I’m typing this in the middle of a rather severe thunderstorm but I’m very pleased to announce that all of my books are now available to read for free on Kindle Unlimited! The Tales from Liserna trilogy has been updated, finally, which means all of the dialogue tags and bugs have been fixed (the ones I had knowledge of anyway) and I can get on to other things. Namely, finishing the second Redgate book.
I’ll let you all know when next I have stuff. Slowly whittling down the pile of projects. Slowly.
It’s that time again. Time to settle down with a good book and a warm coffee. Of course, I’ll be writing said hopefully-good book. It’s November! Which means it’s National Novel Writing Month, and this year once again I’ll be diving into the Redgate Chronicles with the second book in the series, New World. Marcus, Evaline, and Kisuke were such an awesome group to work with last year, so I’m excited to continue their story.
A quick project update: The Tales of Esper Ravenwood audiobooks are in production (by me, as usual) and will be up on YouTube eventually. Probably not this month. I’ll make an announcement for it when it happens, and I plan to release two chapters a week when I start releasing them. The audio versions of my books have been edited, and I think the story is, frankly, better. Which means I’ll also be creating revised-edition versions of the Kindle books at some point. The Lazarus Anthology and Blood of Hyperion are on the back burner at the moment, and at some point I’d like to visit Esper’s younger years in a series of prequels, tentatively titled the Adventures of Esper Ravenwood. That’s a long-term idea, though, and I won’t know until I get there. Other far-distant projects include a sci-fi universe in the works, slowly developing with the inspiration of my friend and romantic-fantasy writer, Sarahbeth Lazic, and the story formerly known by various names, such as Charge and All’s Well in Asgard. For some reason it isn’t working as a story, which means I need to sit down and have a chat with it at some point. But not this month.
This month I’m breaking out the old Redgate playlist on YouTube and settling in to see what mischief this band of reprobates get up to. To my fellow WriMo’s, as usual, may the words be ever in your favor, and good luck!
You ever have characters that, no matter what you do, you can’t seem to find a decent conflict for them? Maybe they’re a major support that needs a subplot, maybe it’s a main character who wants nothing to do with the story being told, or maybe it’s a character that should have a bigger role in the story but nothing is working.
Enter, the Well of Nope. Also known as the giant list of things that your character never wants to do, be, or witness.
There’s a phrase that I keep in my head when I’m writing, especially when I’m planning a story: “Never name the well from which you will not drink.” Not only useful to remember for character development, but decent life advice as well. Never say never, as in, never say you’ll never do something. This can have unintended side effects. For instance, when I was in school I constantly told myself that I’d never be an author because I don’t tell good stories. Esper and the rest of the Five Realms happened. I also told myself I’d never be a good multiplayer gamer, because lots of information overwhelms me. Overwatch happened.
So, what would your characters “never?” This question actually goes deeper than one might think. As an example: a young man never wants to become like his father. Which begs two questions: What about the father does he hate, and what is the father actually like? Answering those not only gives insight into the boy’s psychology, but also provides a direction and potential for growth. Let’s say the boy dislikes his father because he ignores his son. That would, of course, be from the young man’s perspective and not the objective truth. The flip side to that is that the father is a hard worker and wants desperately for his son to have a better life than he did, so he throws himself into his work.
That would mean a potential path of growth for the young man might go something like this: The son has grown up and made a name for himself, but now he has a young apprentice. He keeps working, but when he realizes that he’s ignoring said apprentice, he faces one of his “never’s” from the Well of Nope. From there he can confront that issue while maintaining his hard work, eventually becoming very much like his father, but not just the negatives. The end point might be that once he’s made peace with the fact that he is his father’s son, he realizes he is better able to manage both his work and his apprentice. He ends up knowing when to work and when not to ignore, and resolves whatever conflict stemmed from the neglected apprentice.
Marcus, from The Redgate Chronicles, also has an example, and one that illustrates how the Well of Nope can also be used as a massive catalyst. Because of his appearance, he believes he’ll never find love. When that belief is proven false, it gives him both hope and an exploitable weakness. It leads to him both screwing up in the worst possible way, but also to him trying again. The massive screw up? Changes the world forever, and leads him toward encountering and subsequently dealing with even more of his never’s.
While single never’s can have far reaching consequences, there are usually multiple answers to this question. Esper has a long list of never’s that he confronts throughout his story. All of them are double-edged swords, bringing both complications and boons. See how many answers you can find to that question, and pull them apart to see how the result would affect the character, both negatively and positively. How many of those can you weave into the plot? How many would change its course entirely?
From which wells would your character never drink?
The Astral Realm, the Divine Realm, home to gods, Gaurdians, and floating cities of light and magic. Unlike Liserna and Oberun, Arcturus and Senabyss aren’t so much harmonic opposites as they are harmonic equals. Beings from either realm can exist in the other, but it takes a great deal of energy and willpower to get from one place to the other. Beings from Arcturus are generally called Immortals, because they tend not to age or die. The languages spoken here are Archaic, used as the common tongue by the Celestials, Eionic, which is the language of the long-dead Dragon race, and used mainly by the Alkali when speaking to each other, and Primordial, a primitive language spoken only by the tribal Groundlings.
From anywhere in Arcturus, you can see the stars, even in the daytime. They flicker through the clouds in bands of vivid pastel shimmers, and are even more beautiful at night when the auroras light up the entire sky, both above and below the High Cities. Most civilized places on Arcturus are situated on islands that levitate above the landscapes and seascapes below, suspended by the innate and powerful magic of the Realm. There are very few places on the Ground that are settled and civilized, because of the extraordinarily high concentrations of wild energy that flow through the ground and water, and permeates the air. This incredible power has adverse affects on those of a more fragile nature, thus leading to very little contact between the Ground and the Cities.
The sea is similarly avoided by most Isle dwellers, despite the plethora of edible creatures that can be plucked from it, but the Clestials have come up with their own technology and systems to harvest resources from around them. They are a very sustainable civilization in general, with greenhouse farms, atmospheric water harvesters, and alchemy machines that help keep everything in working order. They’ve imported plants and animals from other Realms, and over the years they’ve adapted to the strange environment. Most plants in the Cities are used for food, while most animals are kept as pets, transportation, or for shearing to make fibers used for clothing and decoration.
