Highborn & Aeon Blessed

Our Q & Ayl’gard – Part 3

 

Welcome to part 3 of our continuing Q & A series my good lords and ladies. That was probably one of the most British ways I could have opened these proceedings but the topic of nobility does play an important role for this post. Anyway, another question follows in the wake of your previous inquiries as we touch upon the subject of character development and my own personal bias toward the ones that I have created.

 

‘Do you have a favourite character you’ve enjoyed writing about the most?’

 

The characters that populate the genre of fantasy have a tendency to fall into specific groups or tropes that, whilst offering a sense of familiarity to the reader, have the potential to render them a little bland. Sometimes. You have your warriors, your roguish types, sorcerers, your nobles and peasants, the dark lords and heroes of destiny and everything that falls in between. These are some of the basic templates of what many have come to expect from those who dwell in the worlds of fantasy fiction.

From the pool of characters populating my own world, those that I enjoy writing about the most are the ones that I give permission to myself to really expand into something more unique and complex. They may begin as your typical, insert cardboard character variant here, archetypes but then I’ll dwell on them a little and pick out the ones that have the most to say and try to evolve them into something a bit more colourful than the bland grey they started as. It also helps to pique my interest if they happen to have powerful magicks coursing through their veins as well. Some of you may be able to tell but I’ve got of a bit of a ‘thing’ for magick wielders. Just a bit!

To coincide with this preference, I have found myself developing certain characters, mages, that also happen to be members of great Houses and powerful families. It is not a certainty that being a part of these Houses would guarantee being born into magick but it occurs within these realms with surprising regularity. Mostly because I made it to be that way but that’s the way I like it! One type of power combined with another can breed all sorts of intriguing plot lines. Amongst my populace, it is well known that being born into certain Houses increases your chances of acquiring the ability to wield magick. Specific elements in particular. I suppose with all that power, you may be inclined to wonder just how some of them rose to prominence in the first place.

Are you wondering about that? Hmm? You see, now I’m wondering if you’re wondering about that which I once wondered some time ago and that if you are wondering about it now then it makes me wonder that whether or not this wonderment was worth the wondering to begin with – I wonder! The word wonder has now lost all semblance of credibility and sense to me. It’s like saying the same thing to yourself over and over and it eventually just starts to sound like a nonsense word. Now I’m wondering which word you are thinking about repeating into oblivion. Dammit, let’s get back to the topic!

I’ll give you some examples of what I was previously referring to. Being born into the lineage of House Emberheart will vastly increase your chances of becoming a pyromancer. The House of Goram has a tendency to produce a high amount of stoneweavers, also known as earth mages. Like I mentioned previously though, it doesn’t guarantee you an awakening to magick as an Aeon blessed mageborn. However, within their bloodlines lies dormant power going back through the ages that originates from a time before written history. Several generations may come and go without a single mageborn child coming to power and of course, they are not the only ones able to wield these elements. You may have the fortune, or misfortune, to gain these abilities no matter where you are born. I like the fact that what makes some of these Houses special is that they have a history based not only political and economical dominance but also their increased likelihood to have mages born into their families. And you just know that they have taken advantage of the fact throughout their own histories.

To go back to the original question, I enjoy writing about mages and especially those who are born of a noble House. There is just something about utilising the complexity of the ruling classes and their varying agendas and having it interwoven with the arcane intricacies of the power of magick that appeals to me and thus I have written a fair amount of characters to this regard.

A few examples of this include Isabelle and Aeliana of House Emberheart, grandmother and granddaughter who are both pyromancers. Alden the Elemagus, current Arch Magister of the Aeon Citadel and a distant exile from House Lockewood. The Citadel is home to Luther, a stoneweaver from the previously mentioned House of Goram, along with his uncle, Guardian Master Aleksandr. There is also Elrik, one of the surviving sons of Baron Edrik Thorn, who is carving out a reputation as a powerful waterweaver and a strong candidate to one day succeed his father, though his is a tale tinged with grief and a great burden to bear.

So to sum up, if you happen to be someone who was born into the nobility of Ayl’gard with the power of magick at your fingertips then there is a good chance I’ll be spending a good amount of time developing you into a figure of prominence. Even characters that are remotely related to these lineages are of great interest to me such as the descendants of a fallen House that once produced some of Ayl’gard’s most powerful cryomancers, ice mages. They are so far removed from their birthright to the point where they aren’t even aware of their former prominence yet the fact that I, the writer, is obviously aware makes the connection oh so tantalising for me. They now walk a bitter road amongst a trail of frozen leaves, misplaced and far gone from a history steeped in ice and stone. Tantalising!

I would like to thank Ignited Moth for providing the question for this topic discussed during part 3. I certainly hope my response was satisfactory enough to sate your curiosity.

