The powerlines swayed as I walked the mile to school. I stopped to readjust my pack while dust devils danced under an overcast sky.Orzal is a dusty grey world of agriculture and rural life. Its people live off the bleak land in small towns and suburban centers. After a nuclear accident, the world's only urban center was abandoned. Despite the cities vacancy, it still feeds the world with a steady stream of electricity that comes from a mysterious source.
Lay of the LandIn comparison to other worlds, Orzal is a thin flake. The main island is only 3 miles thick at its center, thining to only 10 feet at the edges. A few smaller leaves of rock drift near the world, but all of the world's life is consolidated to the mainland. Orzal is uncannily flat. In some places, one could stand at one edge of the islands and see the edge on the other side, over 400 miles away. A few hills dot the plains, as well as a spiderweb of streams and ponds. Most of Orzal is barren plains and abandoned farmland. Where the grey sandy soil breaks into more fertile land, the few remaining human settlements have planted their seeds, growing wheat and corn almost as colorless as the ground they came from.
People and History
The old radio crackled to life. The light above the kitchen table flickered while a scratchy voice emanated from the metal box. The town wire doctor told me it was the voice of a man in the next county over who could see into the future. I didn't believe him, my daughter thinks he was an angel, but I always thought it was the ghost of my father. Too bad this thing doesn't have ears...After a catastrophic atomic meltdown, the city of Auxton was wiped from the map. With went the vast majority of Orzal's academic knowledge, as well as most of the world's wealth. Radiation from the incident defused into the water supply and killed thousands in nearby regions, leaving only the furthest-flung settlements and farms. The few survivors that made their way to such places were less welcome than some might of hoped. A history of elitism and oppression painted the faces of the now desperate refugees. Then, on the 30th anniversary of the Auxton Event, the strangest thing happened. The power grid, which had been dark since the city was abandoned, switched back on. All attempts to discover the source of this energy, have ended only with death and madness. With electricity now pulsing through Orzal, the few devices that weren't scraped became very useful, and so too did the knowledge of how to operate them.
He was a very strange man. He was festooned with electrical cables and wore the tattered remains of a blue jumpsuit. Without a word he produced a set of pliers from his pigskin case and set to work on the singing box.When the grid came back on, those with the knowledge of how to harness this power became invaluable. Unfortunately, there weren't many left. Most had met their end trying to escape the city or starved in wastes. The survivors were complemented by those peers in the outlands, but being an electrician without electricity is quite a difficult task. By the time their knowledge became of use, there were only a few dozen left that could remember how to practice their trades. These surviving electricians and engineers became the wire doctors of Orzal. Wire doctors are seen as mystical figures, magicians capable of turning the dangerous force of electricity into heat and light. Their knowledge was powerful, but only if they kept it exclusive, and that is what they did. A coalition was formed between the 28 significant tradespeople in the field, they ruled that each would only take on one apprentice (more if others were unable to take on students) and that the secrets of their trade were never to be written down. With the power to repair in the hands of the few, advanced technology became more like magic than anything else. Light bulbs may as well be fragments of the sun, turntables the voices of angles, space heaters invisible fires. All these objects are commonplace in Orzalian life, but only the wire doctors know how and why they function.
I was out on the northern edge of the farm when I saw it. It was a man in a hard hat and reflective vest. It was just standing there in the corn. At first, I couldn't see its face. I asked it if it needed help, thinking it was human. When it gave no reply I put my hand on its shoulder. That's when I saw its face, and I was out like a light switch. Thank god for that old hound...After the Event people started to see strange figures. They usually took the form of men, usually scientists or tradespeople that were known to have died when the plant caught fire. These figures looked almost normal from afar, only they never moved, shifting position only when they were never being directly looked at. When they were approached, what looked like a face comes into focus as a gaping hole in reality. Those that have had encounters with these creatures are often found unconscious with a 2-inch square of skin missing from their face. Once one has been marked by the geists they can never escape. They will come again and again, each time taking another 2 square inches of skin from the face. When there is no more skin to take they will dig into the tissue beneath, then the white bone. At last, there is nothing left of their visage but a silent black void and they will rise again to haunt the living. City Geists hate pigs. People often hang hog trotters by their doorways to ward them off. Those marked sometimes were pigskin masks as protection.
LocationOrzal drifts in the same void space as Suberia, though in a slightly warmer region of it. Like its boreal neighbor, Orzal remains undiscovered by the World Federation of Quantan or other void-faring groups. Radio signals might have revealed its locations if it were closer to the central void, but the maddening gammaray hum of the Darkness consumes any noticable transmissions.
Remove these ads. Join the Worldbuilders Guild