This is the first excursion into the setting of the world of the novel I’m writing; The Ebb of Abandon. It’s a bit of a canary in a coal mine with me testing out some odd concepts, how to convey them, and how to parse out world history. The main character of the story, Ja’ani Henderson, Fragma King of Dead Dursen, is a supporting character in the book. The events of this story are, at this point, not going to be included in the novel, but most certainly happened within the world setting. It takes place a long time before the book starts, but it was a good event in world history to test the waters. Welcome to Abandon!
Fragma Ja’ani Henderson, King of Long-Dead Dursen and ex-CEO of Vegatrek Solutions, was wise in all things and, as such, knew that his status and reputation (no small part in history itself) would prove more burden than boon and everything would progress more smoothly if he did not reveal his identity to the folk of Abandon and, instead, chose to live incognito.
To accomplish this goal he wore a fantastic turban.
It was as bright as the green waters of Bacuit Bay had been. He’d chosen cotton over silk, not only to downplay his resources, but because silk is terrible at wicking away sweat. The front was crested with a pewter sarpech adorned with turquoise stones and seashells; excellent craftsmanship from modest materials. A trio of white gull feathers hung at the side concealing several shastar knives. The entire thing was strung through with strong thora, a traditional thick wire used for support or, in a pinch, strangulation.
With his kingdom a centuries old ruin, he had no place he considered home. He had several houses he’d live in when the mood struck him, complete with all the amenities befitting his rank, but he was never comfortable in any of them for long and, instead, spent most of his time traveling. He pulled a mostly empty cart behind him on his trip to give the impression that he was a small scale trader or a delivery man between jobs (and on rare occasion he’d actually trade or deliver things). The style and paint job, red with purple trim, matched those of the un-loaders at the Hemmingrell Docks. In reality it had a small concealed engine and it motored along under it’s own power, guided by pressure on the handles. Ja’ani could even lean on them to avoid walking if he wanted, though he usually didn’t. There were a few personal things in it and at night the cart doubled as a sleeping area unless he could find somewhere better to stay.
He’d restrained himself to tools that that could pass for commoner items. He was able to disguise himself as almost any manner of man (although there were those he refused to imitate). He’d been masquerading so long his behavior was no longer acting and he suspected that, were he ever again to find himself returned to a position of prominence, he’d have a difficult time of wearing the role. Solitude and secrecy were his normal conditions, if not one, then the other. But as a leader, among subjects? It had been a very long time.
His clothes were of a calculatedly average fashion strata, well-to-do, but not too well-to-do. He wore layers, lashed down by the straps of his sacks and belts. Instead of one large pack upon his back he’d chosen a wide variety of pouches and satchels. Only the contents of a few were of significant value and he guarded those carefully. The rest were useful, but not vital. Pickpockets were more likely to find socks or spices than anything of genuine worth.
His sword was a curved tulwar and differed from the more common straight blades that dominated the current age. He was proficient with it and could use it normally if necessary. He was also capable of employing the control mechanism in the hilt to launch circular disks from the pommel and control their direction and velocity by swinging the blade. They were tiny saucers of a titanium diamond alloy, rotating at absurd speeds, capable of slicing through nearly anything. It was illegal tech. The sort of thing that would get you a swift execution in any of the Fragma’s kingdoms for using without permission. Of course, as a Fragma himself, even though his nation was dead, he still had the right to use whatever damn technology he chose.
It was on a trip from his home outside the city of New June, in Rendemi, on his way to Soggers, of Heap, when he was forced to admit that there was something wrong with the world, specifically the New Nature.
Small towns were common along the edges of the Blumes. It was a dangerous business, setting up a homestead so close to the violent growths. But there was also much opportunity and it was one of the few places in the ravaged world where things would grow with ease. He had seen his fair share of towns swallowed by the unpredictable forests in the past.
What he’d never seen was a dead Blume.
Miles and miles of rotting vegetation, crystallizing in the sun. The air reeked of tar and shimmered with heat distortion, despite the cool morning. He wandered through it, seeking out the center. He wrapped his face with a scarf to filter the stench and squinted against the twisting desolation.
They were geysers of energy and fueled by the life producing fragments of a powerful Scintil. The forces required to interact with such a remnant were immense. It was not the sort of thing that would simply run out of power or die of old age. If the Blume was dead, something had killed it. Aside from himself, or one of the other Fragma, he could not conceive of what could do such a thing. He knew he was not responsible for it and doubted very much that one of the others would bother with a tiny Blume out here on the borderlands of Heap.
It was a curiosity, for certain, but he put it from his mind and continued on. He had a long-standing life philosophy on dealing with problems. If a problem arises once, simply solve it as best you can and move on. Do not waste time trying to sort out why it happened or play detective to the cause of a single, solitary event. Something happening only once is likely just a random occurrence, and there’s no avoiding the universe’s dice.
If the same problem happens twice, it’s time to perk up; you could be dealing with a pattern. Solve the problem, but give it a good look while you do. Is there an obvious reason why this happened again? If so, fix it, but don’t worry too much. Twice is unlikely, but sometimes the world is full of unlikely things. Take note, and carry on.
Three is the magic number. If the same problem rears its head three times, you have a real issue at hand. It’s safe to assume it isn’t going away and will continue to happen again and again. When this occurs, the only way to solve it is to sort out the reasons behind the problem. To track back why it is happening and put an end to the root.
It was after a particularly lovely visit to RoseLawn, the perfume production capital of Vesser-Elan, on his way to Farm 43 of Tregard, that he discovered the third dead Blume of his journey.
He stood in the empty town square of a recently abandoned town. The buildings were all in excellent condition and were yet to be touched by decay. But all the plants were dead and sprouting cold crystal from their melting fibers. The inhabitants were gone. The wind reeked of tar.
Blumes didn’t just die. They couldn’t. Not on their own anyway.
Fragma Ja’ani Henderson, King of Long Dead Dursen, sighed deeply and his mustache curled around his frown.
Long ago, he’d been trying to solve a terrible problem and had become the accidental creator of the New Nature; the Blumes, the Stillings, and the Gnarls. Now, they were dying, and he had to do something about it.
He hoped, this time, he could do a better job of it.
Can Ja’ani sort out the cause behind the dying landscape? Sign up and follow his hunt into the dangerous world of Abandon.