Sunday, April 1, 2018

Meeting at The Cobalt Manor

 Witherden Maxilla paced nervously at the door as her master, The Cobalt Liege, spoke to their new guest. Sodie the younger, the self proclaimed scientist, had a new invention he was trying to sell. Witherden had only met the man once, many years ago, promising to deliver exactly what he promised now. She had never expected him to return. She had never wanted him to return.
 The Cobalt Manor stood on the hill overlooking the city of Zaffre, and beyond that the ocean in all it's glory. The Liege's battleship patrolled proudly in the distance. Smaller merchant vessels made their way to the distant ports of Humblemouth and Merchant's Bounty. Tiny fishing ships would brave the rough waters to supply Zaffre's famous markets. But Witherden knew somewhere in the docks was Sodie's vessel as well. It's crew arrogantly boasting their so called victory.
 From this height there was no way to see individual people but still Witherden scanned the paved streets. What did the people of her town think of the scientists? At the docks the fishermen would have heard the news first. The bureaucrats and tradesmen in the city would know by now too. Did they believe in the promised new age of progress. Did the wizards and mystics in their strange shops and impossible towers believe that their ancient magic could be harnessed so easily? And what of the overworked and underpaid miners and labourers in the city. Did they believe this was their way out of the hardship they endured each day. It seemed to good to be true, and if Sodie was involved it must be.
 The door was shut and no sound could be heard through it. That was the magic of the Cobalt Manor. That was why diplomats and leaders from the lands surrounding chose this place to meet. You could always be secret. Yet Witherden still strained her ears to hear, just a whisper would be enough, of what The Cobalt Liege and the Scientist were discussing. But to no avail.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The First Pattern

The First Pattern: Ancient orc society and the move from barbarianism to the study of semiotic magic

By Monder Puck, Philosopher Lieutenant, Department of Reality Reclamation, New Archives of Heiron

Why Orcs? This was a question my associate Davide Lay asked me once when we were both students, new to the New Archives. It was a question that confounded me for some years. Semiotics or pattern magic happens in the world every day. Anyone can mix their tea in a specific way on a specific day and have their teacup explode without ever knowing it was part of the pattern. Orcs have risen to become the leaders in the study and practice of semiotics in Heiron. This is despite ancient orcs being known to be as a warmongering, non-technological and violent society. In this paper I aim to show how orcs have a natural affinity with the pattern and how the ancient orcs already followed the pattern more closely than other societies.

Ancient, pre-Erasure society was not how it is today. "A time of elven sages, orcish hordes, greedy dwarves and urbanised humans"(Steen 1). Pre-Erasure society saw the different races split up into their own separate society. Of all those societies logic would suggest that orcs were the least likely to begin a study of pattern magic. The elves for example lived in harmony with nature and were great students of nature. This combination of empathy towards the natural world and the study of the arcane led to many magical abilities in the elves but pattern magic eluded them for the most part. The ancient society of the group we know as dwarves placed immense importance in ownership and the lacks that a person has. This concept of every item have a correct place also seems to suggest a link to the pattern but dwarves also have little mention in their history of the use of semiotics. The humans, a race that traditionally embodied curiosity and progress would seem a perfect fit for a society to discover semiotics and put them to work but they too failed to discover its power. Instead it was the orcs, a society known not for keeping everything in order but for putting the places they invaded into chaos.

Everyone can feel the pull of the pattern. A thought like loneliness is caused by your body not being near those you are supposed to be near. Feeling lost is your body being physically out of place. Unease in a social situation comes from not behaving in the way the pattern would have you behave. Orcs tend to be less likely to be bound by these feelings. If the pattern needs a fight, or an argument, or a love affair, the laws and moralities of human, elf and dwarf society often get in the way of these things but for Orcs these events happen freely. Orcs are also known to live in large groups as the pattern draws orcs to the place they are needed to be, they are not chained to the land their father owned or the house their ancestors built. Ancient orcs were even better at this than their modern day kin. Though the ancient orcs lived in large roaming hordes there was no evidence they ever used drums or horns to coordinate their movements (Byron 2). They would simply, wake at the correct time and get up and move, as the pattern dictated.

Orcs are not chaotic, they merely appear that way to creatures who do not understand or who fear them. Orcs are in fact highly empathetic to the world around them however they are less inclined to ideas of morality, ownership and law that other races have come to rely upon. Whereas a human or a dwarf will abstain from stealing an item because of some code of ethics they have or societal laws that prevent such behaviour an orc will naturally lean towards what the pattern would have them do (Yurik 3). Such behaviour may make an orc seem selfish or impulsive but to an orc such an action is instinctive and is bound to a different set of laws, that of the pattern.

