The next planned work—the twelfth book—in the “main line” of the Shine Cycle, following The Longest War, is a story or stories having to do with the creatures of Fragarach. Today’s post is a brief introduction to this segment of the Shine Cycle.
This piece of the Shine Cycle is listed on my outline as merely “Creatures stories.” My initial conception was for a collection of short stories, each about one of the journeys to the planet; I’m somewhat dubious about my ability to discipline myself enough to limit myself to that length, so it may end up a novel (or longer) like the other planned parts of the Shine Cycle instead, or even a sub-series.
Anyway, this segment of the Shine Cycle consists of the stories of several expeditions to Fragarach by mages from the Shine and Wild Empire. The first expedition may have ended up there by providential chance, or it may have been a planned mission of exploration (I’m not sure which), but in any case the mages explore most of the planet’s land and investigate the metaphysical significance of the rocks produced by its major mountain in that first journey, befriending many of the creatures along the way. Later expeditions have more specific purposes, including, eventually, limited colonization.
Many of the creatures of Fragarach are friendly and welcoming, because they are made for fellowship and friendship with and service to people. But not all are, which leads to conflict—and the hostile creatures are more common and more powerful as the journey nears the summit of the mountain. Fortunately, those first visitors to Fragarach are carrying decks of Imperial Robo Cards, which allow them to present a ready defense against powerful foes, even before they devise the “badges” that let the friendly creatures grow to match that challenge.
One of the early expeditions—perhaps even the first—carries a cargo of dolls, made in the Sunshine Kingdom or one of its neighbors, that are intended to be delivered to an orphanage on another world somewhere in the same region of space as Fragarach. As the ship approaches Fragarach, several of these dolls grow and seem to come almost to life, and they begin to wake up when the ship lands—they are affected by the “metaphysical mineral” of Fragarach as much as the planet’s native creatures are.
This unexpected occurrence later leads to “Fragarach creatures,” marked by their response to the metaphysical effects of the mineral rather than by actual origin on the planet, becoming trusted partners—not quite pets—across the Empire, especially for mages.