Loremageddon 2019, Day Twenty-Three: Yamakuri, the Watchers, Fringe Phenomena

Hello, everyone–Day Twenty-Three of Loremageddon is upon us. Seven days from now, I’ll be finished with it entirely for the year. A sad farewell or rest at last? Honestly, I haven’t decided yet. In the meantime there’s more lore to unearth, so first I’ve got the answer to the question “What if an entire country was an isekai protagonist?” then a deeper look at those Watchers on the Ever-Rift I just made up yesterday, and finally a few examples of things on the Fringe that just don’t make sense. Let’s jump in!

***

Snippet #1: Yamakuri (World: Creation’s Fringe)

Yamakuri as a country is the most recent arrival on the Fringe, and while its own inhabitants aren’t certain how to take this statement when it’s put to them, it’s arguably the least bizarre. Comprised originally of human immigrants, Yamakuri’s population has received considerable padding through an influx of spirits. These spirits often speak the same language and, as far as can be understood, mostly stem from mythologies created by Yamakuri’s human inhabitants in the first place.

The people in question are–ahem. It’s generally the loresmith’s preference to avoid direct allusions, but one cannot ignore that Yamakuri must sound familiar to any Earth reader. This is not coincidence. The nation’s inhabitants hail from a country called Nippon or Nihon in their own tongue. Yamakuri’s first-generation humans all wrote that at some point some historical calamity ended with a sudden blue light, lifting them from the Land of the Rising Sun and placing them on Creation’s Fringe. In every case, it was that or die in short order.

Conspicuously, new arrivals still appear in Yamakuri on the regular. They’re drawn from many different eras and include a fairly high proportion of defeated warriors and rescued civilians alike. There’s no clear pattern to this; the same town might see two or three newcomers in a given year, and they might all come from the same event or have been drawn from centuries apart. Aside from these points, there’s not much to add about Yamakuri’s culture that wouldn’t be readily apparent based on the information the reader already has.

Some of its people cling to customs as a point of connection to their birth country–or that of their ancestors–others prefer the Fringe’s broad gestalt of ideas and aesthetics. It has become a favorite destination for ethnographers, however, who are fascinated to be able to study a human culture wholly isolated from the context of the world which birthed it.

Snippet #2: The Watchers on the Ever-Rift (World: Creation’s Fringe)

The Watchers exist in stark contrast to the Cobalt Dawn, though not by their own design. Where that illustrious and just slightly insane order considers the Uncanny Marrow a challenge, a beckons to a grander existence, the Watchers believe that the Marrow and all the Fringe’s otherworldly powers must be monitored carefully, kept in check, and expunged when the Fringe’s people become advanced enough to do so.

It’s a testament to their determination that the Watchers believe they can actually do this.

The Watchers wear blood-red uniforms cut in the styles of their native lands–a slashed doublet and peach-colored vest with a black inner trim for members from Kalinger, for example, or gauzy robes for members from the Al Barin badlands. Otherwise, armor and jewelry alike are more common among their ranks, but the latter mainly involves copper or iron with occasional splashes of silver; the jewels and amulets find value as receptacles for enchantment, but finery for finery’s sake is frowned on.

Founded millennia ago and having lost their own origins to time, the Watchers on the Ever-Rift comprise mystics and scholars with ample martial training as well as many clerics and paladins. Their ranks draw heavily from the disciples of the scholar-god Zariima, who supports the Watchers’ desire to expunge eldritch influences from the Fringe. A clarification: the Watchers do not wish to harm or kill the ethereal beings who walk the Fringe. They believe these entities have the same right to exist as they do.

However, the Watchers argue, mortal civilizations are clearly incompatible with entities such as the Artificer, the Deviant Amalgam–a lust-inspiring entity which lacks the consciousness or impulse control of a pleasure demon–and even several of the Fringe’s deities. Mirtulla in particular, they assert, desires perfection and consistency which mortals simply can’t attain.

