Archive for the ‘People’ Category


Horror Fiction – Cannon forged of Chains

31 October, 2018

Athens, State of Georgia
12 November, 1891

Dear Hannah,

It is done, I will be on the next train back to you. I cannot say I will be sad to be leaving the South, it is not welcoming to a man of my temperaments.

When last I wrote, our local agent, Jon Butler, and I were close on the heels of an artefact tied to the men behind the Order of the White Sword. Using the cache of letters of one Augustus Bartholomew as a guide to trace what had become of the ingots of tainted iron, iron rendered from the chains of slaves, but not any slave chains -as if slave chains are not evil enough- but the chains used to transport escaped slaves back for execution. Anything made from the iron would be at best cursed and at worst, a weapon for evil.

The war was a chaotic time, so much of the paperwork and records of the period were lost. This made tracking the iron into difficult task if not impossible. Records in Atlanta where useless but they set us onto a collection of papers in Athens at the University of Georgia library. There a scrap of information indicated that the iron had been shipped to Athens for use by John Gilleland, to cast a double-barreled cannon. Nothing in our research showed that Gilleland, who designed the cannon, knew the source of the metal used but someone was working with or for the Dark insured that it was the iron used.

Double Barreled CannonThe cannon and reports on it were not difficult to find. It was our good luck that the cannon was still here in Athens. Silver powder applied surreptitiously to the cannon tarnished instantly. It was truly cursed, the souls of the murdered slaves were still bound into the metal shown by the black green of the silver. Mr. Butler believed that is why the cannon failed so spectacularly when it was tested, the angry spirits would not let it be turned against those that were trying to free them. But someone knew what had been created. Why they did not finish binding the spirits to the cannon, indeed, even who was behind it, we could not discover. Mr. Butler believed he was a Confederate officer who was called away and killed before he could complete the magic. It seemed plausible but I doubt we will never know. Read the rest of this entry ?


A to Z – Zoomorphic

30 April, 2018

There was some zoomorphism among the now slain gods, especially among the gods whose portfolios included the beasts.  Though, with the possible exception of Ypisara, they did not create peoples in their image.  It seems there was no place for zoomorphic folk under the old divine regime.

BeastKine at playThe majority of Beastkine emerged in the aftermath of the Sundering as a result of the potent and uncontrolled magic released from that event.  The Beastkine are small in number by comparison to the other major people and are unusual enough that they will often earn a second look even from jaded city dwellers.  Naturally, the Beastkine do not consider themselves strange at all and are happy to venture and explore all across the Sea of Stars.

Further, the magic changes from the Sundering both created many chimeric creatures and made using magic and alchemy to create new ones a much simpler task.  In some regions chimeric beast are almost as common as their unblended relatives, though with them being so common, people no longer think of them as anything other than the beast of the region.

While wizards and alchemical masters may try to make their own chimera very few have tried to create their own beastfolk.  Perhaps it is simply too daunting of a task or perhaps even the flexible morality of wizards has it limits.

Notes: And this almost wraps up the A to Z for the month.  Thanks for reading!

Photo edited from “cat people cosplay, furries, at Steampunk Worlds Fair” by Steampunk Family the von Hedwigs is licensed under CC BY 2.0.



A to Z – Villains

27 April, 2018

The Sea of Stars is full of villains, how could it not be?, ranging from (arguably) the Empress down to petty bandits and thieves.  But for this we will confine ourselves to the upper levels of villainy.

How does one define villainy in a world ruled by dragons?  Some would place the Empress as the most vile of villains, after all, it was her machinations that caused the downfall of the gods and lead to the Sundering.  Yet, for all that, she is not much of a villain now, her domains are ruled with a light touch and she keeps order using the minimum of force needed.  it could be argued that she is now a force for, not good, but stability and peace.  Certainly, her death would be likely to through the whole world into chaos.

