Season 2 Episode 9: Blue Rain Falls

In this episode I describe how I first experienced extreme weather in Dunari, I explain how to use weather in your worldbuilding, and the Strange but True tells what happened when a group of crackpot inventors tried to use a tornado as a weapon.

And, surprise, surprise, the free bottle of firewater we got for allowing Island Fire distillery to sponsor the last episode tasted so delicious we’ve decided to let them sponsor this episode too.

Just so we can get another bottle.

Key Takeaways:

How to approach thinking about unique weather systems for your world.

How to use this unique weather to maximize your storytelling.

What is the weather like in Dunari, you might wonder?

Well, I thought it was all sunshine and blue sky until I awoke one morning to find the windows grey with fog. This dampened my enthusiasm for my morning walk. The grimness outside reminded me too much of trudging to school on winter mornings back home.

Shinytop didn’t help by saying he wasn’t going outside in that weather. Of course, I could have just taken him along, but I liked the stick. A lot. I never wanted to force him to do anything.

A ghost cat called Number Fifteen turned up. She said that, because of the weather, she’d guide me instead of Number Twenty. Number Fifteen had a deep tyre track across her chest. As all of these dead cat ghosts were supposed to warn me about the dangers of Dunari by telling me how they’d died, I figured I was in for a road safety lesson.

Whatever had run her over had almost cut her in half. If you looked at her sideways she looked like two pieces of cat, the upper and lower parts held together by a hinge.

She walked with a really dreadful, unstable wobble.

And when I followed Number Fifteen outside, I discovered that a grey day in Dunari was much worse than a grey day in Ireland.

The cloud was low and claustrophobic, a grey mess that pressed down to the top of the compound wall like some unstable, dirty ceiling. The upper half of Ganhook’s fortress was gone, and the little pillars of smoke rising off the jewellers rooves resembled pillars holding up the sky.

It struck me that when the jewellers finished their morning smelting, the sky could collapse.

The grey leached into the city, dulling the bones, darkening the alleys, and pooling in shadows all around.

The few people who were out hurried across the square. Each person carried a metal tipped stick that tapped off the ground as they hurried past.


The sounds niggled my anxiety. I didn’t remember seeing anyone carry a stick before.

A group of kids marched into the square. They were about my age. Apart from one boy wearing a white shirt, each was wearing a blue shirt with a yellow stripe, and each carried a metal tipped stick.

The white shirted boy kept glancing about, like he was looking for an opportunity to bolt. Despite this, there was a jovial air about the group. They stopped in the middle of the square.

A few of the girls stared my way, and giggled. I felt my cheeks flush. I really, really hoped I wasn’t blushing red, and if I was, that they wouldn’t notice it from twenty metres away.

Rattled, I looked away, pretending to analyse the square to avoid their curious gaze.

We’d almost reached Obia’s store when an orange cat tore past. I’d seen that cat before. A lazy, long haired beast that spent its days following the sunlight around the square. Only now, with its long hair standing on end and its tail stiff. It looked more like a toilet brush on legs.

The cat scrabbled at a nearby door. The door opened. The cat flew inside. The door slammed shut.

I turned to Number Fifteen, and said, ‘What’s happening?’

Number Fifteen looked up at the clouds, her upper half leaning back so much I thought she’d snap in half. She said, ‘the blue rain is here.’

I’d never heard of blue rain. But I knew it couldn’t be good. Pointing back at the compound, I said, ‘Let’s watch it from inside.’

Number Fifteen pointed up, and said, ‘Look.’

A wind rose, silently pushing a wave of dust across the square. And, as if affected by the wind, the cloud shimmered blue in places. Shadows appeared. Deep blue shadows that meandered about with the menacing grace and beauty of a school of hunting sharks.

I tracked several of these shadows as they congregated above the white shirted boy. His friends drew away from him, forming a loose circle as if to either protect him or prevent him from escaping.

The boy hadn’t noticed the shadows yet. I wanted to shout something at him. But I’d no idea what to shout. Besides, there was something so organised about the groups’ behaviour that told me they were following a plan.

The boy looked up. His face creased. Briefly, I thought he was about to cry. Then, as his friends shouted encouragement, he drew his shoulders back, and balled his fists.

The air crackled and the patch of blue cloud above him started trembling and hissing.

A pillar of blue mist dropped around him. Then, like he was being attacked by a swarm of insects, he broke into a crazy dance, jigging about in a circle, legs kicking out, his arms flailing.

I was so shocked by this, I hadn’t noticed the shadows gather above me. My hackles rose. My ears tingled. I glanced up. The cloud above my head was glowing a beautiful blue, the glow of it washing over me like a chilly, winter sunbeam.

If nothing else, I thought, it would cool down my cheeks.

‘Dead Cat!’ I cried, forgetting what number today’s dead cat was. ‘Dead Cat! It’s raining blue light.’

‘Don’t run,’ Number Fifteen replied. ‘Don’t panic. Accidents happen when you panic. That’s how I died. I panicked. I ran under a delivery cart.’

There wasn’t much chance of me running anywhere anyhow. My legs were frozen with fear. I yelled, ‘Is it electricity?’

I’d shouted so loud, more of the kids were pointing my way now. Each held their stick to the ground. This, I presumed, grounded them from the electricity in the cloud. I also presumed that the reason Shinytop hadn’t come with me was because he didn’t want to be used as a ground device either.

Unfortunately, physics hadn’t been my strongest school subject. But I knew enough about electricity to realise this was some bizarre electrical storm, whose energy saw me as the perfect conduit to the ground.

As the blue light fell over me, it felt like I was being zapped a thousand time a second. Yet, the sensation was more annoyingly ticklish than the savage thud I’d received when I’d once poked a live wire at home to see what might happen.

