Saturday, April 4, 2015

Raiders of the Shattered Isles

There is a chain of islands, near one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, that wasn’t there a few days ago. That isn’t how the chain’s inhabitants see it, though.

The way they see it, their islands are the only place in the world that’s more than a few days old. The entire planet is repeatedly destroyed and instantly replaced with a drastically different one, at seemingly random intervals that can only be predicted by the doomsayers of the Shattered Isles. It’s been this way for millennia, and the dark times before the priests learned to predict these apocalypses saw the extravagant funerals of many adventurous saurians (the dominant people of the Shattered Isles) who were out exploring new worlds when the stars changed. Now every expedition beyond the Isles brings at least one doomsayer with it, to watch for signs of the end, and explorers almost always return home in time.

What would you do if you found yourself trying to run a kingdom and amass wealth, and everything around the kingdom kept shifting? You’d be coming into contact with exotic civilizations all the time, but never developing lasting, profitable trade relationships with them. 

The saurians decided long ago to lie, cheat, and steal, looting and pillaging whenever the opportunity presents itself. Which is fine, because their victims would cease to exist in a year or two at the most, anyway. Which of course means that the murder of anyone not of what their priests call the One True Race doesn’t count.

There are a few exceptions, other intelligent species that managed to get a foothold on the islands despite a hostile lost-world environment, and establish themselves as permanent residents. The mere of existence of these descendants of what they refer to as “ephemerals” annoys the hell out of saurian philosophers. Even more offensively, all of these alien races necessarily have their own cultural worldviews, which are seen as foolish at best and blasphemous at worst.

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