Part of the fun of creating your own secondary world, is that you get to populate it with whatever creatures strike your fancy. Airtha-Eyrassa and The Ruon Chronicles are no different. What I do want to avoid, however, is putting too much emphasis on the strangeness of the creatures. The characters would, after all, be living in a world where these creatures are as natural as indigenous animals or plants are to us.
I am furthermore busy building creatures which is only seen at specific times of the world’s history (and, perhaps, the world’s future…?), like dragons* and Lewjan’s fire creatures.
Of fire creatures and elephants
In various texts different names are given to the same creatures, and one which has always stuck with me is the way in which the woodcutters of Knysna referred to elephants as “grootvoete” (big feet) as they believed that you should not utter the word “elephant(s)” in the forest itself. (By the way, you should read Dalene Matthee’s books set in and around Knysna. They are brilliant and, though originally written in Afrikaans, are available in various translations, including English.)
I have therefore decided to not only let different people from different countries give the creatures different names, but to let the names also describe the creatures in different ways. For instance, the “fire creatures” — which I shortly describe in my notes as: “They belch fire and burn the land where they walk, their skin crackling with flame. These creatures are dumb and very difficult to control” — are also called the mahtanbrunst (”those who burn violently”) and diusahtso (”wild ash creatures”).
It is not only creatures who are given these different names or descriptions, however, but also some of the people. For instance, one band of people who remove themselves from Lewjan’s service after the First Sundering “were no longer called Khaldun, but was called mana-sahfaeda; the “lamenting people”, for many of the elders of the group would cry dearly for all they had done before the Sundering. They are also called by some the mana-anja; the “people of sorrow” or se khanell; “the pitied”.
While not all of this information may find its way into the final stories, they do give a more authentic feel to me while I’m writing and worldbuilding. And I hope that that makes the reading experience all the better for my readers!
Of course, this must also be balanced with not getting sucked into worldbuilder’s disease!
Next week – more creation stories!