Trope-a-Day: Depopulation Bomb

Depopulation Bomb: Two, in eldraeic pre-history: the asteroid impact preceding the Winter of Nightmares, which wiped out almost everyone, and the Gray Wasting, a Precursor bioweapon that got out of its bottle a couple of hundred thousand years later and only managed to kill one-half to two-thirds of everyone. There are also some ruined planets out there to remind everyone that this is not a local phenomenon, either.

In the modern era, this is why people are encouraged to be careful with their bio/nanoweapons, because it’s frighteningly easy to create one of these by accident.

Trope-a-Day: Our Dwarves Are All The Same

Our Dwarves Are All The Same: Mostly averted, by not actually being dwarves, of course – the azikeldrae are the same tall, beautiful, immortal, mad geniuses as the rest of their species, with the possible exception of the silvertouched, who have acquired a symbiotic contamination of Eliéran silverlife (i.e., feral and evolved descendants of Precursor nanites), and who can be picked out by the odd skin colors (from metal deposition) and occasional metallic strands in their hair and crystal or stone “freckles” caused by hosting these nonbiological lifeforms.  Also, the women are readily identifiable as such.  Also also, very few beards.

They are, however, descended from the people who moved underground to avoid the Winter of Nightmares (the result of the astrobleme of -14,500), and many of them still do so in adequately vast and echoing underground halls (or in asteroidal beehive colonies in space – just like home only without the gravity), having decided that they like it down there.

They do like technology, crafting, booze, wealth, and a bloody good fight against someone who deserves it, but much the same could be said about absolutely everyone else of their species, if not most of the Empire, so…

Trope-a-Day: I Don’t Like The Sound Of That Place

I Don’t Like The Sound Of That Place: The Last Darkness constellation (centered around the black hole, Eye of Night) would be one of these – even though it’s actually quite a nice place to visit – as would the three stargates leading into the Leviathan Consciousness Containment Zone, Hell’s Mouth, Conjoiner’s Gullet, and Unreturn.  The Charnel Cluster, where the entire population and ecology were slaughtered by a seed AI experiment Gone Horribly Right would also qualify.

On Eliera itself, the Frozen Hell is a long stretch of tundra which is, well, exactly what it says on the tin.  The Stonedeath Barrens and the Bloody Wastes both commemorate ancient battles – lots of them, in roughly the same place – and the Makerforges are an unpleasantly volcanic mountain chain.  Nightfall Crater doesn’t seem so bad, until you recall the Winter of Nightmares, what caused it, and therefore exactly how many people the thing you’re standing on killed.

A remarkable number of fortresses and walled cities with portentous names, on the other hand are actually perfectly lovely places to live or visit; the names were purely for advertising – adversetising? abvertising? – purposes.

Alliances

The half-grown hasérúr dashed through the threadbare forest, and Hanych followed, stumbling in the dim light of the storm-wracked sky.  His breath was loud in his ears, the pain in his side nearly quieting the acid burn in his belly.  Snow and old ash scattered at their passage, he and Daeych at his shoulder, the promise of food more than – yesterday’s? two days gone’s? – meager meal of scavenged argor tubers, half-rotted.

Howls rose from left and right. Bancrach. His fist clenched on the haft of the axe he carried, a priceless relic of the time before this endless winter. It is not yours!

The howls again, closer now on the left. The hasérúr jerked and turned aside, sending them stumbling up the remnant of an old pathway, stones breaking apart and sinking into the mud, sliding underfoot. Bones crunched too beneath his tread, and Hanych hissed Elmir’s curse upon the azg-darath, as quickly renounced. They had no more choice than any when the star fell, and if the stonefolk hadn’t learned to eat rock down Below, they’d be as starving as any by now, too.

A cliff loomed before them, rocks and earth spilt down its length over the old azg door; the hasérúr turned to scramble up the precarious slope. Daeych’s knife flew from behind him, skimmed past head, and struck stone. It started in alarm; a moment’s hesitation only, but enough for Hanych to sink his axe into its neck.

A moment of triumph only, for the howls now came again, closer, and Hanych beheld the bancrach for the first time; an older male, still half-man-height for all his ragged, hungry look, perched on a low cliff-ledge, and two smaller shapes hidden in the shadows of the path. Hanych turned at bay, gripping his axe – three bancrach and two el-daratha was a hard fight always, but all half-starved, long-ran, and desperate… but without food, would they even last the night?

They are as hungry as you, as kin-loyal as you.

If they had not turned the hasérúr, you’d have lost it at forest-edge.

And still they have not attacked us.

A favor for a favor; that is the law.

Hanych’s axe rose and fell, once, twice, severing two haunches from the dead hasérúr, and a last effort thrust the remaining meat toward the shapes in the darkness; stiffly, the old bancrach jumped down from his ledge and dragged it away to his pack.

Triumphant howls rang in the darkness. A moment later, Hanych and Daeych’s yells joined them.