Friday, March 14, 2014

Encyclopaedia Title Page

just a little something quick:


Saturday, March 8, 2014

VENTHIR

Nation and natural successor to the Venathi empire that dominated the northern area of the Arid Triptych region, to the north-east of Sarastro and the north of the Anubian desert. For the majority of its existence Venthir has been a vassal of the Korachani empire, though it has enjoyed a degree of autonomy throughout its occupation unlike others conquered by the Archpotentate Malichar’s armies. This is largely due to the presence of the vastly powerful and unpredictable sphinx regent; Hetepheres, better known as the Strangler.
                The nation of Venthir appeared as a natural progression of the earlier Venathi empire, which through the death of its charismatic leader Labaisingh, the so-called 'lion king', in 151 RM and the subsequent rapid loss of its conquered nations, crumbled by c. 190 RM. The Venathi capital had been ailing for decades. Its coastline, like that of all Venath, had been slowly retreating over the centuries, leaving its ports and harbours land-locked, its once-thriving trade dead. The ruling Asanate had never re-established control following Labaisingh’s death, and the entire region was allowed to degenerate into strife.
Hetepheres, her whereabouts unknown since 57 RM, returned to the city of Hetepheropolis in 194 RM. Her reappearance helped stabilise the region, cementing her worship amongst the people of what remained of the Venathi empire. Her religion prospered and from Hetepheropolis a measure of law and order was restored to the region. Her armies helped secure nearby cities over the next years, attracting disenfranchised people from all over the empire. The Asanate, though still embroiled in its own internal struggles for power, saw the threat and opposed her, meeting her fanatical army in a pitched battle in the plains outside Hetepheropolis in 200 RM. Their armies were crushed, which allowed her to sack the city, inviting its populace into Hetepheropolis, which became the capital of Venthir (which was in the local dialect; Venath) in 201 RM, leaving the city of Venath to crumble.
Hetepheres’ rule was harsh, though under her aegis were order and trade restored to Venthir. The retreat of the coastlines which had dominated the dying days of the Venathi empire became a major rebuilding effort, with dykes and channels built to connect once-coastal cities to the Dark Sea. Its trade-routes were re-established, and tentative trade reappeared with Sarastro and imperial-Nárthel, where the first true contact with Korachan was made. In the absence of the Archpotentate Malichar the Korachani empire’s expansive nature was somewhat sated, leading to trade and diplomatic relations. In 211 RM Korachani diplomats and Set established a permanent embassy in the city of Midal where alchemical secrets were traded. The city prospered, becoming a major scholastic centre once-more, its cossetted harbours in the waters of the deep Kalaun depth largely unaffected by the retreat of the Dark Sea’s waters. Korachani influence slowly began to permeate Venthiri culture in the following years, reaching its crux in the city-state of Teira, which welcomed the influx of imperial merchant-dynasties and patrician houses (most notable amongst them that of Ashura). Their presence brought increased trade, which allowed the city-state to grow in size, its artificially-built canal-harbours seeing much traffic from the west.
But it became clear that Korachan’s imperialist nature could not be contained. Zion was conquered in 212 RM and within a decade it had declared war on Sarastro. The war was long and bloody, the absence of the Archpotentate Malichar affecting imperial morale, but in 231 RM the city of Carula was taken. It was clear that if Sarastro was taken, Venthir would be next.
By that point, Queen Hetepheres had secreted herself inside lavish odah-chambers within her temple-palace in Hetepheropolis, leaving the Asanates to rule in her stead. Following her rise to power she had slain the most power-hungry amongst their kin, allowing those who swore loyalty to her to languish as regional rulers who met in council every season before her to discuss important matters. The Asanate met with her in early 232 RM, bringing news of the war to her attention – she dismissed them without care. As the Korachani armies continued to slowly advance across Sarastro the Asanate, alongside Hetepheres’ closest advisors secretly decided to aid the struggling nation, and sent reinforcements west in 233 RM against the Queen’s edict, whose languid nature allowed the move to pass unbeknownst to her. In Sarastro, the war became deadlocked, each loss counterweighted by a victory elsewhere. Every victory was phyrric and armies destroyed one-another over territories that mattered not. But were it not for the presence of Venthiri troops, Sarastro would have fallen. If they managed to push the Korachani troops back, the Asanate believed that they maintained  enough power to assume control of the remnants of Sarastro.
In 318 RM an imperial lictor infiltrated Hetepheres’ massive palace in Hetepheropolis and told her of the war. She emerged from the palace enraged, slaying slaves and servants with equal abandon, ordering the armies’ retreat from Venthir. Upon their return she strangled the entire Asanate and their direct families, banishing their relatives from Venthir. Her actions earned her the moniker of the Strangler Queen, which she propagated herself in a bid to foment fear. Her tyrannical actions served to instil awe and fear in the populace and her presence became constant; idols and temples erected in her honour in every city, the statues serving to remind all that she was their ruler, and her word was law. The sphinxes telepathic abilities allowed her to maintain a vigil over her nation, using a few trusted religious followers who had kept her religion alive in her absence as lieutenants and proxies.
Despite the war, Korachan had maintained a presence in Midal and Teira, both of which had steadily grown more imperialised, to the point that their dominant institutions had become the patrician houses, whose presence slowly trickled throughout Venthir. Teira itself had become a major influence in the region by c. 350 RM and existed as an entity apart from Venthir proper, a small nation unto itself. The discovery of a potent artefact known as the Sphere of Dominion in the Go Bisammam desert in southern Venthir by explorers from Teira in c. 300 RM brought further influence to the region. The sphere was a large depiction of Elyden as an uninterrupted globe, ancient beyond reckoning, its construction or heritage unknown. The item was used in the coming centuries by Venthiri explorers to help chart the seas east and south of Venthir, where they made contact with indigenous peoples, establishing colonies there
With the withdrawal of Venthir from the War, Korachan was able to take Sarastro (though only after the reappearance of the Archpotentate Malichar in 339 RM). Imperial influence in the region continued to increase in the ensuing decades, with Teira and Midal in particular seeing much imperial trade and traffic passing through them. Imperial pressure was to increase until 359 RM, where history took an unexpected turn.
Little is known of the events that led to Queen Hetepheres’ abdication of Venthir to Korachan, and what is known is attributed to legend and the corruption of close to 4-millennia. It is known that the Archpotentate Malichar, alongside a massive retinue of his loyal followers entered Venthir early in 359 RM, a guest of Queen Hetepheres. Staying in her palace in Hetepheropolis, accounts and records of the times state that he and his diplomats were treated to displays of Venthiri armies on parade, and various other forms of propaganda designed to show its might. Later on in the year, during a tour of the nation's south, it is said that Malichar spoke with her alone in the ruins of the ancient settlement of Maphani, sowing what are believed to be the seeds of corruption that would take root 2-years later when Hetepheres unceremoniously prostrated herself before him and his armies, effectively handing Venthir over to Korachan. The monument of Symari was constructed in honour of the occasion, its monolithic height dominating the horizon of southern Venthir. Though it remained largely autonomous and she remained its regent, Venthir was accountable to Khadon in Korachan. Patrician families flowed into Venthir from the cities of Midal and Teira, and the imperial administration was fully established in Teira in 376 RM within the monolithic Acropolis of Caur, an edifice built in true imperial design with its grand granite architecture contrasting with the local structures. Teira became the centre of imperial influence in the region, though Hetepheropolis remained its heart, where Venthiri culture survived in its most unadulterated form. Relations with Sarastro and Nárthel were re-established, with trade flowing steadily in-and-out of both regions.
The religion of the Sphinx was allowed to remain though in a controlled form and as a sub-cult of the Church of the Machine, which advocated her as a prophetess of the imperial Church from c. 380 RM, following years of religions tension. Around the same time the mystery-cult of Khar’illæ first appeared in Venthir, brought by traders and merchants from farther west in other imperial nations in Sammaea. Like those regions, it was largely quelled in the coming centuries though persisted in the form of scattered mystery-cults.
