1) Thumb-sized heavy coin of light-grey metal with a rather lackluster sheen. Usually caged in a secondary ring of gold, steel or lead to make it safer to handle. Do not touch with bare skin. Do not ingest. Do not inhale.
Stored in air-tight glass container when not in immediate use but might be found freely among other treasures, a mere oddity if its value is not suspected. One side of the coin bears two crossed hooks over an unfamiliar crest. The second bears the likeness of a person currently touching the coin.
Push it through a pavement crack, into a door gap, into a mouth of a corpse, toss into an opening of a well, into a crevice at mountainside, into a bark fissure, into a wall fracture – any still object opening into darkness, be it a part of a building, or a piece of nature wide enough to let a body through will let the darkness widen and become fluid to let the body through. Just after the body goes through the darkness is gone, withering back to what it was faster than a heartbeat.
2) The city behind the door of darkness. World closed off like an eggshell, horizon curving up, surrounded by nothing, white flame dancing on horizon under the darkest indigo skies. Layers upon layers of buildings, vast areas of twilight shapes dotted only by a few residential lights – emerald, sapphire, amber and ruby, a rare amethyst – and by the glow from ceaseless fires of Flutes, and, highest above all, by white lines criss-crossing the bricked up Tyrant's Palace, the thin shadowless net of pale flame netted over the dark bulbous mass.
|art by Jorge Jacinto|
The crest of a coin indicates the district where in the city the traveller lands. Don't forget to pick up a coin from the pavement.
Cross the city from one end to the opposite end, from Arsenal to Golden Gates, from Academia to River Pier, from Drowned Gardens to Hungry Bay, from Ossia to Holy Larva. Appear anywhere back in the world, no matter how far, with the only requirement the exit point to be a place not touched by the light for the last year: somebody's basement, somebody's closet, dark alley forgotten by sun, the sewer, the cave, the shadowed forest; there are more of such places than one might think. It doesn't matter how long the travel through the Dead Silver takes in the traveller's own heartbeat, it doesn't matter how far in the world distance they wish to travel – as they cross the city they cross the single night. Even if the traveller rest for a month, even if they stay in Dead Silver for a life.Many do stay in Dead Silver: while it won't make one immortal by default to some it is the second closest, and the suspension of hunger, and breath, and thirst, and dreams to some is still better than a destitute starving life they had outside. The Tyrant's Palace said to hold the secret of true immortality, (and many try for it, but glowing barbed linelight so far bars any entrance).
The Tyrants are absent-present rulers of the city: they don't speak or issue edicts and for all purposes are personally absent, yet their presence is ever-felt, deep to the marrow of the bones. The Tyrants are the weather, and the law system, and the divine light of the absurd zodiac. They rise one after another, their respective constellation lights the darkest indigo skies, and they impose their presence over the city, and fade only to reappear again, one after another, one after another again. Their courts fill the city like a rain, tall figures of Courtiers appear and vanish to be replaced with a different Courtiers just as their Tyrants are.
Calendar is measured in Tyrants, even if it has no meaningful years, only 'month' after a 'month'. The gradient of their rule replaces usual notches of the clocks, even if each lasts a different amount of heartbeats. As the Tyrant comes to the throne of the Palace the whole city shifts, the streets reconfigure, the reality somewhat changes: beauty of body is exalted and heightened along the certain lines once Bleak-of-Face is in zenith just as colours shift to blue, mental acuity unfocuses and no truth can be said about anything in the past; each of the Tyrants has a certain pull over Dead Silver, each is their own overlay. This is only dangerous to unwary newcomers, those unlucky to be caught in Ascendant Dancer apex or those caught in the area with Courtiers without proper safety measures.
There are some that grow used to Dead Silver and stay there until the end of their days, but there isn't much to be said about them, except that they existed and then they existed no longer.
Dead Silver was something I was very excited at one point to write about – my own everchanging city with fancy, somewhat sinister districts, and overlaying different layers of reality laws and weather and strange creatures that come and go on an exotic clock; city that shreds its tapping to reconfigure itself to each incoming Tyrant only to reconfigure itself again for the next one. I thought how players would learn about the places in the city, its ebbs and flow, and maybe come to like it.
But then I realized that for the purposes of the travelling through the night (providing that PCs even want to use the coins instead of much more faster and functional teleports), there is no need to learn anything about the city anything aside of the monsters, and it probably would be too much to ask players to do so, if everything that they look for is a quick trip.
Then I realized that its central premise 'to cross a world in a single night' also creates time paradoxes, so with that the city is completely unplayable as a gaming location, so the whole idea is kind of a failure. I leave it here as a tribute to now-discontinued subway tokens and the strange coins they once inspired.