The Skies of Rumplestein

alien sky

There are many stars in the mountains. Toward the coast, where the cities are, there are hardly any. In space movies, space doesn’t have even as many stars as the mountains do. Probably the movie people have found out how it should look, but have toned it down to make it look realistic to city viewers.

In mountain places, there’s a lot of talk of learning astronomy to use the stars to navigate, but hardly anyone ever does this beyond looking to see which way is north.

The Wizards of Rumplestein are too busy with astrology to bother with astronomy. Earth astrology is bunk; it doesn’t matter at all which constellation is overhead. But Rumplestein astrology is all about which sky is overhead, and all the complex, incompletely predictable factors that go into that.

Last night there was a giant red planet in the sky, how Jupiter might look from one of its moons if it had Saturn’s rings. The night before there were blue and red stars, with a bright green moon and two little black moons that were hard to see. The night before that, normal stars and no moon, but a complete blackness taking up a quarter of the sky, a ring of light shifting weirdly around it.

It was the event horizon of a supermassive Black Hole.

The new student, Tom, had said, “We’re near a Black Hole?” and Wizard Twindly had said, “Not us. Just our sky.”

It is a curious fact that the distance between Rumplestein and what its sky shows is much greater than the sum of the distances between Rumplestein and its sky and between the sky and what it shows. Somewhere in the thin center of the sky a lot of distance is bundled up tight, like sheep’s wool or an intestinal tract.

Still, the sky is close enough to affect ambient radiation, the tides, and magic spells, which is why Wizards care so much about astrology.

Tonight’s forecast is for scattered planetoids at middle-distances, and a meteor shower composed of the old artificial satellites of a dead civilization, but the Wizards won’t know for sure till it comes. The tentative forecast for tomorrow night reads simply, “the Sun.”

The Skies over Rumpelstein


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