A blog where I talk about my adventures in worldbuilding and all aspects of it in the fictional world of Elyden - expect ramblings, lots of maps, sporadic bursts of talk about getting published that don't last long, and randomness!
another contest entry for cartographersguild.com; a largely inconsequential island off the southern coast of Pelasgos in a 16th-17th century style. the contest guidelines were to base a map of of a cloud, so that's what i did, using a threshold layer and various other styles to get the effect i wanted. I'm pretty happy with this one, though as always i spent too long on it - about 10 - 12 hours I reckon, which is simply too long for a map this size (though i did create everything from scratch, apart from the paper and the cartouched and ship, the latter of which i might be changing.
There's a small story attached, indicating that the map was found by someone and then handed over to 'My Lady' for examination. Speculation commence!
not really, though since that's largely what I'm working on at the moment, that's what ill post.
Some more experiments in texturing and adding new regions (most of which are just placeholder names until I get round to detailing their histories. I've received some comments on other forums that the text box in the lower left is a bit off (particularly the font and the line-border design. I am working on new borders, though haven't been able to find anything suitable for the culture that made the map (korachan, where else :p)
More work on the big map today, mostly getting the cartouche done:
doing the key made me think of the trade-routes (of which there are about 4-main ones) and the Shadow March; the largest and most intrinsic pilgrimage to take place in the old Korachani Empire and its two reformed successors. Here's the entry form the encyclopaedia Elyden:
Shadow March, the: (also the Long Road) the largest and most infamous of all Korachani religious pilgrimages; it circumnavigates the InnerSea and its major nations, before making its way across the Kharkharadontid desert to the prison Daekyn, where it ends outside the monolithic gates of the SepulchralPalace. The March covers no less than 20,000–miles, most of which is little more than dirt paths, though its many tributaries and side-courses make a true measure of its length impossible to determine.
The March originated in c. 400 RM, with the ArchpotentateMalichar’s victories across the InnerSea following return to Korachan as an Æhari and the subsequent rapid spread of the ChurchoftheMachine across its lands. It reached its peak in around 1500 RM alongside that of the KorachaniEmpire, with thousands of pilgrims, fanatics, flagellants and other faithful from all over the Korachani empire undertaking the road, sometimes spending their savings to buy their freedom from the shackles of slavery, only to spend a life under the yoke of the March and the call of the LeadenThrone. The sundering of the empire in 3705 RM left a deep schism in the ChurchoftheMachine, leading to it fracturing into the OrthodoxChurchofRachanael and the ReformedMachine Church, though the March persevered (albeit with occasional conflict between different denominations). Few had the strength or means to undertake the entirety of the March, with most attempting it dying under the adversity of the road. More commonly, pilgrims would take the most direct route available, marching with their fellows for safety, stopping only at the largest and most revered of holy sites along the way.
All manner of opportunists - hucksters, traders, mercenaries, whores, penumbrists, itinerants, bandits and brigands - gravitate towards the Shadow March in the way insects are insitinctively attracted to sugar. Amongst them would march patricians and other members from the Imperial administration, some on foot in self-imposed chastisement, others riding atop indriks and other exotic mounts or steam-belching ambulants.
Despite the enthusiasm and fanaticim of those who undertake the March, few make it to the SepulchralPalace, as the dangers and horrors of Kharkharadontis can attest to. Those that do make it are rarely sane, and their bodies are often withered and corrupted by the Penumbra from years of marching under its corrupting gaze. Those undertaking the ShadowMarch often wrap their bodies in unguent-scented bandages and pierce their flesh with cathadesms containing prayer and litanies in the hopes of protecting them from the penumbral influences. They rarely succeed.
I also created a new improved version of the Korachani Sigil, the old version of which I lost in a system crash a few weeks ago. Its divided into 7-segments - representing the seven ancient nations of the Inner Sea. each segment contains a circle - the capital city and ruler of the respective nation, with a larger circle in the middle, representing Malichar and the Undying Machine.
I'm posting this in reply to a comment in the previous entry about Vorropohaiah. Hetepheres is the deranged sphinx-queen of Venthir and this excerpt is taken from the (now close to 550,000 word) Encyclopaedia Elyden detailing her life. I've also attached a map of extant Venthir below so help navigate the regions/places.
Strangler, Queen of Venthir: sphinx and
fierce paranoid ruler of the nation of Venthir
since 201 RM. She is descended from the Nathi
sphinxes and is believed by many scholars to be amongst the last few members of
her race (certainly the most infamous), though the creatures’ reclusiveness
makes this impossible to prove.
first recorded sighting was in the Venathiempire (the natural successor to Nath)-3 RM, where she ostentatiously
entered the city of Teira under the
light of the IvoryMoonSiella.
