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Apr 2, 2021

This episode carries content warnings for discussion of knives, possession, insect infestation of a living person, death, animal slaughter, being buried alive, and drowning.

It has been one year since the folks of Eastern Folly put an end to a generations-long curse, and a few months fewer since a vote brought a new name to the town and its environs: Blackwick County.  The name was a compromise, evoking not only the darkening embers of the Triadic Pyre’s ashen dogma, but also the warmth and comfort of night at home coming to its end with a little prayer to Slumbous.  

Name ain’t the only changed in that town, though. As the days went on, and the understanding that the curse had been broken was felt more firmly, it seemed as both miners and townsfolk let themselves dream of further futures than they had before. Some folks settled down to start families, others sent word for friends and relatives to move to this newly prosperous burg. New business sprung up, and not all of them made it through the year, sure, but more than you’d think. 

This was a community that was only just now starting to know itself. The sort of town you heard about and thought was made up. A place really, truly, on the upswing. Even the trains seemed to be reliable, more or less. 

But the powers that be, so to speak, they knew better than to rest on laurels, no matter whose they were. I mean… Skeletal emissaries. Miners going deeper into the mountain. Sounds below the abbey. The damned egg. 

Can you blame them for putting out the call? Can you blame them for bringing together the Blackwick Group?

This week on Sangfielle: The Blackwick Group

The Almanac of the Heartland Rider

Peoples

Caprak (cap-ROK): The goat folks of the northlands, where they put up with dust, ash, snow, and the unilateral “justice” of the Pale Magistratum.

Carpana (car - pahn - a): They’re little folks, three to four feet tall or so. A little like capybara, I suppose. 

Devils: Once, they were contained by (and made to administer) some vast network of hells. But they fought their way out, took over Aldomina, and nurtured a fledgling empire into an expansive one.

Drakkan (drah-KAHN):  I’ve always thought we look like seahorses. Skin pulled across spiny, exo-skeletal armor. Bright colors. Good looking. 

Heritrixes (hare-uh-trixes): Heritrixes are immaterial beings, sometimes confused for ghosts, demons, or other sorts of supernatural spirits, who enter into contracts with physical hosts.

Human: A smooth-skinned, hornless type of person, mostly found in the Heartland and in the Unschola Republica these days. Unremarkable. “Except in variety,” you’ll often hear a human say, revealing only that they’re more prideful than wise.

Ojantani: The Ojantani, who share traits with buffalo and water oxen, are as often melancholic or timorous as they are the loud, stereotypical minotaur sort.

Places

Blackwick County: From the mines to the lake, the hills to the flats, the town once called Eastern Folly has felt a little more expansive now that it’s out of the hard grip of the old curse. It’s people aren’t perfect, but they’ve made it through some dark times, and that’s more than most can say.

The Sleeping City: Every 13 years, a metropolis wakes with the buzzing sound of life. Do not cross its borders uninvited, especially not when it and its inhabitants are at rest.

Facts and Figures

The Course: There is debate about the true nature of the Heartland’s Truth, the power that turned Sangfielle into what it is today. But the Cleavers call it the Course. Part river, part lesson, part direction traveled. Entirely beyond the grasp of mortal minds. 

The Structure: Reason, logic, sense. The world is, fundamentally, a place that fits together and functions. We may not like that, say the adherents of the structure. And sometimes, the world may move in ways beyond our particular ken. But there is something holding it together, and that, they say, is the Heartland’s Truth: The Structure.

The Shape: Are the trains that run across the Heartland bound to the Structure, or do they direct it? Is the overlap between the two even real at all, or might two machinic forces be at work here in Sangfielle?.

Es (she/they): A heritrix with a penchant for the finer things in life and the perilous ventures needed to earn them.

Virtue Mondegreen (she/her): Virtue was supposed to have been killed in the great vampiric purge, years before the panic. But it’s like I said before, Sangfielle was strange long before the Devils noticed it.

Marn Ancura (she/her): Recently raised to Keen status inside of the Telluricist Union, Marn’s en route to Blackwick with aims to help folks the best she can (and solve one of the great medical mysteries of the heartland).

Chine (he/they): The only member of the Blackwick Group to be born in Eastern Folly, Chine was called out to by the truth of the heartland.

Duvall (he/him): Born into one of the few human families who still have noble status in Aldomina, Duvall wasted his inheritance on a doomed adventure into Sangfielle. Now colonized by the insectoid servants of the Structure, Duvall searches to solve a question as old as people: What is “the self”?

Pickman (she/her): Fifteen years. That’s how long Pickman spent on the train. After being rescued by a Shape Knight, she found herself compelled to take up the armor and join their cause—a reaction that puts her in good company, as many other knights did just the same.

Lye “Lyke” Lychen (he/him): Tossed out of one of the many occult academies of the Unschola Republica, Lyke came to Sangfielle to continue his magical education in the most hands-on (and pockets-full) way he could.

Organizations

The Boundless Conclave: Less of an individual church, more of an association between hundreds of independent faiths. Small sects, nearly forgotten cults, and unjealous gods make up this vast pantheon. 

The Disciples of the Triadic Pyre: Appropriately devoted to a trio of gods, the Triadic Pyre believe that entropy is the only certain thing in this world, and as such aim to master it. Recently began to mark workers willing to do their tasks in the mines with their brand.

The Telluricist Union: Made up by a mix of peoples driven to the hills by Aldomina, this group of knife sharpeners, herbalists, geologists, and all around investigators have made it their job to keep their old wisdom and see it used to help those in need. The best among them are called Keen.

The Shape Knights: It took people with clear minds, great ingenuity, and implacable spirit to face down and defeat one of the living trains of Sangfielle. In the time since, they’ve crafted armor from their slain foe, and with that have come to be experts of all things train. They herd, they breach, they redirect. But they haven’t yet killed a second.

Hosted by Austin Walker (@austin_walker)

Featuring Janine Hawkins (@bleatingheart) Sylvi Clare (@sylvibullet), Ali Acampora (@ali_west), Art Martinez-Tebbel (@atebbel), Jack de Quidt (@notquitereal), Keith J Carberry (@keithjcarberry) and Andrew Lee Swan (@swandre3000)

Produced by Ali Acampora and Austin Walker

Music by Jack de Quidt (available on bandcamp)

Text by Austin Walker

Cover Art by Craig Sheldon (@shoddyrobot)