Eat your foesNow, Ba’ai’ai, the Dark Star, is a villain without doubt, a ancient and mighty dragon seeking only to expand his personal power whatever the cost to others.  He even built an Empire slaved to his dreams of power and conquest.  His ambition will lead directly to the most bloody and destructive conflict the Sea of Stars has seen, the Nightmare War.

The government of the High Kingdom of Laccini, using necourgists, money and military force to expand their influence.  A much more human threat but still dangerous and persistent.

The Sen’tek still plot and scheme to overthrow the Dragons, seemingly careless of who and what else suffers, their initial attempt to tear them down having failed.  They will provide aid and weapons to anyone who will strike against the dragons and the Imperium for whatever reason, the Sen’tek just want the dragons destroyed because only then will they be safe.

Notes: Late again, sorry.  Been busy.  There are more villains of course, but this is a start.

Image “The Dragon Devouring the Companions of Cadmus” by Hendrick Goltzius (Netherlandish, Mühlbracht 1558–1617 Haarlem), after Cornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem (Netherlandish, Haarlem 1562–1638 Haarlem) via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0




A to Z – Performers, Players and Playwrights (and Philosophers)

22 April, 2018

One of the ways that news travels across the Sea of Stars is with various types of performers, from lone minstrels to theater companies, Commedia dell’arte type troupes to wandering philosophers.

Minstrel, bards and even groups of musicians travel from place to place bringing news and good cheer with them.  Most can be sure of getting at least a free meal and space in the common room of whatever inn they visit for a few hours of entertainment work.  Music is widespread across the lands with many interesting instruments and styles emerging since the Sundering.  Dragons seem to be inordinately fond of choral music and many large cities, and wealthy nobles, retain choirs to please visiting dragons.

Theater is mostly confined to large cities and courts throughout the world, though some groups tour smaller cities in the off season.  The Empress sponsors between three and seven Imperial theater troupes at any time, sending them on goodwill tours through out the Empire.  Theater troupes often stick to classical plays which have been approved and made safe by age, it is only under dragons who ignore or appreciate the theater that troupes are willing to try new and experimental works.

Something for everyoneThe Commedia dell’arte type troupes travel widely, though mostly from city to city, taking their mix of set pieces and improvisational performances to a wide audience.  The open framework of their performances allows for easy adoption of local stories and news into their acts making each performance unique though with common themes.  One of the stock characters in the Sea of Stars is the masked and robed astrologer who give cryptic and often quite ludicrous advice to those seeking his aid

Philosophy as a performance art and intellectual competition, there is a great interest in philosophy in the Sea of Stars perhaps as a result of the loss of the gods and much of the traditional religious understanding of the world.  Traveling philosophers, many from Borusa the City of Scholars, travel a circuit of the cities and larger towns debating each other, local scholars and members of the public.  The dragons by and large tolerate such as long as the philosophers are not actively seditious, some even seem to enjoy the cut and thrust of academic debate.

Notes: While there have not been a lot of bards played in the Sea of Stars we did have a brief musically themed campaign.  And I find the idea of philosophy as performance art, or intellectual sport, highly amusing.  “Come, pit yourself against Ronalf the Learned, never beaten in debate, for a purse of 200 silver coins!”  Also, the idea of using a commedia dell’arte troupe as a framework for an adventuring party has great appeal to me.

Art Commedia dell’arte Troupe on a Wagon in a Town Square, by Jan Miel, 1640, found on Wikimedia Commons and is in the public domain.


A to Z – Nobility and Draconic Houses

18 April, 2018

NoblesWhen the dragons defeated the gods, naturally they wanted to take their spoils.  In most cases, the Empress convinced them that ruling over the other being in the Sea of Stars was the most efficient way to gain wealth and power.  A few ignored her and just pillaged their assigned lands, but they soon saw the errors of their ways and imported new people to farm and manage their lands and resources, except for a clawful of holdouts who rule over savage areas devoid of civilization and usually avoided by all others.

