Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Neitherworld (a wuxia urban fantasy?)

In case you wanted more details concerning the premise of Neitherworld:

Ages ago, magic was torn from the Earth.

Those responsible shaped their own world, a world whose very bedrock was created from the stuff of dreams, a paradise in which they could live out their every fantasy for eternity. All that it cost them was Earth's dreams, hopes, and future.

They created a rift, a chasm between worlds, through which they could siphon off Earth's magic as it renewed itself and use it to fuel their Paradise.

This rift, this place between worlds, was soon defined by the flow of magic that passed through it. It became known as the Neitherworld. It was a place of movement, change, and theft. These things would define it in the times to come. The Neitherworld accumulated magic quickly. At first, it was an empty place defined only as a conduit for stolen power. As magic filled that space, it created in the Neitherworld a land shaped for its own uses, a land of dreams and nightmares. The Neitherworld, by necessity, opened onto both Earth and Paradise. It claimed things from both worlds, making them its own.

Those who dwelt in Paradise were ignorant of the Neitherworld's growth, blinded by their own arrogance and obsessions. They knew only that they were drawing magic from the rift they had created. They assumed that this magic came from Earth. When the Neitherworld built up a greater supply of magic than the Earth, however, it replaced Earth as the source of stolen magic used to power Paradise.

With that, this new world might have been doomed. Those things which it had stolen from other worlds and made into its own, however, included men from Earth and arcane constructs from Paradise. These denizens of the Neitherworld were resourceful in defending their home. They learned how to creep out from the Neitherworld into both Paradise and Earth for short periods of time.

In Paradise, they waged a guerrilla war aimed at those who collected their magic. Despite the near-limitless resources at their disposal, those whom they attacked were wholly unprepared for such an event. While the denizens of the Neitherworld did not meet with complete success, they dealt a serious blow to the very infrastructure of Paradise. Perhaps more importantly, they gave rise to the first signs of civil unrest in Paradise, as magic became, for the first time, a limited resource.

On Earth, the denizens of the Neitherworld began to steal magic to replenish their ailing world. Humans untouched by magic gave these marauders many names: goblins, brownies, pixies, and fairies. In the future, they would become known as the Fey Ones.

In order to replenish the magic of Neitherworld, the Fey crept onto Earth and stole those things in which magic had collected. Most of these thefts went unnoticed. Most notable to the inhabitants of Earth was the not-infrequent theft of those infants who were born with a wellspring of magic inside them. These children they would replace with simulacra crafted from the stuff of the Neitherworld – faux children whose bodies and minds would deteriorate as they spent time on Earth.

This state of affairs persisted for centuries – an ailing Paradise, fighting to rebuild while struggling against itself and attempting to strengthen its borders – a rapacious Neitherworld growing fat and strange on stolen magic – and an Earth that turned away from magic out of necessity.

It is only now that things have begun to change.

The Unborn have appeared on Earth. In the past, the changeling children left by the Fey Ones had always decayed over time, dying early deaths or suffering from debilitating physical and mental conditions. Now, something has changed. The Unborn changelings have begun to thrive. They are the children of two worlds, and their birthright is magic.

The Unborn appear at a time of change in other ways as well. Factions from Paradise have carved guarded paths through the Neitherworld to Earth. Some of these did so in the hopes of once again gathering magic from the Earth, bypassing the now-vigilant Neitherworld. Others hoped to find allies on Earth, whether against the Fey Ones or against each other. They look to the Unborn with both hope and fear.

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