Pre-Erasure scholars did not understand the orcs in a way that we do today and misinterpreted patterns for chaotic raiding. In the account of Helmas Lightbrand (4), a scout from a human town believed to be in the Eastern plains of Heiron in pre-Erasure times the orcs attacked his town in a very specific and confusing way.

  • The Orcs came just as the sun was setting. There must have been nearly a thousand of them. There could be no defense, all people could do was hide. I watched from the northern guardhouse tower as the barbarians laid waste to our town but such was their chaotic nature they would torch one house here or there and leave others untouched. Four of our number were killed, two men and two women. Another four, again two men and two women were taken. One of the eastern houses was dismantled by the beasts and its pieces were arranged on the town square in a circle, perhaps a tribute to their strange gods. Then they left, without stealing, happy to simply remind us that their chaotic whims could strike at any time.
Lightbrand accuses the orcs of being chaotic and cruel but from modern knowledge of the pattern we see evidence here of the orcs, even in the early stages of their society, practicing semiotics. There are many other accounts of similar raids and countless other myths of the "orcish hordes" of that time. Each one a tale not of total destruction or the pillaging of resources but of chaotic activities and strange rituals.

The ancient orcs had found a way of using the pattern to sustain them. This magical effect of being fed eludes modern semioticians but is seen in other forms of magic. The devout of Samothese have been known to be able to operate for weeks on end without any form of sustenance if dedicated to a quest. Some folk from the wilderness claim to be able to survive off the gifts of the spirits of the land alone without taking in any food or drink. In order to sustain a large population without farming, hunting or foraging the orcs had discovered a pattern wherein by raiding a town in a specific way they could all leave with full bellies.

After the events of the Erasure these larges groups of raiding orcs began to disappear from reliable sources. What little we know of the Erasure and its effect on the pattern it is of the belief of this writer that the first pattern, the food pattern, stopped working. Orcs no longer had a reliable source of food and their populations dwindled and their society was forced to adapt. The purpose of the Department of Reality Reclamation is to theorise why the orcs began the New Archives and this paper does not wish to go into depth on that subject now but the fact orcs are so in touch with the pattern from generations following the food pattern gives us an idea as to why semiotics became such a critical part of the archives. 

Orcs have based their society around the use of the pattern since the first recorded histories. Orcs have a close link to the pattern and base their behaviour on what the pattern dictates and therefore when the first pattern they discovered, the food pattern, was taken away from them they took to more intense study of pattern magic and formally started to use and study semiotics. How this led to the founding of the New Archives and what the post-Erasure ancient orcs intended this place to be will continue to be the topic of deepest discussion inside the Department of Reality Reclamation.

This paper is dedicated to Davide Lay-of-the-land, scholar, semiotician and friend. Without his questions I would not have answers, without his love I would not have inspiration.

1: "Race, Society and the breakdown of pre-Erasure culture" - Kora Steen 307J
2: "The Horde: Archeological findings at the site of an Eastern Horde's final battle" - Mali Byron 341A
3: "The Green folk: Compassion, ethics and morality in orcish culture and the myth of barbarism" - Jin Yurik 273R
4: "The account of Helmas Lightbrand" - Helmas Lightbrand 73UNQA

