Monday 13 December 2021

Ends of the World

Edge of the World
  1. The ocean only stands a few meters above the edge of the world. The water turns and falls in a thick band, a unique ecotone home to all manner of specialist marine life. Extremely hydrodynamic fish balance effortlessly atop the waterfall, dipping over the edge if predators threaten, then swimming vertically back to snatch a snack caught in the current.

  2. For the first few miles the waterfall coheres, lensing a view of the world's belly stretching gently away. Diving birds graze across the clear sheet to snatch a startled fish or falling treat. Bolder birds will punch straight through, shake dry and swallow, then dart back across to the sunlit side before their feathers freeze.

  3. A hundred miles below the edge the sun creeps out from the shadow of the world. The warm, wet updraft rising directly below the earth hits the ball of cold air hugging the firmament's umbra. The foggy breeze crosses and breaks the great stream, beginning its transition to a falling wall of foam and mist.

  4. In scattered baubles the water falls, just thicken enough to knock industrious fliers out of the air. It takes a full day of freefalling for water to reach this point. Well evolved eggs, laid by fish at the ocean edge, make take several days to fall this far, but by here they must hatch, while the water is still thicken enough to support their leaping, drop by drop, back to the solid stream.

  5. A thousand miles down the pale disk of the world is lost in cloud. The thread of waterfall above casts spears of sunlight down through the steadily falling haze. This huge stretch of dense, wet, stable atmosphere provides a home for plants and animals that can be very slightly heavier than dry air, yet here remain buoyant.

  6. Impenetrable gray haze above, below and all around. The air grows cold and rain begins to form. The clouds work in on themselves, twisted and tightening. Gentle pressures act slowly on the column of air, until the mile-wide cloud reconverges into a series of parallel, paper-thin waterfalls. Swimming becomes just barely possible once more, elvers and razor fish cut up through the thin water, pinprick shoals leap daringly between the arcs of water.

  7. Surface tension grabs and drags at the descending rivulets. Gradually they intersect, twine together into a single solid sheet. It is less than a foot thick now, most of its bulk having already evaporated and started the brisk rise back up to the world above. 

  8. Ten thousand miles below the sky the sunlight is pale and scarce. In the dim perpetual dawn the airy fish bioluminesce. This long, quiet stretch is a final refuge, where the last grit of life may be filtered from the passing water. Dried fish poo circles uncertainly on the breeze, too tired to fall further.

  9. The waterfall has thinned to a blade of mist. That which drops this far falls only slowly, but with no water and precious little air to climb upon. This is the point of no return.

  10. No more water falls. A little mist spirals disconsolately, withered fish skins whirl weakly on the nullbreeze. Still too far below, bouncing back meek, silver sunlight, a final shore of freeze-dried corpses. People, whales, whole cities that have tumbled off the edge and come to rest below the reach of the sea, floating on the inky unreality of this final edge.

Tip of the World
  1. Horizon-wide desert, soft red sandstone cut to neat, straight ribbons by the steady wind. Something like a sunset tars the far eastern sky. Vultures overhead, overpopulated. Hyenic howls bound between the rocks.
    Encounter: 3d8 harassing vultures, 2d4 marsupial sugarlions, 1d6 wandering mounds

  2. Ranchers make houses by the thin dry riverbeds, or up on the mesa where water springs from the rock. Cattle, sheep and goats live thirsty lives on the range, though well fed by deep rooted bushes that thrive on the frequent floods.
    Encounter: ranch house having a barn raising, merchant souk overrun by caravans, unattended herd hunted by beasts

  3. Sandy hollows between the stone ridges funnel animal migrations. Uncounted eroding hooves cut deeper their path, and so the sand and scouring wind tighten and condense. Fastest travel is along these flat-bottomed canyons, but beware a buffeting in the belligerent breezeway. 
    Encounter: heavily armed merchant caravan, circus troupe, famous mathematician

  4. Sky tightens down above, compressing the wind into a roving, perpetual storm. A floodplain of wind. Sparse, quick-growing bushes race to cast out seeds before the torrent passes back across. Rolling fog banks drive flash floods before them, both choked with coarse sand and stones. The land is returned to mud.
    Weather: thin hailstorm, soaking downpour, flash flood

  5. Another belt of constant wind. It is heavier here, dense and laden. The land takes on bizarre twists and arcs. Arches, towers and tunnels, in smooth topology of shifting curves.
    Encounters: 4d4 wind pirates, 2d4 lost inventors, 1d20 pygmy gliding mammoths

  6. This last predictable longitude houses the three great flying castles of this land.
    - The northernmost, Maignett, bobs above a thrusting ridge rich in iron. Ancient runic arrays and electromagnets are dug into both foundation and floating stones. Improvised galvanic machines trail twisting metal tails behind the city, feeding power to the ununderstood devices keeping the city aloft.
    - Clwerk is a miracle of modern sciences. Cutting edge alloys twirl implausible forces, clockwork fans storing the chaotic beating of the wind to provide a constant buoyance when the uplift dies away. Wings and balloons do the more consistent lifting, excess power from the banks of tilted turbines yoked to the factories and machines that make famous the town.
    - To the south, Laefindi floats organically above a fecund wetland. The city, grown from naturally buoyant plants with wing-shaped leaves, is weighed down as much by birds as people, anchored by ponderous chains of roots. The weather-trap that funnels water here keeps alive the town in every way, feeding its plants and those of the bird- and bug-rich plains below.
  7.  Atmospheric phase change. Air clear, flat, heavy, utterly still. The far horizon is blotchy and blurred, high and low pressure systems rearranging themselves into a new paradigm, well beyond mere weather.
    Encounters: magnetic hermit, sunset drake, lightning-fisher blimp

  8. Hyperstorm. Pockets of wind, post-wind, psuedocloud, transweather and hyperair change position like awkward teens at a dance. Hothead students from the floating cities come here to dare each other deeper into the quantum weather, hoping for inspiration and exhilaration both.
    Encounters: flying aces on training mission, experimental sentient weather machine, semi-stable weatherflux genie

  9. Bubble of near-vacuum. Contorted atmosphere bathes the world in psychedelic sunset colours. Snakes, strangely shaped bugs and little mice with huge lungs titter across the silent, grassless plain.
    Encounters: magnetic ascetic, sunset angel, vacuum saint

  10. Everything pinches to a pinhole, howling vortex where the world leaks out.
this, narrowing to a single point

End of the World
  1. The sky turns nasty red
  2. The birds fly up and up and up until they are gone
  3. The animals froth at the mouth and run into the sea
  4. The plants turn bitter and grow brittle thorns
  5. The waters turn to blood
  6. The people lament, their bodies wracked with sores and boils
  7. The insects swarm, seek absolution through ruination
  8. The waters recede and dust takes their place
  9. The earth opens up to receive all sinners
  10. Everything turns out okay

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