Razir – a continuation

(This piece is part of a work in progress, a continuation of a piece I wrote in 2014, where I spent 20 minutes writing what I had brewed in my head so far.

I’ve since wanted to go back and rewrite that piece, make it closer to how I want it to be. I probably will at some point, and make this into something more fully formed, but I wanted to see what ideas had come together so far.)

 

Razir ran on, tired, sweat on his back drenching his shirt.

He hadn’t slept in two days, having woken screaming. The owner and several guests at the inn had tried unsuccessfully to calm him down. He couldn’t forget the sight of the old, burned warrior lying on the beach, telling him to protect the Queen as he quickly dissolved to dust and disappeared into the sand.

It was all he could think about.

That, and the feeling of the oar handle he had held pressed in a vice-like grip. The icy coldness of it had almost burned against his skin as he’d awoken from the terrible nightmare.

 

But Razir knew enough about the world to know what happened could happen again, at any time. One doesn’t simply wake up in the Deadrealms without dying. Not unless the Queen had summoned you there.

And she only called you before her for one reason – you had some particular skill, some knack that she needed, some thing that might keep the armies of the Fiend away from the cliffs, away from the beach, away from any and all souls of the dead who he might bind to bolster his forces.

Razir had no intention of becoming a deathless soldier in her war. He would no swear her oath, would not become one of her agents in life or death.

 

Razir’s mother had always told him that his father was Oathed. He was never told to which of the Ascended the man was sworn, and no one else seemed to know.

He’d always believed it had been a lie to give his mother comfort when the stranger that was his father had gotten bored and moved on. Many had told the same story to countless other lovers. It was a useful lie.

But one that Razir could never bring himself to retell.

 

And now, on he ran. Perhaps he could find some place of safety, somewhere that the dream couldn’t pull him back. If it could.

Razir didn’t want to take any chances. He kept running, couldn’t let the tiredness take him. He had to reach the old man and ask him. He would know what had happened.

He would know what to do.

 

(That’s about all I have so far. Short, but something. I have some more but it’s not the bit that comes next. Or after that. Maybe after that, but probably not. More soon.)

 

 

 

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Z is for: Zomg it’s finished!

I’m cheating a little bit with this last one. I have a couple of ideas for how to do Z but everything I’ve had a go with so far hasn’t worked or made me want to write more than two lines.

That’s it, a full month of updates looking at elements of the Old Crown. I’m feeling pretty happy about it, especially with all the little things that made it harder – I didn’t always get a post done ahead of time, and then my laptop keyboard shorted and I’ve still not fixed it, so I’ve been using my phone or my tablet to write the various posts.

I’ve had a great time with it, and it’s really given me the chance to think more about the different parts of the setting and trying to pull it all together in one place.

So I shall be attempting to write something else this weekend, and I have the bank holiday on Monday if I want to get a bit of stuff done too.
I’m going to try and keep up with the good habits, but might drop down to updates a few times a week, at least until I try the challenge again with a different setting.

Hope everyone enjoyed it!

Y is for: Yaninda

The known world, the realm of mortals, is not the only part of existence.
The spirits live on an adjacent place, a place that some few are able to pierce through to with magikal power.
These world’s beside the realm of mortals are known as Yaninda.

Ancient legends speak of such places, such as the place the ancient Oon came from. Generally these are referred to as origins in ancient texts, though the birthplace of the Oon themselves is referred to as Origin, believed to be translated from their own language by the ancient Lizardfolk Empire.

Several realms in the Yaninda are known to exist, and are documented in ancient legends and modern texts of scholars and Arcanists:

The Deadrealms are the easiest to visit, as all mortals that die pass through the place to wherever it is souls go after death. Rituals of witches and Arcanists have long allowed brief travel to the place, if only as a shade of the mortal body. The Deadrealms is home to the Shores of the Dead, and the unceasing siege of the Fiend against the Black Lady’s forces.

The Spiritrealms, sometimes called the Greenrealms, are the home to various spirits of nature and the elements. Which travel to the Spiritrealms is impossible for mortals, if it possible through long ritual to at least blur the boundaries of the mortal world and see into and barely interact with the place. Such rituals are used by Witches seeking a soulbond with a spirit.

