WARNING! The following page contains spoilers for the lore and story of Worlds Adrift
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I bound this compendium with the intention of accounting for the many fallen men and women, that fall both within an beyond my own understanding of the word "heroism". Some were friends, some enemies. Some were well-known, some little-known, and some not known to me at all. For the latter, I have had to use my imagination, along with the accounts of the survivors I met at Capulca, who have offered up their own recollections
My personal interpretation of the words "hero" and "heroine" sit in the context of The Hole - the disappearance (allow me to believe it) of everyone I knew and loved. I feel like a coward, still alive when they're not. I therefore dedicate this volume to those that gave their lives prematurely, in defence of shared values (however alien some may seem to you).
You will not find here the best-known individuals of the age, but rather, those who relished their anonymity.Those who proudly raised the banners of their clans and marched towards certain doom.
1. Aldoban Rangers
There wasn't a great deal for a young person to do in the town of Aldoban, whose greatest excitement was to catch a glimpse of the passing convoys on their way to somewhere more interesting. But what better distraction for the delinquents than to take pt-shots at moving targets in the hope of improving their aim?
Rangers of Aldoban were among the first called upon by Empress Tangana when the Stone War began. She and Gloam were said to have been impressed by the Rangers' disregard for rules and regulations, not to mention their fine tracking and survival skills. Once the recruits were sworn-in, they were presented with silver-brimmed helms, an act which many speculated was political. It was not often that the ruler bestowed a gift upon those less priveleged.
2. Bandits of Birikoi
Birikoi was widely regarded as the most impoverished locale in all Foundation. A grimy, crap-stained conurbation, in which very few of the inhabitants were able to read. By the time of the occupation, the place was overrun with godhands, dragging batches of locals off to the mines. But so often standing in their way, as they hung from the rafters, or poked their noses from trapdoors, was a plague of bandits. These armed thieves frequently mustered along the road to Driss in ambush. Not content just to mug the godhands, they freed any slaves as well. It is that selfless gesture that earns them a place in my compendium.
3. Owl Guard - Empress' Bodyguards
The Owl Guard had but one duty; to act as bodyguards for the Empress wherever she went. Given she seldom went anywhere, much of the Owls' time was spent idling at court, waiting for something to happen. But things did sometimes happen. For example, the day nine Owls gave their lives to prevent a wayward Dragon-Dog from blowing up the entire court. Though fifty died that day, it could have been much worse.
In the final battle, they loyally followed their Empress to the frontline against Sabor. The Owl Guard were hallowed, and they were dependable.
4. Essedari Gymnothrusters
Much as it pains me to include a cohort of Saborians in this compendium, the Essedari belong as much to our lost world as anything else, and I wrote this book because I miss that place.
The Saborian Essedari were extraordinarily skilled athletes, who made best use of their mobility to speed between ships. They used "Gymnothrusters", a backpack device I don't pretend to understand, to flly in and among their adversaries. During the Stone War they were everywhere, giving their side a great tactical advantage.
Blinded by the promise of Aetherium, the Essedari were also fearless in hand-to-hand combat.
5. Larks of Lower Karem
The Ishgiruan preoccupation with birds found itself another channel in the cult of Larks. The Larks were a well-prepared and experienced group who, much like the bird, rose early in the morning to prepare for battle with choral song. Once battle began they were rather different, preferring to wade heavily in aboard large and well-armoured frigates. They blazed and blasted their way through the enemy. They were still hanging on at the last battle of the Stone War, according to my Karemese friends in Capulca.
6. Flying Aces of Barhu Jiu
Many people have forgotten that the Mellifluans had any kind of military force. But the flying corps of Bargu Jiu were undoubtedly the best producers of pilots in Foundation, even as their homeland was falling apart. The environment that bred these daredevils was unique; internecine rivalry fuelled by drink and marital jealousy. Bargu Jiu aces often took to the skies sozzled, and used to remark that their best moves could only be performed when under the influence. In the final days of Foundation, the aces could be found among the ranks of both sides., though they were such mavericks, I am skeptical about how useful they might have been.
7. Fasio Fuzileers
The importance of a land army shouldn't be understated, particularly when Atlas is at stake. A disorganised rabble, the Fasio Fuzileers were proud, with the unique ability to come together when it mattered, even if outnumbered. They were hardy soldiers who were able to deal with the chill winds of north Chabuti, and to protect their nation right to the very last. The Fuziliers answered to the fourth Ephor of Chabuti - the one designated Martial General - and played an important defensive role in the contest for the Korchis Mountains versus the Mellifluans.
8. Drummers of Ternanu
The drummers of Ternanu were an ill-equipped and ill-disciplined soldiery, but they took so much joy from their drumming that it didn't matter. Sadly, a fabulous tempo and the unmatched synchronisation of their drill squares did nothing for their combat prowess. They were quickly overpowered by the Saborian army during their acquisition of Melliflua's mining reserves. Whether they were foolhardy or fully aware of their inferiority is not recorded, but I'm sure they made a great rumpus on those drums. Giving their lives selflessly for something they enjoyed, they remain among my favourite heroes of Foundation.
9. Wolf Scouts
In the far north, where the ice flows extended endlessly towards the midnight sun, the Tarrery lived nomadic and isloated, for tens of thousands of years. One day they saw the first skyships hovering overhead, and to them it must have seemed mere moments later that these foreigners were taking bites out of their land. Imhorta, wolf mother was angered. Fortunately Imhorta had chosen some Tarrery for a gift at birth; a tiny droplet of mucous from her nose. Those with the gift were able to smell far ahead, to discover parts of the tundra that were still untouched by the invaders, on which their families could still live
10. Olayinka's Crew
I have no personal experience of Olayinka's crew, and that can only be a good thing. Olayinka's Crew took on the illegal bounties that were Posted in Ten-Rui's low-town by the rich. The Mercantile Authority turned a blind eye to the odd assassination, so Olayinka's Crew were free to operate as they wished. They'd be protected by their former clients, at least until those clients became bounties themselves. Once he had you, Olayinka liked to tie you up, dead or alive, for delivery. Why are Olayinka and his crew heroes? They gave opportunities to young people, and if you think that's a bad thing, you don't know how low life in the law-town could be.
11. The Peculiar Five
The supply of dried fish from the sea up to high Huacanado was big business, and the Peculiar Five had to step in to break he monopoly that Garcia held over the city. Mendes was the charismatic leader, Bovo the quiet one, Negares the brains, Sainz the quickest on the draw, and Hurtado the violent one. It was their gunslinging that would bring Garcia to justice, as they made holes in his mountain villa. Rumour has it Hurtado scraped the skin off Garcia with a pound of his own dried fish. Evidently brutal, the Peculiar Five were legendary among Pin, since they slung in the grey space be ween good and evil.
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13. House of Wings
The elite pilots of the House of Wings were purists. Their ships were equipped with the bare minimum; no telescopes, no guns, no armour. Their advantage was the agility of their ships, leading merry dances, and causing opposing ships to collide in their wake. Despite this, the Wings were highly successful in the Stone War, some allying with the Kioki, some the Saborians. Pilots of the House of Wings wore next to nothing, applying the same rigid principles to their dress as they did to their warfare.
For showing character, I dub them heroes.
If you wanted to trap critters in my homeland, the Pintin mountains, you wanted to find a Goatbearer. These trappers were named after the elusive goatbear, a creature so mysterious none could prove its existence, let alone catch one. But salmon, monkeys, birds - you name it, these rigging-clad old duffers knew how to find and bait them.
No matter how well-prepared they were, a couple of trappers went missing every year. Their associates would search low and high, before declaring, "he's gone to their kingdom, the Goatbears will make him their king."
15. Silver Arrows
Beyond the Apotheon, and up beyond the habitations of Agbana was a mast that hemmed and hawed in the breeze. This was the launchpad of the Silver Arrows, a gliding squadron who were commissioned to fly in dazzling formations. They were rarely deployed in live combat, being better suited to victory parades and celebrations, but when called upon during the tone War, the Silver Arrows answered. Having no engines on their gliders, they had to carefully manage heir altitude in order to avoid dropping below the clouds, but it made them adept at landing stealthily on enemy vessels. They were so effective that us Kioki designated 'silver arrow spotters" on our vessels to watch overhead.
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The Sappers of Strombiu were no more than a bunch of renegade miners, who, frustrated by the thinly-veiled exploitation of the Chabuti by the Unity, decided to turn on their own government. The Ephors were renowned for their corruption, and had been selling off Chabuti land to Kioki consortia, land that was being heavily mined to fuel Kioki's war with Sabor. The Sappers got their revenge by sabotaging mining facilities with their explosive charges. When Chabuti fell, they took their explosives ship-to-ship instead, swinging their way aboard with their fireaxes. Though they naively sided with the Saborians (as if they were any better) in the war, I still regard them among the bravest.
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19. The Hollow Men
The Holo Men were a band of sovnya-wielding mercenaries from the quiet Chabuti city of Holo in the far north. They swore allegiance to whomever could pay their exorbitant fee. Onlookers said they fought like machines, rigidly violent, and that they never saw their faces for the lack grilles that covered them. They were "shades without form, shades without colour", and thus became better-known as the Hollow Men. In the Stone War they fought on the side of Sabor, as they had asked to be paid in feldspar crystals, which only Sabor possessed. It is not known what the Hollow Men intended to do with them, once the war ended.
