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  • File : 1296246995.jpg-(711 KB, 1600x1600, asd;lkjf.jpg)
    711 KB Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)15:36 No.13692388  
    Chapter 1: The Strobelands

    Call me Eitu. I'm a Strobe, doomed to wander the cold lands, searching for Shards as they wander across the endless night sky. Shards created long ago when the Great Pheonix shattered the Sun, the Great Egg, flinging the Shards to the heavens, miniature suns of varying size and power and color, mostly yellow and red and gold, slowly shooting across the sky. One day the Pheonix will return to bring light to all. But that day is not today. That time is not now.

    The Shards provide light and warmth to us Strobes. Not much, but enough to get by a body by on. Follow the Shard as far as she'll take you, till she burns out or outruns you. Then find another. Stay moving. Stay with the group. Stay in the Light. The three rules of the Strobelands.

    Not much grows in the cold lands, nor is there much wildlife. What grows is scrub and inedible, what walks and slithers is nothing to fool with. Course, a body's gotta eat, so you stick with your clan and take your chances. Calculated risks. Found a den of dire wolves? Lure out the mother with a good rider and fast pony, get her to give chase, the rest descend on the cubs and hope she doesn't return faster than you can drag away their corpses. Found a new plant with ominous red leaves? Draw straws. The loser eats the first meal. They live long enough, you eat it too. Just pray any poisons are fast acting, else you're all destined to meet the Pheonix sooner than later.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)15:37 No.13692392
    Out here in the Strobelands, there is no home besides those on wheels you can get your beasts to pull. Just a series of endless ridges and valleys, empty scrubland and endless night. Following a dying shard of a long-shattered sun, hoping the light and heat lasts long enough and strong enough to keep predators at bay. For Strobes are not the only things that roam the dark.

    Our caravan numbered twenty eight souls, no more. We were two tribes of Strobes who had met beneath the same Shard and we had established an uneasy truce. It pays to be paranoid out in here in the cold and the dark. Only Tanners and other such sun-fed worms can afford to be trusting. But over time, we had become comfortable, familiar. We ate together, hunted together, fucked together. We became close.

    Our Shard was a fast blue bitch, difficult to keep up with, but worth it. She gave us Light and heat such as I hadn't felt in years. For the first time since I was a child, I could feel that my feet were warm. I could walk around without four layers of skins on, feel the kiss of the Shard's rays on my bare arms and legs. Those were happy times.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)15:38 No.13692401
    All that changed when the Shard outran us. All of a sudden, she just doubled her speed. We ran our horses ragged trying to keep up with her. Broke an axle on one wagon, abandoned it to keep moving. On and on She ran in the night sky, her tail taunting us as she fled. Like a playful lover she teased us through dells and valleys, over hills and through a petrified forest. But we reached a canyon we could not cross, a wide gaping thing at least a mile wide. Probably created by a Sunscrape, when a large shard gets too close to the ground, creating a wide swath of firey destruction, destroying everything in its path and creating canyons such as these. We stood on the brink of that abyss as we watched our Shard, our friend and companion, our mother, disappear over the horizon. I stood on a rock a long time watching the last of her tail fade into black.

    It grew dark quickly and cold even quicker. Back came on the furs, out came the weapons. Grim designs for grim purposes. Water was found, the wagons circled. Torches long stored but never used were brought out and lit once more. Out from the wagon circle went pairs of scouts on fast horses, ascending to high ground, searching for Shards. Lone fireflies in the dark.

    But torches and light bring more things than sight. They bring animals, they bring predators. They bring trouble.

    One of our scouts, a promising boy named Milo, strayed from his partner Zeke. We saw his torch go out on a nearby hill, followed by that of his partner. When by the time I and the other rescuers had arrived, we found a large reptile guarding his half-eaten body. Zeke was never seen again.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)15:38 No.13692405
    Noises in the dark, growing closer by the hour. How long till they venture to break the firelight of the wagon-circle? How long until we are consumed?

    The shaman says the Pheonix has cursed us for becoming soft in the Light of the Blue. The Pheonix only rewards the strong with his Light, only warms those who would battle the dark things of this world. We had grown weak and we would suffer.

    We prayed for forgiveness, we sought absolution. Men whipped themselves with lengths of cord, women tore their hair and rubbed sacred ash on their heads, weeping for the Pheonix to save them. Save I. I stood with spear in hand, watching the dark. Waiting for the end.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)15:39 No.13692412
    Suddenly, light. A miracle. Not one shard but two, coming from opposite ends of the sky. One large and red and giving a diffuse glow, the other prismatic and small but pulsing strongly as it danced through the spectrum. I cried out my discovery and my caravan rejoiced. The noises in the dark go quiet and retreat before the light. How could they not? The Pheonix had heard our cries. We were saved.

