As something in between time and space, the Chronoscape has some pretty unique physics going on. Here’s one quick way to imagine it. You have a sheet of paper. The top of the paper has a red dot, while the bottom has a blue dot. These dots appear very far to each other. However, by folding the paper, these dots can be made closer. Now, let’s throw in another dot—this time, green. Rather than folding the paper to get all three to meet, it’s easier to use a thread and needle to sew them. The paper looks really weird now, but hey, they’re all together!
In this scenario, the universe is a piece of paper. The string represents path through the Chronoscape. All of the 3D space between the folds and the paper are the Chronoscape. Paths can go in every which direction. Time is manipulated just as easily as space. A trip that would take a million years through space suddenly becomes a walk in the park. Creatures with a Chronocompass can easily navigate through this realm, but all other Life ends up turning around and getting lost, either ending up in the wrong place or time, or perhaps even the wrong universe. It’s unlikely that a person can ever find their way home once they lose their way.
Doors to the Chronoscape are created by Instance Mages of all sorts. Metal Riders are particularly good at manipulating the space to connect a ‘string’ to their desired ‘dot.’ The Chronoscape doors are sometimes literal doors. Other times, they appear like a rippling mirror, a tunnel into a realm unknown, or a land that appears after passing through a thick fog. You are free to create your own entrances and exits to this realm.
Weather, Terrain, and Life
The Chronoscape appears as a flat plain that stretches infinitely in all directions. It breaks into desert-like patches, heavily forested areas, rocky pathways, volcanic regions, and any environment you can think of if you travel far enough. There is no perceptible curvature…in the third dimension, at least.
In regions with open sky, it will be shrouded in clouds. Sometimes they are thin, and light will shine through in rhythmic fashion akin to days and nights. Other times, the clouds will lay low and create a blue fog that blocks vision beyond two meters. In areas with deteriorating terrains, a sun-like star can be seen below the ground. If anyone was ever able to solve the mysteries of time and weather in the Chronoscape, they never returned to tell anyone about it.
Flora & Fauna
The land contains flora and fauna from every corner of the universe. Humanoids are the most common sentient species, but they are hardly the only ones. Sentiency comes in all shapes, sizes, and forms. From eldritch horrors to charming little creatures, you never know when something will try to communicate with you. As for normal fauna, there are all sorts of creatures running around in the Chronoscape. It’s unknown if any species can truly be extinct, since there surely exists a shadow of them in the Chronoscape somewhere.
It is incredibly dangerous to travel through the Chronoscape because of the flora and fauna. Of course, getting lost in space and time is horrible, but getting killed between space and time is a little worse. Just as anything could be sentient, anything can be a hunter. That set of mountainous boulders? A golem, ready to spring. That enchanting song? A siren searching for their prey. The sweet-smelling tree? It’s ready to put you to sleep and trap you in its roots. Without the protection of dragons or safety in numbers, the chance of surviving in the Chronoscape is slim to none.
Doors to the Chronoscape
There is a good reason Quetzalcoatl and Moondrifters are not frequently seen among the populace of Shérok and Eredia. The planets have several major hubs that are monitored by different entities to ensure dangerous individuals do not sneak in. The most popular doors are on Bestia d’la Mer and the city of Corli. These are guarded by the Bestia and the Abrendese Militia respectively. Tsotska d’la Mer contains a door that leads to very specific locations, guarded personally by the Tsotska-mar. The Phinae-mar guards many of the doors at sea and beyond, and they even have an influence within the Chronoscape itself. There are doors underwater which lead to corresponding watery terrains in the other realms. There are many minor doors outside of this which peoples of all kinds use. The Naki are most active in these locations and will only report to the Naki Alliance concerning those who cause trouble or endanger others.
Civilizations & Cultures
Choosing to live in the Chronoscape is dangerous and foolhardy, but a few people do it. There are some recognizable peoples and organizations that are known throughout the Chronoscape, and these are the notable ones.
Anyone who travels through the Chronoscape as a lifestyle is called a Peregrine. Many of the Naki were originally Peregrines that had their compass settle on Shérok. The compass of their dragons—if they even have one—won’t point anywhere. That’s how they like it. They learn the ins-and-outs of the world around them. While the dangers may shift and change, the doors go different places, and former colleagues disappear into the mists, the Peregrines learn how to deal with it. With practice and luck, a Peregrine will know danger when they see it and stay out of its path. They know how to approach game they’ve never seen before and can converse in some common languages that will get them by.