Thursday, August 25, 2016


The Quiet Year: Davasi
It all started with a calamity. The servants of Vladasmoerker were minutes from completing the ritual known as the descent into darkness when the powerful Mage elite of the city of Davasi managed to sever their home from the material plane. The powerful magics uprooted the city of Davasi from the desert that was its home, saving their home world but sending their own city spinning off into the multiverse. Where it landed was a strange place with new plants and trees, new animals but also new opportunities away from the chaos of their old life. The city still mostly stood, the only change being a cobbled road made from the local stone cutting through the middle of the city.
The people of Davasi began to survey their surroundings. To the north was an impossibly tall mountain rising up from mostly flat plains. To the east of that a mysterious lake. To the south there was a small but incredibly dense forest. The townsfolk pooled their resources revealing an abundance of the magical crystals that that Davasi was famous for but also exposing shortages of essential supplies. The herds that provided the town with food were gone. They had little in the way of weapons or building materials. Worst of all the town that had previously relied so heavily on the educated and the magical now found itself in a strange new world where their powers refused to function and their old knowledge had become worthless. In order to survive they would need to rectify these problems.
The began by searching the surrounding areas for food and they succeeded. Two strange types of beast, the Yakkety's and the Velocemoos were discovered but that was not all the search parties found. A race similar to the Dwarfs, only with antler like horns lived on the mountain. These people known as the Dwelk were friendly if distant to the people of Davasi. To the south west a boy called Alim discovered sometching even more strange. A group of giant stone pillars built by an unknown civilisation.
In the following weeks the town leaders found a woman named Aysel among their number who was a skilled farmer. She agreed to begin farming the Yakketys to address the livestock shortage. Also one of the ruling mages, Borik, sent a pair of emissaries to the Dwelk to negotiate the beginning of trade. These diplomats were called Jinan and Beyza. Meanwhile in the town two sisters, both up and coming mages began competing projects to solve the problems of magic and knowledge. Maialen began stockpiling all the crystals in the city to study them and learn to better use their magic. Koravai began excavating the area around the stone pillars to better understand the civilisation that came before them. It was during the excavation that Alim made another discovery. A strange magical device on two wheels, though it appeared broken Koravai's workers took it into the city for further study. Meanwhile Maialen did stockpile many crystals although a group called the crystal thieves also began their own stockpile.
 From Aysel's new farm the city was receiving meat, pelts and leather but it also received another thing. A young man called Kym swore he saw a phoenix in the sky and told the people of Davasi it was a good omen. On top of that Jinan and Beyza returned and announced trade with the Dwelk could begin and the merchant Djin was tasked with building the road the the Dwelk town Celawe in the mountain. A man called Wren came to the town. He was from a race known as the Sylf and had blue skin and a small, light framed body. He was a merchant and brought strange goods from this new world. Morale remained high until Maude, the oldest woman in the town and wife of the high Mage Borik died of suspect circumstances. This causes Borik to fly into a rage. He quickly began mobilising Davasi for war using stone from the many abandoned buildings in the city to build towers on the city wall to improve their defences.
As Spring turned to Summer their were three ruling factions emerging in the city. Those dedicated to Borik and the old ways, those dedicated to Maialen and her stockpiling knowledge and those dedicated to Koravai and her impetuous exploration. Borik continued his military expansion by training a militia of battlemages who later became know as the Sandstorm. Koravai sends people into the forest to bring back wood for building supplies. Maialen sets up a school dedicated to the study of magic and crystals. While this is happening a large force of the Sylf make an encampment on the road to the east of the city. People also investigate the strange lake to the north when the guards in the town noticed it would glow aqua on certain nights.
In late summer, just when things seem just about settled another tragedy struck. The wood that Koravai's people were gathering is burnt, none is salvageable. Jinan and Beyza investigate and find it the work of her sister Maialen. Maialen loses a lot of face as it is also revealed she has been spying on the people of Davasi for weeks to improve her political standing. Things go from bad to worse when Koravai is captured by the Sylf, just days before Borik's militia fully form and begin their protection of the city.
Despite the sudden violence and upheaval in the town some people are entranced by a different thing. The lake to the north is a source of seductive power and the engineer Typhel is tasked with building an aqueduct to redirect it's water to the town. the people who work on it eventually stop coming back to their homes in the city, making a town of their own by the lake. They continue to work and soon the Aqueduct is completed. Meanwhile in the town Alim takes over some of Koravai's duties and finishes the school with help from the crystal thieves. He also discovers underground an ancient city that existed here long before Davasi. Inside that city is a library filled with books written in Davasi's language. The discovery is strange but also helpful as it solved the educational crisis in the town. The conflict with the Sylf continued to worsen as Borik's new militia attempt an attack but find the Sylf are more than prepared for their attack and have magical defences against the battle mages of the Sandstorm. Borik responds by building a military installation in the city, using buildings once held by Koravai, to increase his military power to counter the Sylf.
Yet another new person comes to the town. Cicero, of the catlike Namiir, comes to the town to escape the wild Velocemoos. Cicero's knowledge of the world is vast and he is quickly identified as very useful. When the Sylf merchant Wren disappears Cicero is the only remaining person local to this new world and so he is asked to go to parlay with the Sylf forces. The results are less than satisfactory however and the Sylf remain hostile.
It is a dark night in early autumn when the crystal thieves Isra and Jocasta, sneak into the Sylf camp and start destroying it from the inside. Meanwhile atop the magical two wheeled vehicle he had found Alim rode in and rescued Koravai from under the Sylf's noses. Celebrations are short lived however when the Sylf respond by attacking the Yakkety farm, killing Aysel, the farm's founder.
With one victory already won over the Sylf Borik sends his new improved fighting force against them and destroys their camp. His victory gains him some good will among the community until Jinan and Beyza who had been investigating the disappearance of Wren discover his body in Borik's tower, deceased from the wounds of torture. The troops of the militia fragment, those who continue to be called the Sandstorm turned to the leadership of their honourable captain Stewart while a portion, now known as Borik's Bruisers stayed loyal to Borik. Despite this turmoil there is also rejoicing as the Aqueduct is completed and the magic lake water reaches the city. People who choose to drink it feel magically empowered but people also notice changes in them. Their eyes change colour and they seem to grow a little taller. In the excitement of the new water Maialens spies destroy the tunnel leading to the underground library, again starving Davasi of knowledge of their new world.
The people of laketown report something strange. There are another race of people, eight armed fish men living at the bottom of the lake. Kym, the farmer also reports another omen, this time a bad one, where he thought he saw the phoenix again was a dead Velocemoo. People however seemed unwilling to hear his warnings. Autumn grew colder and to alleviate the food shortage caused by the Sylf attack on the farm the people bought food supplies from the Dwelk. Cicero was also put in charge of expanding the farm into a large ranch. He enlisted Isra and Jocasta as his helpers in this task. Alim and Koravai also got to work building a factory to produce work tools for the population.
As winter approached people became obsessed with a new project. With their new tools in hand they abandoned Cicero's new ranch in favour of another adventure into the forest and this time returned much more successful. With the new wood they started fortifying their homes against the coming winter but not before Cicero decided to leave, warning them that they were far from prepared for what was to come. Kym, this time accompanied by Alim, saw the phoenix once again and this prompted the community to rally, finishing the fortifying much quicker thanks to Alim and his knowledge of the tunnels of the old city. In the tunnels the engineer Typhel discovered another strange truth about this place. The old city that they shared this space with had been brought here from another plane as well.
As the first snow of winter started to fall a strange sight appeared on the aqueduct. The eight legged creatures known as the Bok-Tuoc shuffled their way into the town. As the weather grew cold people started to fall sick but the Bok-Tuoc built a hospital and used their magical healing to help these people. Winter remains harsh as a tornado destroys the trade road to the Dwelk. Borik panics as the Dwelk supplies were a cornerstone of his military power. He responds by declaring war on the Sandstorm and fighting breaks out in the streets. He also attempts to rebuild the road but with the winter weather as it is he is forced to abandon the project. Alim however begins the task of reclaiming the lost library while Maialen plans an elaborate assissination of Borik. As the winter grows darker and darker the Sylf return, torching laketown and threatening the city once again.
Then finally the magical lake freezes over. Citizens wake to find the Bok-Tuoc gone, their hospital vanished as though it was never built. Also the citizens who had drunk from the lake and been magically altered had vanished. Two days of relative quiet passed before they returned. Now horrible beasts of violence and death. They attacked the town relentlessly and with the forces of the Sandstorm stuck in the civil war the town was all but defenceless. Up in his tower Borik was torn limb from limb, a far cry from the delicate assassination planned for him but effective none the less. His broken body, little more than blood and bones lay on the strange cobbled road getting trampled by the chaos in the city. The people of the ranch were slaughtered and the survivors of laketown were too. Yet one group, led by the boy Alim survived. Their reinforced houses protected them and when the monsters breached their walls they fled further into the underground city and lasted the winter. On the first day of Spring they emerged. Their first year was over, they had survived.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The understudy

