Off the Road-Adzikis
A Lovely Long Cold Recitation of Rebirth: Adzikis in Winter by Blays of Amber
Sitting in the Sea View Gardens, that "Breakfast Nook of Amber" created by Flora during the reign of my mildly lamented brother King Eric, I find myself thinking about a world that must also have been found by my flibbertigibbet of a sister as well. How such different places can come from the mind of the same person seems telling of an Amberite.
First though, which Amberite am I in this little dance? I am prince Blays of Amber. Blays with an A. Bleys with and E started this journal but he convinced us all to write in it so its my turn. I fought my way up Kolvir, fell into shadow, was redeemed at Patternfall and swore to the Unicorn's choice, Random, the little rat fink.
The Sea View Gardens is a center of warmth, charm, and luxury perched on a once barren balcony of the Castle Amber overlooking the sea to the east where many come for breakfast thought its open 25 hours a day. The other is a frozen slice of disaster made into poetry through the resilience of it people in a shadow once filled with potential before disaster struck.
While Sea View Gardens is worthy of a conversation of its own, and maybe one day one of us Bleys will include it in this journal, it pales this morning to my thoughts of Adzikis in Winter.
Adzikis was once a vibrant world walking into a bold future. They had discovered a new type of interaction between three metallic stone materials that was the center of a developing technology allowing magnetic levitation that was revolutionizing transportation. It made possible, among other things, an extensive rail system and a wide variety of other transportation devices large and small.
Oceangoing ships filled with well-dressed travelers plied the many seas and the cosmopolitan ports were thriving with their commerce. Manned flight was common but expensive and usually reserved for government personnel and cargo shipments.
Communication satellites had been placed in orbit and the computer age was taking off like wildfire. Maned space flight has been occurring and a pace habitat was under construction. Scientists and engineers were figuring out that the three moons could be reached by manned and unmanned devices just barely outside their current state of technology.
There were nation states with a variety of conflicts in a gun age that relied on archers as often as rifleman, cavalry as often as wheeled vehicles.
In small isolated enclaves were people that the vast population considered nuts and wackadoos just because they claimed to be able to use "magic" and called themselves "wizards". They tried to blend in with the normal populations but had just a little bit too much oddity about them. They were objects of scorn and mocking comedy, though not outright persecution. Unknown to the masses some among them practiced high order sorcery as well a couple of low order shadow magic systems.
Then catastrophe struck. What happened is a matter of perspective;Their perspective and a shadow walker's perspective.
Survivors of the calamity suggest several things happened at once. A series of earthquakes opened the molten layers beneath tectonic plates causing a vast proportion of sea water to boil off into the atmosphere covering the worlds in clouds causing a global winter. The surface of the world crumbled and great land masses ringing the world fell beneath the sea.
Polar ice caps multiplied in size, snow fell in the tropics, and man and beast died in droves. Temperatures dropped forty degrees everywhere. Once balmy tropical islands were suddenly the warm spots of the world with temperatures in the seventies and eighties. Sadly only five percent of the existing land mass was there.
A billion people died on the first day, and another billion died in the next few weeks. And since disaster breeds the best and worst things in the nature of sentient creatures they made great efforts to save surviving populations and made devastating warfare over surviving resources. In the next few years the death toll tripled till something in them changed.
What the natives had no way of knowing was that these earthquakes occurred at the time of the Black Road War leading up to the Battle of Patternfall. Initially they also did not know that the small group of nuts and wackadoo wizards fought a desperate battle against creatures beyond their nightmare visions that sought to tear the world into rubble and stardust with powerful magics born deep within the Courts of Chaos.
Timing is everything.
That they owe what survival they have to those nuts and wackadoos, so few in number, is a source of pride and chagrin. Its the source of fanatical poetry and gorgeous prose.
This occurred over three hundred years ago in their time. They adapted. They embraced the cold. They reordered their priorities.
They became poets.
Embracing their pain, they began to cherish love, art, and creativity. They began to prize ingenuity and invention. They developed new poetic forms.