To stay safe, Peregrines will sometimes form caravans. Caravans consist of up to two hundred people traveling together. In order to stay in one place, it’s left to Riders to serve as navigators, guides, and hunters. Although caravans are faced with many troubles, the Peregrines keep them stable. While having so many mouths to feed and few ways to trade makes survival hard, the benefits of seeing the same faces every day and staying together with family vastly outweighs the struggles. Caravans typically exchange members between each other, rather than adopt vagrants traveling alone. A lone traveler is seen as a threat and someone who was potentially exiled from another caravan, and thus a danger.
With that said, not all caravans are benevolent. There are some that keep themselves occupied with the poaching of all types of wildlife–monsters, plants, humans, and whatever they believe is valuable–to sell on in the most profitable way. These groups are typically referred to as poachers.
Quetzalcoatl are feared throughout the realms. They are dragons that can appear as large, feathered wyrms or as feathered humanoids. They possess a Chronocompass, just like any other dragon. They live in a huge community that could almost be called a metropolis. As they all have a Chronocompass, navigating throughout their ‘city’ never gives them a problem. They absolutely despise dragons and Riders, considering Riders to be brainwashers of some sort and dragons to be unwitting victims. Although they form mental bonds, they do so with their soul mates rather than a companion.
Also called Blood Serpents, the Quetzalcoatl will negotiate with visitors or even require passersby to give sacrifices. The sacrifices must be sentient, and the longer their lifespan, the better. The Quetzalcoatl do more than consume the sacrifices. They also use ancient magicks to perceive what their prey could not—a glimpse of a future that would never be. Their ability to learn the future, manipulate blood to their whims, and create venoms of all types instills fear and awe in all who learn of them. It’s not uncommon for powerful leaders to provide a surplus of sacrifices in exchange for a glimpse into the future or a morsel of forbidden knowledge. Below is a size chart for Quetzalcoatl and their forms.
The Moondrifters are a caravan that has gained a reputation for their cult-like behavior. Their activities are strictly monitored by those within. Seemingly nonsensical laws are tied in with their religion to manipulate and command those within their ranks. It’s not unusual for god-like entities to exist in the Chronoscape, so for them to presume a god guides them isn’t outlandish. What is odd about this group and their god is the extent to which they follow the teachings. Those found to commit a sin or break a law are branded as an outlaw. Many can be condemned because they were associated with a criminal, and sometimes even victims of violence could be considered corrupted and driven out.
Unfortunately, they are known for their avid evangelism. They will try to convert unwitting lone Peregrines and execute them if they refuse to change their ways. When dealing with multiple individuals, the Moondrifters do not try to convert whole caravans. Instead, they kill all of the adults and take in the children as their own. The children are raised to hate their old community and taught that they deserved what happened to them, all alongside the normal cult rules. They are typically human, though will raise species outside of humans when they are adopted as children. Along with normal human skin tones, they may appear as a ghostly white or with hues of blue. They are one of the few communities the Naki do not actively communicate with.
Wild Inhabitants of the Chronoscape
Given the nature of the Chronoscape, these animals inhabit both the Chronoscape and in localized sections of Eredia and Shérok. The ones noted here are all sentient in varying degrees and possess a Chronocompass. None of them form telepathic bonds like the elemental dragons do.
Dragon Spirits of Tsotska d’la Mer
These dragons differentiate themselves by retaining some magic. Rather than creating elements, they manipulate the elements around them. In example, they can’t breathe fire unless they start out with some cinders.
Their scales are transparent and reflect the world around them, and this ‘invisibility’ earned them the nickname dragon spirits. When they want to reveal themselves, they ruffle up their scales to jumble the reflections. They are capable of speaking as well as communicating simple images telepathically (although they are incapable of forming bonds this way). They are incredibly flighty and only appear to the Tsotska-mar and individuals who have proven themselves generous through donations to their ‘shrines.’
They range drastically in size, although most are dog-sized and smaller. They appear most similar to Jungle dragons and small amphibious creatures.
