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.