As the Korachani administration settled into its role in Venthir and the immigration of patricians and freemen subsided by c. 400 RM, the empire began to look to the regions’ resources for exploitation. The mountains and scrublands of Worknah were already home to sizeable gold-mines, though the region exploded within the next 200-years, with the city of Kithamar appearing south of Worknah in c. 530 RM, where it became a major processor of raw ore and umbra, the latter of which was being extracted from the Shamal and Neyshabur in large quantities. These first centuries of Korachani rule were harsh on the regions’ populace; many of which became little more than work-slaves to the industries and houses of the occupying empire. In a bid to keep the people satisfied the administration of Teira introduced gladiatorial games to the region in 425 RM, which rapidly spread to surrounding areas and gained massive popularity. This served to keep the masses amused and gave the slaves something to hope for – victory in the arena could earn a slave freedom. The games became so popular that by c. 500 RM, itinerant mercenaries from surrounding areas migrated to Venthir with dreams of success in the arenas.
As living memory of pre-imperial Venthir faded, the region’s culture reached a crux of amalgamation and began developing its on distinct customs. Amongst them the Maphrans of the Church of Machine which were effectively little more than church-owned slaves whose sole purpose was to breed (to offset the regions’ high mortality rate); their offspring serving the church in a myriad of ways. From these Maphrians would later evolve the Maphrias, who fulfilled a similar role, though amongst the noble families of Venthir, out of which would rise House Ashura.
Already powerful, House Ashura continued to dominate trade in the region, its members eventually becoming so influential and permeating all facets of Teiran culture (where they were based, making it the most imperialised of Venthiri cities) that they inherited full administrative duties in 563 RM, instating the hereditary titles of Adonis in 575 RM, after which the House became a monarchy in all but name. In Hetepheropolis the regent Hetepheres continued to rule, her dark whimsy hanging pall-like above the city, her people as fearful of her retribution as they were in awe of her beauty and power. The cult of the sphinx continued to grow, distancing itself from the Church of the Machine as much as edicts created in 378 RM allowed.
Even though the empire periodically launched attacks north-east against Char Mâthi, cultural ties with the region had been bred out of Venthirs’ collective memory centuries past and there was little to no kinship felt between the two. Despite these attacks, the region was relatively quiet despite the occasional slave uprising, though disruption caused by the islands of Lathlos Cha in the north-west of Venthir was kept its navy on its toes. Populated by descendants of those Asanates banished in 318 RM, the small island-nation had grown considerably in size in the ensuing centuries, its small yet pervasive corsairs plaguing eastern Nárthel and Venthir, as well as the Haré Shka since c. 900 RM. In 925 RM Teira began celebrating the 500th anniversary of the introduction of the bloodsports with a massive 3-month festival of games, which saw no less than 200 slaves freed. In truth this was a tactic to keep increasingly restless slaves from dissenting, and it worked. The freemen left Teira, and were given free reign to settle any unpopulated land in Venthir. They settled the ruins of an ancient Alrasi city north-west of Teira in 928 RM, which they christened Latuar (Lit. freedom). The city would be a constant presence in Venthiri history for millennia to come.
The dawn of the second millennium of the imperial calendar brought strife to Venthir. Just off the southern coast of the Torrent of Karrock, construction was secretly competed on a temple dedicated to the Demiurge Shibboleth. Its completion announced by a halfblooded prophetess known as Hammoleketh, the temple had been secretly under construction for the past millennium, her fell sorceries keeping the place hidden from mortal eyes. Discovery of the temple brought strife to Teira, with many rival factions and cults appearing opposing each other. Many were executed by the Church of the Machine, with hundreds travelling east to witness the monolithic edifice and its halfblooded priestess. Less than 2-years after this the city of Teira was hit by a massive plague which led to the degradation of culture there. Its population decimated, the capital survived only through the vigilance of imperial troops and the Ashuran monarchy, which closed off its gates to the outside world in 1002 RM. Some blamed the retreat of the coastline and the appearance over the last centuries of an expansive wetlands and marshes which were said to harbour disease, though the truth was never revealed. It was around this time that the plains of Hamshen also began to die, their slow corruption beginning a journey that would end some 2,000-years later with the regions' desertification.
In a bid to save the region – Hamshen was a hub of many settlements including Midal, Hetepheropolis and the rapidly growing Myrmica – Korachan sent aid from the west in 1009 RM, in the form of alchemical vaccines and food and other provisions. In addition great siphon engines were constructed in Hamshen, their colossal engines sapping latent umbra from the atmosphere and pumping it south where it could be processed for use in other industries. Though despite these implementations, the region continued to suffer.
Over the next centuries Venthir bore witness to a change. Power waned in the east and waxed in the west, Midal, Hetepheropolis and Myrmica benefitting from the siphon engines installed there. Teira reopened its gates in 1102 RM when the last taint of plague was expunged, though the road to recovery was to be long. In its place did the city of Katlego rise to prominence, its technarcanist academies aiding it against the disease-ridden lands that appeared in the wake of the retreating coastline. It and Midal became new powers, their alchemists and technologists becoming the new elite of Venthiri society. They rapidly overtook the patricians and House Ashura in power, and by 1293 RM had implemented a technocracy across most of Venthir. The imperial Minasteria of Donhim was moved to Myrmica in 1238 RM in recognition of its advances in the art, and the twin cities of Midal and Katlego continued to advance the state of technarcana, becoming centres of its learning. The ruling Ashura of Teira disappeared in c, 1300 RM as the new technocracy introduced in Midal took root.
The secular dissolution that swept across the Korachani empire of 1393 RM stripped these technologists and their janissary elites of much of their powers, leading to civil uprisings between the technologists and their allies and the Church of the Machine. The conflict lasted 9-years, ending in 1402 RM with the technologists victorious, their patron none other than Hetepheres who saw the worth of their technarcana. She personally oversaw the execution of their opponents, which numbered in their thousands, their slain bodies displayed outside her palace to deter other uprisings. The technocracy was moved to Teira, which became the new capital of the region (the city of Hetepheropolis remained a cultural capital, with most ceremonial duties remaining there).
Seven days after the executions two sphinxes, large and ancient beyond measure, their features resplendent in the wisdom and truth of ages, arrived in Hetepheropolis, demanding an audience with the queen. The sphinx-queen knew of their coming, for all sphinxes shared dreams and consciousness and were as one. She granted them audience in her expansive chambers, where they admonished her bloodthirsty rule, blaming her actions for both the degradation of their species and the diminishing of culture. She attacked the two, killing them on the spot. Their skulls and wings are said to adorn her throne to this day. Enraged by their actions she sought out a way to sunder her thoughts from those of her kin, for as long as they thought as one, she could not rule as she willed.
She chose a cadre of the most skilled technologists and employed the eldest of the alchemists of Midal and secreted herself in her palace, seeking a means with which to sunder her dreams from those of her kin. The technocracy of Teira ruled in her absence, bringing industry back to Venthir. Under the leadership of the technocracy, Kithamar grew in power and by c. 1480 had become one of the largest raw umbra processors of the empire, its ataliers and pumping stations becoming prestigious, though measures had to be taken against the encroaching deserts of the Go Bisammam. Clashes with the Church of the Machine continued, though it had by then lost much of its influence in Venthir. By c. 1450 RM it had become little more than a relic of another time, an antiquated establishment that clung to its ancient rituals; the only cities where it retained any influence being Midal and Merakhi. In 1453 RM technologist forces attacked pilgrims undertaking the Shadow March in south-western Venthir, ending in their massacre. This led to the enactment of the so-called Statute of Rights in 1455 RM, its intent to safeguard the passage of those undertaking the pilgrimage. In honour of the events of 1453 RM, the church constructed the Basilica of the Holy Blood over the site of the massacre in 1474 RM, which itself became part of the Shadow March.
