Loremageddon 2019, Day Twenty-Five: Eldritch Cuisine, the Craftwarren, Atheists

Accelerating further into the final stretch, we now arrive at Day Twenty-Five of Loremageddon! Today we’re going all in on the Fringe again–at least for the most part–starting with some decidedly otherworldly cooking! Then it’s a look at the Craftwarren, and then a final question: what does it mean to be an atheist in a universe where deities can be empirically verified?

Snippet #1: Eldritch Cuisine (World: Creation’s Fringe)

Whether members of a given species more commonly ask “should we eat that?” or “can we eat that?” tells one much about their mindset. Humans most frequently fall on the latter side of the line, and it’s in this spirit of arbitrary mastication that a most absurd class of cooking took hold on Creation’s Fringe. It turns out that upon defeating or otherwise neutralizing otherworldly beings, one can often make an opportunity to eat part of them, and this yields many interesting effects.

Naturally, this “outsider dining” fast became popular among eccentric nobles, unhinged merchants, and every other class of people on the Fringe with too much money and too little impulse control.

Because its exact steps depend heavily on which entity’s components are included into the cooking, there’s no one pattern to refer to. In Pirnab, law forbids these meals altogether; stubborn diners seek their fix from the criminal underworld. Rumor has it that desperate teams are paid large sums to step through portals opening right into the Uncanny Marrow, where they attempt to kill a Marrow-Mangled creature and bring it back before it’s grown cold.

As it cooks, the Marrow’s energy within it reacts to the changing temperatures, and can be manipulated to produce all manner of potent flavors. There’s little risk of secondhand mutation, making this a popular choice elsewhere on the Fringe. Indeed, the Marrowscours usually eat creatures from the Uncanny Marrow as a dietary staple! For them, ordinary food is the luxury.

Progressing further, powerful mages may receive an offer of great reward if, on destroying some ghost or eldritch being, they trap portions of its essence via enchantment and help a chef to prepare them as a supplement to ordinary food. While more broadly legal simply because it’s nigh impossible to monitor, this approach has far worse risks. Pure spirits often have mind-altering effects by their mere presence, so eating pieces of their energy by one’s own volition…

… suffice to say rich eccentrics are much more common on the Fringe. They are, after all, what they eat.

Snippet #2: The Craftwarren (World: Creation’s Fringe)

Located deep below the jungles of central Epraga, in a wilderness region otherwise unclaimed by any ruler or realm, lies the Craftwarren. A sprawling complex provided for by demons of Canno’s Seventh Plane, the Craftwarren houses the single largest community of artists on Creation’s Fringe. Its aesthetics combine those preferred by the demon responsible for building and expanding any one section with the contributions of the artists who live there.

For example, the High Seductress Shalir–who, while her sphere is romance and the erotic, nonetheless adores the arts–maintains a section of spiraling tunnels with broad intersection-rooms. These use a mix of ice-blue stone and black soil held from tumbling into the room by the demoness’s own power, which manifests as a gold-orange glow and so also provides lighting.

In the use of slight curves for every passageway and broad, domed spaces with spiraling stairwells, Shalir’s work echoes some of the architectural movements of Cumas on Canno. Meanwhile, the soil allows roots and wildflowers to infiltrate the halls, the latter guided carefully over the centuries to produce filigree-like patterns along the walls and in the circular gardens which anchor many of Shalir’s intersections.

The Craftwarren’s creators eventually settled on the term “contributor” to refer to the artists who stay in this shared domain. While some feel it sounds too close to the soulless catchphrases of their counterparts in the Demonic Assembly of the Fringe, it’s the best they’ve been able to come up with to describe the unusual hybrid of patronage and employment they’ve created.

This in mind, Shalir’s contributors tend either to compliment her section’s natural colors with sunset palettes and free-flowing engravings, or to contrast it with the careful use of stark pieces and bright, desaturated materials. While many have tried to pry into the High Seductress’s influences over the years, she remains cagey about why she chose the colors and styles she did.

Artists within the Craftwarren separate themselves into communities based on friendship or mutual admiration rather than just shared field, though the latter does tend to lead to the former. The writers have been deemed a crotchety bunch who always have a little too much to say, and they’ve compensated for their isolation by drinking more heavily and otherwise living up to that reputation. Otherwise, though, most of the Craftwarren’s communities mingle freely, and partnerships on all manner of multi-genre projects are commonplace.

At present, the Craftwarren may house as many as ten thousand mortals, and eighty-seven different demons of the Seventh Plane collaborate to hold it altogether. It can be reached only by traveling through underground tunnels watched by underlings of its creators, making it exceptionally secure. Due to anti-inflation laws, however, demons may not produce currency, so any artists wishing to leave the Craftwarren–which they’re free to do at any time–must accept an ample ration-pack and attempt to earn money via their arts.

Most have concluded it’s easier to just stay home.

***

Today’s Full Segment: Atheists in the Twin Spirals (Worlds: Any)

“I’m sorry, I fear I must have misheard–would you please repeat that?” Thus runs the reasonable statement made by many folk on meeting an atheist for the first time. Priests and clerics can call on miracles which mages confirm have nothing to do with these holy agents’ own power. Mighty servants appear at need, doing the will of their gods. And the deities themselves act freely–or at least, as freely as they can when their power competes with each other–on worlds such as Creation’s Fringe.

In Kalinger, the goddesses Eiltisch and Schuer regularly appear among the population. Stahrich and Shepla manifest in their full power for their own reasons–Stahrich simply to view a battle without showing favor to either side, Shepla to ward off threats to a favorite wilderness. While some isolated communities may happen not to worship such active deities, or indeed any deities, it’s rare to find anyone who actually hasn’t seen the divine at work and so can honestly deny that gods exist.

Such atheists may be found and argued with if one cares to. Some deities endorse these attempted conversions. Others, like Mirtulla, explicitly forbid it. “It’s much more interesting this way,” she once explained. However, there’s a much more common approach: not the belief that deities don’t exist, but the belief that deities shouldn’t exist. In every culture, there are mortals who embrace this conscientious objection to gods and the worship of gods alike.

The reasons vary, but in general this brand of atheist argues that gods wield extraordinary power of which they use only the tiniest slivers to help mortals, and that if mortal worship empowers them in the first place, then surely mortals should find some way to use this power for themselves. Why export it to an aloof entity which adds further steps and requirements before it will aid its followers when it only has strength because mortals gave it that strength in the first place?

Though intriguing to philosophers, these arguments find little success among most mortals. Some arcane scholars–and most theologians, of course–argue that for one reason or another, the power deities derive from worship isn’t power that mortals would be able to use on their own.

From their own perspective, this just makes the atheists more heroic for refusing to rely on “a bunch of cloud-bothering parasites,” as one famous scientist put it.

***

Day Twenty-Five completed! I’ve no witticisms to add this time–leave your comments, um, in the comments, drop a like if you’d be so kind, and share this lore wherever you believe it’ll be appreciated. You can always find me on Twitter if you like, where I do things like write meandering tangents about bad habits in editing and feedback.

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