They relegated once national languages for use in specific occupations and activities. One language, Aurols, was chosen as the language of business and diplomacy. Another, Untalis, became the language of anger. Feloso became the language of friendship and community. Ac Tanu became the language of love. Gazala is the artist's main language. Each language has its forms and its poetry. Once each language had served different races and nation-states, but the effort of recovery made them decide to use language differently. Now there was one universal language with subsets selected to be used for specific needs.
One language, Tufoli, became the language of food and drink. Here is where their genius really blooms.
Since they were embracing life and suffering extreme deprivation at the same time, they learned how to use what they had well. Spices were used to cover bland and uncertain meats. Sugars were used to fill caloric intake so baking became almost a religion. They ate all kinds of things sweet.
More about sugar later and that's where Flora comes in.
There is a vibrancy to this world turned into an artists retreat. Militarism has been all but abandoned as too inefficient and wasteful to use. Arguments between nations are solved though sports, cooking contests, intellectual quizzes, acrobatics, and athletics.
I found people here amazingly forthright and direct, yet capable of great serenity. Its enticing, and dangerous. Its a process in development and only a world wide acceptance that violence is bad keeps the course pure.
Now, pure is relative. There is a criminal element and there are those who still embrace violence. But the proportion is small compared to other worlds. Where once they might have resorted to violence they now use a certain degree of skulduggery and political infighting around the athletics and other activities that replaced violence as a method of conflict resolution. Yet, knives are still carried out of a sense of security.
Their politics are filled with the languages that once divided peoples and now unities them
The Damaged World and the Effects of the Black Road War
So this world took a serious walloping and don't tell me that's not how things happen. It happens in shadow if you look. Physics and magic are natural enemies.
Luckily for the survival of this world, a major metropolitan area, Cadaselmis, the capital of the Aurolik, was on a high plateau before the disaster and its tectonic landmass surfed the land wave to rest near an ocean, not too high above sea level. While devastated in many ways it maintained a transportation system as well as a majority of its manufacturing facilities, scientific research centers, hydroponic farms, and cultural sites as well over half its population. Of course massive repairs were needed. Despite losing nine million people it remained a heavily populated city with eleven million survivors. Nearly all of the changes that effect this world and helped it recover were funneled, to one degree or another, through this great city. It became the world capital.
Populations around the world plummeted. Almost half of the world’s population of animal and plant life perished in the first few weeks. Once the world supported nearly 5 billion people. Ten years after the cataclysm only 400 million survived. The current estimate is around 2 billion. The first few decades were hellish till the people developed ways to cope.
Animal life suffered along side the sentient life with only a few of the most hardy wild land animals surviving. Most of the surviving animal life was in zoos or food production facilities. Avian species that survived mainly survived by flying to the tropical areas. Sea life largely boiled away or froze, however it managed to recover faster then the land animals so that fish is now a staple food around the world.
Plant life nearly disappeared, only to be saved by the vigorous hydroponic systems that existed beforehand. Hydroponic systems and seed banks have had a great deal to do with the survival of people on this world. Expect to find these hardy people growing things in the strangest places and the strangest ways. Every home has some form of garden for personal use. Terrariums are fanatical hobby for young and old.
One plant, a sugar plant I will speak of below, is said to have been an experimental hybrid before the disaster that went wild when a vast plantation that it was being developed on exploded sending seedlings and cuttings into the upper atmosphere to fall across the world and take root in many different climes. I have heard this story many times but can find no documentation to confirm it. I'm not buying it. I know better and so does my sister.
All Things Cold and New Adzikis in Winter still has much to recommend it. They have survived a terrible tragedy on their world and by embracing life have become at once one people, regardless of appearances, and embraced the creation of life. The change of the world’s name is a sign of their resiliency. Before the big shaking the place was called Adzikis. A poem about the new world called it "Adzikis in Winter" and that name became a rally cry for the survivors.
Despite the massive destruction, many elements of the growing industrial age survived. But their development was diverted down new paths. Intercity transportation continues and grew on a well-designed tri-stone mag-lev rail system that spans land and water. Yet most travel in the city is on foot, bicycles, hoverboards, or in horse drawn carriages. While mag-lev personal wagons and vehicles exist they are mostly used for official governmental travel and for cargo. There are some mag-lev bus systems, mainly on long cross-city and regional routes.