    Brighter and brighter grew the day. We could now see our true geography. The canyon on one side, keeping us safe at least in one direction, the stream running over to create a weak waterfall. Hills surrounding, mountains beyond. Brighter grew the light. I am not ashamed to admit I wept with the sight of it, feeling heat in my bones once again.

    The two Shards grew closer and closer, going across the sky. The shaman was already making plans on which to follow, readying the wagons for another great push. Legend told that the Pheonix himself was prismatic, able to change color at will. Surely this was His messenger. Any sun-baked Basker could see the good fortune that we had been graced with.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)15:40 No.13692420
    Closer and closer the Shards got, meeting above our heads. So close that they wrapped around one another and began to spin. Our cries of joy became cries of awe. Never had anyone seen such a sight, nor even heard of it. The red spun with prismatic, prismatic with red. Around and around, like a pair of little girls holding hands and spinning, the kind you imagine in sundresses barefoot on fields of green grass. I couldn't help but laugh at the sight.

    And they stood still. Still. NOT moving. Which meant we could be still. No more wagons. No more endlessly chasing a fleeing star across the lonely night. We could stay. We could build. Start families. Plant crops. Be as in times long gone and thrive instead of scrape by on the strength of will and rusted steel. We could live in a paradise of eternal noon, creating a bastion against the dark and the wicked.

    Realizing what those spinning Shards meant, I wept. We all did. Such was our joy and our jubulation that we opened up the food stores and had a feast. We ate ourselves silly and drank from a cask of wine we traded with a Twilight trader for. Drunk and full, we basked in the light and danced and made love. Not even bothering to set a sentry, we slept as the dead.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)15:40 No.13692423
    I awoke with a start in the arms of my lover and rose quickly, staggering from the wagon. My stomach was not used to being stretched so; I vomited up everything within me. Wine has never much agreed with my stomach at the best of times. I was so distracted, I didn't even notice it was dark.

    When my stomach had sufficiently recovered, I looked up to find our Shards gone. Cold such as I'd never imagined stung my naked skin, fingers and toes already numb and clumsy. I look back to the wagon circle and start to run. We hadn't even started a fire. Who knows wha...

    Out in the darkness, red eyes. Slanting, squinting, peering into the dark. Human height. Albino skin. Clothes of human skin. Walking toward me now. Long knife in its hand, deadly sharp. A Sub.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)15:41 No.13692430
    Subs are human, or once were. Men who found a Shard that had made landfall and guarded it, guarding the heat, guarding the Light. Up until the point where their Shard became cold and dead. In desperation, a religious cult seized power on the promise that blood sacrifices would feed the Shard. It did so, as promised, reigniting when regularly fed with sacrifices, but took on a strange, silvery glow instead of a color normally seen. The light began to do strange things to them. Over generations of inbreeding and exposure to the ghostlight, this culture mutated into a hive of bloodthirsty creatures, more demon now than man. They are known throughout the Strobelands as Subs.

    I walked slow now, eyes fixed on those red orbs like small Shards of their own. My muscles and nerves screaming with energy, telling me to run. But I would never make it to the wagons. Subs are unnervingly good sprinters and are able to see in the dark much better than I. I would be cut down before I could warn the others.

    In the distance, I heard a long, low howl. The Sub's eyes flicked that way quickly before returning to me, smiling a nightmarish grin of long, jagged teeth. A warparty, then. I can't let this one warn the others.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)15:42 No.13692439
    I closed distance as fast as I could, shouting as loud as I could, hoping my caravan would hear the fight. But they were drunk and snoring. I was naked and alone fighting a demonspawn.

    I tried to tackle it. Subs are quick but small, I could overpower it. It dodged quickly to the side, knife lashing out, drawing blood from my side. But my hand had firmly grabbed its wrist and it could not escape me. Unfortunately the hand I had grabbed was not the knifehand. Two punches of steel slammed into my gut, lances of firey pain. But my fingers were cold and pitiless as iron as I dragged the creature down. We wrestled on the hardpan. It bit my nose, ripping off the end. I crushed its genitals with a knee, which released its mouth from me. I pinned its wiry arms to the ground as its hips bucked and thrust up against me. But I was the larger, and by far the stronger. Again it snapped its jaws at me, seeking purchase on my face. With a growl, I headbutted it as hard as I could. I heard its nose break on the first impact, a satisfying crunch. Again and again I hit it with the crown of my head, slamming it with the only weapon I had available, my blood staining its white skin red. Over and over. Slam. Slam. Slam. The sounds morphed from crunching bone to thumping meat to splashing in puddles. My head throbbing, I looked down on my handiwork. The demon was no more.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)15:43 No.13692449
    Up I staggered, holding my insides inside with my hands. Suddenly, a heavy whistling in the air, followed by a loud thump and an explosion. I crashed down onto my face. Dirt and rock flew up into the air and landed on my prone form. I bled.

