Stargazing Tradition / Ritual in The Void Between | World Anvil


The Favorite Pastime

A group of youths sat in darkness, some still too young to understand the ways of the world, while others neared adulthood. The eldest, a young man named Jordan, sat with his legs dangling off the side of the building. The lights of Juliet were hidden, muffled by the ruins of Safeharbor's planet wide city. It was finally dark enough.

The others talked among themselves. When Jordan stood, he called out to them, "It's Rhey's turn."

The girl named Rhey smiled, and stepped forward. She spent all week rehearsing for this moment, but now, with all eyes on her, she faltered. The smile faded. She struggled just to begin.

"Don't worry," Jordan said. "We have all night. Take your time."

She replied with a nervous laugh, "Sorry. I've never done this before."

Jordan shook his head. "We've all been there. Did you find something?"
Rhey nodded, pointing at a particular patch of sky. Everyone looked up, trying to see what she did. Jordan looked as well. The stars rested just beyond the eagle nebula, a patch of sky nearly void of stars save for those dimly shining through the clouds of gas.

Rhey stared as she spoke, "I see a cat. I named her Calstine."

"An unusual name," Jordan replied, his eyes fixed to the sky. The colors faded in, a mixture of yellows, greens, and reds. "I like how her eyes are different colored stars. What's her story?" Before Rhey could reply, she heard a familiar voice.

"What's this, Little Mouse?" Her father said. He looked upset, at first. When her mother appeared behind him, his face softened.
Rhey couldn't speak, stumbling over every word. She couldn't form an excuse. They wern't allowed outside the walls, especially at night. A few of the kids tried to run, but realized there was no where to go.

Rhey turned to Jordan. "I didn't know they were following me, I'm so sorry."

Jordan smiled, looked to Rhey's father and motioned for him to join them. Rhey tilted her head as her parents sat on the hard metal beneath their feet.
Her parents stared into the sky, and Rhey saw something she'd never seen before. Their eyes adjusted and their hands drifted together, trembling as they made contact.
They both gave a sigh of relief. Without his eyes fixed to the sky, her father spoke, "Go on. All that rehearsal, and you're not going to tell the story?"
You stare at them too, yes? We've always been fascinated by their brilliance. We stare for many reasons. We stare for science, in search of inspiration, to bolster love. I stare at them too.   We don't know how they did it, but our ancestors on earth saw our bones as frail, our flesh weak. They changed us on a fundamental level, a genetic level. Our skin is tougher, our muscles and bones denser than they were before. Our perceptions were honed to a fine edge, and that's where the problem lies. We experienced the world in ways we were never meant to.   Our sense of touch revealed such abrasive sensations, ones our minds seemed merciful enough to ignore before we were genetically altered. Our eyes see what they previously couldn't, our ears able to hear frequencies well beyond what nature approved. In this constant state of anxiety, we again turned our faces to the stars. They smiled on us in response.


We can't stand the touch of others. It's a common affliction. Our sense of touch is so finely tuned that the mere thought of holding one's hand can induce a panic attack. This is helped by lining our clothing and gloves with aerogel, but the substance leaves something to be desired. We are physical creatures. We need to feel. We need to touch, and yet every time we do, we burn like proverbial moths in a flame.   Leave it to our intrepid youth to find a solution, and one dripping in history, no less. They would sit atop the tallest buildings of Safeharbor's deserted, planet wide city. They favored those that scraped the sky. It was like they were so close to the stars, one could almost reach out and touch them.   When they stared, they saw more than bright eyes in the black sea. They saw the solar wind, the milky mist of our galaxy. The longer they stared, the more they saw. Nebulae lit up like stellar fire, the colors vibrant and hypnotic. These early stargazers discovered so much. They didn't know it then, but they are the only hope we have left.

The stars of Safeharbor

The earliest stargazers found stories in our brand-new sky, mapping countless constellations and exchanging their fictions with each other in late night meetings. They met in secret, afraid of what their elders might think of their foolish, romantic endeavors.   It was only a matter of time. They were discovered, but The result was quite the opposite of what they feared. Their elders stared too, and often watched the nighttime sky long after the children went to sleep. These youths stood alongside their mentors, parents, and fellow citizens. Couples, who haven't shared an intimate moment for years, reached for one another's hand while the mind was kept busy by the overwhelming sights.   From then on, even the most stubborn of Safeharbor journeyed up the dark steps to the rooftops. They would listen to the younger generations, weaving their tales of heroism, sacrifice, and love. A tradition emerged, one that burned itself into our very identity as a species. We keep our heads in the clouds, and beyond. We watch the stars.