Solar power systems are the most common power source, with thermal power a close second. Solar systems are largely self-sufficient while thermal systems are regional or grid connected. The solar power-cells are extremely efficient and I have used them on a number of other worlds so the technology travels well though the tri-stone system does not. Fickle shadow technology.
Nearly all agriculture on this world is hydroponic and communal. Much of it is large scale and managed for the betterment of the population inside mammoth buildings. However, nearly every dwelling have small enclosed hydroponic systems used to recycle water, waste products, and air while growing herbs and small fruits and vegetables. These small hydroponic systems are remnants of the systems used at the time of the cataclysm by the survivors. In time the efficiency and productivity of these household systems may have been key to the population's survival. As such, the systems are as much decoration and art works as they are sources of food and clean air.
There are considerable cottage industries involving food production, preparation, and sale. Various methods of preservation allow families to produce and store food for themselves and for sale. Many families specialize. One of my friends on this world, Dalo Tres, produces tomatoes. His home is hothouse with thousands of tomato plants he and his family tend. Their booth at the local faire Is filled with dried, canned, and fresh tomatoes of many varieties, as well as canned sauces, juices, and skins. They make a cloyingly sweet tomato wine that is adored and their biggest seller, bringing people to their booth. I find it nasty but don't turn it down when offered. I wouldn't want to be accused of being inhospitable on this world where hospitality goes hand in hand with survival.
The Sugar of Adzikis in Winter: The Sweet Flora
Now we come to the reason I mentioned my dear sister Florimel at the beginning of this conversation. She who raises the phrase, "I have no idea what you are speaking of" to an artform and makes you believe her.
This world has a plant called Thesweetflora. Yep, "The Sweet Flora".
The way the word is used does fit any of the known languages of the world. It’s just spoken of that way.
“Hey, Jed, what’s that plant over there? It sure smells good."
“Well, Zeke, that’s thesweetflora.”
Verbally it is pronounced ‘thesweetflora.” In Thari in comes out as "The Sweet Flora". Deny it if you like, dear sister, I know its you. I hadn't traveled to Adzikis before Patternfall but I'm glad you brought this plant here. These people are oddly endearing and it was a lifesaver.
Thesweetflora is a sugar plant that was unknown before the disaster and suddenly began growing wild around the world the year afterwards. It is a critically important plant that was a lifeline during the worst days of the early recovery and has become a symbol of the world's resiliency.
This preposterous plant is tall at 18' with a thick stalk 1' to 4' feet wide. Its covered in gigantic pale flowers in many colors with petals grouped around a ring of bright purple seeds that span 3'. It is heavily covered in thick wide green leaves themselves over 2' wide and long. It blossoms when the sun rises and follows the sun through its passage despite the thickness of the local cloud cover. It's base is surrounded by a thick ivy-like vine mass with melons growing up to 2'. Its root system grows well in even the coldest climates, and produces starchy potato-like tubers.
To discuss this ridiculous plant we need to start at the bottom and go up, considering the roots & their tubers, the stalk, the flowers & seeds, and the melons. Then we an talk about its cultural significance.
How far Flora had to walk toward the wild shadows to find this oddity she is mum about.
Roots & Tubers: It has a central taproot that will dig into frozen soil and the offshoot roots grow in a curling pattern breaking up the frozen earth for a foot below the surface spreading nutrients. The potato-like tubers cluster tightly to the coils and grow to the size of a fist. A harvest of 200 fist-sized tubers is typical.
The Tubers have a texture like purple potatoes and can be used like them; that is if you like your mashed potatoes to taste like pureed maple candies. That said, there is an extremely large volume of culinary lore that uses them. They are used as flour though its a very sweet flour. Still, it has culinary uses and its fans. Adzikis in Winter is truly a dessert planet.
They make a hell of a weird potent sweet vodka from the purple spuds but it kind grows on you after a gallon or two.
