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Old 12-18-2012, 03:20 AM   #8
Prince Charon
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Default Re: Five Earths, All in a Row

* The closer Earth 'behind' us shows no evidence of artificial satellites, though it does have an oddly dense and colourful ring of asteroids a bit over 3,000 miles above sea level.

In the skies of this Earth, there are no visible lighter-than-air craft, but lots of heavier-than-air craft, in the form of kite-like gliders, and a few propeller planes that appear to be powered by high-tension springs, and launched by catapults or trebuchets, or from high points, rather than under their own power. Several towers, cones, and pyramids appear to have been built for this exact purpose.

Judging by the flags and much of the clothing, this world is at some point in the Renaissance, probably around the mid-16th century. That is, in fact, correct, as the year is 1555. It's a very eccentric 1555, though: a Clockpunk Earth with alchemists, centauroid robot soldiers, wind-up motor-carriages, and may other mechanical contrivances that should not be there. One of the most important inventions of the era is the alchemical development of 'springmetal', a magical alloy that, when coiled into a spiral and wound up, shifts its shape to unwind longer, providing several times the energy put into it. Several ghettos (Jewish communities inside non-Jewish towns) as well as a few shtots, shetls, and dorfs (Jewish-majority cities/towns/villages) are protected by what appear to be golems, though none are as powerful nor as violent as the OTL-legendary Golem of Prague. More golems appear to be workers, rather than soldiers, though they only do work that human would find either too difficult, too dangerous, or too boring. Though we cannot see them with telescopes, a few tiny golems are used by jewelers and chiurgeons, and others who need very delicate work done, though this is a new thing. While golems are harder to make than mechanical robots, the do not break down nor wind down, are generally easier to repair, and are rather harder to damage. The Jews have rather more rights and security in many nations on this world, than they did in the OTL 16th century.

The Pope at this time is Leo X (Rodrigo Borgia of Aragon, very much not the OTL Pope Leo X), son and cardinal-nephew to the late Pope Joan II, better known as Lucrezia Borgia. That alone shows this to be a rather divergent world. Elizabeth Tudor (who oddly enough looks rather more like Cate Blanchett than like any of her paintings on other Earths) is currently High Queen of the Britons (High King of Wales and Queen of England, IOW; also Queen of Ireland, and other titles), just wrapping up a civil war with forces loyal to her late half-sister, Queen Mary I of England.

The apparent point of divergence is in 1457, when a comet passed to close to this Earth, and broke up into the anomalous ring seen by our astronomers, along with other bits that fell into the atmosphere. Shortly thereafter, many alchemists found that they were able to create effects that they never managed, before (though so far, no-one has managed to create a true Philosophers' Stone), as were other mystics. Oddly, this had little effect on the course of history, at least at first. Given all the gadgets and elixirs and spells and such involved, it really should have, and while most of the locals will probably declare it 'The Will of God' (Allah, Vishnu, whatever) when they know to wonder about it, that isn't likely to satisfy those from less dominantly theistic cultures.

In 1499, after the death of her second husband, Lucrezia Borgia asked her father what it would take for him to make her a cardinal. The Pope thought on it for a moment, and replied 'Perform a miracle, and I will make you a cardinal.' A little less than a year later, in 1500, she did: at a feast with several other cardinals present (not all of them supporters of her father), Lucrezia filled her goblet once, prayed over it, and proceeded to fill the goblets of everyone else there from hers. Some of the cardinals suspected trickery, and so she did it again, this time fully nude. Thus it was that Lucrezia Borgia became the first official cardinal-niece. How she became Pope after her father's death in 1505 (butterflies and alchemy extended his life a little) is uncertain, though many claim she slept with all or most of the other cardinals, which is unlikely: she wasn't nearly the slut her detractors would like to depict her as, and a lot of the cardinals weren't corrupt enough (or were too corrupt) for that to work.

King Henry VIII's life went much as his OTL counterpart's did, at least until 1537, though he was named Defender of the Faith by the anti-pope in Salzburg, who used the regnal name 'Boniface X'. He never acknowledged the Papacy of Joan II, though if she had lived long enough to grant him the annulment he sought, he very likely would have. As it happened, by the time he began seriously seeking the non-existence of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, in 1527, Joan had succumbed to what was most likely tuberculosis (Boniface having preceded her due to old age), and the College of Cardinals was quite busy failing to elect a successor. By the end of 1529, the young Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia of Aragon was Pope Leo X, and a lot of other cardinals were rich, dead, or sometimes both. Leo had no intention of annulling the marriage, and so British history proceeded on something mostly like its OTL course for most of the next decade. In 1537, his then wife, Jane Seymour (no, not the actress, she wasn't born yet) gave birth to his only son. In OTL, she died 12 days later. In this timeline, the Royal Alchemist, Sir John Cochrane, created a medicine that allowed her to recover, though she never had another child. This also helped Sir Iain keep his head - unlike his predecessor, Sir Richard Rich (a lawyer in OTL), who was executed as a conspirator in Anne Boleyn's 'treason', owing to his failure to cause Anne to give Henry the son he needed to secure the succession.

Henry VIII died in a jousting accident in 1548 (the alchemists' elixirs allowed him to maintain the sporting life he so loved), leaving his ten year old son to reign as Edward VI. This Edward did not fall ill in February of 1553. Rather, that was when he married his cousin, Lady Jane Grey. Both the King and the Queen, who had recently announced her pregnancy, were assassinated on the night of July 9th, 1553. Naturally, the supporters of both Mary and Elizabeth each blamed the other (with Elizabeth's supporters also accusing the Pope in Rome, who may well have been responsible), and a civil war began, which has only recently ended, due to the death of Mary at the Battle of The Wallops (t'were to big for only one of 'em).

An important difference between the clockwork robots of this Earth, and those of Stp-Earth (apart from the lack of steam), is the degree to which magic is integrated: Stp-Earth Mechanical Men use as little magic as possible, both for expense, and for quality control. In many cases, the only magic involved is intelligence enhancement, and a minor 'works a little better than it should' effect - even the eyes can be mundane, using photostrictive crystals. Clp-Earth automatons, however, tend to be pretty highly magical, as they cannot see nor think, can barely hear, and could only move a short time, without the integration of magic into their structures; indeed, a typical operating engine for such devices is a box of rods, gears, and springs, with various symbols carved or embossed on them, designed to be easily operated by the inhabiting spirit.

TL;DR: Clockpunk fantasy Earth, 1555.
Warning, I have the Distractible and Imaginative quirks in real life.

"The more corrupt a government, the more it legislates."
-- Tacitus

Five Earths, All in a Row. Updated 9/28/2020: On Torture article has been posted.
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