lemon-gold coils, or gleaming silver eyes, or to the simple fact that she is a massive serpent the thickness of a warrior’s thigh, festooned with hovering pouches and two “hands” of magical force.

: wanderer : secretive : dreamer : amused :

06. Master Thea

Oh she’s sharp, is Thea. You don’t wend your way to prominence as the captain of a merchantry that spans six realms without being sharp. Sharp as a blade, and just as likely to cut if crossed the wrong way — as many discover when they think they can pull the wool over the Master Of Fortunes. Thea’s tossed more than one such fool over the rail of an umbraship into the nothing between realms for that, and for less; her temper’s as sharp as her mind, these days, and none know what has her so worked up. Even when tallying up her earnings, her shimmering tail lashes like an angry cats’. Oh and never ask about that appendage, come to think — that will earn a bloodglass blade in the gut instead.

: cunning : vengeful : methodical : betrayed :

Wilusa, City Of Chains

The City of Chains exists everywhere and nowhere, they say — an endlessly unfurling urban maze of black-and-jewels, ancient stone and stranger metals, built upon deeper labyrinths still while the great chains arc and coil far overhead across the glassy dome of the strangely coloured sky.

Few come to Wilusa deliberately, at least at first. Most travelers find themselves in its winding streets by fouling their transit between other worlds entirely; some have been cursed there. It’s a rare wanderer, in comparison, who’s travels lead them directly to this realm …

Many choose never to use the pale ghost-iris, native to the city, to shiver their way back onto a different path, preferring the push-and-pull of the City Of Chains:
to stake their fate on plumbing the Quicksilver Labyrinth;
joining one of Wilusa’s kaleidoscope of guilds, orders and sects;
gathering precious things from uncountable worlds in the City’s dazzling markets;
learning ancient tales from the inhabitants of a catacomb for jeweled saints;
or seeking more dangerous secrets beneath the blade angels’ blank and watchful gazes —

Those who fail quickly find the Keep of Rings and learn the City’s unpredictable pattern, or feed drops of their blood to a ghost-iris and flee back to the world of their home, lest their body and soul feed the ever-widening City and its kaleidoscope of inhabitants.

Wilusa lies outside of the worlds and yet alongside it, and there is none — or, none known — who has ever succeeded in claiming the City for their own.

Those who have tried have left little more trace than whispers and half-remembered poems.

* skulduggery * performance * arcana * *polychrome * cosmopolitan * layers * labyrinths *

while I wouldn’t normally add to a post, Wilusa actually has itself a collection of tables to build out your own City Of Chains over on Itch; pwyw means grab if you want, free and clear ~

Valiance: Manifold Palace

Sand. All around is sand, golden and drifting, broken up by white-gleaming ziggurats and their sprawling cities picked out in azure and jade, by fallen tawny ruins, by precious expanses of pale green growth ringed around pools of sweet water dark as the eternal night above with its rippling sky-vault and great electrum stars. The Sage Princes gather their hosts, raise festivals, bar doors and great white walls against the sable-coated hunting cats that prowl, singing, in the night.

Sea. All is sea, wine-dark, flecked with waves and foam, filled with coiling glass-clear arms of deeply things and the swirling bronze shoals of long-finned swimmers, dotted here and there with islands and island-citadels of pale sandstone spotted with precious orchards from which the fleets of the Reaver Commons sail their uncountable ships beneath the endless day, that golden dome spotted with turquoise moons.

Between, the thinnest wisps of cloud and mist, and the cloud serpents, and the flocks, the bridges of birds, a riotous rainbow of wings that have no care for where they began, the sand or the sea. The messengers who cross that Fulcrum with far more ease than the great speckled wicker-ships, the shimmering fishscale-ships, of the endless battles of day and night as they wing across to clash and contest against each other for glory and for memory.

So it has always been, so it shall always be.

* balance * duality * questing * opposition * heroism * opportunism *

Ushil: Foundation

Welcome to the White Winds, traveller:

with its endless skies churning gently through all the shades of blue and twilight to the deepest violet-darkness and back again;
with the namesakes of the plane, the white winds that etch elaborate scrolls and spirals and twisting knots into the masses of pearly cloud that form and drift, break and re-form anew;
with its silver storms — spun up when the white winds whirl through their dances too fervently — that race through the realm and leave rain like silk and shimmering hailstones in their wake.

All in the boundless, bottomless, endless skies.

But the realm is not without its anchors.

There are great mountains within the Wind; massive, twinned peaks, craggy, and chiseled by the storms, translucently dense honey-tinted cloud cores garlanded top and tail with their insubstantial brethren — and each such peak hosts in its depths, clinging to its crags, and carved into the valleys of its knotted spirals a blossoming of hermitages and hidden palaces, strange graven echoes of histories long ended, and slowly growing, ever-expanding crypts and grottoes of, not the dead, but those who wait.

