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.

 

 

A Milestone Forged of Five Hundred

Greetings folks and welcome again.

I know it has been a little while since I came to you with my fictions of fantasy and musings born of causality, pens and papers all cluttered amongst the candlelight, ready to forge my reverie anew. But like a wondering wave in the ocean water, I’ll always come back ashore, eventually.

Bloody hell, that ended up being a little more melodramatic than I intended. Oh well, sod it! I think you can tell I’ve had a few days away. My inner muse is getting it all out of our system in a great, big splurge of creative word slush. Truthfully, I’ve been a little under the weather lately. I’ve still managed to get to work and back but the process has left me a little drained to do much else. Its nothing too problematic though. Last I checked I still had all of my appendages intact, I think. Hold on a second…..

*Wanders off to the bathroom to make sure nothing fell off during the night!*

All good. Just a few beard hairs gone astray. It looks like some of those growing on the left side of my face are desperately trying to escape, the ungrateful, gravity defying buggers. Anyway, my faculties are returning to some degree of normality now, if ‘normality’ is or has ever been the right term to describe my faculties, and I would like to address something rather good that happened recently.

Whilst sifting through the many wonderful works made by you good people in our community I happened to notice that a new milestone has been surpassed here at the Forge. I know the numbers relating to our statistics are relatively unimportant in the grand scheme of it all but every so often, they do tell their own tale. As of the last couple of weeks, WordPress follower number 500 granted me the privilege of allowing me to attain that little notification, the one that offered some semblance of acknowledgement and congratulations.  An appreciation inspiring acknowledgement that, little by little, you good folks are joining me as I continue with my writing and my work toward my overarching projects.

To all of you who have joined me over the last year and some, whether from the beginning or just recently, I offer you my heartfelt gratitude once again. I doubt I’ll ever reach monumental numbers of followers in the tens of thousands but I am not too fussed about it if I’m honest. I’ve achieved something I already consider to be significant by gaining the recognition and support that many of you have offered up to this point and if I ever come to feel that isn’t good enough, then I hope I one day come to possess the ability to reach forward in time from this hour to give future me a mighty slap in the face. Or the groin if he pisses me off enough!

One of the last times I reached a milestone, a few months back now, I commemorated the event by doing my first Q & A post where you guys submitted some questions to me that I could answer to the best of my ability. And I did so as you can find out below.

Letters Forged from Curious Thoughts

Well, I thought we’d give it another go, only this time with a bit of twist to the context of it all. Since that day I have offered various excerpts and segments of my work relating to my world of fantasy that is Ayl’gard, and many of you have been good enough to read, absorb and engage me in conversation about what I written here and brought to the Forge. There is a fair amount available so far but there is also so much written down and rattling around in my mind that I have yet to bring out of the shadows and into the candlelight.

So to celebrate this little achievement, I would humbly ask you to join me in conversation once again as I aim to do my second Q & A for the Forge. If any of you have any questions or have ever wanted to know a particular something, anything about the world of Ayl’gard and all that it entails, then this is your opportunity. If this is the case, please post your questions in the comments below, or send me a message if you wish, and I shall endeavour to respond to each of them in next posting I provide. Feel free to ask me whatever you like and as many questions as you like. For those of you finding me and my realms of fantasy fiction for the first time and would like to know what in the bloody hollow (reference!) I am prattling on about, then you can discover for yourself on the following page.

The Realms of Ayl’gard

Cheers and thank you again kind folks and followers for joining me here this day and in days past. I shall raise my glass to you all. Well, mug. I’m drinking tea right now. HURRAH!

Forged From Reverie.

The Folly of Jolly Tobyn

Fourteen days spent locked in the dark hold below of the merchant ship Wavedancer was the fate of a crewman who just couldn’t help but crack open a bottle of one of Blackport’s finest. He told himself he’d try just one mug, I mean what’s all the fuss about? He had convinced himself that he was more than a match for any man who said he could drink a barrel dry by sunrise. Three small cups of the stuff, that was it! With barely enough room to squeeze out a gulp or two with each pouring. But it was enough to drive him to near insanity.

‘Argh, gods! That’s some bitter stuff…..that is quite strong.’

Tobyn clutches his throat as he vigorously coughs and splutters, struggling to keep his drink down.

‘Devihn, quick grab me some spiced rum from the quartermaster’s stores, before he gets back. My gods damned throats gone numb! Hmph, but by Maellor does it go down smooth and sweet.’

His first taste of the sweet sting of his ale, gone all at once.

Elderberry ale, an infamously stout drink imported from the coast cities of Ardenea, has been known to have odd and somewhat unknowable affect upon those who find its pungent aroma and bittersweet taste irresistible. It is considered to be such a potent drink that only the northerners from Lochland have been able to offer any worthwhile and long lasting demand. Perhaps it is because their naturally bulky frames and affinity for cold weather can offer some mild resistance to a brew that could transform the most decent of men into blithering fools after only a single mug.

