⭗ REDIRECTIONS XII⭗
⭗ THE WINDLASH ⭗
“Going that way will take us into the Windlash,” Coda-2 said. She was hesitant, and her male bodies grouped up on her as if they could find safety by huddling together.
“It will,” the Blue Oracle said as she walked, not even looking back at the polybody pilgrim.
“But the stories,” Coda-1 offered, looking at Coda-3, then looking at Past-Tense and Charred-Hand as if they might be able to confirm the pilgrim’s fears. “It isn’t safe.”
“There is nothing to be gained by walking through safe lands,” the Blue Oracle spoke calmly, firmly. “The Windlash is a place where dreams pool in the low places and realities bleed one into another. It is a place to manifest answers, and so much more.”
“We will need a tea for true seeing,” Charred-Hand murmured to himself, searching his pockets for the bags of dried leaves he would need to brew the necessary diffusion when the time came to rest.
“I will see for us until then,” Past-Tense said, and there was a rumble of apprehension in her voice.
“We will see what the others cannot,” the Blue Oracle added, and her smile was as knowing as it was mischievous.
On maps and from the outside, the Windlash appears only as a quiet, serene stretch of dry gullies and arid plains, but is that all that there is to it? It is said that no one lives in The Windlash, but that can’t be true with all of the stories of void-black shadowmen who stalk the powder hills and crouch in the crumbling archways of buildings weathered away by sand and time. Is everything odd that has been seen in the Windlash just an illusion? The local tribes skirt the border of the place in their migrations, but never cross through it, and there are no guides willing to brave the place. Sure, you’ll find merchants in every town that say they have cut through The Windlash without incident, but are these stories the truth? Are these merchants even human, or are they something else entirely? Have you met one, or only heard second hand the stories of their easy crossings? Whatever is really going on in the Windlash, one thing remains certain– you’ll have to journey into and through it to know the truth for yourself.
⭗ RUMORS FROM THE WINDLASH⭗
Visions Of The End: The most common stories you will hear about the Windlash are those that sound like hallucinations born of dehydration or perhaps from licking strange toads or eating colorful cacti. Strangely, these visions all tend to follow a similar pattern, in that they are all dreams of the end, of great cataclysmic events leveling cities or collapsing civilizations. When the visions come, they are so real and so tangible that many who have experienced them will claim that they actually lived through the event, or that they stumbled through time (backward or forward, sometimes even sideways) and witnessed the destruction first hand before returning to their place in the normal flow of things. Some have claimed to have seen the total erasure of all of the cities of the Circle Sea, while still others say that they saw the fall of Azure at the end of the Azure Age, witnessing the final moments when everything spectacularly collapsed and obliterated itself. There may be truth to these visions, truth and answers, for those who seek them, but who will you believe? The wild-eyed desert refugee raving about such things, or the merchants who claim that such visions only come from toads and cacti?
The Thunder Golem: there are stories of a towering bluelander monstrosity constructed during the Azure Age which has gone mad (or become enlightened to the true nature of reality, depending on who you ask.) Most of the stories of those who claim to have seen it dancing and stirring up the sleeping souls within the soil say that it stomps and sings in the Windlash, in an area known as the Smoke Plains. Some say that it has become a god, an oracle, a demon, or an avatar of the end times, but none of this (or all of it) may be true. It is said that the golem towers taller than the highest spire in the Violet City, and yet its footfalls are absolutely silent and do not even vibrate the ground. Its voice is sometimes described as being like the ringing of a thousand bells, but others have said that the sound is soft and silky and can only be heard in your head. There are stories of those that have hunted the golem all their lives but who have never seen it, and there are stories of nomads who wandered lost in the Windlash only to be directed back to safety by a vision from the giant construct. One thing seems to be certain above anything else. The Thunder Golem is only seen when it wants to be seen, and only by those who it chooses.
