Thursday, 7 November 2013

Ship People, What They Know






The ship people came from a land of ice and snow and landed among the castles five generations past. The stories say they came because their gods had died in the old place. Some sought new ways without gods. Some sought to remake the world that had perished. They came to the wrong place.


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Here is cold and dark and wilder than the land they knew before. Thunder lizards and moon cats prowl the night, and giants too. Or perhaps this was the first country of the giants, for the impossible structures the ship people call the castles are sure proof that some manner of power dwelt here before they made landfall. The castles are cloud-breaking towers of vertiginous tunnel and vent, bewilderingly wrought of metal and clay, impervious to fire or steel. Castles are the gods' treasure-houses, but who's to say a god's treasure's any use to living man? Moreover they are infested with the trolls and wyrms and brine-men that hid in the dreams and longships of the first-sailors. 


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Of the many castles the ship people found here, only grey Castle Godless was broken to their purposes; that's where King Mabber set his throne and made his mead-hall (he who saw Odin himself fall dead in the snow, he who's banned prayer and praying in his domain). But even Castle Godless yet contains cold mysteries both above and below its red gates. 

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The sea-lanes are home to outlaws and reavers. The worst reavers make pacts with gods or other things to change themselves with sorcery. They shed their skins, growing limbs of metal or weird flesh.

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Madness and illness are the outward sign of a woman or man's guilt for having created a monster by dreaming it, even if the dream is secret from the dreamer. The therapists of the ship people cure the mad and ill by finding and slaying the monsters that they have birthed in their sleep. So say the teachings of Frood whose sign is a threshing flail. 

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All ship people are hospitable: they will rarely kill a stranger in their home. If the sweet flesh of a turnip has been shared among them they will do this never.