Tuesday 11 August 2015

Every Land has a Bastion

A letter sent to the Exiled Voices magazine by the creature formerly known as Miles Worriffer, printed shortly after his execution by cannon battery.

Esteemed Minds and Travellers,

I've heard many claim that they've been to other worlds. Some found them in old stories, others through sensory experimentation. Some think it's just a matter of sailing into the Ocean for long enough.

But in fact we are all just doing the same thing: Acknowledging that these other lands exist. 
Now we are faced with the truth that our real connection to them lies below our very city, in the Underground.

We know that our city spans heights and breadths unseen in the history of humanity, but I have discovered that it stretches in hidden directions and flourishes into other lands as it does on ours. Every land has a Bastion, but different to our own. Beyond the span of these cities the realms are alien even to the explorer's eye. 

I declare these three immutable principles as Worriffer's Three Laws of Far-Reality. 
- Every land has a Bastion of its own.
- Our Bastion is the true city, and connects to all others. 
- You can only cross a threshold with the approval of a native on each side. 

I present to you a definitive documentation of the far lands discovered by my team, on the eve of our journey to the eighth, our first full-scale expedition. 

The First - Scrapheap

Although I had glimpsed into other worlds in my preliminary explorations, this was the first I knowingly crossed into. A hand of living silver beckoned me from the remains of a broken mirror. I took her hand and was pulled with enough force to dislocate my shoulder. 

My pain was doubled as I fell into a heap of rusted iron, razor sharp wire, and a metallic dust that immediately agitated my lungs. I was held in the embrace of my captor, a featureless mannequin of cold lead, moving only to turn my head to face hers, occasionally whispering pleasantries intended to reassure me that I was safe.

Hailstorms of gravel fell on us each night, her body shielding mine from its impact. The days were pleasingly warm, but the cold nights and bed of scrap iron left me in constant agony. 

After a month of sleepless terror, my captor sprung to her feet and in my haze I watched her set upon by a dozen figures made of metal scraps, booming cannons blowing her metal body into shards like a tree under lightning. I raised my hands in surrender to them and was dragged to my feet, a visored helm roughly covered my head. 

I was forcibly marched across uneven ground, never growing softer or warmer beneath my feet. Then light, as the visor was lifted. I was on a wall, or the top of a sheer cliff. In front of me an endless sea of shrapnel. Behind me, the city. A grey maze of barbs, spikes, orange dust, the occasional golden spire. 

An armoured figure approached, a colossal silver mace dragging at his side. Before I could protest, the weapon was swung at me. I felt no blow, but was thrown backwards, first into blackness, then the light of our Sun. I was in a filthy puddle in some back-alley of Bastion, and never did it feel so sweet. 

The Second - Fester

After my month in the metal hell, I took on a mercenary band of four brothers for my next expedition. They were pleased to be kept ignorant of the details of their destination. 

For this journey I had arranged access to a machine designed for medical use, to halt the spread of disease and render the patient in a peaceful sleep. Clearly this device had been heavily modified and its creator ushered us into a chemical-smelling chamber before throwing a lever and bathing the five of us in scalding steam. I heard a voice, "Come in Child. Let me feed you" and in the interest of our expedition I accepted. 

The steam became a green fog, and we marched forward, my mercenaries holding their nerve. From the mist we arrived in a city of entwined trees, a pavement of rotting leaves, and oozing fruits of every colour clinging to all surfaces. But this was no forest. I could make out distinct structures, roads, and alleyways. A city of trees, more rotten the longer I looked at it.

A small one-eyed wretch approached our group, his voice the one I heard in the chamber. 

"Ah, you are our children. Come over and in."

His voice was deep and booming for such a mite. 

"Take this for your journey Child" as he stroked the back of his hand against the back of one of the mercenaries. 

The others could only watch as their poor brother began to swell. Blood oozing from his skin before collapsing in a red mess. They turned their guns on the small man, and I felt a shaking. 

The ground below us began to tear like dry skin. We were plunged into the darkness, fleshy tunnels echoing with cries of agony. We hear that deep voice behind us again.

"Take it back with you Children"

And we were back in the steam chamber, just four of us now, but all altered.

Two of the brothers fell choking to the ground, dead in minutes. The remainder was covered in a yellow rash, but turned his anger on me, going for me with his sabre. He must have pitied me as I fainted, leaving me to awake in a pool of my own vomit and excrement hours later. The sickness was like nothing I knew of, a constant temperature high enough to leave scorch marks on my bedsheets. No doctor would see me, and I felt the constant grip of death around my throat. 

But no man of Bastion would allow an otherworldly plague to keep the light from the darkness. Upon my recovery I set about organising my third journey. 

The Third - Communion

I was guided here under the escort of a brotherhood of monks. The Yellow Doves were a peaceful sect obsessed with bringing peace to Bastion. A noble goal that was doomed on this day. 

For this journey I was blindfolded, despite every insistence that I must witness the threshold. Despite my protests, I was led quietly into their chapel, and I sense to somewhere in their lower cellars. I felt a cool breeze, heard a conversation in some incomprehensible tongue, and my veil was lifted. 

