The Land Synthesis Device and Our Forgotten Past

From โ€œThe Book of the Lost and Foundโ€. Authors and Date of first publication unknown:

The moons and stars arc across the sky as the seasons take their turns, rising to their peak, then yield, and go into hiding until they are once again next in the circle. Solstice. Equinox. Solstice. Equinox. Time passes.

Hope had left them centuries ago. Trapped in bodies that aged endlessly, that in all ways ignored their spent imaginations and withering desires โ€” a state of permanent decline. Life without Death, they had learned, isnโ€™t endless life but endless Death. And nothing changed that. Nothing changed at all. They felt like rocks with eyes, watching the living grow and move and learn and try. And when the plants and animals they watched die, they wept not in grief for the loss but from jealousy, as if watching friends enter a magnificent party that would take them to places they โ€” the rock-like, could never enter. Even rocks can be crushed and worn by time and tide and experience the wonder of becoming dust again. But the Frogs knew only that they wished to become dust.

Then, the creature. No being like they had seen before and they had seen every form of known life. The creature with the device. The creature lying against a tree, as still as the tree motionless. The creature was cold and dead. They knew the signs. But the device by its side crackled with a sound they hadnโ€™t heard in so long, they didnโ€™t recognize it as their own songs played all at once. And it glowed with lights that used to gleam from their eyes. To them, it was all new. There was no way they could ignore it. No chance they wouldnโ€™t approach what looked like two portals, side by side, and when they stood right in front of them, they were gone, not so much pulled in as sucked in by a vortex that split and twisted what remained of conscious awareness, and separated it from the granite that had crystalized from within.

In the Citadels, now, that moment lives as scrawls on walls that had existed long before the Frogs found themselves transported into a difference โ€” their minds intact but their bodies renewed. Acting like teenagers was easy. And, it is said, thatโ€™s where the trouble began. But the Writings state clearly:

โ€œWhat had been memories lost transformed into dreams manifest. What had been foundering in an endless cycle of life without rebirth had reached the shores of a new found land. The heat from the star above โ€” a different color and disc than where they had been โ€” that warmth of a different Sun turned them inside out, and all the temptations of the day and the night took hold over them. And the moons, when aligned, turned night into day. And the blood within their frozen bodies melted and welded them to attachments long ago discarded. Indifference had turned off their voices, but they began to sing in an endless chorus fueled by seduction. Negotiations turned into fights. Immortality protected them. They had forgotten how to fear death. Until the day one of them died, murdered. And fear took hold. And the hell they thought they could never enter opened its mouth and swallowed them whole.โ€

The following re-enactment of โ€œthe first waveโ€ was created by a Frog known only as โ€œSabโ€.

I have been researching the origins of Frogland for many cycles. The following is what Iโ€™ve come to understand. Some of this information has been validated, but most of it is history that hasnโ€™t been verified. Maybe only the state of things now matters. But I, like other researchers of the past, believe that there is value to knowing whether that past is a truth, or a lie.

The world they called NewPangea was nothing short of exhilarating. As the Notorious Frogs acclimated, they began to perceive the steady rhythms of their world. Peculiar at first, so different from the Earth where they had languished for years โ€” yet hauntingly familiar, a memory from a dream.

No one is quite sure how long it had been โ€” by the time they started counting, it seemed like so much time had passed they would just be making it up. Some frogs felt they had counted more accurately, while others thought it didnโ€™t matter. Some frogs even sought to look deep below, searching for wonders beyond the hot springs.

Several armies devoted themselves to solving the mysteries of the constellations, debating their names, positions, and where the stars put NewPangea relative to Earth. Others directed their search internally, sure that only by knowing oneโ€™s true self would they begin to understand the ways of the world. These frogs were the first to discern their own lifeblood, the crux of who they were โ€” what made them different from common toads. They called it their Essence and strove to learn all they could, unraveling mysteries others thought were better left unsolved.

The frogs ventured further into the world, embracing their notoriety as they went. They roamed aimlessly at first, more interested in the journey than the destination. But it was not long before the itch of fernweh settled deep under their skin, despite their unfettered wandering in a world far from their previous home. The frogs tried to bury this kernel under the euphoria of freedom โ€” sometimes chemically induced, sometimes just high on life. Yet this wanderlust, this strange longing for something never went away, worsening no how far they ranged and how much they saw.

It was imperceptible at first, this worsening. Only when they were ready to claw at their own skin, desiccate in the heat of the desert, and cast themselves into the swamp to be eaten alive, all for some semblance of relief did it suddenly, surprisingly disappear.

With the crystalized lucidity of awakening from the best dream and the worst nightmare, the frogs opened their eyes for what felt like the first time since arriving in NewPangea. Spread across the full expanse of what would come to be known as Frogland, each frog found themselves alone in a place that finally felt like home.