Kanyon Vermont was an actor. A great actor, he called himself. Tall, handsome, well spoken, he had every tool to be just that. But something never quite clicked for him. A missed line here, a stutter there. audition after audition, "we'll make you the understudy, get some more experience and come back next time". He had been the understudy. He needed experience, but where to get it when none would give him a chance? The night before one particularly prestigious performance the renowned actor Rupen Zantoro was set to play the lead, Kanyon his understudy. But Rupen did not arrive. Minutes to curtain the director nervously gave Kanyon the nod to get dressed in the costume of the lead part. The star of the show. It was only after the performance that the truth became known. In the aftermath when people were raving about a new star born. Rupen Zantoro was dead. Murdered by an unknown assailant. Rumours grew till they were an all but established fact that Kanyon Vermont was the murderer. Though the authorities never charged him the theatre folk hunted the young actor and his promising career appeared over. Yet another group had also become interested in Kanyon. The mysterious assassins, impressed by his cold blooded willingness and methodical precision made Kanyon a offer that launched a new career. Not one of fame, but of infamy. With each life ended he added a new page to the stage show that was his new life. With each new contract a new audience to perform to, an audience that, like his first audience, would be in awe of his skill and then never see him perform again. He took pride in his work, and sometimes even took pleasure. Yet, in the back of his mind, he always wondered. What if. What if he hadn't been the understudy that time. What if he'd been given the chance he had finally taken by force. What life would have awaited Kanyon Vermont as a great actor.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Scrappers

So I was writing last night, and I decided a needed a new idea. And I've been watching lots of star trek recently so thought I'd try a Sci Fi idea. The only Sci Fi I've ever written was Jack Steel, which is based on Unreal Tournament.

