Saloondrian Short Stories, by Blake Propach
Trickdraw Junction by Michael Kuroda
Barrelmouth City Resident
"I never meant to be one of the cityfolk, and to hear them speak about me, which I know they do, behind my back, day and night, nothing good, mind you. Always bad. They hate me here. I’m still a big deal, a huge thorn in their sides, certainly. I supply my wisdom, and at a good price, far too good for these people. But no, I’m not one of them. Never meant to be. I’m from Trickdraw Junction, or the surrounding parts. Born and raised in the desert sands. Takes a real stock to live through such a thing. Not for the faint of heart. I should be charging for this. Good wisdom, this.
Trickdraw Junction’s overrun, now, of course. Long as I’ve been alive, long as my Daddy’s Daddy been alive, Trickdraw Junction’s been a heap and a half of nothing. It was once a grand outpost, many years before the invasion, before the savages overran it. An outpost worthy of an empire, with a tower that touched the sky. From the top of that tower, you could see all the way to Barrelmouth. And back then, you’d better believe anyone that could see that tower in the distance knew full well they were being watched, and looked after, so long as they were good.
The savages never could have built such a tower, which is evidence to the fact that the gods themselves had a hand in its creation. Because before civilization, savages were all there were. And to our great misfortune, all that are left. Sure, they inhabit the Junction now, but it’s not their home, no more than this city is mine. We all belong elsewhere than where we are, unless of course we’re where we’re meant to be. It’s a right shame, the occupation, and if I had my way, we’d smoke them out.
But the gods have not forsaken us. With the invaders came new technologies, new magics. I was never one for magic, always been against the witchery one can do. Honest work can always and should always take the place of magic. Anything built with magic is cheating, far as I’m concerned. But I’ll admit the common spells available in this day and age, they’re useful insofar as they can help us take back what’s ours. And it’s not like the savages are likely to play fair in any fight. So it’s only expected that we’d need a few cheats of our own. For that reason, and that alone, I’m on board.
And luck smiles upon the true natives of Trickdraw Junction. Fortunes untold lie beneath the sands, if you’ve the body and mind to seek them out. And return we shall, in droves. Equipped with our shovels, our picks, and a few tricks up our sleeves because, and keep this on the down low, especially if this is the first you’ve heard of it, there’s more buried there than the others would have you believe. Riches, artifacts, gold beneath the ground, but more too, the likely reason the savages returned so coincidentally just before the invaders came here. They had information from their dark gods, this much I know. Because yes, there’s mana down there. A lot of it.
Funny how quickly they knew to hoard it. Funny how they’re always just one step ahead of the civilized. To anyone still blinded by their trickery, I ask you this: when was the last time honest, hardworking folk had something handed to us? What do we have that hasn’t been earned? They only have what they’ve stolen. So grab your shovels and your picks, and whatever mana-fueled trickery you can fit in your packs, because it’s about time we stole it back."
Myth of Trickdraw's Origins by Michael Kuroda
Trickdraw Junction Aboriginal
Trickdraw Junction’s rich and ancient history has gone unappreciated by the prospectors, the businessmen, and the real estate moguls of these lands. They come looking for a quick buck, a valuable gemstone pried from what would otherwise be a far more valuable artifact, if it were not so desecrated by their greed. We, the natives of this land, were summoned to defend these artifacts and the lush history of these ruins, and just in time. Because without us, the surrounding lands of Trickdraw Junction would already have become the hellscape that is Barrelmouth.
We have powered our spells from the mana sources far longer than the invaders have powered their ships. Our relationship with the gods and the earth is rooted in magic. Like the invaders, we have our own sorcerers, those who draw magic from the ether rather than from mana, and, regrettably, we have warlocks too, those who draw magic from living sources. But for the rest of us, not so gifted or so greedy, we rely on mana to perform many of the daily aspects of life.
Telekinetic spells have been utilized by our shamans since the old empires to manipulate and transfer large quantities of stone and lumber. Ancient casters manipulated heat and cold magic to produce bronze and steel, which was welded into weapons, armor, and defenses such as gates. Necromancy, a field now shunned by those self-righteous ‘civilized’ types, was a magic we used to extend crop life and feed our populations during the harsher seasons. Without mana, none of our accomplishments would have been possible. The old empires, the castles, the Tower of Trickdraw, none of these things could have been constructed.
The invaders have conspired against us. They claim our interest in these natural wells goes no further than our hatred and our avarice. I will not deny our hate. I have seen our villages ransacked, our ancient texts all but decimated by those who would call us heathen. But to say that we have ever had any desire to profit from the mana wells we hold, this is slander. If we were to profit, first we must sell, and we have no intention of doing so. At long last, we have taken back what was rightfully ours in the backyard of Trickdraw Junction, an invader village that should never have been constructed over our ancient temples, tower, and keep.
We cannot stop their coming. This much we know, for we are too few. Many of these people are not invaders, however. They and their families have lived here decades, longer. Saloondria is their home as much as ours. These people I respect, if they will respect us in turn. And some newer, younger prospectors, looking out only for their own, bearing no ill will against us or our customs, I hold nothing against them either. I know I am not alone in these opinions. Some elders may disagree, desiring all non-native peoples removed from our lands, but as a rule those are a rarity. The future is compromise and a marriage of cultures, not a war.
With this in mind, I suggest to you, those who would enter Trickdraw Junction, while graciously accepting this opportunity to explain our perspective, only this: tread carefully. Be wary of those you step on to get to what you seek. The sands of Saloondria are deeper than they look, and you never know what monsters are hidden beneath the ground. The treasures you uncover may not outvalue the dangers you encounter along the way. I wish you luck on your ventures, prospectors, businesspeople, and wizards alike, but I solidify the warning. We are not afraid of gaining enemies and will only fight all the harder if we are cornered. I pray it will not come to such a thing, but I do not worry, not for our sake. For those against us if such a thing should come to pass, they are far more deserving of our prayers.