NEW 📗Story: The Greek

Shrine-Minded Girls

Thursday, May 6, 2021
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Shattered fjords make up the north of Vekllei, particularly in boroughs like Santes (lit. Saint) which are well-regarded for their striking cliffs and sloping igneous fingers, which evidence Vekllei’s ongoing volcanism. Offshore, hundreds of islets rise and sink over the centuries.

This is the tiny village of Cult, which sits on the sparse tip of the Grimsy Fjord. It has a local train, but is otherwise only serviced by the Santes regional express — a mere single step up on Vekllei’s train hierarchy. This makes it relatively isolated by Vekllei’s rail-dense metrics. Cult’s shorefront is flanked by rocky cliffs that shelter its beaches, which means most of the town is squeezed further in and higher up. By the station at sea level, only a cafe and a handful of factories greet alighting passengers.

In her final year of secondary school, Tzipora had developed a fascination with Upen’s “natural shrines,” which contributed to her rapidly developing brand of Judeo-Catholic Upen mysticism. Sometimes after school, when all Cobian wanted was a snack and a movie, Tzipora would drag her onto a bullet train and seek out new shrines — unique natural features — described in Upen’s sagas. They would change trains — again, then again — and finally they’d arrive in some backwater Tzipora had read about. Then they’d go looking.

Cobian keenly remembered watching two days’ worth of essay fly out of Tzipora’s arms and scatter towards the beach in Cult, and thinking that it served her right, just a little bit. It seemed to Cobian that the winds were telling Tzipora to pack up and go home.


Vekllei National Rail (VNR) has a straightforward scheme for the names of its trains. Each is given a regional name — usually a flower or moss, the most important plants in Upen — and then the year is appended. This here is a Lesvesn 59-Series, since it entered production with Arisdeh Coachworks in 2059. Its bright orange livery (VNR Orange, specifically) means it’s a regional train — local trains have unique colours voted on by their passengers. The Lesvesn 59-Series is a DC electric multiple unit train type used all over Vekllei, most commonly on quiet semi-express routes, since the trains most often appear in two-car or even single unit configurations. Its bigger cousin, the Mustard 56-Series, is often seen in the cities. It looks more or less the same, but is a little wider.