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Author Topic: The World Of Urania  (Read 1848 times)

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Offline Cheka Man

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The World Of Urania
« on: August 19, 2005, 04:46:13 PM »
Robert's POV

So, you must be curious to know, what is it like to live on a world with six months of daylight where the sun never sets,and six months of darkness where the only light is that of the moon and stars? Not as bad as it might seem. For us, our New Year starts with the Day of the Dawn, when we come up out of our underground homes where we have spent nearly five months. We form a circle and sing the Song of the Dawn and kiss each other and stare through the bitter cold at the pale red light of our rising sun. I don't, but many people get drunk on this day. It is one of the few days when it is acceptable in our culture to drink to excess.

In the summer months hard work is very important. The harvest has to be grown for a start, otherwise we would starve.The harvest means everything to us.Then there is Defence Duty to be done against the bands of Midnight Raiders who like nothing better then to break through the walls around a city or a group of homesteads and steal the crops and anything of value.It's not as bad where I live but on the Ice Frontier, raiding is endemic and only those volunteers or conscripts of Duke William's Royal Guards, and those too poor to buy land anywhere else, live there.

The first month is when winter gives way to spring. Before the ice melts we have to take the blocks of frozen urine and excrement away and dump them into carts which take them to the Pit which is several miles away from human habitation.Otherwise the smell and the filth would be appalling when the snow and ice melts. In the second month ploughing and sowing takes place.This is the month when rations are at their most short and even the rich sometimes go hungry.Then in the third month everything grows almost at once. Fruit, wheat, barley...suddenly we can fill our bellies again and it is a happy time of plenty.

The next three months are much the same. Every sane community takes care to put supplies aside for the winter and to do their best to protect them both from raiders and from disease and fungus such as the deadly ergot.Should the harvest in one area fail, the Duke and those who serve under him normally see that the area has food sent to it,rather then leaving it to  face. the threat of mass starvation.

Crime is rare amongst our own kind and serious crime is rarer still, but from time to time trouble happens. The Duke's Sheriff serves as the Judge and a jury is picked from amongst us. For minor offences, a man or woman can be whipped or fined or left  gagged and bound to a tree for a few hours (if the offense takes place in summer.) For offences that are serious but not serious enough to deserve execution, a whole homestead can lose it's Glowstones for up to an entire winter, which  means six months of chilly darkness, lit only for a short time every twenty four hours with a torch. For rape, murder or treason, the penalty is either death by hanging, which is not often carried out, or exile as an outlaw into the Darkside with only enough food and water for two days, a knife, and a fist-sized Glowstone.

Then comes the month of Dusk when the sun sinks below the horizon. The plants rapidly die or sink into hibernation, the summer life either dies, hibernates or migrates, and the snow begins to fall. We can still sledge and ski and enjoy ourselves in the snow, which is not deadly as long as care is taken not to get lost.After that the bizzards start and we have to stay indoors for the next five months huddled around fires and Glowstones.We have the Feast of the Winds, where presents are given to adults and children alike that help us get through the long winter months. After that we talk, play games, read, write stories and diaries, sleep a lot and do...other things. Everyone in a homestead has his or her own private room which opens onto a central hall.

And so the year starts again.

OOC-Comments and suggestions are allways welcome in the Urania comments thread.

Offline Cheka Man

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The Ducal Armies
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2005, 07:47:26 PM »
The armies on the Lightside are commanded by Dukes or Counts and have a very busy time of it.Around a third are Ducal Retainers, volunteers who have served time as conscripts, liked the army life, and then joined up of their own free will. In the summer they are at their most busy, divided up into squads of twenty men, a Petty Officer and a Lieutenant. They have to continually patrol the Twilight Zone between the heat of the Lightside and the chill of the Darkside, buffetted by warmish but strong summer winds. Their job is to intercept and if nesscessary kill bands of raiders from the Darkside, as well as catching any criminals who live in the border regions.
Their swords have Glowstone hilts to keep their hands warm.

Occasionly they themselves have to raid the Darkside to rescue kidnapped people or rustled herds. If they come up against an invading army (rare, but it has happened in the past) they retreat and alert the conscripts.

The Ducal Conscripts serve as police, firefighters,and soldiers on a one year on duty, one year on leave basis.They are not expected to raid the Darkside, nor are they equipped for it, and many are in fact sent home in the winter, unlike the Ducal Retainers who serve all year round. The further from the Twilight Zone, the less dangerous their posting normally is.