Not even the rain saints and the luminous torrents disturb such sleepers. They shy away from the grotto mouths, prowl silently at the mausoleum portals before being carried off by wind and rain and storm, and choose their prey from amongst the denizens of amber palaces and unwary gatherers of mist.

* air * serenity * dormancy * cycles * concentration * distillation * endlessness *

Trinkets, Trifles and Treasures

You can pick up all sorts of oddments as you wind your way around, across and through the worlds, really ~

01psychopomp’s lantern, a staff of black heartwood hung with lantern-cage and
02double handful of solaurum and lilyglass clockworks, eternally moving and
softly chiming
03shard of ivory-like substance shot through with silvery paeans to infinity
in delicate script
04six bluestone tablets inscribed with invokations to a comet-crowned exarch
05slender sword of ruby-rust wood, sharp as the wind and hard as steel
06mantle of soft cloud that shifts in subtle hues of grey
07packet of waxed parchment tied with string, inscribed on the inner surface
with a ring-pattern
08three bangles of blue-silver, eternal ice, slender and gleaming
09choker and pendant of red gold and sapphire in the most baroque of
Cerulean Hell styling
10a rune, viridian, luminescent and undecipherable, that floats idly around
the flesh
11fractal censer of a dozen metals, smoking with honey myrrh kneaded with
12the black iron Blade That Sunders Oaths, with two strikes remaining before
13a sprig of radiantly luminous eternal asphodel
14a memory pearl large as one’s palm, translucent like a feather-engraved egg
15hundred hell-jade coins, waxily golden and ruby, sealed in a sculpted,
fang-jawed coffer
16tattered fragments of an ancient cerulean scroll naming seven Cores and
their imperial desires
17ledger of translucent silk paper recording the exchange of souls between
several afterlives
18violet-and-rose torc shaped from fragments of Wilusan sky-shards
19scaly saddlebag filled with thirst-quench-stones, smooth and inviting
20brace of corpse shadows knotted together for transport
21porcelain and bronze swanbolt caster with a dozen charges of cygnine
22flower-embossed crystalline box containing nine cubes of delicate
23diary of a long-lost ringwalker, bound in copperscale and sealed with Iron
Judge’s solder
24petrified reptilian skull, long of jaw and of a deep tyrian hue, and still
quite chatty
25a string of minuscule suns in the colours of the visible spectrum
26a robe of stardust, glimmering softly
27a skin-tight full-covering suit of bony chitin, with a spore-body filter
in its snarling mask
28delicate crystal globe filled with pale rainbow flames
29a perfectly matched pair of void sapphires the size of a thumbnail
30personal cutlery set carved in delicate lacework from a death’s black bones
31three arrows formed of fire-omen shards
32cake of crumbling ambrosia, soft, sweet and sticky, wrapped in godskin
33nearly complete collection (7/10!) of pearl-bound volumes of Deific
Battle-Lands Reclaimed
34half-melted sheet of crumpled copper with the lion’s share of a
“bounteous” ring-pattern scratched on it
35two cobalt blue stoneware bottles, sealed, of finest crimson garden sweetwine
36drinking bowl carved, with delicate fluting, from a hollowed out firepearl
37delicate woolen blouse embroidered with shadow prayer in faithglass seed
beads and gold thread
38matched bronze daggers inlaid with calligraphy praising the largesse of
the cerulean host
39folding starshell writing tablet and stylus, its wax impressed with
angel’s sigils
40paired flutes, transparent and cool to the touch, carved from a
songwraith’s core
41five glass-smooth sparkling orbs, palm-sized, that orbit one slowly and
42a single massive, peach-like pit, head-sized and silvery, wrapped in heavy
waxed cloth
43a roughly bound folio, bloodily fingerprinted, supposedly copied from an
Iron Court archive
44a fluttering, singing nightingale of animate, rosy crystal
45twelve skyjade death masks belonging to a lineage of sphinx-kings
46a halo, a thin semi-tangible ring of brilliant ruby-gold light
47full set of long voidstone nails, black and glittering, to cover or
replace one’s own
48a leather satchel containing a loaf of sweetbread, a horn of nectar, and four
sable peaches
