Keystone

 
by Annie Stein
Welcome to Solaris, traveller! Let me get you up to speed.
Solaris is a soft science fiction webcomic set in our own universe, kind of. Learn more by continuing to read, or click here to be taken to the comic.
Q:Where am I?   You're still in the system known as Sol. Except this time each planet is habitable and developed its own life. The people are humanoid, mostly.
Q:I heard something about a comic?   Oh yes! The main comic is still in development, but you can read the first few pages of Little Blue if you click here.  
Q:What's going on?   Sol is invading. The resentful sun sends its angelic armies: the Scourge. For now, they're being held back at Mercury by Penumbra.
by Annie Stein
Each age the planets choose a mortal to embody them. A young girl is granted immense power, the potential of the planet itself, and from that point on she is known as a Keystone. Keystones form a deep link to their planet and can tap into it's full power to preform godlike feats. Despite this vast power, Keystones are as fragile as any other mortal.
  In the modern age the Keystones are relics of an ancient time, figureheads of government or religious orders. Their powers rarely see use, and many forget their true potential. These women have been revered and feared for as long as Sol can remember. The modern Keystones are a far cry from the brutality of the capricious Godqueens of the past. Not everyone has forgotten. Those who remember their history lessons remember why some call for the extinguishing of a Keystone before her ascencion.

Inheritance

  There can only be one keystone for each planet at a time. As mortal lifespans are nowhere near that of a planet, the powers of the Keystone wane towards the end of her life as they pass down to her inheritor. Inheritance seems to be partially genetic, as on Jupiter the Patrician families are defined by having the blood of one or more keystones in their ancestry, while the courts of Neptune and Venus are rife with people hoping for their daughters ascencion.

Mother of Mercury
The last Keystone of Mercury sacrificed herself to chain the sun and contain the solar invasion. She left no known heir, and with the majority of the population seeking asylum all across the solar system finding the next Keystone may prove to be quite the challenge.

Conditions of Inheritance

  Inheritance is not well understood, and may even be unique to each planet, but a few things seem to be true across the board. A Keystone is always a woman, though not necessarily female. Her ascension typically begins sometime as she's coming into her adulthood, but there are stories of women being chosen later in life. She is always of the native species of her home.   Keystones are almost invariably talented women who show great skill and alacricity, though no particular skillset seems to be universally favoured.

Eternal Godqueen of Venus
The Eternal Godqueen of Venus, Tatiana, had been ruling Venus for centuries when a massive exposé revealed the truth. Rather than a truly immortal queen, the Fei had been hiding her inheritor among her identical handmaidens, using their natural ability of metamorphis to make the queens indistinguishable from one another.

Dangerous Potential

  It takes a while for a Keystone to truly come into her powers, but when she does, she is near omnipotent on her planet. She can warp the laws of reality around her and harness the vitality of her planet to empower her further. However, it is folly to believe she is fully in control of this power. The planet and Keystone act through each other.   It is not an easy relationship. Keystones and their planet are not always acting in harmony, and discord between them may unleash disaster. Even when everything is seemingly in harmony, natural disasters may still occur, and people continue to hold their Keystone accountable.

Warden of Tellus
Eons ago, a mild tantrum released a natural disaster. Horrified by the devastation she had caused, the Keystone drew back and isolated herself at her planets moon.   Ever since, the Keystones of Tellus have stood vigil over their planet from Luna, watching from a safe distance.

The Keystone also seems to be naturally attuned to the people of her planet. Most keystones describe it as a powerful intuition or communal sense rather than being able to read individual minds.   However, on rare occasions she can personally intervene on behalf of her people. By extending her power through them, she can allow her people to directly tap into the planet. This is called mantling. When mantling, the insides of the individual glow intensely bright, and the sigil of the planet brands itself temporarily into their skin.   Mantling can be dangerous. Mortal bodies are not meant to contain planetary power, and unlike keystones these individuals are immediately exposed to extreme power, rather than being allowed to slowly adjust to it.

Martian Control
Mars has had no keystone for centuries. The official government statement is that Keystones are a relic of the past, and Mars now guides its own growth. Rumours persist, from accusations of poisioning their own population, to claims of a secret government bureau monitoring the population for signs of ascension.

