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I swear I’ll get to the post about the two islands soon. But just before I do, I think I should do a quick explanation about this event: the Cataclysm. I’ve mentioned it a few times, and from the name it definitely suggests a terrible event with dire consequences. But just what was the Cataclysm?
Around 2000 years after creation (remember, the people were created with knowledge and culture ready to advance) the people began to advance their technology. Prior to this, the world went through a few different cultural awakenings – from what would be the equivalent of classic Greek and Roman periods, to the early Medieval, to the Renaissance and Exploratory phase of the world, and up to about the early Technological Revolution. Science, industry, and technology began to boom, and the people advanced far beyond their previous cultures. It was a technological goldmine. Though Cathemega – due to the influence of the magic around it – retained a lot of the Renaissance-like atmosphere, it still had some technological awakenings of its own.
All throughout the vast majority of the world, people were using tech to a greater level than they ever used to. They became advanced in science to know the genome, to know about methods to exploit the land for all it was worth. Though they never developed much past electric engines, they were manipulating genetics to actually create new beings. They were on the cusp of developing internal combustion engines when all went wrong.
Magic, as I’ve mentioned, is an energy source. It’s able to be tapped into, able to be used. When one doesn’t use energy, it backs up – it has nowhere to go. While people were enjoying a technological revolution the likes of which had never been seen before, magic was not being used (except very sparingly in Cathemega and places around it.) One morning in the capital of the Freeworld, there was a loud crack, and the earth split apart along the ley line of life.
All along its length, people were hit by terrifying magical effects – icy storms, electrical explosions, bursts of light, and unnatural darkness. Other effects manifested throughout the entirety of the rest of the world (except Cathemega, which remained safe.) Cities began to crumble, destroyed by the effects of the magics around them. Many hundreds of thousands of people died, and even more were stranded with nowhere to go. The earth itself began to split and pull apart, fracturing the Freeworld into many large islands rather than the cohesive continent of its past.
Then, the plumes appeared. When all quieted down, the populous thought they were safe. Rebuilding efforts began as scientists tried to determine what had gone wrong. The missing were being counted, people were trying to get back to their homes, others were trying to get to the port cities to escape. Late in the evening on the third day after the beginning of the terror, the earth began to rumble again. The central capital shook and quivered like never before, and as people fled from their homes and the towers, the earth ripped open and a great hole opened in the ground. Gouts of magical energy pulsed out of the ground, filling the air with the thickest, blackest night they’d ever seen. A few minutes later – and a few hundred miles north – a similar energy pulsed, covering the earth with light that blinded and burned. This continued along every major trunk, at every single point where the magical energies ceased.
With that last burst, that last shudder, the planet calmed. The few survivors of the Cataclysm tried to leave, to go to Cathemega to make a new home, but they were stopped by a great wall of rocky reefs. They ran out of food on these ships, and eventually storms, waves, or the reefs claimed their lives. The ones who didn’t flee found a similar fate, as their food stores ran out and riots began. Farming was impossible, as the world had changed dramatically. Outside of Cathemega, there were only a few tiny settlements that popped up again, but soon died out.
The world had ripped itself apart, sparing only the heart of magic.
Another aside here. As I was drafting the post on the areas outside of Relay, it occurred to me that my maps were screwy.
When I drew the map, I adjusted my thoughts to noting where, approximately, the major cities and areas were, drawing borders and mountain ranges and major forested areas. However, upon reaching the other continents, I completely forgot about distances. So while Relay is properly sized for a regular world, Daikteri and Essas are not. So that is a bit of a problem.
Case in point. There’s an area on Daikteri called the Wild Haunt. When I drew this on my map, it takes up about a good chunk of the continent. Without realizing it, I made a marsh land of about the size of the state of Texas. There are large deserts and large ranges like this in the real world, but my description of this area made little sense with relation to its size.
In addition, I added a few needless cities to Essas. One makes absolutely no sense, in that it’s a major trade hub on the other side of the island from the central sea. No trade would go through that city ever. If this was, however, a small island, it would make plenty of sense, same with the Wild Haunt and the equally ridiculous Water Gardens. I had unknowingly designed the rest of the continents as if I were working with small islands rather than continents spanning something as big north-to-south as Australia.
So I have to rethink Essas and Daikteri. The essentials are still there – but in returning this to a properly sized land, I’ve got huge swaths of empty land filling these island continents. This must be taken care of! So for now, the entry on Essas and Daikteri will have to wait for another day when I’ve reasonably thought through the whole thing once more and adjusted the map accordingly.