49two bundles of porcelain and steel limbs shorn from Eternal Forge workers
50a titan-brass blightcaster, slim and spiraled, needing only to be recharged in balefire
51painstakingly dyed cloth scroll detailing half a dozen incursions into one
single realm
52a slender necklace forged of tiny herringbone links of bleak carbuncle
53four thick, plush furs, deeply violet-bronze in colour and trimmed to be
54three bolts of gossamer woven from midnight whispers
55Pakrathi’s Joy, a luminous blood emerald, pendaloque-cut and the size of
one’s eye
56an elaborately engraved adamantine flask containing a great lord’s
57paired finger rings of an impossibly hard, matte black substance,
strangely cool
58a gelatinous, faintly lavender voidmask for nose and mouth, good for
twelve hours
59six palm-sized tablets of pink glass whose cinnabar etchings describe the
Caul-Render’s Seventh Cycle
60a gnarled teardrop ingot of of orange-violet metal, tears forged from a
wailing sun
61rough crystal prism, a blunted shaft of greenish gold, imprinted with
scenes of flame-winged glory
62a net large enough to catch an ox knotted from coarse, green and white hair
63a water-heart, fist-sized, teal and aqua and azure, translucent and cool
and soothing
64string of a dozen smoked angel-faced trout, tied up neatly for storage
65bluelight sword blade, with finished frosting, ready for mounting
66the tangled silvery maze drawn with difficulty from an elder monolith’s
67a well-worn folio sporting battered brown leather covers, scores of
unknown flowers pressed between its pages
68a single deep indigo horn, recurved, etched with a trail of scarlet
glyphs, hollowed for drinking
69a chaplet of briar canes insubstantial as milky shadow
70set of snakestone aegis jewels meant for implanting into the skin at the
pulse points
71a palm-sized aloes box containing a rosy-orange sliver of bone that
murmurs prophecy
72multi-stranded necklace of pressed-petal beads, green-black with age and
still headily aromatic
73creamy brow-stone, rippled with patterns of flame-and-waves, filled with
lost dreams
74a riding cat of smoky spun glass, harnessed with bright bronze lace
75six bales of mistgrass basketry, wrapped up in speckled olivine oxhides
76a collection of teeth of many and varied shapes, all of glittering
ruby-red metal
77arm-length ribbonsnake of blue-gold flame that coils slowly along the body
to warm one
78an apple green lens, palm-sized, that reveals ringwalkers and other such
79plans for a ten-crew umbraship, metallic bone-ink on battered starfilm
80six silverglass amphorae of plasmic wine from a Corerealm afterlife
81mummified arm sporting two forearms with taloned paws, studded with
82seven turquoise foam-leather scrolls, a portion of the Ooailaen Theurgy
83a delicate finger ring woven of a dozen different hair-fine jewel filaments
84fist-sized, shivering black jewel drawn from the brow of a nightmaster
85a fragment of the abyss, quivering, suspended in a tiny solaurum cage
86a changestone, lenticular and rippling chromatically, wrapped in rough wool
87a warrior’s panoply fashioned by a master’s hand from black scaled leather and
pale cherry-pink, milky metal
88a cutting from a golden sugar plum tree, heavy with roughly glistening fruit and carefully
89pair of heavy torc-like armbands of lunargent, finials filled with stars
90four cloak-lengths of finest cloth-of-moonrise
91twisted staff of gnarled wood, its ashy bark cracking to reveal black wood
veined with still-wet blood
92dice set carved of nightmare amber, warm and concerningly inviting to the touch
93wanderer’s astrolabe of smoky adamantine, set with delicate needles ready
to inscribe the patterns it finds
94a spare shadow folded in a limewood box
95an IOU on silver tissue for two units of soulstuff from a sage of the
graven heavens
96a frozen note, its ancient sound lost to the planes for now
97diviner’s stones in a dragonsaint’s crop, sundrops and glassy shards and
ovals of strange greenish metal
98tucked in a worn linen pouch, ten silver coins, a wooden toy frog, and a
folding knife of bloodiron
99a glassy ampoule filled with the breath of the elder sun
100a radiant lacquer case of hundreds of pigments, a dazzling array of
impossible colours all tied up in squares of voidskin
where did all these come from?
who can say for some of them?
why not try to find out?

