The Veil of Hues

By Steve Arensberg and John W Curtis III

Copyright ICE 1999

None in the Bladelands may doubt that magic exists. For the Veil of Hues rolls above them each day, and the Bladestorms clash, sure signs that magical forces are at work in their world.

None can say with certainty what the Veil of Hues truly is, though many would proffer their belief. Truly, for each culture in the Bladelands there is a 'truth' about the Veil, a belief each people holds above the 'myths' of other folk. To the Dy'rnthar, it is the Dyrnai, the Jewel of Heaven, a great gem which surrounds the Bladelands, locking the destructive power of the Maelstrom away from the lands. To the Pulaar, it is the Burintanun, the Shield of Blades, forged by the skill of the Maker as a protection against the Destroyer. To the Shulaar it is Shuzuun's Bow, the rainbow, that which guided them to their new home on Ren Shu. To the Rga-khur it is the Khur-naz, the war-fires, heralds of the great battle raging in the heavens. And to Men it is simply the Veil, that which hides their world from the sight of the dark powers.

Yet no matter its name, the Veil is the heart of magic, the heart of the Bladelands. To workers of magic, this mass of color and light is the source of the essential magic that permeates the land, or the residence—some say the very being—of the godlike powers that now rule. For others, it is a chaotic, capricious thing that grants powerful talents on a whim, and takes them away just as easily.

But for the majority of the simple folk who live in the Bladelands, it is a constant reminder of the Maelstrom that changed their world forever, and of the bladestorms which still threaten their precarious existence in this world of wild and powerful magics.

The Hue

As dawn comes to the world of the Bladelands, the Veil selects its guise—its hue—for the day. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet—one of these seven will drape the day, from dawn today to dawn tomorrow.

But wild are the hue changes of the Veil. Few can predict the hue of tomorrow, let alone the hue a month hence. Yet some claim the power to sense a future hue, as some claim to know the hue of an individual by the reading of auras. Even so, such predictions are chance-work at best; only the fool would trust his life to such a thing.

Thus the folk of the Bladelands rise each morning to meet a day that may fill them with power, or dread. For each person in the world has one hue that is their favored, one hue that governs them, represents them. For most, it is the hue of the day of their birth. Many folk believe that one's birth hue is a symbol of one's personality, that those of the same hue share certain characteristics. This may or may not be true, but regardless, those of the same hue do have two things in common: their preference for days of "their" color, and their fear of the hue day that opposes it.

For though one's hue day may grant special gifts—whether increased magical power, or perhaps just an extra measure of luck—one's opposed hue visits upon the unlucky only hardship, often pain, and the curse of magicks turned sinister.

The Bladestorms

Though the face of the world is calm, the Maelstrom ended, still the bladestorms flash across the sky and thunder across the land, bringing destruction and death in their wake. No being in the world lives without some measure of fear of these great, chaotic creations of the Veil. They are called bladestorms because of their propensity to form near battles, draw up into their swirling mass the remains of war littering the fields, then surge across the countryside, a sharp-edged tornado of death and destruction, visiting its horrors upon guilty and innocent alike.

The true source of the bladestorms remains a mystery. They come from the Veil, or so most believe, but none can say for sure how they form, or what calls them to a particular location. Most believe that intensity draws it, whether the intense power of the hue in a particular place, or an intensity of emotion, such as that created by a great battle. Yet at times it also comes unbidden, like a wild thing slavering and screaming, seeking only to rend and destroy.

Any being caught unprotected in a bladestorm stands little chance of survival. When one is imminent, most wise folks lock themselves away in shelters securely underground, or within some protected area of earth, stone, or metal. Those without such protection must outrun the storm, or be swallowed by it.

When a bladestorm passes, and calm returns, the inhabitants of the area return from below to assess the damage. Sometimes it does little, skittering across hilltops, uprooting a few trees, leaving strange markings upon the stones. Other times it will destroy an entire village, grinding to flinders every building not protected by the earth, destroying crops, reforming the land, even changing the course of creeks or emptying lakes.

And sometimes, a bladestorm will leave gifts for those whose homes it has destroyed. Perhaps an ancient sword buried to its hilt in a tree. Or a piece of statue of some great figure. Or the body of some strange creature that has never before been seen. Though perhaps of value to some, such gifts bring little comfort to those whose lives have been forever changed by the wrath of the bladestorms.

Editor's Note

Please email any comments on this article to gfw@pinc.com. In the next issue, we'll conclude our preview of the world of Bladelands with "The City of Hope"