Adzikis in Winter for the Zine
A Lovely Long Cold Recitation of Rebirth:Adzikis in Winter
by Bleys 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 or created 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. One is a center of warmth, charm, and luxury perched on a once barren balcony of the Castle Amber. The other is a frozen slice of disaster made into poetry through the resilience of it people in a shadow once filled with warmth and potential before disaster struck.
While Sea View Gardens is well worth a conversation of its own, and maybe oneday ill include it in this journal, it pales this morning to my thoughts of Adzikis in Winter.
Adzikis was once a thriving vibrant world walking into a bold future. They had discovered a type of magnetic reaction between three different type of stones that had become center of a developing technology. It powered among other things an extensive rail system and a wide variety of other transportation devices. 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. Scientists and engineers were figuring out that the three moons being explored by remote rovers could be reached by manned 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 and witches. 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. Unknown to the masses though,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.
Survivors of the calamity suggest several things happened at once. A series of earthquakes opening the molten layers beneath tectonic plates caused 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 globally dropped at least 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 died in the next few weeks. And since disaster breeds the best and worst things in the nature of sentient creatures they had great efforts to save populations and devastating warfare over surviving resources. In the next few years the death toll doubled 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 wackadoos 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 beyond 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. 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. They discovered that they could make a respectable alcohol out of almost any vegetable refuse and that by filtering it through specially scented charcoals got a nearly tasteless base alcohol.
More about sugar below.
There is a vibrancy to this world turned into an artists retreat. One where militarism has been all but abandoned. Where arguments between nations are solved though sports, cooking contests, intellectual quizzes, and acrobatics. They have international athletics that are followed by millions. 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.
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.
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 surfed the land wave to rest near an ocean, not too high above sea level. While devastated of course in many ways it maintained a transportation structure as well as a majority of its manufacturing facilities, scientific research centers, hydroponic farms, and cultural sites as well over half its population. Despite losing nine million people it remained the most populous remaining city with 11 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.About half of the world’s population of animal and plant life perished in the first few days. Over the next decade another 2 billion died due to starvation and the cruelty of the survivors. 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 sentients with only a few of the most hardy 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 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.
One plant, a sugar plant I will speak of below, is said to have been an experimental hybrid before the disaster 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.
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 occurs 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 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.
Nearly all agriculture on this world is hydroponic and communal. Most of it is also 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 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.
The Sugar of Adzikis in Winter: The Sweet Flora
Now we come to the reason I mentioned dear sister Florimel at the beginning of this conversation.
This world has a plant called The Sweet Flora. Yep, "The Sweet Flora". There is no linguistic reason for either word, or for ‘The’ to be put in front of it. It’s just spoken of that way.
“Hey, Jed, what’s that plant over there? It sure smells good."
“Well, Zeke, that’s thesweetflora.”
Linguistically it is pronounced ‘thesweetflora.” In Thari it comes out as The Sweet Flora. Deny it if you like, dear sister, I know you have been here. This is a sugar plant that was unknown before the disaster and suddenly began growing wild around the world the year afterwards. It is a critical plant that was a life line during the worst days of the early recovery and has become a symbol of the world's resiliency.
Tall at eight feet and thick stalked at one to two feet wide, with a gigantic pale yellow flower petals grouped around a ring of bright purple seeds in the middle. It blossoms when the sun rises and follows the sun through its passage, despite the thickness of the local cloud cover. The petals glow slightly in the dark. It grows in quickly and resiliently in vast fields that at a distance resemble fields of sunflowers. bright and yellow, faces following the sun.
At the base of stalks vines sprout with bulbs the size of cantaloupes that contain an unpleasantly sweet sap of a dark yellow color. The roots are comprised of a deep straight taproot and a collection of tubers like potatoes right below the surface.
Its usable produce are stalks, seeds, leaves, flower petals, ground sprawling melons or bulbs and subterranean tubers.
- Stalks: The stalks range from one to two feet in diameter. They are usually left to grow for several years while the other elements are regularly harvested. The stalks usually are harvested after about 5 years for full woodiness.
- The wood makes a fine paper and is used in many of the same ways rattan is. Stripped and used as weaving material for furniture. It is not quite strong enough to make furniture on its own.
- Flora Wood is an extremely common wood used in art and decoration. A soft wood it is often inlaid decoratively and is a common wood for small boxes and containers.
- Leaves: Thick wide leaves grow on numerous short vines. A vine and a few leaves can be transplanted to grow new flowers.
- The leaves can be dried and used to make a flavorful and naturally sweet herbal tea.