The main landmass of Arcturus, which consists of vast stretches of mountains, valleys, deep chasms, forests, deserts, and grasslands, all shrouded much of the time in veils of mist and fog. Veins of magic in the rocks result in alloys and materials unique to Arcturus, as well as creatures that resemble nothing else on the Five Realms. Surrounding the Ground is a massive ocean, called the Astral Sea.
The Middle Isles
Low-floating islands populated mainly by the Alkali, in small towns and cities. They trade different forms of salt as their main form of currency, and don’t have any one ruler. They are mainly self-sustaining, with some groups of harvesters flying down to the Ground to gather components and other miscellany, via the use of special suits constructed to withstand the huge power of the land. Because they are generally below the clouds, the Middle Isles do get rain and snowfall, resulting in rivers that cascade in waterfalls off the sides of the islands.
The High Cities
The towering, sprawling cities of the Celestials sit upon the highest floating islands, in the midst of the clouds. They have become alchemically and magically advanced, constructing large converters that harvest water and other minerals from the atmosphere, and a network of Stangs that allows them to travel from city to city easily. The capital of the High Cities is Æspherium, the City of Hope, from which the Kings rule Arcturus. For most of recorded history, only one of the two seats has been occupied, by the god of Sun and Summer, Dinmora.
The native races of Arcturus aren’t as widely varied as the other Realms, in terms of number, and tend to keep to themselves. They are the least likely of any Realm to adventure into the others, so seeing an Immortal anywhere outside of Arcturus is practically unheard of. Immortals include Celestials, Primordials, Archons, Ephemerals, and Alkali.
Celestials stand an average of just over 6 feet tall, and are built slim and willowy. Their skin shines as though it was made of starlight, with some even having brighter pinpricks in constellations, just as Humans would have patterns of freckles. Their hair tends to be fine and silky, and, like their skin, varies in rich, metallic tones, from silver-pale to obsidian. Their eyes tend to be vivid and multi-toned, with heterochromia being the norm. Celestials are by far the most common race in Arcturus, as well as the oldest.
Primordials stand from 5 to 6 and a half feet tall, and are generally built like highly muscular Humans, with two glaring exceptions: their skulls and faces resemble that of a Dragon more than any other race, and they have an extra pair of arms. Primordials make their homes not on the floating islands of Arcturus, but on the ground, where they’ve built up tribal societies around the patterns of magic in the rocks, rivers, and trees. They are very much in tune with this energy, and it has shaped them in return, possibly being responsible for the strange appearance of these creatures.
Archons stand about 7 to 9 feet tall, with long features and slender bodies. They have subtle, smooth scales on their skin in brightly colored and intricate patterns, that change as they age and go through important events in their lives. These patterns can also be color-changed to communicate to other Archons, though they also speak the common tongue. Some Archons live and work alongside the Celestials in their floating cities, but others have formed loose-knit communities around the outskirts, and sometimes on nearby islands, accessible through various means.
Ephemerals are serpentine beings that possess a humanoid torso and face, but their lower bodies have long, snakelike tails instead of legs, and whose arms, tails, and backs are patterned with a wide, colorful variety of feathers. From head to tail, Ephemerals are generally around 10 feet long, and use their feathers for a variety of purposes, including limited gliding. They form wandering bands alongside the Primordials, trekking along the ground in search of resources and trade.
Alkali are a small race, standing only 3 and a half to 5 feet tall, and are the only race in Arcturus who speak primarily Eionic. They live on the scattered islands that float between ground level and cloud level, rather than above, like the ones the Celestials live on. Their skin and hair come in a wide variety of shades, usually metallic or vibrant tones. They have the largest variety of efficient airships in the Five Realms, and often times the most contact they have with the other races is trade, though the Groundlings prefer to walk, usually, and the Celestials prefer teleportation via the various Stangs in each city.
Celestial Guardians are extraordinary individuals, usually from other Realms, chosen by the rulers of Arcturus to defend the Realm and its people, as well as perform tasks in their Realm of origin that serve to keep the peace between all Five. They are given wings, like those of a large bird, to symbolize their position and rank, which can be summoned and dismissed at will. Celestial Guardians can only be chosen in times of impending chaos, and only if two or more rulers (or deities) agree on the decision. With Dinmora being the only ruler for hundreds of years, after Luscerann stepped down, he’s had to get creative in finding other deities that agree with him. However, because of the infrequency and importance of these Guardians, there have been rare occurrences in which one is called back from even Death to serve.
Thanks for reading through this exploration of Arcturus! It is by far one of the more mysterious Realms, if not the most so. In the next installment I’ll be diving into the Dark Realms, and as always, let me know if you’d like me to write about anything in particular!
In the Five Realms, “magic,” is not a word that is feared, nor a concept that exists in only stories and myths. It is real, and it is potent.
In Omnia in particular, many styles of Magic are studied, explored, and understood in much the same way that science as a general concept is understood in most modern cultures on Earth. Those who study this manner of changing, understanding, and working with reality are called Mages, and those who have become the most influential, powerful, or well-versed in their area (of expertise or of residence) are called Archmages. One can technically be a Mage or an Archmage without having any magical ability at all, though most people are able to learn how to do rudimentary energy work, which anyone can learn regardless of talent. In much the same way that students in our modern cultures take to their own subjects, though, not everyone in Omnia, or any of the other Realms, are required or even expected to learn about complex concepts in relation to magic. Most know what it is, possibly a bit about how to use it in theory, but generally never get too far down the rabbit hole of one style or another.
Styles of Magic
Art is a form of magic used specifically by Bards and Skalds to induce specific mental states in either the caster, or the audience. Art uses resonance and subtle illusions to create images in the air, in people’s minds, or in the caster’s mind, as well as to enhance the strength, speed, or other attributes of weapons. Songblades are the preferred weapons of the Skalds, while true Bards tend to stay back and lend a helping hand to their team in combat, if ever they are in combat. Most Bards who end up in situations like that also resort to a different style of either magic or melee, with some only using it to enhance their aim, or to distract.
Skaldic Art is a style specific to Liserna, which uses chant, song, poetry, or other verbal cues to put the caster into a heightened state of awareness. Skalds are often called War-Bards or Battle-Poets, and they have much in common with Shamanic Berserkers in the way that their power affects them. It’s said that the Song of Winter was the first Songblade ever created, and it was indeed created in Liserna.