However, I’ve got three more places to work in for one more geographical post before getting into the major cities. I’m trying to draw these out better than I did before, and I keep getting this crazy idea to make the cities in Minecraft o.o I’m insane, I know.
The continent on which my stories take place is called Cathemega. It’s another Dragon Tongue word, meaning “great cage.” It consists of three large islands – Relay, Essas, and Daikteri – and a few smaller islands in the sea. It’s the relative size – from its furthest point west-east, north-south – and location of Australia if we continue to use a familiar planet as a reference. The weather is mild temperate, and the terrain is largely forests, mountains, and plains – with a desert and a jungle along the same parallel on opposite islands.
As mentioned yesterday, Cathemega is in a unique place. It’s the only location on the planet where every kind of magic is available for use. It is also surrounded by a ring of large standing stones and thick, almost entirely impenetrable underwater walls of stone. This Guardian Reef is what gives this continent its name. There are passages through the reef, but most are too small or too difficult to navigate through. (Exception, the one in my second novel.)
The island of Relay was the first and main island inhabited by people. The name comes from the person who discovered this land in the past – long before the Guardian Reef was created in the Cataclysm. It is a large, C-shaped island. Rather thin in all of its parts, but long if you were to travel from one end to the other, several months of travel by horse. There are four major nations, three minor city-states, and a home for a single race.
Tavsere, Moore, Seiis, and Wivverin are the nations. Each have their own type of government, and each controls a fairly large amount of their nearby territory. Tavsere borders and separates all three other nations from each other, making it a major cultural and financial hub. It is a fertile land – relatively flat with a long shore to the south – so it’s very highly developed with agriculture and fishing. Moore is to the north, a mountainous, rocky area known for mining and raising sheep and goats. To the east is Seiis, an elven kingdom with a major port because of its direct access to Essas. On the west – the mid-part of the island – is Wivverin, a city in the desert with a large wealth of technology and history, as well as a booming livestock, gem, and spice trade.
The three minor city-states are Kordera, Tiyris-Neresheim, and Dragon’s Throat. Kordera is nestled into the mountains that are along Moore’s eastern border and Seiis’s northwest border. It is a small city originally designed to take advantage of the mines in the area, but has also become the foremost magic university in the area. Tiyris-Neresheim is a dual-nation of the farming town of Tiyris and the mining town of Neresheim. They are located right on the western borders of Moore and Tavsere, mid-way between the two nations. Dragon’s Throat is the only major city in the southern part of the island, a fishing village in a deep-cut fjord.
The last major area is Canyon, the home of the Mesans in Relay.
Next time I’ll talk about the other two islands – Daikteri and Essas, and follow up with the final post on the other smaller islands.
I’ll get to the post about Cathemega next. But for now I have to explain this, otherwise you may be a little confused.
Grab a globe, or load Google Earth on your computer. I’ll wait.
Got it? Good. Now, find… oh, I dunno… Fiji will do (it’s north of New Zealand.) From this island, draw – in your mind if you don’t want to wreck your globe – a line extending to the east ending in Brazil, a line extending to the west ending in Angola, a line extending to the north ending in Russia, and a line extending to the south looping over Antarctica and ending about the south Atlantic somewhere. Congratulations, you’ve just drawn an approximation of the major ley line trunks.
Each of these trunks contain the energies of five of the major elements. The north trunk contains Life, Darkness, Light, Summer, and Winter. The west contains Holy, Moon, Sun, Earth, and Wind. The south contains Death, the Void, Stars, Desolation, and Nature. The east contains Infernal, Fate, Dreams, Fire, and Water. Along these long trunks, each of these elements has a point at which its energies stop. These termination points end in the order mentioned. From the trunks themselves, extending towards Fiji, are spider webs of thinner tunnels of energy. They criss-cross underneath the surface of the planet, the energy itself expanding upwards and outwards as they go.
As you go along each of these trunks, magic becomes weaker. The elements a master wizard can cast become limited. Going west, for example, a wizard could cast earth spells up and until the end of that energy, at which point they’d only be able to cast wind, winter, water, and nature spells. Even more, the elements are weaker in their opposite directions naturally – so a water spell would be stronger cast east of Fiji than it would if it were cast west of Fiji.
