Thursday, May 7, 2015

A conversation in search of a setting...

Brother Wind sat on the stone bench and looked around the circle of his students. "Topic: Despite our apparent dominance, humanity's position on this world is actually quite precarious. Acolyte Frost?"

Frost leaned back and tilted her head, considering that: "Counterpoint," she said. "Most of the civilized kingdoms have been around in one form or another for thousands of years. That would seem to suggest a degree of stability."

Brother Wind smiled. "Acolyte Shimmer?"

Shimmer ran a hand through her unkempt black hair, pulling it back from her face. "Point: Adeara was nearly overrun during the Shroud War. If their allies had been any slower to respond, most of the middle kingdoms could have fallen. And that was a known fracture in a stable kingdom with an active military. How many unknown rifts are there, and what might be on the other side of them?"

"So the fractures are a danger." Brother Wind looked around. Shade was leaning forward, gray eyes intent. "Acolyte Shade?"

"Counterpoint," said Shade, firmly. "The fractures are also an opportunity. Half the wealth of Ulthir comes from trade through the fractures."

"True," said Brother Wind, "but how does that fit with our topic?"

Shade looked stubborn, but didn't answer. After a moment, Frost shifted her weight, and Brother Wind turned his attention to her.

"I think what Shade is trying to say is that trade through the fractures can also provide economic stability, which makes human existence less precarious. I'm not sure that's actually a rebuttal, but it is a consideration." Frost sat back, and Shade threw her a grateful look.

"It's a good consideration," Brother Wind acknowledged. "Acolyte Blaze?"

Blaze hesitated, momentarily unsure of which side he was supposed to be taking. "Counterpoint," he said finally. "Humanity has shown a remarkable ability to take things that should be threats, and adapt them to our own use. As long as we can do that, our position is more stable than it looks."

Brother Wind smiled. "Examples?"

Blaze shrugged. "I was thinking of the skyspikes, but the way Ulthir uses the rifts for trade would work, too."

Brother Wind turned to the last of his students. "Acolyte Somber?"

Somber had been listening, expressionless. Now he looked up, glanced at Blaze, and then said: "Point: we really don't know much about what's on the other side of fractures. Our dominance..." He paused, thinking. "We work together. We make tools. We have the mundane arts. We've been able to use those things to turn a lot of potential threats to our own use. Those are real advantages, but they would only go so far against something really powerful. The Chitter are just another nation today, but they arrived in an invasion at least as bloody as the Shroud War... and they don't even use tools. Are we in dire, immediate danger? Probably not. Is our position more precarious than it seems? Almost certainly."

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