Maps!

I’ve been working on The Noctuinad Wiki for a few days now. It’s coming along nicely, I’m getting a lot of the worldbuilding tangles sorted, and making *lots* of fun charts. I thought I’d share here and explain more about my world.

We know that Noctuina has 256 magical realms. The perimeters are rectangles that have no care for land, sea, or any man-made structure. You can cross a realm length-wise in a season and a thirteen days (104 days), and it’s half as tall as it is wide. Near the perimeters there can be a mixing of the magics- they are not hard borders by any means. A skilled user of cræfts will feel the difference.

Here is a chart I just finished for the wiki, detailing not only the borders, but all the names of the realms. Clandestina is near the middle (1 up and 1 to the right from the center). On the wiki clicking on a part of the map will open a tiddler with that realm, some information about it, and a larger version of that realm’s map (without details, yet, I’m slowly going through the realms and making quite large detailed maps about each one).

I also broke up the world into continents. I’ve been doing this in my head for a while, giving each section it’s own cultural theme, before getting into the specifics within each realm (and even further still). Today I also outlined and named the continents.

There are nine, color coded for easy viewing. I’ll describe them quickly, comparing them to our own cultures/continents. These are not set in stone, but more short-hand so I know what kind of cultures go where on the map.

Oinos – the islands of Oinos are all themed in a Greco-Roman fashion. Given how much Greek mythology I read and love it isn’t surprising that this is a place I go to when I think. ‘Oinos’ is the Latin word for One.

Twye – is a pilgrim-esque type place, an Early America after European settlers have come. ‘Twye’ is the Yola word for Two.

Sān – Asia. There are several realms in the large continent, and their individual cultures range from Chinese, Japanese, to Vietnamese, to a mix of those and others.
‘Sān’ is the Chinese, and Japanese, word for Three.

Arba’a – My Middle East/Egypt continent. Deserts, caravans, pyramids. I’ve loved Egyptian mythology for as long as I’ve loved Greek and I wanted a place to explore those types of cultures.
‘Arba’a’ is the Arabic word for Four.

Tallimat – I haven’t done much thinking here yet, but in general this is a continent that embodies far northern / Inuit / Alaskan culture. There are lots of mountains here and they are almost constantly covered in snow.
‘Tallimat’ is the Inuinnaqtun word for Five.

Hvnnali – Another take on early America, only before any Europeans showed up. I hope to explore my own variations of Native American and Central American cultures.
‘Hvnnali’ is the Choctaw word for Six.

Seidth – These islands are my Celtic/Irish lands. I feel they should be distinct from the rest of my ‘Europe’ because the magic will be far more intense in these lands. They’re also called The Magic Isles.
‘Seidth’ is the Old Breton word for Seven.

Khaisa – The second continent I chose when making the map. This is my Africa, with the lower half turning into an Indian culture as well. I think it’s my favorite continent because of how it’s shaped- like a (biological) heart.
‘Khaisa’ is (almost) the Nama word for Eight (it’s better written as ǁkhaisa. There’s a beautiful clicking noise at the start of the word- it’s a wonderful language).

Kilenc – And finally, Europe. I think this is the first continent I decided about in my head, given how the western part reminds me of Western Europe. The western parts are more late mediaeval/renaissance/Victorian with the east being early mediaeval and Germanic.
‘Kilenc’ is the Hungarian word for Nine.

Bonus!
Huge version of the map, no realms or names

Names

I love names. I attempt not to reuse a name I’ve used before, so that every character is recognizable by name alone, but I will probably slip up eventually. Once I name a character they’re in my head, and I start getting a whole backstory and arc for them- hence characters mentioned in passing often not given a name because then I’ll have to do more with them. Of course usually I come back to them somehow anyway.

Some of the names I use have meaning or references. Others do not. A few I have made up.

Here are a few of each!

Pierre: The quintessential French name. I didn’t have any specific reason to use this name other than I liked it and it stuck.

Majius: One of my made up names for a wizard in Dracæna. I played around with the word ‘mage’ until I came up with it. His nickname shows this off even more, Maje (spoken as “Mah-jeh”).

Inisaira: Also one I’ve made up. Her nickname, Aira, was first, and it was a not-so-subtle reference to the wind-magic she had in the first variations of the story.