The important thing is that there is one place in the world – one grouping of large islands – that is suffused with every elemental energy type. Every other continent on the planet exists with the lack of some elements or with weak magical natures. This one continent is the melting pot of magic, a place where even the lowliest mage can perform stunning magical feats.
That continent is Cathemega.
As my blog is titled, and I’ve already said a few times, the world in my stories is known as Dramoth Gilead. This is an ancient Dragon Tongue term meaning “world of men.” This post will detail the more broad geological and cosmological details of the world as a whole, with future posts detailing specifics about the inhabited continent and the major cities on that continent. For now we’ll talk about Dramoth Gilead’s place in space and the minor details that make up this planet.
Not to be confused with the Helix Nebula (which is quite lovely,) Dramoth Gilead exists in a galaxy that its inhabitants refer to as “the Helix.” This is in reference to a legend about the elemental of the sun, Solus, whose hand directs the planet’s course through the helix of time and space. The galaxy itself is a rather average spiral galaxy, with a relatively flat disk. Dramoth Gilead’s system itself is about the same distance from the galactic center as Earth’s system. Dramoth Gilead’s sun is a tiny bit smaller than Earth’s sun and the planet itself is a tiny bit closer to the sun than Earth is. So all in all, Dramoth Gilead is pretty much in the same place and holds the same solar attitude as Earth.
There are five other planets in the system, one closer and four others outside the range. Due to its prior technological level, these all have been discovered. Only Dramoth Gilead itself is viable for life due to either the extreme closeness of the first planet, or the distance of the other planets. There are numerous smaller planetoids in the furthest ranges, again discovered by scientists, and comets and asteroids as well.
The planet of Dramoth Gilead is a little smaller than the Earth. It is mostly water, with 5 major continents – the Free World, Cordiss, Aimus, Lorkin, and Cathemega. Only Cathemega is inhabited; the Free World, Aimus, and Cordiss were devastated by the Cataclysm, and Lorkin has no ley lines through it so it’s a barren land. Besides the natural ebb and flow of the planet’s inner mantle and core, Dramoth Gilead is also weaved almost entirely over by a series of thick “trunks” of energy called the ley lines. The planet has mild weather, a mostly temperate climate with easy winters.
The planet is actually a double planet, with a moon sharing its rotation. This moon is much smaller than the planet – only a tenth of the total mass, and the two objects are tidally locked to each other, showing their faces to each other always. This moon is called the Protector, and it’s made of a soft white mineral. It’s visible during the day, and goes through phases as Earth’s moon. Additionally there is a second moon further out called the Destroyer. This moon is made of an extremely dark mineral with a low albedo that it can only be seen when the planet is closest to the sun.
That’s it for the planet itself. I’ll explain about the continent of Cathemega in my next post.
To round off the explanation of the four primes, I leave you with the biggest oddity in the world – the tallis. This race was created by Destruction with the essence of fire embodied within them (and by me to fill a niche left by the lack of the small humanoid races – gnomes and dwarves.) They are the only one of the primes that stands out as different. Line a human, an orc, an elf, and a tallis side by side and you’ll see a human, a dust-skinned, tough human, a slender, darker-skinned human, and a dragon.
Tallis is an old dragon-tongue term that means “worker.” Indeed, this race is an industrious and hard-working one. They were created as an affront to nature itself, a way for the beings on the planet to always know they had a creator, and that nature and natural evolution did not make them. They are somewhat shorter than humans, also much lighter. They also appear to be human-shaped dragons. They walk on two feet, have scales, claws, a long tail that can serve as a third limb due to its prehensile nature, a snout filled with sharp teeth, and a pair of wing-like flaps on the sides of their heads for protection of their ear-canals. They are actually mammals, with breasts, hair, warm-blood, live birth, milk production, and the specialized inner ear bones – but all draconic creatures and dragons in Dramoth Gilead are mammals anyway so that’s not unusual.
Tallis do not know much magic. There is a group of dedicated warrior-priests who have focused on learning the magic of draconic seals – emblems and patterns given to them by the eight elder dragons. The torgaruna (as they are called) wander the continents in search of the homes of the eight dragons. When they receive the blessings of the elders, they are given the knowledge of their particular seals. These unusual patterns are difficult to reproduce properly, so only the torgaruna are able to use it. Instead of magic, the vast majority of tallis work wonders of science instead. They’ve mastered the control of steam powered devices – their city of Sedurka is a technological wonderland. This technological marvel is seen as bizarre to the other races, and they don’t trust the tallis devices without there being a tallis to fix them. Some say the tallis are capable of doing anything, and they just might be.
