The Man Made of Ink

Today we will explore fantasy, but not your average orcs-elves-dwarves type of fantasy, but rather a much weirder approach. Imagine an infinite number of worlds, all floating in the same substance we call reality and accessible through means of magic. Imagine truly alien worlds, not just science fiction alien, but really alien, like changed laws of physics, discworlds and worlds with no ground or no sky. Most known worlds are inhabited by humans, but other sentient beings have also been found. This type of universe is the sort of thing that I wanted to do since I was a little boy (then again, exploring other worlds was always my dream job. It still is, by the way.).

 

Music of the Moment: Koji Kondo – Clock Tower

 

Zantoom was a truly beautiful world. It featured a wide selection of colours, each shimmering brighter and livelier than the last, but it was mainly white. The deep blue pools and crystalline fountains were enclosed by white marble, the magnificent green gardens were surrounded by white columns and statues, the beautiful gold-and-brass ornamentation was adorning majestic buildings of clean, white stone and even the armour of the guardians was white, becoming the metal canvas of elaborate golden scrollwork.

Even though the sun was high up in the clear, blue sky, it was neither warm nor cold in the City of the Ageless, and, aside from the splashing water from the fountains and the occasional footsteps over the white-flagged floor, it was completely silent. People were rarely seen in the labyrinth of streets and plazas, most of them being soldiers and pages, hurrying around in white uniforms or scholars in white robes, thoughtfully discussing important topics with low voices. Most of them were Ildari, humans with pale skin, white hair and white eyes, claiming to be direct descendants of the Old People, who had first built the city.

One man stood out, though, like a drop of ink in an ocean of milk. He was leaning on a white half wall, motionlessly observing the transparent water falling out of a nameless white statues mouth into a wide, shallow basin. His eyes were pitch black, as was his long, flowing hair framing his oblong face, falling over his shoulders like a waterfall of darkness. The long coat he was wearing was also black, covered with complicated geometric patterns of thin, black rubber. His other clothes were black as well: a black chemise with black buttons, black pants with a belt of black leather, and black shoes with black laces. Even his arms and hands seemed to be made of black metal.

They called him the Shadow Master, more of a title than a name, but since nobody knew his real name (or anything else about him, for that matter) it had become just that. Some rumours claimed that he came from a far-off world, yet undiscovered by the explorers, others said he was one of the Elders, immortalized through ancient magic, and even others were certain that he was a wandering god.

No matter what was true, the Shadow Master was spoken highly of in Council circles and in charge of the Shadows, their very own army of spies. The Council of Zantoom had an enormous army at their disposal, as was necessary when governing thousands and thousands of worlds, but they preferred to remain unseen in their operations. Giving the worlds a feeling of independence was of paramount concern, and having soldiers stroll around them didn’t really help that cause.

The Shadows did employ humans and other beings, but most of their agents were Shades, sentient creatures of pure darkness that could morph into almost every living thing imaginable. Their wills were bound by powerful magic, making them loyal and obedient servants.

A young, uniformed woman approached the Shadow Master. She had blond hair and green eyes and carried a glass cartridge with brass caps inlaid with a circle of ivory. It had to come from the Council.

He grabbed through the glass as if it was not there, taking out the scroll inside of it. It was sealed with a clasp that bore Grand Councillor Alcvir’s sigil: two interlocked crescent moons on a hexagon with rounded corners.

 

Shadow Master,

 

it has come to my ears that you managed to capture one of the Strangers. If that is true I am most pleased and would advise you to make his interrogation a top priority. I will make certain the Council gives you access to any resources you might require, but we will expect a full report within the next twelve cycles.

 

Adeitasun osoz,

Grand Councillor Alcvir

 

It was true. They had indeed captured a Stranger. A man with skin pale as milk, violet eyes and no hair anywhere on his body, immobilized by magical forcefields and held atop a blue granite tower on a nameless world tormented by eternal tempest.

Even the Shadow Master knew virtually nothing about the Strangers. They came out of nowhere, stronger and faster than any human he’d ever heard of and operated in seemingly irrational patterns. But truly, they were not irrational. Quite the contrary was true. When seen on a larger scale, the Strangers actions worked like parts of bigger plans, creating outcomes no man could possibly predict. Something that interested him personally, though, were their coins. They displayed nothing and were made out of a grey metal unknown to him, but he knew they were the key to the Strangers ability to step into other worlds in a moments notice, as opposed to travelling by worldships or riftdoors like everyone else.

