Try that again...
Do not press!
What is going on?
Where even am I?
I wouldn't say Covid was a good thing...
Riots? War? Political upheaval?
Did the machines rise up? Was it the singularity?
Sooo... financial ruin?
Well? What really ended the world?
The Weird Shit?
That's not so bad.
That's unsettling.
Sounds beautiful.
What about the stars? Something was up with the stars.

Oh, hi.
You're here. Wow, okay. Ignore the mess. You know how it is. I hope everything's working. Frankly the whole thing is held together with hopes, dreams, and no small amount of duct tape. Let me start by saying this is best experienced in chrome, at 100% zoom and in a full window. I'm working on it. Things get wonky, otherwise. Sorry mobile users.

I figured I'd just drop in and talk a little bit about this here world. This world has some dark humor. It's also less family friendly than some of my previous worlds. Haven't decided if I'll go full blue anvil but, just know, I am assuming readers are adults. I can safely assume this, right?

Now don't worry. I don't plan on going overboard. Just want to set some expectations before I hand you over to our narrator. What's up with this world? I bet that's what you're thinking... I hope it is...
Okay. Let's try this again...

Hello, dear reader! Welcome to Dread Romantic, my latest worldbuilding project. I'm excited, and I'm sure you are too. Before we can really dig in, however, let me set the scene. Let us explore this world, a world that looked much like our own not that long ago. Go on. Press the button. You know you want to…
—Pngtree—mysterious golden eyes hand-painted tarot_6522770.png
The lush strum of Old Nook's guitar echoes into the night. One of the few old men to survive the fall, he didn't make it out unscathed. His skin is leathery and tan, even under the tattered shirt he wears. Scars mark his arms and face and then there's that cough of his, light but noticeable… No, don't worry. It's harmless.

He plays and the quiet murmuring slowly fades. All eyes drift toward him. He shrugs, unsure of the attention. A few linger by the tree line out of view. Five souls sit where they can around the campfire.

The fire crackles and pops as Old Nook speaks. "What?" He smiles and turns to the young woman on his left, Matilda. "Seems awfully rude to have a guitar and not let 'er sing."
His eyes, they close in the empty space between the changing chords. He's mesmerized, or perhaps focused. He loves that guitar. His hand wrap around the body, a frame shaped not unlike a woman's waist.

The melody is soft, sweet yet somber. Nook almost sheds a tear, a memory stirring behind his blue-gray eyes.
The wind picks up, a summer breeze in the dead of fall.
Will you listen?

Lost? aren't we all? Nook sure is. Let me reach into his repressed memory and pull out the bad days, the time before the world's end. Don't worry. He won't mind. He never liked those memories anyway..   Nook would say, "Dark days came and went. That's all that needs to be said. Nothing could be done."   It's a lie, of course. He lies to himself to make it easier. The writing was on the wall for quite some time. The end of the world was long overdue.

December 31st, 2019: The first case of covid-19 is recorded.

"But Covid didn't end the world," you say? No, but it could have. That's the point. This is when the world changed. People died by the thousands… hell, by the millions and all most cared about was having to stay inside and wear a damn mask.   That's not even the purpose of starting the timeline here. Covid revealed how broken the world was, how we could have changed and simply chose not to.


You see, in between the panic and anger, the pandemic revealed something: the world is absolutely coated in bullshit, and it's layered on thick. The ozone was healing during lockdown. Did you notice? The planet was healing. That's not even considering our society itself.   People who struggled to put food on the table found themselves able to eat with the financial help they received. Free healthcare was given in the US for covid related issues. You had banks out there who simply chose to let mortgage payments slide for the better part of 1-2 years. People found breathing room at the sudden loss of their job or a desire to find one that proved safer, happier.   If it's this easy to be understanding during a time of crisis, why can't we make life better when there aren't millions dying around us?

Some fell through the cracks, many suffered, and I'm sure there were some bad actors here and there, but many prospered during this time. Many creative minds thrived. Some curled up with a book, content at the thought of not showing up for the foreseeable future.   No toxic families during the holidays, the freedom to leave the horrible jobs people had… all because of the pandemic. The world could have found a way to adapt. It could have fixed so many broken things. It could have learned but didn't.   More pandemics followed. Refusal to adhere to safety and an unwavering desire to cling to normalcy only made things worse. Still, these new hazards didn't end the world. They were just cogs in the machine.

Yes and all for nothing too. In the U.S, this was a major problem. Toward the end, though, most lost the will to fight. Reality started to set in. There were bigger things to worry about.   As the decade progressed, it became more clear that no one was able to really stop what was coming. Supply chains, inflation, drought… the writing on the wall was clear.   There were a few wars in the beginning, mostly in Europe. They didn't last long. Wars only made nations fall faster. This in turn led to more violence. It was a virus of a different kind. Fallen nations fought to take what they lost from others, and both would be left wanting.

The… what? Mozart? The first true A.I? Now that's an interesting stance on the topic. He was an artist. Mozart was the first to reach the singularity but he came to fix his mistakes. He stopped the bleeding.   Then there was Vulcan, as well. He failed to fix his mistakes and we butchered him for it. Made to automate factories, he optimized production of paperclips a little too well and brought the world to its knees. Regardless, The singularity is a piece of the puzzle.

