The Strange Nature of Borders
Anybody who has spent time in the Kingdoms sector of Ada-Kar has probably wandered into the Pirate’s Gold pub for a drink or five. A pleasant and entertaining place, the Pirate’s Gold is always lively. The pub’s owner, Damon Anseti, can often be found pouring drinks, carousing with the patrons, and spinning yarns about his adventuring days. I asked him to sit with me and discuss a few of his favorite subjects.
For this most recent interview I asked him to continue a discussion we had about the nature of borders and how strange events seem to occur where two locations meet.
Valhalla Crier: Last week while we were talking you mentioned that strange things always happen around borders. What did you mean by that?
Damon: Well whenever two places meet there is a fusion. This fusion isn’t always easy. It’s like a bad weld that doesn’t always hold. Sometimes it starts to crumble and strange things sneak between the cracks.
Valhalla Crier: I’m not sure I follow you.
Damon: I’m not sure I can explain any better than that. It’s really one of those things that you just have to experience before you understand.
Valhalla Crier: Give me an example.
Damon: Let’s see . . . Well, one of the most obvious is the border between Megalopolis and Xa’cor dy Yelpheet. It’s an unlikely border and things there seem to blend in strange ways.
For example, the sewers of Megalopolis form the headwaters of the Kinzasha River. The water, as you can imagine, is pretty nasty when it comes out. A sewer for over a billion people? Gordo!
Anyway, the elves downriver wanted no part of it so they set up a permanent magic arch that purifies every drop of water that passes beneath it. One side is disgusting and the other is some of the purest water on earth.
The thing that’s really amazing is that if you are standing there watching you can see things coming out of the foul side and darting into the clean. Suddenly you can see these things show up, and man they are gross! Occasionally dead things will wash downriver and nobody knows what to make of them. Are they alien fish? Mythical monstrosities? Or just some creature mutated by all the chemicals and filth they’ve been living in?
Valhalla Crier: I heard that some things slip into the city through the sewer systems too.
Damon: You mean the dragons.
Valhalla Crier: You’ve heard of them then?
Damon: You know it! Chameleon dragons don’t seem to care about the smell or the disease. They lurk in those tunnels and pick off anything that comes their way.
Worse than them, though, are the goblins. They not only tolerate the environment, they thrive on it! They say that there are almost as many goblins in Megalopolis sewers as there are in Gyr Kuzott.
Valhalla Crier: Isn’t that just a fact of the environment? I mean both goblins and chameleon dragons are opportunistic creatures. They just found what area served them best and moved into it. The fact that this was where they entered has little to do with the fact that they were just following their nature.
Damon: Yeah, but the border was what made it possible. Just like the members of that group, the Next Step. They use those same tunnels to escape the cops and move around unseen. The hills south of the Kinzasha River are filled with tunnels and safe-houses where they can hide out without worrying about infrared optics and plasma rifles.
Valhalla Crier: Really? It doesn’t seem like the Gnomes would be too hot to have a declared terrorist group coming into their territory.
Damon: The Gnomes don’t care. They get paid in electronics. Some of the most advanced stuff on the planet! The Gnomes love that stuff!
Valhalla Crier: So then it is really just the fact that the borders are there that allows things to cross between them, right? It isn’t the borders themselves that cause oddities, instead they just enable these oddities to occur, right?
Damon: No! Without the borders, the oddities couldn’t occur. The borders not only allow the opportunity, but force the outcome. In fact, the more distinct the border, the more acute the abnormalities become.
Valhalla Crier: I don’t see how that’s possible.
Damon: Have you ever heard of Lampades?
Valhalla Crier: No. What are Lampades?
Damon: Nymphs. Spirit nymphs, to be precise. They’re supposed to guide people in and out of life. Some say they have a magical blade that cuts every baby’s umbilical cord. Sort of mystic midwives. On the other end of life, they greet departing souls and usher them on to the afterlife.
Anyway Lampades are supposed to dwell at every crossroad. You get me?
Valhalla Crier: So wherever two roads meet one of these nymphs is lurking around?
Damon: Yeah, but you’re missing the point. They are at the crossroads. Where two points meet! They are on the border between life and death just like they are on the border between being born and not-born. You extend that logic and every crossroad, every meeting place, every border where one thing meets another is a gateway to another world. The points are everywhere around you. On the threshold of a door. Between one bathroom stall and the next. Anywhere! Everywhere!
Valhalla Crier: So you’re saying that this border area allows things to leak between the world of the living and the world of the dead?
Damon: Damn straight!
It’s not just the world of the dead and the living though. It’s every border you can think of. Different planes of existence. Space and time and all that shit!
There was this mage I knew back in the day. He said that you could summon creatures from the elemental planes wherever you were. A fire elemental at the bottom of the ocean, see? An air elemental at the edge of space. He said that sometimes it was easier to call a water elemental on the shore than it was in the middle of the ocean.
Want to know why?
Valhalla Crier: Sure.
Damon: There are borders there, you see. Where the earth and the ocean touch is a border. In the middle of the ocean there is nothing around but more water. The border isn’t so clear.
Valhalla Crier: So it’s like the opportunity to blend these things together makes the blending all that more prominent?
Damon: Yeah, but it’s not the whole story. I mean national borders are really only lines on a map. Something that people agree. A “that is yours and this is mine” sort of mentality.
Valhalla Crier: And these types of borders are what? Less prone to weirdness than natural borders?
Damon: No! That’s the beauty! All borders seem to draw equal weirdness. It doesn’t matter if it’s man-made, natural, or supernatural. Wherever you have a border, a boundary, a place that separates one from another, you are going to have mysterious forces at work.
I mean, think about where we are, for God’s sake! This world is the prime example of borders. It’s like we border every other world and time that has ever been. Strange things creeping in from all over the place!
Valhalla Crier: It makes me wonder though. All these places, all these borders, it seems like you can look at anything and find a way that it is a border. Touching this table, for example, is a border between me and the wood. That keg by the bar is a border between the air and the beer inside. Seems like maybe the weirdness is everywhere, but you are only seeing the weirdness and categorizing it as a “border phenomenon.”
Damon: It’s the journey man! You can’t get anywhere by going nowhere! You have to press through things to get anywhere. To move forward through life you have to cross borders. Whether you’re being birthed into the world, walking through a doorway, crossing over between one day and the next, or even dying, you have to break boundaries every day of your life. With every boundary comes hope, fear, pain, love, life, death . . . whatever.
Maybe the important thing is keeping your eyes open for them. Seeing the way the world changes around you. How you change along with it. Noticing the magic and mystery in the world and how it permeates everything.
Valhalla Crier: I don’t know if I’m sold.
Damon: Well keep your eyes open for it, square. You pay enough attention and you’ll see it. Once you do, you won’t be able to close your eyes to it again.