Clerical Magic is the magic of predominantly Priests, though there are other practitioners that go by different names. Clerical Magic is the hardest to learn, because it requires not only a keen understanding of one’s own power, but also a devotion to the Gods, either as a group or to an individual, or to a Domain. It is the most widely varied type of magic, because there are so many different gods and domains. Clerical healers can call upon their Patron, Matron, or favored Domain to restore strength and mend wounds, whereas Warpriests can call upon the divine to grant them strength, endurance, or other feats of magic.
Channeling is a power that allows Priests, and sometimes other devotees of certain beings, to let a spirit, deity, or other power come into their physical body and express themselves and their energy through it.
Smiting is a type of spell that places a mark on the target, usually one that drains away at that target’s energy until they are either dead or unconscious. Normally Smites are only used by malicious Warpriests, but some Priests of, say, Dinmora, have been known to Smite those aligned with “darker” gods and energies.
Druidry is a style that calls upon the elements and energy of the land surrounding the caster, in a way that allows them to share power, thoughts, and strength. This allows the caster to do things like hear mountains speaking to each other, trees gossiping, and brooks literally rambling. Most Druids have one element or energy that they call upon better than others, and they tend to focus in that one specific area. For example, a Druid of Beasts would be able to not only speak with animals, but understand them and their energy well enough to borrow that shape for a time, not unlike Shamans do. The difference is that Shamans work with dead spirits, and Druids work with the living.
Groves and Glens – Druids organize themselves into factions, usually based in a common physical area, in order to gain a better understanding of the land and each other. While solitary Druids aren’t unheard of, they aren’t exactly common, either. Groves typically have one member, usually an elder, as the leader of the group, whereas Glens do not.
Fae Magic includes any style of spellcraft that originated in Oberun, and as a general rule includes all things that manipulate the perceived or physical attributes of objects and individuals. Types of Fae Magic include Enchantment, Transfiguration, Charming, Hexing, Glamoury, and Illusion, all of which do the same thing, but focus on different targets. Enchantment works on objects, Transfiguration works on the body, Charming works on the emotions, Hexing on the mind, Glamoury on the senses, and Illusion on energy. Some scholars believe that Fae Magic came about as a way to hide and deal with the attack on Oberun by Tharenor and his forces.
Necromancy is defined as a spell, work, or casting that deals directly with passage to and from the Wyrd, in any way that would change, delay, or restrict it. It is the only style of magic that is openly frowned upon in all five Realms, and outlawed in many.
Blue Necromancy uses partial souls to animate, resurrect, or change the body.This was the first style of Necromancy ever used, and typically results in things like Zombies, Ghouls, and Skeletons.
Green Necromancy brings entire souls back from the bring of the Wyrd, in order to restore function to a body. Subjects of Green Necromancy usually end up being immortal, though not indestructible, and comparisons are often made between it and Clerical Magic. Green Necromancy is responsible for Banshees, Vampires, and Litches, as well as Revenants, who have the most complete soul retrievals and can usually function as well as any normal member of their living race. However, thus far the only Revenants to have been created were done so by the Raven Queen.
Red Necromancy is an ancient form of magic that has been banned, and the users hunted down, all across the Five Realms. It involves creating a bridge, or a Gate, into the Wyrd, rather than through it, and is rumored to be so powerful that an entire Realm was destroyed with it, and one of the First Gods split in half. Thus far, there have only been two known users of Red Necromancy in history, and one of them was the First Goddess Val-Serra.
Runecasting is an ancient form of magic that is only recently making a re-appearance in the Realms. Nobody is really sure how it got wiped out in the first place, likely something having to do with Scourge, but it traces its origins back to Ancient Borreas in Omnia. Runecasters call upon symbols from the Wyrd, usually learned through dreams and a “call” to do so, in order to change physical reality. Runecasters often have a deep connection with the ebb and flow of life, and a slightly different connection to the world than most people, because they can take spirit-journeys into the Wyrd. However, this is not the same as Necromancy, because nothing outside of the journeyer is changed by their wanderings.
The only known modern Runepriest has speculated that the Wyrd forms around the thoughts of the Traveler, and that it can never be fully understood, or even observed, by someone whose mind is wandering. He still isn’t sure where the Runes came from, or why they call to certain people. Neither is anyone else, for that matter.
Shamanism is the use of full or partial souls — usually from animals — to augment, change, or disguise the caster’s form. To the untrained, this usually looks like Shapeshifting, which is a type of Fae magic wherein the wielder physically transforms, but they are very different. While the form the Shaman takes is usually quite believable, and even functions as one would imagine it would function, harming the disguise will not harm the Shaman. Another key aspect of Shamanism is the use of trance and meditation to explore the inner mind, and the mind of the animal one wishes to connect with.
Berserkers, like those made famous in old Borean tales, are technically a type of Warrior-Shaman, using the aspects of their companion spirits to fly into a rage and augment their strength, speed, and reaction time, rather than take on that form. A wolf-berserk will not “turn into a wolf,” in the same way a wolf-shaman would. Going berserk also takes a massive strain on the body, in a way that normal Shamanic or even Skaldic practices do not.
Sorcery is by far the most common form of magic, and the one that is easiest for most people to learn. Sorcery includes basic energy work like grounding, centering, and basic healing, as well as anything that draws purely on the caster’s own power, rather than an outside source. Masters of Sorcery have, with practice, expanded their own internal energy wells, and can draw upon the vast stores of power to do things like summon fireballs, create lightning, heal, and even form weapons out of seemingly thin air. While it is the easiest form to learn, it is the hardest to master, and while most magic users do have some background in rudimentary Sorcery, those who get beyond the basics learn quickly that it is tremendously difficult to control.
Witchcraft is a practice that involves using magical implements (for example: wands, staves, candles, and incantations) to enhance natural ability. Witchcraft most likely came about as a way to help control Sorcery outside of one’s own willpower. Witchcraft also tends to specialize in more subtle magic like healing and quiet spellwork, rather than big, flashy shows of firepower. Many consider it to be something like the more refined cousin of Sorcery, given that they share so many similarities, though neither one is objectively better than the other. Practitioners of Witchcraft are usually called either Witches or, in some more formal settings, Warlocks. The word “Wizard,” is actually used to indicate any magic user that uses their talents specifically for practical purposes, rather than to indicate a male witch.
