(~ 1003 years ago, several years before the schism)

If we were to anchor ourselves in time to our aforementioned Observer, or even the vile lobster aggression, let’s move back, a thousand years. Then, maybe for good measure, or perhaps just for fun, let us sneak back five years beyond that.

Ahem. Each day, Yrvil the Alovian had to walk further to the beach. Each day, he dragged his little motorized skiff and fishing equipment to the water from the waterline of the night before. It wasn’t heavy; his fish finding sensor and his scuffed terminal with it’s little screen and sticky mechanical input halves were all he needed. Each day, he would look back, and see his little fishing village, perching on stilts and glittering with the red sunrise, a little further away than the day before. Or at least, it was the solar panels that glittered red. Herring dried on the racks. An oceanic odeur accompanied the sight. The stilts themselves were more of a nuisance than anything as they hadn’t been needed in months.

The village was about as far as you could get from the main regions without meeting wilderness. There were a few villages nearby, each more like his than the last.

They were far from the markets, it was true, but the fish were the best here, surely. And so plentiful, it was true. Each day they woke early, trawled for catch, coasted a few hours to the dockyards of Sodden and unloaded to the ever stingy fishmongers. Yrvil didn’t have the taste, or the chops, or even the looks for sales. He liked calling a trout a trout, to coin a phrase. Each night, he, and his fellow fishing pals would come home, play dice games with their children, as it was good to teach them how to gamble. They would go to bed tired, but satisfied. They were in a beautiful part of the world, it was true.

His pals in the other villages said their morning walks had gotten longer too, come to think of it. Longer ever since that great, dark conical structure had gone up out of the water, halfway to Sodden. Sodden itself, for general reference, was the slightly less lustrous, secondary crown jewel of the empire. The dark structure was many miles due southish, as the nautical bird flies. The structure was a great attraction among the affluent of the empire, though its purpose was oblique to him. He prefered to stay away to avoid the yachts and supply ships that often visited it. The structure was also said to emit a ghostly noise when the wind blew, another great reason to stay far away, it was true. One of his fellow fishing pals had scavenged some solar panels from the castoffs of construction. He found even this strange, because he could see no solar panels on the building at all. He surmised as much anyway, spying with his little telescopic range finders at a distance. Irrespective of this, he was certain these little solar collectors that lit up his life, indirectly, weren't worth the trouble the behemoth construction would eventually bring to their little cove.

He was a sailor, a man of the sea, and therefore a superstitious man. Aside from his dark premonitions about the shadowy structure, there was your standard “red sky at night means gluttonous deep-sea monsters ready to fight” and such. Lord help him if the stars indeed aligned, or even conspired to. The non-naval partition of his adult family, loosely translated as wives, husbands and close friends, rightly eschewed all of his astrological whims, though perhaps this time, for the first time ever, they would have been better to listen.

And one day, there was not to be any sea at all. He walked so, so far, and then collapsed with thirst. He laid there in the salt wastes that he was sure had been sea, just yesterday. He’d long emptied his water container. All else he’d packed for the journey was a container of these new potato chips, from a small company called Acropolis. They were supposed to be really something. True to the package, he couldn’t stop at just one. Their saltiness only expedited the dehydration. As a gentle brisk wafted through the air, he realized that he was at long last equal among the fish he’d spent his life terrorizing. Slumped on his boat as he was, the fish littering the ground around him felt a sense of short lived, yet delicious irony, as everyone was broiled together under the sun.

His family, and the other families of similar plight saw there was nowhere left to fish. So, they gambled, as they were taught as children, and headed in the opposite direction from the markets of Sodden. Between them and the markets were conceivably, miles and miles of drying mud and salt flats. Their descendants forgot how to fish, and subsequent generations even forgot Sodden altogether. They moved through the wilderness, and chased the great beasts of the plains, forgetting that they had once put their rods down at the end of the day and stopped moving. They even forgot how to build houses with roofs and stilts, and how to use keyboards and solar panels, and gamble with dice.

These humble fishing people had a word for “rapidly disappearing sea turned to salt flats”, as well as for “small mounds wistfully remembering former lives as islands”. These words have been almost entirely lost to time now, indeed even having been helped along by some with vested interest in keeping ancient languages swept tidily under the rug of history.

In Greater Jard, dead languages are generally encouraged to remain that way.

Today, this area of desolation is known as something else; the Great Expanse. This is the name known by the people in Sodden, Old Jardinian and the like, the great cities making up the region known as Greater Jard.

Today, a thousand years or so on now from the events affecting our poor fishing folk, the people of Greater Jard live productively. physically far beyond the crumbling stilts and the entirely forgotten black conical structure that still laments in the wind. They live productively, if not entirely care-free, with a subtle, yet enduring cultural disinterest in visiting the Great Expanse. And, as time has worn on, the details of the actual genesis of the Great Expanse has been lost to esoterica.

As early as five, Children learn learn of the diligent persecution of those seen as responsible for the genesis of the desolation, and the Harsh but Righteous justice (read here exile or fatal in character) encouraged by angry, riled up crowds, and meted out by the efficient Committee for Justice and Recovery, hastily made up of the civic and Industry leaders of the day.

This is more myth than fact now, there are few primary sources. All that remains of the pre-expanse times is the ancient, stout, and vigorously ornamental architecture representing the golden age of ingenuity that still makes up the core of the city. This erosion of detail can’t be helped, of course, as it is a natural consequence of the ever-changing modern lexicon; evolving rapidly at times, with substantial pressure. Occasionally, little cracks could be found in the narrative of history by the most enterprising and inquisitive Jards, but most were filled in and painted over with gusto and expedience.

While most rarely think about it, only good for schoolchildren’s myths and scholar fodder really, Jards understand there is no trace of the perpetrators of this disaster left behind. If you asked; all would surely answer that those persecuted deserved their fate, ancient history as it was. For the modern Jards who lived among echoes of the past, existence of the Great Expanse stretched to nigh eternity; some assumed it might well have been there since the beginning.

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