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Tales of Gray: Tides of Numenera
Posted: April 9th, 2013, 2:42 am
I was thinking of a way how to express my gratitude for the team at inXile for making another Torment game using such a great setting like Numenera. So I thought, why not write something that pays homage to it. This is my "Thank you", hope you enjoy.
Tales of Gray: The Tides of Numenera
They had gathered around the hooded figure in the dark recesses of the Undersway, that part of Sagus Cliffs where the waves lapped endlessly at the foundation, their corrosive tongues carrying away more and more of its substance into the emerald depths. It was a ragtag band of children and the one they came to listen to was like them but at the same time distant and alien. He had the physical appearance of a young boy with silvery hair and lavender eyes, but if you gazed into them you could see eternity gazing back.
They were sitting in the dark, the houses rising above them, crawling in a hurried frenzy towards the sky while the ones at the bottom slowly dissolved into the waters, a constant reminder that even the most steadfast could be ground into dust by time and the elements.
Noone knew where the boy came from or why he had nestled inside the abandoned ruins of the Undersway, surrounded by salt and rust with the howling wind and the wet coldness as his only companions. They only knew that his words carried power and were able to bend reality around him. He used his gift to tell stories and made them come alive before their very eyes and also inside their heads long after they had returned home and were lying in their beds, dreaming and longing.
He would not answer any questions regarding his identity nor would he reveal his past. On the few occasions that he did refer to himself, he would only say that he was one of the Weavers, possessing the powerful gift of De-Scribing reality. It was the reason they came to see him, because he had promised to teach them.
He would always start the same:
"Let me tell you of a time before time, before reality was real and before dreams were just dreams.
They say this is the Ninth World and that we have come a long way, but you don't believe in straight lines anymore and so they don't believe in you, placing you inside spinning circles and rings that in the end will make you realize, that this time you are living in and about which I shall tell you, is as much the beginning as it is the end.
So, let me tell you about YOUR time, the time before the Whisperer in the Wind haunted the skies, before The Wailers sang beneath the sea and before The Tides drowned the last Descendants of Duality."
There was only his voice and the strange reflections in the water, ever changing, ever swaying to a hidden melody and rhythm rippling through it. He never told the same story twice, so when they listened they knew that it was a unique experience, one that would never return and could only be contained in the heart.
The tossing of the stone marked the beginning of a new story, and when he had sacrificed a part of the city to the eager waves below their feet, he would start the weaving. He had told them it was his contribution to the survival of their world, for if the weaving stopped, life would flee the place and never return, leaving behind a hollow husk of broken dreams.
It was for this very reason that it was so important that they learned how to weave, the art of
De-Scribing their reality and fill it up with their own ideas and dreams, because they were the blood that was running through the veins of the world, the power that kept the wheels turning and the only thing that could turn around the hourglass time and time again.
And it began like it always had: "Let me tell you a story about ..."
Re: Tales of Gray: Tides of Numenera
Posted: April 9th, 2013, 2:45 am
There it lay in front of him, unmoving, unstirred by the touch of his hand resting on its silver surface, patiently presenting itself to him, content to just be there for him. How far had he traveled all across the Ninth World in search of it, how many dangers faced and obstacles overcome, to be able to finally be with the one who had whispered to him in dreams and from every shadow.
The things he had done to survive the trip, to beat the elements and everything the world had thrown at him to keep him from reaching the one he desired. The wind had torn both his cloth and flesh, leaving him wide open for the tiny predators that drifted alongside the wind and had buried themselves inside his skin. The dry air and merciless sun had made him crave for water so that he would go look for plants to squeeze every ounce of liquid from their corpses, just like he had drunken the blood of slain creatures to feel the touch of wetness on his lips and down his throat.
Food had come easier but still rarely enough so that he had to resort to many things that others would deem objectionable but in his need he had done them without hesitation, because within his soul he had felt a growing hunger that was far more urgent and could not be sated by anything else in the world but the Whisperer in the Wind.
He had not known what kind of creature the Whisperer would turn out to be, so when he had finally found it he could do nothing but marvel at the strange alien thing before his eyes. A perfectly smooth silvery globe floating in the air about a meter and a half above the floor inside a large metallic building. Strange devices and bizarre constructions covered with dust had littered the place, seemingly frozen in time as if they had one day silently decided to give up any function or purpose.
The orb beneath his hand seemed to hum slightly in approval as the man remembered its voice that had spoken to him in feverish dreams until he had been able to also hear it when he was awake. It had offered him a deal he could not resist. A little Sacrifice for undiverted Admiration, a Golden stroke of the brush for a Silver lining.
For so long the man had gone unnoticed, just your regular scavenger who lived by whatever he could scrounge up for himself, providing that he was also able to keep it. There were many out there who had tried to take away from him even the few possessions he had managed to gather from the remnants of the past, and they would give back nothing in return except indifference.
The Whisperer had promised him admiration and it had stayed true to its word. The man had felt it, from the moment he had agreed to the deal and ever since, especially now that he was standing right in front of the Whisperer, listening to its praise and basking in the admiration he was receiving.