Whilst the Dreamrealms might seem like the easiest to reach for mortals, in reality it is the dreams that bleed over to the mortal world, and sleeping mortals are the best able to perceive these bleeds.
Some legends tell of spirits making their home in the Dreamrealms, but whether these stories are true or not is much disputed.

The Darkrealms are the only known Yaninda tied to an elemental power, that of elemental Dark.
Spirits of Darkness are most easily able to slip between here and the Spiritrealms, though their methods are entirely unknown.

Several theoretical Yaninda exists, based on knowledge of the above. Elemental aligned realms, fore fire and water and so forth, are believed to exist, though many spirits of these elements claim no knowledge of them.
The Lightrealms, believed to be a mirror to the Dark, have long thought to be lost somehow, as no spirit of Light has ever been encountered. That hasn’t stopped sages and mystics throughout history from hunting it.

Lastly, the Godsrealms are thought to be on the edges of the mortal world, perhaps bordering the other realms. It’s believed the Green Lady inhabits an area close to the Greenrealms, whilst the Watcher in the Night is said to be able to travel to the origin of Dreams.

X is for: Xeito

A great many secret societies inhabit Queenstown, and most claim to know the hidden secrets of Ascension. Members must follow instructions to attain levels of being that allow them to Ascend as gods, and the various different methods or oaths are known as the Xeito.

So far, there is no direct evidence that following the Xeito of one society or other will lead to godhood, though many have tried.

Each path follows a similar pattern of learning, testing and sometimes performance of rituals, though whether these are magikal rituals or not depends on the group performing them.

Secret groups are the rule rather than the exception in Queenstown, with many citizens members of one or more. The nobles seek power and are drawn to them, the guilders seek upward mobility and are drawn to them, and the makers of many things are offered hidden knowledge of their craft or the chance to better network and so they too are drawn to them.

The biggest secret group in Queenstown is the Broken Circle, though they are an exception in that they do not have a Xeito to follow. Rumours of a code of conduct among the thieves are numerous however.

W is for: Witchblood

In the Old Crown, those touched by a lineage of magikal power are known as Witchbloods. Whilst hereditary, sometimes the witchblood skips generations only to appear again.

Long ago, the natural order of the world brought forth individuals who had innate magikal abilities. Some speculate it may have been caused by interference by the legendary Oon, though most legends also speak of their downfall because of the innate gifts of the races they created.
The witchblood allows those gifted with it to perceive natural magik much more intensely, to perceive it at a level much deeper than normal mortals. Whilst most might experience a feeling of being watched or a prickling sensation on the back of the neck, a Witch can perceive any flows of magik or the auras of nearby powerful spirits in a similar way to sight, sound or taste, and even sometimes as these senses. They can usually pinpoint magikal sources in the vicinity with ease, or even blur the edge of realms to see and speak with spirits themselves.

The Witchs’ affinity for spirits of all kinds can be seen in their ease at the spiritbond. Arcanists can train themselves for decades and rarely hold a bond as strong as an apprentice Witch, whilst Oathed might gain such a temporary bond via the power of their Ascended patron.
Using a spiritbond, part of the soul and animus of a Witchblood permanently joins to that of a spirit, and the equivalent exchange is made by the spirit also. This touch of the spirit world is enough to allow the Witch great control over the certain magiks that their companion can also control. The reward for the spirit is a greater ability to manifest in both the spirit realms and the world of mortals caused by an accompanying rise in power.

Mostly Witches bind to peri, the spirits most closely associated with the natural world. This is the source of the power of the witchblood as a healing obligation, so that Witches become the centre of communities and important public figures, healing the sick and teaching the young and so forth.
Some Witches instead bind with the elemental jinn, gaining greater focus in elemental abilities. Rarely this is to the exclusion of all else, though the stories of the Sundancers that come from legends of the Wick would make it seem that binds to fire greatly limit healing abilities.
Theoretically, it should also be possible to bind with a Wight, as the spirits of the restless dead are still spirits, and readily able to manifest in a way similar to daimon despite scholar’s arguments to the contrary.

The Seawitches are a particularly strong bloodline of Witchbloods that make their lives travelling across the known world.
Their abilities tend to manifest at a much younger ages than other Witches, and rarely is a child born without some.
They also have a curious ability to spiritbond with animals, though generally these animals are exceptional in some way – albinos, crossbreeds, having some touch of the jinn about them, and so forth.

