I is for Insel – an fantasy setting I’m working on

Insel is a fantasy setting I’ve been working on for a role playing game. Imagine a island covered by a crowded, renaissance city surrounded by a vast ocean. In all of history no one who has left the island has ever come back.

Metal is plentiful and intricate “clockwork ” machines power the society. Food and “wood” is grown from fungus and giant mushrooms which are farmed in the many abandoned mine tunnels under the city. Fish is the primary source of protein.

The city is governed by a council of guilds and the powerful church. The church also runs the guard of the city who keep the peace and defend the city from creatures which occasionally rise from the depths or crawl out of the mines. However all is not right with Insel.

Lorenzo’s Tale is a short bit of fiction that I wrote to help solidify some of the concepts of the world. I hope you enjoy it.

“Lorenzo’s Tale”

Lorenzo squinted into the night sky as his coracle gently bobbed on the ocean. With just a stretch of his imagination he could make out The Winged Horse raring up to crush The Serpent, the stars of the constellations seemed weak and ill. Grandfather used to recount tales of a night sky filled with hundreds of stars that shone so bright you didn’t need a lantern to walk around at night! That must have been quite a sight, Lorenzo though to himself.

Shaking himself out of his reverie, Lorenzo checked his lines and nervously cast his eye across the small fleet of fishing coracles bobbing around him. The stars aren’t the only things to be disappearing he thought, the sea should be teeming with Shrike on their annual mating run but this year they seem to have completely disappeared.

In desperation, the fishing fleet had been forced to move further and further away from Insel and it’s protective shallows. Going this far out was mad, a shiver ran up Lorenzo’s spine. He lied to himself, pretending it was just from the cool night air and not the dull fear trying to claw its way out of his gut. Perhaps he should have listened to Mora and not gone out with the fleet tonight but the fish were critically important to the city. So important in fact that Guild Master Arvo came down to the docks with Demi-Bishop Ragner to see the fleet off. The Demi-Bishop’s sermon was riveting, his blessing comforting and Lorenzo had cast off in high spirits.

“Lorenzo,” a voice called across the waters. Lorenzo turned to see Zefron hailing him from a nearby coracle, “you catch anything?”. Lorenzo shook his head and shouted back “Nothing! How about you?”

“I…” yelled Zefron. A massive tentacle smashed into Zefron’s boat, a second grabbed Zefron, raising him up into the air and then slamming him violently into the surface, before pulling him under.

“Sweet Mother Mary!” Lorenzo gasped as he stood stunned, watching the wreckage of Zefron’s coracle. Panic took hold and he started to scream “Leviathan, Leviathan…”. Confused shouts and then frantic screams erupted throughout the fleet.

Lorenzo grabbed the crank handle of his coracle’s motor and started to crank for all his worth. The flywheel painfully spun up to speed, the gears meshed and his boat started to slowly move, building up speed. He turned it towards Insel and safety. ”Sweet Mother Mary” he prayed “please let me see Mora’s face again. Please, please please..”

Behind him the catch lights of the fleet winked out one by one and the screams died away.