For the last several weeks I’ve been regaling y’all with character sketches, the creation story, and the divine history of Tellurin leading up to the beginning of my novel. I just wanted to take a few moments to remind everyone of the overarching reason I’m doing this: world building.
As I mentioned long ago at the outset of this long, grand adventure, I’m a pantser. That means I write by the seat of my pants. I start with a character in a situation and writer to see how he or she will get her- or himself out of it.
I’ve recently finished Stephen King’s On Writing and was pleased to read about his process, that it too, starts with situation. I have to have characters first, but it was gratifying to know what kind of company I’m in 🙂
The world evolves out of that process. It’s not like I finish my first draft and say to myself, “now I must build my world.” The world emerges from what I write. I often take notes and research as I go. I’ve also had wacky ideas and dreams all my life (and a stack of journals to go with them). Sometimes, as I write, I think, hey, this idea would work perfectly for that aspect of the world.
Once I’ve finished that first draft, I refer to my journals, lists of links from internet research, the non-fiction I’ve read that relates to my setting, and aggregate documents from all of these bits and pieces. Plotting and structure do inform my writing, they just don’t define it.
Now that I’ve reminded everyone why we’re all here, I’ll get on with the meat of this week’s post:
A geo-political history of Tellurin, part 1
When the Tellurin were first created/evolved, they were very much like innocent children. The land and the sea and the air spoke to them. The elemental creatures were their friends, and they could even understand the animals to a limited degree.
It depended on what animals and elements the akhis used to create people as to what the outcome was. Experiments with boars led to the okante, jackals became the bakath, lizards produced blinsies, basilisks became krean, gorillas became grunden, and chimpanzees became Tellurin (humans). Monkeys were also the basis for the dwergen, dwergini, the favrard, selkies and merpeople, but they were each combined with other animals. The dwergen resulted from added badger, dwergini from added mole, the favrard from added cougar, selkies from added seal and merpeople from added dolphin. The anogeni of Zaidesahki were created from a small nocturnal tree shrew. Some of the people had elemental affinities too: dwergen to earth and fire, dwergini to earth and air, the favrard to air and fire, the selkies to water and earth, the merpeople to water and air, and the anogeni to earth and water.
On land, civilization began to form around the river valleys and deltas, as it often does. For the Tellurin, organization was tribal to begin with. There were tribes all over the main continent, in every region, adapted to every climate. The greatest concentration of the population was on the south-eastern part of the continent where the weather was temperate and the conditions for growing food were optimal. Large amounts of natural resources were also readily available in the area. There the great Nubiin and Haldani civilizations developed.
They grew parallel, but with opposite philosophies. The Nubiin were by and large a cult of death. There were many great sourcerors among their people and inevitably their king, or osire was one. Sourcerous battle often decided a dynasty, a new king taking by force what he wanted from the old. Poison was a secondary art and assassins became numerous as well.
The poisonous creatures were milked for the venom and then that was in turn placed in the victim’s food or drink. Disease was also “harvested” in the form of sputum or pus and secretly administered to the victim.
Though the osire often did have the ability to influence the weather, they soon discovered it was far less bothersome to develop a technology to serve the people’s needs rather than to sourcerously supply the solution. Irrigation and plumbing were their first developments. Seaworthy ships were their next, and architecture appeared to be their finest endeavour.
They began trade and to a lesser extent conquest with the help of their ships. They quickly lost interest in defeating other people and chose instead to elevate themselves and ensure their superiority through lasting intellectual accomplishments and grandiose monuments.
They built great observatories with which to study the stars. The temples of kings turned into their tombs as one dynasty succeeded the next. Their sourcerors were great sophisticates and had developed elaborate rituals and ceremonies even before the Agrothe came into being. Elaborate but effective. They used order as a way to exert pressure on source, to make it more powerful. Through their investigations, they had discovered a Way Between the Worlds but were unable to open it in order to pass through. It was their theory that when they died, their soul and source passed through the Way and onto another life.
