"Remember that, Mallory. No matter where you go, you are home." - Odran
Something is brewing below the surface of this quiet suburban county. Strange white tree roots are creeping up all over. A hundred children have gone missing. A young girl in a wooden coyote mask keeps appearing in Mallory's back yard at the edge of Brookwood Forest. And all of this seems to be connected to her family's hidden past.
Moonblush Village is a picturesque autumnal suburb nestled in the central valley of the mountainous Nightdrift County. It enjoys a scenic panorama and close proximity to forests, prairies, desert, one of the largest great lakes in the country, and the crown jewel of the Mountain States' metropolises, Satellite City. At the head of its north-most point is the "Horn of Wyoming," Mount Skyladder, and wrapped all around are the Four Forests of Nightdrift, including the dense and vast Brookwood Forest, at the depths of which, shrouded in a lost valley, rests the mystic Dreaming Tree.
Mallory's journey takes her all across the county, from the quaint nooks and crannies of Moonblush's Old Town District, to the pinnacle of Satellite City's Moonreach Tower, through the desert of Blue Fox Gorge, up the Ladder Bluffs of the North Mountains to Crescent Peak and the reaches of Mount Skyladder, and to the forgotten valley of Brookwood Forest, where she journeys into another world inside the mind of the Dreaming Tree. It is here, past the trials and thresholds of the Dark Garden, that Mallory unravels the mystery of her family's past, and discovers an ancient truth at the distant horizon of reality.
To the east of Moonblush is Satellite City, to the north-east is Blue Fox Gorge and the Great Orinoco Lake, to the north is Setter Knoll and Mt. Skyladder, to the north-west is Red Grove Woods and the North Mountains, to the west is Scarborough and Sherwood University, to the south-west is Blackwatch Town and the vast Brookwood Forest, and to the south is farmland and the Red Moon Vineyard.
MAL LIVES HERE
She lives in a two-story brick farmhouse, built by her great-grandfather, on about an acre of lightly forested land at the north-east edge of Brookwood Forest. The house features a living room, parlor, master bedroom with full bath, dining room, kitchen, laundry room, hall with half bath, spandrel, five bedrooms (excluding master), a large upstairs den with balcony, two full baths and two half baths (excluding master), and attic storage.
Moonblush Village is a small autumnal town, known for its shopping mall, Old Town District, and the renowned youth private school, Cloud Academy. Popular places around town are the Tranquility Theater, the outdoor Alabaster Market, the PhaserBlast laser tag arena, the Moonshine Boat-In Theater, and Eidolon Square.
Moonblush is home to a handful of neighborhoods, including Charlottesville Estates, Violet Hill, Mars Valley, Old Town, Red Grove Estates, and Mallory's own October Grove.
Brookwood Forest is the largest in the state, and one of the largest in the country with roughly 5 million acres of forest. It is home to a massive and diverse ecosystem, with creatures and plants found nowhere else in the world. The old joke is that there's something in the water--and there may be something to that. People come from all around to take in the dense, arboreous landscape, and it isn't uncommon to find scientists of all kinds making regular trips to explore and document the area.
It should be no surprise that the nearby Sherwood University is known for its Botany and Horticulture Department--or that the Dreaming Tree would be found at its heart, embraced by an ancient hidden valley.
THE SURROUNDING TOWNS
Satellite City is known for its organic layout and unique blend of classic, bold art deco architecture speckled with ultra-modern flare. It's a city renowned for its NASA launch site, the great Moonreach Tower, and the nationally beloved Major League Baseball team, the Satellite City Dreamers. To its north is Wyoming's Great Orinoco Lake.
Setter Knoll is a farming community stretching from the base of Mt. Skyladder and the North Mountains across to the Fox Mountains and Blue Fox Gorge. Saki and her family live here, where they raise alpacas, and farm gourds and unique types of tea and rice. It's a broad, quiet prairie land, surrounded by beautiful foothills and mountains.
