Saturday, April 6, 2013

‘F’ is for the ‘Frontier.’

‘F’ is for the ‘Frontier.’

The Frontier refers to all lands west of the Uncanny Valleys. Not settled or developed by the humanist Empire of Gold and Jade, it is home to the highest populations of most other intelligent species, including imps, nine-legs, triclopes, dorads and centaurs, as well as most of the largest life forms, including sauropods, gryphons, land-squid, cyclopes and biollants.

Most species band together in The Frontier, requiring co-existence for survival in harsh climates. The Frontier experienced most of the damage in the recent Apocalypse of Demons, and is something of wasteland. Most of the existing city-states are built in the remains of ancient sites, such as God’s Lap, built around the last surviving skyscraper from the Gremlin Empire. Clemency is an avidly lawless city-state built in a crater where a great demon once exploded.

Most thriving city-states form The Red Crescent, a crude travel route with open-door policies to the Red Brigade (see ‘R’). The Red Brigade is a militant sect of a disorganized religion the Empire of Gold and Jade pushed out of the east. According to their treaty, the Red Brigade own The Frontier. No one in The Frontier cares. The Empire of Gold and Jade has spent the last forty years reneging on the deal and invading.

The north-east of The Frontier is the ancestral home of triclopes, who hold largely homogenous strongholds and mining colonies there. This includes the northmost reaches of the Uncanny Valley, which are at their most shallow and least populated by giant monsters. The Empire of Gold and Jade makes frequent attempts to cross the Uncanny Valleys here, and is in a perpetual conflict with the triclopes over the region.

The Empire of Gold and Jade may well be coming east for all the tourist attractions. Allegedly it still rains shards of metal in The Sarlund. The Red Brigade patrols The Z (see ‘Z’), the world’s only remaining zombie reservation. Travel far enough west, and rumor has it that there are tears in the fabric of reality. No one has ever come back from the deep west to confirm such rumors.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Bathroom Monologue: Birth of the Human Age, OR, 'E' is for 'Empire of Gold and Jade.'

So this is a cross-post. It is both my #fridayflash for the week, and my 'E' entry for the A-to-Z Challenge. 'E' is for the 'Empire of Gold and Jade,' the first, only and reigning human empire.

Everything noteworthy around here begins with an apocalypse. Theirs was the Apocalypse of Demons, when the womb of the world was torn asunder, imps stoking The Cracks in the distant west until their ancestors roused. Then emerged the demons, intangible and vast, and rather than bestowing the imps with an infinite kingdom, seeking to add our world to their blessed charnel. What magic the imps possessed was corrupted, and their bodies pulped into titanic corporeal forms for their ancestors to roam our plane. So ended the previous tyranny.

Their slaves, the humans, fled into the east like water amid fingerprints. Away fell the nine-legs and triclopes. No one could survive the breath of demons, so toxic it reduced the largest sauropods to skeletons. Nine-legs, which many thought did not even have lungs, choked to death under the long strides of titanic demons. Deserts quaked, sinkholes supped upon cities, and the skies rained a burning wine. It was a most glorious apocalypse.

Only as they approached The Uncanny Valley did any opponents stand unyielding, the work of humans and not yet humans, the golems, the bodies of granite and brick, and within them all, hearts of jade. Secrets stolen and perfected by the cleverest slaves, these were the creations of the Jade Tribe, commanded by a voice that rose above the howl of demons. Her golems clung to their ankles, and then to the knees, dragging them to the ground where they could be pried apart.

Yet not all demons took to land, many sitting astride the clouds and hurling comets at the foolish mortals. Here came the Golden Archers, all-chemists who summoned power from without, not within, taking up the wand and the stave. Wizard snipers shot the demons out of the sky, cleaning heaven by making war. Surviving triclopes and imps hid in the shadows of humans for mercy.

Of those fallen demons, the majority exploded upon impact, maiming the land. Those demons who fell without combustion were made the campfires for the brave Golden Archers, and their chief, who will be marked as the Golden Emperor, climbed into the hull of the greatest fallen demon, and carried out from its sundry fires a breastbone of unparalleled magic. This he offered as a wedding present unto the chief of the golem-makers, she who will be marked as the Jade Empress. The bones of demons formed unparalleled golems, titans in their own mindless right, a bulwark against the inferno. No fire passed east of the humans’ brave army, and it unfurled west until the demons were extinguished, and all that lay behind it was a kingdom awaiting two thrones.