    Not ten feet away, a smoking crater. I crawled over on hands and knees, slipping in blood and gore. Within was a perfect sphere, roughly the size of a human head, glowing with a dim light that slowly changed colors. A Shard. A Prismatic shard. I climbed inside the crater, heedless of the danger. Handling a Shard can make a man see visions, turn him mad, burn his flesh, some say even destroy his soul. Delirious by loss of blood and religious fervor, I took it in my hands.

    Within, a single, perfect feather.

    Visions played across my mind's inner eye. Five warriors standing grim, looking down on a scene of carnage. A pillar of fire. Two unarmed men charging a rapidly firing archer. A city with stone buildings and walls. Newly made friends drinking ale in a bawdy tavern. A knife in the dark. A chamber of old men laughing at a fat man. A wagon fully loaded with frightened children. A Sunscrape from a dark shard, black as night. Destruction and death.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)15:43 No.13692459
    Another howl brought me to snapping to the present. A group of subs sprinted across the plain from the hills, impossibly fast.

    Stay moving.

    I lept up rejuvenated, the Shard in my hands, using it to help hold my intestines within me. Running as I hadn't run in years, I didn't even feel the cold. I felt as if I were running on green grass, something I had never felt beneath my feet. Not feeling my wounds, I arrived at the wagon circle a hundred feet before the Subs.

    Stay with the group.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)15:44 No.13692463
    Grabbing a spear with one hand, I shouted in a loud voice to rouse my caravan. I grabbed a shield and stood in the center of the wagon circle, ready to defend my companions to the last. To free my hands, I rolled the Shard beneath my wagon. Instantly I felt the pain and weariness return. My voice became weak, my actions weaker. One or two heads emerged from canvas before the Subs fell upon us.

    They lept into wagons and I could hear cutting. Screaming, gurlging. Some sounds of struggle but those were rare. The Subs invaded the wagons around me, slaying all within. And I was powerless to help them, naked and bleeding onto the frozen ground.

    The cries grew silent and the Subs emerged from the wagons just as silently, covered in gore. They surrounded me, holding cruel-looking weapons with murderous intent.

    Behind them comes a female Sub, adorned with elaborate circling tattoos and jewerly carved from bone, some of which pierces her face. In her hand is a twisted knife. The Subs turn their heads to her and I as well. She nods once. The Subs close in on me.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)15:45 No.13692472
    I swing wildly with my spear in a circle, hoping to fend them off. But it is hopeless. Sooner than pride would admit, I collapsed in exhaustion. The Subs disarm me easily and lift me up into the air. They walk to the abyss.

    On the very rock where I watched the Blue Shard disappear, they hold me down, face up. She smiles down on him with rotting teeth, pendelous breasts swaying as she moves her knife over his chest and points it down. "No... please... don't... please...", I hear myself gurgle. She only smiles all the wider.

    In the distance, the faint glimmer of a Shard, coming over the mountains.

    Stay in the Light.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)15:46 No.13692479
    THE END.

    Hope you liked it. Fluffing up a setting. Here's the suptg if you don't know what I'm talking about. http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive/13680606/
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)15:49 No.13692511
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    Stay in the Light, brother.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)15:51 No.13692526
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    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)15:51 No.13692532
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    Nice bit of OC Op, good work. have a landscape of mars, very dull light, might be useful as a shard perhaps?
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)15:54 No.13692555
    That's some might fine writefaggotry, if I ever did see any.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)15:56 No.13692573
    It was fairly good. Not excellent, but good nonetheless.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)15:57 No.13692585
    Anon who made the table with the Sunscrape here.

    Hooray, fluff!
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)16:04 No.13692653
    I liked it. Well done, Mr Anon :)
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)16:06 No.13692670
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    >Seeing a writefag getting actual responses on /tg/

    Bravo, my man.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)16:07 No.13692683
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    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)16:09 No.13692710

    Then allow me to be the first to be negative.