20. House of the Iris
Of all those who tried to scope the entirety of Foundation, and to prove that it was not kite-shaped or flat (as was popularly held before the Hole opened up), the House of the Iris had the greatest success. They were explorers who craved danger and the unknown. In a golden age in which all had what they wanted, this was a sensation. Skimming out to the far extremities of the map, they recorded everything in detail, as is the Verduban way. The House of the Iris discovered many islands, new peoples and curiosities. They were always easily recognised, since each member of the house wore a human iris on their person.
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23. The Sons of Kip
In the valleys of Ishgiru near Gondola, lay a mighty fortress. Kip's Keep was one of the many homes of the legendary 'true Empress' of Ishgiru. It was also home to the Sons of Kip, worshippers of the small moon. They vowed to defend the true Empress with their cranequins. Millennia later, and the order of the Sons of Kip remained, but their patron was no more. Without an income, Kip's Keep had ruined. The Sons of Kip were proud, and would not disband, so they agreed to pledge allegiance to others for a fee. That way they could preserve Kip's Keep proud traditions - only males could join the Sons of Kip, and had to remain celibate. Needless to say, any mercenaries proficient with ranged weapons are useful in skyship combat, and moreover the Sons of Kip deserved their reputation for unflappable excellence.
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25. The Cudgels of the Black Tabard.
We are more credulous of the stranger things now than we once were. In particular, the existence of people physiologically different to us. I remember people of Ten-Rui claiming they had met a ratwoman come to sell her inventions in the low-town. Then there is the old Saborian legend of the Queen of the ratpeople. Well, believe it or not I once met a man named Marinello, who claimed to have seen thousands and thousands of them. He said they lived in the Wahsili, a distance from the lighter of the lamps, their sacred pylon, and that they fought terrifying battles underground. Well, I have it on good authority that those battles Marinello described were a sham - a ceremonial conflict. Nevertheless I have saved a place in this book for the cudgeling rats, since I believe their very existence in such a cruel and unforgiving place as Foundation deserves our respect and gratitude.
26. Hawks of Karem
The Hawks of Karem were of proud heritage, a band of South Karemese from the plains near Tomahon, they were known for their tactical nous, especially in ship manoeuvres - like the hawk who circles its prey before the kill.
The hawks would begin battles tethered together, so that they could discuss plans and strategies, but they would quickly separate to take positions as high as they could above the clouds. The Hawks of Karem bred Captains and Admirals who served throughout the Stone War, winning many victories for the Kioki. I won't dwell on the story of Captain Astor of Karem, for he is sufficiently celebrated elsewhere.
27. Rammybobbles of Mandala
As I wander about these islands, collecting wood and other materials, I often find myself whistling. he tunes I whistle are invariably (if I remember rightly) Mellifluan ones. I even know some of the words.
Like the bird and bee...
Woooahahah, give it to me."
It can only be the work of the Rammybobbles. A conclave of poets, bards. In their time, they fought for the right to express themselves, and their voices could often be heard above the confusion that was the Mellifluan government - the cushion-slumped, warble-voiced, streamers of red tape. When I was at Capulca, I met the last of the Rammybobbles, a man named Banton. He spoke lyrically. He did not waste a word.
He told me that in Mandala, a suburb of Kubo, he and his friends had protested the occupation, associating with Menizes, and the resistance. I found his efforts inspiring.
28. Marimbian Sabremasters
I have long since tried to convince the little ones of the existence of mountains. The odd island we pass supports my claim, but nothing has the scale of the Pintins, that shimmering galaxy of peaks in my homeland.
I remember that just short of the highest peak of Tito Bipo, lived the Marimbian Sabremasters. They were ascetics who had renounced worldly pleasures and taken to a simple life of meditation and sabre practice. To see them swish to and fro, was like watching the dragonfly above the pond, gliding weightlessly. Though they were masters with the sword, the monks refused to take sides during the Stone War, believing the Kioki to be greedy, and the Saborians to be misguided zealots. Even as the earth peeled away from itself, the Sabremasters were said to have remained - their respect for the mountains keeping them there.
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30.The Flying Panthers
Almost all auxiliaries fighting for the Kioki Unity in the Stone War were in the pay of the Empress. It was the only way to be sure of convincing people to fight. Most weren't worried about the earthquakes or the threat of Sabor, or the rise to power of the Warlocks, but rather, what food could be put on the table, how high they could build their homes, and what expensive jewellery they could gift their spouses. The more useful you were in a fight, the better wage you would earn, and none earned more than the Flying Panthers. They were all-rounders, without specialism or weakness. They fought well, flew well, and they never gave an inch. For that it would be wrong not to call them heroes. Such was their fame that the children of Ten-Rui could often be seen wearing replica outfits, each emblazoned with the head of the panther.