A Note on Scourgemarks:
Scourge is sometimes considered a form of Red Necromancy, though nobody is quite sure if it is or not. Some say that because it draws power directly from the Wyrd — which sometimes results in a particular type of Undead — it is most definitely Necromancy, others believe that because it doesn’t have anything to to with physical or spiritual travel, it isn’t. Either way, Scourgemarking is a powerful form of magic that has only been used in one realm — Omnia — and has since been declared a crime in all others.
A Note on Alchemy:
Alchemy is often called a form of pseudo-magic, that involves taking chemical, magical, or other reagents and combining them to produce specific effects. Some Alchemists also enchant their concoctions to give them an extra “boost,” but most don’t. The practice of Alchemy is relatively modern, and not much study has been done into the matter.
I hope you’ve enjoyed or learned something from this outline of the different magics of the Five Realms. If I confused you with anything, feel free to ask questions in the comments. See you next time!
The Fae Realm, the Eastern Realm, which was nearly abandoned long ago when Tharenor tried to conquer it. It is the harmonic opposite of Liserna, which means that natives to that realm cannot exist in Oberun for very long without great discomfort. The beings who live here naturally have limited lifespans, but the limits are not quite as well defined as most outsiders would think. The most widely spoken languages in the established world are Elven, Dark-Elven, Fae, and Mind-speak, which is a kind of telepathy that all races inherently understand, but only native Oberunites know how to initiate.
Oberun is a water world, composed of mainly ocean with large island continents scattered over its surface, the largest of which is called Titania, and the others having various names in various languages. The islands, including Titania, are split up into Kind and Cruel lands, or Seelie and Unseelie in the language of the Fae, based on how much of it got corrupted by Tharenor’s demons. The sky here is a pale pink, which tends to give outsiders a feeling of eternal dusk, the plants are generally green, but come in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes, and the insects are rather a bit larger than one would hope.
One of the most prominent species of plant on Oberun are the giant Dor trees, which tower over the rest of the forests’ canopies, and whose roots dig so far down into the earth that many wonder whether or not the world would come to an end if any of these trees should fall. The shade from this second layer of leaves shelters the smaller, more normal sized trees, and protects them from the weather, which is usually quite warm. Because of the vast scale of the Dor, many Fae societies have taken to carving homes into the deep bark, an artform that keeps the tree growing and yet allows them access to the highest branches.
The island-continent of Titania has a scar across its surface, a mark from where the great war against Tharenor’s demons finally came to a close. In the aftermath of a powerful sage banishing most of the demonic forces back to Senabyss, a crack opened in the ground, several hundred miles long, from north to south. This has come to be called the Great Titanian Rift, and marks the most obvious boundary in the world between the Seelie and Unseelie lands. Some believe that if the rift grows large enough — assuming it continues to grow, of course — it will split the realm in half, and connect the Coven Sea with the Heron Sea.
The West Court
The West Court includes the western halves of Titania and Nicneven, the entire isles of Puck and Mote, and several of the minor, outlying islands. From May Hall, the head of the West Court and God of Spring, Alromé Sun-on-Leaves, rules over this vast swath of Oberun. For the most part, the Court leaves the Karriban Ride, a stretch of plains and savannah to the Seelie side of the Great Titanian Rift, to the Centaurs that call it home, and the Centaurs in turn stay out of Court affairs. The West is the largest Court in all of Oberun, and has outposts on each of its controlled Isles.
The East Court
The smallest of the three Courts, the East Court contains part of eastern Titania and the Crescent Isle, on which the lesser goddess Dezna makes her home. From November Hall, the Goddes of Autumn and the Moon, Séåninn Wanderer-in-the-Sky, makes her home and presides over the Court. It is said that November Hall was the base of the strongest resistance in the history of the Five Realms, in which Zirquoya Wind-Caller pushed Tharenor’s forces back to almost the edge of the massive eastern forest, and earned his place among the ranks of the First Gods.
The Unseelie Lands
The Unseelie Lands don’t have a Court so much as they do a collection of leaders who sometimes gather to discuss what is going on. For all that the entire atmosphere of these lands seems cruel and somewhat unsavory, most of the individual inhabitants are at best quite friendly, and at worst rather shy. The Unseelie Lands contain a section of central and south Titania, most of the Nicneven Desert, all of the Isles Sidhe and Maeve, and a few outlying islands. The only real division between the peoples in the Seelie and Unseelie lands is language. In Mind-speak, past energetic traumas are clearly distinguishable. For a Seelie Fae, speaking to an Unseelie would be akin to playing a tuned violin next to an untuned cello, and the clash of sound would be as uncomfortable to both speakers as it would be to someone who is harmonically aware (rather than tone-deaf).
The native races of Oberun are collectively known as Fae, since all share the ability to Mind-speak in some way or another. This includes Trolls, Elves, Pixies, Djinni, and Centaurs, as well as their dark aspects in the Unseelie side of things(Orcs, Dark-elves, Pookas, and Efreeti), and Landwights. Unlike most other realms, the Fae all interbreed with each other, producing strange mixes of creatures that populate the realm, though most established settlements’ races keep to themselves, romantically speaking. The only exceptions to this are the Centaurs, who tend to be reclusive due to their unique anatomy, and were the only race strong enough to fight against Tharenor’s forces without being marked by the experience, thus they have no Unseelie equivalent.
Elves stand about 6 to 7 feet tall, with generally fair to dark brown hair and skin, sometimes with touches of other colors intermixed. They are built lithe and graceful, with ears that can grow to be the same length as a hand. Average life expectancy for an Elf in good health is about 450 years, some living to be as old as 6 or 7 hundred, when signs of aging finally start to set in. An old looking Elf is a rare sight indeed. They are actually the least populous race in the entirety of Oberun, as most of them actually migrated to Omnia when the corruption happened. Some did come back, however, and they are what are called Pure or True Elves.
Trolls are built rounded but muscular, with thick limbs and tufted tails. They stand anywhere from 8-12 feet tall, with each individual’s height being roughly reflective of the size of the island they live on. Trolls are crepuscular, and tend to make their homes in large earthen structures like caves, tangles of Dor roots, and sometimes their own crude architecture. They greatly enjoy art, and frequently draw on themselves and their surroundings with hand-mixed pigments. Trolls live to be about 300 years old, and as they age they look more and more like they’re made of stone. When they die, they crumble into dust.