Navigational zodiacs

Only if you know where you are, can you can know where you're going. These distant systems explored by the Wayfarers are off the star charts for most species, and therefore, navigational equipment would be useless if someone was lost. Constellations in Navigational Zodiacs provide a means of knowing where you're going by knowing where you've been.   Humans can see things many species can't. They can easily guess whether stars are further or closer compared to others. They can estimate distance as well. Sometimes, they reach a destination just to see what the sky looks like, and create constellations for the system accordingly. These navigational zodiacs function as a map of sorts. The wayfarers make one for every system they find themselves in.   These constellations act as landmarks, allowing one to know the general location of a destination when lost, or without proper navigational equipment. One can pick a constellation, travel there, and use constellations known in that system to find their way back, or onward to a different destination.    

The Future

The young men and women who began the tradition would later become the first Wayfarers, driven by the wanderlust cultivated in their late night tradition. They didn't just want to watch the stars, but wanted to be lost among them.   They took their inspiration with them, each of their vessels named after the constellations they helped create. The wayfarers use these constellations to navigate. Since they are the ones filling in the star chart in these distant places, standard navigational equipment just won't do.   The wayfarers continue the tradition everywhere they go. Surveys and maps sent across the galaxy often come with charts of the night sky on distant worlds, their constellations marked accordingly. To the wayfarers, it's a mark they leave on the worlds they discover, a declaration that humanity was there first.

A New Mythology

Stargazing is the greatest pastime for all those on Safeharbor, though it's gained significantly more traction in matters of courtship. New constellations emerge all the time, but in the end, stargazing is a means to spend time and connect with others. It always has been.   We needed this new mythology, this new set of stories to pass on. When the tradition began, the stories we knew from earth were buried in data, locked away for years until I came to fish them out.   Humanity left many luxuries behind when we left earth, and there were few sources of entertainment to be found among the ruins of our new home. Stargazing filled a void in the soul of humanity. It gave us hope in the darkest time of our existence.

Famous constellations of Safeharbor

by Dylonishere

King Sapien, originally named Bernalos, was one of the first constellations of Safeharbor. This made him the subject of many stories. He is often a go-to protagonist, usually taking prominent roles in myths and legends brought from earth that were fractured and incomplete. This means he is often an inconsistent character. Sometimes he's benign and just, while other stories depict him as a trickster, or even a direct antagonist.   For this reason, Bernalos has come to represent humankind in later stories, hence the name change to King Sapian, or simply, The King. He is a symbol for what we are, what we've been, and what we could be. Many believe that he marks the way to earth, if you travel far enough in his direction. This comes from legends spread by those desperate to reclaim what was lost. No one has tried venturing that far... yet.

Pipe roaches are large insects that like to live in large pipe networks found all over Safeharbor. They bear little to no resemblance to their namesake. They have far more in common with mantids. They are considered repulsive and while usually docile, can get aggressive when starving. Oploa is another early constellation and takes the form of a pipe roach. The stories surrounding her usually involve mischief and mayhem, making her particularly popular among younger stargazers. This region has since been explored by the wayfarers, who found many valuable resources in their exploration.
by Dylonishere
by Dylonishere

The Loe are a family of farmers. They mark an unknown region of space in the galactic record. One of the more tragic figures in the zodiac, The Loe are known for their terrible luck. They are constantly assailed by misfortune, from drought and harsh winters to bandits and human stupidity, they are the epitome of perseverance.
They first appeared in the stories of stargazers less fortunate than others. Their names often shift, evolving into a massive family, all living on a single estate, which the constellation takes the form of. In many ways, The Loe are a symbol of hope. No matter how bad it got, it wouldn't be as bad as what this family dealt with. Some believe the inspiration for the name and concept evolved from idioms like "The lowest of the low," or "all time low."

In my studies, I've actually found that the constellation initially referred to as "The Srar Crossed Lovers" began as a retelling of a classic play, Romeo and Juliet. Given one of our colonies bears the name of an ill-fated protagonist, it makes sense that stories deepening the tale would emerge.
While the story remained untarnished, it was often extended, depicting the lovers and their misadventures as they tried to escape whatever afterlife the storyteller imagined for them, and always succeeding. No one has explored this region of space, though it's only a matter of time till the wayfarers try.
by Dylonishere
by Dylonishere

The Old Dawn is depicted as a sun. The Old Dawn has no stories whatsoever. Anything said is usually on the lines of personality traits, philosophies, and general concepts behind the constellation. The Old Dawn marks the way to the galactic community and the core worlds. Few wayfarers venture in that direction.

12 Years Later
Her father refused to let her go. Rhey accepted the embrace, not even trying to resist when she saw him holding back tears.