For the Whisperer he was the most important being in all the world, and only the Whisperer knew how much he had desired to be that special someone for another being, to be admired for the sole reason that he existed. Noone else had done that, had cared whether he was there or not, not before and never again, because now he had found someone who did care and he knew that he would enjoy its attention and loving admiration for the rest of his life.
At the edge of his consciousness he was aware that he was standing there completely still, unable to move, only the slight trembling of his fingers resting upon the perfect silver surface of the Whisperer would tell that he was more than a statue made of stone.
The Whisperer had told him about its dreams of the endless sky, soaring among the clouds, always watching, always processing, like it had done so long ago. One day it would be able to fly again the Whisperer had told him, and that the man would play an essential role in this endeavor.
Right now he was there with the Whisperer and could see all that the strange creature had seen before it had fallen from the sky, weak and exhausted. The visions flooding his mind were so vivid that he completely forgot that he was still standing in that room with the floating orb, surrounded by the bones of a dozen beings that had also shared a bit of gold for some silver.
Was it a good deal? For him it was. He was soaring with the one and only being that had shown him some sort of admiration, the only one that had ever needed him. So in the end, what did his life matter? The man did not know what it meant for himself, but that was not important, because he knew what it meant for The Whisperer.
Re: Tales of Gray: Tides of Numenera
Posted: April 10th, 2013, 8:33 am
There once was a humble caretaker who lived inside a huge house at the edge of everywhere. When he had first arrived at the house he had been a traveler, determined to only stay for a short while and then disappear from the face of the world forever. The house had changed his mind though, because it was unlike any other house he had ever seen and it had given him something of immense value in exchange for his service: purpose.
Let us pause here for a moment and consider something: This is a story about empathy after all, so it would be appropriate to employ some of it, don't you think? Let us do exactly that and feel like the caretaker does, see through his weary eyes, walk in his ragged cloth, breath the same rancid air and last but certainly not least think in the characteristic way he thinks. In other words: let us become the caretaker, because isn't this what empathy is all about?
There, can you see him shuffling through the hive like structure like a good, eager drone? A gaunt figure, a spectre of a man, a parody of what he once was, but it matters not, not anymore. And just like that, we are ...
The walls are bleeding again. Dark damp corridors twisting before my eyes, faint lights tumbling endlessly into the void, leading to doors leading to places leading to madness. Guests must provide presents or the doors won't be there and if the house doesn't like them, the guests won't be there either.
The house has an acquired taste and it is always hungry. I am a caretaker, I feed the house. Gems, books, ancient relics. Blood and bones, sometimes a heart. Hopes, dreams, memories. The house is a precious flower, ever growing, ever evolving and it blooms so beautifully.
The flower has roots growing in fertile soil and they reach out to many different gardens. Sometimes something follows the roots back to the source and infests the flower. I am a gardener, I take care of predatory weeds.
The doors come and go just like the guests, a constant ebb and flow like the chanting sometimes echoing through forgotten passages and deserted halls. There are special doors for those who serve the house, taking you wherever you are needed the most. I am a keymaster, I have the keys to the house.
There it is, my current destination and the task reveals itself before my eyes. I cannot tell where the man begins and where the house has merged with him. The tools of his craft lie around his broken body. Foolishness. You cannot fathom that which is unfathomable. It is like trying to put a cage around something that cannot be caged. The house does not wish to be defined, because a definition is something final and the house is not.
You don't want to make the house angry, because if you do it will find ways to make you suffer. You may flee to the end of the multiverse but one day you will wake up in your little refuge and notice that the house has grown right through the walls and opened a way for unspeakable things that share the same hunger that possesses the house. I am a caretaker, I take care.
I look at the half devoured man and know that I am not so different from him. Where do I end and where does the house begin? I know instinctively what the house wants me to do, I feel its presence inside me and I know that my purpose is to serve the house. How much of me is left and how much is already replaced by this inconceivable mind?
Will anyone ever be able to understand its motivation or personality. Will anyone ever understand me and why I chose to stay and call the house my home? I don't know the answer to that question, because you have to experience the house for yourself.
What remains is cleaning up the mess in front of me. If he had only understood the house a little bit better. If he only had possessed a bit more empathy.
Re: Tales of Gray: Tides of Numenera
Posted: April 13th, 2013, 9:28 am
The Greater Good
Ceryn, the young priest, finally understood. It had taken him quite a while and lots of painful lessons, but in the end he had finally figured out the meaning of The Greater Good. Looking back he wondered how he could have been so blind to the truth. His past stretched out before him and he could see every single step he had taken, up to this point where it had all become clear.
He remembered that they had taken him in as a young boy when his parents had perished from an invisible plague that one night had struck his village and wiped out most of its inhabitants. The next morning a group of priests had arrived and offered their help, taking care of the survivors and whatever useful goods they could find.