Pixies are the smallest humanoid race in the Five Realms, at a diminutive 1 ½ to 3 feet tall. They possess insect-like wings that often indicate the genealogy of the individual, and they are capable of flight. Pixies band together in hives, which are cities generally made up of an extended family group, and as a right of passage young pixies are required to leave the hive in order to find their own ways in life. Some even travel to other Realms in search of wisdom, gold, glory, or something else. Pixies live to be about 40 years old, with the oldest being around 80.
Djinni stand at 7-8 ½ feet tall, with generally flame-colored hair and blue to violet skin that shimmers and reflects the colors of the environment. They have a complex system of birth conditions that determine a Djinn child’s magical element when they are born, and they basically embody that element (or elements in the case of a cusp) as they grow older. Their eyes have a tendency to glow, which makes for rather spooky encounters in the middle of the night. Djinn live to be about 600 years old on average, though some take much longer or much shorter to become one with the element of their birth, thus no longer inhabiting their individual body.
Centaurs are a magical mix of Fae and horse, often with long ears and manes that carry down their entire backs. They stand about 9 feet tall on average, and actually have soft hair that covers their entire bodies, resulting in various coloration and marking patterns. Nobody is really sure where this strange race came from, other than perhaps being one of Nylien’s experiments, or maybe a prank from Zirqoya that stuck around. Either way, Centaurs are often touted as creatures of legend, though the demons of Senabyss remember their resistance well. The average age for a Centaur isn’t known.
Dark-Elves are physically and energetically distinct from Elves, as they were the most greatly affected by their resistance. They are the result of Tharenor’s attempted corruption of Oberun, and so generally have very light hair, and dark skin that edges more toward gray and blue than brown. They stand about the same height as Humans, with roughly similar build. Their ears are slightly thicker than an Elf, as well as slightly shorter, and the average life expectancy for a Dark-Elf is about the same as an Elf.
Orcs, due to energetic and environmental corruption, have lost the slightly portly figure of the Trolls to become more muscular, and generally mean looking. They have a slightly shorter stature, but in return have gained a pair of tusks in place of Trolls’ large lower canines. Their skin has become darker, with pronounced black, green, and brownish undertones. They live slightly shorter lives than Trolls, only because their culture has become one that values fighting for sport.
Pookas are ghostly creatures, with long limbs and large eyes. Many a traveler in the Unseelie lands have been frightened by their pale visages, or by the pranks that these tiny things sometimes pull. They quite enjoy pinching sleeping victims black and blue, as a kind of, “welcome to our place,” initiation ritual. They have their own strange culture, and do tend to get along alright with other Unseelie Fae. They actually live slightly longer than their Pixie relatives.
Efreeti have become nocturnal, relying on their dark skin as camouflage against Unseelie predators. Their eyes and hair still glow with a fiery light, however, and the Elves have stories of travelers lured to their deaths following those ethereal lights in the darkness. Despite this, Efreeti are actually the most friendly of the Unseelie Fae, often traveling far and wide to enjoy good food, better drink, and still better company in those who see them as individuals, and not the stories that precede them.
Landwights straddle the line between Fae, creature, and earth. They are the spirits of the land, sea, and sky, and have many names, like Sprites, Dryads, Naiads, and Sylphs. They take many forms and have many different personalities, so it’s nearly impossible to give them all their own categories. It is rumored that there are Landwights on the other Realms as well, but Oberun is the only one on which they regularly take physical form.
Thanks for sticking through this rather long-winded explanation and exploration of the Realm of Oberun. It’s a mysterious realm, but by far not the least explored. In then next “About the Realms” post, we’ll be looking into the floating cities of Arcturus, but before that I’ll explain a little about the many different styles of magic in the Five Realms. Hope to see you then!
The Spirit Realm, the Western Realm, where beings of the realm of Omnia go when their spirits leave their bodies (aka, death). It is the harmonic opposite of Oberun, which means that natives to that realm cannot exist in Liserna for very long without great discomfort. The beings who live here do have limited lifespans, like Mortals, though in vastly different ways. The most widely spoken languages in the established world are Spiritspeech, which is spoken widely in Liserna and among Omnian undead, and Serranian, spoken mainly by Shades and Valkurjar.
Liserna is characterized by one landmass and one global ocean, and most of that landmass is considered uninhabitable due to Val-Serra’s experiments with Red Necromancy in the Dawn Era. The land mass is generally called by the same name as the realm, and the ocean is simply, “the ocean.” The sky here is green, and the plants are generally dark, in varying shades of reddish, blue, and violet. If there are any green plants on Liserna, they aren’t native to it, and many of Omnia’s dark-shaded plants actually came from here, and were able to survive, such as weeping junipers, red stonecrop, barberries, sand cherries, and cordyline.
Some herbs that come from Liserna are non-poisonous to outsiders, including Shade Basil (which looks similar to Thai Basil), chamomile, white sage, and chocolate mint, all of which adapted green leaves in Omnia, from their blueish Lisernian counterparts. Other herbs, usually imported for their color, or on accident, are highly toxic to folks not native to the Spirit World. These include wolfsbane, nightshade, and hemlock, all of which have black leaves in Liserna. Strangely (at least, to people of the other Realms) native Lisernians use these herbs for medicinal, magical, and even culinary purposes.
Animals on Liserna are generally prehistoric looking (or they would be to us, anyway), and are generally well adapted for the environments they live in. There is a great deal of megafauna, including cave bears, wooly mammoths and mastodons, dire wolves, aurochs, muskoxen (a favored herd animal of the Dvergar), reindeer, moose, ice lions, and dire boar. Tiny mammals also scamper around the Lisernian undergrowth and burrow in the plains and hills, including jackalopes, cats, swamp deer, various rodents, maned foxes (not maned wolves, but literal foxes with big, fluffy manes), and tanuki. There are also several varieties of reptiles, including drakes, monitor lizards, and snakes, some amphibians, like turtles, frogs, and toads, and all manner of bird species, including but not limited to: sea birds, corvids (which are actually native to Liserna and migrated to other Realms, nobody knows quite how), owls, small songbirds, and large carrion eaters like vultures and condors. There are also said to be strange, twisted creatures that linger in and around the Deadlands and deep forests, with names like Spindle Striders, Murk Lurkers, and Shadow Eaters. Make of those what you will.
The Raven Lands:
Theocratic Monarchy, ruled by the Raven Queen and/or the Raven King, who preside in the Ivory Tower. All dead souls eventually reach the Tower, and from there their Fate is determined. The main inhabitants of the Raven Lands are Ghosts, though some other races stop in every once in a while for trade. The first one too rule from the Ivory Tower was actually Raven King Runel, who caused the animosity from the Shades that resulted in a boundary being proclaimed. Before that, the seat of power was in what is now the Shadelands, where the First Raven Queen, Val-Serra, ruled with a gentle hand.