Scarborough is where the upper class congregate in gated communities. Scarborough prides itself on its intellectual community, being home to the world-renowned Sherwood University. A number of beloved writers have called Scarborough home, and the university is also known for its Botany and Horticulture Department. Isaac lives here, at the famed Aldo Estate, with his brother, Dustin, and his neglectful billionaire playboy father--the heir to the Aldo legacy. Scarsborough is also home to Cloud Academy's arch rival, Nefarington Private Academy.
In contrast to Scarborough, Blackwatch is the more poverty-stricken area of Nightdrift County. It's an industrial landscape, developed first as a mining community in the 1950's. The houses were built fast and cheap, and the town sports one of the largest train hubs in the country. To drive through Blackwatch is to take in a dusty view of trailer parks, quarries, and, believe it or not, one of the best ice cream shops in the county. Delmar lives here, among a small community of blue-skinned people descended from the famous "Blue" Fugates of Hazard, Kentucky.
Willow Grove is a major farming community that spans miles and miles south of Nightdrift County. While it boasts the greatest land area of the whole county, it's also the least populated. Only a handful of people own the land--mostly farmers, in addition to the Red Moon Vineyard.
LANDMARKS & ICONS
The "Horn of Wyoming," Mt. Skyladder is the towering spire overlooking all of Nightdrift County. Few have successfully free-climbed its narrow pitch, and even fewer have made it to the top. It's the pride of Nightdrift, and the pinnacle of its iconic landmarks. Legends say an old hermit lives somewhere in a cave, overlooking the Northern Mountains from on high.
A much more manageable climb, Crescent Peak features a statue of the symbol of Moonblush--the Sleeping Moon. While more manageable, it's still a skillful task, and climbers come around often to take pictures at the statue.
This renowned private school is known for its rigorous preparatory curriculum, high graduation rate, notable alumni, and coveted faculty. They register personality tests alongside their standard hiring metrics, searching for open, extroverted, conscientious teachers who are low in trait neuroticism and moderate in agreeableness. Whatever these odd methods are, they've come to yield the most highly-rated, thoroughly tested, and beloved faculty in the nation. This is where Saki and Isaac attend school, along now with the grudging Mallory, who isn't terribly fond of its preppy, pompous, superficial social atmosphere.
At the heart of Satellite City is this inspiring art deco spire of architectural beauty. Built in 1934, it's one of the tallest skyscrapers in the nation, and it houses the world-class journalism of Zeitgeist Magazine, and the headquarters of the Green River Bank, Persona Marketing, and Satellite City's local newspaper, The Harbinger.
In the thick of Brookwood Forest, near the edge of Astralune River, the Milk Carton Kids set up a treehouse camp around a roil of tree roots they call the Tangle--a portal into the Dark Garden. This is Animus's base of operations, usurped from Exodus after Exodus seemingly abandoned the group she had created.
Down from the Northern Mountains runs a wide river through Brookwood Forest and out past the southern mountains of Nightdrift County. Within the forest, the river is home to many species of aquatic life, and it shares with Orinoco Lake as the primary source of water for the area. It is believed to be the source of the unique wildlife of Nightdrift County, but as of yet, no one has been able to find anything unusual about the water.
This popular outdoor market functions like a consignment space, where purveyors set up stalls to buy, sell, and trade their goods--often antiques and collectibles. A number of the adventures of Mallory and her friends begin here, whether it's hiding Animus's hand mirror or receiving a strange globe in a clandestine meeting with "The Man Who Sold The World."
BROOKWOOD RV CAMP & THE ABANDONED WAYFARER RV
An abandoned RV camp about two miles into Brookwood Forest, where Mallory, Saki, and Isaac claim their clubhouse out of an abandoned Wayfarer RV. Inside the RV, they've hollowed out the passenger side dashboard and, with Saki's help, installed a state-of-the-art desktop PC--complete with Windows 95! The old bucket is also equipped with two separate video game stations, hooked up with the Ultra Sintendo and Nega Omega consoles.
