BUT VEST DOES NOT GIVE. IT ONLY DARES US TO TAKE…
We scrape what living we can from this stubborn sod, but at every turn we feel its reluctance. We sense its wounds. It is a world that must defend itself: a world under siege.
For as long as any of us can remember, we have lived under The Corruption: a spreading death that feeds on our very world – withering it, every twig and leaf and creeping tendril until nothing remains. It taunts us like some cruel mirage. We see the promise of life all around us, but it crumbles like ash in our hands, leaving us to wonder: how much have we lost? What was The World Before?
Of course, every scattered clan and outpost has their legends. And clever Hooks are always keen to test your barter with a “genuine, pre-Corruption artifact”. But so far no one can piece together the truth about that collapsing dream out of which we clambered, tooth and claw, while the Corruption clamped on its baleful bite and began to drink.
The Seams say there was a time when Vest itself fought The Corruption; but, in the end, it couldn’t draw the poison from its veins. Devoured and fading, the land left one final gift as it burned: The Dust. Sparking with synapses of the World Before, the Dust defends. It restores. It remembers.
The Dust can prove a potent ally in this world, and many have wielded the strength of its memories toward marvelous, mystical ends. But the power it proffers proves a stumbling block as well, and a fair few Seams have been torn apart by the war of Dust and Corruption which haunts their journey.
It’s also said that in those early days, the Dust’s ties to the Corruption lead some to fear it, and in their mistrust, they shunned the Dust for the gears of human endeavor. The rich, the strong, the luminaries of the day—they sought to strip what they could of Vest’s fast-fading resources. They hollowed mountains, felled forests, and diverted rivers. They planned and plotted and hammered and fired. They cemented their stronghold and stamped their rank above the rest of us. They built The Hierarchy.
The tools and technologies that they created allowed them to survive – even thrive – among these barren wastes, while they tossed us their scraps like we were dogs beneath their table. They expected us to be grateful. We expected them to be good. It became clear that both sides would be disappointed.
This is the Vest that we have inherited: Corruption and Dust and all of us under the reign of the Hierarchy. In such a rotten age, we’re only vestiges here – the orphaned legacy of some bygone, verdant era. A time when life and hope were more than vague dreams. A time when we greeted the earth as friends rather than empty-handed beggars and thieves.
That time, however, has long since passed. Many will even say it never was. They’ll say it’s only fable, the World Before. A tall tale we whisper to one another for small comfort against a cold and starless night.
But I say look closely. Look closely across these disparate lands. Consider their curious inhabitants and secreted treasures. For any keen (or mad) enough to look beneath the cheerless veneer, the evidence may yet be found: these lands once held promise—sustenance even. They were once fruitful, and filled with the works of those who wandered them.
There remain a few in the forgotten corners of Vest who believe that the World Before could be realized again; that Oases untouched by the Corruption may yet be discovered, or that even the spreading death itself may be undone.
But such endeavors are a fool’s errand. Survival is a deadly enough game out here without such daft notions as hope getting in the way. It takes proper mettle to survive in Vest, and that survival consumes most of day-to-day life. We lean on our strengths and our allies. We find what footholds we can and dig in.
Of course, some settle for the predictable life of the Hierarchy’s Company Towns, or play the role of roving vigilantes and thieves. Others just try and hole up somewhere no one else will bother them. We’ve all got our needs. We’ve all got our questions, problems. And we all go about finding our answers in our own way.
But maybe if we look after one another along our scattered Journeys through these lands, we might just make it. Maybe with enough good fortune, with enough grit, determination, and VIGOR, we could live to see a better age.