About the Shards
Shard is the common name applied to all the places that we find in this broken, splintered existence. They vary in size quite considerably – hypothetically, there are shards that are less than an inch across, while there are others that strech hundreds or even thousands of miles in each direction. Some are self-contained, wrapping around to where they began. Others end abruptly in featureless, impenetrable grey walls. Some are filled with heat from continual flame, others are nearly empty. Some resonate with Purity, others reek of Taint.
One of the few undeniable facts in the polychotomy is this: It was not always thus. People seem almost born with an intuition of brokenness, of unwholeness. For most this is a source of at least some mental distress, and most people have not only an opinion as to the reason for the brokenness, but a solution for it as well.
But beyond this intuition, there are a number of types of direct evidence. One of the chief is the observation of various shards that seem like they ought to fit together – peninsulae leading to an uncrossable boundary on one shard, and corresponding peninsulae on other shards that seem to pick up where the first left off. Patterns of day and night that move in strict sequence on several shards. Rivers that connect several shards even when normal passageways between them break down. Beyond that, many truly ancient texts and writings speak of large worlds, self-contained, with hardly any gates or passageways. In the current reality, that would be unthinkable – any self-contained shard would soon perish for scarcity of needed goods.
Thus the well-supported conjecture that at some point in the distant past, whatever worlds were in existence were shattered into millions of tiny pieces, and the shards that we are left to inhabit are the result. Some among the Clock Tenders have termed this monumental catastrophe the Polyclasm, and no-one has come up with a better name for it. Among seekers of wisdom, the nature of the worlds before the Polyclasm, and the reasons for it, are major topics of research and speculation.