He turned to the envoy.

“You are not a Shade.” He assessed.

“No, Sir.” She seemed nervous.

“You don’t need to call me Sir, I am not a member of your military.”

“Yes, Sir, I mean, yes.”

He gave an amused smile.

“What is your name?” He asked.

“Andriah Vorrell, S- uhm.” She swallowed the ‘Sir’ in the last moment.

“What world are you from, Andriah Vorrell?” The Shadow Master was well aware that he made most people nervous, especially junior officers who wanted to make a good impression.

“Detton. I am from Detton.”

“I have heard of that world. You have a violet sky and two blue moons that always remain at the same place. Your sun pulsates very slowly and most of your stone is as blue as your moons. Is it true that your trees have black leaves?”

“Yes, Master. The leaves are black.”

“A strange world.”

“It is, yes.”

He smiled.

“It is not for you, you grew up there. You don’t need to agree with me because of my position.”

“Yes, sorry, Master.”

The Shadow Master made the scroll disappear in the palm of his hand.

“I will take my leave now. I wish you a nice day.”

“Thank you, Sir, Master.”

But he had already crossed half the plaza. When the Shadow Master walked around the next corner, he simply disappeared.

Mountain Flight

Welcome to this strange teslapunk world I had floating around my head for ages now. I’m starting to really getting a grip of it, meaning that the picture of this particular scene crossed my mind when taking a walk the other day. I wont explain much, as most of these words are self-explanatory, but know that ships in this universe don’t use balloons to fly but Astyrium, a special element with anti-gravitational abilities. Also, this is my first “real” post on this blog, meaning that this type of bits and pieces of text are what you might expect from this site. Have fun!

Music of the Moment: Jeremy Soule – Secunda

The moonlight reflected off the untouched snow that covered land, rock and treetop alike, illuminating the night in that surreal fashion only snow could do, where the world was barely visible and no shadows were cast. The wind lifted some of the snow from the ground, making it cascade over hills and ridges like waterfalls made of icing sugar. It was a silent spectacle, entertaining the few who could value its beauty, hiding the life of the Southern Highlands for the night, so it may rise again upon the morrow, interrupted only by the rattling sound of the engines propelling the Only Daughter, an airship of the Monarchs Royal Fleet.

She was a luxury shuttle with a small Astyrium-core keeping her afloat, blimp-shaped, little, quick and lightly armed, providing every comfort lords, officers and royal protégés might expect. Her hull was polished copper, seeming almost golden from a distance and a few of the little windows and portholes were illuminated, but only a dim gleam came from the great window pane of the starboard observation deck, where Gullen Bonds admired the dance of the cold.

He was a lightly tanned man with groomed yet chaotic, long, brown hair and eyes of the same colour, wearing an expensive black suit with a bright brown chemise. Bonds sat on the broad settee of red satin, holding a crystal glass of whiskey. With him was Sir Joseph Hayward, a bald general of the Royal Army with a fleshy face and bushy eyebrows. He was of advanced age, but broad and muscular in build, with bulky arms and enormous ears. Gullen was never sure whether to call him “Sir” or “General”, which is why he tried to use both from time to time.

It had come as a surprise when he found out that someone else than him had a passion for the night and its calm beauty, especially a military man. In the five days of their journey from Rycantis he had actually grown quite fond of the man, even though he still expected him to erupt into a walking tank of death and destruction at any moment, but that was just what he thought of every soldier, so it wasn’t personal.

“Have you ever been to the South before, mister Bonds?” Hayward asked.

“Well, I’ve been as far as Sheridan Post several times, General.”

“That’s only a hundred leagues from Rycantis, still in the realm.” He shook his head.

“It’s cold and majestic, far away from civilization.” Gullen argued.

“So is Rycantis, but we don’t call it City of the South, do we?”

“We call it City of Glass Towers. It’s more descriptive.”

Hayward laughed, silently.

“So you mean to tell me that you have written twelve novels about this place and never physically visited it?”

