Thursday, June 17, 2010

Boundary Beacons

Along all of the great rivers that flow into Riskail from the River-Gates and out past the Tributary Gates for a range of twelve gates in either direction, you can find the Boundary Beacons hanging in the air just above the waterline like buoys.  Slightly out of phase and anchored across more than a hundred Planar Layers, the dodecahedral Beacons act as mile markers and help travelers along the river ways to keep track of how far out they are from Devukarsha.  Other city-states with river-gates use the same system.  It's standardized as a practice that has been in use for more than a thousand years without interruption, despite Revolutions or wars or cataclysms.  Anyone wanting to plot a course along any of the river-networks can use the Boundary Beacons to get a fix on their location and if they know how to ask nicely, they can also find out the prevailing weather conditions ahead of them, water levels, flow-rates, debris warnings, fog levels, and similar sorts of information.  But you have to know how to access the things, and if you aren't a river pilot, raft navigator, or a Guide, you are going to more often than not get asked point-blank; "Why do you think you need to know?"

If you can come up with a good answer (often this involves liquor, food or shiny-bits), then someone might let you in on things and teach you how to access the Beacons.  It's not exactly difficult, but you do need to understand how they are set-up and organized.  Once you know where to look and how to approach the things, anyone with the least smidgen of social telepathy can figure out how to pose a polite query and receive a meaningful response.  Who knows, it might come in handy one day--you wouldn't be the first cityfolk who had to use the Beacons to send out a distress call when their raft got eaten by a swarm of glintmidges.

Of course, you might have saved yourself the trouble and just read the appropriate page in the River Almanac.  But nah; that'd be too easy, wouldn't it.


  1. For some reasons these make me think of the pylons from the Land of the Lost TV show, though they work rather different.

    I applaud the dodecahedron shape. There just aren't enough dodecahedrons in things. ;)

  2. @Trey: I remember the Saturday morning show from way back and I recall that they had silvery pylons that you could get inside, but I don't remember what they did exactly. I'm going to go see if I can catch some episodes on Hulu or whatever. They had lizard-people with a funny name.

    The Boundary Beacons are navigational buoys off of the Mississippi River mixed-into Mile Markers off of the Highway System. I grew up around truckers, worked in shipping and ran an air freight dock briefly. In my way-ward youth, after I got back from getting majorly injured in the Army, and got into body building as part of my physical rehabilitation, I very seriously looked into working for the railroad and on a tug boat out on the Mississippi. That stuff has been very influential on my thinking and my approach to things.

    How things get moved around is fascinating to me, and it is super-essential to winning wars, maintaining empires, and sustaining civilizations.


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