At the heart of Moonblush Village, north of the Old Town District, this town square is nestled in the courtyard behind the iconic police station and town hall, surrounded by shops and administrative offices. At its center is a statue of the town's founder, Amelia Jericho, a civilian volunteer and widow of Army officer William Moon on the Lewis & Clark Expedition, who split with Clark near Shoshone. On their way back East, Moon died and Amelia settled just south-west of Orinoco Lake. She named the town Moonblush in memorial of her husband, who was then the first to be buried in Moonblush Cemetery, kept by the gravedigger, Cyrus.
ORINOCO LAKE, ORINICO ISLAND, AND PORT MANTEAU
North of Satellite City, at the edge of Blue Fox Gorge, is one of the largest lakes in the country, at roughly the size of Lake Michigan, and is the only Great Lake that lies outside of the five in the northeast. Like Brookwood Forest, Orinoco is home to some of the most unique aquatic life in the world, which can only be found in this area. There's a persistent fog near the center of the lake, and legends have kept most away from the area, but it's said that there's an island from which no visitor has ever returned. At the edge of Blue Fox Gorge lies Port Manteau, a popular spot for boaters, fishers, and nature explorers.
Named after the landing site of the legendary Apollo 11, it seemed a fitting theme for Moonblush Village's most popular cinema. Every first Sunday of the month, they screen Georges Méliès's 1902 film classic, "A Trip To The Moon."
A famous tourist stop in Moonblush is this ultra 90's modern shopping mall, where every major retailer seems to have a shop, from Shnike and Dil Holfinger to RadioHack and Toys B We. And, of course, this is the prime hot spot for teenagers to spend their afternoons sucking down frozen Sludgies and flirting with fashion-conscious peers.
The pride of Scarborough (along with the Aldo Estate, of course), is this world-renowned university, famous for its Botany and Horticulture Department, as well at its Creative Writing Department. Through Sherwood's hallowed halls have passed beloved writers like Jake Kaplan and Amber Jimerson, and the venerated horticulturalist Jane Matthews. Over the past decade, the Psychology Department has gained a superficial popularity after the disappearance of Ira Lloyd.
As the premier university for Botany, Sherwood of course has a legendary conservatory, where flora which can be found nowhere else in the world are grown and studied. To account for the county's strangely diverse ecosystem, the conservatory is a massive complex of many wings and chambers, all modulated to different specifications.
LUNAR LAKES AND THE MOONSHINE BOAT-IN THEATER
Throughout the edge of Brookwood Forest, there are five lakes known as the Lunar Lakes, all of which are popular spots for various activities, such as camping, fishing, canoeing, or general summer activities--the most famous of which is Moonshine Lake. This lake is in a small clearing, where a drive-in style theater has been created for people to relax in boats (rather than cars) to watch films of all eras. The last Friday of every month is the Day Of Doom, when Moonshine screens old pulp sci-fi and horror flicks. Mallory's favorite are the films of Ted Arbor, like "Mission Threeve from The Cosmos."
SCARBOROUGH AVIARY & BIRD WATCH
Sherwood may be known for its botany, but Nightdrift County is known broadly for its organic life in general. The plants are unique, but so are the animals. One of the favorite pastimes of many older citizens of the county is to spend time at the aviary, marking off lists of rare birds unique to Nightdrift, like the Heavebreasted Willy and the Golden Peen Oriole. The most coveted of these, however, is the Orinoco Crane: an elusive and gorgeous bird with turquoise, hot pink, and white coloring, and a punk-rock mohawk plume over its head.
On the Janus Ridge of the great mountain's eastern Ladder Bluffs is an observatory co-operated by Sherwood University and NASA. The observatory overlooks Blue Fox Gorge, and can monitor NASA's Aldo Space Center launch site. Nearby is the Cloudbreacher Complex where grade school students attend space camp during the Summer.