Offline Cheka Man

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The World Of Urania
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2005, 12:49:44 PM »
Lieutenant Krasnov's POV

My first taste of the army of Duke William was the same as everyone else, serving my five years of on-off Defence Duty. Many people hate it with a passion and can't wait to leave, but I enjoyed it. I felt proud in uniform, patrolling the streets of Warmston, putting out the occasional fire and catching the petty criminals and vandals and the drunks who insist on drinking at the wrong time.I saved my Petty Officer from being hit with a broken bottle, and by the time my tour of duty ended I was a Petty Officer myself.

With my good record I was accepted into the Ducal Retainers, at first as a Trooper again. Within three years I had earned my Petty Officer's stripes again and two years later I earned my Lieutenant's pips. Even as an officer it is quite a hard life, fending off constant raids from the Darksiders. When we chase them they vanish across the border of the Twilight Zone. And almost everyone hates going in after them.

Once you're in there it gets really cold. Cold enough to split your lips open if you don't pull your hood down fast enough, and to chill your fingers through your gloves. If we did not have Glowstone sword hilts many a man would have dropped his sword in the snow. As we go on our crossbows sieze up and the cold seeps through our clothing, and we can't see far ahead. In my last patrol I lost three dead and one wounded when we ran into an ambush and had to hack our way out of there. The Darksiders may be well equipped for survival there but not us.

The problem as I see it is that there are too few of us on patrol to clear out the trouble, all we can do is block as much of it as we can. It's like a tavern with five bouncers and twenty doors.We'll never beat the Darksiders unless we have enough men to guard the entire Twilight Zone and I cannot see that happening anytime soon. Anyway, why would the Duke care about what I have to say? I'm just a lowly Lieutenant, a professional soldier who does what he's told and goes where he is sent.

Offline Cheka Man

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The World Of Urania
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2005, 12:27:47 PM »
Lieutenat Krasnov's POV

Now you might wonder, why don't we make the Twilight Zone a military zone and kill any strangers that we find there? Well, it's impossible. I mentioned that there are constant raids, but for every raider there are a large  number of law abiding people, the vast majority of whom are nomadic. There are the merchant traders for a start, trading in everything from rare jewels to the most basic foodstuffs. There are nomadic tribes who spend their entire lives in the Twlight Zone, following the dawn to avoid the polar cold.There are the herds...herds of cattle and ponies and pack animals, who are slaughtered for food in hard times.Occasionly there are people heading the other way to hunt the rare megafauna in the Darkside.And there are messengers and the like.And on them all, apart from the most powerful and well armed traders, prey the bandits, raiding, robbing, killing, and then fleeing into the Darkside or hiding amongst their prey.

Laws are different in many ways to what you might be used to. The only private land as such is owned by the cities. Unless you are very well equipped for it, you can't survive very well outside the cities or the large towns.So you don't have nobles owning large private hunting forests, for example, because most of the life is nomadic and would die if you kept it in one place.True, some behaviour such as straying from the paths during the summer is greatly frowned on...but as long as you keep to the paths you can go almost where you want.

Offline Cheka Man

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The World Of Urania
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2005, 12:56:41 PM »
Golden Sands

The city of Golden Sands is named for the gold mine within it's walls. Most of it's inhabitants work in and around the mine, digging out the ore, smelting it into bars, cooling the bars, guarding them from would be theives and embezzelers, and trading them. A brick size bar of gold will buy a lot of foodstuffs, most of which are brought in the summer from trading ships.The gold is also used to pay the workers and those who watch over them,and in the jewelry shops that are famed through the entire region.

The buildings are skyscrapers both above and below the ground, and each family has two houses, a summer one that is cooled by the winds, and a winter one that is below the grownd to avoid the worst of the winter cold.During the winter metal sheets that can take the pressure of a lot of snow are put on top of the streets by teams of workmen, and glowstones are set upon posts and used to light the way.It is still very cold however and most people in the winter only go out to go to their jobs or to buy things.

The city has a sewer system that functions well enough most of the time and the sewage flows out into the sea along underground pipes that stretch five miles from the city.Edible fungus is grown all year round and there are great greenhouses lit by glowstones that get too hot to enter in the summer, and grow food in the winter.Rubbish is dumped with the used ore into great pits within the mines.

