Worldbuilding Wednesday – Creatures of Airtha-Eyrassa (part 1)

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”).

The Pitied

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!

To read some fiction set in Airtha-Eyrassa, head over to my Patreon page, click on this link — Ruon Chroniclesor go to the Ruon Chronicles site I am busy building.

Next week – more creation stories!  

*Because dragons!

tumblr_nz6zczachP1tq4of6o1_250

Worldbuilding The Ruon Chronicles – Of Maps and Kingdoms

There, I’ve done it. At last I’ve given in to ponderings I’ve been having and changed the map of Airtha-Eyrassa. Well, okay, I changed the kingdoms. Okay, I added some more kingdoms. Because I realised a while ago already that the kingdoms were all quite large and unwieldy. So out came the pen and pencil.

That is not to say that some of the kingdoms won’t become one in the future (hint-hint), but having them all basically static when The Ruon Chronicles begins would also be pretty boring.

Here it is – the map in all its black-and-white glory:

Media24 Research advertising-20170824124023

Worldbuilding Wednesday – Worldbuilding a Creation Story

Not all fantasy worlds need a specific creation story (or myth) to be written for them. For many — especially those in flash fiction, for instance — there is no need to worldbuild anything much outside of the scope of the story itself. When you get to larger works, which may stretch, over a series, though, you need to know as much about your world as possible. Without succumbing to worldbuilder’s disease, of course!

For Airtha-Eyrassa — the world in which The Ruon Chronicles takes place — I wanted a myth-like feel to the story while staying within the mythology already created for the world. As the creation of Airtha-Eyrassa encompass the whole of the first age of the world (the Age of Twilight), I decided to rather go with a Genesis-like quality (the Bible, not the band :P) rather than, say, a Poetic Edda feel. (Although you should really read the Poetic and/or Prose Edda — it’s fascinating and very entertaining.)

The first verses of Genesis (English Standard Version) read:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep… And God said, “Let there be light”…

“In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded” (to paraphrase Terry Pratchett), would also not work as I wanted a type of balance between the two, even though I am only really writing it for myself at this stage and this will not actually make up part of the books — I think…

The First Age — The Age of Twilight

In the beginning, when there was only the void and Agrai, the world of Airtha-Eyrassa was created. Agrai, called the One and the Creator by the peoples of Airtha-Eyrassa, created the world and then gave it one sun and one moon.

Then Agrai kindled four great stars from which all other stars in the night sky are descended. These four stars Agrai created to show the people of Airtha-Eyrassa their way by night.

Then Agrai looked towards the world of Airtha-Eyrassa, and saw that the world was entirely covered in water. With a single word Agrai parted the land and the water, just as the sun and the stars had been kindled.

Then Agrai created the plants and animals, filling the land and the waters with them. For an age they grew and lived and, once they had thrived and filled all the lands, the Age of Morning dawned.

Note:

People are only created during the Second Age/Age of Morning. The Third Age is called the Age of Blood and Sorrow (because I’m just such a happy person) and the Fourth Age (in which, amongst others, The Box of Secrets takes place, is called the Age of Renewal.

AE - MPS - August 2017

Worldbuilding Wednesday – a curse and a chant

In part six of The Box of Secrets, I again, as earlier in the story, wanted to put the curse and chant of a specific character in my own language. This meant writing the curse and chant and then translating it. As I have a limited vocabulary at the moment in this language (I can’t decide on a name, okay!), it also meant adding to the vocabulary words as needed.

This is one of the main things about language that fascinates me; by making what seems to be an arbitrary collection of sounds may contain information as diverse as asking what is for dinner or explaining the wonders of the universe. Someone else may use a different set of sounds and I would have no way of understanding even the simplest greeting. But I digress.

The curse

Don’t worry, this isn’t some curse word uttered in a bar after midnight!

As it is said by one of the “good guys”, I had to write a curse that would make sense from their perspective. In the end I decided on something simple:

The Darkness take your soul, servant of the dark.

Darkness

This does not refer to “normal” darkness, for instance night time. The “Darkness” can be likened to the Lewjan (the Betrayer). Where dark (as in night time) is “vér” — think Khalver — and shadow is “dun”, the Darkness is a compound of these two words; “verdun”. “Verdun” is, therefore, only used in this specific context.

Servant of the dark

Just as Khalne means “servant of the light”, so Khalver means “servant of the dark” (Khalla = servant). Khalla vér/Khalla verdun was simply shortened to Khalver over time.

Soul

The soul is referred to as “ahma”, with mortals sometimes called “ahna”; ‘those who carry a soul’.

The curse “the Darkness take your soul, servant of the dark!”, will therefore read:

Se verdun hon sah ahma nehma, Khalver!