In 1593 RM construction was completed on a massive technarcane engine in the heart of the palace of the Maphrias in Hetepheropolis. The engine was an extremely complex feat of technarcana, with only a small part visible to the outside world. Its purpose was never fully disclosed though in the decades following its construction the taint that had been encroaching upon the plains of Hamshen began to slowly recede, leading most to believe it was a Siphon engine. Others maintained that the engine had a far more sinister application, one related to the obsession that had consumed the reclusive Hetepheres for close to 2-centuries already.
The technologists’ rule continued in relative peace, their industry and inventions exported across the empire, bringing much wealth into Venthir. That, coupled with mundane trade in goods such as spices, gems and opiates made the region one of the richest in the empire and Venthir prospered. The Nathi Road was officially reopened in 1603 RM and relations with Sarastro reached an all-time high. This period of Venthiri history would last for another 3-centuries before Queen Hetepheres would emerge from her dungeons in 1905 RM.
Under the aegis of her technologist cadre, whose numbers had swollen over the years through secretive recruitments, she emerged from her dungeons a changed being. Where once she had been a creature of unbridled grace and savage beauty, echoing the dichotomy of a storm, now she was a changed thing, twisted and wretched, covered in a myriad of orthoses and technarcane engines grafted about her. Unrecognisable save her savagery she abolished the technocracy in Teira in 1906 RM without word and went on a savage campaign in which her armies destroyed many manufactories and industrial structures, appropriating all others from their private ownership, assuming full control of them. The colleges of technarcana in Katlego – amongst the most prestigious in the empire – were obliterated in 1921 RM, their custodian general Zaddock and his followers exiled.
This precipitated a massed exodus of technarcanists, biomechanists and other vocations, leading to the fall of the technocracy of Midal. The few that remained in Venthir were sworn under Hetepheres, and granted control of the remaining manufactories. Many of these exiled technarcanists remained within Venthir, turning to an itinerant lifestyle, wandering from settlement to settlement offering their services to those in need. On the whole, they were tolerated, though many regions came to despise these so-called itinerant ones. Most, however, wandered around Venthir under the leadership of Zaddock, seeking a new home. By c. 1939 RM they settled the dry Kautuld region in the far south-east of Venthir, out of which the small technocracy of Saragos would later arise.
The golden-age of Venthir had ended with the abolishment of the technocracy in Teira. Exports dwindled, its manufactories and industries reigned back to serve its own purposes and little else. Many regions that had been exploited for their natural resources, some for over 2,000-years, were beginning to see the effects of mismanagement and over-abuse. The Jaela mountains, Worknah and the Go Bisammam, were chief amongst such places, with once-fertile grasslands rapidly dwindling into dust-filled plains. Under the leadership of the increasingly paranoid, obsessive Hetepheres, law broke down in smaller settlements and the nations’ infrastructure slowly crumbled. Funds were poured into large well-trained armies that never left their borders and the study and trade of technarcana continued to be heavily regulated, the Strangler-Queen unwilling to share the secrets her private technologists had unearthed over the centuries. She grew even more reclusive, spending most of her time in the ateliers beneath her palace, consorting with technologists and their ilk, searching for new orthoses and implants to further distance her form her kin. When she did appear it was behind a veritable army or retainers and serfs and she spoke through proxies, if at all.
In her negligence, Zaddock and his exiles were allowed to grow in the south-east. By c. 2500 RM the region around the city of Saragos had grown under the aegis of the exiled technologists, with many settlements appearing around it, their technocracy offering a stark contrast to the tyranny that prevailed in the north-west. Its borders had increased, assimilating the city-state of Taarom and taking the adamantine mines of Mount Adama in 2413 RM following 5-years of war there.
In Venthir, Korachani attempts at diplomacy were unsuccessful and the nation continued to falter, leading to the withdrawal of many imperial institutions over the coming centuries (with many of its natural resources dwindling, Korachan was beginning to lose interest in Venthir, anyway). In 2702 RM the Avénethi Fraternity, which had enjoyed a healthy presence there for some centuries, abandoned Venthir following an earthquake. By 2821 RM the Go Bisammam desert had grown to such a size that the city of Kithamar was abandoned, leading to a massive decrease in umbra supplies across Venthir. This caused the death of many manufactories and industries, most notable of which was the silencing of its many Siphon engines, which until then had kept the advancing penumbra at bay. Within a few decades, the entire Hamshen region had been reduced to a deadened landscape. By 3010 RM many settlements were left deserted, their populace migrated to the safer cities, which could afford to maintain their own engines. Hetepheropolis, Myrmica and Teira grew exponentially in the coming years.
The Archpotentate Malichar visited Hetepheres personally in 3061 RM. Little is known what was spoken in the meeting though Venthir was later granted control of much of eastern Nárthel, its nobility gifted titles and positions within the Korachani administration, possibly in return for the regions’ restoration. And so was industry returned to Venthir and new mines funded, though technarcane research remained resticted. Its ports were re-established and foreign trade  prospered.
In 3147 RM it was discovered that the city of Katlego was secretly conducting its own technarcane research, under the leadership of its Maphran Walada. Later in the year Queen Hetepheres descended upon the city with a might army and destroyed it, slaying innocents and technologists in their tens of thousands. Their bodies were burnt atop a great pyre, the pillar of smoke seen for miles around. The place remains ruined to this day, testament to the fate of those who would attract the Strangler-Queen’s wrath.
Though the outcome of the bloody conflict was to her expectation, Hetepheres had not left her dungeons in centuries. Her obsession with sundering her thoughts and dreams from the remnants of her race had been successful centuries earlier) and she had done little to honour Malichar’s requests for a renewed glory in the east of his empire. The gold mines of Worknah, though still viable and providing the bulk of the nations’ wealth, were consuming slaves at an alarming rate. Something had to be done. Starting in 3151 RM the nations’ infrastructure was improved, roads repaired, its massive technologically-advanced armies put to use securing its borders and trade-routes and sent abroad in what became known as the Egret Crusades – an effort to secure a new supply of slaves. Mirroring the actions of its ancestral nation of Nath, these crusades began in c. 3250 RM, and lasted until 3525 RM, when the last crusade ended. These campaigns managed to secure new territories (largely in the islands of the Broken Lands) and a steady stream of slaves – largely from nations to the south-west of Venthir; most notably the Growing Mountains, though Ehbot and Char Mâthi were also targeted.
This increase in trade and slaves brought new prosperity to Venthir and a renewed pride in its people, not least of all its ruler. Its armies’ morale high from their many victories, they began pushing its borders outwards. The death of Zaddock in 2383 had left Saragos unstable, and Venthir turned to it in 3405 RM, though the conflict was short and marred by Venthiri defeats – their foe had fortified its lands well and had amassed a technologically superior army which, though numerically inferior, had prepared for the expected conflict well. By 3408 hostilities had ended and the Venthiri armies looked elsewhere, turning to Tarati, which was conquered in 3421 RM. This secured more trade for Venthir, and its armies grew more confident, with conflict along its western borders increasingly common over the next years. The subsequent years were more stable for Venthir, which enjoyed the spoils of its victories even as the gold mines in Worknah were finally abandoned in 3705 RM, the same year the Korachani empire fragmented in two.
The following years saw much tension between the northern Empire, based around Korachan in Llachatul, and the southern empire, based around Sarastro and expanding across north-western Sammaea. Venthir existed as the only significant Korachani territory in Sammaea and clashes between Sarastro and Venthir dominated the centuries following the sundering of the empire.
In 4006 RM the city of Kalchedon in north-eastern Venthir was granted to the Avénethi Fraternity, which was beginning a search of Firmamental artefacts in heathen lands. This was a precursor of sorts to the War of the Shadow and the Helix, during which many attacks were launched against Khamid and Char Mâthi from Venthir. The greatest such battle was the Siege of the Temple of Chien Da in western Lurium, in which Queen Hetepheres herself fought, slaying the Champion Ari.