Focas (pronounced foh-kas) are a pinniped species that occupies the oceans of Shérok and Eredia. Their name simply means ‘seal’ in Shéar. Other types of seals are unlikely to inhabit the same areas, but if a distinction needs to be made, these are called elemental seals. They usually occupy the arctic and antarctic areas of the sea, but some elements may drift towards the tropical areas. Unlike many other pinnipeds, they are perfectly at home in the open ocean and do not need land to rest or bear young. Their barrel is especially long to help them use their momentum during hunts. They are known for destroying ships and sea vessels even without the use of magic. They are strictly carnivores and will eat anything from small fish to large whales.
While some travel in families, they are unlikely to do so for more than a year. Focas are more typically solitary or travel with a pair bond. Like other creatures with a Chronocompass, they are highly intelligent. They are unlikely to speak more than a few words of ‘human’ language, but are perfectly capable of communicating in the clicks, whistles, and echoes of their own tongue. Their markings include countershading, spots, and freckles of color unless they are using magic. While their magic is active, their eyes glow and tribal markings form across their body. Their traits usually stick to streamlined forms, but some odd mutations are known that affect their dominance or improve their hunting abilities.
They are incredibly important to the culture of northeast Shérok. They are associated with the goddess of death and regarded as her messengers. While their fur is highly valued for both texture and magical properties, only a fool would hunt them.
Keo (pronounced kay-oh) are a species of canid that inhabit the cold regions of Shérok and the Chronoscape. Although their territories overlap with Tombre, they fill different niches and can comfortably co-exist. Keo are omnivorous and eat just about any floral they can find. When hunting, they only chase after small prey. They tread on top of snow and try to scare prey out of hiding. When that fails, they use their long legs to pierce through the snow and catch prey from above. They can also burrow comfortably into the snow, their long bodies allowing for ease of movement in large drifts. Thanks to their size, they can even dig through tough snow.
They have defined territories and only wander away when forming a pack of their own. Their homes typically consist of burrows, small caves, and self-built ice structures when the ground cannot be worked. They create interlocked nests with close family members called warrens. Warrens typically house three generations of Keo. They cycle over time, with any great-grandchildren being driven out by the eldest mating pair. Their young are called pups or cubs.
Their thick fur allows them to live in the snow-covered reaches of Inviernot. The same thick fur makes them popular among poachers and fur traders. Compared to other canines, it has a highly elongated spine, tail, and legs–making its head look quite small in comparison to everything else. Their claws are slightly retractable, but not on the level of cats. Females tend to be shorter and stouter to preserve warmth.
They are fully capable of understanding language, although they cannot speak with their vocal chords. Interaction between pack members tends to be silent and they rely mostly on body language. They can squeak, chirp, whine, bark, and growl, but all of these are signs of aggression or fear. Because they hunt prey the size of a cat or smaller, they pose no threat to humans. Their social nature makes them easy to work with, but they are never fully tame. They are capable of using their size to take down threats when no other option is available.
- Sirens – Huge, lumbering, slow beasts somewhere in between dragons and whales, and often likened to living mountains. They are separated into flighted and grounded varieties. They are plain in color, often bearing no markings at all. Very little is known about them, as being close to them for short periods of time causes nausea and continued exposure causes permanent illness. If agitated, they use a glowing blue breath that destroys any living creature in its path. They communicate across vast distances via a booming song. Anyone who hears the Siren songs knows to get out of their way before they arrive.
- Tombre – Felines of various sizes. They cannot be tamed, but it is possible to earn their trust. With luck, they may even permit someone to ride them.
- Xiuhcoatl – The symbol of the lost kingdom of Shérok. Folklore says that Xiuhcoatl feathers burned with fire before the kingdoms were assimilated, and it has since lost its connection to that magic. Seeing one in the desert is considered a blessing. They cannot be bred in captivity, so receiving one is considered a high honor among Shéar.
- Gryphons – Anomalous creatures that are half-mammal, half-bird. Their variety is attributed to the vast stores of magic within the planet Eredia.
- Feral Dragons – Dragons that have, over time, adapted to live without Riders. They function similarly to Independent elemental dragons, though they cannot breed together, and their traits are very limited in comparison.
- Snaketails – A creature common in the skies of Eredia. While they come in a wide variety of species, they do have one common trait: they can memorize up to three homes and deliver messages between them. These homes can be on the same island or across vast oceans. On longer flights, they dip into the Chronoscape to save energy.
- Obsidians – Giant insects resembling members of Lepidoptera. Except, you know, giant. They are exceptionally good at navigating caves, forests, canyons, and other tight spaces.