“People claim there are hidden cults and mysterious disappearences in Jarech, but this is all pish-posh” – Jarech tourist board billboard.
More than four years ago in 2012, when much of the madness of this year was still but a glimmer in the far off future, I sat at my table one sunny August Sunday. I laid out my Letraset drawing pad and my Letraset double-ended coloured markers and my red ink and my dip pen and my pencils, B3 and B2 I’m sure, and my translucent green triangle protector and my eraser and probably a big glass of refreshment. I turned on some music, probably a lot of Iron Maiden, and set to drawing.
Eight hours later the sun was setting and I scanned the picture. I really should have taken the time to make an extra scan before colouring, I thought, but scanning is always such a drag.
An Expanded Text
Several times I’ve been told, “By Jove, my good fellow, that is a smashing bit of drawing, what!” Well, I’ve never been literally told that. So there’s still time. But enough times to make me want to put the writing and the picture and do something proper by it.
The Ziggurat of Learning
- “We just collect books.” – Order of Learning
- Traditional Wizards – I tell you, they waste their days lounging and idling.
- Firewormwyvern – the Firewormwyvern just likes spitting poisonous lead stones! It is not a gun!
- Stone of the Seeing Eye – just symbolic, totally not a dangerous soul powered golem, like the Punta’s would have you believe!
- Bureaucrat Magicians – the ink-stained eminences behind the Grease and other spells.
- Flags of Joy – we are wizards at making the world happy!
- Not a Golem – the Order of Learning is certainly not involved in creating artificial minds in the likeness of a human mind in contravention of Articles 6, 7 and 42 of the Pedanterian Convention
- Beholder – no, this is just a gun with a paint job.
- Halls of Enlightenment – really, we just have something called a “silver screen” here. Fun and games, nothing to see. Really.
- Halls of the White Wizards – “Colored wizards accepted” – provisionally only as of 2016 – no, but seriously, do not mind our white pointy hats. Trust us. We are the good guys.
- The Mathic Wizards – they’re not really wizards, they just play with chalk and shale
- Not a gyro-copter – trust us, it’s just a modernist sculpture
- Nothing to see here – no, that is not an extrastellar demonic focusing crystal that we suspect lets you communicate with your descendants by pushing books around in a Borgesian para-library of the mind!
- Johasiah – he’s a total fraud. Can’t cast a single spell and keeps talking about “observation” and “experimentation”. Trully, a hack
- “Sky” Crane – the Senior Administrator of the Order of Learning totally did not waste our whole annual budget on a misguided literalist reading of the role of sky hooks and cranes in Daniel Dennet’s Darwin’s Dangerous Idea.
- Not a trap – just a rapid floor-and-room heating device.
- Not an Escape Ship for Johruti – the Wise and Good Johruti totally does not have a paratemporal escape vessel rigged to spirit him away should the whole thing turn out to be totally lethal and deadly
- “We have no heretical devices or so-called technology. We are all good Puntaphiles.” – official Order of Learning public announcement of the Year Before the Arrival of the Heroes.
The Crystal Ladder
- “It is only a symbol of devotion, not used for accessing higher planes.” – Johruti the Whiter
- “Now you see it, now you don’t. It phases in phase with the phason moon of mu-Phasa the Melder” – ramblings of a crypto-sinnerman
- “It is a manifestation of the One Way of the Punta!” – enthousiastic pilgrim
- “How much must it have cost, eh? I’m telling you … I have it on good authority that it’s a scam!” – a surprisingly sober spokesman for the holowine traders company.
The Good Town of Jarech
“It’s so good, they literally put that in the name.” – Mayor Papa Emeritus Punta Secundus, grandson of the founding Papa Eternus Puntapater
- Statue of the Holy Punta – it has three eyes the better to see into your sins!
- No, the Punta is not hollow! – the priests object strongly to suggestions that they are profiting from the devotions of pilgrims and throwing lavish parties in the Priestly Halls.
- Holy Undying Flame Mk2 – this time 200% less likely to die out and fuelled by much holier and more high-octane divine vapors!
- Priestly Halls – anyone who says this is the best place to have a bit of fun and games, nudge nudge, will be nudged into the Holy Undying Flames Mk2.
- “No, there is absolutely no ‘special’ arrangement between the priests, bankers and wizards. Jarech is an honest theocratic democracy.” – official Punta Priest Party public announcement at the Fully Multiparty Jarech Council of Waterworks elections of the Year Before the Arrival of the Heroes.
- Antedeluvian remains? – those are the bones of the dragon beasts converted by the Great Punta
- Holokeg Inn and Tavern – the beer is certainly not holographic. Do not mind the rats.
- WC – 70% occupied, 20% vacant, 5% annoying yapping dog-rat, 5% mimic
- Fish and Floss – get your fishbone toothpicks here!
- Anvils Included – special Black Friday deals every time our proprietor Friday is out of town!
- Engine of Joy – rides are safe for children and available Moonday to Sunday for three copper pfennigs of five gleaming groots.
- “Of course we don’t run Jarech! That’s silly!” – the Bankers emphasizing how they share duties with other Interested Parties
- The Coin House – alchemists not welcome
The Hidden Town of Boul
“This is just a fairy tale to scare children. There is nothing but the Holy Punta and the Punta is all.” – Punta Priest Party daily advertisement in the Jarech Daily Ordnung.