Tallis culture is designed around learning and application and study. They are run by a number of council-members elected from the heads of the guilds. Each tallis is put in school from the time they are very young and taught all subjects to help them along. When they reach the age of 13, they are sent to a master to learn their ways, and then after their apprenticeship is over, they are put into one of the many guilds. Their art is unusual, formed by twisting and beating metal. It does not resemble any normal structures – drawing from the abstract and the ideological rather than the concrete and story-based artistry. While most tallis cannot be bothered with ritual worship, the majority at least pay some respect to the elder dragons. The torgaruna are the priesthood of the elder dragons, and even they do not ritualize their worship.
Socially, a tallis is not really interested in any sort of limit to their strengths. Male or female, rich or poor, able or not, a tallis strives for excellence, and the greatest of the tallis are those that rose through adversity to become guild leaders or council members. They pay high respect to their parents – their surnames made from the first few syllables of their parents’ names as well as the last syllable from their parents’ birth place. Other races see the tallis as highly energetic, a bit too imaginative, and kind of dangerous – but they respect their knowledge and their abilities. Tallis enjoy the company of other races, always willing to listen and hear everything that they say and know.
And with that, the four primes are done. There are a few other races in the world I’ll get to another time, but for now I’m going to explain a few minor details about the world, then in depth about the cities.
Wind can be a terrible, damaging force. It can be harnessed, but it is free to its own chaotic nature. It is this energy, this freedom, this chaos, that embodies the orcs of Dramoth Gilead. I’m sure the image in your mind of an orc is probably tainted by things like Warcraft and Lord of the Rings and Warhammer, but none of those truly capture what is actually my orc.
When the orcish race was created by Destruction, he embodied them with the chaotic nature of wind. This is evident in the fact that they are widely a nomadic race. There are orcs who live in cities, but there are no primary orcish settlements. They appear to be a large humanoid, a bit taller, a bit tougher, and a bit stronger than the average human. Their skin is dusty brown, hair usually very dark, and eyes almost never a color other than an amber color. Besides these differences, they look very much like a human would.
Orcs have very little connection to magic, there are very few orcs who know how to cast magical spells, and those that do rarely become wizards. There is, however, a branch of magic available to orcs that is unavailable to the rest of the primes – spirit magic. The ability to tame and control spirits is a very highly advanced, often dangerous skill. The shamans who have this ability are sought after to become heads of the family groups. This magic allows very amazing abilities to be presented – everything from taking control of the elements to twisting their own bodies into the forms of animals. They also tend to become fortune tellers and can read omens in fires, bones, and other methods.
Their ways are centered around rather sizable famly groups. At the head of the family is a head patriarch, a head matriarch, and a shaman (if one is found.) The patriarch and matriarch do not have to be married, they are usually the oldest male and oldest female in the group. Everyone else in the family group is related – by blood or by marriage – to the patriarch and matriarch. All requests are passed to the heads of the family, who make a decision based on the will of the people below them. The shaman, if available, talks to the ancestors and the spirits to determine the correct path. The groups can, and often do, split if there are rejections to the family’s decisions. The smallest orcish family groups are often just a married husband and wife and their children. The largest orcish family group is found in the southern tip of the continent of Relay, and contains a couple hundred orcs – with more than one patriarch, matriarch, and shaman.
The orcish culture is very heavily based on respect of the ancestors. They do not last very long in any one place – wandering as the weather changes and going to where the best food is for their flock. They have art, made from whatever they find laying around. It is rarely entirely decorative – often serving some purpose, be it for hunting, for ritual, or as a tool. The art is highly tribal in design – geometric shapes and patterns, figures carved into the designs related to spirits or ancestors. Naturally as one would assume, the orcs largely worship their ancestors and spirits. They were created by Destruction – so they do not worship him as their god, they have abandoned that, and chosen to instead worship something that isn’t actively trying to murder them or subjugate them.
Socially, orcs are very highly in-group, not very often do they meet with or accept other races to come to see them. The orcs that do venture out of their family groups to live inside civilization are seen as a bit odd to the other orcs. However, despite this, orcs are trusted very highly by most races (high elves don’t like them, but don’t hate them.) They are seen as good companions, powerful and trustworthy – if not a bit odd at times. The non-nomadic orcs see other races also as trustworthy as the orcs are seen. They find the smaller races a bit too energetic and not willing to settle down long enough, however. The rare orc/non-orc relationship is never followed up by any extended family since the half-orcs are completely sterile.