the Shadow

It’s a calm, unassuming sort of plane at first, the Shadow is. Plenty of broad fields and lush water meadows, sprawling copses of luxuriant trees with game ready for one’s snare or arrow, nothing is burning or discorporating or transmogrifying before one’s eyes. But then – then the eternal creeping sunset registers, and the strange, sprawling compounds and complexes of milk-marble that dot the countryside, crowning hilltops and guarding riverbends, prove far, far more common than a village or farmstead.

Then one might also notice the clashing forces between those pale holdings, who are more than happy to sweep up any strangers into their conflicts.

Who don’t seem to always stay dead – or alive – from day to day. Who sometimes seem to replicate themselves.

Who sometimes have another you amongst their number. Or more than one. And never seem to comment on it. Not even when the not-so-strangers are also long dead and gone.

Who might be found amongst their number, if only one searched …

Some sages of the realms cast their thoughts across these things and find themselves at odds over whether it is strange, or simply expected, that those who find their origin in the Shadow are resolute in the face of near-anything that should shake one’s resolve or self-identity and have little fear of death even worlds away from their quixotic homeland.

And the clashing warriors are not alone: across the lands prowl remnants such as the echoes of the lost, riddling umbra crows, and the silkily lumbering marble titans.

But, still, the Shadow can be a refuge, and many a would-be warlord has taken a marble castle for their own. As many have ventured down deep below the pale milky donjons to find themselves agape at the broken, wheeling, tattered artefacts and ruins of aeons and realms uncounted that press, wailing faintly, through the twisting passages. It’s almost enough to distract one from finding the milky plinth or archway or obelisk that will whisk one to another world. Or back to one’s own.

The Shadow is a passage across and throughout the Corerealms. Through rings, through portals, through duress and the passing of a shadow across the wall — all these may grant passage. Terribly easy. Fiendishly simple.

What it gains in return, well …

* mementos * gathering * ruin * echoes * connections * nostalgia *

Rahure: Foundation

Warmth, banked against future need in the face of the cold, inside or out.

Quiet contemplation, waiting to be stoked to white-hot readiness at a moment’s notice.

Flame, contained, in the flow of syrupy rivers, rumbling orange and sizzling gold; in the banks of steady-glowing embers breaking through black-ashen hill-crests; in the deeply ruby carbuncle glow of the great forests before they erupt into great harvests of flamepods and drifts of fluttering sparks.

Contained, as well, in the vast basalt kilns and glassworks that creep across the rugged crumbling land, turning dust, ash and obsidian into objects of craft, tools of production, works of beauty; and in the proud and bright-riveted forgeworks that temper and test metal and mettle both. And, not least, contained within the communes and creches, of glass and brick, pumice and ember, where ravages of the body and woundings of the heart alike are tended with slow-burning, warming intensity.

The realm makes, and re-makes. The plane prepares, stores away its great workings: for the needful, for the mindful, for the traveler, for those in travail. All things, all existences, have a purpose, needing only to have their embers stoked to burning brilliance at the right time, and the proper place.

If ashpards prowl and sword-wights tear loose from their circles, if conflicts erupt in molten glass and forge-hot metal, no matter; the fires will bank themselves in time, all shall be righted, all shall be soothed, mended, put to rest. Should even the crimson fireblossoms of the skies above be stained black by stormsoot or malediction, invasion or revolt, Rahaure continues.

A single ember is all that is ever needed.

*fire * generation * temperance * preparation * craft * restoration *

Quietus, the Iron Court: Manifold Palace

There are realms which unfold beneath the great expanse of the skies, whatever those skies may be. There are planes of seemingly infinite void, with or without structure or object to mar them.

The Iron Court is not one of these realms.

No matter where, no matter how one passes into Quietus, one’s arrival is always the same: within a soaring, sharp-ribbed hall of dizzying immensity, lined with uncountable blackened pillars — and the statue-still guardians that stand at the ready behind the podiums that line that hall, engraving pens and glaives at the ready — beneath the strange chiaroscuro light of flickering godtallow lamps.

The guardians will hear your case, your plea, your reason for entering the Iron Court.

They do not like disruptions.

They will guide you to what you require, if that is necessary.

Beyond the Hall lie: labyrinthine corridors of curving plates and mathematically precise riveting and portals that pivot on unseen hinges;
ornate courts of trial, awash in godtallow light, the ranks of the courtroom hidden from each other with elaborate and precisely symmetrical screens of intricately pierced and patterned metal;
serried warrens of scriptoria, where scribes draft and copy, illuminate and elaborate, in endless scratching whispers of metal against metal;
soaring archives dating back, back, back beyond mortal ken, records of iron, of massive slabs and delicate sheets the envy of a goldsmith;
immense domed arenas where iron legions mass, unmoving, baroque and sharp and silent, waiting.

Waiting for the word from the depths of the Court that the Black Iron March shall contend with violation beyond violation.

There are those who seek out the Iron Judges: the Iron Court will rule on oaths, uphold contracts, draft proclamations, make judgement on disputes, issue condemnations, research prior principles. It will render these things to any who petition.

None wish to see the Iron March.

The March does not occur on a whim. Quietus does not act on whims.

All is precise.

All is weighed, analyzed, deliberated, judged, composed, filed.

All beneath the weight of endless black iron.

The iron that is Quietus, from the most ancient First Pillar — its ribs worn smooth from ferrous caresses — to the tightly-pulled metal flesh and angled bone of the sharp-chiseled Judges who deliver the judgement of the Courts implacably and without remorse.

* judgement * legality * bureaucracy * preservation * precedent * inevitability *