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A Story of the World

Once, we lived and walked on Shackle - the Land-upon-the-Sea. More than rain fell from the sky, more than grey shone in the distance. That is when the mist came. It rose from the waves like ice cold breath. Fog-born sky merged with the waters. When the sun rose again, the sea was the dreadful dark far, far below, drenched in mists. They say we worshipped beasts thought to live there, or worshipped the birds that flew from rock to rock around us.

The cloud-deck was dark and high above, the fog all about. On clearer days it is said you could glimpse a great shadow sat therein.

One saw clearer than the rest, a vision of towers and buildings. One became many and together they prayed for a way to reach it. The Anchorer heard those prayers. From the egg of a swallow, a golden bird was born, which grew and grew until it could carry all upon its back. Flinging themselves into the mist, those first fliers renounced Shackle - the land they had known - and found Anchor. They gave praise at what they found - streets and houses, all deserted - and brought life to the ruins. They spread into the sky to claim the Rockery.

A thousand years passed.

Despite the Anchorer's gift many kept their false deities and ruled by false means, blind to their heresy. One hundred years ago, the Noble houses of Anchor built a tower, one whose high minarets reached higher than the belltower of the Pynchon's Cradle. In punishment, lightning struck its peak and Anchor soared, casting the unready into the waters. The mists all around became the glaring light of sky.

Those were the days of the Judgement, when those who had not seen the light finally joined the repentant, cradling us as we rise and fall. We remember those days.


There are a host of creation myths, but all agree that human life began on the island of Shackle; and that in the beginning, it was surrounded by water, not sky. In all variant tales, a great fog rolled in overnight and when the tribes woke they found themselves floating high above the sea, chained by a mighty stone chain, surrounded on all sides by fog, with the hazy shapes of other, smaller rocks and chains beyond.

  • The tribes build houses, fish in the pools filled by rainwater, catch birds, and farm crops. They begin to worship the Anchorer - the one who had set them locked in the sky and they build churches to him, moving away from the worship of the creatures of the deep waters.
  • Hundreds of years passes. In this time, the tribes become clans and then noble families. Their villages feud and fight, each drawing support from the church. House Otranto obliterates several of the smaller clans and houses after accusing them of heresy, establishing its reputation for devotion.

  • Shackle is beset by plagues of locusts which ravage many food crops as well as stores of wood and cloth. These locusts had apparently previously been in a long sleep cycle in honeycombed caverns beneath the fertile Shackle earth. What causes them to periodically awaken and nearly end life on the island is unknown. More than ever, people rely on the nascent Noble Families for protection and barricade themselves into fortified commonhouses at nighttime, when the locusts thrive outside the shutters. Salvation comes almost by accident when a building catches fire during a locust attack, spreading to nearby buildings. The bright flames attract a migratory herd of weatherlights - huge, aggressive moths which scare the locusts away. Quick to seize the authority, House Otranto gives out free torches to its protectorate, eager to attract more of the moths. The other Noble Houses follow suit and soon the night skies of Shackle are lit with many torches and lanterns, even when there is no locust threat evident and the moths do not come. People give thanks for their salvation with these simple dusk routines, which eventually becomes the ritualised Lamplighting Ceremony. Attitudes to the night change from fear to celebration. House Dalvicci manages to find a way to captivate and breed the moths. Silk production begins.
  • Duelling emerges as a popular form of conflict-resolution between individuals, first amongst Nobles and then amongst their retinues. Three distinct schools of duelling - Al La Macchia, Molinetto and Scandiaglo - survive still from this time.

  • The people train giant birds, large enough to ride, with which they fly to other islands in the Rockery. A Dalvicci expedition discovers Anchor, a vast city, floating in the mist. There are shops there, houses and workshops and viaducts, all thick with dust and empty, with not a soul about. Many voyages of exploration follow back and forth, bringing back new designs and, step by step, the Noble Families begin to make permanent settlement on Anchor, followed by their retinues.
  • With the new discoveries found on Anchor, cultural development occurs rapidly. New ideas for clothing and art are rapidly seized on by House Irisetti, whilst investigation of the empty buildings of Anchor foments a burgeoning interest in science and technology. The desire to understand how the newly found materials and devices can be used becomes paramount to a growing community fascinated by the discoveries. Eventually these scientists investigate the chains themselves - vast double-helix shapes made from an unbreakable rock - perhaps a form of obsidian. Trade between Shackle and Anchor grows rapidly but conflict between the Noble Houses also rises in competition for the new resources and latest discoveries. There are several skirmishes, some airborne, but open warfare never emerges.

