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Having had his wife Jodie die of disease four years ago, Harry Mason is a single parent with an adopted daughter Cheryl. Harry is still in grief from Jodie's death, and to help his mental state, Cheryl begs him to take a relaxing vacation to the resort town of Silent Hill, and Harry gives in. Due to car troubles, Harry and Cheryl arrive in the outskirts of Silent Hill at night, following the winding mountainside road.
While driving on the outskirts of the town, Harry sees a girl an astral projection walking across the street. Harry swerves his car to avoid hitting her and is knocked unconscious by the resulting car crash. Harry wakes up later to find that Cheryl has disappeared and is forced to venture into the snowing, fog-covered town to rescue her. At first glance, Harry notes that the entire place, or at least Old Silent Hill , seems to be abandoned.
Harry leaves the area to look around and sees Cheryl running away, and he immediately hurries to follow her. Chasing her through the streets of Silent Hill, he finds himself running down a small residential road and into a dark alley. The sky suddenly turns dark, a siren blares in the distance, and when Harry lights the area with a lighter , he finds that his entire environment has altered into a darker realm.
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The road pavement has been replaced by rusted metal grating and platforms, and the walls are a dark, grimy series of mesh and chain link fences. Everything is covered in rust and blood, tipped with barbed wire, and the shapes of hanging bodies are discernible behind the mesh.
The sounds of industrial clanking and grinding metal form a constant cacophony of ambient noise. With nowhere to go, Harry follows the alley and finds the disturbing body of a mutilated corpse hanging on a fence before him. Moments later, he is attacked by small, child-like monsters , and despite his best efforts, Harry is eventually overwhelmed and "killed". He wakes up in a deserted diner called Cafe 5to2.
An officer named Cybil Bennett from the nearby town Brahms appears, and after a brief conversation, she provides him with a handgun and leaves to look for help. In the diner, Harry arms himself with a map , a knife , and a flashlight. As Harry attempts to leave the diner, a radio on a nearby table starts emitting static, causing Harry to investigate it.
A flying creature crashes through a window and into the store and assaults Harry.
Harry defeats the monster with his handgun and stands there in disbelief for a moment before leaving the diner. Harry soon encounters other monsters on the foggy streets, and he quickly discovers the radio's usefulness when it emits intensifying static as monsters grow closer. Following a clue left by his daughter, Harry eventually finds his way to Midwich Elementary School to search for her. From his initial inspection, the school itself has been long since deserted. Instead of students and teachers, Harry finds many Grey Children or Mumblers.
He works his way around, eventually unlocking the clock tower in the school's courtyard. Upon reaching the other side of the facility across from it, he is surprised to find the world has once again shifted into the Otherworld. Once more, the already-dwindling light is reduced to nothing more than what Harry's flashlight can produce, and the surfaces have all undergone a frightening shift back to the metal grating and uneven platforms. In the Otherworld school, Harry travels to the boiler room.
Inside, light is cast by a flaming corpse, illuminating a creature known as Split Head — a large lizard with its head split in half. With its defeat, everything turns to darkness, and then the light returns to reveal an ordinary boiler room. A girl, Alessa Gillespie, is leaning against the boiler, and she turns to Harry before disappearing into thin air. Confused, Harry departs from the school. He hears a church bell ringing in the distance and heads to the Balkan Church , where he sees a woman praying at an altar.
She turns to meet Harry, and in a conversation that he has difficulty understanding, she reveals herself to be Dahlia Gillespie.
She gives Harry a mystical item called the Flauros and tells him to make haste to the hospital. Before Harry can ask any questions, Dahlia leaves, and Harry exits the church. He crosses a bridge that leads to Central Silent Hill. Harry arrives at Alchemilla Hospital , where he encounters Michael Kaufmann , a doctor who is as bewildered as Harry about the current circumstances. Shortly after this meeting, Harry may obtain a red liquid known as Aglaophotis , whose great purpose is later revealed, by using a bottle. Harry endures another shift to the Otherworld, transforming the medical facility into the world's twisted version of the hospital, infested with monstrous nurses.
Along the way, he also meets Lisa Garland , a terrified nurse. By the turn of the millennium, maid cafes began sprouting, where girls in cosplay outfits serve tea and light meals to tired shoppers. Media played up these joints, introducing them as a favorite otaku haunt and prompting curious tourists to flock to the area. The social stigma attached to otaku appeared to slowly dissipate as the motifs of the subculture began to permeate Japanese society and beyond.