Stalks: The stalks range from 1' to 4' in diameter when ready to bear. They grow for several years while the other elements are regularly harvested. The stalks can be harvested after five years for full woodiness. Many families that have a few plants on a family farm tend the plants almost like pets. Some plants have continued to grow for fifty years or more and still remain thick with produce. Some past producing prime have become treasured regional monuments. Many marker posts are carved rooted stalks that seam to resist weather and wear.
Some connoisseurs prefer the produce from younger plants. Some connoisseurs prefer the produce from older plants. Connoisseurs are a shadow wide source of snobbery worthy of slapping regardless of the world.
The wood makes a fine paper. The outer layers are stripped, and used as weaving material for furniture. The center core can be treated, milled, and is a moderate hard wood.
Charcoal made from the wood is in almost every home and is used as a liquid filter. Since impure water is a problem on this world boiling and charcoal filtering are used on almost all water for consumption. Flora Rum and Vodka are repeatedly filtered to remove impurities but retain the taste and the potency.
There is an art form for growing miniature plants similar to bonsai trees; Teresanosi. Gasala for Tiny Wood. Tubers are usually removed as dangerous to the plants though melons are allowed to grow and are carefully, even artfully supported. A small collection of artisan foods products are made from Teresanosi thesweetflora. Especially an incredibly lovely pale yellow thrice distilled rum with the taste of apple cider.
ok, another Flora jab-the word Teresanosi in Gasala translates into Aurols as "Beloved Daughter." So in Thari Teresanosi Thesweetflora becomes "Beloved daughter, the Sweet Flora". Sometimes there are not enough eyes to roll.
Melons: At the base of stalks vines sprout and create a thick ivy-like mass with melons of various sizes that contain an unpleasantly sweet sap of a dark yellow color. They grow quickly and can be harvested year round. Once harvested the outer shell hardens within a few days under its thick layer of husk covering. Once hard, the husks are easily removed and the bulbs are tapped or broken open and the cloyingly sweet sap is harvested.
There are many ways to process the sap, from a light syrup to granulated sugar. This is the main source of sugar on planet. Its uses are endless.
Flora Rum is an extremely common product found in nearly every home on this frigid world. It refuses to freeze but can be boiled and reduced to create a sweet thick potent rum liqueur. Use accordingly.
The hardened shell of the melons are like coconut shells. Covered with a thick husk the cleaned shell is often painted, decorated, used as eating and storage utensils as well as a million of things. There many types of percussive musical items using the shell similar to maracas. The husk is raspy, thick, and fibrous. It is used to make cloth similar to jute.
Leaves: The plentiful leaves are thick, wide and grow on numerous short branches and vines. The leaves are by far the least sweet of the produce of this unlikely plant. The leaves are used raw, cooked, dried, and cured in oils.
Raw leaves are chewed and have a mild euphoric effect and create a nasty sludge like plug. This is a common practice among workers in the sugar industry. It is considered uncouth; a habit among the lower classes. Still, there is an underground of users that span all classes in discreet gatherings where this use is more refined, if not much less repulsive.
Other illicit uses of the cured leaves exist. Sniff...sniff.
Steamed the leaves are like spinach and make a tasty if fairly sweet result.
Dried, the leaves make a flavorful and naturally sweet herbal tea. Dried leaves have a very slight pain relieving effect causing a slight numbing of the lips and gums and the tea is used as a frequent vessel for mixing with other medicines. Like Flora Rum, every household in this world will probably have several varieties of Flora Tea.
Specially cured and cut the leaves are smoked like a pipe tobacco. Flora Weed is an acquired taste I find revolting but to each their own. Its like inhaling maple syrup steam and can cause light-headiness which to some is the appeal.
The leaves are also allowed to dry whole, mulched ,and made into paper called "Florimel Paper." I kid you not, that's what its called. Florimel Paper is not very strong and making it is a fairly inefficient way to use the otherwise tasty leaves but there is a whole school of poetry that is only written on Florimel Paper. I've listened to enthusiasts who say that reading Florimel Verse from other types of paper loses the essence of the work. Ya, sure. See why I think my dear sister is involved in this?
Cured in oil the firm leaves are used as a food wrap similar to Dolmas.