"You don't have to go," he said.

The words hurt. Rhey felt her lip quiver as she worked up the strength to reply, "Tell us what happened to earth, dad. That's all we really want."

His grip tightened, as if he fought the urge to refuse with all his strength. It didn't matter. "I can't," he said.

"Then I have to go."

The man nodded. "I know." He pulled back, and rested his hands on her shoulders. "I know."

Her mother leaned in for an embrace of her own. "I hope you find whatever you're looking for."

Rhey looked to her ship, and smiled at the words painted in large white letters on the hull. The SVN Calstine was top of the line. It was hers, and she knew just where she wanted to go first.

After saying goodbye, Rhey entered the airlock. She removed the casual wear and put on the wayfarer spacesuit placed in her locker. She admired the patches on the uniform, staring in a mirror to see if she looked the part.

She read her name tag, and the tears she hid so well forced themselves out. She felt a hand on her shoulder, and looked up to see Jordan standing over her. She read his nametag, smiling as she wiped away the tears.

"Roadrunner?" She asked.

Jordan nodded. "Fastest man in Juliet. You remember?" She nodded and he leaned forward to read hers. "Mouse," he began, "I like it."

Cover image: by Greg Rakozy


Author's Notes

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Please Login in order to comment!
Dec 1, 2020 20:38 by Jacob Billings

Ok. You write ridiculously fast. It's like you published this just as I finished looking through your other article. I may not be able to keep up with a commenting pace with this many articles, but I'll read them and definitely leave comments when something awesome stands out. You're going to be hitting the goal for World Ember in no time at all.

Dec 1, 2020 21:13 by R. Dylon Elder

I am VERY fast, yes. The Typos are a pain though XD No worries man. Im just going and going at this point. LOTS of articles to do. I hope you enjoy them!