Produced by lyricist and television writer Yasushi Akimoto, the group, consisting of 50 plus members, morphed into a media sensation during the relatively short course of its life. However, the s saw idol culture sidelined by the rise of J-pop acts, including singers and groups produced by hit-maker Tetsuya Komuro and top-charting bands such as Mr. Mainstream idol music went underground, with performers moving to more private venues to cultivate smaller but dedicated fan bases. The trend began changing in the late s with the debut of Morning Musume, an all-female idol group produced by rock singer Tsunku that went on to release million-selling singles.
What made the culture the dominant scene of the s, however, was AKB48 and the return of Akimoto as the mastermind behind the biggest selling all-girl group franchise in Japanese history and an international phenomenon with numerous local affiliations and commercial tie-ups. Himeno says the handshake greeting events the group and its sister groups host is one example of the carefully maintained illusion of closeness Akimoto built — albeit with criticism of ruthless monetization and sexual undertones — where fans who buy CDs and merchandise can queue up to meet their favorite members.
These meet-and-greet events also became an unexpected scene of an attack on two group members in by a man wielding a portable saw. The results were then broadcast on television from massive arenas, creating a faux sense of suspense as the rankings were announced. This was the same year Himeno, then 16, made her debut as a so-called underground idol. The word has no concrete etymology, but is purportedly derived from how amateur idols often performed in underground live houses for small crowds of fans known for occasionally launching into impromptu singing-and-dancing tirades called otagei.
The scene has since become a hodgepodge of countless idols, both major and minor, but Himeno feels the peak has passed, and that the idol boom that began in the s may soon give way to something else. She herself plans to retire from stage. Himeno has booked an capacity hall on April 30 for her last concert, which, inadvertently, is the day Emperor Akihito is expected to abdicate, bringing an end to the Heisei Era. Amateur idols often perform in underground live houses for small crowds of fans known for occasionally launching into impromptu singing-and-dancing tirades called otagei.
However, there is a certain amount of discrimination against them from more conservative Tanu.
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There are some differences between pure Tanu and hybrids. Hybrids tend to be hairier, darker, have coarser features and less of the ethereal beauty of the Tanu. They also have a much more muscular figure, and often have stronger metapsychic powers. Unlike the Firvulag and the Tanu, hybrids are not poisoned by iron and are not as affected by Earth radiation levels, nor are they as likely to give birth to Firvulag or black-torc babies Incompatible with the mental amplifiers known as golden torcs that allow the Tanu to utilize their otherwise latent metafunctions.
The Firvulag e. Fitharn Pegleg are, on the whole, small, dark and less good looking than the Tanu, although this is not always the case and there are some giants among them. Some Firvulag are large enough that they would not look out of place on a present-day street, while the greatest heroes and leaders amongst the Firvulag i. The giants often self-identify as 'ogres' and the smaller Firvulag as 'gnomes' or 'goblins'. The Firvulag mostly live in mountains and caves, far away from the Tanu, and regard both humans and Tanu with disdain.
The ogres in particular consider humanity to be tasty prey first and foremost. At the beginning of the series they have a shaky treaty with the 'Lowlife' human escapees of the Tanu regime.
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The Firvulag are primarily creative adepts, spinning horrific illusions around themselves and projecting confusion and pain in battle to terrify their opponents. They are merciless fighters and when working together are capable of driving a human or weak Tanu mind completely mad with their illusions.
The Firvulag martial tradition is very conservative. They do not ride chalikos into battle, unlike the Tanu and their human cavalry. They wear obsidian armor and fight using obsidian bladed swords and obsidian tipped spears. In battle, they fight like an unorganized mob of infantry. They usually throw their spears in the first rush of battle, then close in using their swords and mindpowers. For the last 40 years, the Firvulag have lost every single one of the grand combats because their unorganized and undisciplined infantry cannot withstand the shock of a heavy cavalry charge.
Exiled humans introduced the concept of heavy cavalry to the Tanu and helped them mentally tame the chalikos. Because of the constant Grand Combat defeats, the Firvulag have been recently growing desperate, and have been willing to take on lowlife humans like Madame Guderian as military advisors. The Firvulag under new rulership later in the series are beginning to employ more and more human military tactics and equipment to the detriment of the Tanu and Humanity alike.
The Howlers are essentially a peace-loving people, and have long been spiritual, if not actual, allies with the Peace Faction amongst the Tanu, who are also opposed to the battle-religion practiced by the Tanu and Firvulag. After over-exposure to dangerous radiation in the radium-rich mountains they have chosen to live in, they have mutated into hideous, deformed entities, filled with self-loathing who attack anyone who strays into their territory.