Witchblood has been seen as both a blessing and a curse. It brings an individual with great personal power, and often many responsibilities. Being so closely tuned to natural magik energies can draw the attention of both friendly and hostile spirits, not to mention manifested daimon.

V is for: the Valley of Faces

The most sacred site to the various Gargant tribes, the Valley of Faces is the closest thing to a capital that they have.

Located high in the mountains, the Valley and it’s approaches are the only neutral ground held by the various Gargant tribes. It is here that all Gargants come on a pilgrimage the year before their adulthood ceremony, and it is here they return as the sacred dead for their funeral ceremonies also.

The reasons for this veneration of the Valley are threefold:

The Faces the Valley is named for are carved into various head-sized stones that sit in great fields. Each of them is carved in the likeness of a Gargant, and the fields are arranged by tribe and clan.
This is the history of the Gargants, as each Face is unique through subtleties of the facial shape, clan and family tattoos and scarification, as well as any scars taken by the Gargant in life.
The Faces are carved soon after the adulthood ceremony, and further scars or tattoos are added throughout the life of the Gargant.
Each Face is unique, and a young Gargant is encouraged to study as many on their pilgrimage as they are able, so that their future tattoos and markings will reflect themselves and their clan accurately, and not be confused with any other former Gargant.

The great fields of the Faces link the Gargant people to their past, anchoring their clans and tribes. Whilst Feuds are uncommon among the Gargant, competition in life is encouraged. The veneration of ancestors, and even great adversaries, is what brings generations of Gargants to the Valley.

As a place of veneration of individuals and their competitions, the Valley is also home to the Storykeepers, holy priests and historians of the Gargant people.
Those born to the Gargant with Witchblood are encouraged to apprentice to a Storykeeper to keep the traditions and history of the Gargant people alive.
Some travel between the clans resolving conflicts and learning current tales, while others remain sedentary and allow their people to come to them.

U is for: Utari militia

The Utari militia  are the standing military forces of the Old Crown.

The Utari date back to before the conquest of the Moorish, when the main ship used by the escapees from Istan was called an Utar.
As each of the ships’ captains was responsible for his or her own crew, the Utari also became the standard military unit during the conquest. Subsequently, as the commanders and captains were given pockets of land and titles, they kept their militia as personal guards and general staff as much as a mark of prestige as a possible readiness for any retribution from the Moorish or future attack by another power.

The modern Utari are less likely to be commanded by a member of the Noble Household which they serve, although  in theory the head of the unit is still the head if the House. Many are instead commanded by an Adwar (the old Istani for ship’s captain), along with several Thanir that command individual squads of militia (Thanir being the old Istani for a longboat).
The lowest rank, the Padir, can generally expect a promotion after a few years of service, though many drift from the Utari in that time.
Generally speaking, each Utari has a handful of Thanir commanding up to ten militia each.

As the fruits of position wax and wane with the nobles, so too does the size of their militia force. Whilst originally they would have been able to crew only one old Istani ship, many of the larger Utari would have enough members for several, commanded by dozens of Thanir, whilst smallest could barely have provided a skeleton crew, and often makes do without the Thanir rank.

Whilst expected to uphold the peace, and to take orders from Wardens in the pursuit of doing so, many Utari are a law unto themselves. Many is the smart Adwar who has one Thanir keep a close watch on the squad of another, if only to make sure that any breaches of the peace are quickly quietened, and the name of the House not brought into disrepute.
On the longest day of the year, the Utari parade through the streets of Queenstown in full dress uniform. The event is generally welcomed by the crowds, if only so they can keep an eye on some of the trouble makers as they pass by.

Example Utari:

Lord Protector’s Own
The Northwood Regulars
The Northwood Auxiliaries
Lady Raethmoor’s Irregulars
The Ironroad Mounted
Lady Redwood’s Scarlets
Silverhill’s Guard

The Guild has its own militia force, generally tasked with the guarding of Guild properties or caravans. The laws of Queenstown specifically forbid the Guild militia from carrying bladed weapons within the city walls, so they generally carry maces or short staves.
The law is easy enough for the Guild to subvert by hiring a sellsword, for whom no such prohibition is made. Often these are former Padir of one House or other.