- Fine Meats Butchery – “We make Soylent RED!”
- Hall of Attribution – This work is copyright of Luka Rejec, 2012 and 2016. Also, Pish-Posh sold here at bulk rates this week only.
- “The draft mole is a fine draft and work animal. Alas, imaginary.” – Golach the White, a fine wizard and workmanlike writer.
- Auction House – finest goods fallen from the sun-scarred lands available here!
- The Groot Gate – totally grate and no danger of it squishing sunscary fellas!
- WC – 60% occupied, 30% vacant, 10% hungry gelatinous string cubes
- Tinkerer Quarters – “We turn sunscaries into useful tools for the Good of the Deep and Fine!”
- Hall of Poobah – “We did not copy the sunscary Punta worshippers! That is totally not where we got the idea to have heavily muscled, half-nude barbarians pushing a mill wheel around while our golem friend watches over them!”
- Divine mill – “With this flour, flowers shall bloom in the radiance of a thousand divine fires!”
- The Groot Boulean Undermarket – torches sold separately.
- The Legworm! – it’s like a snake, but with legs!
- The Groot Elevator – it goes all the way to Hell, Spickleford, Brendly, Furnham, Cheshire and Oztrayla.
- Diggle’s Game-house – a fine establishment that is totally mythical and definitely not a place where Sunscaries and Deepies get along just fine.
- Cheap Tunnels – are more affordable, but bathed in the eerie glow of the Blue Sky and Legs
- Circle of the Holy Poobah Wrench – a great henge of wrought iron and bronze? What madness!
- “A wrench-worshipping cult of wretches? What utter nonsense!” – Order of Learning in the Annual Refusals Newsletter
- Buried Giant? – Totally not true that there might be the remains of an actual three-eyed giant buried beneath the Blue Pyramid that does not exist!
- Tactical backwards march tunnel – it’s the way forward!
- Holy Bread Store – “But where is the bakery?” Anonymous – “There is no bakery.” Neophyte.
- Not ritual sacrifice – they just sort of improvise every time
- The Halls of the Undermountain King – yes, he is notoriously thin-skinned, feckless and imprudent, and yes, he has a bit of a fiery temper, but really he’s an alright guy and you shouldn’t read too much into his proclamations and suggestions of collective punishment, war against the sunscaries, torture and the like. Really.
The Blue Pyramid
“The Blue Pyramid is a popular legend among conspiracy nuts and heretics” – Order of Learning, private service proclamation
- Lvl 1 – Eye and Slug – there is a shaft here and the Cherenkov glow is low.
- Lvl 2 – Metal Bird, Ef and Orb – was this some kind of command module and why is there a cake run through with a stake?
- Side Room – Mean Eye and Odd Door – where do these cables lead and why is there a cryophagus in here?
- Side Room Too – Sad Fish and Salamanders with Axe – are those owl statues or memory machines? Do they remember the time before the Burning of Mean Writings by the Great Pre-Punta?
- Lvl 3 – Shocked Face and Hat – there is no crystal to see here and the radiant glow is definitely not heretical or lethal to those not wearing leaden suits. Oh, look, an odd hole dug in the floor. Certainly safe.
- Left Chamber – Pitchfork and Wriggly Eye – if this was a dining room, why is there a skeleton with hip bones that exploded from within lying on the table?
- Left Shaft – Angry Eye and Fish – all these ladders and now some kind of lock. And is that metal man dead or just dreaming?
- Left Leg Room – Angry Eye and Fish and Tuning Fork – nothing to see here, there is no hidden chamber behind a panel where a dormant deadly diamond descended deathform could be hiding.
- Right Chamber – Door and Gate – if these were offices, why are there so many skeletons around? And why are there scratches on the walls?
- Hidden Trapdoor – Shock! – hey, there’s a person inside this crystal casket!
- Right Shaft 1 – Shocked Eye and Three Crumpet – wow, this room has been smashed to heck. Something must have crawled in through the air ducts!
- Right Shaft 2 – Shocked Eye and Two Crumpets – was this a medical bay? What is that red, gelatinous, slurping stuff covering the floor?
- Right Leg Room – Shocked Eye, Crumpet and Gate – well, this place is a mess. Perhaps the silver and glass machine recalls what happened?
- Lvl 4 – Left – Hairy Eye and Wave and Walking Fish – Another owl machine! Perhaps it recalls more of what happened? How could one get here anyway?
- Lvl 4 – Right – Planet and Waves and Hill – it looks like a bed, and in the bed the remains of a hand. Perhaps it is a totally harmless perfect being that we can bring back into being with some fifth element? You mean metal, sir? Yes, metal. Sing some metal at it.
- “Diggy” – No, we totally did not create a chimera of a drill golem, a couple of slave boys and an antlion! That would be heretical and unethical. Also, it would hurt Diggy’s feelings. Who’s a good boy?
- Lvl 4 – Center – Virus and Planet and Pointy Cross – Is this some kind of transportation chamber? A holding pen? A teleporter? What sorcery is this?
- Lvl 5 – Square Eye and Gate and Glum Face – chairs, suits, shaft and broken dreams. Someone came and never left and oh, so long ago … oh, look, the door is down at the bottom of the cavern below!
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