Technically they are ruled by the King of the Firvulag, but this is in name only, and they have their own king, Sugoll. Both by Sugoll's own assertion and the attestation of the rest of the Howlers, Sugoll is first among the Howlers in all things — mental power, physical ability, and, most of all, physical deformity. Sugoll, although often robed in a handsome illusory body, is the most hideous and terrifying of all the Howlers. By the end of the series, the Howlers have left their radioactive mountain home and moved to the deserted Firvulag city of Nionel, where they set up a genetic plan to restore their hideously mutated selves to some degree of normality.
Interbreeding with humans, to revitalize their genetic stock with uncorrupted alleles, is a major component of this scheme, formulated by a slightly insane gold-torc human Genetics Master named Greg-Donnet M. Although the Howlers can create beautiful illusions around themselves to disguise their mutations, these illusions do not work on normal Firvulag.
They are very effective for humans, though, which is fortunate for Greg-Donnet's schemes. Little is known about this race of people from the same galaxy as the Tanu and Firvulag, but a different planet. Whereas the Tanu and Firvulag come from the planet Duat, which also gives the entire galaxy its name, this race comes from Lene. Thousands of years before the action of the novels, the inhabitants of Duat developed interstellar travel, and colonized other planets in their native galaxy.
These other planets came to be called 'Daughter Worlds', as in 'the daughter worlds of Duat'. A series of wars and the passage of time cut off Duat from these other worlds. Among the daughter worlds only Lene retained any form of space travel, and only very primitive reaction engines. The war left Duat with a wildly varying climate, and because of this, over a thousand generations on Duat, the race diverged into two separate races, the Tanu and the Firvulag. The Tanu lived in the open highlands and grew tall and lithe. They were metapsychically latent and developed and employed torcs to raise them to a limited form of metapsychic operancy.
The Firvulag who dwelt in the dark and wet lowlands grew small and hardy and were naturally operant, but most were much more weakly powered and often limited to Creativity and Farsense. The divergent races were hostile to each other and together developed a highly ritualized battle-religion to formalize the war between them. When science advanced enough to allow for interstellar travel once again by the daughter worlds , Duat was re-discovered and while the original race was shocked at the divergence of the races there from their own, it was then discovered that the torcs also worked well on most but not all the inhabitants of the daughter worlds.
Certain female members of Lene, known as Shipspouses, developed a symbiotic relationship with interstellar organisms known as Ships which were capable of superluminal travel. Only one member of the race which inhabits Lene appears in the Saga of Pliocene Exile. She is Brede Shipspouse. She seems longer lived than either the Tanu or Firvulag. She also has a legacy power from her time as Shipspouse: the ability to D-jump.
When the daughter race demanded that the Tanu and Firvulag discard their ancient battle-religion and rejoin the rest of the race, a small number refused to and chose to fight a final apocalyptic war to the end. The daughter race intervened to prevent this, and so the remaining Tanu and Firvulag fled with a sympathetic Brede in her Ship into another Galaxy to fight their Nightfall war to the end. Earth was chosen as the best planet capable of supporting the lives of the two races that the Ship, now dying from the immense strain of the Intergalactic jump, could reach before its death.
Gigantic crystalline organisms, self-aware and powerfully psychic, which evolved in and continue to inhabit interstellar space in the Duat Galaxy. Ships were capable of superluminal travel through mental generation of an aperture into hyperspace "grey limbo". Ships were entirely benevolent and many of them undertook a symbiotic "mind-marriage" with humanoid females of the Duat daughter-worlds. Ships routinely carried the Duat citizenry on interstellar voyages of considerable distance, the passengers traveling within a vessel embedded in the Ship's crystal body.
Humans in the Pliocene Epoch play a variety of different roles and are difficult to classify as a group. Nevertheless, there are some humans born in the Pliocene i. Sunny Jim Quigley and Calistro, a goat-herder. Some humans are happy with Tanu rule. Humans with valuable talents like genetics, robotics, etc.
Other humans with great metapsychic powers are also given silver or golden torcs and may eventually achieve high rank. This is of course, as long as these humans are willing to work for the benefit of the Tanu. Though ramapithecine apes are made to do a lot of the menial labor in the Tanu kingdom, human grey torc slaves end up doing the more complex and dangerous grunt work. For example, grey torc humans are used as shock troops, cavalry, cannon fodder, and as guards.
In order to increase their population more rapidly, the Tanu have been using humans as breeding stock ever since they arrived. The human women have their tubal ligation reversed. Those human women who are metapsychically gifted or have some unique, highly desired talent are often married off to Tanu nobles, after they each have spent one night with King Thagdal. Thagdal is very fertile which is the main reason he is king so many of the women who are forced to sleep with him are impregnated.