31. The Wahsili Brigands
Tourists drifting too far from the crowd near the Lighter of the Lamps might find themselves caught in a web, literally. The Wahsili brigands fashioned webbed nets below the dunes, and covered them over with a loose layer of sand. When unsuspecting victims triggered the trap they'd be unable to move. The brigands would empty their pockets before dumping them somewhere, penniless and confused. Contrary to popular belief, the brigands lived not inland, but along the coast, in towns like Rugik. These small seaports, with their unwelcoming locals and high temperatures were rarely celebrated. But they were as much a part of Foundation, as anything else. Now our home is gone, we understand that even the most trivial lives mattered.
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33. Intucki Firescouts
Intucki Firescouts let fire blossom along the ropeways between their wooden towers and the broad southern bays of Koinos. When the Twy-Ni-Banda snake slithered up, and wound itself around the platforms, the scouts wafted their flaming torches in the snake's direction. The Intucki were typically brash, wilfully ignorant of the outside world, and too quick to resort to violence. But it could not be said of their Firescouts, who would only attack their enemies if absolutely necessary.
In 3012, a small armada arrived in Mejinka bay, looking for Atlas. Like the Intucki themselves, these speculators used fire to fend off the snakes. The scouts devised a cunning scheme to send them away. They poured a mixture of tar and tree-frog poison in circumference around their expedition party, and lit it. The speculators were trapped, and though many made it back to their ships, others suffered dreadful hallucinations; the ghostly masks of the Firescouts leaping among the flames.
34. Househusbands of Panyana
It wasn't until late evening that their wives returned from a hard day's work at the university, and they'd have to get dinner on the table. Once the baby or children had gone to bed, then they finally had a bit of 'me' time. But how to stay awake? How to make the most of it?
One of the Gallish Househusbands had the idea that they'd start an evening class, which would teach the old Gallish discipline of quarterstaff.
The men would meet in their robes down on the black beaches of Panyana. They'd start off talking about how long it took to teach themselves to milk, or how much teething hurt their babies. Soon enough though they were up to their knees in sand, battering each other with the long wooden poles.
By the end, when the University itself has subsided, the Househusbands baded together aboard a ship they had built together in their free time, known as "The Fathership".
35. The Gallish Retinue.
The Gallish Liaison Trustees were always certain of the Rebus, an encryption that protected Panyana University's researches. Nevertheless, the magnificently dressed national guard, known as the Retinue, were trained to be the best. With the knowledge of the University to draw upon, these men (and occasionally women) were intelligent, well-equipped fighters. In battle, they would form "armadillos" with their shields to defend against enemy weaponry. Since there was no miltary tradition in Gall to speak of, the Trustees negotiated an exchange with Sabor, which placed the Retinue under severe and rapid training programmes there. The Retinue were just as nimble and light as their Saborian counterparts, and members of the Retinue often did well at the Saborian Aetherial Games. Ultimately, however, the purpose of the Retinue was to defend Gall, and that is exactly what they did.
36. The Pact of Jinty
Jinty hadn't been a popular travel destination since the deafening eruption of its volcano in 2829. It was a smoking-hot isle, and the steady babble of blue lava often formed new chains of islands. In other words, it was the perfect place for a secret tryst. In this case, not lovers, but skysailors. In 2991, at the end of the golden age, fifty-three went there to plot against the Pirate King. Because of the fall in the availability of Atlas, the Pirate King had apparently gone through a bit of a lean spell, and hadn't been very good at paying his men. Of course, he'd made piracy outside of his circle almost impossible, and the fifty-three who met at Jinty were either very brave or very stupid. Each remembered their pact by receiving from their ringleader, a forged steel Xiphos engraved with their vows and a symbol - a pair of interlocked arms.
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39. Warlocks of the Zephyr
Clouds are important, and few could claim to be as wise to their threats, as cognisant of their blessings as the Warlocks of the Zephyr. The Zephyrs carried jars of clouds they had trapped, which they stirred with their untrimmed nails.
It is said that some had success controlling the seasons, and were able to summon snow, wind or rain at will. I would have refuted this in the strongest terms, back when life was "normal", but these days I'm not so sure.
Suffice to say, the Zephyr's instincts were truer than any Gallish mathematical calculation, and this made them useful in battle, although they preffered not to fight at all if they could help it. The account of the battle over Ternanu in 3033 records that the Zephyr's ship Cumulonimble disappeared through a thunderous cloud wall, never to be seen again.
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