 

The chant

The chant — this one used to make someone known — is also quite simple with regards to its wording:

Show yourself, servant of the deepest Darkness.

One who has turned from the path to follow the Betrayer, show yourself.

Of valleys and depths

The word for deep/deepest was actually constructed ‘backwards’, working from the word for “valley” (elir), which was already in place.

I decided that the word for deep would be “elara”, which would mean that “elaras” would mean deepest.

The whole chant would, therefore, read:

Khalla sah s’elaras verdun nakhan han sah.

Agr elstanbrahta se tellaria na Lewjan nakhan han sah.

For my previous post about worldbuilding a chant, follow this link.

Worldbuilding Wednesday – Worldbuilding a Chant

Nea-a Agrai, nea-a Agrai, lasala na s’tellarias nea hon, o Agrai, nea-a Agrai.

In Box of Secrets a healer needs to use both the Ruon charms and a chant to heal one of the characters. I needed the chant to be in the same language as the blessing which is normally given by the Airus and the Tellerassar when they want to thank someone or when they take leave of them for a long time (Á Agrai tellarias or s’agrelar silássa – May the Light of the One shine on your path).

However, I also did not want it to be a too-difficult chant as it isn’t the chant itself which is doing the healing, but is more used as a prayer to strengthen the charms used and a way to focus the nith of the charm. The chant I wrote for this scene also needed to be something which used a lot of repetition (because I like it, for one) and I wanted it to have a certain rhythm to it.

I had in mind medieval religious chant, of which I am a big fan, and wanted to give the same “air” to this chant. Here are a few examples of medieval chants:

Enter my small dictionary of words I’ve made for the world of Airtha-Eyrassa thus far…

Nea-a Agrai, nea-a Agrai, lasala na s’tellarias nea hon, o Agrai, nea-a Agrai is the final chant I decided upon and it means; “Creator of Light, Creator of Light, lead him to the path of Light, o Creator, Creator of Light”.

Further reading

Camp NaNoWriMo Week 1 – Of Writing, Magic, and Colds

And, just like that, we have reached the end of the first week of Camp NaNoWriMo. At the moment I am on 3 000 words on a 25K word count goal – which is a lot less than I had planned on, but a head cold went and spoiled the whole weekend and what I thought was going to be three days on nearly non-stop writing. Joy.

Still, it is 3 000 words more than I had last week this time!

tumblr_o2a9wxkfxI1r6l65eo1_500

Adding a dash of magic

For those who missed the previous posts, or who just found this blog (welcome in that case, by the way), I am busy writing part of The Box of Secrets for Camp NaNo this month and am busy with part three at the moment. But something quite momentous did happen this week: I figured out the part of the magic system that has perplexed me for months.

I will post a full post on the magic system next week on Patreon, but can at the moment say that I split the magic (or Nith as it is called in Airtha-Eyrassa) into four branches. And now it works! So to speak…

(If you are new to The Ruon Chronicles, you can check out this post.)

tumblr_oaek7rR9PK1v5qjl1o1_500

Adding a dash of history… and social anxiety

Another reason why the writing has been going slowly is because I am having to explain quite a lot about the world without info-dumping or boring the poor reader to death.

Then there is a character with quite severe social anxiety (no, she is not shy, she has social anxiety. Sorry, I just had to make that very clear — while doing research I came across so many articles that act as if social anxiety equals being shy.). And it is quite difficult to portray that when it is a character that the reader is just meeting! The last thing I want is for the reader to think that she is just shy or (even worse) weak.

tumblr_my32qcordg1se7s6jo1_500

A look at the future

Now that my cold is better I hope that I will be able to finish the various blog posts I have promised in order to post them next week. Yay!

tumblr_odvclxBHhc1qc4uvwo1_500

Reading Timeline for The Ruon Chronicles (thus far):

Basically, there’s the creation of Airtha-Eyrassa and the first three ages and the first two Sunderings before the published short stories/flash fiction takes place.

The fiction which have been published (and which I basically now regard as canon *gets giddy from using the word “canon” in reference to own work*) takes place in the following order (please note some of these are only available to Patrons):

“Shadows” and “Dust Red As Blood” technically takes place during the first part of The Ruon Chronicles, but was written more as exercises. You won’t, therefore, see these in the books word for word. And they don’t give away too much, methinks.

