The Ninth City

cover image for Maelstrom Storytelling (Hubris Games)This is from the work I was doing on a second edition of Maelstrom Storytelling for Hubris Games around 2006. I think it was Chapter Three with a note to call it "At Storm's Edge".

I borrowed a lot of these ideas for Telrhin's Traum, the Veil and the Umbra. 

THE NINTH CITY

It all begins in Brok Nine. All stories, all dreams and all beginnings. That’s the way of things in Brok Nine, and that’s the way we’ll begin this story too.

In the Dream there are many places, far more than those that can be named. The dreamscape is vast beyond the meaning of the word. Most people see only part, a small part made safe by their sleeping minds. Those places are private and personal, and just as real as any other part of the Dream. Brok Nine is near to that, close to the place called the Edge of Waking. There all form of creatures wander, and in Brok Nine all things meet – from the Deep Dream to the Haze and then back to the Edge. The breeks stay here mostly, for fear of getting lost, and the sleepers too, because they are never far from the Edge. Other things are drawn here, yearning things that want to wake but never can, and thirsty things that need sleepers and all the power of their dreams.

Brok Nine is a crossroads, a place where all things meet. Space has no meaning in the Dream, like a pure version of the Prime past Waking. There are other places that touch on the Dream, places strange and foreign.

The Haze extends forever and they say the Mallatin cross the Dark to reach the Dream and travel on past the Edge into the Prime. Somehow in the middle of all this is Brok Nine. The Deep Dream is perhaps the true center of this strange world, but Brok Nine is where all things meet.

There is a door there, too, called the Door of Dreams, and no one can truly say what lies beyond. Every so often words appear, and I once saw the name of the lost city of Velatia, written in the cuneiform script of the Empire. It could be a door to our fears, our hopes, or to the shores of a distant world. A man came long ago, a Breek like many before, and he said the door led to the Empire. He spent much of his life here, trying to open that door, but in the end he went away. One of the Retinue once told me the door is like a plug and if it should ever open the Dream would run round and down it like a drain. With that thought he said Brok Nine is the bottom of the Dream, where all things gather as they make their slow descent. A day will come when the door will open, but I don’t want to be here to see it.

Where does this all lead? To a story, like all things. A story of a city on the Edge of Waking. There, in the soft hum of the palpable dreams of countless sleepers, lies Brok Nine. With snake-like columns that reach skyward for a sun that isn’t there and fountains of fire in great plazas of green marble. Built on the congealed dreams of all who have traveled here, the city is ripe with the power of hopes, fears, and the tossing needs of a thousand sleeping souls. It began long ago, in a place called Brok One. A lone breek happened upon a place familiar to her. She stopped to gather her thoughts, and around her rose the first walls. Others came, drawn by this place known to all even before they arrive. Other walls rose up, and streets and plazas, until in time it became Brok Two. What was in this change? No one knows, except all at once everyone knew it had changed. In time there was a Four, and then a Seven until at last came Nine. I say, at last, because Nine is eternal. There will never be a Ten, and for what matters, there was never a One.

"...in the soft hum of people’s sleeping minds I’ll tell you more. I’ll tell you about the Nine Rulers of the Seven States, the Lost City, the Darig Kingdoms, and the forgotten past of the Venthi people. Because here in Brok Nine every dream has found its way, and with it every secret and every truth."

Should you visit Brok Nine, come find the door, and tell me what you see. In a dangerous place very near Waking there’s a bar called Epilogue. If Brok Nine is the crossroads of our dreams, than the Epilogue is the place where all dreams flow before they reach Waking. Find me there, and in the soft hum of people’s sleeping minds I’ll tell you more. I’ll tell you about the Nine Rulers of the Seven States, the Lost City, the Darig Kingdoms, and the forgotten past of the Venthi people. Because here in Brok Nine every dream has found its way, and with it every secret and every truth.

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