    Thank you, thank you.
    >> Magus O'Grady 01/28/11(Fri)16:13 No.13692745
    very nice. Did you ever decide on a name for the setting?
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)16:14 No.13692755
    Damn, that was good.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)16:15 No.13692769
    Reminds me Elemental by Paradox. Funnily enough I loaded it up just today. They've still not fixed that bloody memory leak.

    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)16:16 No.13692779
    I think Sundered Sky was a popular one in the other thread. After all, most people in /tg/ love a good pun.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)16:17 No.13692786

    I think don't think a consensus was ever reached. The original thread debated Shattered Sky, Broken Sun, and other such names.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)16:18 No.13692806

    Sundered Sky: The Sundering was my favorite.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)16:19 No.13692820
    In an age of copypasta, it's wonderful to see some good OC on /tg/. My hat is off to you, good sir, great work.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)16:21 No.13692851
    OP here.

    Thanks for the kind words. You guys are pretty groovy.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)16:22 No.13692863
    Sundered Sky: The Shattering or Shattered Sky: The Sundering seems like a better choice to be honest.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)16:29 No.13692929
    Better than 95% of HFY stories, imo. Great story, but not enough fap-material or shenanigans to interest most people here.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)16:32 No.13692961

    Not to mention WALLOFTEXT.

    Still, worth an image capture, if some kind neckbear has photoshop and can hook a brothuh up.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)16:34 No.13692979
    No drawfags? /tg/, thou art slipping
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)16:36 No.13693000
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    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)16:37 No.13693019

    Or for that matter someone else to fluff things up. Seems like an interesting, albiet depressing, setting. Like a low tech 40k but with wagons and Shards instead of SPESS MEHRENS and EMPRAHs. Also a bit more understated.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)16:42 No.13693081
    Read the original thread, enjoyed the OC, gg OP.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)16:48 No.13693151
    Bloody brilliant.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)16:49 No.13693169
    Good read. Not worthy of an archive, but good nonetheless.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)16:58 No.13693291

    We'll let the people decide that!

    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)16:59 No.13693316

    Fine, I'll vote. Sheesh.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)17:04 No.13693381
    >Seems like an interesting, albiet depressing, setting. Like a low tech 40k but with wagons and Shards instead of SPESS MEHRENS and EMPRAHs

    not everything is 40k, bro.

    >Jurassic Park is ok. seems like 40k with raptors and jeff goldblum instead of SPESS MEHRENS and EMPRAHs
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)19:25 No.13694936
    I'm the guy who had a silly idea about a broken sun while playing Darksiders.

    Then I head over to suptg and see someone's liked my ideas enough to writefag them.

    Feels good man. Nicely done, Writefag.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)19:35 No.13695038
    For those of you who didn't see the previous thread, this is why Sundered Sky is awesome.

    The Sun was an egg which hatched a SPACE PHOENIX. Now albino Aztec vampires stalk realms of permanent evening and transient night and mobile city-states wage war using solar death-rays.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)21:26 No.13696374
    "Come in, June." The senior astrologer of House Wass welcomed his apprentice into his office. The young Basker girl wore novice's robes, the deep blue of a near-Twilight sky. It suited her umber complexion well. Around her neck hung a brass likenss of an astrolabe; the senior astrologer had a gold pendant in the same design. "How are your studies?"

    "I-" June stammered for a moment. Her eyes were bagged. She wasn't getting much sleep, it seemed. "These new zodiac charts are more complicated than I was expecting. The other students say they'll be getting even worse, the more shards we discover."

    The senior astrologer's smile was white against his sun-darkened skin, and his laugh was hearty. "I hate to break it to you, but one of our spies in House Ulan's watchtower has passed me a message about a new Shard."

    The apprentice moved further into the room and sat respectfully besides her elder. Oduron was at least fifty years her elder and had seen the Holy City change migrate at least twice. He knew full well how the shards dictated man's fate. Producing a piece of vellum from one of the piles, Oduron's smile was constant as he let June pour over it. As realisation dawned, his smile grew even wider.

    "Are they serious? This isn't a trick?"

    "My source tells me they discovered it a month ago and have been making preparations for an eastwards migration by year's end." It was easy to forget that the senior astrologer as as much a spymaster as starwatcher.