                Despite the victories of the Venthiri armies in Char Mâthi, the death of the Archpotentate Malichar led to the crumbling of the imperial armies, causing their ultimate retreat and eventual defeat. But Venthir was left strong following the War, and continued its attacks against Char Mâthi, advancing as far north as the city-state of Lalaun by 3 RMe. By 11 RMe its efforts against Char Mâthi had ended though, hungry for power, Hetepheres instead turned her eyes south to Sarastro, where border clashes had become common around the region of Hagaat, with full war engulfing the two nations by 13 RMe.

Monday, March 3, 2014

World map.


I'm beginning to realise that there's a far larger emphasis placed on cartography than worldbuilding or conlanging (of which there are 0-examples thus far...). My posts are all determined by what takes my fancy at a particular time. At the moment that's the Atlas Elyden and, less-so, the Encyclopaedia Elyden. More often than not I don't work against a set schedule or time-table, as such, and just write/draw/plan whatever I feel like. Usually I tend to go overboard on one aspect for a few months before burning-out and doing nothing for a few weeks before returning to the world and developing a new aspect. So at the moment I'm in full on cartographer mode, working mostly in Photoshop, designing maps (though by necessity, the process of labelling maps means I have to update my notes to make sure that everything is on the same page so there's always a degree of writing involved when working on my maps).

Conversely, November and December were pure writing months with me concentrating mostly with my second as-yet uncompleted NaNoWriMo challenge (though I've won the challenge, i.e finished 50,000 words by the end of November, I've still a way to go... I'm expecting it be somewhere around 150-words long upon completion, possibly more, accounting for editing.

And with all these posts, I still haven't uploaded a single one to do with languages. Partially that's because I don't know anything about linguistics (or pretend to), though I do own a few books on the subject, particularly with regards to worldbuilding. Also it's because I've done very little on the subject at all. The logistics of it all worry me though...

The known history of Elyden spans some 6,000 years, with many centuries of civilised life before that leading up to a cataclysmic event from which later races evolved. languages and technologies are mostly rediscovered from the ruins of the ancient world, though in those 6,000 years many languages have evolved and branched apart from one another, leading to a dichotomy, of sorts - the historical and the modern, both of which are in use.

Make no mistake, I will touch upon language one day. But not yet :)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Man Form Earth


A little something different today. I haven’t posted something not directly related to my worldbuilding in a while and I thought I’d mention a film I saw a few years ago and recently revisited, which I think has a lot to offer to worldbuilders.

The film, titled the Man From Earth (or movie, to people across the pond) has a simple premise – what if a man could not age or die of old age? The story is brought about quickly and concisely – a college professor is moving on from  his current life and invites his friends (professors, also) to cabin in the woods (no, not that type of Cabin in the Woods) as a sort of going away party. Their chatting evolves, quite naturally I think, into the departing professor confessing his ‘immortality,’ and the individual peoples’ differing reactions to his absurd story. They ask him questions about his life and… well I won’t spoil it for those of you who have not seen it J

I am posting this here because of the theme of immortality. To my knowledge no-one lives forever, which is one of those things that fantasy writes often write about, so we have little real-world research to fall back upon and I think that this film handles the subject matter wonderfully (though I do feel the last few scenes detract from its ambiguity, if I can use the word).

How do you convincingly convey such an aspect of fantasy to an audience who is unfamiliar with it, through a world in print in which such a phenomenon is real? What would a man who has lived for 14,000 years remember? If he doesn’t remember something from the 15th century will you use it against him in a bid to disprove him, where you have no recollection of where you were or what you were doing a year ago?


I think fellow worldbuilders will get a lot from watching this and it might give them ideas on how to flesh out the biographies and backgrounds of their immortal characters (hell, I know I have a lot of them lurking in the depths of the Encyclopaedia Elyden..)