To Live A Cursed Life

Our Q Ayl’gard – Part 2

 

Hello again folks and welcome back to our Q & A series where I answer some of your questions that you have kindly offered to me as enquiring minds speculate about the dark fantasy world of Ayl’gard. In part 1 we looked at some of the many races that inhabit the many regions of this world as I was asked to choose a favourite. This time we have the opportunity to take a look at a prominent subject deeply rooted in the history of Ayl’gard – magick.

 

‘What do you think is the worst magical curse to get?’

 

The word curse is an odd one as its meaning varies depending on the perspective of the witness. For example, a lonely vagabond stumbles into a tavern one night looking to spend his last few pennies on a mug of crude, brown gammy-gut grog. It’s a particularly nasty drink but it does the job. It’s not one of those fancy taverns on the road to Covenraen where the wine flows like water, oh no! You should probably only stop into one of those if you happen to be wealthy enough to basically eat silver and shit coins. I’ll bet you’re loving that mental image now aren’t you? I’m referring to one of the lesser alehouses, the one’s held up by mould, rotten wood and has the faint whiff of piss seeped into its grimy corners. Drinking away, alone in his squalid corner, he curses the very embers coming from the fireplace behind him for his loathsome situation.

This particular vagabond just so happened to once be a prosperous trader working on behalf of the Merchants Guild until he squandered what little wealth he had investing in worthless trinkets he thought he could sell on the road for a fair bit of silver. These trinkets were said to be bristling with ‘lost’ magicks, long forgotten from the age of the Ayl’far, who forged them to bring good health and prosperity to whomever wore them. The seller, a mediocre and mild mannered mage with the ‘gift of the gab’, claimed to have unearthed an old stash and was happy to part with them. For a decent price. Well there was some magick in them, just like the mage said. Only it was a mild form of earth magick woven into the copper, keeping them held together just long enough for the mage to be well on his way before they began to fall apart. It didn’t take long for the once proud merchant’s ties to the Guild to be severed and for what remained of his possessions to be sold off just to keep a roof over his head.

If you want to talk about a more physical representation of cursed magick then I would refer you to the ailment known throughout Lochland and Ayrlaston as shatterbite. Deep in the darkest parts of the Winter Wood, there are packs of wolves with fur as white as powdered snow that have fangs capable of piercing flesh greater than most daggers. A winter wolf sighting is rare and to be bitten even more so but every now and then a hunter or proud fool will test the natural order of the wild and try to make a name for themselves by attempting to return home with the pelt of a great beast draped over their shoulder.

There is said to be old magick in the fangs of a winter wolf that dates back to a time before any written account of history, back to when the gods walked the world of Ayl’gard as men and women of flesh and blood. Any person who engages one of these wolves and is fortunate enough to walk away have a tendency to share the same fate. A single bite into their flesh, usually an arm or a leg as they try in vain to to defend themselves, and the bitter grip of winter causes the wound to literally freeze, over the course of an hour or so, into solid ice and then shatter into brittle shards with the slightest touch.

This affliction was particularly distressing for one unlucky sod, an oaf whose words were grander than his actions, who was bitten in the crotch as he attempted to kill his quarry with a dull fork. He had proffered a wager that he could achieve this feat in exchange for a night with his cousins pretty wife. Once she had learned of this wager and saw what became of the oaf, it was she who shattered his wound with one swift knee to the groin. From that point onward he became known as ‘Cold-sack Jak’ as that was all that was left of him.

When it comes to magick as a force with deep roots in this world, its influence can be far reaching and devastating. I would have to say then that ultimately it is magick itself that I would consider to be the worst curse one can get in Ayl’gard. Magick in this world has the potential to be a very potent catalyst that can elicit change, for better or for worse depending on your perspective. When it is harnessed in a manner with of some degree of control, then naturally comes the threat of others wishing to wield such a force for their own benefit. The history of Ayl’gard speaks of Kings using mages to fight wars and conquer countries, of rogue magick wielders decimating entire towns for reasons such as love, hatred or a vengeance that allowed their magicks to consume them entirely as a result of the manipulative machinations of others. Countless mages have had to endure the agony of being hunted and murdered simply for having a power that others do not fully comprehend. To be seen as a tool, a weapon to be used and feared, it is a cruel fate for those who ultimately have no choice for being what they are.

If you are lucky enough to be born into a highborn House of noble birth and your awakening to magick occurs in such a way as to not intentionally cause harm to others, then you may find yourself housed in the Aeon Citadel or the Academy in Aetheria to harness your magicks in a relatively safe environment away from the rest of the world. This is the best case scenario. Even then they are at the mercy and behest of their rulers. Many thousands, usually of lowborn birth, have not been so fortunate. A life lived in fear, doubt and wondering if you can protect yourself and those you love or even wonder if losing control will result in the death of another just because an element of magick happens to be coursing through your veins, it is simply too much for some to bear.

Rarely does one who is mageborn live a life unburdened by the effects of their power within the realms of Ayl’gard. Whether through trying to control what they have or maybe by simply giving in, they will almost always harm themselves or another in some way, intentionally or otherwise. Fail to learn how to wield your magicks, they will consume you and you will die. Lose control of your magicks and others will die. Learn to harness your magicks and become a master of your gift and the chances are that someone else will decide to use your power as they see fit.

