Volume 76: Panic Ice Cream
As was mentioned the completion and protection of Elysium 12 was a much-welcomed gasp of fresh air during an otherwise suffocating Panic. Despite this we have now truly reached the peak of the Panic. Dark Dwarf aggression had reached its highest point ever. No world was safe. Their loss at the battle of Elysium 12 infuriated them and they began taking their war to the megacities.
Up until now they seemed to be happy with low hanging fruit. They had been capturing worlds and universes in far out of the way corners. But not out of laziness. Their goal now was quantity over quality. Their holy mission was to claim dominion over the entirety of the multiverse, so it made sense to them to get the “easy” universes under their belt first. No longer. Soon after their failure to destroy Elysium 12 they began bringing their worldnets and strongest fleets to worlds containing megacities. These cities fought back but most had become relaxed thinking the Dark Dwarves would not dare come there where civilian and military numbers were highest. They were wrong. The Dark Dwarves would highjack Psion Orb transmissions and broadcast the capturing of these megacities. On top of this, any ground forces they had all seemed to be dressed in Dragon Armor. These troops, even if killed, were simply resurrected with magic to the astonishment and horror of all who witnessed it. Other megacities across the universe truly began to panic.
On top of this the Nightmares who had begun flocking to these megacities gorged themselves on this panic and amplified it. Riots and violence were becoming more and more common. To add to all this the people were starving. People gathered to these megacities for the protection in numbers they provided but sustaining the appetites of these massive populations was becoming more and more impossible. At the beginning of the Panic it was less of a problem. Obviously, there was more food at that time, and it was easier to transport supplies but the main reason populations had lasted this long was because of the Tremy Berry Bushes. From every corner of the multiverse came refugees and they brought with them Tremy Berry Bushes. The poor had been living off these amazing bushes for lifetimes and understood their necessity. They could grow in harsh sands and rocky soils and could be watered with what many would consider unpotable water and thrive.
In the beginning the refugees planted these bushes literally everywhere. They grew in front of every home, in every alleyway, rooftops, gutters, if there was dirt somewhere, someone was planting a Tremy Berry Bush in it. (See the previous post: “Berries & Such” for more information on these amazing plants and their origin!) Regardless for a long long time these bushes helped to feed the people when nothing else was available.
But these times had come to an end. The exponential increase in refugees into the megacities had all but eradicated Tremy Bushes from the landscape. They had all been eaten. Those that could began to grow them indoors, ripping up carpets and floors and planting these essential bushes away from prying eyes. These “Tremy Bush Grow Houses” became popular targets for starving families and gangs. At this point people were starving to death in the streets.
Before we continue it should be noted why historian came to call this period, “The Panic.” In truth it was because even during the time it was being lived in that is what people called it. This began not long after the Dark Dwarves began attacking the megacities. The PsiNews provided their own reporting of these events and when they would interview survivors, they would often say all they felt while they were fleeing the megacities was panic. The PsiNews picked up on this and made it their tagline for these events. Many broadcasts would begin with a giant PANIC graphic with headlines like, “Panic grips another megacity as the Dark Dwarves descend!” or “What can be done about the panic over food shortages plaguing our biggest cities?” and so on. Adding full to the fire the Dark Dwarves picked up on this and made their own propaganda, with phrases like, “Tired of living in constant panic? Surrender to the Dark Dwarves and know peace!” and “We are the cure for your panic across the multiverse. Kneel before us and we will give you rest!” So it goes…
Adding to this was the Panic caused by dragons during these attacks. Like many others the dragon were drawn to the megacities for their seeming protection. They had been being hunted by the Dark Dwarves without pause and now that the masses knew their skins could be turned into armor that staved of traxting, there were few places they felt safe. So, many dragons took up hiding in plain sight. Dragons can shapeshift into humanoids and retain that form indefinitely so many dragons had chosen to do so, living in the cities like a regular people. But now that the Dark Dwarves were attacking the megacities this was over. Dragons knew that being captured by the Dark Dwarves was a death sentence. So instead of dying in chains most chose to go out in a blaze of glory. They would transform into their gigantic dragon forms and bring their full fury onto the Dark Dwarf forces. At first this may seem like a good thing but more often than not the dragons reacted out of sheer terror in these circumstances. Their attacks were unfocused rampages that often harmed more civilians than enemies. Sometimes the Dark Dwarves would broadcast to a world that had already been surrounded by one of their worldnets that they would offer freedom or other rewards to anyone who could tell them about any dragons living among them. Usually the people would not. But sometimes they would…
And in a final stroke of bad luck (good luck for the Dark Dwarves…) the capturing of these megacities led to the discovery of the Nightmares. It was not even hard. The Nightmares could sense the evil and malicious intent of the Dark Dwarf ground forces. They would zero in on the evilest among them and prostrate themselves to them. The addition of the Nightmares to the Dark Dwarves already potent fighting force was a slap in the face for the entire multiverse. It would not take the Dark Dwarves long to learn how to master these new and fiercely powerful steeds.
All of this spiralled together at the height of the Panic so that it seemed there was nothing good left in all of reality. But in this fog of despair a couple other “gasps of fresh air” emerged bringing a glimmer of hope to the people. The first among these was the “rediscovery” of an old cantrip created by the Trementians. It was originally created as a party trick for children. It was called “The Tremy Ice Cream Cantrip” but by the end of the Panic, and for the rest of eternity, it would come to be known as “The Panic Ice Cream Cantrip”
The premise of the spell is simple, as are most cantrips. Using the spell any simple magic user can turn a handful of Tremy Berries into a gallon or more of delicious Tremy Berry Ice Cream. However, it won’t even be called that by the masses. They simply referred to it as, “Panic Ice Cream.” The problem with Panic Ice Cream, though delicious and filling, it has almost no nutritional value. And entire gallon of Panic Ice cream will only have the total nutritional value of the Tremy Bush parts used to make it. Still, this started to become “Lunch and Dinner” in poor communities everywhere. Across the multiverse groups would gather together with whatever scraps of Tremy Berry Bushes they could pull together and some mage would transform them all into gallon after gallon of Panic Ice Cream. For the first time in a long time many went to bed with full stomachs. Unfortunately, they still woke up malnourished.
The popularity of this cantrip spread like wildfire. Pretty soon every mage and sorcerer across the universe had their own version of “Panic Ice Cream.” By spending almost no additional magic many wizards added things like chocolate sauce, nuts, whip cream and more. Regrettably, no matter what flair they added to make it their own it never added to the nutritional value of the ice cream itself. Still it tasted good, and it was nice to have variety when you’re starving to death.
One small group of misfit magic users really capitalized on this and began traveling across the multiverse as a sort of band, bringing Panic Ice Cream and their (questionable) music to city after city. Not one of these wizards was very good at magic and arguably they were not very good at music either, but the people began to see them as rock stars nonetheless. Huge crowds began to gather to listen to their poppy tunes (Like “Scream for my Berries” and “Don’t panic, it’s nuts!”) and gorge themselves on all the Panic Ice Cream they could eat. To be honest this was probably the most nutrition many people got in a long time as people who gathered at these concerts would all bring some sort of Tremy Berry material with them so the Ice Cream itself tended to be at least somewhat more nutritional. They would come to be known as, “The Panic Ice Cream Band” and they became something to look forward to for the masses during this dark dark time.
About the illustration: Here we have our friend Snish letting you know it will all be OK! And we have a Swaft asking you to go for a flight! Will you accept?
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