Funerary monuments were begun in the year the osire came into ascension (like a star) and continued as long as he (and sometimes his family) were able to hang onto the throne. At the osire’s death, ceremonies would ensue for days seeing the soul into the next life. The whole life of the Nubiin people began to focus on death in one form or another.
The Haldani, on the other hand, were adherents to the cult of life. Anything that enhanced their experience, food, drink, sex, play, sports, became a way of celebrating life. They were a society of epicureans and hedonists, and quickly fell in to decadence. Their leaders were corpulent and corrupt.
The warlike Caldoni tribes that wandered the area saw the decadence and over the course of sunspans developed a plan to conquer the Haldani. Though each tribe had its leader, all the leaders recognised Alexander as their Tigernos, or chieftain. It was his ambition that carried the Caldoni into the very heart of the Haldani lands and gave them conquest. Eventually, the Caldoni did the same to the Espanic, but though they tried to conquer the other nations of the region, they were never wholly successful.
The Caldoni kept all the best of the Haldani culture, their art and technology, but brought order to the rest. Except for the common troops that they were forced to kill, the Caldoni kept their Tellurin destruction to the nobles of their foe. In the end, many lower and middle class Haldani survived and were allowed to flourish and even keep their own ways if they so chose, under close scrutiny though.
To the north of these two great cultures were the Espanic (until they were conquered), Parimi and Saxon territories. These retained much of their tribal nature and were considered “primitive” by their neighbours to the south.
Still further to the north were the Hussari, the great horse clans.
The coastal islands to the east were home to the Brythoni, Eiran, Alban, and Cymric people. These were called the Island Kingdoms. Though closely related, they all had distinct languages and cultures, very rich for the small geographic area they covered. Sourcery was as varied among these people.
Moving inland, the marshy areas of the northern coast were home to the Sami. The Sami were fierce warriors and sourcerors owing to the harsh conditions in which they lived.
Next to them were the Skalding who lived among the treacherous fjords that topped the Northern Spine of the mountains. The Skalding were pirates and highwaymen, taking what they wanted from other people.
The mountains themselves were only sparsely populated by itinerant tribes that overseasoned in the foothills and caves, moving back into the mountains when the weather warmed in Shoudranya.
To the west of the mountains, the population remained sparse.
In the north were the tribes of the Shooksa-Nai and in the Deep Forest of the south were the Saanzu, but both of these groups remain insular and are still not integrated into Tellurin society.
When the religion of Auraya spread through out the land, each country adopted the practice in its own way. Two of the most reverent cultures were the Caldoni and the Parimi. Fervour was so great among them that they sought to unify the rest of Tellurin under their own vision of the goddess.
Thus began the religious wars. There was much burning and heresy and bloodshed and in the end, the Parimi fled the superior forces of the Caldoni who threatened to wipe them out. The Haldani and Espanic remnants, seeking to overthrow their conquerors, sided with the Parimi against them, and were forced to flee along with their allies.
The Caldoni pursued them over the mountains and to the very coast of the continent before they were finally stopped. Auraya was fond of the Parimi and at this time supported them, adopting their religion, the Faithful, as her preferred religion. She raised one of them, Alain de Corvus, as the first Kas’Hadden.
It was the Kas’Hadden who turned the tide of battle against the Caldoni. They were stubborn, however, and when they chose to remain in the area, harassing the Parimi, Haldani, and Espanic, Auraya descended, turned them back to the east, and told them never to return, on pain of death. To this day, the Caldoni believe that this apparition was not the goddess, but some trick of the Parimi.
Since that time, though they have been friendly to all outward appearances, the Caldoni have been plotting to eradicate the Parimi and the Faithful, which has become the predominant religion of Tellurin in the time of IoS.
I hope to redraw the crappy map I’ve made of Tellurin in the near future to give you a better idea of how I see the world.
- The cosmology and divine history of Tellurin, part 2 (melaniemarttila.ca)
- The cosmology and divine history of Tellurin, part 1 (melaniemarttila.ca)
- The cadre … or should that be the cabal? (melaniemarttila.ca)
- The Initiate of Stone rogues gallery (melaniemarttila.ca)