This city much more closely resembled Bastion, as it might be described from the time before machinery and industry and modernity. White marble, wooden temples, and the smell of flowers. 

The monks were talking with a glowing white figure, polished armour and longspear, a horse-sized reptilian beast at her side. I took my chance to slip away and explore. 

From a lighthouse I was able to get a good view of the city, spanning almost as large as our Bastion. Beyond that an ocean dotted with fortified islands. I could see flying creatures in the sky, more beast than bird. 

I headed back to the monks to see them kneeling in a line, their hands bound behind their backs. I watched as the light-lady's spear was thrust through each chest, one at a time. They showed no attempt to break free. As each monk fell dead, her lizardine companion began to swallow them whole. Looking down onto the populace of the city I could now see each glowing being was followed by another unnatural beast. Some resembling black lions, other red-dripping hounds, some utterly alien and far from any creature of even the Golden Lands. The creatures were following as a hound, but I could hear some talking in a manner which I could not interpret. 

For two nights I was lost in the city, hiding from the citizens and their beasts. Here I witnessed more ritual feeding of their beasts, which they tended to as pets, but in a more worshipful mannerism. I even witnessed one such creature twist and rend itself in two, sprouting a new larger form before striking down its master in rage. 

The thing, some blue panther's body with an insectoid head turned on me and raised a paw. I fell to my knees involuntarily and felt words leave my mouth, no understanding of what I was saying. When I opened my eyes I was back in Bastion. 

The Fourth - Nebula

A leap of faith into a disused access shaft to the Underground launched me to speeds never felt on a human's body. Before I could take a second breath I was shot into a sea of colour and stars.

Much of this matter was collected in a cloud-like island, and as I willed myself toward it I felt total mastery over my flight. Looking at my hands I could see that I glowed like a bioluminescent being. No need for breath, no cold, no hunger. 

Approaching the cloud I could make out structures. The whole thing was a city. 

A marvel like nothing I could have imagined. An entire city of the stuff of barely glimpsed space. The few beings I encountered moved in dimensions I could only see in shadow. They exchanged psychic messages with me, asking very practical questions about my origin and intent. Once I announced myself as an explorer they seemed to have no interest in me. 

Their manner is utterly alien. Apparently devoid of desire beyond crafting ever more elaborate architecture with their bare hands. Sadly my journey was cut short by a sudden plunge into pitch-black water back in Bastion. I note that there must be a more permanent way to visit this wondrous place. 

The Fifth - Conquest 

This threshold was found in the depths of a sunken warship, in some dried out subterranean dock. Filthy masked heads on spindly bodies peered through the porthole at me, beckoning me to open the hatch. Upon doing so I was hauled through a network of pipes and up onto the deck of a vaster ship than has ever existed. 

They guided me around the Conquest, both city and ship on a raging white sea. As I arrived, guns dwarfing those of out city were blasting a mountain, which was gradually crumbling under the fire. My escorts urged me to witness the power of their city, and explained that their mission was the eradication of all existence. I attempted philosophical debate concerning the nature of all existence, and was soon forcibly led back to our arrival-tunnel. A short crawl later I was back on the humble warship of my contact, and home to Bastion. 

The Sixth - The Blaze

Many academics praise the powers of hallucinogens in reaching other realities, but I find them a cloud. A window into a false realm, rather than insight into the truth. 

Upon completing a complex ritual of chants and painted markings, I felt as if I had taken every mind-stimulant known to man in one baffling cocktail. We were led down a short few stairs, a white corridor, and then I was there. 

Most of all I remember colour, and the feeling. Everything was utterly saturated, and the people themselves appear as a splash of dye. I couldn't make out any detail on their faces, but recognised them as human all the same. They roared like animals. The colours washed over this city as the smoke does in Bastion, and a pounding, primal music filled my ears. 

I was led to a square, my eyes starting to hurt as if I had stared at the sun too long. I closed my eyes for a second to seek some respite, and it was all gone. I awoke in the dull room back in Bastion and felt my heart sink. 

The Seventh - Damnation

Under the escort of two most trusted professors I entered a pyre, deep in some black cave, and was immediately met with even greater heat. 

Purple flames consuming living bodies torn at the torso. Beast-skinned men carrying out unprintable acts of torture on other victims, alive despite all probability. Even our own bodies were twisted into those of beasts, our heads remaining human. 

An entire city of screams. We did not get to see beyond the walls. 

Our minds closed, unable to process what we saw. Running back into the darkness we were mercifully able to return to Bastion, in the heart of the pyre. Our burns were severe, and the brave Professor Horkum perished, but this will not sway us. 


And now a generous benefactor has provided two-hundred men ready for our first full expedition into these lands. We will enter into the Eighth, and intend to see if we can find a connection with the others so that we might map the infinite. 

To Safe Travels,

Miles Worriffer


  1. This is fricken awesome! The game/story potential is boundless. Well done sir!