|“||"I'm fucking sorry, okay?"||”|
—Sprankles, upon learning of the Black Claim
The Black Claim was a phantasmal place of strange shadows and sinister sorcery that brought grief and hardship to citizens of the Fourth Era.
Imbued with bizarre properties beyond the understanding of Eris and HyperSilence, its influence over Summergate grew until it began to unravel reality itself and threatened all of Dragonhollow, eventually culiminating in the Fall of Summergate.
|"What THE heckie is happening?"|
—Sharkberries says what everybody's thinking
On 4E:329, citizens of Dragonhollow began noticing unusual occurences. The magical properties of sticks, which were used to determine who owned a claim, sometimes ceased functioning. Time suddenly seemed to slow so much that simple tasks could not be completed. The world would appear to wink out for several minutes on end.
Days later on 4E:331, Sprankles and Tox were working on a connecting tunnel between their neighboring homes when they noticed similar oddities. Through experimentation, they were able to determine that it seemed caused or exacerbated by the use of their golden shovels and sticks, both of which bore magical enchantments from Eris.
After nearly a week without incident, on 4E:337 the problems recurred tenfold. Tox, Sharkberries, and Boo were on an exploratory excursion together when time began to shift and skip again causing them to become trapped in the tunnels of the Summergate Railway system.
Noticing the fluctuations seemed most prevalent when Sprankles was active, further study triangulated the source of the problem to his residential compound. Rumors began to spiral out of control, leading many to blame and accuse Sprankles of suspicious and forbidden activities despite the complete lack of evidence and his repeated apologies to fellow residents.
The demigod Archpriest HyperSilence was informed of the situation and began his own investigation. Perplexed, he decided he would use the power ceded to him by Eris to remove and then rebuild the invisible claim boundaries under Sprankle's home and the Crossroads Item Shop. After testing the results with Tox, HyperSilence was satisfied the taint had been excised and the recurring problem solved.
He was wrong.
|"Many began to question what the source of this inconvenience was and thus a witch hunt began. It was then discovered that Sprankles151 was the cause of it, to much of his dismay."|
—Dragonhollow Newsletter reports
Weeks later the symptoms appeared again, disrupting time and space so thoroughly that the community was forced to
take refuge on other worlds. Resentment against Sprankles peaked after the Dragonhollow Newsletter named him as the culprit. Because the effects seemed harshest when he was working in the area, Sprankles voluntarily went into exile until things could be rectified.
HyperSilence began to believe something more insidious was at play, a malevolent presence working against his efforts at every turn and growing in strength with alarming rapidity. He summoned all of his strength for a confrontation.
On 4E:355, HyperSilence performed an exorcism on the property, invoking the name and words of his goddess Eris. Furthermore, he took steps to place sacred seals across the Summerlands that would theoretically protect such side effects from ever happening again anywhere.
However, having learnt his lesson, he was wary that their troubles were not over.
He was right.
|Tox: Never mind, looks like we're both fucked.
Sprankles: Thank you. I am sorry that your claim was a casualty of trying to assist me.
Tox: Through no fault of your own. That area shall remain forever cursed, apparently.
—Sprankles and Tox lament their loss
On 4E:361, while standing at the apex of the Rookery overlooking both the Compound and Tox's property, Retro and Tox spotted a disturbing shadow that appeared to be the depiction of a massive dragon. Tox worried that it foreshadowed darker days to come.
On 4E:365, it became clear that the daemonic force had only been dormant, not defeated or destroyed. Sprankles reported that the arcane protections on his property had disappeared, despite fulfilling the weekly rejuvenation process as required. He restored the protections with a trusty golden shovel and thought nothing more of it.
Later that day, Tox discovered the protections had expired again and he expanded his own property to include that of Sprankles as a defense against would-be bandits and looters. Unfortunately, he had vastly underestimated the scope and reach of the phenomenon beneath their feet.
By extending the claim, he also extended the loathsome reach of the malignancy itself. Tox's entire claim collapsed, allowing opportunistic bandit Jinx to loot both Sprankles' Compound and the Tox Box, though Gabault was able to prevent her from completely robbing Tox by preemptively claiming the Tox Box and protecting it against the spreading instability. Nevertheless, it was obvious this was only a temporary stopgap that could provide containment for so long before bursting.
HyperSilence offered to reimburse Tox for his lost items, but he declined, being rather impressed and entertained with Jinx's thievery.
Tohbeh dubbed the area and the force beneath it "The Black Claim".
|Macca: so you dont know how it happened?
Tox: nobody does
Macca then how to fix it?