- Dried leaves have a very slight pain relieving effect but not enough that is used medicinally. However the effect is noted by tea drinkers as a slight numbing of the lips and gums and the teas is used as a frequent vessel for mixing with other medicines.
- They are steamed like spinach and other greens.
- The leaves, cured in oil, are used like grape leaves to wrap other food similar to dolmas.
- They are also allowed to dry, then mulched and made into paper called Florimel Paper I kid you not, that's what its called. Florimel Paper is not very strong and is a fairly inefficient way to use the otherwise tasty leaves but their 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 mediums, such as electronically or on other types of paper, lose the essence of the work. Ya, sure.. See why i think my dear sister is involved in this?
- Eaten raw from the plant the leaves have a mild euphoric effect and can be used as a pain reliever. However when the raw leaves are chewed it create a resiny plug similar to chewing tobacco, with all the lovely spittle that entails. A few shots of rum are a better euphoric. This is a common practice among workers in the sugar industry and is considered uncouth and 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.
- Melons:The melons or bulbs grow to be eight inches to twelve inches in diameter when ripe. They grow quickly if given sufficient water and can be harvested year round. Once harvested the outer shell hardens within its thick layer of husk covering in a few days. Once hard, the husks are removed easily, and the bulbs are tapped or broken open and the cloyingly sweet sap in the interior is harvested. There are many ways to process the sap to produce everything from a light syrup to granulated sugar.
- Processed to a granulated sugar this becomes the main source of sugar on planet. Its uses are endless.
- The syrups range from a clear light syrup like corn syrup to a thick black strap molasses.
- Flora Rum is an extremely common product found in nearly every home on this frigid world. It refuses to freeze but can be boiled to create a thick rum liqueur. The rum and the rum liqueur are very sweet but extraordinarily tasty. Use accordingly.
- The hard melon is covered by a thick husk similar to a coconut. The husk is usually considered a perk of the growers and the harvesters and has plenty of culinary uses but tends to become fragile and lose its taste after a few days, hence why its a product most often served in regions where the plant is harvested and is rarely marketed.
- The harden shell of the melons are treated like gourds. Painted, decorated, used as eating and storage utensils. Some growers place the growing melons in frames to make them grow into certain shapes before harvesting. Allowed to dry in the frame before tapping, the melons can be made into a lot of different shapes.
- Tubers: The subterranean tubers are plentiful and are harvested in warmer weather depending on where the plant is grown. Plants grown in warmer temperatures develop larger tubers.
- The Tubers have a texture like 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 the Sweet Flora tubers.
- Like potatoes the tubers are used as flour though again its a very sweet flour.
- The tubers can be rendered into sugar but its an inefficient sugar to produce compared to the abundant sugar source in the melons. Still, it has culinary uses and its fans.
- Flower petals: The large flower is comprised of a ring of bright yellow 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. They are frequently added to food and drinks.
- Rendered petals are a common ingredient in perfumes and scents in 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 and dominates anything its used for.
- 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.
- Seeds: The seeds are lightly shelled and meaty. The shell and the seed are roasted 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 coating.
- Uncoated they have a sweet seed similar in texture and uses to pistachios.
- The seeds can be ground into flour.
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.
- World: Adzikis in Winter. Locally called 'Ac tanu Mat ren Adzikis e Anoa'
- Tech level: Equivalent to the late 1960s to 1980s
- Population: 2 billion
- System: 1 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.
- 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. There are a few elves and dwarves that have come from offworld but little is spoken about this and the offworlders have long tried to blend in with the natives. Because of the assimilation there are some families that have a tiny amount of elven or dwarven blood.
Before the war there was some understanding that other worlds existed in other dimensions and scientists and philosophers were hard pressed to explain the details. The world is located near several well-traveled shadow trails of various origins and some travelers have come here from them.
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. This 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 are normal pattern imprint wielding sorcerer's spells.
- 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.
Minor Shade Patterns-Low Order Initiations
A shadow of the pattern so far removed from the primal that it bears little of the power of the original and is usually unrecognizable as a shadow of the pattern. Different shades may have different requirements in cost and powers but most have little power beyond the shadows of their origin. Essentially a Low Order Initiation, a shade of the pattern may have a vastly different appearance and effects. They may allow people to assay it easily, even if they only have a Human level Psyche.
- Sigil Ala Crea
- 5 Pips for Basic Imprint.
- 10 for Advanced Imprint.
- Holder can empower high Order Sorcery with the sigil at a great smaller power level then a pattern sorcerer.
- Walker must has Chaos Psyche and 1 Pip of Good Stuff.
- Can be used as a partial defense against directed magical attack.
- Can be used as a lens to detect magics.
- Its spell frame may hold as many 7 spells designed for the Ala Crea inscription.