Hey everyone! Hope you’re all having a fantastic Christmas break so far! I’ve been meaning to post a preview of my book on here for a while but I never got the chance. So without further ado, here is the first chapter of Canvas!
[EXCERPT] A Guide to Canvas
By Grand Archivist Arcturus
It began with a spark, like many tales often do. A world ablaze with the searing hatred passed down through each generation and a single cry extinguished before its time. That was the end of humanity’s reign upon a planet they had taken for granted as their emerald fields and sapphire seas decayed into ghastly shades of grey. Of course, while nobody quite remembers the ultimate cause of the planet’s demise, it was an inevitable fate solidified by consecutive wars, rapid climate change amongst a number of underlying issues. The final days of Earth was not like it had been portrayed in the previous years: no dramatic explosions with a barrel chested male racing towards a shiny red button, no evil mastermind twirling his impeccable moustache. Nothing more than a soft whimper and life as we knew it vanished. There was nothing left of our achievements, no trinkets in the sand to be found in the future.
However, even in the face of complete annihilation, humanity persevered in an otherwise hopeless situation. In order to prevent their bitter extinction, a life support system known only as the “Lazarus Labyrinth” was created by the finest minds that had not yet perished. While this technological marvel could sustain life for centuries, it came at one terrible price: man’s freedom. As long as the occupant was sealed within the confines of each pod, their body was forced to shut down into a comatose state. Therefore, in order to compensate for this, each capsule allowed the consciousness of each individual to be uploaded into what was referred to as “Canvas”, a vast virtual reality world. Within its realms, no harm could be cast upon the citizens who lived within the walls of structures known as “Cranium Citadels” which stood as a testament to the best of humanity.
As time went on, they began to learn so much more about the possibilities Canvas possessed based on one thing and one thing alone: faith. As a society they were led to believe that humanities principles have always been based around faith whether it is the conviction of a higher power or the belief in their own potential. Within the Citadel they could escape into their own worlds, unhindered by the limitations reality had imposed previously. The ivory walls of the Citadel stood proudly against the fierce winds beyond which, like blades wielded with such precision, had hacked away at the otherwise perfect architecture. Despite the concerns shared amongst the citizens on a daily basis, life seemed to carry on as usual. The Market District was packed with the same familiar faces, each one hungrily scanning the stalls with their bulging eyes. Every place seemed to be significantly diverse in their offerings, emitting exotic aromas of ecstasy, tantalising tastes of forbidden temptations and other Senses forged by the skilled hands of sharp minds. Those who had become so detached from their former lives were most likely seen here, curiously sampling these Senses like a fine wine in order to stimulate feelings and emotions of a time gone by. Who cares if it cost a memory or two? Well, certainly not the borderline brain dead decadence of the area that’s for sure. As a result of this, the Market District and all residents associated within it were isolated to the outer walls, sticking out of the otherwise flawless Citadel like a collection of limestone leeches. These distinctions were punctuated by the crimson bridges snaking out of them like veins, linking them to various towns with as much diversity as the next.
“Each settlement within the walls of the Cranium Citadel is constructed through a number of perceptions,” academics of Canvas would often recite to the naïve and curious “you will often find like-minded people gather amongst one another. Interpretations of the ideal settlement will often range from luscious green fields as vibrant as the crystal clear rivers that weave between them while the next toss aside nature in favour of cobbled streets.”
However, this paled in comparison to the metallic structure that remained held high by its mighty spires and beautiful bastions nervously protruding from its shell. The last line of defence: the Cranium Citadel. Citizens often gathered below to marvel at what many considered to be the greatest architectural accomplishment of Canvas, and of course why shouldn’t they? Only a select few were granted the honour of entering such a prestigious building where the heart of the entire land beat in rhythm with its citizens.
“I hear the floors are made of marble and the walls are encrusted with diamonds!” some individuals would exclaim excitedly while others would comment on the vast amount of imaginary treasure stored within. In reality, the interior was an anti-climatic compilation of white, sterile walls that allowed its occupants to access a wealth of information safe guarded by those who had attained the title of Grand Archivist. Despite their noble efforts, many belittled them for trying to preserve what scarce human history could be salvaged from the minds of scholars. After all, who cared about such trivial knowledge when many would rather forget such a short and brutish past? Besides, the Grand Archivists rarely ventured outside of their living quarters let alone interacted with the people, denting their already less than stellar reputation. Of course, like the memories used for currency, respect was a scarce resource reserved for only the brave and the courageous who ventured out-with the confines of the Citadel walls such as the adventurers who lured the attention of every citizen with their “exotic senses” obtained from other settlements. Wide eyed and curious, their audience would gather round and watch their every move, the traveller’s chests puffed behind their ludicrously coloured attire.
“Tell us more about the scarlet sea of the Southern Citadel!” one citizen would beg in an uncontrollable ecstasy of excitement, much to the amusement of their host “Or the ebony skies of Terra One!”
With a bemused smirk and their hands thrust nonchalantly into their pockets, the common adventurer would toy with their audience like a viper, waiting for just the right moment to strike with exaggerated tales of glory and valour.
“Now, we aren’t ones to brag about the perils we faced getting here,” they’d say with such conviction, a lie matured over a long time “but the beast must have been at least seven – no, EIGHT feet tall! Its eyes were as dark as the night and talons as sharp as our blades!”
While it did not help that their rustic blades were as dull as the crowd, they had become too engrossed in the fabrication laid before them to even notice. Adventurers had become the new form of entertainment to distract individuals from the repetitive nature that life in Canvas had offered them. At least they could remain within the comfort of the walls as their everyday problems were eased away by exotic tales of adventure. It may not be the most glamorous of occupations but it was a source of hope – a sign that one day man could safely tread upon the land outside the walls without fear. Until then it was only the brave and foolish who ventured forth into the unknown and by the looks of the recent band of adventurers, bravery had taken a long overdue holiday into the abyss.
Yes, today was just like any other day in Canvas. The searing heat of the sun lashed down upon its citizens who went about their everyday business, unaware of the horrors that lurked only a few miles beyond the comfort of their own homes. Those who had volunteered as Guardians, a select group tasked with policing and maintaining order, had slouched into slothful complacency as there was very little for them to do other than break up the minor squabbles down at the Market District. Indeed, the golden age of Canvas had lasted for what seemed like an eternity but one must ask: for how long?