So I came up with an idea which I called "Scrappers". It's a working title (said in Archer's voice). It's set in our universe in the future, probably about 2400ish. Humans have developed interstellar travel and have colonies on planets throughout the Milky Way. Then there is a war which destroys most of Earth leaving these colonies isolated.

Now the cool bit (I think it's a cool bit) is that when the old civilisation was up and running they had these awesome high tech pieces of technology on the planets. Enormous machines that provided these like food replication, environment controls, public transport etc to run cities on hostile worlds. Another technology that was really common was cybernetics.

As the machines were so huge and complicated they needed Cybernetically enhanced mechanics to build, repair and service them. They also were connected together in a way that would maximise the city's efficiency and controlled from orbitting space stations. So when the war came through the orbitting stations were destroyed and everything stopped work. Leaving these previously working class mechanics as the supermen who could repair the old technology. The mechanics came to be called scrappers, because they would take the scrap from some machines and use it to rebuild other machines, and due to their cybernetic implants they knew how everything worked and what they needed to do.

So some scrappers tried to help everyone out, build things the recovering cities needed. Others went into business for themselves, only fixing things for a price and generally looking after their own skin. Others tried to gain positions of power, ruling like post-apocalyptic kings. Most scrappers either keep themselves super well protected with bodyguards and mechs etc, or hide their identity completely as there are cults out there trying to kill all the scrappers and destroy their technology as they believe technology is evil and has led to the downfall of man.

I don't have a main story yet, I'm sure it'd be about one scrapper, trying to be a good guy in a harsh unforgiving world. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Heartcrown: Part 1

Fires burned at the altar of the shrine of Ibrox. Anestis readied her bow and took aim at the charging cultist. The arrow hit true, right in the neck as Coist, the swordsman, sliced through another. Stoney Black, the dwarven shieldbearer battered a path through three more, flanked by Faure, wielding her axe.

Aird watched on as his fellow rangers fought, carefully readying his own attack. Another wave of cultists swarmed through the temple's doors and Aird let fly with a blast of fire, burning two to ash and bone and sending the others screaming in pain. The wizard allowed himself a smirk as he readied his next spell.

Left and right the cultists fell, with no armour and only the most primative weapons they were no match for the five well trained rangers. In equal numbers they fell to arrow, sword, axe and fire. Only Stoney Black refused to take life. His mace staying tucked behind his giant shield. His shield was enough to defend them all, they were the hammer to his anvil.

The tide of battle continued to swing their way. Faure hacked down two who feigned to flee while Anestis picked off a lone flanker. Stoney Black pressed forward but it was Coist, ever the leader, who launched the counter-charge. Three days they had defended that shrine and its artifacts. Now they would break the seige, while the fight was at its fiercest. Outside into the burning landscape they fought. Under a forboding winter moon the five battled the legion of fanatics.

Victory neared. Coist's sword was coated in fresh blood so much it glowed in the moonlight. The cultists turned, about to flee. Anestis could only watch, when fires began to explode from the enemy lines. This time it was not the work of Aird. Coist in his fervour was now isolated as the demon Ibraine emerged from the fires. One blow from the demon's burning blade was all it took for Coist to fall. All Anestis could see was the fleeing fanatics and when they were all out of sight Coist and Ibraine were nowhere to be seen.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Island

The Ship rolls on
our only landmark the sun
in the distance we see land
it grows larger on the horizon
our first view of the island

Boxes move in the cargo hold
I am a stowaway, finally released
sneaking away into the trees
I have freedom at last

Close my eyes
trying to forget the past that’s been dragging me down
I shouldn’t be escaping
there is too much left to do
what am I waiting for?
answers lie back at the ship
not on the island

Must act
sneak back
so many stories being told of the island
not by her, she gives orders and they move
I follow her
looking for answers
they venture into the jungle
so that is where I must go

She walks with them, with all her secrets
leading them to who knows what
leading them to their doom
she is more than mystery
she is temptation
I want to know want she knows
not stop her

I could surrender to her
let her show me all
but that would not be how it would work
she would not lead except to lead astray

When all is said and done
my duty must be followed
answers are the goal
not her

But how do I fight temptation
when in the end I know she will undo all

Though she cannot see me
I can still feel her stare
she calls to me to turn myself in, I can almost hear her voice
“Where you wish to go, I will take you there.”