Socialistic Gerontocracy, ruled by the elders of various clans. While they don’t have clans in the traditional sense of the phrase, they have extended families tied together by their sigil, or tattoo. For example, the clan Whitebarrow’s sigil is an aspen tree with an arched doorway in the trunk. The elders from the clans get together once every new moon to discuss what would be best for the younger generations. Technically only Shades are part of the Shadelands, though members of other races also live there. They aren’t viewed as second-rate citizens, just general outsiders, and are given the same respect and opportunity as a Shade of the same standing.
The capital of the Shadelands is Serra’s Cove, which used to be the capital of Liserna, before Runel moved his rule to the Ivory tower. Val-Serra, the First Raven Queen, ruled from Val’s Keep, which is the center point of the town, and is now mainly used as the meeting place for the Elders.
Librarians and Scribes are highly valued in the Shadelands, as usually there are one or more of them in attendance at the Elders’ gatherings in order to keep track of the goings-on and to preserve the living history of their people. In fact, many Shade librarians go out into other realms, sometimes at the risk of great peril, to copy down religious texts, historical documents, and other stories.
The Valk Highlands
Home of the Valkurjar, it is a mountainous region that extends north toward the equator, and into more tropical climate. Because the Valkurjar tend to keep to themselves, and even have their own language which is generally unintelligable to other Lisernians, not much is known about them, their lands, or their culture. Their terrifying appearance often keeps people away as much as the terrain does.
A stretch of high peaks that separate the Shadelands from the Deadlands, in which the Dwarves make their nomadic homes, driving or following herds of muskoxen and aurochs through the valleys and sometimes up into the alpine tundra. Because the mountains of the Dvergar are considered sacred to them, nobody has ever been allowed to mine them, including the Dverg themselves.
Lowland mountains and rolling plains that extend northeast of the Raven Lands, over which the many tribes dispute territory and sometimes live in peace. The Risar aren’t as nomadic as the Dverg, but they do have a wandering streak, and sometimes entire encampments from one tribe or another will up and leave to find greener pastures, or get away from the encroaching forces of other tribes.
The native races of Liserna do not have a collective name, given the wide variety of lives they live. This includes Risar, Shades, Dwarves, Ghosts, and Valkurjar. Generally, these races do not intermix with each other, save for the occasional mix between a Risann and a Shade, or a Shade and a Dverg. Ghosts are incapable of reproducing, and Valkurjar are so genetically different that to try with any other race would be futile.
Risar stand roughly 7 to 10 feet tall, and are built lean but muscular. They are a very androgynous race, with almost no way to tell a male from a female but for their reproductive organs(which still isn’t always trustworthy on first glance) and their own personal say-so. Gender expression in their culture largely depends on relationship dynamics. Many Risar are skilled in the art of shape-shifting, usually into animals, or animal-humanoid hybrids, and have formed clans based on various powerful animals over the centuries. They are a visually diverse race, despite the androgyny, often taking on characteristics of their “bond-animal,” that is, their shapeshifted form of choice, as they age. Risar generally live to be about 150 years old.
Dwarves (or Dvergar) stand from 3 to 5 feet tall, and are generally built wide and strong. They have nearly black skin and hair, and eyes in all colors that shine like gemstones. They live in high altitudes, generally all the way up the tops of mountains where the air is thin and cold, and the sun is dangerous. They are nomads, herders, and occasionally settle down into farming villages is the valleys, though these are usually temporary as well. Male Dwarves typically grow long beards and long hair to protect them from the wind and cold, and females do the same, just lacking the beards. Due to the harsh environment, which sometimes strays into the Deadlands, Dwarves only live to be about 80 years old.
Shades (or Svartnar) stand about 4 1/2 to 6 feet tall. They are physically similar to Humans and Elves, and can reproduce with both, though the latter is beyond rare. Their skin ranges from paper-white to a dull tan, with hair usually black or dark brown, even straying into shades of dark violet and blue. Some Shades pale their hair or sections of it, generally in accordance to personal taste, and almost all of them have tattoos indicating clan, name, occupations, and sometimes life events like periods of grieving or great accomplishments. They live to be around 100 years old regularly, and the older the Shade, generally, the more tattoos.
Ghosts (or Draugar) are the souls of the dead from other Realms that have come to live out lives on Liserna before they “retire” back into the Wyrd, or in some cases, are picked for reincarnation. They are usually white-skinned and white-haired, or even appearing in grayscale due to their transient and corpse-like nature. The period of time between a Ghost arriving on Liserna and when they leave again varies from individual to individual, and all of them have walked what is called, “the long, cold road,” to get from their “spawn point” to the Ivory Tower. Some Ghosts live on Liserna for only a few hours, some for centuries, but all of them are temporary, and aware of this in a way none of the other races are. They are also the only race that doesn’t age, and can’t make themselves age, either.
Valkurjar are the tallest race in Liserna, and possibly in all of the Realms, towering over most others at 12-14 feet tall, and resemble an odd amalgamation of human and bird. In their culture, it is a sign of respect to wear the skull of an ancestor as a mask, and to outsiders it sometimes appears as though they actually have skulls for faces. To remove one’s mask is a sign of deep trust, and even love, and is usually only done in private and around one’s family, chosen or blood. The Valkurjar are the only Lisernian race to have six limbs, with two legs, and two pairs of arms, one of which extend out into feathered wings, though are still used for grasping as well. They are capable of gliding, but not of powered flight, and instead have mastered the skill of teleportation. The Valkurjar are rumored to be immortal, but really they live to be about 800 years old before finally passing on. Their long lives mean that the dead and mortality in general is a struggle to remember, thus the skulls.
Many have wondered what happens to spirits on Liserna when they die. Not many outside of the Realm know that anything but Ghosts live there, but those that do are perplexed by the other races’ existence. In truth, when a person, of any race really, dies in Liserna, that’s it. Their soul goes back to the Wyrd, without any in-between point. Nobody is really sure why that is, though there has been much speculation, ranging from, “because it would be redundant to come back to Liserna,” to, “because the First God cursed everyone there.” Again, nobody really knows.