“Eleven, actually, Sir. Quips of the Frost Gods was a collection of short stories. But yes, that is exactly how it went. I talked to many a worker, soldier and adventurer that’s been down there.” He explained.

“Down here, you mean. We are in the South.”

I suppose we are, Sir.” It was still hard to realize that the vast expanse of nothingness underneath his feet was the white hell he’d thoroughly explored in his mind during the past seventeen years. After hearing so many stories about man-sized wolves, Icewyrms and barbarians shooting fiery lances of light that could set entire houses ablaze he was quite disappointed about the ongoing tranquillity. Not that he’d favoured a fight, but the occasional sight of life besides woods of massive pine trees would have been nice.

“So what drives you here? You certainly know how to write an intriguing book without having seen the place it’s about, so why the sudden change of mind?”

Daphne, he thought, I’m only going for Daphne, but instead he said:

“I didn’t really have the resources for such a voyage, General. It’s expensive, travelling to the South whilst still enjoying all the comforts I’m used to in the golden streets of our great capital.”

“You have been a member of the Royal Arts Society for five years now, have you not? The Monarch himself has invited you to his dinner table on many occasion. Certainly you would have had the chance to see the fabled South with your own eyes by now.” He is suspicious. He senses something is wrong. How can he know?

“As a general you must have sat at his table a few times yourself.”

“Yes, but as you say: I’m a general, a knight, and a nobleman. No disrespect to you, of course. I don’t view the bourgeoisie as inferior to those of noble blood.”

“To be honest I had been trying to avoid this voyage. The word is that the South is a dangerous place to be and I have my limits regarding the danger I’m willing to put myself in. Alas, the Prospector-Trilogy is finished and interviewing the workers arriving at Rycantis wont serve if I want to keep my face, so here I am. I was bound to run out of excuses not to go eventually, so I’m glad that it happened while I’m still young and vital.”

The general laughed his silent laugh again.

“Oh yes, Prospector. I have to say, Wollay Pence is quite the character you’ve drawn there. People are actually learning how to read just to have a go at those books. Although, my son Gillen is quite critical of them. He believes they empower the working class too much and make Lords and Leaders seem too unimportant.”

“What do you believe, Sir?”

“I believe my son is an idiot, but don’t tell him that.” he chuckled “Gillen’s been to the South many times, but what he doesn’t understand is that the men working in the depths of those Astyrium mines are the ones keeping us alive down there, not our nobility. Not only do they get the stuff out of the earth that makes our ships stay in the air, but the profits their corporations make bring food, wine and weapons down to us, not the Monarch and certainly not High Command.”

Bonds didn’t know how to respond to that, so they sat in silence for a while, contemplating the landscape passing by. Although the silence was disrupted by the low sound of the engines, after five days he didn’t really hear them anymore.

Lingual switchover

Hello Mandies and Gentlewomen, welcome to the insane world of my mind.

My name is Gwydion JMF Weber and I am a young writer from Germany with goals far beyond what I should be dreaming of. I’ve been writing since I was 11, but I always loved inventing complex worlds and stories, characters came later, but now I love them as much as the other two. For a long time, I kept my work in the secluded cabinet that is my hard drive, but a while back I started publishing stuff (if posting it on a blog that nobody reads counts as publishing, anyway), but I ran dry. Not of ideas, but of motivation and work flow.

The truth is, I have too many ideas, too many concepts floating around my mind, looking bright and shiny until I grab them and try to illustrate them with worlds, then they start looking like deep-fired dogshit. Eventually I left most of my projects and focused on writing down Ideas, developing characters and environments and plotting more stories than I can count (I’m not very good with numbers, so it may very well be just 5…), but the process of writing itself didn’t go, at all. I just couldn’t do it. It all felt so inorganic, so artificial, without any rhetorical pirouettes or abstract metaphors, bumpy descriptions and chaotic structures were the only things I got.

But at some point, meaning the middle of the night on a glass of pesto and old cheese, I decided to try something out: writing in English. And the words were flowing. I don’t know why, I don’t know how, but I do know that I find the English language much more fun to use when writing. I hope this was the right decision, but I’m positive about it. I do still have an “old” blog were I published some of my German stuff quite regularly for a short period of time, so if you are interested you can find it here.

I hope to get this running soon, so, see you then.