Also, the screenplay was almost the life's work of the writer Jerome Bixby, who began conceptualising it in the early 60's and finished it on his deathbed in 1998 - almost 40 years! A true creater, much like my Demiurges, cannot stop himself! 


Thursday, February 27, 2014

more Atlas Maps!

So, I’ve got some more work done on the Atlas entries as well as some tweaks and minor adjustments that no-one other than myself is likely to even notice and I’m getting closer to finding a style I’m happy with (though I’m still torn about the mountains, though more on those later.

Of these new maps the most complex, by far is the one detailing twin nations of Ahrishen and Virahan. This is largely due to the many lakes, the relatively small scale (compare this map with the one of Ezasuth, for instance), and the fact that the regions to the west, south-east and east had already been mapped (Vârr, the Haréshk and Nakhé, respectively) so there was a lot of back and forth between this map and the older ones to make sure that everything (borders, coastlines, graticules) lined up and scaled together correctly.

Ahrishen and Virahan
I think I done a decent job (though it’s far from done…), though I realise that the maps are nothing much to look at at the moment and wont exactly be arty maps when they're done - they're political maps, detailing resources, roads, trade routes and such things and are functional rather than pretty,though I hope the Atlas can be seen as a work of art in some respects once its done. Also, the more maps I get done the more time-consuming the task gets. Also, the more maps I get done means the farther away from my comfort zone (Inner Sea) I get, which means more terra incognita: the lands around Korachan are very familiar as I’ve been working on them for coming up to a year now, though the farther afield I move the more unexplored certain regions become.

Take Ezasuth, for instance. This is all I have written about it:

Ezasuth: nation in Llachatul, just north of the Sea of Marden. Was home to explorers who settled lands in the far west of Llachatul, which would later become Ayad, Elat and Gyzha.

Ezasuth
That’s it. Pretty scary mapping a nation or which all I know is two sentences of background, apretty tame background at that. No flavour or characteristics that scream out as unique quite yet, but I’ll get there. I find a lot of the worldbuilding (or nationbuilding, as the case may be) comes from coming up with a rough vocabulary through which I can name regions and cities. History and background comes naturally as I flesh the geography out and I then build upon that. Of course creating neighbouring nations brings more history and synergy which sees a lot of back and forth as I figure out interactions between nations and peoples.

Azazem
Khamid
Laaskha
Mharokk
Naareth
Nakhe
Vaalk
Varr
Venthir

Of the above maps I think my favourites have to be Khamid, Venthir and Tzallrach since they represent neighbouring regions and the distinctive coastlines can be recognised from map to map, despite the differences in scale

***


I’m still unsure about a few things though, largely the territories and borders (which appear in their most up-to-date form in the Korachan map I had posted) and mountains. The territories are fine, though I’d like something with a bit more texture. The mountains, however are getting me in a right pickle. Initially I’d though of something akin to the Dinotopia map below, which is true to the generic time period though not necessarily needed for these types of political maps. Though now I’m leaning towards something more akin to the Mediterranean map posted beneath it. Though that would entail a lot more work on my part and might make the maps more colourful and busier than I had originally intended. Decisions…

Dinotopia

Dinotopia detail - mountains and lettering 


Saturday, February 22, 2014

the Mortal Races

I thought I'd quickly touch upon something that I haven't mentioned much before: the mortal races. Despite the fact that humans form the vast majority of most mortal races in Elyden, that was not always the case. The reasons for this human proliferation are varied. Firstly, Most works of fantasy fiction, for one reason or another, have humans as the protagonist race. I presume it’s just laziness or ease of worldbuilding – creating cultures and histories for invented nations is difficult-enough as it is: making them for alien races is something else entirely. It’s just easier, as a human (yes, I’m human), to write something from the POV of a human than another race. That’s not to say, however, that I won’t do it at some point. Indeed, the protagonist of what I’m currently writing is not strictly human, so I’ve already ventured into that territory.
Having said that I love the variety that different race bring to the world and Elyden has varied sources from which I can create such creatures: the Two-and Twenty mortal races (the asicthai), the Otherworlders (Isawhan) and Halfbloods (Anthropeidos). Scions (the offspring of the demiurges and other creatures, normally asicthai) do not fit into any of the other classifications and exist as a fourth, unofficial one. I’ll talk about each race, in brief, mentioning the mortal races in this post.


Asicthai (mortals)
Literally translated from Korachani as ‘not-human’, this was once used in reference to any non-human race, though over time it became a generic term, interchangeable with mortal, or, more precisely, one of the descendants of the Demiurges’ children: the Two-and-Twenty.
                Though referred to as the Two-and-Twenty mortal races (in mirror of their sires, the Demiurges) the naming convention is not exactly true. Some races are now extinct or have become so few in number or insular that contact with them has now been lost. Indeed, the stillborn god Ryhassharauch never sired anything that can be classed as living and opinion is divided whether or not his children, the rarevas, can be classified as mortals (for the sake of this essay I’ll include them with the asicthai).

Illidræn: one of the Two-and-Twenty tribes, and children of the Demiurge Allaishada. Often winged, normally of alabaster skin & dark hair and serene dispositions, they are equated with angels by other races (particularly humans who have a tendency of deifying, often without true cause), though they are far from perfect moral creatures. In truth, they are beings of compassion so pronounced that they must resort to asceticism and meditation to control their emotions. Due to their natures they tend to devote their lives to single pursuits, which they perfect, becoming experts in their chosen fields.
The race was whittled to near-extinction during the Shadow War that led to the fading between the Fourth and Fifth-Ages, the remnants of the species dispersing and living out the end of their race’s days as solitary eremites in forgotten temples and ruins. To many they are indeed extinct though scholars maintain that scattered individuals have survived, their natural longevity and asceticism a bulwark against death and decay.

Serapi: one of the Two-and-Twenty tribes, and children of the Demiurge Ashterath, Name for lizard-folk and dragon-kin cursed by the Demiurge Talantehut to be servants to the sun and the crawl in the hot earth on their stomachs. Their tongue is closest of any living creature to that originally wrought by the Demiurges, before the cataclysm of the Bridge of Worlds. Little is known of their original form or culture, only that it was their apparent sadistic nature that earnt them the scorn of Talantehut, who changed their form and that of their descendants forevermore.
They are relatively common in the sun-drenched parts of Elyden – such as the deserts south of Venthir and those dominating Kharkharadontis, though little remains of any culture save base primitive tribal structures. Some claim that in some regions vestiges of a more civilised form remain, though such claims are unsubstantiated.

Ifirmian: one of the Two-and-Twenty tribes, and children of the Demiurge Duruthilhotep, and the first mortal race to ever shape the Firmament. They are now know as the immortal guardians of the Meniscus, named after the eponymous continent. They are the most proficient Firmamentists and are thought to be the closest in design to the original immortal races, whose gestation was interrupted by the creations of the Demiurges, resulting in the birth of the imperfect mortal races.
                They are slender people, tall, of long tapering heads and are not want to communicate with others without dire need. They are rarely seen outside of the lands surrounding the Meniscus and are thought extinct by most insular people.