    "But.. a blinking shard?" June really couldn't believe what she was reading was true. No-one had ever heard of such a thing before. But the report laid it all out in plain language. A Shard that flared on and off, creating a kind of day and night effect like the world used to have before the Hatching.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)21:53 No.13696665
    Oduno steepled his fingers and glanced over at the telescope in the corner of the room. June was pouring over the document, taking it all in. Perhaps sleep madness was taking the beleaguered student, but Oduno knew she would overcome. By far she was the most promising mind he'd seen in twenty years. A little too honest for astrology, perhaps, but she'd make a fine stargazer when she matured. "House Ular think they're in a strong enough position to force our hand; they decide to march and we'll have to follow in order not to get left behind."

    "So, when do we move?" June set down the parchment.

    "We don't. The migration goes ahead in five years, as our charts schedule."

    June furrowed her brow when Oduno said that. She found the politics behind astrology distasteful and something she wasn't naturally talented at. But she'd learned to anticipate the rythm of life in the Colleges and Houses of the Holy City. Thrust and ripostes through public defamations and scandals, spies and informants. She picked up on Oduno's point momentarily. "You think it's going to fail."
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)21:55 No.13696692
    "Ular is large enough, and rich enough, to found a successful city all their own, of that I have no doubt. The problem is the Shard. We've never encountered one that blinks on and off." Odunno motioned out of the window to where Gargonel, the largest and most constant shard they'd encountered to date. His wake tailed by a shimmering cascade of lesser Shards, Gargomel provided the city with nightless day, and had for the last five years. "We know their power, though great, is finite and that they can eventually fail. In their zeal to return to the old days and nights, I believe Ular have forgotten that. I think the blinking phenomenon means that their shard is going to fail. Perhaps not right away, but I'd be surprised if it lasted two years. And when their light does fail, Ular will have neatly removed themselves from the equation. Quite convenient actually." Oduno brought his hands together with a neat finality.

    June looked away and tried not to think of it. She knew what lurked out in the night, knew the stories that Twilight merchants told to anyone who would listen. That Strober refugees screamed at the gates that were invariably shut to them. Pale-faced death was all that waited in the nightlands.

    "Now, as for why I summoned you.." June looked back up. Oduno was rifling through the mess on his desk - how could the same man responsible for such organised star charts and intricate spy networks be such a clutterbug, she wondered. He produced a small box of carved wood, wrapped around with a simple leather strap.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)22:08 No.13696850
    "I need you to take this to one of my men in the city. Standard dead drop; just leave it under the statue to the founder of Ular and head straight back here. He knows to look for it." June took the box from Oduno. It felt oddly warm in her hand - not the same physical warmth as a shard, closer to that warmth you got from your third glass of wine; the wave of confidence and fluster that arose from within and seemed to come from all directions at once. She found herself blushing, her face suddenly turned hot.

    Oduno cleared his throat. June tucked the box away and muttered that of course she would do it. The work was petty, trivial, but she chose to intrepret it as a gesture of trust. He saw in her more than just a student, but an ally. She left his office quickly, after making a politely obsequious thanks for the privelege of his presence.

    She shut his office door and walked for a few minutes, until she found a quiet corridor to take the box out again. She ran her thumb over the smooth, dark wood and felt a little tingling under her nail. Odd, but not actively unpleasant. A kind of gentler version of pins and needles. She was sorely tempted to see what was inside Oduno's box but... well, a little curiousity wasn't worth throwing away ten year's study to indulge.

    But, if it was just a LITTLE peek, she supposed...

    "June." She was startled out of her reverie and nearly dropped the box in fright. Tucking it back in her blue novice robes, she turned to see who'd spoken. Korouto was one of the older students, a real bull of a Basker, but hardly spoke a word. He loomed over her in the way that he always did when he wanted something and was feeling too sociopathic to ask nicely. "Tell me what that box is, June." His voice was barely human, like something booming in an old, dark cave.
    >> Anonymous 01/28/11(Fri)22:11 No.13696900
    okay, I am too tired to continue writefagging right now. if this thread is still here when i wake up, i might continue.
    >> JSCervini !!L+hOixyXrvo 01/28/11(Fri)23:26 No.13697539
    I'm currently working on something. Bumping the thread to keep it alive.
    >> Anonymous 01/29/11(Sat)00:30 No.13698122
    This is still alive? My heart warms like the Phoenix himself.
    >> Anonymous 01/29/11(Sat)00:37 No.13698204
    I am interested in this and wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
    >> Anonymous 01/29/11(Sat)01:32 No.13698726
    Just read the original thread and came by this mentioned at the bottom. Wow. Keep up the great work, guys!
    >> The Runner JSCervini !!L+hOixyXrvo 01/29/11(Sat)01:37 No.13698782
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    Seconds stretch into minutes. Minutes into hours. Hours into days. It feels like I've been running for so long, yet I know that there's no way that I could run for that long without my heart bursting first. At first I was looking behind me every so often to make sure that I was well ahead of my pursuers. Over time though, I gave up on looking back, only looking forward as I kept on running. I knew that if I did anything to stop myself from running as fast as I could, they would catch me.