Hierarchy

  Planets are not the only ones who form keystones. Even some of those moons, typically those large enough to become spheroids, have their own Keystone. The lunar keystones are less powerful than their planetary counterparts—in a straight contest of force between the two, the planetary keystone will almost always win. However, not all battles are won by strength alone.   In the same way planet is the primary determinator of the orbit of a moon, keystones of a planet seem to have special power over the keystones of their satellites. Stories that feature a satellite's keystone directly fighting against their parent planet's keystone speak of their powers simply failing or being totally overpowered.

Holy Daughter of Jupiter
Though the Holy Daughter is considered a religious leader rather than a political one, her decision to summon every lunar keystone of Jupiter has been controversial. The lunar keystones and their associated governments claim that it was retaliation for the Catamite Wars and a reassertion of Jovian supremacy. Jupiter's government asserts, however, that the event in question was a holy calling beyond the domain of secular machinations.

Fragility

  As powerful as the Keystones are, they remain fallibly mortal. A Keystone can die as easily as anyone else. No amount of personal power can protect you in your sleep or prevent a dagger in your back. Because of this, the Keystones live and die by the institutions surrounding them.   It is the people around the Keystones who are the true movers and shakers. Brute force can only get someone so far. Without adherants to enable them, any Keystone taking after the Caligulas of ancient times find themselves swiftly handled.

Ward of Saturn
No Keystone has a shorter estimated lifespan than the Ward of Saturn. Rarely is she able to fully come into her powers before she is assassinated. The Keystone of Saturn is entirely dependant on the protection of the Merchant Princes, who are equally likely to turn on her should she favour one too much. The princes are loath to allow any advantage, after all.

Cultural Legacy

  Few institutions are stronger than that of the media. Keystones have always captured the imagination of the public. Hidden and secret keystones are a trope as old as dirt, as are stories about girls grappling with their unexpected ascencion.   History is no exception. As soon as a Keystone ascends writers get to work penning her biographies and biopic.

Uranus
The triumphs of Godqueen Theseus include her miraculous flight into space itself on a simple sailship. Aboard the Airship of Theseus she visited the moons, and even seduced her fellow keystone, the Empress of Neptune. This is completely impossible, of course. No one can "sail" through vacuum.

Sometimes dismissed as power fantasies, many of these stories grapple with themes of duty, class, and coming of age. Some of these stories explore why Keystones exist to begin with, what the nature of such a bond between a person and a celestial body is, rather than just asking what role they play in modern society.   Some even go so far as to claim the Keystones are the only sacred creatures left in Sol, less because of their position as links between the will of the universe and her people, but instead as the only beings above tabloids and reality tv. To others, it's further proof that they do not belong to this modern era.

Empress of Neptune
All modern Empresses of Neptune have been members of the Neptunian nobility. These noble families raise their daughters with the goal of becoming the next Keystone. Because nobody knows what the criteria of succession are, approaches include a thorough education, acquaintence with the Empress, and sometimes removal of the most promising competitors.
This article is a stub . It will be expanded upon later.


Comments

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Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
11 Dec, 2022 20:10

Great article! I really like the format you've chosen from the article, with the little vignettes into each planets and getting to see how they're all different. It gives a lot of depth to the world and points towards lots of fascinating things <3 You did a great work building up drama for each planet!

To see what I am up to:WE list of articles and goals.
Sage nnie
Annie Stein
11 Dec, 2022 20:32

Thank you so much! I really appreciate your help in brainstorming for this, your questions were super helpful!

Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022
Eternal Sage MandoMc
Amanda McRoberts
12 Dec, 2022 15:21

I'm seeing so many parallels, so excited. This is absolutely wonderful. I'm sitting here hoping that the Martian keystone is just hiding, and she's not gone. But I love the brief reference to the powerful intuition. That was one of my favorite abilities of the inspiration you used.

Sage nnie
Annie Stein
13 Dec, 2022 22:17

Thank you! Let's hope that she's okay.

Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022
Master PrincessESH
Aster Blackwell
14 Dec, 2022 00:18

This is AWESOME. I LOVED the tidbits about each of the planets' Keystones, and how each planet has their own issues with them. I loved the little hints about how there's a missing Keystone for Mercury and the whole thing with Mars. I love it I love it. And I'd like to let you know that there's a broken link in the Godqueen of Venus box ;) The thing with the Venus Keystones is probably my favorite. Venus is quickly becoming my favorite planet in Solaris hahaha

Sage nnie
Annie Stein
14 Dec, 2022 10:25

Thank you so much! I'm really glad you liked the tidbits, they were good fun to write! I love Venus too, but I can't wait to get to introduce you to the rest of the planets as well! Maybe your favourite will change, maybe not! Also, I fixed the link in the Venus box, thank you for letting me know about it.

Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022
14 Dec, 2022 09:20

This is a really cool, magical part of Solaris among all the spaceships and planets. Like Ami said, I love the formatting and the way you kind of get a glimpse into each Keystone throughout the informative parts of the article, with so many fun story hooks throughout. Fantastic work.


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
Sage nnie
Annie Stein
14 Dec, 2022 11:01

Thank you so much! I'm really glad people like the glimpses, they were my favourite part to write too.

Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022
18 Dec, 2022 06:04

This is genuinely such a brilliant idea; the snippets of history are lovely insight into a number of different fragments of your universe and I love that you've captured how the media react, as they do in our current day & age. Do we know why keystones can only be women? Is there any means of communication between different keystones, and do they choose to do so? It feels like it would be a very weighty, lonely duty, and I can imagine it would be nice to have some kind of contact with the few others enduring your same fate.

Sage nnie
Annie Stein
18 Dec, 2022 11:07

Thank you so much! No, it isn't known why, though there's always theories. I can see some being like, oh, it's because of the power of woooomb, but there's been infertile keystones and even trans ones. Maybe planets just prefer women? Keystones would probably be in touch with eachother, at least like, the ones in more permanent and safe positions, but you can't really open up to a figurehead of another planet either. They wouldn't have any special abilities to stay in touch from being a keystone, but there's always technology (or certain abilities/magic, but that's far less accessible than technology).

Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022
29 Dec, 2022 22:10

This is absolutely fantastic, and oh so inspiring! I love the way you wove fascinating factual information complete with small tidbits of lore regarding different keystones throughout the article :D   It very much inspires me to think of what sort of titles and ranks and mythologies I can work into my own world! Amazing work :D


Cathedris, the world of God-husks and New Magic, welcomes you.
Sage nnie
Annie Stein
30 Dec, 2022 09:07

Thank you so much! I'm excited to see what you might make!

Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022
2 Jan, 2023 18:12

The first line of this article grabs you right away and screams this is going to be a wild and interesting ride. "Each age the planets choose a mortal to embody them. A young girl is granted immense power, the potential of the planet itself, and from that point on she is known as a Keystone.". Another visit to the World of Solaris by the talented Annie Stein , builds us up just so she can throw cosmic curve balls at us. She shows the various ways the planets "embrace" their Keystone, and some of them are not what you would think.


Featured Articles in the Shadow War across Creation by Graylion

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Sage nnie
Annie Stein
2 Jan, 2023 18:34

Thank you! I am glad you liked it!

Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022
2 Jan, 2023 21:09

Wow. Really a great article. I think it's very good that you can learn a lot here without it actually being a lot. The idea of a general article with the keystones of each planet listed in the appropriate places is just excellent. Besides, they are the keystones of the planets and the handling of them is so beautifully varied. Thank you very much.

Sage nnie
Annie Stein
2 Jan, 2023 21:12

Thank you so much! I'm glad it doesn't become overwhelming. It is a lot of information to process.

Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022
12 Jan, 2023 03:04

And the award for the potential for the most fascinating intergalactic diplomacy goes to Solaris! Love you each planet has different ways that they deal with the Keystones, and how they're steeped up in court and politics (because everyone loves a little diplomatic drama). This was soo cool :)

May your worldbuilding hammer always fall true! Also, check out the world of the Skydwellers for lots of aerial adventures.
Sage nnie
Annie Stein
14 Jan, 2023 10:55

Haha, thank you! I have to thank the academy, my mother, and...   I'm really glad the little segments about each planet resonate with people. It was a fun way to show some of the differences between the planets, and how different the role of Keystone can be despite the fundamentals being the same.

Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022
Grandmaster tlcassis
Tlcassis Polgara | Arrhynsia
23 Jan, 2023 06:04

Happy to let you know this was one of the eight finalists for the "Title" Special category for WE 2023!

Sage nnie
Annie Stein
23 Jan, 2023 09:37

Oh, that's great news! Thank you!

Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022
25 Jan, 2023 07:40

Awesome! The more personal stories throughout the article really helped easy reading of the article, and made me so curious!

Sage nnie
Annie Stein
25 Jan, 2023 10:12

Thank you, I'm really glad they helped make it easy to read!

Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— Worldember 2022