The Boreal Lady didn’t deign to respond in person when the Watchers announced this conclusion, instead sending a Tundra-Chaplain to read from a scroll. “Our Lady’s answer, and I quote Her directly, runs thus: ‘Shove off, you shivering insects, I accept no fault for the fact your mothers found you too dull to love.'”

This did nothing to bridge relations between the Frost Sentinels and the Watchers, and Mirtulla has stated that she considers this an improvement. “It always begins with claims about ‘isolation for safety’ and ‘incompatible entities,'” she snapped, when confronted by a scholar-priest of Zariima. “Mark my words, scrapling, if you grant those cringing shut-ins a skin-thin shaving, they’ll want more and more until they flay you alive.”

Whether Mirtulla spoke truly or not, the Watchers have a reputation for stringency. They insist on overseeing any new planar magic or technologies wherever they have enough influence, and often confiscate artifacts they deem too dangerous for Fringe possession when the opportunity arises. Such conduct earns them few friends among adventurers, but many common folk see them as valiant protectors helping to ward off the Fringe’s most dangerous, alien components.

Whether it’s truly noble to impose normalcy on a world which finds its greatest beauty when it’s at its most unnatural is a question the Watchers refuse to ask themselves.

Snippet #3: Fringe Phenomena (World: Creation’s Fringe, naturally)

Creation’s Fringe does not make sense. Notwithstanding orders such as the Watchers on the Ever-Rift, it’s apparent to most people that the Fringe has always been this way, and wouldn’t really be the Fringe anymore if it stopped. Natural processes and forces on or around the Fringe often act closer to what seems intuitive than what makes scientific sense. Gravity, for example, holds firm when one walks the Fringe’s solid areas but becomes weak when passing above the cracked gaps in the planet or “sailing” through the core itself.

The Uncanny Marrow certainly constitutes matter after a fashion, and offworlders often possess the scientific know-how to point out that the Fringe’s core should still impose extreme pressure–both gravitic and atmospheric–on objects passing through it, yet it does no such thing! For that matter, the Fringe maintains a stable atmosphere. “But HOW?!” a furious physicist once demanded. “Just look at the damned thing! It shouldn’t have a single drop of water left on it, let alone breathable air!”

And yet, the Fringe contains plenty of both.

Unlike a normal planet, the Fringe’s seasons are synchronized between hemispheres, and it has a perfectly-coordinated orbit and spin so that days and nights are always the same length regardless the season. For that matter, the Fringe spins without tearing itself apart! Otherwise, the world is packed with odd happenings. Some, such as the ground or near-ground level aurorae common in the taiga and tundra around the Lynchpin, are natural occurrences just far enough outside their natural context to be odd.

Others, such as the famous half-spring, half-autumn forests of Kalinger, defy all known laws of nature. Light and sound can be distorted to stupefying levels in some areas of the Fringe–a real sword swung to lethal effect in battle might howl louder than the illusory kill-stroke conjured by a mage during a stage-play even though it’s usually the reverse, or sparks fly from crumpling armor despite the fact that this should never happen except, again, in a theatre.

Every so often, two people pass through an area where one moves at vastly different speed from another for little hiccups of time, or visions into an alternate history might weave themselves through a legendary battlefield or monument only to collapse moments later. No known power, be it magical, psionic, or divine, creates these phenomena.

It’s the Fringe; the absurd and the terrifying are equally as likely to appear without warning.

***

There we go, Day Twenty-Three–you can tell I had to fight myself not to delve into any outright violence, and chatter with my friends over Discord has distracted me, but a good selection in the end and still at a reasonable hour. As always, leave a like if you’ve enjoyed this lore, share it with anyone you believe might feel the same, and if that’s not quite enough, you can always follow me on Twitter!

One thought on “Loremageddon 2019, Day Twenty-Three: Yamakuri, the Watchers, Fringe Phenomena

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