Tess looked over her notes, each page crammed with words, diagrams and sigils. The shelter was warm today, the fires fully stocked, but everyone was hungry. So hungry. Today they had to try something different. They had been foraging for days now, grabbing every scrap of food they could find. They had tried hunting, but no one here seemed to have the knack for it – and the one attempt to eat some carrion they had found had gone very badly indeed.
They had lucked upon some food over a month ago, when a small visiting island with some ancient looking ruins on them came into view. Tess would never forget jumping off the edge of their island through the infinite Void that surrounded them. The terrifying leap had been worth it – they had discovered an unlikely supply of canned food. The writing on the labels had been unfamiliar, and opening them had been slightly challenging, but it had kept them fed for a long time. Her stomach rumbled at the thought. Memories of preserved meats and vegetables with the hint of forbidden spices flooded her mind. Morale had been high back then, a full stomach to improve everyone’s mood.
The group had cursed it’s own shortsightedness when the cans had finally all gone and they realised their mistake. They should have been looking for food when they were satiated and full of energy. Sleep was the only respite from the constant gnawing hunger. In Tess’ sleep, dreams folded into one another. She was aware of her need to witness, learn and commit to memory these images with absolute urgency. Flashes of inspiration, of patterns and of rituals filled her mind. She dreamt of structures and temples, of machines and magic. She also dreamt of the others who had been trapped in this eldritch place, of their plans to escape, of their understanding of the energies of this place. Every morning she awoke and before the dull ache in her belly begun she would scribble down her dreams, trying to remember the fragments of knowledge that had seemed so close while she slept.
The group trusted her dreams. When she first spoke of the strange red ore that radiated heat they had scoffed at her. How could such a thing exist on a snow covered island? But they had found some, exactly where she had said they would find it. They had incorporated chips of this ore into their clothes, which helped keep them warm in the freezing winds outside the shelter. The entire floor of the shelter was covered in the stuff – meaning their home was always warm, even if the fires died.
Since the cans had run out, she had started dreaming of a ritual. A strange ritual with an incantation that she had had difficulty wrapping her mouth around. It required blood and it required specific materials. They would need to be arranged with a meticulous hand and it would required sigils to be drawn upon the snow. With all of this completed, food, she knew, would then appear. The nature of this magical food was not revealed in the dream, only the fact that it would provide sustenance.
Tess put on her coat and nodded her head to the others that held the materials she required, and they left together. The island was quiet, no wind, and the snow had fallen heavily over night. Icicles the length of a man’s arm hung down from their shelter roof as they steadily crunched away across the freshly fallen snow. They had decided to perform the ritual well away from their home – they had no idea what effect the energies they conjured today would do.
Finally they got to the clearing they had selected for this ritual. The others put the materials she required carefully on the ground and then retreated to a safe distance. The first part of the ritual required placing four totems in the cardinal directions. She picked them up and admired the craftsmanship of the totems. It was something Jacob had excelled at – he seemed to be in his element when he was crafting things. The totems were made of three materials in separate bands. The first band was lavarite (the red ore she had dreamt about). The second one bismuth. The final band was ornate silver. She, with calm determination, discarded her coat and moved toward the edge of the clearing.
She placed the first totem to the north, and moved five strides to the south before placing the second one. Then she retraced her strides three times, before moving both east and west two strides and placing a totem. She moved to the center where she said the first of the magical words she had dreamt of, while drawing the mysterious sigils in the snow.
If anything, the island seemed quieter as her words echoed through the silence, unable to shake an eery feel of observance – like everything in this cursed universe was listening to her, waiting for what she had to say. Her arms were almost numb from the cold now, which would make the penultimate part of the ritual easier. She took her knife and cut deeply along her left arm, watching the thick warm blood leak out of flesh and drip onto the pristine snow sigils. The bright red against the white snow brought another memory back to her, but not something she wished to dwell upon.
The blood was the sacrifice and as it fell she spoke the words of power. Strange syllables that had no place coming from a human. She spoke them loudly, the air becoming thick with electricity as every word left her mouth. When the last of the words had faded to silence a low boom echoed around the island, causing the trees to shake and to shed some of the snow that had accumulated on them.
She waited. They all waited. Silence deafened them as their eyes searched for any sight of this ethereal food the ritual had promised. Moments passed tinging hope with fear – yet the air was still thick with electricity.
Later she’d recall hearing the food before she saw it. The sounds of something twitching against the snow below her. She looked down truly shocked, for there was no sign of the blood she had spilt. Instead the ground was covered in hundreds of thick juicy looking grubs…
|Rituals are an important part of Fringe Planet – and I’ll be writing more about them in the future. They require specific voxels (and objects) to be placed in certain patterns – and then certain sacrifices must be made. Time of day as well season will very much effect the result of rituals.|
There is a lot more to read about Fringe Planet… why not try: