Sharon Bayliss is hosting the Worldbuilding Blogfest. It'll be running from the 28th of January to the 1st of February. During the bloghop, participants will be posting about the worlds they've created and what it looks like, the history and politics, food and customs, religion and magic (or even lack of).
For this blogfest I shall be diving into the world of Thardrandia, which is where The Rogue King is set.
Now then, do be in mind that this world is fifteen years old, it's had a long time to develop. Writing in it is reflex, writing about it takes forever. So be prepared for some long posts ...
|A crude orrery|
Thardrandia ... the third planet from the suns, the second biggest in the solar system and the most populated. It's orbit takes twice as long as Earth's to complete, 733 days, to be precise. These days are divided into twelve months of sixty-one days (with the exception of three months).
A rotation of the planet on its axis takes twenty-six hours. Hours and minutes are counted in bursts of seventy, while weeks are eight days long.
And yes, I said suns. It's a binary system. Rhoadus and Tangus, viewed from the planet's surface, are seen as red and yellow respectively. They rise relatively close together, with Tangus the first to appear on the horizon during half the year and Rhoadus the other half. As Rhoadus is the cooler, and bigger, star, much of the heat comes from Tangus.
Now then. As for the planet's surface, let us start off with some not-so-glorious pictures of Thardrandia's two continents and her islands:
Yes, I know. They are not things of great beauty. But, honestly, you should've seen the originals. Not pretty.
Anyhow. Thardrandia is in possession of two continents and four islands (five if you include the Tooth of Defora, an entrance into Hell, but nobody does). Cynati and her island are on one side of the planet and the main continent, Zan, along with three islands, are on the opposite side. Being that the planet itself is roughly twice the size of Earth, there is a lot of water separating them. Size wise, a general comparison of the continents goes like this: get yourself a flat map, encircle Australia with your hands then move over Asia and Europe. That is the difference.
So now we go into breakdown. It's gonna happen. It'll be better if you just roll with me.
While the name of Zan actually refers to the continent, the usage of it also encompassing the three islands was popular in the days of the empire and was so common by the time of demise, that the custom has lingered. Being the biggest of the two continents and the native homeland to all but one of Thardrandia’s species. It consists mainly of mountains, untamed forest and grasslands; all divided into three kingdoms.
Thardrandia's equator runs south to north, meaning the orbit causes the great sand dunes at the top of the continent to be swallowed as night drifts in from the north, quietly slipping over the land until the tents of the Nomad Camp are covered in darkness.
Predonia is the stretch on the east side of the continent. It is the native of three species: raptereons, sssstamne and mezans. No, I won't be going on about them ... not for this post, anyhow.
The land itself is dominated by the vast Lake Mystic and, to a lesser extent, the Rapton Alps. The rest is mostly forest with the occasional patch of cultivated land nearer the villages. (Only the major cities are shown here.)
Nestled in the Rapton Alps great arms - and on the border of Rapton - is a large, uninhabitable forest. The mountains themselves used to be home to the more-or-less peaceful mystics, a sub-type of raptereon, but their homeland was obliterated by the less peaceful clans.
The town of Ssstrad sits not very far from a cliff-face; this sheer drop faces the Unchartable Seas - which, despite the name, have been charted, numerous times as pathways keep changing.
The natural harbour of Mezan, named after the inhabitants, is mostly covered in seaweed. It is a haven from the monsters of the Tymordian Sea.
The climate of Predonia is quite humid, with the seasons mostly marked not by weather, but by plant life. Summers are often hot and muggy if not dry. The colder months generally bring in a lot of rain, with the occasional burst of sleet in the midwinter months.
Maxia is the kingdom on the west side of the main continent, right next to the islands. Being larger and the homeland to five species - the island of Jepol has long been considered Maxian territory - such as the Equineans, Bir-Dra, Contanihians, Wolenas and Katesses.
The land is mostly flat between the mountains near Biry and the Meeting Hill in the middle of the Estridorean Fields. Most of this area, up until the Fields, is dominated by forest. The mountains themselves are naught but snow-covered guards to a single crystal mountain known as Taruthinthe. It is the highest mountain on the planet, the only one with a peak that passes through the clouds. It is also the physical entrance to the afterworld of Toporan kei lesia (heaven).
The Meeting Hill is technically a flat-topped mountain and marks the centre of the Fields internal borders. These borders are marked by four long lines of hill radiating from the Meeting Hill.
The nearby island of Jepol was formed by a now-dormant volcano, its name when translated literally means ‘near mountain’. This island holds the cities Wolka and Catsckin. Leaving Jepol requires one to land at Port Eag, one of the last ports left after the Empire's downfall. Further down from their is Kamorn Ania, or the Death Forest, and the Eternal Storm that rages nearby. The forest is the domain of Evalka and holds shadowy beings that kill all who wander under the leafy canopy, and many are never seen after they enter the forest. On the other hand, the Eternal Storm’s existence is a thing that simply is and will always be. A few speculate that one of the All Mother's crown jewels rests in the eye of the maelstrom. Others surmise that is it the doing of the Serpent God Wea, done in an effort to stop the wolenas and katesses from attacking his chosen people.
The weather on the island can be quite volatile, with the Eternal Storm pushing heavy storm-weather patterns towards the nearby island. This makes Wolka a wet place much of the time, the exception being in the middle of summer. For the rest of the kingdom, the climate is a moderate one, winter means snow, summer means warmth, while spring and autumn are marked by much rain.
While the desert looks like a belt across the continent, its shape was once more than the strip it is now. Walls have hemmed it in on both sides for hundreds of years and the height of these structures, built to keep the Rogues caged in, has affected the climate. Whatever grassland that was left on the inside has been long since eroded away and the south-western corner is notable for heavy sandstorms.
With the northern shoreline being nothing but sea-battered cliffs and the cooler winds from the south not reaching very far, life in the desert is under constant strain from the heat. There are only three places in this furnace capable of supporting large amounts of life. The first is the Flower Canyon, named so because it houses the semi-intelligent defe-jacols and the stunning defe flower. The second is the Nomad Camp, these tents are a small group, many of those that are allowed near are eventually absorbed into the small community, consequently few return. The third area is the closest habitable place from the gates connecting the two kingdoms: Rogue Rise. An enormous rock, it was once the foundation of the Zan Imperial Palace and the hub of the Imperial City. The ruddy stone is impervious to all attempts of magical manipulation, but has since been hollowed out through the use of mundane tools. This is the home of most Rogues. While generally avoided at all costs, the strategic placing of the site makes full evasion difficult.
The desert probably has the most dependable weather of the lot. Cut off from the moist air on both sides and right on the equator, there is little but heat to touch the sands during the day. At night, temperatures fall enough to condense a person's breath. Whereas the funnelling effect of the walls makes mild sandstorms a daily occurrence in the northern most section (top of the image here).
Despite its distance from the kingdom, Tepol – meaning ‘far mountain’ – is considered part of Predonia. Not only is it the breeding ground for the prewania-tofua, but it is also the biggest of the islands. Its landscape is covered in lush jungle, but underground is the sight of the magnificent city, Prewa. Thousands of twisting tunnels and enormous caverns can be found under Tepol. Only two tunnels extend towards the surface: One in the middle of Tepol leading to the village. The other goes deep under the sea and leads towards the main continent. The last is believed to have collapsed from disuse as the prewania-tofua are all but extinct.
Japek is the smallest and least thought of island amongst the three that were absorbed into the Zan Empire. It is the home of the mesa-malol and the mother vine to the elusive, and highly prized, wish vine. It is a tropical island with the strange Jungle of Time covering the entire area and divided into three ring-like sections. The jungle itself is sentient and while the outer section is mostly normal, the middle section is capable of aging people according to how they unconsciously perceive themselves. The inner section makes age alterations permanent and also shows various times of one’s life as ‘projections’ on the surrounding foliage. Visitors are rare as only the mesa-malols know how to safely navigate the island.
At last we come to Cynati, the forgotten land. Native to the trexens, much of the land has been cultivated to accommodate the people's growing needs before being all but abandoned by the people in favour for Mora Moon, but it still boasts a dense forest as well as a desert so small that it barely deserves the name. The nearby island is much smaller than Japek and was given the name Loudan after the captain that found it.
Did I say someone went to the moon? Why, yes. Yes, I did. Thardrandia has four moons, in fact. Some of them are inhabited, all of them somewhat the same size. During certain times of the year, these moons will line along the width of the desert, forming a dazzling display of light as the unique glow from each moon’s full state splashes against its cousins.
Below, in the pattern they form from west to east, is a small piece about each moon.
Being little more than a ball of solid ice, ancient Maxian lore blames it for the heavy snow during winter when the satellite annually spirals close over the kingdom.
Mora has always been known as ‘the moon that does not move’, and with due reason. This small satellite is in a geostationary orbit positioned directly above Rogue Rise.
Having no other animals apart from the bird-like cynaur, the moon was a peaceful blend of dappled forests and rolling fields. This hasn't changed much with the Trexens barely needing to tame the docile land and its herbivorous inhabitants in order to cultivate the rich soil.
This moon always manages to stay in the planet's shadow, making Joh a realm of death and eternal night. A perfect place for Evalka, the Mistress of Night, to dwell with her countless minions. Very little grows here, so the creatures here are carnivores for the most part. The land is pockmarked and dusty.
Rearing from the heart of a great crater, like an insane impression of a craggy mountain stands the legendary Black Palace of the Night. Evalka’s castle is the seat of her power and many have tried to destroy this dwelling but very few return, with those that do being little more than shells.
There are two ways to reach this dreaded moon: taking the temple portal in the heart of the peril-filled Kamorn Ania on Zan, or a more direct route of a Flyer and landing on the sunless surface. Of course, the moon is riddled with danger from the relatively meek, fear-feeding gloafed (who will just kill you) to the deadlier conkyulat equin (who will kill you slowly).
This is a realm of liquid fire and molten rock (no kidding), at its fullest, this moon shines like a small, distant sun. Spiralling close over Predonia during the winter months, it leads to the belief that it is the reason the cold time of year is warmer than Maxia. In reality, the warmth it puts out is minimal, not even the inhabitants of Joh feel any change in temperature when it nears. Perhaps this is because it does not burn as hotly as a sun and whatever heat does escape is quickly dispersed into the cold of space.
Unsurprisingly, nothing inhabits this miniature sun.
Continue on for more ...