The Nathi sphinxes became the victims
of a series of genocidal wars (over resources and land) at the hands of the Nathi empire, and by c. -309 RM they had
been all-but destroyed. It is thought that Hetepheres
was born early in this time of conflict and bore the bitterness and anger of
her people, carrying the last memories and hive-thoughts of her kin with her
(possibly the source of her madness). Records from the time indicate that she
offered the humans of Teira
redemption of their sins. A cult of personality appeared with her as the centre
and by c. -1 RM she had become espoused as a living-deity and a symbol of her
of Hetepheres would travel across the
region, disseminating her word, sermonising anyone who would listen. But Teira was but one city amongst dozens,
and the regions’ cities of influence remained Venath and Merakhi. Many
opposed this new cult, and in 8 RM an army of her opponents marched against Teira, seizing it and capturing a great
deal of her followers. Most were slain with the others exiled from Venathi cities. Hetepheres willingly left the city and settled the ruins of Enaath with what remained of her
followers. The abandoned ruins were franticly rebuilt and fortified over the
next years, with an exodus of people from surrounding cities flocking to the Enaath, which by 18 RM had burgeoned
into a fledgling city known as Hetepheropolis.
Allying itself with Teira, it formed
a new powerbase that the western cities of Venath
the coming decades mystery-cults began to appear in most Venathi cities. Those that were discovered were destroyed by the Venathi government, but their popularity
was undeniable and by c. -50 RM the cults were an open secret and had become an
unofficial religion in the region, deep-rooted in Teira, Hetepheropolis and
TaarAl (later known as Taarom).
It was amid this rise in her cult that Hetepheres
disappeared after a large sermon at her main temple in Hetepheropolis in 57 RM. This would lead to her deification and the
official funding of the ReligionoftheSphinx later that year. In subsequent
years the church would grow to such strengths that it brought about the
unification of the regions’ people and the subsequent birth of Venath as a true nation in 64 RM.
empire’s growth was explosive and by 132 RM it was in control of Sarastro, Nárthel, Tarati and Naareth. Though its expansion had been
too rapid, and its ruling Asanate
struggled to maintain its borders. The death of its ruler LabaisinghtheStrong in battle against CharMâthi
in 151 RM fractured its government. That, coupled with the growth of the Korachaniempire to the north-west would leave the Venathi empire ruined by c. 170 RM. The region was allowed to
crumble, its once-proud cities falling into strife and decline and were it not
for the return of Hetepheres in 194
RM, the region would likely have continued to decay.
The reappearance of the sphinx-goddess renewed the
hopes of her beleaguered people and her armies conquered cities that remained
loyal to the Asanate. Her worship
became near-universal amid the remnants of the Venathiempire and her
power and influence waxed exponentially. The capital in Venath had been struggling against a slowly retreating coastline
for centuries an in 201 RM Hetepheres
renamed the region Venthir, and had
the capital moved to Hetepheropolis, which
by then had become a thriving metropolis.
Her rule was harsh out of necessity. The region as
still unstable after decades of chaos and law had to be enforced. Martial law
restored order and trade to the region, which served to further unite the
cities. Though as law was restored within Venthir’s
borders, the lands without brought new challenges. The Korachaniempire
continued to expand, taking Zion in
212 RM, and declaring war on Sarastro
soon-after. The worsening climate and ever-withdrawing seas of Elyden left many
coastal areas barren; many cities and thousands of people suffered, shattering
the stability that had been wrought by Hetepheres.
Disillusioned by the realities that beset her people she became insular,
secreting herself deep within her odah-chambers in her temple-complex in Hetepheropolis, leaving the subjugated Asanate to rule in her stead – the
handful of rulers she had not slain following her rise to power. In 232 RM they
attempted to warn her of the Korachaniempire’s war against Sarastro, but she denied them audience,
leaving them to cope with the threat of war alone. In 233 RM they sent
reinforcements into Sarastro,
realising that if Sarastro were to
fall Venthir would be next to draw
the attentions of Korachan. This was
in direct contradiction of her laws.
This war continued unbeknownst to her for decades and
it was only in 318 RM, when an imperial lictor infiltrated her temple-complex
and spoke with her, telling her of the war and of the Asanate’s defying her edicts. She emerged from her chamber, slaying
slaves and servants and generals alike. Following this she ordered her armies
to withdraw from Sarastro against the urges of her advisors. Upon their return
she strangled her generals and their families; hundreds lay dead in the palace,
its floors slick with blood. This act earnt her the moniker of ‘Strangler-Queen’, which she propagated in a bid to spread fear. The awe this
instilled in her people was palpable and the next years were dominated by the
erection of colossi, temples and other idols in her name – a constant reminder
of her presence, though she herself had retreated into her lead-lined
temple-complex once more. Outside Venthiri
borders, Korachan took Sarastro in 339 RM, the withdrawal of
the sphinx’s armies partially to blame. Imperial pressure on Venthiri borders increased, until in 359
RM events took a sudden change.
