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First, there was void. Nothingness. Empty space. Like the one between your ears.

Stop daydreaming and read. This is important.

For the next several hundred thousand years, the gods—or the spirits of the world, or some lost entity named Zeu, depending on who you ask—shaped that nothingness into the world. One big continent splashed right in the middle of the great sea and stamped with their signature—the Great Lake up north in Andrmann territory. And after crafting this beautiful place, full of life, they handed it over to us.

Secondary to their poor decision making, the gods gave our fledgling minds the relative safety and ease of existence to make our way in the world, crafting it as we saw fit. Over the centuries and maybe even a millennium, man existed in relative peace with his ecosystem. Sure, the population boomed, but the food produced by the earth was never endangered; there was just so much of it. Then, around a hundred fifty years ago, the first world-shaking invention was created in a place called Sturmhalten by Lady Heterodyne of the Oersted.

Well, it’s not called Sturmhalten anymore. The Oersted country isn’t even called Germania anymore, either. Now, they’re Heterodyne City and Heterodyne, respectively. Well, you’d probably rename your whole country, too, if one woman suddenly made you the most powerful, wealthy, and influential member of known society, as Agatha Heterodyne did.

So, here was the thing: Lady Heterodyne—or, rather, Agatha, so we don’t confuse our “protagonist” with the current mistress queen of Heterodyne—anyway, Agatha found a cave up on the mountainside just outside Sturmhalten, and embedded in the walls, strewn on the ground, and generally everywhere were these black rocks with the most odd greenish sheen on them. You probably know it by the name of Paruna.

Paruna was the name of Agatha’s grandmother, whose coughing fits often produced a dark green sludge on her handkerchiefs. (Agatha wasn’t a big fan of granny Paruna.) This particular grandmother didn’t bake cookies or hand out pinched cheeks; she was from the “Shame Them until They Give up All These Shenanigans” school of raising children. Anyway, I digress.

Paruna revolutionized everything. Agatha took her father’s old “water powered” machines and refitted them with boilers and pipes and burned the Paruna as fuel. Well, it worked—and it still does.

Paruna Industries is now the largest organization in the world. It’s bigger than Zeu… or the gods… or whatever. It’s big. It’s almost a religion. And the supply of Paruna seems limitless, and it better be. Everything in the world runs on the stuff. Automobiles, blimps, dirigibles, zeppelins, hot water, indoor toilets, water purification, food processing, manufacturing: all of them run on Paruna.

And this here is the most forgotten place in all of Heterodyne. This city’s called Glory, and it is the armpit of the world. Most of the Paruna in the world is sent here to be refined. Of course, the folks over at Paruna Industries say they’re just spreading the love (read: “money”) around a little, but I think there’s something that makes them not want to refine it somewhere the “Royal” Heterodynes breathe.

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