By Vadren Skycastle
So, you’ve learned that the supernatural world exists. And that you’re stuck. You can go back to your ordinary life, but it won’t be the same. Now you’ll glimpse doors in walls where they shouldn’t be, see masked changelings striding through the streets on mist-grey stallions, and notice towering, horned figures in crowds.
And you are the only one to see them.
Then, there are the predators. Perhaps, as you walk along the street, there’ll be a man in front. In the next heartbeat, he vanishes. And then there’s a glimpse of something big and hulking dragging him into a nearby alleyway, and if you rush forward to investigate, you’ll only see trash blowing in the breeze.
And no one will believe you when you tell them these things.
That’s why many leave the borders and go deeper into the world.
To stay safe, you’ll either need to join a faction, acquire a vestige, or both.
Factions are political blocs. Their goal is to keep the supernatural community stable, and the borders between the worlds intact. You may have heard of a few—the Undying Queen and her Court who maintain order in the city, the Amaranthine Lodge which investigates secrets and even the Lucky Twelves, a coalition of criminal and gangsters that are very good at policing themselves.
And a vestige? That word gets thrown around a lot—in fact the supernatural layer of reality is also called the ‘Vestige World’ as well as the Indigo World or the Twilight Realm.
A vestige is how you get magic. It’s a difficult process. So many things can go wrong.
You’ll need to make a pact with a being from another dimension. Someone who once roamed freely during the Age of Magic, and who’s now trapped. These beings want to conduct schemes and intrigues in the mortal world, and for that they need agents. Once you meet such a being, and you agree to a pact, you’ll receive a vestige—part of the other entity’s soul attached to yours, and through this, you can wield arcane power.
Patron and agent relationships are complex. You might be treated like an honorary employee, a knightly champion, or a son or daughter. Or worse, chattel or a meagre pet.
You get one shot at making a pact. Like at a job interview, you’ll need to as the right questions and make sure that you’ve met the right patron.
Unlike a regular job, there’s no resigning… Or not that I’ve heard.
Next, we’ll talk about the type of patrons you might meet. And what you can become.
by Vadren Skycastle
Welcome to the first article in this series, designed to introduce newcomers to the supernatural world. If you’re confused, or have questions, these entries should help you out.
Let’s start slow. You must have so many questions.
Last year, I lived in the ordinary world. I took all of it for granted: cars and skyscrapers, burger restaurants, airships, smartphones and watches. I grew up surrounded by stories of an age of magic, but it was all folklore and hearsay.
This is what I thought:
It was reasonable that there had been a tyrant called the ‘Dark Emperor’ who had reigned two thousand years ago, head of an advanced civilisation. I can see his castle from my studio window, and can make out the tour buses heading up the mountain for the top. There’s ruins and towers everywhere. You can’t dig up a piece of land in Storm City without uncovering some ancient brick or arrowhead or historical temple.
And it’s also reasonable to assume that there had been an epic war to stop the Emperor, and the famous General Hawkbow had killed him, or at least had the credit for it. This what history tells us.
But it was unreasonable to think that there had once been an age of magic. Where was the evidence for it? Where were the dragons and unicorns? Where was the crystal city of Reladon, and the wizards that had guided the world from the Crystalspire? What happened to the magic swords? Every archeological dig only returns bricks, quartz fragments and old coins. No weird skeletons. Lab tests don’t return artefacts that have strange or unique properties. Everything can be explained neatly and precisely.
No, it was very reasonable to believe that the ‘Age of Magic’ was a story, and the real history was a brutal struggle that people had embellished.
When I was a journalist, I thought that way. Until I went too far, chasing the story of a lifetime. There’s a thin barrier that separates the ‘Golden’ world of the mundanes, and the ‘Indigo’ world of the supernaturals. And once you cross that barrier you can’t cross back.
The Indigo World isn’t like a separate dimension. It’s a different layer. Like a filter on a camera, or having a superuser password that unlocks more features. For a start, you can see things. Monsters that weren’t there before. People using magic.
And it’s not a nice world. People are out for themselves, or are driven to serve extra-dimensional masters in exchange for magic powers. Magic is trapped in old crystals and relics, and these are fought and squabbled over by ‘occultists’, a crazy group of people who consider themselves the heirs to the wizards of the Crystalspire. There are factions, gangs, shifting alliances and deals.
As a person who’s crossed over with no powers—they call us ‘borderers’—you’re not protected any more. People in the Golden World have ancient enchantments keeping them (mostly) safe from the supernatural. We don’t. We’re the lowest rung on the supernatural ladder, ‘meat’ for the rest.
You only survive if you make contacts, or play your cards right.
Next post I’ll explain how you can do this as soon as possible.