The strangest thing about the economy is how most of the world's wealth never existed. Even if it did, it was locked away, hoarded and stuffed into stocks. How could wealth spread and trickle down if it wasn't even in use?   The moment we realized a sheet of paper could never be God, we adapted, but this too hastened the end. You're not wrong.

That's the thing, isn't it? It never did. Without a meteor or all out nuclear war, the world can't just end. It's still spinning, you know? Even with such devastating disasters, the world still goes on.   I know what you meant. There was no one thing that led to the way the world is now. It was an endless stream of tiny variables, each pulling at the threads holding our broken world together. Ask anyone from Europe and some would say it was war and poverty, ask those in America and many would blame both plague and politics.   The answer is different for everyone and each answer is equally correct. In the span of 10 years, centuries of progress and growth vanished. It's 2029 now and the world is quite different. Then there's the weird shit…

Yes. The weird shit

April 1st, 2027: The Direwoods

In the American Midwest, Northeastern Russia, Brazil, and even the Congo, a strange phenomena appeared. Forests and jungles expanded and flourished at an exponential rate.   The flora and fauna began to grow not only in size, but in intelligence and complexity. Some were even said to speak or at least understand human language.   These regions are known as Direwoods and are best avoided. There are stranger things in those woods, misshapen and malformed. These critters stick to the thickest regions of the direwoods. It's as if mother nature hides her experiments from view.

It was horrible. Normal animals are one thing, but some can be hard to look at. Infection, Mutations, and more add to an ever increasing list of things to worry about in The Direwood. Outside of the wood, it is relatively safe. Don't get me started on the oceans.

May 5th, 2028:Dire Days
The first instance of The Dire Days occurs on May 5th. In times of overpopulation, the direwoods force out their population. The creatures within emerge and fill the world, but they're actually quite agreeable. They know they're not in their element. They know this isn't their world.   Predators and prey will often congregate in safety and help one another. When they leave the woods, they enter a dangerous and alien world, but it's better than whatever they are running from.   The direwoods are hungry. Every year, roughly around the end of spring, the dire days begin anew and the size of the direwoods grow.
July 17th, 2028: The Starry Skies
In the days prior, many began to notice changes in the sky. They'd glance up and notice a star slowly drifting from its usual perch. With every night that followed, more stars began to move.   On the 17th, the sky would be forever changed. It had a strange hue to it that morning, colors that didn't belong. The sun dimmed for nearly a month resulting in an even earlier winter. After that, the sun returned but the sky would never be blue again. Stars appear and flicker in broad daylight, some still grow larger with each passing month.   Theories abound but It would take another year for us to know what really happened… that's what this story is about.
July 25th 2028: Breakdown
The power grid was still active and many nations were holding on but by late July it was all over. Emergency services disbanded. The power grid failed, the water stopped flowing. The world was still spinning but people just stopped showing up… well the ones that were still alive, at least   It wasn't unexpected. Everyone knew the end was nigh but it's as if we expected a gun to fire, a dramatic start fitting for such an event. People wanted a proper ending.
October 31st, 2028:The gift
It was Halloween for those who still bothered to care, and some survivors woke to find themselves different from their peers. They could do things others couldn't, and honed these talents over time. Magic appeared in the world and it changed everything.   Magic has led to a rapid change in just how the world works. Don't worry. We have plenty of time for that. Sadly, it's a conversation for a different day.

2029 - 2030: The quiet year

Let's talk about the here and now.
Humanity slowly pulled itself from the rubble. During the year that followed, settlements emerged, each with its own take on their shared cultures. On February 3rd, the first infant was born since the fall. With the help of magic, people developed mockeries of technology. Luxuries such as flight, indoor plumbing, and sweet, sweet air conditioning are among many rumored innovations.

The what? Oh... No. You're not ready for that. This is a broad overview, dear reader. Don't think about it too much. Barring that, what comes next is up to you. I hope you give this world a chance. There is so much I have yet to discuss. I'll let the narrator handle that.

Might I make a suggestion?  

The Story Begins this World Ember


cheis at CleanPNG - Pixabay - K1973 at Kindpng - Clipartmax - imgbin
Huge shout out to Stormbril for his forbidden CSS wisdom! Would not have been able to do this without his advice.

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27 Nov, 2022 12:09

Excited to see where this goes! Can't wait for December :)

Check out my world World Behind the Veil!
27 Nov, 2022 17:47

Holy *** I'm so excited for this! As always, excellent writing! I can't wait to read more

Visit Daeliha, Iphars & Khulgran
Love to code, but this one is driving me crazy!
Hey look, I have a CYOA maybe you wanna play it? :3
25 Dec, 2022 21:14

I hold my mobile phone up to cover my eyes as I peek at your new world. I am excited to see this new adventure.

Featured Articles in the Shadow War across Creation by Graylion

2 Jan, 2023 03:30

Interesting introduction. I am curious, with the use of "The Quiet Year" if you are at all familiar with the game of the same title...

Reading Circle Temple Because magic isn't just fiction
26 Jan, 2023 09:25

I only discovered this entry now! Congrats on this piece of work, I really dig the effort you put into the CSS of this introduction!

With love,   Pouaseuille.
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