The Calciferous Age

  • Discovery of calciferous elements: - Ores are found on one of the outlying islands which when exposed to acids produce hydrogen, allowing for lift without the danger of fire, though there is little practical application.
  • Silk Farming - Farming Weatherlights increases in popularity, as does the production of gossamer. Simple kites, gliders, and parachutes are developed.
  • Anchor becomes capital - The Noble families sign The Treaty of Accord, moving to Anchor in order to distance themselves from the feuding of the past. This uneasy truce lasts for 15 years, during which time Anchor becomes the trade capital and (eventually) the administrative capital of The Rockery. Many others begin to settle permanently on Anchor which means there is less travel between the two islands. Shackle culture, bereft of the noble houses begins to stagnate though remains rich in raw materials, trading with Anchor for the latest marvels and Found Fashion. As a result of this, the Goods Exchange develops.
  • The Balloon, and development of airships - A team of Burden Bird riders out on the edges of the Known World find a strange craft drifting, abandoned, in the mists - a basket, strung below a gossamer bag. The craft is eventually snagged in the trees of a stray, un-named rock, before being reeled in and carried back to Anchor for study. The basket contains books and a hamper of food, as well as pamphlets on “The Noble Art of Ballooning”. It is only a few months before crafters are able to reverse engineer the craft and start producing them in large numbers.
  • The first Hot-Air-Balloon is crafted by Jacob Gwydion. The first military Air-ship is crafted by Lisanne Dalvicci, 12 years later. The increasing interest in flight and its opportunities for adventure, exploration, and escape from the humdrum of everyday existence begins to appeal to a number of people. Lisanne Dalvicci begins talking to those whose families have ridden the Burden Birds for many years, introducing them to the adventure of the new ways of flight and finds an appreciative audience. Six months later, she abandons her noble family and becomes the matron of a new one, effectively forming the first Skydancer troupe of the Calciferous era.
  • The island of Basin is discovered, together with much needed fresh water and more arable land. Early settlers on Basin are quick to capitalise on their control of these resources.
  • The island of Clamp is discovered and rapidly inhabited by the growing population keen to move somewhere where space is less of a premium. The Beacon is discovered and eventually its original purpose is identified.
  • The island of Hook is discovered by a ship of fleeing Sky Pirates and quickly becomes their established base of power.
  • The island chain of Link is discovered.
  • A respected engineer, Thaddea Beaumont, creates the first block type printer with assistance from her prodigy Marcus Tween. Several printing machines are made despite the metal and iron resources needed. The demand for ink also grows, prompting new and dangerous expeditions for squid ink.
  • A book on duelling authored by Atajo and Desvio is discovered on a remote island. The duelling school of Atajo-Desvio is quick to find adherents eager to learn a new technique.
  • Quite who first discovered how to produce hydrogen without fresh water in great volumes is shrouded in mystery (and any number of rival scientific papers). Some say it was a lone genius working away in Link, some an upstart in Shackle who gained friends amongst the Skydancers in order to move off island. What is known is that it required large amounts of metal, seawater, and an immense amount of luck. The luck being in catching alive several of the Scarp Eels needed to provide an electric charge.
  • Marcus Tween goes on to successfully build the first pocket watch after several unsuccessful attempts to repair the Cardinal District clocktower. He soon retires from his chosen career in pneumatic engineering and printing technologies to buy a studio workspace in Ranklock. He will later become one of the founders of the Bureaucracy.
  • This age of discovery, exploration, and new ideas severely damaged the influence of the Church - with such power in the hands of mortals, claimed sceptics, what influence did the Anchorer have?


  • With the influence of the Church waning, the Noble houses find themselves at the height of their power. To demonstrate their worldly authority, a tower is built on Anchor higher than the cathedral spire. The night of the inauguration, among the ceremony and celebrations of the occasion, a violent storm rages. The De Canto tower is struck by a powerful lightning bolt, larger than any had ever seen. The crackling bolt (it is said) travelled the length of the tower and into the bedrock below, even along the black, twisted rock of the anchor chain. Anchor and all on it rises, violently and suddenly, chain unraveling, buildings toppling into the streets below - and then, high above the cloud-deck, Anchor finally ceases its ascent.


