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Kinfire Lore: What Are the Starless Nights?

They come with little warning and leave chaos in their wake. What are the Starless Nights and how do they affect Kinfire Chronicles: Night's Fall?
The elven capital of Din'Lux, protected from the Darkness by its kinfire lighthouse

Imagine a swirling storm of Darkness– fast-moving and relentless. It first appears as a shimmering black fog on the horizon, coming closer and closer, carried by an unnatural wind. It tumbles into valleys and climbs over mountaintops, encompassing them, consuming them, and devouring all within its wake. Overhead, the stars disappear one-by-one. Creatures flee. But the Darkness follows.

There are some individuals who claim to have escaped the grasp of the Darkness, but they are few and their stories vary. Some say that it was the spirits of those they loved who rescued them from being swept away. Others recount the feeling of being pulled on by a sort of tether of emotion that kept them tied to our plane. And still others attribute their safety to a simple strength of will, a deep desire to remain in this place where they belong.

The Darkness encroaching on Din'Lux as seen in the webcomic Kinfire Chronicles: First Expedition

Those that emerge from the Darkness suffer physical effects ranging from the presence of darkened veins pulsing beneath their skin to black, oily tears excreting from their eyes, nose, and ears. They appear as undead for a time–pale, cold, and somewhat unresponsive–until the light returns to their eyes and clarity to their minds.

When the Darkness recedes, pushed back by the light of dawn, much of what it has touched is changed forever. Freshwater rivers are replaced with hard, rocky ground. Mountains, once towering and majestic, are reduced to flat plains. Strange structures are found where none stood before.

While a good deal of the landscape left behind by the Starless Nights is familiar to the world of Atios, there are also stretches of land populated by odd creatures and unusual plant life–thorned purple vines, mirrored walls of rock, and earth the color of fresh blood. Some of the strange creatures found roaming after a Starless Night are harmless oddities, while others have proven to be destructive or vicious predators. There have even been rumors of unfamiliar peoples roaming, lost and confused, and speaking languages never before heard in Atios.

Some strange flora appear outside Din'Lux after a Starless Night

The only known weapon against the Starless Nights is kinfire, a magical flame that keeps the Darkness at bay. The Holy Flame, housed in the Great Lighthouse of Din'Lux, emits a protective glow that reaches many of the villages outside the city walls. But to venture safely beyond its reach, one would have to wield a kinfire lantern. The lanterns, created by embers from the Holy Flame, provide protection while also emitting a powerful magical energy that can be harnessed by those experienced enough in the practice of magic.

It is also said, though not verified by scholars, that areas of Atios abundant in magical energy are also protected from the effects of the Darkness. Magic of this sort has been known to gather and pool in areas with a rich and emotional past, places with deep ties to this world that cannot easily be undone. Travelers caught out on a Starless Night have been known to take refuge in cemeteries, temples, and even ancient battlefields.

Where the Darkness originates and when it first struck, no one is certain. What we do know is that the first reports of the Starless Nights were recorded three thousand years ago. From what few texts remain, we know that the calamity threw the world into chaos. According to elven lore, it was then that the goddess Ziva granted them the gift of kinfire in the form of the Holy Flame.

A city with its Kinfire protection

Kinfire lighthouses were built across the land to protect those who still remained. The peoples of Atios were united in a struggle to survive. Kinfire was abundant. Resources were shared with neighboring communities. A network was built between lighthouses allowing safe travel over the lands, and warning systems were in place to warn travelers and residents of an oncoming Starless Night.

It was then, after nearly a hundred years of struggle passed, that the Darkness suddenly ceased. It retreated as quickly as it had come. The world had been transformed beyond recognition, but the Starless Nights were no more. Weeks passed with no sign of the Darkness, followed by months. Hope had blossomed into certainty. They were free once more. Celebrations reached every corner of Atios. And then…life went on as it had before.

Three thousand years passed. The story of the Starless Nights became simply that–just a story. The importance of kinfire was reduced to mere myth among everyone except for members of the religious Temple of Ziva. The people became divided once more, squabbling over the possession of kinfire and the magical power it provided, disputing their once-open borders, claiming pieces of Atios as their own.

Until the Starless Nights returned once more. Chaos ensued. And now, the world must find a way to work together again.

A Seeker's lantern repels the Darkness through its kinfire source
Kinfire Chronicles: Night's Fall launches on Kickstarter on August 30th.

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