Thank you all so much for reading through this little glance into the Realm of Liserna! I hope to someday explore it further in short stories, or even novels. The Tales from Liserna, while taking place there in part, doesn’t really do it the justice it deserves, and I really want to show it off a little. Next week we’ll be taking a peek at the enigmatic Oberun, a realm split between light and darkness. Hope to see you then!
Omnia. The Mortal Realm, the Harmonic Realm, where any and all beings from any realm can co-exist relatively peacefully. It has a balance of the energies from all other realms, and so naturally exists in the center of the energetic cosmos. The beings who live here naturally have limited lifespans, the shortest of which belong to the Beastfolk. The most widely spoken languages in the established world are Estlandic, a linguistic descendant of Empyrean, and Gaoan, which is older than any other language in the Realm. All gods hold sway over this land, some more than others, as a measure to keep the energy of the Mortal Realm truly balanced.
The land first conquered by the Empyreans, the first ancient empire, who gave it and the surrounding lands their contemporary names. Lazarus spans from the arctic circle down to almost the equator, in one long, relatively thin, mass of land. It is populated by all manner of folk, and is home to two Kingdoms: Estland and the Empire of Stones (or Hargaoah), and three Territories: the Western Isles, the Northlands, and the Red Desert. The fauna of Lazarus is generally small, compared to that of other Realms anyway, consisting of birds of prey, herd mammals like elk, deer, and horses, bears, a few species of large cat, and the occasional wyvern.
The “paradise” continent. Because of its location and history, Austellus is one of the most geologically, meteorologically, and socio-economically stable places in Omnia. It has kept its Empyrean name over the millennia, but has yet to be conquered by any kingdom, though it has been settled. It is treated as a kind of neutral territory, and has only ever come under serious threat, and nearly destroyed, once. It is host to a wide variety of songbirds, big cats, horned mammals like gazelle and antelope, and – in the southern reaches – species of crocodile and alligator.
Named for Riven, Demon King of the North, who, in 2E 257 covered the land in Scourge, which initiated the 66 year long Lazarus War. Originally called Boreas, by the ancient Boreans, it is a cold land of ancient mountains and evergreen forests northwest of Lazarus. After the Undoing, it has become a wildly contested land, as the hills and mountains are rich in metals and gems. Its original fauna boasted a wide array of hardy animals, like aurochs, sheep, long-haired horses, and bears, but the ecosystem has since changed. The first species to return to Ravine were birds, especially mountain songbirds, birds of prey, and scavengers like ravens and crows. Many species have since begun migrating to Ravine over the winters, when the ice can reach up into the arctic circle, making paths between Ravine, Lazarus and who knows where else. Wolves, bears, and mammoths have been the most opportunistic of this new place.
Hargulad and the Hyperion Islands:
It is rumored that somewhere out to the west in the South Sea, there are a chain of Islands where the stone is rich blue and the trees stay broad-leaved and green all year round. Those islands are called Teo-Tahl by the locals, and have been mapped extensively by one intrepid cartographer. On the other side of the world, out somewhere in the Immanis, there is another land rumored to exist, from far back in Empyrean legend. A land several times the size of Lazarus and the surrounding landmasses combined. Nobody knows if this place, called Hargulad in Gaoan myth, is actually real, but with the discovery of Teo-Tahl, some are looking hopefully to the east.
Autocratic Monarchy, ruled by the King or Queen, who presides in Silverkeep, the capital. The kingdom was founded by Diamant Silverkin, and the crown has passed down the line until Xankul’s bastard son Jay Thursmund, the Phoenix King, took the throne, by virtue of his heroic acts against Riven in the Undead War. Estland is 225 years old and has had a total of five Kings.
Estland is populated mostly by humans, and the most commonly spoken language is Estlandic. People who come from Estland – usually those who are brown of hair and ruddy of skin – are called Estons.
The Empire of Stones (Hargaoah)
Oligarchic Monarchy, ruled by an Emperor, or Empress, who has gone through intense and specific training and instruction as to how and why things work in the Empire. The process of choosing a monarch begins with a circle of Oracles, who seek children with the gift of leadership, and ask their parents if they would let that child go into the education system, in preparation to perhaps become the next monarch. There is also a council, made of representatives from each of the guilds, who have the power to veto bad decisions, and even dethrone the monarch, but only with a unanimous vote.
Some of the guilds include Farmers, Merchants, Architects, Tailors, Artists, Fighters, Mages, Hunters, and Scholars, among others. The Shadows(thieves and spies), are actually sanctioned by the Empire, and only operate outside of it. They act as an information network, and the head of the Shadow Guild is generally the speaker for the council. In times of war or impending unease, the Shadow Guild can also act as a sabotage network.
Hargaoah mostly consists of Gaoans, and is usually ruled by a Gaoan. The language most often spoken is actually Estlandic, among the common folk, and Gaoan, among the councils. People from the Empire are called Hargaozi, and the capital is Har Aradace, known to outsiders as Boulder Keep.
The current ruler is Empress Ukuna, a Gaoan with flashing gray eyes, black hair, and skin the color of metamorphic rock. She is also known as Ukuna, the Lady of Steel.
Ravine was formerly known as Boreas, and, before Riven decimated it, was a thriving civilization that rivaled even Empyrea, and indeed even went to war to defend itself against them. The so-called Dragon Sea War lasted only three years, after which the High King of Empyrea decided it wasn’t worth the wasted resources. Boreas was ruled by a High King too, as well as a collection of regional lords. They had the largest navy in the world, at one point, and some say they even sailed as far as Hargulad in their height of power. However, after it became Ravine, is is now beginning to be re-settled, and has no central seat of power. Some folk are taking to Ravine as an escape from the ways of their home countries – most often from Estland – and as such are more than willing to fight to defend their freedoms, echoing the original spirit of Boreas.
The Western Isles
Once just a collection of separate nation-states, as of the end of Winterdream it has become a united Republic under the rule of Regent Terestai Dwin’Ervis, whose brother, Caunion, acts as Ambassador. Each of the isles elects representatives who deal with the larger issues like foreign affairs, and a code of laws governs all of them. However, they run their own business amongst themselves, have their own names, and even their own internalized governments, which the Regent doesn’t interfere with unless it’s strictly necessary. It is a very new country, and is still in the throes of trying to figure itself out.
People from the Western Isles are generally called Westerners, or Islanders. They speak a collection of languages, but most commonly Estlandic. While they are currently “ruled” by an Elf, the vast majority of people here are humans, and half-breeds. The capital of the Isles is Alardan, and Alardan Keep.