The details behind QueenHetepheres’ abdication of Venthir to Korachan are buried beneath millennia of history and are likely
buried on purpose. What is undeniable from imperial records is that the ArchpotentateMalichar, alongside a massive retinue of his loyal followers,
entered Venthir early in 359 RM on a
diplomatic visit. Staying in her palace in Hetepheropolis,
he and his diplomats were treated to displays of Venthiri armies on parade and other propagandist shows of strength.
Hetepheres emerged from her solitude
and spoke with Malichar on occasion,
even appearing publicly, drawing the crazed admirations of her people, despite
her haggard appearance. During a tour of the nation late in the year, 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 Korachan. Patrician families flowed into
Venthir, bringing with them
technarcana and other imperial beliefs and practices. The imperial
administration was fully established in Teira
in 376 RM within the monolithic AcropolisofCaur, an edifice built in true imperial design with its grand
granite-and-steel 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. Venthir prospered.
The ReligionoftheSphinx was allowed to remain though
in a controlled form and as a sub-cult of the ChurchoftheMachine,
which advocated her as a prophetess of the imperial Church from c. 380 RM,
following years of religions tension. Hetepheres
herself remained a recluse though was forced by imperial law to make public
appearances, where it was revealed that she had become obsessed with
technarcana and orthoses – her retinue of advisors and politicians replaced
with technarcanist, alchemist and penumbrist sycophants – her face hidden
beneath an archaic stylised technarcane mask. By 575 RM the patrician House of Ashura had risen to full power in Venthir, taking on the role of administrator, slowly becoming a hereditary
monarchy that took on the title of Adonis.
Hetepheres remained as little more
than a cultural symbol and the custodian of Hetepheropolis.
Her rule there became dark and whimsical, life cheap. She would round up the
poor and rich alike, and pit them against each other in gladiatorial fights
designed purely to sate her bloodlust. During all this she would continue to
dabble in the art of technarcana and every public appearance brought with it a
new orthosis – less flesh, more machine; her lifespan increased through
artificial means. Few know the true reason for this, though the mysterious disappearance
of a sect of scholars in 995 RM leads many to believe that she was attempting to
create a barrier, separating her thoughts and dreams from those of her kin in
distant lands (sphinxes were renowned for their hive-consciousness and the
ability to communicate
through dreams with one another).
1402 RM, following a 9-year conflict that arose between technologists and
ecclesiasts following the SecularDissolution of 1393 RM, Hetepheres had thousands of her
opponents slain (their bodies displayed outside her palace in Hetepheropolis) and advocated the art of
technarcana openly. A technocracy was established in Teira and the region to become a hub of technarcane arts, with
colleges and manufactories increasing over the coming centuries. Seven days
following her victory against the ecclesiasts in Venthir two ancient sphinxes arrived outside her palace demanding
an audience, admonishing her bloodthirsty rule, blaming her for the slow
degradation of their species. She killed the two, taking their skulls and wings
as trophies which adorn her throne to this day. This exacerbated her obsession
with technarcana and her desire to sunder her thoughts form those of her kin. In
1593 RM construction was completed on a gigantic engine deep beneath her
palace, its engineers all entombed within the engine itself. None who now live
know is full purpose. Hetepheres withdrew
from the public following this and disappeared for centuries, emerging suddenly
in 1905 RM.
once she had been a being of unbridled grace and savage grace, now she was a
changed thing, twisted and wretched, unrecognisable save for the savagery with
which she attacked technarcanists and technologists without provocation. With her
armies she obliterated her nations’ main industry and by 1921 RM its
technarcane colleges had been destroyed, its scholars killed or exiled (where
they would eventually fund the nation of Saragos).
The most knowledgeable were sworn beneath her aegis and remained only as her
own personal cadre to support her growing technaracane needs.
actions then obliterated the golden-age of Venthir,
whose wealth was the sole reason it managed to survive the ensuing centuries. Its
many metropolises dwindled and strife slowly took over, with starvation
spreading to its larger cities. Law broke down and the nation became a shadow
of its former self.
years since that time her appearances became fewer and fewer; her appearance
over the last 2,000-years numbering little over a dozen, almost all of which
saw her attacking sects or groups or cities with her loyal technarcane armies
before retreating into the shadows of her temple. Her last recorded major appearance
was during the War for the Shadow and the
Helix, where she fought during the Siege of Char Mâthi, killing the champion Ari in single combat.
of Venthir became the sole
responsibility of the Adonis’ of HouseAshura, though Venthir would
never recover from its sphinx-queen’s destructiveness and apparent
invulnerability. During this bitter fall, Hetepheres
remained in her palace, brooding, dreaming in solitude.