Excerpt


Name: Kishū, after the historic province on Honshū
Type: Yamato-class battleship
Primary Armament: 3 × twin 51 cm naval guns
Secondary Armament:
4 × triple 15.5 cm guns
6 × twin 12.7 cm guns
8 × triple 25 mm AA guns
2 × twin 13.2 mm machine guns
Propulsion: 4 steam turbines driving 4 shafts; 27 knots top speed; 16 knots cruising speed; 13,300 km range
Complement: 3,067

Laid down at Kure Naval Arsenal on 7 November 1940, Kishū was the third and final Yamato-class battleship completed (not counting the Shinano, converted into an aircraft carrier before commissioning), and the one about which the least information is available. Indeed, some sources claim it was cancelled in March 1942 (when about 30% complete) and broken up in place. This appears to be confusion caused by conflating the Kishū with the canceled Ibuki-class heavy cruiser Kashū, which was laid down around the same time and canceled in March of 1942 and would have been visually quite similar on the slipway.

Several differences characterize the Kishū with regard to her sisters. The first and most significant is her armament: rather than the 46 cm main guns that were typical of the class, Kishū mounted 51 cm guns in modified turrets. These were test guns initially constructed for the cancelled Design A-150 (“Super Yamato“) battleships; by installing them and marshaling all available test ammunition from the naval proving grounds, the construction process was able to be accelerated considerably. This allowed the ship to launch in mid-1943, though the exact date is open to some conjecture.

Also open to conjecture is the ship’s ultimate fate. It is not recorded in any American reconnaissance images after summer 1944, and Kishū was not present at the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea or Operation Ten-Go. The deliberate destruction of Japanese naval records after the surrender further obfuscates matters. Some naval historians believe that an unidentified battleship reported as torpedoed and sunk by the USS Dugong in late 1943 was the Kishū, but the information is sketchy and incomplete. Dugong‘s patrol route in the sub-Antarctic also seems to make an encounter with a battleship unlikely.

In any event, Kishū was not formally struck from the Naval Register until December 1945, as part of the general postwar cleanup and decommissioning of damaged, missing, and under-construction ships of the Imperial Japanese Navy. As this action was taken under occupation authorities, some sources do not accept it, and some Japanese far-right nationalist groups continue to regard the ship as still in commission and missing–a naval equivalent, perhaps, of a holdout like Hiroo Onoda.

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Kobolds, whose name comes from the Old Imperial kuba-walda or walking-lizard, are dragonkin. Distant relatives who have no wings and no fire but who revere their larger cousins the wyverns and dragons (who, one might add, have little but contempt for them).

Good dragons look upon them as unruly children, to be cared for in a condescending way. Evil dragons see them as willing dupes and useful idiots, shock troops and agents for their various schemes. And wyverns see them as a free meal ticket, or perhaps just a free meal, since they’re not as pretentious as their more Machiavellian cousins.

The kobolds themselves seem to take this situation largely in stride. Some kobald cults believe that through sacrifice and servitude they can ‘level up’ into dragons in the next life–or possibly even in this one.

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Talent for and in the Art can manifest in unpredictable ways and at unpredictable ages. This is why young Mox–a nickname bestowed upon her for her sharply mocking tone and insults–first learned of her talent for necromancy by inadvertently reanimating her grandfather. He clawed his way out of the ground and battered a farmyard bully half to death before he could be put back down, for good, by pitchfork and torch.

After this, she was expelled from her family’s tenant farm, as they were fearful that Lady Exor would learn of their child’s macabre talents and retaliate. Mox lived in the woods for nearly a year, surviving off only what she was able to instinctively raise via necromancy. An undead wolf served to catch prey, which she could then cook up. A seamstress from a local graveyard could sew her new clothes before falling to pieces.

Eventually, Mox found herself in the village of Gravelines, where she took over an abandoned building as a shelter. Finding two bodies inside and a stash of supplies, she barricaded herself inside with them as her guardians.

Being a half-elf, the product of her human father’s first marriage, has helped Mox in many ways. Without her heritage, mastery over her gifts and survival in the wild would not have been anywhere near as easy.

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Xen Knifears (the family name is more of a nickname than anything, as he refuses to give out his true name) is the majordomo of Lady Exor’s operations, a task which he fulfills with great competence. This allows the Lady to overlook some of the less savory aspects of his personality.

Preening and vain, Xen takes an intense interest in personal grooming, especially his hair, and has elven bloodwine shipped in especially to help with its sheen. He is also an elf-supremicist, constantly extolling the virtues of his race to any and all who will listen. He is also prejudiced against half-elves, viewing them as inferior mongrels.

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I had almost forgotten what it was like to hope
Seeing them dashed, time and again, breaks the habit
Even now, I hesitate when I feel that warmth rising
Is it better to have hoped desperately and lost
Or to have remained hopeless all along, cold

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It was only then that the Landfather interjected with a gentle laugh. The song, he said, was less than half complete and the notes were in the wrong order. While impressed, he further added that Dapi should not seek to end the world further.

Dapi, angered, asked the Landfather how he could be such a hypocrite. He and the Skymother had sung the song as a duet in the world-that-was, ending it and raising themselves to the levels of gods. How convenient, Dapi said, that they would not see anyone supplant them.

The Landfather replied, and his reply represents the majority of what we now know about the previous Singing and the events of the world-that-was that brought it about.

He had not sung the song, he said, until there was no other choice. The gods had died, the aged world was falling apart at the seams, and he knew full well that the burden of rule would mean permanent separation from and estrangement with the Skymother. Knowing that, would Dapi still sing the song, even if he knew it?

Dapi’s answer is not recorded.

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Each of the birds only knows two notes: one in common with the others and a secret note known only to it. Together, they form the song that will bring about the end of all worlds.

One might think that to find them would be an easy task. But ask yourself: how many birds litter each wood, each copse, each canyon? Which of them sings only a single note, and is it even the note that can end the world?

Even if one was able to find a bird and wring the note from its immortal beak, what then? None now living, and few even that are dead, know how many notes are in the song. None knows the order of their singing save the Landfather and the Skymother, whose love once raised the song in a duet over the world-that-was.

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I worry that the sign in my yard
Isn’t blue enough to matter
I worry that every night I sit
Doing work from home, sanitary
The battle, elsewhere, is losing
But then I ask myself
How blue something needs to be
In order to make the lawless
Follow their own rules

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“We’ve got another call that’s come in.”

“Let me guess, it’s Bill? Set his brush a little too on fire for his liking again? Well, the law requires that we take an engine over, but damned if I’m not taking the long way around.”

“No, it’s Sarah Gillian.”

“Her damn cat again?”

“Yeah.”

Dammit, she needs to start feeding the cat in that tree. Build it a cat house up there or something, since it spends so much more time up there than it does on the damn ground!”

“We still have to go.”

“You’re right. The law does require that we respond. However, as when I thought it was Bill again, I say we take the long way around.”

“Okay.”

“And put in a call to Vinny. See if he can set some fires or something. Someplace that won’t burn too fiercely, just enough to get us out of hauling that cat down again.”

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The daughter of a trader in Gravelines, Andromeda Fisher is a skilled wheeler and dealer but her great passion is and continues to be the freeing of the town from Lady Exor’s ‘corrupting’ influence. Believing that the people of the village need more say in their own affairs, and that the militia is little more than Exor’s puppet, she has long sought to rally the people to her cause.

A cause, in this case, which is a radical decentralized commune, with no militia, no money, no organized government, and no limitations on personal freedoms. She bases this project on the old Republic of Iskandria, which existed before the Verdant Empire took over the town.

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