RED MOON VINEYARD
South of Moonblush, in Nightdrift's sprawling Willow Grove farming community, is a locally treasured vineyard run by Chief Sommelier, Henry Clifford. This vineyard specializes in two varietals: pinot noir and gewurztraminer.
Inside the Stardust Mall is, of course, the sprawling neonscape known as the Paralax Arcade. This is where the younger kids and nerdier teens spend their afternoons pouring quarters into game cabinets, rattling joysticks and smashing buttons at their favorite titles, such as Chronic the Honey Badger, Kung-Food Tournament, Moral Qombat, and Roadkill Junction.
The Caledonia Valley is a deep valley cut through Brookwood Forest, through which runs the Astralune River and ravine. The Caledonia Valley Highway running across the county, just south of Satellite City, across Willow Grove, and through Brookwood Forest. In the forest, the highway is mounted high along the side of the mountains, offering a gorgeous view of the river and ravine.
THE SPROUT INSTITUTE
This is the botanical and horticultural research facility and organization to which Cyrus belonged prior to the events of ten years ago. His work brought national attention to the institute, beyond even its association with the alumni of Sherwood University. Here, a great deal of research is conducted, in partnership with Sherwood and its conservatory.
THE NIGHTDRIFT PUBLIC LIBRARY
This beautiful building has a history so rich that it's become a tourist spot for Moonblush Village. It was the first building erected when Amelia Jericho settled the area, and served initially as her homestead. Over time, the library has grown to be known for its wide selection of obscure resources and rare collections. Sections of the library function as museums for collections of once lost journals and other documents from the nation's past, and if you want to do any research on the town, this is the place to go digging.
BUSINESSES OF NIGHTDRIFT
Romie O'Possum's Totally Legitimate Pizza & Child Casino
With Romie the Opossum, every day's an adventure with greasy tubes and plastic pizza!
Big Figaro's Pizzarrhea
They serve Gas-X as an appetizer. Pop in and get your "I Got Greasy at Big Figaro's Pizzarrhea balloon!
¡Ay Dios Tacos!
The best taco joint in town, and a favorite Dustin Aldo (and college kids alike). Cash only.
Tai Kwon Donuts
Donuts, with a kick.
You will enjoy our burgers. It is not negotiable.
Just look for the crimson arches.
The Pretzel Bender
Bread with a twist. They love that tired cliche. Come on in for all-you-can-eat sea salt.
Mallory's favorite! Nothing crazy here, just your classic lamb gyros with the perfect signature tzatziki sauce. Nero knows how it's done.
The Federal Buffet
No-nonsense essential buffet. Menu includes: The Flat Stax pancakes, G.I. grits, the White House Salad, the Eggsecutive Order, the Filibuster (all-you-can-eat appetizers), The Supreme Course (this meal is PACKED), the Pork Barrel, Impeachmint Tea, and much more.
Sweet Up & Down Creamery
A cozy hotspot in Old Town, this is the Norman Rockwell portrait of ice cream shops. It's known for its pop and celebrity-themed flavors, like Van-Halen-illa, Ralph Macchiato, Caramellencamp, Jean-Luc Pican, Geordi LaFudge, Jordan's Jam Dunk, Boy Meets Swirl, and Cherry Busey's Wildberry Nutbar, among MANY others.
Pork N' Hork
Come for the fritters, stay because of the blinding meat sweats.
The Grateful Bread Bakery
Whaddayaknow, a music-themed bakery. Menu items include: Stairway to Leaven, Naan Inch Nails, Der Kaiser Roll Is Down, Rock n' Roll Ain't Gonna Rye, As My Guitar Gently Wheats, Black-Holed Bun, Flash of the Braid, I'm A Crepe I'm A Loser, the Jefferson Bread Bowl, Muffin Else Matters, Like A Rollin' Scone, CiabatOuttaHell, and The Bred Zeppelin.