Only one race left for the four primes to be finished, the tallis.
When Creation made the elves, she gave them the essence of the earth. Strength, patience, and sturdiness represent the race easily. They were also born with the innate connection to the planet itself, one would call their connection an actual give-and-take relationship. There are two basic types of elf, the Nün elf and the high elf.
The Nün elf (pronounced “noon”) is the actual pure-blooded elf. They are darker skinned than humans, with dark hair and typically green eyes of varying shades. They have a distinct connection to the planet itself, communicating and partnering with its energy and its nature to control and to protect themselves and their families. The word “Nün” is an old elven word meaning “caretaker.” They have sharp features, with highly pointed eartips and everything seeming to be more angled than a human’s features. They are approximately the height of the average human, although a bit more on the slender side.
Nün elves are highly focused onto magic. They can actually sense the presence or absence of the ley line energies beneath their feet, which aids them in performing magical abilities. Not only that, but they are also able to directly influence nature itself, whether it’s using a tree to build a home or convincing an animal to assist them with some task. The ancient city of Seiis, before it was turned into an actual city of brick and stone, was an enormous tree summoned by ancient Nün elf conjurers. It has since been destroyed except for the stump, which after magical energies flowed into the area, became a small mountain. The Nün elves’ communion with nature is not, however, one-sided, and they almost always take extremely good care of nature itself.
Nün elf culture is very much based around rural applications and nature itself. They live simple lives as farmers or wood-shapers. Their art is based on the dedication to nature, and most of it is done in homage. If a tree is felled by some natural event, the Nün elf will turn it into a work of art, and instead of carving in a story paying respect to some ancient elf, it will be respect paid to the tree itself. They have festivals and holidays based around natural events such as the solstice or the appearance of the Destroyer in the sky. Religious identity is based on the worship of nature and Creation, although they do not consider themselves part of the Church of Creation – theirs is a much more basic religion than that of the Church.
Nün elves do not see a difference between their sexes. Females are as much a part of society as males. They, in fact, often see the females as stronger in many cases, after all it is they who provide the world with life. They see other races as partners although they are critical if they waste natural resources. Other races see the Nün elf as a strong and stalwart companion, they can always be trusted, even if they’re a bit too uptight.
What do you get when you mix the freedom and power of water with the strength and sturdiness of earth? You get mud or silt, and over time a rock. This is the high elven race. When the primes were created, it was inevitable that some of the races would gather together to have children outside of their own. Any half-orcish child is sterile. Tallis cannot have children with any race other than tallis. However, the combination of human and elf was not only viable and fertile, but in a stunning turn of events, these hybrids were cocky enough to declare themselves the true elven race – the real goal of Creation. In another twist, the Nün elves don’t seem to mind too much.
High elves have the typical elven traits of much more slender and pointed features – although their ears are a bit shorter than the Nün elves’ are. They also have human-like traits such as their skin, hair, and eyes being varied tones – although they’re more typically fair skinned because of their proximity to the Northern humans.
High elves still have the innate feeling and ability to sense the ley line energy beneath them, but at the same time they’ve lost the true communion they have with nature. This makes them excellent, although not natural, mages.
The culture of the high elves borrows much from human culture, favoring architecture and stone work to the wood and aid of nature that the Nün elves employ. The high elves enjoy the aspects of architecture more in line with the Gothic period, with pointed arches, buttresses and ribbed vaults alongside stunning works of stained glass and fresco paintings. Their art and music is very over the top with expression, and most of it is of a sort of religious nature – though the stories sometimes get a bit twisted around. Holidays are almost entirely religious in nature, and many of the high elven cities and towns are also centers for the Church of Creation.
Socially, high elven culture still believes that women have the same place as men. There are sometimes high elves who feel otherwise and try to put down the women in their lives, but they are rare. They get along with most of the other races, but are bothered by the orcs and tallis – the former because they’re nomadic and the latter because they’re a bit tough to understand. Other races tend to see the high elves as arrogant and proud, but they know them to be extremely good allies and trust them to always be happy to help out a friend.
With that, the elven races are done, and next time I’ll explain the third prime, the orc.