Dec 2, 2020 05:00 by Sailing Ocelot

What a beautiful article :) I like the little stories at the beginning and the end, they wrap up the theme quite nicely. The images are also a splendid touch.

~~~~~~~~ SailingOcelot
Dec 2, 2020 05:13 by R. Dylon Elder

Thank you so much! I appreciate it. I was worried it'd be too much.

Dec 2, 2020 19:17

I love how you've not just said "Humans are the average, ordinary travelling explorers of the galaxy" but you've taken something like stargazing and made it an integral part of the human identity. I can very easily see human ships with constellations painted on their hulls in the shape of their namesake, or maybe even a starfield that mimics the view from home.   I absolutely know that the instant someone from haven reads "few wayfarers venture in that direction" they'll say to themselves "Oh! they don't? let's fix that! Can't wait to see what we find! Hey Jeff, you wanna go on a road trip?" unless, of course, there are real reasons people don't generally go that way...

Dec 2, 2020 21:03 by R. Dylon Elder

Oooo yes. I'm glad it was well received. I really want to go above and beyond the trope. They are hilariously below average, but still find ways to make it. The idea of their wanderlust being central to their culture, mainly with the youth who didn't expirience the fall of earth. They havnt been burned yet, so to speak.   Some wayfarers do go out that way in search of lost humans to bring back. The galactic core isn't kind to new species and most aliens still don't have a way to protect against our biology. There are some daredevils who want to see the sights in the core. They exist, but most want to see something new, to plant their flag and really shine for the rest of humanity.

Dec 2, 2020 21:17 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

I love the pieces of fiction at the beginning and end. I enjoy that they are the same protagonists - I really liked that.   This is such a beautiful, magical tradition. I love the examples of the constellations you gave too. :D

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Dec 2, 2020 23:50 by R. Dylon Elder

Yes, these characters will appear frequently in the story. Thanks si much! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Dec 2, 2020 22:51 by TC

God, I am absolutely obsessed with this new world. The emotions shine through so well, and every new article I read has me contemplating the universe and making me feel small (in a cosmic existential crisis way but that feels peaceful and nice).   The art you've included for the constellations is absolutely stunning! And I really love the prose that accompanies your articles, it transitions really well with the more "wiki" parts of the article (which tbh themselves feel very poetic at times).   Anyway I'm in love! Looking forward to reading more about your world, especially articles like this one :))

Creator of Arda Almayed
Dec 3, 2020 00:10 by R. Dylon Elder

Thanks so much for the kind words. I never what to say! I appreciate it so much. Got some really cool things planned. I hope it meets expectations :)

Dec 5, 2020 06:21 by Wendy Vlemings (Rynn19)

Wow, just wow. This article really got to me. I love the concept of stargazing. How it came to be and why it is still being practiced today. I'm not going to lie, I did have to wipe away a few tears here and there. I think it is perhaps this concept of something being lost, but at the same time finding hope for the future. Being able to provoke emotion in your readers is not an easy feat. But in my mind you pulled that of brilliantly. You deserve way more than the number of likes you have now.

Author of Ealdwyll, a fantasy world full of mystery.
Dec 5, 2020 06:24 by Wendy Vlemings (Rynn19)

Oh, and I forgot to mention that you gave me an idea for the name of my freighter in No Man's Sky! I am going to name it Wayfarer! And next time I am floating among the stars I'll be thinking of you! :D

Author of Ealdwyll, a fantasy world full of mystery.
Dec 5, 2020 06:59 by R. Dylon Elder

YESSSS!!! Thanks so much! That's some high praise and I appreciate every bit of it. Im glad i managed to evoke some real emotion. This setting has that as a goal. Also thanks for the honor of naming the ship! Fun fact: no man's sky is one of several inspirations for this setting. I LOVE NMS! Thanks fellow traveler!

Dec 5, 2020 07:53 by Wendy Vlemings (Rynn19)

Awwww! That is so wonderful. I love NMS too, and I think I'll continue playing it for a long time.

Author of Ealdwyll, a fantasy world full of mystery.
Dec 5, 2020 18:37 by Stormbril

Holy crap man, this is fantastic! I absolutely love the styling of this world and this article, everything comes together *perfectly*. That entire section on the constellations is my favourite. Really really great!

Dec 5, 2020 22:53 by R. Dylon Elder

Dude thanks so much. This is my favorite thus far for world ember and I'm so excited it's so well received. Thanks so much. It means alot!

Dec 7, 2020 04:26 by Grace Gittel Lewis

Lovely prose here! Really sets the mood of wonder, and I like how it ties into the later info. I like the new mythology as well— not just the writing, but the formatting/images with it are NICE!   If I may, some CSS feedback— and this is something that seems to crop up across all of your themes. I'd very highly recommend that you double or even triple the left/right margins on both your quote blocks and the "panelA" container. As is it's a little difficult to read as the tiny padding breaks the flow of reading, like my eyes keep slipping off the edge of a raised platform rather than being fenced in.

Dec 7, 2020 04:45 by R. Dylon Elder

OOO glad you liked it. I think i fixed it! How's it look? thanks for the advice. I always forget about that.

Dec 7, 2020 06:11 by Grace Gittel Lewis

Much better! Still a bit off for the quotes but livable!

Dec 7, 2020 07:53 by Anna Katherina

I'm not crying, you're crying.   Seriously, though. This is stunning, and beautiful, and emotional, and just... Thank you for sharing this.

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Dec 9, 2020 09:17

This is just a fantastic article! The art style, the images and especially the added stories really give it a nice touch!

Feel free to check my new world Terra Occidentalis if you want to see what I am up to!
Dec 11, 2020 18:12 by R. Dylon Elder

Thank you so much!

Dec 11, 2020 18:05

What am amazing design and very enjoyable read. Loving the new world!

Graylion - Nexus   Roleplaying
not Ruleplaying
not Rollplaying
Dec 11, 2020 18:13 by R. Dylon Elder

Thank you very much my friend. I'm glad you're enjoying it as much as I am!

Dec 17, 2020 10:55 by Kaleidechse

Oh, this article is really beautiful! The story surrounding it is very heartwarming, and the way you describe stargazing and the Wayfarers makes me curious about their adventures!

Creator of the Kaleidoscope System and the planet Miragia.
Feb 11, 2021 08:10 by R. Dylon Elder

I'm so sorry I missed this comment! Thanks so much for the kind words. I'm so happy you enjoyed it. The wayfarers definitely get into some wild adventures for sure. I plan on writing more in the coming weeks.

Feb 11, 2021 04:09 by Time Bender

I often get so stuck working on my own worlds and stories that I forget to check out everyone else's wonderful work! This is a beautiful view of the stars, and I think you definitely deserve a like from everyone on World Anvil for this. I don't know all about your world or anything, but it seems magical, in a mesmerizing way. I hope to check out more at a later point!

Feb 11, 2021 08:07 by R. Dylon Elder

I know exactly what you mean! Thanks so much for taking the time and the kind words. I'm happy you like it, and welcome you to explore whenever the mood hits you!

Apr 9, 2022 02:04 by Lilliana Casper

This is so sweet. I love the idea of the tradition evolving into mythology and everything. The images for the constellations is gorgeous. I'm looking forward to reading more!

Lilliana Casper   I don't comment much, but I love reading your articles! Please check out my worlds, Jerde and Tread of Darkness.
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