Within seconds, the crackling dissipated and the light sank away. I wanted to bolt to the compound. But the girls were still watching, and it was a matter of pride that I stand tall because the boy in the white shirt was standing tall, his face beaming as the last flickers of light around him sank away.

We exchanged glances. In that instant, a bond formed between me and this stranger, a feeling that we’d survived some kind of test.

Then his friends surged around him, hoisted him into the air, and carried him off in a cacophony of shouts and laugher and cries of, ‘hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!’

I longed to go with them. I longed to shout and laugh and cry, hurrah, too. As they disappeared down a side street, I was left standing in the empty square, my only companion a dead cat.

A feeling of intense loneliness swamped me. Images of my friend back home swept through my mind. Aisling. Red Peter. All the others. All the people I’d shared so many things with.

All the people I might never see again.

Number Fifteen said, ‘You see, the blue rain is harmless.’

I said, ‘Isn’t that just great.’

Number Fifteen shrugged, ‘Ganhook just said you needed to experience it.’

That made me angry. I said, ‘You could have warned me.’

‘You survived, didn’t you?’ Number Fifteen smiled that really annoying Stein Cat smile. ‘And now you know better.’

Actually, I felt dumber than ever. And furious with Ganhook. I was from another dimension. How did he know the blue rain wouldn’t dissolve me into some meaty, electrical sludge.

When I confronted Number Fifteen with this, she said, ‘Because he’s survived it.’

Once again, my suspicions about where Ganhook was really from rose powerful in my mind.

As usual, though, Ganhook avoided me for the rest of the day. And when I interrogated Shinytop about what Number Fifteen had said about Ganhook, Shinytop just kept thanking me for not forcing him out into the blue rain because it made him tingle for days.

I’d no idea how he could experience tingling, but trying to figure out the inner life of a ghost was like trying to figure out the inner workings of a rock. I didn’t even bother trying any more.

By way of consolation, Shinytop told me that the ancients believed that this weather system carried spirits to the city. Blue spirits from some distant place that that needed to reach the Great Spirit Gateway beneath us.

‘It’s electricity, of course,’ Shinytop added. ‘But some superstitious folk still believe the old tales. And the younger people often use the blue rain to test each other’s courage.’

In as sarcastic a voice as possible, I said, ‘How wonderful.’

Shinytop tut-tutted. Then said, ‘It is also a method to introduce you to the concept of sentient storms.’

I said, ‘Spirit Storms?’

‘Everyone,’ Shinytop said grimly, ‘Should experience the blue rain so as to know what greater evil lies to the west.’

Right then, I didn’t want to hear more about spirit storms.
I was too annoyed that Shinytop kept silent about Ganhook.

Fair enough I thought. But if that tongue of his didn’t loosen up before the next blue rain arrived, he’d be coming outside with me. Maybe just the threat of a bit of tingling might encourage him to talk.

And if that meant getting more ruthless in Dunari, then, so be it.




Some context on my first experience of extreme Dunari weather.


How can weather be used in world building?

In countless ways. That’s how.

Weather affects our lives like nothing else. Weather has caused disasters, migrations, cultural shifts, and wars. Weather has also enabled us to innovate, harness energy, or, if you’re lucky, live beside a beach in a temperate climate.

Weather is also one of the most talked about subject between people.

I mean, who doesn’t like a good moan about the rain.

To get some ideas on using the weather in your work, study the weather where you live. Note how it affects people’s moods, behaviours, how they dress and how they might use bad weather as an excuse to be lazy.

Maybe study weather events in other countries.

Or take a current hot topic like climate change.

Does your fantasy world suffer from climate change? If so, how could this force change. Wars perhaps? Discrimination against climate migrants? Maybe people in your world adopt bad practices that affect the environment, for profits or revenge. Or maybe a neighbouring civilisation is using bad practices that affects your protagonist’s land?

How can these bad practices upset balanced environments?

Can you use the weather in your world to surprise your audience? And I don’t mean having a lightning bolt turn your protagonist into the x-ray. It’s more like using the weather to unexpectedly alter world events. For example:  A great storm rises during a battle. Could this influence the battle’s outcome? Or maybe a flash flood sweeps away the only bridge your protagonist can use to escape her enemy.

The possibilities are endless.

The weather always surprises us. Use those surprises to add further layers of drama to your world building.

Nobody in Dunari quite managed to manipulate the weather. But could it be manipulated in your world? And what could be the consequences if the manipulation failed?

Say for example it’s the Kings birthday. Every year they hold a grand outdoor festival to celebrate this. The King demands good weather. If it rains, the kite display would be a washout. And the kite display is the king’s favourite thing. Somebody will suffer if it rains. That someone doesn’t like suffering. So that someone must ensure it doesn’t rain.

How can they achieve this? And at what cost?

Suppose the solution is resource intensive and others lose out from losing resources. And so on and on . . . you get the idea.

Dive down the rabbit hole and see where it brings you.

And think about how to use a weather event to introduce other aspects of your world. While the blue rain was just a bizarre thunder storm, it introduced me to the concept of spirit storms, which are dangerous, sentient storms. I also learned that Ganhook was not from Dunari. I heard about some of the ancient Dunari beliefs. And I had my first, brief, romantic encounter.

Yes, sadly, in those days, if a girl even bothered to look at me, I considered it a major romantic encounter.

Not that I’m going to talk much about my romantic life.

Right now, I’d rather complain about the weather. I’m back in Ireland. It’s been raining non-stop for three days. Rain and gloom and cold and endless moaning from the neighbours.

It’s more depressing than watching Ireland lose to England in soccer.

I can’t wait to get back to Dunari and feel sunlight on my face.

I think I’ll head to the pub.