The city is ruled by Duke William and has two legions within it's walls to police it and man the tall granite walls that keep raiders and other troublemakers out.To be allowed in, outsiders must have money and a good reason. When Winter has lasted for a month, the gates are shut until the dawn except for traders who can prove that they are who they say they are.

People keep clean within the public baths, that are fed by springs of hot pure water bubbling up from underground.

Offline Cheka Man

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The World Of Urania
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2005, 10:17:57 AM »
John's POV

I am a miner in the city of Golden Sands. Five days a week, eight hours a day in the gold mine, with an hour's break for lunch. It's hard and hot work and the security is fearsome, but I'm not unhappy. I get paid at the end of every week with a small bag of newly cooled golden soverigns. I need to buy food of course, and pay the rent, but the city taxes themselves are non-existant, the city pays for itself with the gold. I can save up some money too...not much, but it's enough for the little luxuries of life.

Each day I can go to the free public baths fed by hot springs, which sooth my acheing muscles after all those hours wielding a pickaxe.And the baths are still open in the Darktime too. If I lived outside the city I would either have to move to stay in the Lighttime, or batten down the hatches like some of those farmers do and wait out the winter. Here when it gets cold they turn the streets into tunnels to keep the snow out, lit by glowstones, and people move from their summer homes to their winter ones below the streets and go out only when they need to.Which is much better then being stuck in one place for five months of the year, which would probebly drive me crazy.

Though I grumble a bit, I'm basicly content with my life.Crime is low here-captured criminals are dealt with harshly.

Offline Cheka Man

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The World Of Urania
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2005, 10:21:47 AM »
Ice Ghouls

An Ice Ghoul is the spirit of somebody who was murdered in the freezing polar zone of Urania and who's body was left uncremated and unburied in the snow and ice. Twenty hours after the death the Ice Ghoul rises. It appears as a shadow the colour of frostbitten flesh, with long icy claws and fangs. It's very touch will cause frostbite. Such Ghouls search for humans, unable to tell the difference in most cases between the one that slew them and an innocent person. They rip the bodies of those they kill apart, warm their chilled bodies with the blood and eat the organs.If those who are slain by such a creature do not recieve the proper funeral rites they too will rise as Ice Ghouls.

Should they reach the warm summer zone of Urania, they are less savage, although it is unwise to provoke one, but very destructive. They gorge on fruit trees and their very presense can kill a field of corn.Weapons pass straight through them,and unless there is a glowstone hilt, the person's hand will freeze.

If the dead body that used to belong to the Ice Ghoul is found and cremated upon a pyre, the Ghoul will let out a hiss of pleasure and vanish to whereever souls end up.

Offline Cheka Man

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The World Of Urania
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2005, 08:49:31 PM »
The White Death

A White Death is like a huge lizard, two feet high and up to ten feet long, that lives on the Darkside of Urania in the polar cold.It's huge eyes can see in the smallest amount of light and it's fangs contain poison that causes the slightest scratch to rapidly turn septic, leading to blood poisoning and often to death.It is warm blooded and protected from the freezing tempretures by thick waterproof white fur and it feeds on seals and seal pups, either hiding in the snow to ambush them, by waiting at their breathing holes, or by swimming after them through the polar seas.

Their eyes are hurt by anything greater then twilight, and the heat of the Dayside on Urania is too much for them to bear, so they move away from the Twilight Zone.

During the darkest month of their third year, they look for mates.Often the males will duel each other but without using their deadly fangs or (retractable claws), to fight for the right to mate.Losers are left slightly battered but alive.They have up to three cubs and will protect them to the death.

Despite the dangers involved in hunting them, a few human hunters risk their lives to hunt and kill these megafauna of the ice, to sell their fur, as a suit of White Death fur is proof against frostbite in the worst cold of Urania.

Offline Cheka Man

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The World Of Urania
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2005, 06:10:13 PM »
The Retainer's Sword

The Ducal Retainers of Urania who patrol the ever moving Twilight Zone, carry special swords that only they may legally carry.The hilts are of glowstone and there are glowstones set in the hilt, along with a number and name of the Retainer who was issued with it.The glowstones act as a limited light sworce and provide warmth. Not a lot of warmth, just enough to prevent the hand that holds it from getting numb with cold, should the Retainer enter the Darkside for any reason.The iron blades are a foot long. Should an outsider by found with one of these swords, he or she will at the very least be taken in for questioning as to how it came into his or her possession.At worst the outsider could be slain on the spot.