This question was asked by The Orangutan Librarian so I would like to offer my gratitude to him for joining in as we conclude part 2. Remember folks, if you wish to participate yourselves you are more than welcome to do so by adding your own inquiries in the comments below.

A Canvas of Many Colours

Our Q & Ayl’gard – Part 1

 

Last time I welcomed you all to offer your questions to me regarding my works of fiction as a way of marking a recent milestone in the history of the Forge. I asked you good folks if there was anything you wished to know about the dark fantasy world of Ayl’gard and some of you have responded with your most appreciated inquiries. I shall now endeavour to answer some of those questions that were most suited to this subject matter.

However, after going over my previous Q & A post for a quick summary of how it transpired, I thought that this time I would do things a little differently. That last one turned out to be quite a lengthy read at well over two thousand words and upon the realisation that this one had the potential to far surpass even that in sheer content, I decided to alter how I would respond. This time around I thought I’d give each question its own individual spotlight and here is the first one.

 

‘Which of the races you’ve created is your favourite?’

 

There are a fair few races that dwell amongst the lands of Ayl’gard. The O’kr, or Ogres, of the Highlands, the Mithylfar of Sollistar, the heartland race of men in Ayrlaston and the Arj’Beral of Suthershore to name just a few examples. But to pick a favourite? Argh! I don’t believe that I can. It’s a bit of a cop out I know but stay with me because you may as well ask me to choose which race I will favour or torment based upon my own personal preferences. I’m not a sadistic bastard who specifically created a particular group just to have them suffer at the mercy of my whims, I think. We’ll see (insert ruthless laughter where appropriate), shall we!

Each race comes with their own unique characteristics that can help to give some definition to an outsider looking in. Were you to cross the Severed Sea and travel deep into the forests of Ardenea, you would eventually happen across the Yslfar (pronounced ee-sil-far), a race of pale green and brown skinned forest dwellers that value their isolation. Some of them who are able survive to live for over a hundred years have been known to have grass where their hair once grew, twigs and branches where there were once beards and their eyes begin to glow a distinctive green hue. Some of the wilder clans also consider clothing to be something of an optional ‘hindrance’ which can be a little disconcerting to an uptight foreigner.

In the marshes of Middemire their exists a peculiar race of diminutive creatures known as the Alamaxia. If I had to give them a simple explanation for the purpose of clarity, I would describe them as a race of bi-pedal, half salamander, half axolotl folks that grow to be no taller than four feet in stature. They can breathe underwater which suits their often many expeditions to the depths of the deep waters, have two sets of eyelids to be able to see clearly when submerged, are capable merchants who revel in commerce as well as having a potent desire for silver, gold and trinkets valuable and old. Some of the chubbier Alamaxians, which isn’t surprising considering they also like to eat their fair share, have a propensity to waddle around when they move which doesn’t help their reputation as fat, little con merchants to the many who didn’t quite manage to best them in the art of trade.

Far to the east, across the nigh impassable Sea of Fire, dwells the Drohken in the coastlands of Kyr’Qandor. When the beasts of the sky lost their wings ages ago, some perished and some prospered. The Drohken were one such race who settled far and away from those who hunted them into near extinction several thousand years ago. It is thought that they almost conquered the world long ago though there is very little evidence to support this vague theory still held by a few scholars today. By their own recollection though, should be you be fortunate, or unfortunate enough to actually meet one, they were once feral and ravenous beings who sought the destruction of all whereas now they live in peace as they meditate within their sanctuaries. Think of a dragon without wings, walking upright on its hind legs, dressed in simple cloth and leather and you will have a good idea of what they look like.

The overall point is that I don’t really favour one race over the others. I created each of them for a good reason, they all interest me and all have their value in the grand tapestry of the lore of this world. I will likely write a great deal more about certain races than I will others but that doesn’t necessarily mean I shall reject what they all bring to the greater narrative. When I created Ayl’gard, I wanted to work with a diverse array of peoples and cultures so that I could add substance to my tales where appropriate. Toward the beginning I decided that I couldn’t only work with humans. The prospect of only writing about our own race, frankly I was bored by the very notion. Now that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate what other authors write when their primary focus is that of men and women. A great work of fantasy fiction is defined by its quality, not its quantity. For me though, I wanted to work with more than just humans. I wanted the availability and capability of working with a canvas of many colours and not just the tried and tested beige of humanity. That is why this world is populated with so many different races, each one has the potential to offer new challenges and opportunities in writing for any future projects.

This question was given by Minerva’s Emporium to whom I offer my thanks as we get the ball rolling on this series. To those of you who also participated (thank you once more), I will attend to your inquiries over the coming days and if any of you reading this would like to add your own questions, then I welcome the opportunity to continue answering them in due course. By all means, feel free to participate if you are inclined to do so.