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White Elephant for BrilliantRain

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  • White Elephant for BrilliantRain

    So BrilliantRain wanted something from a selection of "a neat artifact 2 gadget, something not powerful, that had a use in the First Age and might have an alternate use today. Alternately, an interesting place in the Scavenger Lands or Hundred Kingdoms or a weird First Age Ruin. Something Lunar related would be fine too." "Oh good," I thought. "Any one of those should be actually fairly straightforward and unelaborate for once, all I have to do is pick one of them (maybe go for an easier choice) and sketch something nice and simple and quick."

    A few seconds later, "huh, starting to feel a bit twitchy".


    I, I did all of them. Yeah.


    On the farthest eastern edge of the Hundred Kingdoms, bordering the great forests of the Direction, is the land of Cartra. It is a small kingdom, barely twenty miles long and thirty across. It is a young kingdom, founded just over two hundred years ago by settlers called to inhabit marshland reclaimed by a greater kingdom of huge ambition, taking as monarch a survivor of the lesser branch of the surviving royalty.

    Under normal circumstances, Cartra’s means would be meagre. Though it is in nominal union with the five greater kingdoms, fellow successor states, that border its unforested edges, it has little to offer to their collective defence, and is only kept in out of a sense of tradition and continuity; that none have bothered to annex it speaks mostly to it not being worth the effort or provocation to their fellows. The ambition of reclaiming the marshes was also largely wasted, since while the land is at least amenable to tilling the soil quality is poor and crop yields are low. Even the gods would be more of a liability, many having not adapted well to changes in purview from watching over swamp and mire to farm and town.

    But Cartra’s circumstances are not normal. Within a few decades of its establishment, they uncovered something that had long been concealed within the wetlands, a shrine that has proven a significant boon. As word got around the Scavenger Lands (helped by punters dispatched by the shrewd old king to talk up its impressive novelty), pilgrims from far and wide began to converge on the place. In time, they would be carried in large numbers by regularly scheduled convoys of the Guild, who were only too happy to cater to a land that would be regularly flush with silver. Even the minor farmsteads could partake in this wealth, their sons and daughters journeying to the major towns (of which there are only a few) to ply various services, and spend the resulting coin on luxuries that can quite make up for the rest of the meagre year, while the gods are more willing to bend their power to ease various burdens in exchange for an extra share of worship.

    Apart from the usual expenses of being a foreign visitor, the major industry of the land is being given guided tours of the ancient shrine, often regarded as unique in the Scavenger Lands, if not the world. Guidance is a necessity, as past the entryway the passages of the outermost sections are quite convoluted, several blocked off by collapse, and completely dark; not only is the structure fully enclosed and tightly sealed, but attempts to kindle other sources of light are immediately snuffed out by some strange magic of the place. Coming to the inner chambers, one finds the darkness lets up, but only to be replaced by a pervasive dull red light that many new to the experience find even more unnerving, as they navigate between great stone vats filled with liquids that, even under those conditions, can be discerned to have unusual colours. Most of the vats lie dormant, but a few continue to bubble and churn. Finally, one comes to the heart of the shrine, and its draw to the pilgrims; a great chamber, from the ceiling of which hang innumerable leaves of paper of an unknown composition, on which are scribed remarkably vivid pictures. Though many are quite faded, it can still be discerned that they show subjects of such fidelity as though they had captured the substance of an instance to paper, preserving it as it would be seen to the eyes; to compound their wonder, many depict peoples in highly unusual dress or action, indescribably beautiful buildings, or landscapes regarded as quite alien. While not all who make the journey walk away in animated discussion about what the meaning and significance of the images are, few come away unmoved by the sense of insight into and connection with the First Age.

    In recent years, the pilgrimages have been complicated by the shrine having drawn the attention of one of the Anathema. It has become a regular even for a silver-streaked lynx to brazenly wander out of the forest past the border forts, that have quietly agreed to disregard anything out of the ordinary about it. For days or weeks afterwards, he will be seen to be perching upon the roof, staring out over the landscape. Such visits have often inconveniently been found to correspond to peak visiting periods, but within the last few seasons enterprising guides have begun selling pilgrims on the thrill and audacity of undertaking the journey while an Anathema is in residence (artfully concealing the fact that, as far as they can tell, he never actually accosts anybody). Some merchants have agitated for calling in the Wyld Hunt, but the current king is dead set against it; he fears that the shrine may be destroyed in the crossfire, if not deliberately by particularly anti-iconoclastic monks who would eagerly take advantage of the plausible deniability.

    The truth of the matter is that Glimpsing Tomkin values the shrine more dearly than any pilgrim has. He is in possession of a rare treasure of the First Age, a Capture Slate; a product of artifice capable of acquiring and storing images that it observes with utmost clarity. Although it has brought him great profit and prestige from his fellows for being able to provide various forms of detailed reconnaissance, Tomkin holds the device most closely to his heart because the experience of losing his ancient mentor to enemies of the Silver Pact instilled in him a deep passion for ensuring that the memory of beautiful and profound moments is not lost. He found the discovery of the manse six years ago to be a divine blessing, freeing him from the burden of needing to choose images to divest himself of as he had started approaching even the Slate’s prodigious storage capacity within only a short time of acquiring it, gleefully taking advantage of the machinery to extract images and convert them into physical form.

    Although Tomkin keeps most of his collection privately stored, he does occasionally seed his works through the manse’s central chamber, even leaving subtle trails intended to guide pilgrims towards them specifically. He’ll often depart with outgoing pilgrim’s in disguise (leaving a shell of himself to perch on the roof) and lead discussion towards his own products; among his associates, it is known that he’ll often be favourably disposed towards those who are complementary (and even sometimes with insightful criticism) towards his creations, even to the point of bestowing minor blessings upon them or following them for some months afterwards to aid their endeavours in secret. One of his dearest secret ambitions is to one day compile his images into a book for widespread publication and appreciation.

    I have approximate knowledge of many things.
    Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.

  • #2
    I can sympathize deeply with that Lunar, for I too know the pain of reaching photo storage limits. This was really cool, thanks!

    I’ll definitely share it with my ST, so it might get used in my character’s backstory or in the game.



    • #3
      I'm glad you like it. Starting joke aside, this did actually prove easier than similar things I've done in the past. The benefit of not working towards a Scavenger Sons write-up.

      I do have a few additional details about some bits, that I left out to help it maintain a decent flow down the line.

      I have approximate knowledge of many things.
      Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.


      • #4
        neat concept - a first age camera with magical image story capacity.

        IIRC there's already the "Recorder of Everlasting Glories" from WotLA in 2. Ed - page 61

        It had Repair: 2, was a 2 dot artifact. 2 mote attunement cost.

        It was basically a holographic recorder - constantly recording all sights and sounds within 5 yards of the wearer. It would over-write older data, but could be instructed to save specific scenes. You could get it project its recordings in full scale, or in miniature (not enlarged) and it could pause a recording that it was displaying. It could also speed up or slow down its display of recordings, rewind, and so on.

        This seems like a far more potent artifact than a 'mere' first age camera - but if it works like a legit camera, and can take pictures at longer range, then I would agree that its a worthy 2-dot artifact

        Malfeas F'Tagn - go check out my epic MLP/Exalted crossover "The Scroll of Exalted ponies" @ Fimfiction