‘This bitter berry drink, I think, makes merry this man as I sink into the fuzzy bosom of this hairy woman.’

‘Are you alright Tobyn?’

Tobyn wanders around thoughtlessly below deck, stumbling through the shadows cast by the flicker of lamplight in a haze as he tries to steady himself against the bobbing of the ship battling the wind whilst his longtime, beleaguered sailing companion, Devihn, looks on helplessly. A chubby man tasked with cleaning the deck, whose bare chest now acts as a prickly pillow for Tobyn’s increasingly heavy head, is not amused in the slightest.

‘My eyes are throbbing Devihn!’

‘Your eyes?’

‘Yes. Could you hold onto them for a minute while I just finish this off?’

‘You want me to look after your eyes? Are you mad?’

‘Splendid. Good man. I can always depend on dear old Devihn to lend a hand. You can have my nipples in a moment too, I never use the bloody things. Tis my gift to you.’

His blurry, almost sightless eyes wince as his throat burns from the rapid chill cascading down this throat. That aftertaste though, he feels as though he is supping of the sweetest wine straight from the naval of Lucretia, the goddess of beauty, lust and pleasure, herself.

‘I do beg your forgiveness my dear lovely lady. Would you like a sip?’

The agitated chubby sailor can stand this folly no longer as Tobyn holds his empty cup up to him with one hand and pokes at his belly button with the other. He steps backward with a massive stride causing the drunkard to crash onto the cold, damp floor of the deck.

‘Quickly Devihn, I need my eyes back now. This bed is far too wet to lie down upon. Also, I think I have pissed myself. Could you check for me please?’

The ale’s potency begins to take full effect upon finishing his second cup.

It is said that to taste it is akin to being kicked in the neck by an overzealous mare whilst swallowing a hundred sour berries that burn a man’s throat with such a bitter cold sting, it’s as if he’s having freshly carved spears of pure ice from the far Highland peaks shoved down his gullet. Many men whose pride outmatches their prowess will brag about being able to down ten mugs of this in a single night. Yet you need only ask the lonely sailor locked away for a fortnight on the good ship Wavedancer just how powerful it is.

The captain has awoken from his cabin. With heavy eyes and a foul mood, he stomps down into the bowels of the ship with Devihn to find out what woke him up in the middle of the night.

‘Crewman Devihn?’

‘Captain?’

‘Could you kindly tell me why this man is floundering on the deck as naked as the day he was born?’

‘He thinks he is a fish captain.’

‘A fish?’

‘Yes captain. He told me that he was far too wet to be a man anymore and so he threw his clothes into that barrel and then started……swimming!’

The captain moves a step closer to Tobyn who is still trying to ‘swim’ away. He sniffs the stench of the man before him to smell that unmistakable reek of bittersweet ale, musty salt water air and the odour of warm piss.

‘Too many……must swim……further.’

Tobyn’s mouth is unable to fully articulate what is going through his ale addled mind, such is the strength of this particular drink.

‘I must go……see the Ephydryads below……. I have too many nipples! It’s indecent I tell you!’

‘He’s been at the elderberry batch, hasn’t he?’

‘He has, captain. Though not much of it from what I can tell.’

‘Fucking idiot! There’s a good reason why it’s kept away from our own ale supplies. Only northerners can even stand it to keep it down. How many has he had?’

‘I believe that was his third captain.’

‘Well, I’ll give him his due. That’s two more than most.’

‘Down………into the sea……I must go……. Devihn still has my eyes……. greedy bastard! How many does he need?’

‘Go and fetch the quartermaster and have him shackled down below until we reach Lochland. And you can tell that incompetent fool that he needs to keep our trade supply locked up next time. Unless he wants to tell the head of the Merchants Guild in Meridan why we’re shy a few drops of their most sought after batch.’

‘Are we to leave him as he is? Stark bollock naked, captain?’

‘Of course, crewman. If he wants to be a fish, what need has he for clothing!’

Devihn grasps Tobyn firmly by his feet and starts to drag him away across the damp wood of the deck on his back.

‘Make sure you lock the door behind him and keep him fed. Not for two days though, he’ll be a bumbling wreck incapable of even sitting up straight.’

‘You’ve seen this before, captain?’

‘Let’s just say that I know what he’s going through right now.’

‘If you don’t mind me asking captain, what kind of fish were you?’

‘Fish!? Don’t be daft man. Be gone with you.’

Devihn grunts heavily as he pulls Tobyn up the rough and splintered wooden staircase above deck to find the quartermaster.

‘I was a horse, a purebred steed from Stonehold.’