Valthas: one of the Two-and-Twenty tribes, and children of the Demiurge Talantehut. They were once very similar to humans, though through the long slow neglect of their Demiurge mother became corrupted into something baser; grey things without passion or hope or love. They became achromatic; creatures alive but without life, much like their mother. Where Talantehut was chosen to be a force of balance amongst her siblings, the valthasi were allowed to wither and die, their mortality dripping away with every eon their mother ignored them until they became the rotten shells that they are today, dwelling in the dark places of the world where they can pass unnoticed, much like their incorruptable Demiurge parent.
                Many physical laws that affect the mortal races do not apply to the valthas, which exist in a foprm of fugue between worlds – neither dead nor alive.

Dverg: one of the Two-and-Twenty tribes, and children of the Demiurge Synchthonith, though they maintain few open ties to their ancestry. A few ancient temples have been discovered by Imperial explorers, hewn from deep caverns, though all are eons old, abandoned. Mulls are also believed to be distantly related to the dverg, though having diverged long ago they are now considered different races.
Stunted, technologically aware mortals native to lands north of the Inner Sea, originally centered around the Rhaecha mountains, though rarely seen in the open. Their lands and clades were wiped out millennia past by human expansion in the Fourth and early Fifth-Ages, and now they remain largely as a caste within the Korachani empire, an essential part to its industries. The Steel Cataract was mostly built by dvergai hands. Very shy, rarely leaving their underground clades, those seen in the empire are usually slaves and technologists. Their pale skin and large black eyes are sensitive to light so when seen close to and above ground they are almost always covered in thick leather suits and tinted goggles; the accountrements of their trade. They show little affinity for the Firmament or the Penumbrism, though have a cultural understanding of the latter and its applications within technarcana, and their seemingly innate affinity for engineering is legendary.

Lhaus: one of the Two-and-Twenty tribes, and children of the demiurge Yaldabaoth. In their father’s obsession with seeking eternal life, the lhaus became acolytes of the art of klados and followed him down the path of eternal life. over the eons and their obsession with klados, they became a changed race, their goal of prolonged life achieved yet not without its cost. Like their father, those with the purpose and means created secondary bodies (known as iterants) in which they would transfer their spirits upon death to achieve prolonged life, or a vague semblance of it. Each such iteration of an individual would bring with it a body that was more grotesque and featureless than the last, until, after dozens of such iterants had perished, the original person would be lost beneath a hollow shell that was consumed by its obsession with life.
                By the early days of the third age the leaders and upper echelons of lhaus society were embroiled with seeking the mysteries of klados and lhaus society broke down, the  tribes of lesser beings – unable to follow their masters in their pursuit – began a diaspora across Elyden, where their blood became diluted with that of other races and they eventally died, their father too preoccupied with his own obsession to care. Those amongst them who achieved true eternity through klados became miserable secular creatures, their time spent researching betters ways to achieve immotality, their thousands of followers, retainers and slaves existing only to aid them in their quest. Their solitary city-states warred agains each other in the pursuit of resources and chemicals needed in their timeless compulsions. By the latter days of the Third Age the lhaus were reduced to a few miserable totalitarian city states, hidden from the rest of the world in western Kharkharadontis. Memory of their tribe was almost lost by the dawn of the Fourth-Age and it was only the actions of the aggressive city-state of Thamaaz (over a thousand miles south of what is now known as Erebeth) and its ruler, Leontoeida, Lord of the Clades, in the mid Fourth-Age (c. -4500 RM), who scoured the lands around his city for miles around, searching for further secrets to immortality and his arsenal of slumbering klada. With the increase of the Shadow in the Desert and the decline of the world, contact with the city was lost and the lhaus survive in Thracian legends and the Yothshammanei tablets, found in a temple in the north-eastern Daened Sulrach in c. 750 RM that is believed to be a mortuary complex to the wasted iterant of an unnamed Clade Lord.
                Little is known of the original appearance of the lhaus though various records of the general form taken by the Clade Lord iterants are known, and are commonly dscribed as alien beings of exposed muscle over porcelain-like bones of artificial manufacture. Most have intricate head crests, like shields, and are featureless – without eyes or orifices of any kind.

Plagi: one of the Two-and-Twenty tribes, and original children of the demiurge Rachanael. Of dark skin, red eyes and horned brows, the plagi were a powerful if not populous tribe, their martial prowess and penumbral skill earning them the enmity of many other tribes. Their territories were never expansive, and they rarely emerged from the gargantuan dry basin that makes up what is now the wasted land of Kharkharadontis. Though considered by others to be children of the Penumbra, they were not immune to its effects and survived its corruption largely due to the aegis of their father Rachanael.
With Rachanael’s imprisonment in Daekyn in the Fourth-Age, the plagi were left leaderless, at the mercy of the Penumbra, their bodies became prone to corruption. To escape its effects, many amongst them left Kharkharadontis in a great exodus that saw them travelling south, where they would beomcelost to imperial annals; and north and north-east to the to the Daened Sulrach and Umbra Solare, where their breeding with humans would dilute the race into what later become known as the Etheri Nomads.
The few that remained in their homelands haunt the regions around the pit of Daekyn, never moving far from the prison, little more than mindless husks, a bitterness consuming at them. The Archpotentae Malichar’s arrival there in 212 RM saw the remaining plagi join him in his travels where they sojourned in Nyala before aiding him in the construction of the Leaden Throne, upon which the newly-liberatied Rachanael would be interred. With that deed was the long history of the plagi ended, their last known descendants becoming known as the demiurnes of Rachanael. In their place Rachanael adopted humans as his children.
What few true plagi remain do so in isolation or distant lands, inhabiting the near-mythical metropolis of Kharakhara, their sorcerer-kings protecting them from the full foulness of the Penumbra there.

