Shards and Dust – Part I – Prolog

“That which goes up, will come down. That which grows hot, will grow cold. That which is living, will die. That which is carved, will crumble. If these things were not true, our world could have no order. The great clock runs. The great wheel turns. The Great City goes ever on.¬†Blessed is the Empress who rules over all. Blessed is her Engineer who builds her wonders.”

-Tamred the Younger, “Treatise on the Nature of All Things” The Year of our Empress 2920

- – -

“He’s always the same in every story. The god of seductive dimples. The god of lusty glances. The god of grunting and moaning and obscene outcries and shuddering climaxes. There are many gods in the pantheon of saints, but his icons are the most observed, and his feasts the most well attended. Many fear and placate Death and Sickness, many run to the Healer when they bleed, or the Harvester when they struggle, but all stop and honor the Fucker as they pass through the Church of Saints. Others are revered, he is beloved.

-Bishop Carlideon, “Missive to new initiates” DRS 862 (CF 7566)

- – -

“I have been called the Joker. I have been called the Thief. I have been horror, and terror, and cruel death. I once tore the moon in half. I once turned the moon into a new sun. I have leveled armies of thousands and mountains of stone with a slight breath and a flick of my eyes. I have lifted whole duchies into the sky and pined them there for a hundred generations by my force of will alone. I have murdered millions to save billions. My brothers are now gods. My lovers were all monsters. The only woman I have ever truly cared for was actually a non-corporeal alien super-intelligence inhabiting a mechanical body I constructed specifically for her, until she died by my hands. The fundamental forces of the universe are my playthings. The building-blocks of reality jump to my whim. I am nearly indestructible, suffer no disease or malady, and have no fear of age or death. Ten-thousand years have passed before my eyes. Billions of voices have fallen on my ears. Trillions of footsteps have now echoed my own. And I am tired. I know too much. I remember too much. I no longer trust my own decisions. My hubris is unmeasurable. My conceit is unfathomable. Gods fear me, men revere me, and no sane person would stay in my company by choice. So I must die. And thus, you are born. To you I gift the one thing I cannot have myself: freedom. You will remember little, and that is by design. You will be free of the shackles I have bound myself with. You will be free to follow a new path. To forge new things. To make new mistakes. And I envy you.

-Forte Sevaan , “Jade Library – Volume X\DCCLII” (CF 10752)

 Prolog

To call it a crash is to fundamentally misunderstand or woefully misrepresent the scale of the calamity. A floating island of nearly twenty miles in diameter fell from a height of three-thousand feet above the streets of the Duchy of Gran Lon directly onto the market square, the high capitol, the royal parklands, the crafters quarter, the docks, and the eastside slum. No one was spared. Those who didn’t die in the impact itself were cut down by shrapnel, choking dust, buildings that collapsed from the ensuing earthquake, or the fires that burned out the rest of the duchy over the following weeks. There were simply no survivors across the whole of Gran Lon.

There was only one survivor from the Skyland of Saint’s Rest. He floated down gracefully, like a feather from a great bird alighting on a whirlwind of rubble and carnage.

And he laughed at the destruction he had wrought.

He had destroyed not only one of the Empress Above’s favorite abodes, he’d also destroyed one of the most populated Duchies on the face of the Great City. All with one simple act of sedition.

He danced in his diamond patterned suit, his masque unable to conceal his mirth and glee. Chaos was loose again in the world. And The Harlequin was once again its avatar.

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