  • Year of Judgement (YJ) 0 - In the days and weeks that follow, chaos reigns in Anchor. Revolution hits the streets and religious fervour takes hold in many quarters. In a swift turn, the nobles lose the faith of their citizens, unable to provide relief and blamed for their hubris. Many nobles are dragged from their manors and summarily judged and executed in the streets by the frightened, baying mobs. Only House Otranto emerges relatively unscathed, due to their longstanding affiliation with religious matters and their large number of men-at-arms. The churches - good solid buildings - withstand the majority of the damage, as do the solid cellars of the Exchange. The citizens flee to the safety and security of these behemoth organisations and take power into their own hands. The Exchange hosted the guilds, who - hand in hand with the church of the Anchorer - rebuild society in their own image. The guilds hold the city's reserves of fresh clean water, and pledge that no true citizen would ever go thirsty. The bureaucracy is born from the Exchange, while the Church pledges that they will be the guardians of the Capital - both moral and physical. The Knights Anchorer, previously a fading order, sees a massive surge in numbers as the populous swarm to their support. Within a few short months, the militia is disbanded and the day-to-day policing of the streets is handled by the Knights. Some captains remain in service as private guards to the noble houses whilst the majority become independent, coalescing into the Whittlers Guild.
  • YJ1-9 - Anchor and the surrounding rocks having been mined bare at this point by the Noble Houses, mining teams are commissioned by the Bureaucracy and sent out to find new mineral deposits, taking Skydancer navigators with them. They find Bolt - a moving, cloud-covered rock constantly beset by storms. There they discover a number of vast mineral deposits, including large quantities of the ores necessary for hydrogen production. Mines are set up. The Bureaucracy establishes a penal colony on Bolt, with a number of unrepentant nobles and the self-styled 'Looter King of Furybone', Adam Harper, as its first prisoners. It also establishes long-standing contracts with certain Skydancer families to carry prisoners through the mists and carry mineral deposits back. This arrangement remains to the present day.
  • YJ10-12 - The Bureaucracy begins to establish Austerity measures - replacing the previous Currency with ration stamps for food and water and recycling where possible.
  • YJ13 - Inspired by the Austerity measures, Loretta Falk, an administrator of the Bureaucracy, begins a campaign to popularise reconstructed fashion, romanticising the patched and worn. A growing trade in second-hand clothes prices the poor out of the clothing market.
  • YJ14 - Sky Pirate raids on shipping lanes intensify. The Department of Military Precision is officially instigated as the force that will combat this threat to security. Its first skippers are younger nobles eager to distance themselves from their houses and take to the skies.
  • YJ18 - The Department of Health begins a high-profile campaign of recycling corpses using new and untested processes. The success is remarkable and the Process continues to this day.
  • YJ19 - In one of the first expeditions of the modern era, several typewriters are found on a previously uncharted island. These are heralded as one of the most useful technologies yet found and vindicated as a gift from the Anchorer to the nascent Bureaucracy. Copies are soon engineered and the resulting machines distributed to all bureaucrats.
  • YJ20 - The Austerity measures involve a truly staggering amount of paperwork, and a large number of licences. The guilds of loggers, printers, papermakers, and associated trades start to profit. Employment rises. The Bureaucracy introduces The Audit - a method of establishing fair treatment for all whereby all in the Rockery must travel to Anchor to have licenses and paperwork reissued and processed. This takes place on a special day outside of the lunar calendar, the anniversary of Judgement Day.
  • YJ21 - A school is set up in the upper room of the Guild of Printers and Paper-makers offices in Gongtredding, which over the years has grown into the university.
  • YJ33 - With the increase in silk production and highrise farming, cloth becomes more widely available and fashion starts experimenting with dyes harvested from the outlying explored islands. Stripes and printed patterns of all kinds take wing as fabric can now be cut to match the pattern not the pocket. Hats become flashier and taller, showing off the wealth of a wearer who can afford to replace a hat in a storm.
  • YJ38 - Following an initial discovery and some clever reverse engineering, working telescopes are available for the very first time. They have since become standard issues on Department of Military Precision ships. A larger one is proposed by the University in order to study the heavens, but the Church intervenes.
  • YJ45 - Another large island, Rivet is discovered. Seizing the opportunity for a return to power, House Dalvicci requests and is granted licences to hire explorers to investigate the interior. Their exploits are hampered by dangerous wild animals but the expeditions continue to the present day.
  • YJ47 - Ginger is discovered on a small, remote island and becomes the spice of the moment. It is soon widely cultivated in the roof gardens of Anchor and is widely popular in recipes and touted by the Department of Health for its purported medicinal properties.
  • YJ60 - Professor Sir Frederick Strain returns from his expedition with wondrous claims which are treated with contempt by established explorers, but generate the Strainite cult amongst students.
  • YJ66 - Technological developments allow for the provision of elevators, which are installed in several bureaucracy buildings initially. More than a few accidents and a handful of fatalities follow. The technology is not yet perfected and is limited by the expense of its materials and the fear of the citizenry. Nevertheless their usefulness in a city built mostly upward may override these concerns.
  • YJ87 - The revolution begins on Clamp, precipitated by a younger generation alienated by their elders' attitudes. They gain favour with the Church but lack the organisation and experience to stage an effective takeover.
  • YJ93 - Following heavy bidding, the contents of the latest Find is shown to be a series of photographs of women and men in highly patterned silks and slim outfits. Sensing an opportunity, several silk makers start copying the fabric styles which are then used to emulate the new Found Fashion as well as to make items following the older styles.
  • YJ94 - The DoMP ship the Persephone Rose - named for a matriarch of House Irisetti - is unveiled at Port Cardinal, boasting the latest in pneumatics and hydraulic technology and begins its maiden patrol. It never returns, having been captured by Sky Pirates. Treachery is suspected, but never proven.
  • YJ97-98 - House Dalvicci use Audit Day to announce their intent to move many of their operations to Rivet, inciting much gossip over the decision. Many though begin to see the nobility asserting their dominance again and are wary of what the future holds. House Dalvicci offers no comment and within a year the move is complete.
  • YJ98 - A team of explorers lead by Professor Almagro finds a small number of streets drifting in the outer edges of the mists. In one of these is a building containing a large number of unusual musical instruments and sheet music and also a device he names the “phonograph” - which plays wide black disks that he also found there. He returns these to Anchor and Streetmusic - a new and vibrant form of music - begins to take hold in the Libertys and Furybone districts.
  • YJ98-99 - During a particularly harsh winter, and following the Recycling of some of the more outspoken citizens of Furybone on Audit Day, tension and civil unrest rise in that district. Knights Anchorer are sent in numbers to restore the peace but their heavy handed actions, whilst quelling the riots, serve mainly to further alienate the impoverished citizenry. Tensions in the district remain high to this day and the riots of YJ100 have seen further open violence.
  • YJ99 - The notorious Sky Pirate Bloody Violet uses her ship the Persephone Rose to conduct a series of raids on beach-head settlements on Rivet, incurring the wrath of House Dalvicci.