While dragons, in general, prefer the trapping of power to its responsibilities most just took over the local power structures and either replaced the highest power or placed themselves above them liking such titles as High Queen, Supreme Ruler, Most High and such, anything that elevated them over those they ruled.  Thus most dragons receive a constant revenue from taxes and tribute without having to go through all the effort of actively extorting it from their subject, leaving that to the nobility whom serves them.  The Draconic Houses emerge from such an arrangement, serving as the bureaucracy and enforcers of the dragons, making sure that proper taxes are paid, approving major projects and negotiating with other houses for trade deals and favors.  Over time the noble houses over seen by the Draconic Houses have often intermarried spreading draconic bloodlines wider throughout the lands.

Dragons understand the concept of nobility and an aristocracy, after all the idea of being born to rule is a core aspect of the philosophy of Dominae, but the day to day tasks are far too dull and petty for most dragons to enjoy so they leave them to their most honored servants, the nobles.  Dragon have greater tasks, at least according to them they do.

Notes: Aspects of this has been touched upon in the discussion of Knights and Knightly Orders in the Sea of Stars.

Image “Miniature showing Dripetua riding sidesaddle on a white horse . . .” by Boccaccio, Giovanni (1313-1375) is licensed under CC0 1.0


A to Z – Love and Such in the Sea of Stars

16 April, 2018

Love!?Of course, love exists in the Sea of Stars, though there are no longer any deities that embody or promote the concept.  Among most cultures, love is how it always has been, which includes a nearly infinite number of combinations, rules, taboos and dangers.

The elves, however, have embraced the love of loss, they have developed entire genres of poetry and romances addressing the loss of the wholeness of the world, their gods (suitably allegorized), their near immortality, their place in the cycle of things, their lack.  Almost all of the elven cultures are woven through with loss and nostalgia to a greater or lesser extent.

The Visse, mostly, have a love of service and of those who are their social superiors, usually dragons, such is how they were made.  Their family lives tend to be ordered and hierarchical but not locking in love, though the strict hierarchies do lead to the occasional secret assignations and unrequited love.

Dragons are . . . not good with love.  They have great passions, driving passions, and they often acquire and collect things with an avarice that borders on love.  This sometimes extends to people but their love is usually possessive and can be cruel.  Almost all dragons are exceedingly self-centered but some try to learn more about mortal love, with mixed results at best.  But conventional wisdom says that it is best to avoid the eye of a dragon.


Notes: Love is a strange thing and dragons are strange, so naturally the two together are even stranger.

Image “Love” by Thomas Rowlandson (British, London 1757–1827 London), T. Smith (British, active London 1785–1800) via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0


A to Z – Jesters and Humor

12 April, 2018

Harlequin?There is a long tradition of having court jesters, however, as a general rule, dragons are not the best with humor and are objectively terrible at accepting criticism even -or especially- in the form of parody and play.  The exception, as if often the case, is the Empress.  While she does not hold court regularly enough to have a court jester, she often brings players, clowns and jesters, acrobats and other performers with her when she visits other Draconic nobles.

The Empress lets fools and jesters lightly mock her, and often more seriously tease or even ridicule her hosts, as the performers are under her protection, the other draconic nobles may grumble, but they will not act obviously against her playthings.  The Empress realizes that criticism crouched in humor sometimes will penetrate where direct confrontation would not, she lets her jesters and clowns provide that critique if her words will not be heeded.  After all, there is nothing a tyrant fears more than the laughter of their subject directed at them.

The Empress does not mind the occasional comedic barb sent her way, accusations of laying multicolored or gold eggs, being portrayed as a lusty dragon/woman (her seven closest aides are all handsome male dragons after all), joke about the greed of dragons, and so on.  As long as her competence to rule is not questioned, she can take a few laughs at her expense.  After all, she remembers being roundly mocked, laughed at and dismissed when she first ventured to talk about a plan to overthrow the gods, that was painful and humiliating . . . but look who is laughing now.

Notes: Something for every, a comedy tonight!

Photo “Jester” by Michael Neel is licensed under CC BY 2.0.  (Yes, I know it is Harley Quinn, but that is the name the photographer gave to it.)

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