Giganri: (Imperial: sûnéanthros, compare with anthslach). One of the original Two-and-Twenty mortal tribes, the children of the Demiurge Urakabarameel. The Giganri, alongside humans, are one of the tribes that have changed the least since their creation so long ago. They are referred to as goliaths by the Korachani empire and giants by nations farther east, which have had even less contact with them over the years. The giganri are an insular race, separated by the rest of Elyden by the near-inassailable natural wall known as the Black Mountains that flanks the western shore of the Skarosian Gulf and the treacherous waters of the Sea of Serpents in the west of the Inner Sea.
They stand roughly twice the height of an average humans, though their legs are proportionately longer than those of humans, giving them an somewhat lanky gait. Despite this they are prodigiously strong of both body and mind, with their culture placing a great deal of importance in asceticism and martial perfection and moderation. Their bodies bear signs of an earthly heritage, and their skin is cold and rough to the touch like the granite and marble from which legend (falsely) claims they were shaped. Likewise, their skin can range in colour from alabaster-white to obsidian-black and a myriad of other colours in-between. Though little is known about them, it is believed that they are a race of many castes, likely determined by their colouration, with different castes including the upälant, a black skinned variety that is the most documented by Korachani explorers and traders of the Skarosian Gulf, sometimes seen in the mines of Adamati, though any attempts to follow them back west invariably fail. The maramari are an off-white colour with green veins and they are the most silent and morose of all giganri encounters, pensive and slow to action. Carnous are red-brown skinned, and stand taller than others, appearing to be a martial caste.
Generally, the Giganri are morose and quiet beings, likely to be considered slow by other races for their reticence to speak that stems from their calculating natures. Little is known of the culture save their extreme asceticism and their devotion to the philosophy of alchemy and Gnosticism, lending them a mystical air.
They are amongst the more populous mortal races, after the dominance of humans and are common in both western Llachatul, as well as Menisucs. It is commonly believed that oghurs are a degenerate offshoot of giganri, with many blaming penumbral taint or cannibalism as their source.

the Forgotten: One of the original Two-and-Twenty tribes, and children of the demiurge Abufihamat (later known as Baphomet). Once one of the most powerful and wealthy of the Two-and-Twenty tribes, they were oppressed to the point of desperation by Abufihamat. A few amongst them came to secretly worship a diametricly opposed corruption of the Demiurge, who became known by the name of its idol – Baphomet. These heretics were persecuted and slain without abandon, though their roots were set deep and the cult spread. Abufihamat, punished alongside the rest of the Two-and-Twenty, fell from grace, greatly weakened. That, coupled with a tribe that was rapidly abandoning it for the blameless excesses offered by Baphomet, almost destroyed Abufihamayt, who sought the aid of the heretics, offering them that which they sought in return for fealty. It was granted, and Abufihamat finally died, replaced by Baphomet.
Baphomet ignored its true children and instead sought the embrace of alien tribes, who it bribed with gold and fecund capriform idols. Growing weak and sickly from their excesses, Baphomet’s true children were allowed to all but die, surviving in minute numbers that scattered from their homeland in bitterness.
Since that time the handful of Baphomet’s true ancestors survive as strange alien beings, their bodies tall and gangly, their features inhuman, that live on the fringes of society, in places shunned by civilisation – marshes, wastelands, barren places. Known only as the Forgotten, any memory of their past history relinquished, they are now neolithic hunter-gatherers, sullen, aloof and xenophobic, living in large communal tents, as they once were under the auspices of Abufihamat.

Vapula: One of the original Two-and-Twenty tribes, and children of the demiurge Arimaspi. Though arimaspi is known for the many creatures and beings that he created, his true children are the vapulim. Humanoids who stand around 7-feet tall, they are bulky yet graceful, with leonine features and feathered backs, heads and forearms and tool-wielding hands with opposable thumbs.
They were once a populous race dominating the arid lands of the ancient world, though lessened over the march of time. They have been thought extinct for many years though a relatively large number were found to remain in the nation of Datepha on the island of Isea, in the south of Elyden. What led to their diminishing across Elyden is unknown and little reference is made to them in the Mythologia Elyden or other ancient texts. This is likely, as though the vapulim are Arimaspi’s true children, they (like the other mortal races) were not crafted through his direct actions. He is known to have poured his love and passion into his other creations (like the aiklahs, eelyouhns, haagenti, griffins and sphinxes) and likely abandoned the vapulim.

Sieth: one of the original Two-and-Twenty tribes, and children of the Demiurge Neith. Very little is known of them other than their association with the Ivory Moon and their purported homeland in what is now Malan.

Shie: (also Shy) one of the original Two-and-Twenty tribes, and children of the Demiurge Sybaris. They are of russet skin and possess four arms with delicate curving horns on their vaguely bestial features. Like their mother, they are beings of carnal passion and are epicureans.
Never a numerous race, they largely excluded themselves from world-wide events and are never noted as participating, as a race, in any large wars or conflicts. Instead they are largely recorded as explorers of the contemporary world and pockets of them can still be found, largely in small settlements, where they make up the majority population, and in Elyden’s most thriving metropolises, where they can mostly be found as individuals, studying hedonism.

Catachis: one of the original Two-and-Twenty mortal races, and children of the Demiurge Dopellanich. Though extant examples are rare, the histories of Elyden describe them, much like their primogenitor, as dualistic beings. Twin births are the norm and as such their societies across the continents and time have always revolved around the sacred bond between siblings and in many respects twins were regarded as a single person in two bodies. Conjoined births were somewhat common and of a more stable form than similar births amongst other mortals, which are seen as an aberration of sorts. As such they were regarded as high-born, granting measure of prestige upon their families and commonly becoming part of the priestly-caste. Single births are conversely seen as weak and such unfortunates tend to live hollow lives of ridicule, often forcing them into self-imposed exile.
Physically, they are little different to humans, though their craniums are slightly bulging when compared with humans, and their fingers are long and delicate, though neither can be use to truly identify such mortals. Conjoined twins usually take the form of a symmetrical four-armed body (one pair smaller than the other, below it, often considered vestigial and bedecked in jewels amongst the wealthy) and a single head with two faces, one facing left, the other right; though other less symmetrical morphologies are common.

Irkalla: one of the original Two-and-Twenty mortal races, and children of the Demiurge Nergaal. In the mythology and ancient history of Elyden, a race, believed to be one of the Two-and-Twenty mortal races, descended from the Demiurge Nergaal. Little is known of these people, save the tantalising clues left behind on subterranean monoliths on the island of the same name, off the south-western coast of Cuth. What little we know is that they were a base civilisation in which the sick were worshipped (seen as favoured of Nergaal) and the strong broken of their will and used as slaves. A sun cult was (despite the subterranean natue of the monuments on which the records were found) at the centre of the race; though where other sun cults deified light and warmth, this cult saw instead the need to pay tribute to the devastating nature of sun; drought, plague, heat. This might be indicative of the races’ retreat to the caverns beneath their home; perhaps as a sign of reverence or fear.

Irothan: one of the original Two-and-Twenty mortal races, and children of the Demiurge Nyarloth. Little is known of this race other than it was all but destroyed following a brutal civil war. The war came about following the internment of the Demiurge Nyarloth within a soul-engine, following his murder at the hands of the Demiurge Rachanael, who helped him construct the machine (with the intent of using it for his own gain). His body remained, becoming a stone-like edifice known as the Host.
The majority of irothani came to worship the Host, rather than the contents of the engine, leaving Nyarloth weak and in a state of torpor within the Soul-engine. The irothan rulers, known as Septs, knew the error of this idolatry and tried to persuade the people that their god was the machine and not the idol, but most people did not listen, this resulted in a civil war that tore the ironthani empire asunder, bringing to an end one of the largest and most long-lived mortal empires in Elyden.
Physically they were similar to humans though their skin had a bluish tint and their eyes glowed as though with an inner light.