In the first dawn of their campaign, he who will be marked as the Golden Emperor and she who will be marked as the Jade Empress were wed, as were their retainers, and where the Golden Emperor had three additional retainers, so they were wed to the Jade Empress’s eldest sister and two brothers, and so were their generals wed, and where the Jade Empress retained two additional generals, these were wed to the Golden Emperor’s aunt and eldest blood brother. They wove their peoples together so that no tide could sunder them. It is recorded by every poet worth reading that together these two carried culture out of the fire.

And that’s how the latest tyranny began.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

‘D’ is for ‘Drones.’

‘D’ is for ‘Drones.’

The Drone-class of automaton is the most common in the world. Once upon a time they were cleaning and maintenance drones, sometimes used for defense or transportation, easier to manufacture, store and replace than slave labor. They are land-based and spherical, running on a sort of combustion engine that can utilize various compounds. For reasons no one has yet identified, they actively seek to combust biological compounds. They started with their creators, the gremlins, and have never let up. They are often found in packs, flocking around larger automatons, such as the Mammoths, former construction vehicles that have turned carnivorous.

I originally derived the name from ants, never anticipating the U.S. drone program to get so prolific and ugly. I’ve gone back and forth over this name. It’s perfect in-world, and honestly, the U.S. drone program is so heinous that the thought of the name now being applied to an unmanned killing machine that wiped out its originating society is artistically appealing. I’m inclined to keep it, but I’d love opinions on the topic.

Tomorrow: ‘E’ for that obnoxious empire the humans are building.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

‘C’ is for ‘Cartography.’

‘C’ is for ‘Cartography.’ As far as the Human Age is concerned, there is no comprehensive map of the world. Gremlins were the only species that ever made it far in cartography, and they were wiped out by their own technology in one of those pesky apocalypses. The technology is still around in the form of automatons, but it’s unknown if they’re mapping the world. They tend to consume and combust any people who ask them about it.

Still, a compass is a good idea. It’s common knowledge that there is at least one continent on the planet: this one. It is surrounded by what is lovingly called “the World-Ocean,” though no one has ever gotten to the west coast of the continent, and some people believe there is no west coast. No one who has gone to check has ever come back to confirm.

Other fun facts if you should take up cartography:
-The planet seems round. People cross a horizon as they walk far enough away from you, making it fairly obvious to every culture that has ever lived. Most have not cared.

-It gets warmer if you go north and colder if you go south.

-The middle of the continent is split by The Uncanny Valley (see ‘U’), a titanic canyon that spans the entire land mass. It's presumed the result of an ancient apocalyptic quake and is a favorite vacation spot for dinosaurs and hungry robots.

-The Empire of Gold and Jade (see ‘E’), the present human empire, rules everything east of The Uncanny Valley. They would like some of the west soon, if you don’t mind. It is relatively developed with irrigation, manmade rivers, agriculture and cities with artificial lights.

-Everything west of The Uncanny Valley is referred to as “The Frontier” (see ‘F’) Here you will find most of the surviving automatons, sauropods, sentient non-human species like triclopes and dorads, and most of my recent protagonists.

-There is a vast archipelago to the east of the continent, where people go if they’re hoping sit out the next apocalypse. The bet is that the land masses are so small that it wouldn’t be an apocalypse if something terrible happened there, thus making them the least likely target.

Tomorrow: ‘D’ is for ‘Drones.’

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

‘B’ is for ‘Bacteria.’

‘B’ is for ‘Bacteria.’

If there are only two life forms left on the planet, one of them will be bacteria, living off of the other. There will never be only one life form left, because virii and bacteria are brilliant at finding a host and sticking things out. It’s believed that the first apocalypse was probably a massive disease, because all the world needed was a population, and some bacteria. Since then bacteria has caused numerous additional apocalypses, being the only scientifically plausible explanation for the rise of zombies, and later vampiria and tentacalia. Zombieism is just a bacterial reaction, after all. One hundred percent normal, scientific, perfectly magical bacteria.

It’s unsurprising that bacteria were the first magicians. They did almost everything else first, and once they got a little magical potential, their hosts lived longer, hosted them longer, and spread them farther. Imps have the highest magical potential because their uniquely screwed up physiology allows for so many simultaneous magical infections. Just as bacteria evolved to assist digestion and boost height, it thrived in hosts where its magic could do the most good.