    In my incessant stride, I felt the heat of exertion ravage my frame, even as I slowly, but surely evaded the heat of the Shardstream. I slipped into the wilderness of the Strobelands, feeling the cold of the intermittent dusk lick greedily at my bronzed skin, envious of the Light I once soaked in. But even as the temperatures lowered around me, I felt more and more heat building up within me than I ever felt back in the City.

    I had to escape the Light.
    >> JSCervini !!L+hOixyXrvo 01/29/11(Sat)01:37 No.13698793
    Everyone was young once, myself included. And when you were young, there was a nigh irresistible propensity to do things that the elders told you not to do. Don't stray from your studies. Don't drink too much of the vintage. Don't bed her just for her looks. I was generally good with resisting such base temptations (with the exception of that one girl who I just couldn't pass up...). I couldn't waste years of training under the High Astronomer Merlophon himself just to live out a needless childhood. I had a lifetime of prestige and power ahead of me in its stead.

    But I wasn't quite up to snuff with the High Astronomer's expectations. I would draw out countless Shard Charts to prove my worth. I would take on more difficult assignments than my peers, in hopes to become his protege. But the slightest flaw, the tiniest error would provoke His anger. His rage would burn a thousand times brighter than even the Shard of Gargonel as he would destroy my carefully crafted Charts with his crushing grip. He would then analogize my repeated failures with the utter and complete destruction of the City were I to be in the employ of His Luminance.

    There was just something that I was missing from the hopelessly complex equations, something that made the paths in my Charts zig rather than zag. I needed an edge, something that would vault me above the work of my peers. It was then as I learned of one of the High Astronomer's dirtiest secrets.
    >> JSCervini !!L+hOixyXrvo 01/29/11(Sat)01:38 No.13698802
    While most of the populace knows the Astronomers as stodgy old men forever swathed in the most suffocating robes one could imagine under the never-setting Light of the Shardstream, it doesn't take much common sense to know that even said stodgy old men need to change clothes and bathe once in a while. With the rare exception of the High Astronomer, of course. Perhaps it was a perk of His lofty position, but He never used any of the communal facilities the rest of the Astronomers and their Students are provided by His Luminance.

    But once, I saw a glint of light from the corner of my eye from outside my dormitory window - it takes a lot to notice something like that when your surroundings are bathed in a seemingly eternal Light. I took a closer look for just a moment and saw the High Astronomer without his robes upon His being. It wasn't the discovery that He was above using the communal baths which His underlings had to use. That was to be expected of someone of His station. But it was the starkness of the shimmering golden lines and glyphs which ran across the High Astronomer's umbral body. It was as if I had set eyes upon a progeny of the Phoenix itself.

    >> JSCervini !!L+hOixyXrvo 01/29/11(Sat)01:39 No.13698814
    By now I have passed a traveling tribe of Strobes, panting raggedly as I forsaken the welcoming Light of the passing Shard under their constant vigil, leaving it for their taking. I'm sure that they were perplexed with my passing, but my plight is far more serious than their pursuit of the Light. The urge to keep running has far more importance than the fleeting warmth which will always evade the forever wandering Strobes.

    By now, I have lost the footfalls of the tribe, the clamor of my pursuers, everything. The only sound now was the hostile winds of the approaching Twilight muffling out my weary grunts, my muted cries, the stomps of my calloused feet against the dead earth. What was it that I was running from was entirely beyond me now. All I knew was that I had to keep running away from where it all began. In a world obsessed with seeking the vestiges of cerulean heavens long since shattered by the Phoenix's Awakening, I must have been the only one who was straying away from the Light, trying to dim it within and without.

    The Light had to die.
    >> JSCervini !!L+hOixyXrvo 01/29/11(Sat)01:40 No.13698824

    There was only one person whom I could trust my discovery with, my best friend Alair. While Students of the Astronomers generally don't make contact outside of their cloisters, we do get visits from our colleagues, the Alchemists. While the Astronomers discover the power of the Shards, the Alchemists craft the power of the Shards into the City's blessings. Alair was one of the brightest Students of Alchemy who I often worked with when crafting my Shard Charts. He also seated a bit of a dislike for the Astronomers in general, given their political pandering, but he seemed to trust me well enough.

