Patching the World

Simon approached the woman slowly, the kind of caution one has when approaching a wild animal. His voice was calm and soothing when he spoke, his arms swaying at his side as if he didn't quite know what to say.
"How-" he began, but the words caught in his throat. She didn't respond, as if she hadn't even registered his existence yet. she stared at the spiders on the ground as they crawled steadily around each other. Each one moved at a different pace. Some were brightly colored, others were dull and dark. Each was a different size and species, he never noticed that before.
Ariadne sat with her legs crossed. Her black hair dangled over her face as she focused on their movements. Her eyes darted and danced, tracing every twitch of the legs. She sat like this for hours, sometimes for days, with an ornate long-sword of Alfen make gently laid across her lap in its sheath. She wouldn't eat, drink, or sleep. She just stared. He stroked his graying beard and finally mastered the courage.
"Ariadne," he began, his tone still soft and soothing. He waited for her to glance up before continuing, her brown eyes meeting his own, "How do the spiders help find the right path?"
She slowly turned her head back, continuing her vigil. It took a moment, but she responded soon enough. Her tone was almost cheerful, aloof to the dangerous wilds they found themselves in. She spoke loudly and clearly, ensuring each word could be heard. She took a deep breath and spoke, waving her hands as if unsure of what Simon meant.
"I don't know..."
Treadsight is an ability only found in The Estoyan Pathfinders. They have a natural sense of direction, even when time and space are twisted into impossible shapes. The Pathfinders are always able to navigate their way. They will always reach their destination, and are keenly aware of how long they have traveled and how much distance they have covered. The ability is used most in the process of planning and building roads. The Pathfinders use this ability to create roads that stabilize the land in which they cross. By building these roads the effects of Universal Vertigo are purged from the land.


It is unclear what the gift truly is. It is not based in the The Arcane, nor is it based in any physical and metaphysical laws. According to them, as a natural side effect of entering and finding the center the The Pathfinder's Labyrinth, a maze on the island of Jeelix where the pathfinders make their home.

There is something about the experience of entering and being in the labyrinth that changes the person entirely. The experience itself is something few Pathfinders discuss, and even when they do it's usually in vague terms that give absolutely no true depiction of what it was like.

Most Pathfinder suffer from PTSD to one degree or another, some cases being fairly mild to other cases which are quite severe. There is also an unusual fixation or obsession over a particular subject. Many believe that whatever this fixation happens to be, it is a reflection of the experiences they had in the maze.

Pathfinder Roads

Pathfinders build on their own without being asked or commanded by any other authority. When they first appeared, they were creating the intricate bridge that crosses The Gray Bay to the mainland from the island of Jeelix. The bridge is known for its inefficient design, with paths that often lead to dead ends, stairs that end with a one-way dive into the water below, and even small pockets and rooms that have no clear purpose. The actual path across the bridge takes almost a full day to cross, as those who try often get lost in its mazelike design.

The roads they build have a very similar quality. They often take sudden turns and weave through the land with no regard for logic. It is not uncommon to see a sharp right turn simply because a tree was in the way when building the road. Sometimes the path rights itself after bypassing the obstacle, other times it can go on for miles before turning towards its destination once more.


Treadsight manifests in different ways, each pathfinder having their own unique brand of the gift. Some use the direction of wind, and when the wind changes, so too must the road. Others use the position of the moon and sun, building the road toward the celestial bodies until they reach their destination. Some focus their attention to the ground, following landmarks that stretch across the region and using them as turning points.

The most famous manifestation of Treadsight cones from the leader of the Pathfinders. Ariadne places her fixation and obsession on arachnids. The wagon she travels in contains approximately 175 distinct species, all of various shapes, sizes, and toxicity. Every time she feels the inclination to stop and change direction, which appears to be an instinctive decision, she will go into her wagon and collect anywhere from 3 to 15 distinct specimens. Each is of a different species, varying in size and shape. She has them roam around in front of her, and simply stares at them, studying their movements. Those who witness this bizarre ritual cannot determine what it is that gives her the answer on which direction to build the road in.  

Building Roads

The manifestation of this gift is completely and totally random. There is no true correlation between one instance of the ability and the next. It is the maze that truly holds the key. The maze is alive in many ways and can communicate to any Pathfinder that is able to successfully find the center. Pathfinders have prophetic dreams and waking visions as a result of Treadsight, and their fixation puts them in a meditative state. This meditative state allows them to feel fractures caused by the damage of Universal Maladies. These fractures cause Universal Vertigo.

The roads are built on these fractures, effectively binding them and allowing them to heal like a bandage. No one knows this. Not even the pathfinders are aware of this fact. It points to a very interesting detail about the maze. Many described the maze as alive in one way or another, it would be shock to them to find out how truly right they were...

Creating a fixation for a character should focus on the illogical and make no sense. Their can be no obvious way of determining the result. The formula is as follows:

  • Subject of obsession + behavior of subject + various little contextual details that change the result = the direction of the road.
  • spinning wheels + time it takes to stop spinning along with the direction a white mark on the wheel is pointing + time of day, weather, humidity, day of the month and year = The direction of the road


Cover image: by Devells Wong


Please Login in order to comment!
Powered by World Anvil