It’s unknown if bacteria have ever suffered their own apocalypse. Perhaps some day all diseases may disappear in one great catastrophe. If so, though, it’ll be a problem for more than just the common cold.

Tomorrow: ‘C’ is for ‘Cartography.’

Monday, April 1, 2013

'A' is for 'Apocalypses.'

‘A’ is for ‘Apocalypses.’ The fiction of The House That Nobody Built and The Last House in the Sky is unique in that it’s a Post-Post-Post-Post-Apocalyptic world. The citizens have had to handle giant meteors, and then an enormous flood, and then the zombie uprising, and then the dinosaurs coming back. Let me tell you: zombies get passé after a t-rex eats your dad.

No one knows if there's a common reason or cause to the catastrophes. We know they happen every 200-300 years, with exact chronology being difficult to chart what with meteors and hungry robots consuming all the charts every 200-300 years. But everyone more or less acknowledges that the first really good apocalypse was The Apocalypse of Sauropods, when dinosaurs decided to roam the land again. They’d been extinct for so long that they were considered myths. Fans of mythology were very upset with the unexpected feathering. Everyone else was upset that they were being trampled to death. The diseases they carried with them alone overturned entire biomes.

About 250 years into their reign, the gremlins launched cities into the sky. This put them out of biting range, and with their manipulation of lightning and mechanics, into very good conquering range. They were so technologically advanced that they turned all the (literally) lower cultures into reality television and entertainment. Their obliteration of lower people for amusement was viewed by others as the Apocalypse of Gremlins. In under 300 years they mastered alternative energy, levitation and prosthetic bodies, and began to unlock the secrets of artificial intelligence and inter-dimensional travel. Very good until the artificial intelligence turned on them. That was the Apocalypse of Automatons, which crashed all the flying cities, and set robots roving the landscape to consume all biological life forms. As far as we know, gremlins went extinct, and technology has stalled out at the “push broom” level ever since.

The automatons didn’t have a real empire, but rather, more of a buffet. They were the new apex predators, able to prey upon sauropods, gryphons and manticores, forcing sentient life into smaller groups, underground, or to the fringes of the west and the icy south. Automatons became so dominant that, naturally, 200 years later, they were the victims of an apocalypse. The Apocalypse of the Shock was a freak lightning storm an entire continent wide, which fried over 95% of all automatons. Evolution kicked in a few bucks and taught the t-rex to hunt robots.

In the previous period of largely underground civilizations, the imps grew in political and magical power. Previously a species gremlins bred as pets, imps possessed keen intellect and inclination for elemental manipulation. With the automatons out of the way, the former inbred slaves created their own proper empire, consuming much of the west, and enslaving triclopes and humans for their labor. Rather than technology, they studied the primal forces of the world, believing their demonic ancestors were a better route to power. Within 230 years, they opened a rift into what theologians might call “Hell,” in order to summon those ancestors. Those ancestors promptly set the planet on fire in what non-theologians refer to as “The Apocalypse of Demons.”

It was a great war that required all species to band together and fight off the fiery tyrants. Never in recorded history had there been such a moment of pan-culturalism. And then the moment past, and since more humans were alive than any other species, they declared their own empire, swearing to get it right this time. We’ll find out about them at ‘E’.

We still don’t know if there’s a singular reason or pattern to the apocalypses. We only know that oral traditions have them running back to the beginning of time – presuming that the beginning of time was an apocalypse that savaged nothingness. Upon inventing the telescope, many gremlins lapsed into hopeless nihilism upon discovering apocalypses had apparently already blown up every other planet out there.

Tomorrow: ‘B’ is for ‘Bacteria (and will be way shorter).'

Sunday, March 31, 2013

A-to-Z Challenge Prep

My preparation for the A-to-Z Challenge is definitely off. Expecting a weekend to proof and prep posts, instead I only had whatever material I wrote on Wednesday before rushing for my grandmother's emergency. I ought to be in transit home today, God willing with some better news for once. We shall see.

But my worldbuilding A-to-Z Challenge is on. Three posts are already set for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and if I'm not in transit today, I expect to have some kind of internet by Wednesday with which to participate. I'm hoping to find some inventive Fantasy writers in the 1,200+ crowd.

I'm also looking forward to learning what it's like to post on the same topic for a month straight. I'm curious if I'll be able to keep it comprehensible and entertaining. I know Monday's post is going to get pretty weird.

How? You'll see very soon.

Hope you all had a better weekend than I did. Here comes April.
Counter est. March 2, 2008