Tox: nobody knows
—Macca wants answers
Realizing that it might be impossible to ever comprehend the true nature of the Black Claim, HyperSilence adopted a new strategy.
On 4E:378, he waged war upon the area itself, destroying the entire superstructure and cleaving a mountain in half. No material survived his surgical strike. He reasoned that if the territory itself was infected, then the only way to eradicate it for certain was to remove the site of the malignancy. All connecting tunnels into Tox's own claim were collapsed, sealing the depths off and containing the area. The remnants were forcibly ejected into the Void.
What remained was a completely flat grassy plain devoid of trees, flowers, or manmade structures. Sprankles relocated to a faraway jungle where he started a cocoa farmstead, while Tox moved most of his precious valuables to Westwater.
|Tox: Toby called it when he named the thing "The Black Claim"
Tox: spooky shit
—The area is aptly named
On 4E:390, Sedron's Black Chapel lost its claim deed despite the fact he had carried out the required rituals. It was raided by bandits before notorious scavenger Jinx acquired it for her own elaborate purposes. Because of its close proximity to Sprankles' Compound, HyperSilence and Tox suspected the Black Claim was to blame.
It was a harbinger of the horror to come.
Despite the Priesthood's best efforts, the Black Claim continued to creep ever outward, engulfing all of Summergate and then spreading throughout the entirety of the Summerlands.
Eris was finally persuaded to intervene by her Archpriest. Rather than attempting to extinguish the Black Claim, she decided to abandon the Summerlands completely. On 4E:411, she froze the land as a moment in time to create the Summergate Time Capsule.
In the days that followed, the Black Claim touched all inhabited corners of the Summerlands, leaving every single structure vulnerable to attack. Golden shovels were completely useless. Only the unequaled power of Eris preserved the enclaves of Summergate and Snowcrest. Public order quickly disintegrated and roving gangs of bandits and murderers rampaged across the land, looting and pillaging everything they could find, implicitly encouraged by the goddess of discord herself, Eris.
By week's end, the Fall of Summergate had left the Summerlands a blasted uninhabitable wasteland. Eris evacuated her subjects by airship to the Badlands on 4E:417. The final fate of the Summerlands is unknown, but presumably the Black Claim reigned supreme over an empty kingdom devoid of activity until the apocalyptic Nyx event enveloped the planet.
Residents grew concerned in the Fifth Era when strange ripples in space-time were felt in Pandora, causing items to vanish from pockets and chunks of land to teleport. HyperSilence, whose own Hyperion faction experienced the brunt of these effects, later assured the public that the isolated incident was not connected to the Black Claim.
Scholars were divided on whether or not the symptoms of the Black Claim were precipitated by scientific phenomena, an inexplicable force of nature, or a sentient entity.
At one point a dragon egg was lost in the bowels of the keep on the Black Claim due to the negligence of a passerby. It is not unreasonable to assume the the release of such a force with no restraining mechanism could have led to the instability associated with the area.
It is also plausible that the level of mechanisms at play could have led to the instability. It is a fact that Sprankles was quite the tinkerer and had a plethora of machines running constantly. So much redstone power concentrated in such a relatively small area no doubt had some effect on the fabric of the world.
The Cult of Benly believed that their demigod hero Benly was responsible for the mysteries of the Black Claim, part of his never-ending struggle to overcome Eris and regain his rightful place atop the Pantheon as patron saint of Dragonhollow.
Behind the Scenes
|Tox: the black claim spread like a disease, claiming all of Summergate, and Acey led her flock to a new untamed land...
HyperSilence: write that down
—Tox devises a lore explanation for the map reset
The Black Claim became a serious server issue in the early months of 2016. What started as the server simply misreporting claim queries quickly progressed. Any interaction on Sprankles' claim that directly dealt with the GriefPrevention plugin (trying to place blocks or use items without permission, using golden shovels or sticks, etc.) resulted in intense lag.
Things eventually got so bad that nearly every time Sprankles was online the server would crash, requiring a full restart from head admin HyperSilence. Early speculation as to cause revolved around the very high number of claim subdivisions that Sprankles had created, but experimentation by Retro and Tox shed doubt on the idea and the problems persisted even after HyperSilence consolidated all of the claims into one.
Once the claims of both Sprankles and Tox disappeared completely, HyperSilence updated GriefPrevention to the latest version, but this had no effect. Convinced that there was something strange in the claim causing the issue, he demolished the entire claim and reset the chunks themselves back to their original native state. This apparently solved the problem once and for all.
To this day, no one really knows what caused the claim corruption. It might have been a bug in GriefPrevention, a conflict with Dragonhollow, or some weird irreproducible symptom of the incredibly complex machinery that Sprankles had created.