The native races of Omnia are, as a collective, called True Mortals. This includes Gaoans, Humans, Pebblefolk, Merfolk, and Beastfolk. Generally, these races do not intermix with the other True-Mortals (in fact doing so is, in many cultures, considered taboo), though they do sometimes produce offspring with races from other Realms.
Gaoans, or Stonefolk, stand roughly 6 to 8 feet tall, are built thick and bulky, and have striated, mineral-rich skin that seems to mimic layers of stone, which comes in various shades from chalk white to jet black, ranging through dull reds, yellows, browns, and sometimes blues and greens. They are the longest-lived of any True Mortal race, with the average life expectancy being 180.
Pebblefolk are genetic cousins of the Gaoans, standing from 3 to 5 feet tall, with the roughly the same variations of skin and hair color. They tend to have slightly bigger ears relative to head size, as well as slightly larger eyes, and they normally lack striation in the skin. They live only slightly longer than humans, with a life expectancy of 90 years.
Humans, or Plainsfolk, are generally referred to as what happened to the Mortals who weren’t changed by the various gods and lands and magics. They stand about 5 to 6 1/2 feet tall, with skin that ranges from pale to dark, in varying shades of brown, and hair that ranges from white to black, with various shades and permutations of brown, gold, and red in between. The average life expectancy of a human is 65 years, assuming stable living conditions. Humans are also the race that interbreeds with other races the most often.
“Beastfolk” is an umbrella term to describe the races that resemble non-sapient land animals. Many of these races grow hair, scales, or sometimes feathers all over their bodies, and have other attributes, like claws, ears, tails, and eyes, that further link them to their bestial counterparts. The individual races are often named after the animal type that they most closely resemble, for instance “Foxfolk,” “Catfolk,” and “Snakefolk,” though this is not the case with Fauns. They do have their own names as well, for instance, Nagas for the Snakefolk, and Huldras for the Foxfolk. They live the shortest of any True Mortal race, perhaps because of the conditions in which most of them live. Average life for a Beastfolk is roughly 40 years.
“Merfolk” is another umbrella term, but this one is used to describe the water-dwelling races of Omnia, which are often lumped together under the same name by the land-dwellers. They generally all have some array of fins, gills, scales, and occasionally lack any body hair. Merfolk are the least likely of any race to breed with any other, mostly because of the difficulties involved in doing so. They have an average lifespan of 100 years, and have adapted to suit many marine environments, from freshwater to salt, tropical to arctic.
There are races in Omnia that are not originally from Omnia, since the realm is one that supports almost all life. They are also called Mortals, since they also have limited lifespans, and are prominent in the various cultures of the world. However, being non-native, they are not True Mortals, and do not see any wrong in breeding amongst themselves – outside of cultural morality, anyway. These other races include but aren’t limited to: Elves, Dark-Elves, Demon-kin, and Dragon-kin.
Undead, while technically native to Omnia, do not have limited lifespans, and so are not technically Mortal. The most well-known varieties of Omnian Undead include Vampires, Litches, Banshees, Ghouls, and Revenants. Scourge-spawn were once on that list, but after the Undoing, there are now no Scourge-spawn anywhere in the Realm. Werewolves and other shape-changers also exist on Omnia, but because they are created from other races, like Undead, they’re more of a condition than an actual people unto themselves.
Thank you for being here for this overview of the Realm of Omnia! Next week we’ll be taking a look at Liserna, which is more than just the land of the dead. Hope to see you then!
The world, it seems, will never forget its chaos and be at peace. For more than a thousand years, wars, rebellions, and uprisings have kept the land in turmoil. At the slightest hint of lasting peace, another resurgence begins, and tensions with the Beast-folk races rise once more. Swept into the midst of that strife are three unlikely champions, pulled from the dungeons of Olsan and into the service of an unorthodox queen. With the world breaking down around them, and enemies rising in the shadows, it appears their only hope lies in the cryptic musings of a peculiar bard, and in ancient tales long abandoned. In the end, a desperate attempt at a solution may be their only way out. This is a tale of nobles and monsters, legends and demons, and a familiar face come to tell the story.
I have finally, finally, after much heartache, distraction, and struggle, finished book one of the Redgate Chronicles. I say finally because shortly after the halfway point I had a couple of days where I only managed to write a couple hundred words because of a family vacation of sorts(totally worth it, btw) and a few days in the mix where I didn’t write anything because, *alien hands* life. Not sure what I’m complaining about. I’ve managed to outrun my dad, the man who inspired “The Lowell” as a unit of measurement for productivity(which, if you’re curious, is 10k words in a day. I can write a half-Lowell.) which is a feat in and of itself.
The final, verified word count came in at a whopping 60,998 words, which, for me, is absurd for a first draft. Old World is going to be a long book, as far as my writing goes, and I am so excited to read back through it in a month or so(maybe less if I work on something between then and now) and relive all of the hilarity, heartache, and Huge Monstrous Mistakes again. And edit, of course. That too. Also cry. I suspect there will be a lot of crying involved. *curses at Marcus*
So, what comes next? Several ideas. My current projects include updating the Tales from Liserna covers to match the style of the Tales of Esper Ravenwood ones, more stories for the Lazarus Anthology, actual art for the cover of the book I just wrote because that’s a good idea, and a read-through of All’s Well in Asgard.
Actually, I might do something different with that last one. The “reality” parts of All’s Well in Asgard are really boring, and not really the story I want to be telling. The fantasy bits, on the other hand, are basically what I tried to do with another project, that has long since bit the big one, but in a way that actually works, and feels like a complete story, even though it’s only 26k or thereabouts. I may end up renaming the project to Charge, which was the title for the bit-dust project, and make it into a graphic novel/comic. It’s a story that would work quite well with the medium, and put a challenge on me that I might actually be able to complete this time.
As for non-book projects, I’m working on, of all things, developing a tabletop game with some friends of mine for the Three of Wands RPG Company. I’m currently the one spearheading the project, as it were, and thus far have the only testable prototype. I work smart. I’ll probably be running that into the ground for a while, which should sufficiently take my mind off of the Chronicles. Should be a good time!
So that’s where I’m at. Tomorrow, I will be a very confused hermit because I won’t be writing a book. Oh…wait. I’ve still got New World to plan. *evil hand wringing*