Flowers and seeds: The large flower petals are comprised of rings of bright multicolored petals three to six inches long around a seed plug from five to ten inches across like a sunflower.
The petals are easy to render and are used for their sugar and their scent in perfumes, oils, and candles.
While not a common usage for the petals they are also dried and powdered and used as a flour for certain kinds of confections and desserts. It is an extremely light and flavorful flour that dominates anything its used in to make.
For obvious reasons the flowers are used decoratively and they eventually dry enough for other uses. The flower plays a large common theme in the art of the world as befits something greatly responsible for the survival of its people.
The seeds are lightly shelled and meaty. The shell and the seed are roasted and eaten together or separately. They are often coated and candied and as such are a common snack food. The variety of coatings is vast. I prefer a pepper and ginger candy coating.
One last comment on "The Sweet Flora".
We shadow-walkers occasionally come across things that are out of place or too conveniently useful to have developed there normally. The arrival of "The Sweet Flora" at the time of the great disaster and the Patternfall war is too much of a coincidence for me. When I spoke to Flora about it she admitted that she had spent some time there before the war and felt sorry for the place finding it in the first year after the war. She would not discuss the plant at all but thought it a lovely homage from whoever brought such a useful plant to a suffering world.
Next perhaps I'll talk about Sea View Gardens. Its been on my mind today. Prince Blays of Amber
Game Concepts and Notes
World: Adzikis in Winter. Locally called 'Ac tanu Mat ren Adzikis e Anoa' Tech level: Equivalent to the late 1960s to 1980s with specializations in renewable industries. Population: two billion System: One planet in a system with a cool bluish yellow sun. 3 moons.
Time Ratio: 5 Days in Adzikis in Winter to 1 day in Amber. (5:1 in Amber)
Main City: Cadaselmis Most people live in small mostly self-sufficient communities. Coastal cities tend to be larger, dealing with commerce and fishing.
Races: Predominantly humanoid of diverse coloration and descriptions.
The battle that devastated the world was an incursion of the forces of chaos during the Black Road War that was defeated by members of the Ac Mat Ala Crea, a group of sorcerers in possession of a shadow of the pattern they call the Sigil Ala Crea, that is walkable by anyone with Chaos level psyche and one pip of good stuff. The spells empowered by the Shade Pattern can be potent if used correctly but are vastly less powerful the a normal pattern imprint wielding sorcerer's spells. Before the devastation these wizards were a source of amusement and afterwards they were a source of hope and pride.
Game Possibilities: The Sorcerers of Ac Mat Ala Crea have artifacts of Chaos a player might seek out. He might fight them or befriend them. Flora may have connections, maybe even romantic ones, on this world. She might have players help them out of a problem. She might have given birth to a child raised on this world that a player might rescue or even run. "The Sweet Flora" is an incredible plant and players might find new and amazing uses for it that lead them to trying growing it here or exporting it to grow it elsewhere. A Lord of Chaos may have led the forces here during the Black Road war and after defeat they may have traveled the world. The PCs might come to seek him out for any number of reasons. The world is near shadow trails established in antiquity by Amberites and some of the Golden Circle sorcerers able the shadow walk. While the previous nations and industry did not engaged in open diplomacy or commerce, players might discover some individuals who did and might influence events and the prosperity of the world in many ways. None of the users of the Sigil Ala Crea have an Advanced or Master imprint. They explain the only ones with it, their master and his partner, both died in the battle. The PC might research how to gain the Advanced or Mater Imprint.
Sigil Ala Crea-A High Order Initiation Located on Adzikis in Winter. Used by sorcerers of the Ac Mat Ala Crea. This is a shade pattern of Amber from deep in shadow so it bears little resemblance to the Pattern of Amber. 5 Pips for Basic Imprint. 10 for Advanced Imprint. Does not support a Master Imprint. Holder can empower High Order Sorcery with the sigil at a greatly lower power level. Walker must have a Chaos Psyche and 1 Pip of Good Stuff. Can be used as a partial defense against direct magical attacks Can be used as a lens to detect magics and examine magical effects. It's spell frame may hold as many 7 spells designed for the Ala Crea inscription.