As they gazed upon their long lost home for the first time, each frog discovered their thorn โ€” the splinter in their mind that had slowly been driving them mad trying to scratch it loose. Some found it right away, unearthing it from between the roots of the trees of the forest or jammed into the crevasse in the mountains. Others dove through endless dumpsters in the city, relentless in their search until they found not just a device, but theirs.

The far flung frogs began their journey back to where they began, curious to see what the others had done, seen, and found. They slowly reunited, wondering if any others had found a similar device โ€” surely they all hadnโ€™t felt the same niggling malcontent with their new, beautiful, intoxicating freedom.

And yet, each frog returned carrying their own thorn so recently plucked from their core. So many came home with not only their own devices, but many more โ€” so they started counting. Some remained close to <REDACTED> Citadel, trying to coax a response from the inert devices, searching for the source of so much discomfort. This never met with any success, despite deceitful claims of glory. No matter how much they tried, begged, poked, and even pounded the devices, their efforts bore no fruit.

The frogs struck out again, searching for answers, for more questions, or for both. They found more and more of the strange, alien devices. Only by trying to discover the number of the devices did they find that not only were there enough devices for every frog, but there were exactly ten thousand frogs, and ten thousand devices.

Until they found more.

Slowly, more devices were discovered โ€” but they grew no closer to understanding how they worked, if they worked, or what they did if they worked.

What had been a state of blissful relief and wonder at the removal of the inexplicable itch that drew them towards their devices morphed, twisted. As they struggled, discord crept into what had been a well-cadenced melody. What if all the devices needed to be manipulated in the same way to work โ€” and if so, what if the other frogsโ€™ efforts were ruining their own attempts to heal from their thorns, once and for all? Animosity grew larger, and subterfuge grew more clever. No frog could destroy another frogโ€™s device without facing the disgust and inevitable shunning from their fragile society, so all attacks on othersโ€™ work had to be done in stealth. Despite their commonality, the frogs were convinced that they were right while everyone else was wrong.

Gangs began to form, vying to capture as many unclaimed devices as existed. They acted purely to prevent others from gaining more power than themselves; quick to anger and quicker to lash out. Some were drawn together by similarities as simple as what kind of land their device had drawn them toward, or what physical traits they shared. Others formed around their beliefs: a method to make the devices work, the use of force to overcome opposition, or that certain frogs were inherently more suited to a task than another, and should be labeled as such. Some frogs even began to worship the Robotoads, believing they must have more answers โ€” only to be forced into subservience, tasked with locating and hoarding as many other devices as possible under threat of destruction of their own device.

The night before the equinox, on what would come to be called the Eve of the Kowning, tension reached a boiling point. Each frog went to bed that night with one eye on the door and one eye on their device, determined to not lose theirs, no matter the cost.

As the night crept on, the seven sisters slipped into line behind NewPangea, casting the world into true blackness for the first time since the frogsโ€™ arrival. As the darkness blanketed the world, the frogs found themselves unable to lift their heavy lids, and slipped into a sleep that was more akin to hibernation than a nap.

In the true darkness, each frog slept deeper than they ever had before. So deep was their sleep that some later said they felt they had passed between the realms. They described a feeling like waking up in an entirely different life, knowing it to be truly yours, only for it to dissipate as vapor the instant they released their past to accept the new as truth.

Other frogs would go on to describe their first Night of the Kowning as the day they took the first hop into true enlightenment. That was, after all, the night that some of the frogs discovered what their true Essence was, and how strongly it reverberated into the world.

When the sisters slid out of NewPangeaโ€™s eclipse, the frogs slept a true sleep until dawn. The sun broke over the edge of the land, lit with a warm blush. As they awoke, their acrimony faded in awe of their devicesโ€™ chitter chatter and scintillating glow.

Much like the days following the discovery of the devices, the days following the Kowning were filled with much revelry and imbibing of all spirits to excess. Never again did the frogs fall into the same malevolent dissent. After all, the devices were radiant with hope and enigmatic potential โ€” and not just ten thousand frogsโ€™ ten thousand devices.

There had been more devices discovered โ€” many more.

Most lay dormant, needing repair โ€” or perhaps waiting for the next time the seven sisters aligned on the equinox. However, <REDACTED> devices sat illuminated and clamoring for a purpose, even without a frog to lay claim to. The Notorious Frogs took great care of these unclaimed devices, for they now knew the devicesโ€™ true purpose.

As others arrive โ€” whatever beings or backgrounds โ€” they will be welcomed as frens.

And as their systems of belief whether about our origins or their own, or about unseen forces that guide with invisible hands for purposes we cannot know, I keep in my thoughts these words from โ€œThe Book of the Lost and Foundโ€:

โ€œEverything has an appointed season, and there is a time for every matter under the stars and moons. All go to one place; all came from the dust, and all return to the dust.โ€

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