    Upon my description of the High Astronomer's glowing body, it only took Alair a couple moments before he came up with an explanation.


    Any Astronomer or Alchemist, even a plain Citizen knows about Stardust. It's common knowledge that there are varying sizes of Shards, from those that can eclipse the size of the City in the case of the Shard of Gargonel, to those finer than a grain of sand but equally as potent when collected together. In small amounts however, the strength of the golden powder is only enough to where it will cause brief hallucinations when ingested. It isn't much of a vice though, as too much will cause the body to boil from the inside out from the concentrated heat and Light - a gruesome fate for those desperate for a slightly longer round of visions and sensations.

    As our skin is resistant to the Light for prolonged periods of time, it is also resistant to small amounts of Stardust. As Alair explained, the resistance is usually enough to take in larger amounts of the powder before the high is reached. However, contact with the skin has a potentially beneficial side effect: a stronger understanding of the nature of the Shards, as if the user felt the movement of the Shards themselves. But that also wears off once the Stardust passes off of the skin.
    >> JSCervini !!L+hOixyXrvo 01/29/11(Sat)01:41 No.13698837
    Unless it was put into the skin itself with no where to pass off to. This is where things get especially difficult. And illegal. Brandishers, while commonly called upon to imbue symbols of reputation and significance upon their clients, are also heavily regulated. There is strong regulation of Brandery, especially when it comes to the use of Stardust in their inks. Extremely tiny amounts were allowed to make the inks brighter. Moderate amounts led to scarring burns where the inks are applied. Larger amounts led to irreversible damage of the skin. And woe be to the client who bled too much when the ink was laid upon the skin.

    There are stories of Strobes who take into their skin a great deal of Phoenix's Blood - a mixture of ink with unfathomably high concentrations of Stardust - as a rite of passage. Survivors eventually become the Shamans of their tribes, able to predict the movement of the Shards without the sophisticated tools of the Astronomers, while those who die in the process are merely chalked up as unfit to be in the tribe in the first place.

    Given all that Alair expounded upon me, it was evident that the High Astronomer had more than just a passing curiosity of Stardust and Phoenix's Blood. He partook the trial Himself and survived to become more than just an Astronomer - He became a veritable God among men. There was only one way I was ever going to meet or exceed His expectations, and I might not live long enough to get there.

    But I was young once, and I had a nigh irresistible propensity to go through with this.

    >> JSCervini !!L+hOixyXrvo 01/29/11(Sat)01:41 No.13698844
    The traces of the faintest violet in the sky soon disappeared behind me, leaving me to the inky darkness of the Void ahead of me. I embraced the black as it did myself. As the world around me got colder still, I felt far more vigorous than I ever did under the Light. The combination of my sun-soaked heritage and the persistent urge to run was too much to resist, instinctively charting my own way through a myriad of otherwise unintelligible geography. My eyes eventually learned to adjust to the abject nothingness around me, devoid of others, devoid of life, devoid of Light.

    The Light was no more.
    >> JSCervini !!L+hOixyXrvo 01/29/11(Sat)01:42 No.13698853

    For as much help as Alair was with his information, and his sheer knowledge of Alchemy, he wouldn't dare commit his abilities to my ambitions. He was just as focused on his studies and his own hopeful rise to prominence as I was, perhaps even more so at this point. I had eschewed the nourishing hope to rise to greater heights. I have replaced it with a relentless guarantee to get there in its stead. I would set forth the fall of the Golden God among Astronomers and replace his existence with my own. I would undergo the Rite of Phoenix's Blood and become one with the Shards. His Luminance would seek no further expert on the matter than myself.

    It took me the greater part of the year, working a steadily growing network of connections whilst maintaining my duties as a Student under the High Astronomer. But I eventually got a meeting with a passing Strobe merchant who also happened to be a renowned Master Brandisher. At first, he wouldn't budge to my demands, claiming that the Rite was only exclusive to his tribe. He wouldn't dare defile the sacred art of the Rite for a Basker's whims.

    However, I had come prepared for this.
    >> JSCervini !!L+hOixyXrvo 01/29/11(Sat)01:43 No.13698867
    I had worked with other Alchemists during the year, Alchemists less scrupulous than Alair. While Stardust is natural in the world, a skilled Alchemist can purify the golden powder into a concoction far more appropriate for Phoenix's Blood than anything a Strobe can rustle up in the wild. Little by little, I would come into possession of enough of the stuff to make for a convincing trade with a passing Strobe. Especially one who knows how to use it.

