Thirteen

Within the world are 13 smaller bodies still great enough to sustain and develop life and cultures. While there are hundreds of even smaller bodies, it is these Thirteen that are the core of life in the world. Though they vary somewhat in size and composition, there are certain facts true to all of them.

The Thirteen each have a diameter of between 200 and 300 miles. Every one of them possesses water. They all have something which is referred to as gravity, a force which attracts bodies to the surface; this is present on many of the smallest bodies as well, but often in limited or obscure fashions. Every one of the Thirteen is capable of supporting life; some have lost much of the capacity for life they once possessed, because of damage or shift in location, but none of them is entirely lifeless even yet.

The Thirteen all move about with the interior of the world in patterns that are predictable. Each has its own orbit and period. One of them has a greatly long path which takes it through vast swaths of the world; this is the Wanderer. Two others have rather long paths, but still pass only through a quarter perhaps of the world. The rest move in rather restricted areas, coming into contact with just their nearest neighbors, and then often very briefly.

Of the Thirteen, the three which move more widely are unusual in their own ways, as far as climate changing with time. In general, being closer to the Great Sun means it is warmer, and being in the upper airs does as well, such that the Wanderer changes seasons often as it moves. For the more stable worldlets, seasons are more predictable. Seven of them have frigid cold winters and blistering hot summers on their northern extremes, with warm winters and cool summers on their southern extremes, and variable seasons in the equatorial regions. Two have the reverse, their southern extremes most often leaning toward the sun while the worldlets drawn closer to it, and the reverse as they drift further away. One world, Gontrada, is tidally locked; the side which faces the sun is a wasteland of blasted terrain and heat; the opposite side is frozen; and along a narrow band of perpetual twilight, there is life. 

Illus is a fortified stronghold of a worldlet, every town a fortress, with a fleet of balloon ships and squads of barely tamed dragons to protect it; here, if anywhere, the Shatterer will come last.

Next comes Vielk which was once known for its dancers and musicians, and which has already suffered much. Void spits out of its broken surface, and savage things dwell in the ruins of the once lovely cities. In the south there is still some vestige of civilization, and some settlements that heed the authority of the Young Queen

Hanugopian lies further turnwise than Vielk, and in general has a more distant orbit. A cool world, it is known for the rich mineral lodes to be found in its mines. The Tinsmith is from Hanugopian, though she does not often dwell there now. One great Void bore extends into the heart of the world, and from it crawl demons and monstrosities that are confronted by the golems and constructs left behind by the Tinsmith, and the bold citizens of the mighty city of Smelter.

Oshul drifts high and low in the world, and thus has more extreme seasons than almost any other Moon. Half a dozen rival monarchies fight over the world, which is littered with ruins and crumbling walls that once (and sometimes still) demarcated boundaries. Rumor has it the Young Queen was born in the Monarchy of Thrin, but it would have been in an age half forgotten, and she denies it. The Monarchs there make much of the connection. The sky fleets of Oshul are notable; in recent ages, the Wanderer never dared attack the place, and it has so far escaped the ravages of the Shatterer, save for a few meteors hurled without much guidance that have blasted craters but did no serious damage. 

Ravithanda has a reverse alignment, and though in earlier ages it was known for scholarship and study of the divine, it has become something of a hotbed of superstition and heretical belief. Numerous gods unknown elsewhere have temples, and magic is viewed as a collection of tricks and deceits. The Mistress of Sleights has as her supposed base a rundown palace in the city of Churlan, from which missives flit gripped in the claws of birds made of shadow and fog, carrying word to her agents all through the Moons. These birds, if ever harmed, draw the wrath of the Mistress immediately.

Quick is the fastest moving of the Moons, completing its permutations in half the time of hte others, though it covers the same space as is common. It was the second worldlet visited by the Shatterer and is broken; five major pieces still exist, loosely holding in formation, with numerous smaller rocks and chunks between them, and dusty rings forming up in orbit around the loosely assembled mass. Incredibly there is still life on those chunks; pirate ships operate out of crumbling cities, ancient temples sing with the sudden prayers to the great gods, and the Harbinger walks among the broken world, crossing rope bridges that join together the fragments, followed by hundreds and sometimes thousands of chanting devout.

Thirteen

Path of the Wanderer jasonvanhee