Groo Grux Cajun Medley
A creole kitchen with all the favorites--and a few local delicacies, given the unique fauna of Nightdrift County. Their specialty is Stella's Alligator Pie.
Laundry & Tandoori
Grab a pakora while your lights cycle, or have a chaat with the local colors.
The world's first fully-automated fast food joint! Order at the box, and the box delivers.
Churn of the Century
An old timey pastry shop specializing in legacy recipes collected from the families of local residents around Moonblush.
Lil' Caligula's Pizza
Just another friggin' pizza shop. As if this town didn't have enough of them.
The Gold N' Standard
No nonsense country restaurant. Nothin' fancy, and we like it that way.
Bowl-shevik's Borscht n' Go
A revolutionary new pop-up that made a name for itself through its aggressive competition with another local pop-up, Ramen-off Russo-Japanese Fusion.
Ubermunch Junk Food Emporium
This is what peak performance looks like. This is the breakfast of champions.
The Laborateria Experimental Cuisine
New-fashioned experimental fusion, this restaurant rotates its menu each season--never the same menu twice!
Eat Your Heart Out - Aztec Cuisine
It's probably best not to ask what's in these secretive recipes. Hope y'like nondescript organ meat.
What town is complete without this massive conglomerate big-box retailer?
Pump N' Dump Convenience Stores
The pit stop to both retrieve and relieve gas.
The local custom clock shop where the grandfather clock in Mal's family room was built, based on the description in the Phelim journals. The elderly old woman who owns this shop knows something about Phelim and Ira Lloyd.
A cozy little bookstore in Moonblush's Old Town, right next to Sweet Up & Down Creamery.
Crooked Mile Outdoor
With Nightdrift being a major stop for outdoor folks of all kinds, this local supply shop specializes in custom and unique products for the area.
Green River Bank
The big bank. It seems like everyone in the county banks here.
Nook House Antiques
Another little shop in Old Town, this is a popular companion to the Alabaster Market. It's not uncommon for the owner, Alessandra Stansbury, to beat the crowd to the good stuff at the outdoor market.
Long Black Veil Funeral Apparel
Lisa Behr--quirky shop owner with the prerequisite gallows humor--runs this ornate and gothically stylish clothing shop, bemoaned as an "eyesore" by other Old Town shop owners.
A straight-and-narrow barber shop. Long-haired freaky people need not apply.
Located in Moonreach Tower, this global marketing firm is renowned for its ability to set and maintain trends, and they always seem to be a step ahead of the game with their army of culture moles planted even where you least expect them, researching pop culture potential.
GoldenIris Laser Tag Arena
Get lit up at this hugely popular rec center, where a literal warehouse has been converted into the largest laser tag arena in the world, with five separate layouts, including: The Facility, The Stacks, The Bunker, The Statues, and The Complex.
Up & Away Hot Air Balloon Rides
Take a scenic trip through the mountains of Nightdrift County, and take part in the annual Willow Grove Airship Circuit, if you think you've got what it takes to pit your piloting skills against the world's best "soapbox" dirigible racers.
Busted Stuff Auto Shop
Don't worry 'bout it, pal. Mike and Ed got the magic touch to get you back on the road before you can say "upcharge."
Jimi Thing Head Shop
Pretty sure they're squatting in this shop, or else somebody's grudging parents are paying out just to be glad their filthy hippy kid is running a profitable business. Come have the weirdest conversation of your life with Harvey, Otter, and Nug. No idea which one own's the place.
Best of What's Around Consignment
The indoor rival to the Alabaster Market, this consignment shop does have one thing over Alabaster; you don't have to pack up every night and set up every morning to keep thieves from making off with all your weird junk.
