Cradle shirts are available now for a limited time!
...well, the time isn't that limited, because I'll be putting them back up for sale later. We just want to see how they sell over the next few days, and we'll adjust from there. They might even stay up, who knows?
And it's only Cradle because the Cradle covers are easy to put on a shirt (titles are on the back). Elder Empire and Traveler's Gate shirt designs are currently in the works!
(This post includes background information about the Blackflame Empire: the setting of Blackflame and the next few books in Cradle. No specific story elements are spoiled.)
The Blackflame Empire was founded by dragons.
In Cradle, dragons are a race of sacred beasts that can...well, they're dragons. You know what they can do. Like all sacred beasts and Remnants, their intelligence is based largely on their age and advancement levels, so many of them have human-level intelligence or better.
A family of black dragons once conquered and ruled half a continent, which is a truly massive amount of territory in a world the size of Cradle. They held their empire against all rivals for centuries.
Until a mysterious disaster killed most of the dragons, crippling their ability to continue the bloodline. As you know, no one in a fantasy novel ever discovers the truth behind ancient disasters, so I'm sure it will remain a mystery forever.
With their rulers dead or dying, a clan of humans stumbled upon a method of harnessing the dragons' power. They abandoned their old Path, instead choosing to develop the same sacred arts used by the dragons.
The Blackflame Empire shrunk in size, the humans lacking the ability to control quite as much territory as the dragons could, though it was still home to over a billion people.*
This clan started calling their main branch the Blackflame family, for obvious reasons, and they stayed in control for almost five hundred years.
But human bodies were not well-suited to the power of dragons. Slowly, the family declined, until even those who lived in the heart of the empire thought of them more as symbols and legends than actual individuals.
More and more of the day-to-day workings of the Empire were left to the Blackflames' traditional servants, the Naru clan. They became the face of the Blackflame empire, with their loyal reputation and shining emerald wings, and the people grew to know and trust them.
Fifty years ago, they quietly ascended the throne.
The first Naru clan Empress has since moved into private seclusion, and her son now rules the Empire. As for the Blackflame family themselves, they died out decades ago, gradually eaten from the inside out by their own madra.
That's the story, anyway.
*(A truly ridiculous number of people live in Cradle. The main planet of Iteration 110 is quite a bit bigger than Earth.)
P.S. I didn't want to share more from the actual document, so I thought I'd whip up a world-building thing. Hope you like it! And if you don't, don't worry, I'll be mixing it up again next week.
Once again, I don't have anything to say besides "I'm working on it, please let me live," so I'm going to do something new: I'm going to give you random lines from the book, out of context! What fun!
If you're especially spoiler-averse, stop now. However, it's not like the spoilers are going to be too heavy. I'm not going to drop any bombshells on you. Just tidbits that you might find interesting.
And as always, please remember that these haven't been edited, so I don't consider myself bound to keep any of these in the book. They might change.
Finally: just to keep things interesting, one of these lines is a complete lie! See if you can spot which one!
Here we go, lines from the current version of Blackflame:
EITHAN: "There will be no forgiveness. To the blood pits with you!"
The dragon advances.
The dragon destroys.
The dragon consumes.
"Path of Crawling Shades," Eithan said, and the red man's shadow flowed behind him until it engulfed the entire back wall. "This is a Path from a more advanced country than this one, but a practitioner once traveled here to be executed. They practice a unique process that essentially turns their shadow into a symbiotic Remnant."
Lindon tore through the wall.
"River doesn't get too far without banks," Yerin said. "Out of control, it's just a flood. Spills everywhere. You want it to go where you want it to go, you have to guide it."
Eithan reached out without looking, seizing an old, worn broom leaning against the side of a house. Its shaft was gnarled but reasonably straight, polished by years of use, and it ended in a tied bundle of straw.
He ran his hands up the broom, not saying a word.
His core flared with dark, bloody light.
Yerin raised her sword, which she had never sheathed. “If this was your mistake alone, I’d let you make it."
A pair of red eyes popped out—first one, then the other—glowering with menace and swirling to stare at Yerin.
She raised her sword.
Lindon bolted for the exit.
"Good thing Lindon didn't live to see this," Yerin said with a sigh. "Turns out all that about Suriel was just one big, trauma-induced hallucination. He never even left Sacred Valley, he just had a heart attack and then died in a coma. This would be a very disappointing story to read about, I can tell you that."
...so which is the lie? Which is the truth?
ARE YOU DETECTIVE ENOUGH TO SOLVE THE RIDDLE?
The Knight Progress:
"I couldn't leave it all to the power of friendship."
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