Pirates of the Silver Sea
Let us try a little thought experiment, shall we? Indulge me.
So imagine, if you would be so kind, that you have a home. I know you are an adventurer, and that for you home is where you hang your helmet, but do your best, please. Try to stay with me. So you have a home. A whole world of home, as a matter of fact—an entire world suited to your exact specifications, a world that has been designed and cultivated over the course of countless centuries to be precisely what you want. All the chairs fit you like a glove, and the curtains are that exact shade of deep red that is your favorite color. All the architecture is tuned like a string instrument to strike the exact notes, as needed, to make you feel relaxed, excited, empowered, intrigued when you walk into a room or when you walk down the street. All of the items in the cupboards and drawers are exactly where you want them to be the very first time you look. You look around you and you see your own history. You see that which is familiar. You see an external manifestation of yourself. That, my friend, is home.
Now imagine, if you will, that you share this home with others of your own kind. You walk down the broad streets of your city, you enter its plazas and arcades, and all around you see your own people. You see that which is familiar, that which is comfortable, that which is you. It is your own language that rings down the alleys. The delicacies that are your favorites are the ones being sold at the market stalls. In the faces that come before you, you see a thousand thousand variations on your own features, your own face reflected and subtly altered. This is not to say that you are necessarily friends with everyone you see. Far from it. Your people are a proud people, competitive. As you are proud, competitive. But you look around you, at your people, and can conceive of no more worthy competitors in all the worlds you have ever known than these, your own kind. And among these people is a culture—ways of thinking and of acting, practices and theories—that is as unique among all the peoples of all the worlds as it is exquisite, perfected, and refined. It is a culture of which you are justifiably proud.
Imagine then that you and your people are at your peak. You are in your prime. Your power extends far beyond the world you call home. Your influence is felt in the deepest pits of the planes, and at the highest summits. People come from far distant worlds to seek your knowledge and your expertise. The wealth of a thousand worlds is trash in your midden-heaps; the gold crowns of kings hand like baubles over your doors. The goods crafted by your artisans are the envy of all the worlds. Your armies are rightly reputed to be the most terrifying in the multiverse, and your magics shock and shake the very essence of reality. Souls by the billions—by the billions—bow before you in homage. And after millenia of patient planning and bitter, brutal work, you are finally in position to put down those who would strive against you, and so to take your rightful place as the lords of all creation.
You are still with me? Bueno.
Now imagine the gods take it all away from you. Every last scrap. Every last word in every last book, every last stone in your perfect city. Some elements of your home and your people that the gods find to be of value for their own inscrutable reasons are looted from the ruins, and these trinkets are renamed, repurposed, reassigned, and shipped away to other worlds where they become alien to themselves. The rest is unmade, as if it had never existed. Any memory of you—of your home, of your people, of your culture, of your very existence—is edited out from the minds of those who remain. You are forgotten. You are given over to oblivion.
And somehow, through a quirk of fate or through your own tenacity—you can never quite be sure which—you persist. When all else around you, all objects and persons and structures have been rendered down into formless void, you remain, floating alone in a vast nothing. And somehow, through brute force of will or through some trick of luck—you can never be sure which—you manage to claw your way through to the new universe, the universe that has been purged of you. You find it changed and strange. There are seas where once were stars, and wastelands where once were oceans. The places you knew are gone. The faces you knew are gone. The world you knew has been replaced by an impostor, a poor stumbling copy.
So tell me, now. What do you do? Presented with this set of circumstances, what course of action do you take? Do you hold your head between your hands and weep for what is lost? You could, I suppose. It would be perfectly justified. Do you rage against the gods, scream and tear your flesh, and hurl yourself at the first sign of the divine that you see, clawing and kicking until, in your blind rage, you have torn yourself apart or else ripped through to the heavens and torn the gods down from their impervious thrones? You could do that, too. I wouldn’t blame you if you did. Or is there another way, another tack to take? Do you bite down on your grief and your rage, swallowing down that bitter draught, and start to think? And, in your thinking, do you calculate that there must be remnants of that which was in this remade world? Do you hope that nothing is ever truly destroyed, only made to be buried and dormant and waiting for rediscovery? Do you believe that you can bring your world back from oblivion, but only if you are infinitely careful and infinitely cunning, more cunning than the gods themselves? But you can take faith in the fact that it was your peoples’ very cunning that made the gods afraid of you in the first place. And so, armed only with your wits and your desire for justice, do you kick off into the infinite silver sea between the stars, in the mad and desperate hope that you can bring things back to the way they were?
Well, I don’t know about you, but that’s what I did. And that is what I do. And that is why I am here, searching this silver sea for fragments of my people and my history, and for those shreds of divine energy, left over from the gods’ reckless acts of creation and destruction, needed to put all those pieces back together again. And when I find enough of these pieces and enough of that power, I will bring my world back. And my people, reborn, will rip open the fragile reality that the gods of the now have made for themselves and plunge all the worlds into a war the likes of which these weak and trembling gods of the now could never conceive. And when the last scrap of creation is annihilated, when the last word is burned in the last book, and when the last stone in the last city is reduced to less than dust, then I shall have justice.
It is a noble quest, wouldn’t you say? Admirable.
What’s that? What about your own home and your own people?
Well, that’s not my problem, is it?
—Captain Cabron, Last of the Yugoloths.