The Fel Fluorescent Fursquatches: Some of the merchants who have crossed the Windlash can be pressed to talk about some of the more unusual things they have seen in the night there. Occasionally, one will speak of the Fursquatches, the tribes of glowing, hair-covered goblinoids that allegedly live in cave systems (or burrows) beneath the Windlash. Some who claim to have encountered them say that they are kindly, or timid, that they appear suddenly in the night, standing silently and watching but taking no other action. Others who have encountered them claim to have spoken with them or traded with them, and say that they are as civilized (if not more so) than any other group of people in or around the Windlash. Rarely, you will encounter someone who claims they know the Fursquatches so well that they share kinship with them, visiting them semi-regularly and even marrying into their tribe. Lime Nomads claim that the Fursquatches are actually biomechanical beings, and that they only appear biological on the outside, with telescopic lenses whirring beneath the lenses of their red eyes.
Chariots Of Fire: At night, the skies over the Windlash are full of frantic, glowing orbs that dance and exchange beams of light before disappearing into the sand (or the cosmos) according to their unknowable whims. Everyone who has even skirted the edge of the Windlash has seen them and can speak of them, but a few who have wandered deeper into the area have stranger stories about personal encounters with them.
Most of the personal encounters follow the same narrative, that one of the flaming orbs descended from the sky, flashed its lights as if in an attempt to communicate, or transferred strange spectrums of sound and fire into the soil before shooting off into space again. Occasionally you will meet someone who claims to have spoken with such an orb, and they have been known to land long enough for their crew to share a pot of tea around a fire with lucky (or unlucky) travelers. Some may caution you against eating the food or drinking the tea they offer you, but no one can say precisely why, or what strange effects such comestibles might have on the body, mind, spirit or sense of free will.
It is also rumored that a rogue movement of Spectrum patrols are in the process of building a massive surface-to-void laser in an underground facility here. Some say that the purpose of the laser is to attempt to shoot down (for the purpose of recovery) one of the lights in the night sky, or to target a specific fast star that they know will become a danger to the world given enough time. Another theory is that the laser is being built to shoot at and obliterate the star-messiah of an obscure bluelander cult when she reappears in the night sky to descend and sing the dreams of her cult into reality.
The Lost City Of Torpotalos: No one lives in the Windlash, or so it is said. No one has ever lived in the Windlash. That is the official narrative of the Spectrum, the Violet City and all of the respectable scholars that claim to have studied the area. There is no reason to believe those who claim that they have actually been to a city in the depths of the Windlash, is there? How could a whole city go missing? Surely if there were a city in the Windlash, everyone would know about it. Surely there would be merchants and caravans ferrying goods to and from such a city, but if they are doing so, or ever have been, then no one is talking about it.
But once in a great while, you might corner a hoary old traveler while he’s half in the bag and hear stories of just such a city. Some say that the city is only ruins now, that crumbling spires and hollowed out pueblos crouch against the sand somewhere deep in the Windlash. Others claim that the city is called Torpotalos, and that it is a thriving metropolis to rival any of the cities along the shores of the Circle Sea. Those that claim the city is still thriving are divided on the nature of the residents, though. Some say these residents are ordinary humans, halflings and the like, living in seclusion and keeping to themselves. Some say that they are ghosts, or machines animated by ghosts, or that the city is entirely populated by clones of men in black suits, their machine eyes hidden by sunglasses, their hair slicked back, plastic perfect. Some say that the city only appears when the moon is full or when the fast stars align to open a smoky portal to another realm. They claim that the city bleeds out of a parallel reality and appears only for a few hours before it disappears again, reappearing for a while in another part of our world as the rip in space and time that contains it moves along a preordained course. Whatever the truth is, the rumors are persistent, and if the city does indeed exist, finding it could lead to boons unlike anything seen or heard of in the wastes for millenia.
The Dredge: another set of rumors that seems to contradict the idea that no one has ever lived in the Windlash are those about a place called The Dredge. Those who claim to have seen it say that the place is like a crack in the wastes, a fissure or a dry gully that cuts down through the anthrocene layers to a boneyard littered with the skeletons of great war machines from an age so long past that no one remembers whose machines they were or what they were fighting over The Dredge is peaceful now (or so it is said) and so rarely stumbled across (or braved) that an enterprising trader could just pick various mechanical treasures out of the sand as they walk along the rim of the fissure.
⭗ OUR PARTY (SO FAR) ⭗
Coda-1, Coda-2 and Coda-3, a bluelander polybody pilgrim, allegedly.