Present Day

It is YJ100, exactly a century since The Judgement. Present day in The Rockery is a sum of its past, a sum of its people. Various bodies vye and compete for influence, for the chance to have their voice heard and their goods sold. And it all comes to life on Audit Day, in the Plaza of Sands. What influence will you have in a world where nobody knows what the price of water will be tomorrow, or where the next fashion trend will come from? Are new technological innovations to be found on some undiscovered floating island? Which bodies will rise and which will fall?

Centennial Audit (First Event)

The Pynchon dies just before Audit. With the church coffers nearly empty, the Mouthpiece flees rather than face Audit. A new Pynchon is found in the person of the infant Vanessa Mae Otranto, with her mother Michelle Otranto becoming the new Mouthpiece. With the arrest of gambling boss Newborn Wynne on kidnap charges and the subsequent seizure of his assets, the Church coffers are overflowing and the Church enters a new era of prosperity and power. Relations with the Bureaucracy deteriorate.

The Bureaucracy faces trouble from all corners. A fatal accident at Libertys docks leads to a dockers' strike which only ends after the Bureaucracy promise a review of dockers' working hours and conditions. Meanwhile, rioting breaks out in Furybone and leaves many parts of that district devastated. Senior Bureaucrats visiting the area deny the residents any funds for rebuilding, which sparks further riots and fires which reach as far north as the Hold walls and as far south as the Irisetti gatehouse.

These events and their consequences are captured in the Student paper The Brayer, which undergoes a sudden transformation to an underground newspaper with the editor Daniel Laudman assuming full control. Holding out in the Bureaucracy's Botcheridge Tower in Libertys which students and Furybone residents have occupied, the editor has fled by the time Knights arrive to arrest him. He takes with him a printing press, and continues his work from a secret location.

The Brayer also publishes an interview with wanted criminal and notorious Sky Pirate Bloody Violet, claiming that she has been present on Anchor during the entirety of Audit but leaves questions unanswered as to how she has managed this.

Popular streetmusic singer Roberto Dilano leaves Libertys docks for Link, but promises his many fans that he will return.

The Irisetti Gatehouse needs a lot of repair, and the family is forced to scatter across Anchor while their ancient home is rebuilt. Funds for rebuilding are made available by charging visitors to the new Irisetti Museum of Art a nominal fee.

The Gong announces that a source of water has been discovered on Rivet, under the control of the Dalvicci family. It is not yet clear how large a source it is and what threat it might pose to the monopoly held by the Water Barons of Basin.

In addition, the Locusts have returned to Shackle with a vengeance, though the Weatherlights are nowhere to be seen. With few funds available for assistance, it will be a difficult year ahead for the citizens of that island.

For more information on these and further events, we encourage you to read the centennial copies of the Gong, the Brayer and the Lantern.

history.txt · Last modified: 31/08/16 10:53 by dom