The priests belonged to a cult who worshipped something called "The Abandoned Gods". They traveled the world in order to search for ways that could improve mankind's situation in the Ninth World and they were willing to sacrifice much in order to achieve that noble endeavor.
Cery had been assigned to one of the elders of the cult, a grisled man called Quivin, who was a preacher of the cult, teaching the cult's values and emphasizing the importance of always striving for The Greater Good. Understanding The Greater Good was a difficult task for Ceryn and while following in the steps of his mentor he tried his best to find it in the words and deeds of his fellow brothers and sisters of the faith.
The young priest had grown up learning how the cult spread his benevolence upon the fortunate souls crossing their path. He remembered a small tribe living in the sun scorched Valley of Fire that had settled within a cave and whose survival had mostly depended on a strange device that extracted water from its environment and collected it inside its hard metallic shell, providing them with a steady influx of the valuable element.
Unfortunately, the people of the tribe had possessed a flaw that could not be redeemed in any way: they had not been completely human anymore. Something had caused them to grow thick scales that covered their skin and also altered their metabolism in a way that they could endure the merciless heat of the sun and did not require much water and food to survive. What they did not endure though was the cult's ideology.
In compliance with the holy mission of advancing mankind's fate the cult had taken the device, captured the tribe and sold them into forced labour, using the revenue generated to further fill the pockets of the esteemed leaders of the cult, so that they in return could bestow their generosity upon the worthy.
Later on they had delivered the device to another group of faithful servants of mankind, who lived in a charming little place called "Fort Lorn" which was essentially a hole in the ground filled to the brim with weapons and bloodthirsty bandits who terrorized the surrounding settlements, but they had been easily redeemed by trading the cult a few of their "tools" in exchange for the device.
Ceryn had tried really hard to understand his mentor's teachings about The Greater Good and he wanted to see and feel it in the worship and heartfelt gratitude of those they saved from the terrible dangers the Ninth World held for the unprepared. No matter how hard he tried though, the doubts never waned and he could not shake the feeling that something was very wrong.
During all the time as a disciple of the cult, his mentor Quivin had always been patient with him and never did anything but encourage him and praise his ambition and quickness of mind. Still, Ceryn had always felt as if some important insight kept eluding him.When the moment of truth and enlightenment came, it tore down the veil before his eyes and changed him forever.
It had started when his mentor had been sent to a small village on the outskirts of the Plains of Dust, accompanied by Ceryn and a group of fellow cultists. Prior to their journey the cult's revered leaders had received a vision from the abandoned gods themselves that this village had fallen prey to demons who invaded the mind of their unsuspecting victim. Unknown to the host, they would then wait for a good opportunity to wrest control of the body from its owner and wreak havoc.
A true tragedy, but the good news were that not everyone would be tainted and that the abandoned gods themselves would take care of the evil that had befallen the village. Ceryn and the others would make camp nearby and wait for the divine retribution to take place and after the demonic infestation had been cleansed they would move in and take care of the survivors.
Ceryn's breakthrough had come at night while he was standing guard next to one of the cult's sacred relics, a strange cyllindric thing that was humming and had lots of blinking lights covering its surface and some antennae like extensions on top of it. It had been placed on a small plateau overlooking the plains and the tainted village below, because it would help the abandoned gods to direct their focus where it was needed. He and his fellow companions had received special armor blessed by the abandoned gods so that they would not be harmed by the divine wrath.
In the hours before his watch, he and his mentor had talked in great length and detail about Ceryn's potential and the bright future that lay ahead of him as a priest of the cult. Of course, Quivin had told him that he still was not ready to advance to the new rank, that he still lacked the insight needed to become a preacher of the faith and that he still did not truly understand the nature of the abandoned gods. Ceryn had promised to meditate on this and hopefully gain knowledge in the process.
He had pondered about this for so long already and never seen the light, but as he stood there in the darkness, looking down to the village and listening to the screams of the dying, it suddenly dawned on him. Hours passed and when the first gentle rays began to spill over the plains the transformation in him was complete. Enlightenment had finally struck and Ceryn knew what he had to do.
He went back into the tent where Quivin was waiting for him and struck him down without hesitation. As his former mentor lay bleeding on the ground, Ceryn stood before him and calmly watched him die. He could see the question in the eyes of the old man, and he was eager to oblige. He told him with newfound certainty:
"I finally understand what you have been trying to teach me all the time. What is The Greater Good? I can see it clearly now. The Greater Good is whatever we want it to be. And today, it is your death by my hand, because you are a monster and the world is better off without you in it.
What will The Greater Good become tomorrow? I don't know yet, but I am sure, I can come up with something. You taught me well, Master."
The last thing he saw of his mentor was the smile that slowly crept on the old man's face and then froze there forever.
Ceryn stepped outside the tent and inhaled deeply. He felt different. Liberated, peaceful. Determined, powerful. He turned towards the slope that led to the main camp. He could already hear the footsteps approaching the plateau, but he did not worry.
It wouldn't be so hard to explain Quivin's death to the others. After all, it had been for The Greater Good and Ceryn had a very creative mind.