Aithar: One of the original Two-and-Twenty mortal races, and children of the Demiurge Malachai, who became corrupted into the Alakhi (or ‘bidekin’). Little is known of the Aithear, though the Al akhi, which survive in Stolas, north of the Empire are well-catalogued. Like their ancestors, the Al akhi are an insular race, regarded as somewhat of a rarity to most outsiders and unknown to those in distant lands.
They stand roughly 6 – 7’ tall and are of emaciated frames and overlong spindly limbs (their totem-lords [primitive priests] in particular seem to suffer from the condition). Their bodies are hairles, though primitive feathers (often spine-like) are common on their forearms, backs, necks and shins, which are more prominent on males. Their heads are muzzled by long slender beaks, which limit their vocal abilities (al akhi language is nonetheless complex, and relies heavily on the written form; seen in their many rune-tablets and cavern-epics). The al akhi are prone to distorted features and aberrant forms are not unusual, with a rare few appearing as little more than misshapen beasts.
Al akhi society is tribal and revolves heavily around idolatry: traditionally that of an anthropomorphic avian totem known as Merkabh, which is believed by scholars and mythologists to be a corrupted form of the now-dead Demiurge Malachai. Males are dominant in these societies, though females do play in important role in the creatures’ primitive religion. Important members of society are mummified and placed in niches within family hovels, where they remain with their tribes as ancestral figures, who the birdmen pray to in times of personal trouble (in a practive similar to Sauan and Temujan ancestral spirit worship).
Like most of Elyden’s beast-men, al akhi are fetishists and of a poor technological position. They fashion crude metal weapons but seem to have little affinity for clothing and armour beyond rags (they wear little clothing and use heavy wattle shields only rarely), though they have been known to scavenge ruined metal from  the Desolation of Astudan (particularly the passage the Red Route takes through it on its way to Gâtha), though such forays outside Stolas are rare or sporadic at best.

Human: one of the Two-and-Twenty mortal tribes, and the children of the Demiurge Avraham the White King. humans are unique in that they are the only mortal race that can breed with other races naturally and unaided (physical restrictions permitting), leading to many various half-breed races and creatures. None truly know the origins of this trait, though it is believed to lie within the nature of their father, Avraham.
                Humans were abandoned by Avraham following the appearance of the Azor (descendants of unions between humans and his scion Azer), whom he regarded far more highly. Humans were later adopted by the Demiurge Rachanael.

Keratin: one of the Two-and-Twenty mortal tribes, and the children of the Demiurge Kharani. They resemble humans in most ways, with males averaging 6-feet tall and weighing 180 – 190 lbs. They are heavily built, with powerful bodies and hard bony ridges on their elongated heads, with horns prominent amongst males and often seen as a mark of strength. Their skin ranges from pale grey to a dark brown, with various shades in between, and a red tint is considered as a sign of virility.
                Much like their Demiurge father, the Keratin are a passionate people, quick to anger and skilled with their hands – something that they commonly apply to the crafting of weapons and tools and cenotaphs and triumphal arches. Their culture traditionally revolved around a stratocracy or kratocracy, with the strong ruling the weak, commonly under a militaristic regime.
                Though a strong and united race, the Keratin were relatively few in number, particularly when compared with the vastly superior humans. Their numbers dwindled during the Shadow War that ended the Fourth-Age of Mortal life, where they allied themselves with Rachanael and were used as shock troops to deady yet phyrric effect.

Deruweid: one of the Two-and-Twenty mortal tribes, and the children of the Demiurge Achaiah. They are generally tall (between 7 – 9 ft.), with their skin undergoing a transition throughout their long lifes. The young have malleable greyish green skin that flakes at the joints (like sloughing birch). As they grow older their skin appears to calcify, becoming darker and tougher, like gnarly bark. Hairless, they are an ascetic race, without cities or clothing; aloof and xenophobic, living the last of their declining days in the shadow of their Demiurge mother in the deepest reaches of the Nameless Forest.
Abandoned to their own devices with their mothers’ transformation into the Immortal Tree Agen, the deruweids filled the void left in their lives with bodily mutilation, thought by contemporary scholars as being a form of chastisement for what they perceived to be their own faults. The deruweid s dwindled over the years, though eventually those who remained in their old homeland (in what is now the Nameless Forest) would rediscover their old mother, realising the true error of their ways, devoting their lives to maintaining the Tree of Agen and slowly shaping their bodies in her image.

Ropohaii: one of the Two-and-Twenty mortal tribes, and the children of the Demiurge Vorropohaiah. Swallowed by the Prison Carceri in antiquity, little is known of this strange race other than the madness which is known to have afflicted their father was passed down to them.

Merill: one of the Two-and-Twenty mortal tribes, and the children of the Demiurge Shibboleth, and the only known aquatic (or semi-aquatic race). There are seven different lines of merill, one for each of the original mortal race that came into being following the shaping of the Demiurges, though of seven only one remains strong (or known), with the other diminished and corrupted: for the torrent that once sustained them now gone.. They are most well-known amongst other races for a curious trait known as genetic memory, where a newly born merill inherits the memories of all its direct ancestors, all the way back to one of the original seven merills. As a result they are brimming with emotion and memory, though have little empathy, particularly with other races. They are beings of emotion, though unlike keratin and illidraen it is not a personal passion, but an echo of their many ancestor's lives – pain, suffering, love, loss death. Most surviving members have been driven mad by the weight of memories that bear down upon them, and every generation grows slowly more maddened. Indeed, in many respects they are the closest of the mortal races to the Otherworlders.
                They are linked to the river Shibboleth, which bears more than just a name in common with their demiurge forebear. They each undertake a long coming of age ritual by going upstream to the river’s main source, where they immerse themselves in the water. This somehow causes them to reach sexual maturity (Some scholars think this is due to certain chemicals in the water or some other physical effect that causes a metabolic change), though the proliferation of humans around the river sees fewer and fewer merills complete this arduous ritual.
They tend to talk in stream of consciousness, which is difficult for other mortal races to understand. Very little is known of them, and what is known is likely misunderstood though as Elyden’s seas retreat, soapstone metropolises have begun to appear in the middle of once-submerged seas, built on volcanic atolls. Where they survive they rely on coastal raids on ill-protected places far away from the Korachani empire.

Rarevas: one of the Two-and-Twenty mortal tribes, and the children of the Demiurge Ryhassharauch. The children of the stillborn demiurge, there beings were cursed before their conception and exist as void, hollow, wretched things more akin to languid corpses than anything living. The stench of vinegar and rotting flesh surrounds their bony grey bodies. They keep their umbilical cords and make necklaces out of them in memory of their catatonic god. Legends claim that only seven exist in a fugue state between life and death, unable to die or reproduce.