“The Oath” and “Box of Secrets” takes place 35 years before “Grove of Graves”, btw. And about 150 years before Charms

At the moment my timeline is on Scapple, but, I am afraid, it is absolute gibberish to anyone else trying to read it! XD

tumblr_oi6uzeS79q1tntn9qo1_500

Worldbuilding the Ruon Chronicles: David Farland’s “Writing a Series” Questions and a Synopsis

In one of his newsletters (for which you can sign up here ), David Farland gave a number of questions you should ask yourself when starting or when writing a series. He also made some very good points, including:

  • A strong series has a persistent world with persistent characters
  • Don’t change settings too much
  • The strongest series have persistent conflict, and, in a ‘tight series’ the conflict must continually build and escalate until the end
  • A central conflict will bind the story together
  • When I look at these questions and my first try at a premise sentence for The Ruon Chronicles (at least their start…), I can at least see that I already have most of these bases covered.

tumblr_of94nzxyon1tvn4tko2_250

Premise Sentence

After the Vidolf Elame’s prison breaks and set free the Vidolf within, a young Ruon, Selena Tellah, must find a way to use her Talent and the almost-forgotten charms of the Ruon Ruaha to prevent the Third Sundering that will bring her world to ruin. 

Looking now at Farland’s points, I can see that I do have the following:

Persistent world with persistent characters

Yes, the series takes place in the world of Airtha-Eyrassa (the ‘Land Beyond the Veil’). The characters, like Selena Tellah and Reisa Querna, are also persistent characters.

Don’t change settings too much

Parts of the story takes place in different countries, etc. so I will need to make sure that it doesn’t become confusing to the reader. While maps are nice, I don’t want the reader to refer to them every five minutes.

Persistent conflict

The persistent conflict is that they must stop the Third Sundering from taking place.

The central conflict

The central conflict will change from book to book, but the overall conflict will remain locked on the Third Sundering.

tumblr_nxesyifQLD1qj4315o1_500

Worldbuilding Wednesday: The Houses and Houses of Learning of Khallahna and Ezankhall

Overall the buildings are squat with almost flat roofs and small windows. The walls are of the same clay-white colour as the soil, giving them the appearance of sprouting from the ground. Beyond the first clusters of houses and workshops rise the houses of the rich. These are up to three storeys high, though built of the same stone and clay. Some six to eight of these houses would stand clustered around a central courtyard of lush water gardens and walkways.

A central entrance to this courtyard has large, reinforced, wooden doors bearing the sigils of the family or families living within. The walls beside the doors may be decorated with reliefs or subtle paint.

The houses of the ruling lords in the cities are lavish above all. Set in such a way that they look down on the city below, the outer wall is decorated wholly with relief images. The most lavish use precious metals not only on the doors of their houses, but also on the walls.

The Houses of Learning

The Houses of Learning is lavish above all. In the richest cities the images on the walls may even be decorated with gold and jewels. Within the different buildings could also be found grans decorations. While the main hall of the ruler was decorated in splendour with stone and mosaic, the Houses of Learning was decorated no less lavishly. Even glass, gold, and jewels sparkled upon all the walls of some to create a vast kaleidoscope of colour.

Most of the houses held a Seeker of Knowledge and is named after one of the wisdom Airus or Khalne. It is also these houses where the scriptoriums are. They are considered to be holy places and the work of the scribes and illuminators are as good as those of Holt Haliern.

Because the work they deliver are so sought after, there is much competition between houses and schools for excellence. Most of the professional scribes will spend time at Holt Haliern, even if only for a season.

As in Dumal and Treddian, scholarship is highly prized in Khallahna. For, while some want to forget the Sundering, the Farlands cannot.

To read more about The Ruon Chronicles, follow this link.

Weekly Finds – Masked Women, Antagonists, Cities, and Worldbuilding

Articles of the Week:

The Mysterious Masked Women of Iran by Rodolfo Contreras – The face mask worn by many Bandari women is probably the most striking of all their unusual attire.

The Widows Who Can’t Return Home by Pascal Mannaerts – Rejected by their communities and abandoned by their loved ones, thousands of Hindu women make their way to Vrindavan, a pilgrimage city that’s home to more than 20,000 widows.

World Building is Overwhelming by Nthato Morakabi – Imagine you had to create Earth from scratch. If that thought isn’t daunting enough, let’s delve into the nitty-gritty of building Earth.

Is Your Story Suffering From “Convenience Factor”? by Jennifer Blanchard – What he means by that is, rather than optimizing the story in a way that moves it forward and ties into the plot, the writer uses convenience methods to make things happen: adding a random character in to deliver important information, dropping things in your Protagonist’s lap and not actually forcing him to do any work.

What Is Your Bad Guy’s Motive? By K.M. Weiland – Every compelling story has two main characters: the protagonist and the antagonist. This is true even if your antagonist is hardly ever on stage

tumblr_o2a9wxkfxI1r6l65eo1_500

Video of the Week: Why Cities Are Where They Are

If you’re busy with worldbuilding, this is quite an interesting video to watch and keep in mind.