Translated by Alain Coubard
What is the Songs of Loss?
The songs of Loss is a series of novels, a universe and a da Vinci-punk fantasy role playing game set in a distant and foreign world: Loss.
Loss is a world where deadly creatures, mysterious powers, forbidden secrets and ancient civilizations mix with the science of renaissance, the technological marvels of geniuses and engineers, the exploits of levitating ships, impulsor weapons and the first electrical machines, and the frights of the first experiments on life.
Loss is inhabited and explored only in the lands that form a subcontinent around the Seas of Separation. A thousand years after the Long Winter that was brought about by the singers of Loss and which threatened mankind to disappear, the societies flourished into some twenty cultures often led by city-states. However, an empire dominates the Seas of Separation, the Hegemony of Anqimenes, a fief of the All-powerful Church of the Divine Council. The Church used its empire to crush almost all the other forms of cult, which have become marginal, and since then, it has imposed its law through its word and its military power. It decides what is moral and what is impious.
Only one city-state really counterweighs its all-powerfulness: Armanth, the capital city of Athemais. The city of the merchant lords is a haven for savants and freethinkers, the city with a hundred thousand slaves, the greatest and the freest city on Loss.
The world with two suns
Loss is a distant and foreign planet. It is hostile and savage. Its wildlife is exuberant and dangerous. It is a world that has never been made for humans. Nobody knows how they reached this world millenia ago. Nobody even knows how long humans have dwelled there. But all the Lossans know that they come from the stars. Only the myth on their arrival and its origins changes.
A world of dramas and wonders
The Lossans say that the first gods offered them Loss as a present. Others that it was a punishment or the consequence of a divine war. In all cases, they managed to survive in this hostile world. Originating from the ancient peoples of Asia, Africa and Europe, they settled in the shores of the Seas of Separation, a vast inland sea with scattered archipelagoes. They founded new cultures and big city-states there.
Later, they discovered the Loss-metal: a metal with wonderful properties that is present in many Lossan technologies. Its strangest feature is its usefulness as a catalyst for the song of Loss, which can be manipulated by only a few people, often women, most of them red haired. It is an extremely rare and misunderstood power which permits to control gravity, magnetism, elementary forces and even life. A frightening gift which evokes the magic and exploits of the ancient gods and heroes.
It is mostly a destructive force which almost destroyed all the Lossan civilizations. That was on the Day of the Destruction of Antiva by the dreadful and demonic Orchys of Parcia. That was the day of a wordlwide cataclysm. That was the day when the suns disappeared to remain hidden for years. That was the Long Winter, a thousand years ago.
When it ended, after five years, almost all the singers of Loss were dead, exterminated because of the fear and hatred their power inspired. The city-states were only abandoned ruins and the Lossans were only survivors of starvation, cold and epidemics.
he first prophets of the Church of the Divine Council arrived then and claimed that the gods had failed, allowing singers of Loss to enslave the Lossans until destruction while they had been created to serve. The Church restored some kind of social order until it became a real hegemony which radiated from their first temples in Anqimenes. After crusades and conquests, the Church imposed its dogmas, its faith and its authority all over the Seas of Separation, and whoever resisted it was mercilessly crushed.
However, that conquest never was a total success. Century after century, new city-states and new empires were built. Peoples defended their beliefs against the crusades. Some fought mercilessly for their independence. If some peoples chose the faith of the Council, most underwent it. Finally, some are still resisting with rage, and sometimes victory, while other, more progressive, ways of thinking are growing among the city-states.
A world of conflicts and struggles
The world of Loss is constantly plagued with war. Each city-state fights to seize the assets of the other one and ensure its own subsistence. Peace is rare. Death is violent and frequent, due to either disease, fighting of starvation. It is a world of raids, of marching armadas and armies, a world where even nature is in conflict against men. And men themselves are aware that all their renewed genius is necessary for them to prevail.
It is a world of struggles: between the tyranny of the Church of the Divine Council, an authoritarian religion which has hundreds of fanaticized legions at its disposal, whose armed wing is Anqimenes, the capital city of the hegemony; and the irresistible momentum of progress, knowledge and innovation embodied by the Merchants’ Guild, an immense consortium of fellowships, of land owners and of city-states of the Athemais, which chose Armanth as a capital city and the place from where it spreads its subversive and heretical ideas.
Loss is a harsh and unfair world, on which the legacy of the dogmas of the Church weigh permanently, even when they crack in front of the theories and books of the modern intellectuals, philosophers and savants. These dogmas have made slavery a sacred practice, originally aiming at ensuring a complete control over the female Singers of Loss. The High-Art, its other name, is destined to them while all the male Singers of Loss are killed on sight. After Loss-Metal, the most valuable ressource is women, often enslaved. And nobody can imagine a world without slaves.
The same dogmas, supported by patriachal traditions leave very little room for women in the society and the family for people who apply them to the letter. They also refute the ancient cults, the innovative ideas, some scientific and historical research. Whoever tries to challenge these dogmas is doomed. The Church will chase them and all their relatives.
A world of Honour, Courage and Wisdom
Lossans praise three virtues: honour, courage and wisdom. They are the three qualities that define the world and mankind. They are what makes them Lossans. Failure of any individual to either know them, understand them or demonstrate them will make a barbarian and a rightless beast out of them.
These virtues are more respected than Loss-Metal, wealth or material goods everywhere. They transcend and contradict even the dogmas of the Divine Council. The Lossans regard respecting, honouring and recognizing these values and those who bear them as having a greater value than respecting the dogmas, for these three qualities – honour, courage and wisdom – impose weighing people at their fair value, with no further consideration. Neither the origins, nor the race, nor the rank, nor even the word of the Church (to its dismay) are taken into account.
If the Lossans are chauvinist phallocrats, if the value of a woman is often underestimated, except when she’s a slave, that is to say a merchandise, if the Dogmas of the Council imposes cruel laws, virtues often offer a means of escape; an opportunity of outbalancing one’s rank and of breaking the societal straightjacket. Thus, female ship captains or military officers, warriors, savants or intellectuals, heads of families and entrepreneurs are women who have waved the flag of honour, courage and wisdom in front of men to be regarded as their equal or even recognized. They are swordstresses, considered with distrust, sometimes with disdain, but also with much respect.
A world of forgotten secrets and conspiracies
It is also a world of secret societies, of conspiracies between merchant families and noble lineages. Complicated and hidden inside fightings rage between the dark intentions of the sects of the Church and the dark mysteries of the secret partnerships of the Merchants’ Guild. Truth is never evident, appearances are often deceptive and certainties are often challenged. Even the antagonisms between the powers hide baleful and frightfully complex truths. Nothing is what it seems to be on Loss, starting with the forgotten and church-rewritten past the Lossans are only starting to rediscover.
Levitating ships travel the seas and plains, sailing over herds of giant animals and the predators which follow them, always mapping a greater portion of the world. Savants and geniuses explore the arcana of science and matter, discovering the movement of the stars, the mysteries of engineering and medicine, the secrets of Loss-Metal; and the most reckless and heretic of them explore the knowledge and the mysteries of the Ancient Ones. Each discovery is a new enigma and a new stake in a struggle between obscurantism and progress… a struggle which announces a new large scale war which wouldn’t refer itself to as one.