Blue Water Baboon Farm
Despite its name, this nature preserve in the east of Willow Grove focuses primarily on keeping the unique aquatic wildlife of the area safe from the pollution of Blackwatch's mining facilities. The name itself is said to have come from some old tune by a local band.
Liberate the firmament! Give me liberty and give me death! Wake up, sleepy God, AMERICA's calling! Stubby's is the premier place to get your boom candy, both legal and legal-adjacent.
Reburn Coffee Company
They run the coffee back through the machine, like some kind of nightmarish Sisyphean Rube Goldberg apparatus, until it is maximally distilled madness juice, with flavors such as "Necrojavacon," "Requiem For A Bean," and "Loca Joe's Jamocha-motive."
Crescendo Power & Light
Hallelujah, let there be light! At a reasonable fee, of course.
Tidewalk Water Co.
The water down from the Northern Mountains is some of the best you've ever tasted, so Nightdrift certainly has that going for it. But Tidewater knows what it has, and the water bills around Moonblush are legendary.
Nightdrift Sewer Utility
The sewer workers in Nightdrift have a deep and proud tradition as "Molemen." They even have a Mole Lodge, like the Masons, and conspiracies abound of their clandestine affairs. They were the first to investigate the roots pervading the county--and also the first victims.
Swilby's Trash Removal
Moonblush and the surrounding towns are very invested in the cleanliness of their streets, and so the position of "Garbage Man" is surprisingly coveted among blue collar workers. The county offers strong compensation to these folks, and their morale shows it. Mal loves coming to chat with these guys when they pop by.
Loving Wings General Hospital
Dr. Chris Mitchum may be an unorthodox medical professional, but he gets results. He's been the family doctor for only a short time, having taken over from his father Bo, but the two have a history in Moonblush as the hardest working people in town. The question of when the good doctor last slept is generally left up to the Reburn Coffee Company.
Everyone hates them, but if you want Sinmax, BO, or Churner Classic Movies, your options for the hook-up are limited.
Everyone hates them, too, but if you want Blackbox, Scarz, or Strifetime, your options are, again, limited.
PUBLIC SERVICES & PRIVATE UTILITIES
OTHER PLACES OF INTEREST
The Lost Settlement of Moonblush
Somewhere in the snowy valleys of the Northern Mountains, it is said that Amelia Jericho first settled the land and built a town at the base of Mount Skyladder, but the area was prone to avalanches, as they soon discovered, and the settlement was moved to the other side of the mountains. This lost land is said to be where Phelim disappeared ten years ago in a whirling sinkhole of snow, according to the journals Odran read to Mallory.
Almost nothing is known about this place, and it's really only an old legend. But some do believe that in the dense fog of Orinoco Lake, there's an island where some of the original settlers of Moonblush Village still live in some place outside time.
This area within the Dark Garden separates it as the central landscape, distinguished from the endless forest beyond, known as the Phenomenal Reach. Within its borders, a number of concentric lands and thresholds exist, but no one has made it beyond the Hypnagogue.
This is a narrow central park in Old Town, where locals maintain a community garden.
The Detestable Festival
In October of every year, a traveling carnival drifts through Moonblush Village. This carnival is known for its mime troupe, led by Marcus Marquette and featuring Monsieur Babineaux (Mal's favorite). It's also know for its Grotusk Freak Show, with the famed Wooly Manmoth.
NFL: The Spacers, with mascot "Ringer"
MLB: The Dreamers, with mascot "Nimbus"
NBA: The Comets, with mascot "The Rocketeer"
MLS: The Dippers, with mascot "Scoop"
The Drifters, with mascot "Poof the Puff"
The Lunars, with mascot "Waxin' Mack"
The Wasps, with mascot "Buzz Boy"
The Torchmen, with mascot "Scorch the Torch"
Nefarington Private Academy
The Weasels, with mascot "Sneersby"
The Owls, with mascot "Oscar the Owl"
The Canaries, with mascot "Cole the Canary"
SPORTS TEAMS & MASCOTS