Eyeballs Deep in Scarlet Emerald



They called it the Year of the Golden Cloud.

Some say it was nearly seventy years ago now. A corrupt syndic ordered a throne carved from an exotic eastern tree. As the saws cut into the trunk, a shimmering swarm of tiny golden beetles took to the air.

They seemed nothing more than a pest at first, driven away with smoke and waving hands. Then the swarm spread into the city (the exact one varies with the telling), devouring any paper they found. Soon the creatures moved to vellum, or any other surface scrawled with ink. This was more than the usual rat or paper wasp, a worrying concern but still, not enough harm caused to understand what was truly coming.

No salary sheets, no libraries, no tax records. No missives, no holy psalms or psalters, no ancient magic scrolls or tomes of wisdom. Paper was the foundation on which civilization rested. Not enough to topple it all over, but a slow weakening, just enough for opportunists and barbarians to slip inside the gates.

That chain of happenstance is how we lost our civilization.