    Half of it would be used for the Rite. The other half would go with the Strobe. The deal was made. There was no going back now. I was soon in the wagon that the Master doubled as a Brandery parlor. I endured the most indescribable pain that no one should ever go through. It was as if a weaponsmith worked white-hot needles of steel through every inch of my quivering body, coursing through my mind, body, and soul all at once. As prepared as I was to make the trade, there was absolutely no way I could have prepared for this experience.

    Seconds stretched into minutes. Minutes into hours. Hours into days. Even as the deed was done and I laid recovering in my dormitory (I still have no idea how I got up there,) the pain continued to work its way ever deeper into my being. I was surely not going to make it through the Rite in one piece. On the third day, the pain seemed to suddenly disappear, only to become replaced with a rush of information into my mind. The rush was painful, but it was more... enlightening than anything else. A brand new exhilaration filled my being, a new feeling which overcame any and all discouragement the High Astronomer could ever dish out at me. Soon enough, I felt the warmth of the Shard of Gargonel radiate from my breast. I could even swear that my heartbeat became that of the Phoenix itself.

    >> JSCervini !!L+hOixyXrvo 01/29/11(Sat)01:45 No.13698875
    There was no more Light for miles around me. I had finally slowed down to a stop to take in the awe of the Twilight's splendor. The sheer silence enveloping me would be deafening to a disoriented Citizen's ears, threatening to those of an alert Strobe.

    It was then as the darkness surrounding me was broken by a pair of crimson eyes, seemingly piercing through the Void to peer into my spirit. It was undoubtedly the eyes of a Sub, a being who was human once before being taken by the thrall of the Light and transformed into a monster of pure hunger. Imbued with so much of the Light throughout its existence, the Sub's eyes emanated with a unholy light all of its own. As more of the eyes appeared in the darkness, their collective Ghostlight illuminated my now being, worn to a mere sack of skin and bones from my running, paled to the milkiest white from my escape from the Light.

    I had become one with the Twilight.
    >> JSCervini !!L+hOixyXrvo 01/29/11(Sat)01:45 No.13698881

    I opened my eyes in horror as the bliss began to subside. Great pillars of flame emerged from the ancestral marks placed upon me by the Master Brandisher. My dormitory was ablaze from the inferno, a cacophony of terrified voices washing with the ebb and flow of the wind whipped up by the intense fire. For some reason, the flames didn't affect me in the least, my movements seemingly increasing the danger of the blaze exponentially. I tried to make my way through the labyrinthine halls of the complex, incidentally setting more of the place on fire. For just a moment I basked in a perverted satisfaction with bringing down what I saw as a hypocritical institution, tasked with the survival of the City, but in truth seeking to further their own ambitions.

    That was until I saw the contorted face of Alair before one of my flares devoured him whole, leaving only a charred husk of his former self mere seconds afterwards. I must have stood there in the hall, looking blankly into a self-aware abyss, my fires raging without my knowledge for hours before the instinct kicked in, the true, metaphysical heat of the Light driving me away from it. I bursted forth from the wall in a smoldering fireball, ravaging my way through the City until I broke free from the main gate.

    The urge to run became stronger than any of the Phoenix's Blood that coursed through me. I had to run until the Light died. Until it became no more. I couldn't return until I became one with the Twilight. By then, I knew that my fate would be consigned to the Subs who would see me as the ultimate sacrifice to prolong their Ghostlight.

    But inside, my Light resurfaced. I had indeed become one with the Phoenix.
    >> JSCervini !!L+hOixyXrvo 01/29/11(Sat)01:46 No.13698893
    Aaaaaand done! Feel free to gank this for any sort of campaign fluff you're working on.
    >> Anonymous 01/29/11(Sat)02:07 No.13699104
    Masterfully done, JSCervini.

    Another linkdrop here to archive some quality work by everyone involved.

    >> JSCervini !!L+hOixyXrvo 01/29/11(Sat)02:10 No.13699130
    You're welcome. Also voted on the thread a while back, so here's to hoping there's more votes on it before it dies off.
    >> Anonymous 01/29/11(Sat)08:11 No.13701846
    oh man this thread is still here? bump
    >> Anonymous 01/29/11(Sat)12:23 No.13703389
    Bamp, so that all may enjoy the glorious writefaggotry.
    >> Anonymous 01/29/11(Sat)17:32 No.13706400
    Bumping from page 15
    >> Anonymous 01/29/11(Sat)17:35 No.13706436
    I think we need to start a new thread and flesh out the mechanics of the shards and how to determine their orbit

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