Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Journeymen [C]


After the Journeymen and their more-normal companions, the most-common travelers between worlds (whether those worlds be timelines or realms) are the Users, whose only commonality is that they use magic, and who nearly always use it in entirely different ways, as they’re from different realms, and who even are called by different names, depending on where they hail from.

Magic, as pointed elsewhere, is different in its application from place to place. In Concordant Limbo, guisers graft living flesh onto themselves and others and through this act gain the powers and memories of whoever’s flesh they have grafted onto themselves. They can also, at the slightest whim, appear to be that person, although physically they remain the same and non-thinking observers (such as security cameras) will not be affected by the illusion. In the Renewing Glades vibrations are used to affect specially-prepared elixirs, affecting them in ways which, even should the same vibrations and compounds be used in another realm, will not be fully made manifest except in the Renewing Glades. In the Floating Frosts bad luck is an actual form of energy which causes misfortune when one becomes tainted with it. While it goes away naturally after burning itself out, through the use of names of power and special crystals it can be removed more quickly, warded away, or even directed to specific people.

However, while each form of magic is intensely useful to one who has mastered it you need only to go to another realm in order to have all of that knowledge rendered useless in all but a few instances. It’s for this reason that most Users stick to traveling between timelines. Most of the exceptions are Users who simply don’t care, who have learned a few different forms of magic and cycle between those realms, or who use magic which can be stored in an object and used even in another realm (such as the elixirs of the Renewing Glades).


There are things outside Creation. Terrible, grasping things hungering for the heat of existence and with each second growing even more envious of the realized existence of those within Creation. The Powers Major managed to shape the chaos, and in doing so they allowed themselves to be fully in existence as well, for there is nothing approaching stability except in Creation. There is a literally infinite number of outsiders, however, and for however many of them managed to forge Creation there still remain outsiders, most of them flitting into and then out of existence in a matter of seconds only to be replaced by more outsiders. A few manage to keep hold of themselves, straining to their breaking points in order to keep the force of chaos from rending them apart and making them anew, and these are the most dangerous.

They want to enter Creation, and they will do so by any means possible. Unfortunately, while the Powers Major made Creation, and so have an intimate idea of how it works and how to properly interact with it, the other outsiders have no such ability and Bad Things happen when an outsider successfully manages to get into Creation. Like a foreigner who has been dropped into a country whose language he does not speak and whose ways he does not know, an outsider in Creation will quite quickly set about breaking laws (physical laws, in this case) without knowing that anything is getting broken and without being able to understand any attempts to communicate the problem.

Concordant Limbo

Concordant Limbo is one of the milder realms. Its populace could be described as being passive-aggressive, often enough. The realm is dry and dusty, and the days go by slowly, as a dim sun slogs along in the sky. A full day in Concordant Limbo, from one morning to the next, is forty hours, but the temperature never gets past the mid-eighties (in Fahrenheit) anyways. Heavy cloud cover also makes the distinction between day and night that much duller, and usually obscures the pair of broken rings which move around the planet. Though it is slow to progress, the realm’s world is high in natural resources, including some which are otherwise found in only another realm.

Guisers are not very common, but the fact that they exist means that technology is usually focused on identity protection, so to speak. In many timelines the Concordants haven’t even developed steam power, but their knowledge of genetics is further ahead of our timeline and realm in the modern day. Guising does not, you see, affect the user on the very lowest level, and biological material can be taken and matched to previously obtained samples. Simply removing some of suspect’s flesh can be enough, since it reverts back to its original appearance if there was a change to begin with, but if the flesh is close enough, as it often is nowadays, or is otherwise altered, it can be hard to tell without resorting to technological methods.

Concordant Limbo is dominated by senates. From the district divisions of each city, to entire nations, the predominant system in place calls for at least five individuals deciding on issues together at just the lower levels, and often has deliberations with up to a thousand senators at national levels. Each senator has the right to speak from dawn to noon, or noon to dusk, on a particular issue, meaning that it can take up to five hundred days for a single issue to clear at the national level. Obviously, most issues never reach such high levels, and so there are few laws or declarations which affect an entire nation. Countries are in this way more like alliances of city-states than anything else. Change happens slowly, when it happens at all, but the Concordants feel that it all balances out, considering that they’re doing very nicely right now, and if it takes a long time to improve things, then at least it also takes a very long time for things to go badly.

The Concordants are furred creatures with elongated limbs and vestigial limbs. Their bodies have natural pouches, whose original use seems to have gone away (the Concordants bear live young, yes, but the pouches aren’t used, and aren’t useful, for carrying those young, who can’t even fit in the pouches) and they have shorn horns on their heads. Of any animal, they most resemble a sort of furry, tailless, newt standing four feet tall.

Various Fauna

Solar Dragons live in suns, of course. They can be said to resemble dragons in the sense that they resemble serpents (and the stretch is less so if one considers Eastern dragons). They are elongated and thin creatures, made out of plasma and ordinarily quite content to keep amongst themselves, feeding off of the energy produced by their home and reproducing through a method which is reminiscent of budding. Generally speaking, solar dragons neither desire nor are able to communicate with other species, but it sometimes happens that a solar dragon finds itself on another world, which is disastrous for both the solar dragon (which must deal with what is an unthinkably cold temperature, and will die in seconds) and the local area (which must deal with what is a horribly hot temperature, and will likely experience boiling or glassing). There are an abnormal number of cracks between worlds, in the suns, and the solar dragons have exploited these in order to make their way into the chief sun of every realm.

Ghoul-mantises are frightful creatures which skulk in darkened places and feed upon the dead and the nearly-dead. Most closely resembling the mantises which lend them half of their name, they are able to range in size from that of a medium-sized dog to an elephant, and their parents are able to influence their size by the specific chemicals which are included during the reproductive process. While this can lead to very physically powerful ghoul-mantises, their natural instinct is to adapt their size be closer to that of the dominant intelligent species so that, with the aid of heavy disguises, they can hide at least a little bit. More than a cursory check will make it obvious that something it up, but ghoul-mantises are rarely seen for long and operate most actively in the dark. If the ghoul-mantis, which is a voracious creature with a nearly-bottomless appetite, manages to fill itself fully and still has food it will then, and only then, reproduce. Eggs are laid in the corpse and then the corpse is hidden away in order to protect its special cargo.

Bone Howlers bear only the vaguest of physical similarity to cats, but there isn’t any easier way of describing them. They were created through the genetic manipulation of several species in the realm Euphyria, which was actually a paradise in most timelines including the one from which the bone howlers hail. Bone howlers are as physiologically morphic as dogs, and come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, but running through all of the breeds is an overriding aggression toward anyone who does register as “acceptable” as defined by its psychological conditioning. The Euphyrians usually condition them to attack anyone who speaks in any but one particular language, although code words are also often used in order to permanently signify to the bone howler that that the speaker is, and will be always, acceptable.

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