Rohan: I actually did not know this was a name when I first wrote it down. I was 13, he’s also one of my first characters, and I just liked the sound of it. Later I learned about the Lord of the Rings reference, and the fact that this was also a real Indian name meaning ascendance.

Ophion: Pierre’s uncle has quite an odd name for the setting. It’s Greek and refers to a giant snake in mythology. Eglė, his Familiar, takes the forms of serpents.

Eglė: Her name is a reference to another myth, this one Lithuanian,  where she is the Queen of the Serpents. Her name, though, means spruce tree (she was turned into the tree in the myth).

Ophélie: Pierre’s mother and Ophion’s younger sister is named the French version of Ophelia- Hamlet’s lover who was driven to suicide.

Edgard: The roi of Clandestina was named after Edgar Allan Poe. His wife, Josephine, was named after Napoleon’s wife.

Pluta: Named after the cat, Pluto, from Poe’s “The Black Cat.”

Mora: Went through a few names before I settled on this. It’s close enough to ‘morte’ (death) to not be seen as a coincidence, and also refers to the spirits that bring about nightmares.

Saiva and her language

I meant for this to be a quick post about language, but it seems to have devolved into a little bit of everything.


I write my books in English. And like many fantasy authors this is my variant of ‘the common tongue’ that, for one reason or another, everyone on earth can understand. It makes things easier and it’s a trope that’s well known.

That said, I do not ignore other languages. Clandestina is a mix of countries, but mainly influenced by France and England. You see this from the main character’s name, Pierre, to the occasional French term or phrase thrown in. It is flavoring, and at the same time it sets up how the world works.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We’re going to need some of the mythological background here too.

Saiva is the personification of Nothing. She is the pair and partner of Amôru, Everything Good- The One God (lower-g gods/goddesses are mentioned sometimes in world, but they’re not technically gods in the same way, usually just kyrioi or similar). Their son, Sebelas, is the personification of Good, and is ruling until sin can be extinguished from the world and his father can return.

If Amôru is comparable to the Judeo-Christian God, and Sebelas is Jesus, Saiva is a mix of the Holy Mother of God and Buddha.

She is not evil. She is not the opposite of Amôru. If Amôru is the charity of sharing food, Saiva’s is the feeling of thanks and warmth afterwards. If Amôru is a great tree, Saiva is the soil after the tree has been cut down waiting for another plant. She is what is left, ‘a good nothing’ after a good takes place. She is also seen as universal- the common denominator between all people and creatures. While Amôru may have specific laws that certain bestia may not break, and others can, she is the same to all.

So when referencing this common tongue anywhere in Noctuina, it is called Saiva’s Tongue. She isn’t necessary the creator of it (though she might be, I’m not sure about the mythology of it yet), but it represents her.

That isn’t the only language in the world though. Each realm is inspired by a number of varying real-life cultures, with one being the main influence usually. This culture tends to bring its language with it into the realm, being said realm’s tongue, and a more intimate and personal way of speaking. When a character in Clandestina switches to French they mean it far more than if it was in English. Promises turn into swears, vows might be preferred in the realm’s language, emphasis is placed on the words.

Terms sometimes too appear in different languages. Words in general have meaning, especially in Noctuina, so names are not passed on without a thought, and terms are specific (but like I said before, not everyone gets this right all the time– calling a kyria a goddess, for instance).

Pierre is a duc. This does not just mean I wanted to write duke in French to make it look foreign. It also means that, in his duchy, he is the authority of all bestia residing there. So a fée (or a vampire, or a werewolf, or any other bestia) who lives in his domain will have to answer to Pierre.

[Side note: Aimé is referred to as a prince, but the spelling is the same in French and English. It is pronounced differently though.  I do mean it to be the French term though].

If he was merely a duke, a vampire or a fée might be able to disobey the laws of his land, as long as they complied with the laws of their own people.

Of course the world is never simple, and there are many instances where the law can be seen one way or another based on how you interpret it. A visiting fée to Pierre’s land might be able to argue they belong to their Queen, not him, because they are only there for a short time. And a human in Faery might have very few rights indeed, no matter their status outside of that plane.

Magic in Noctuina (plus some Mythology)

The magic system I’m most entrenched in at the moment is that followed by Mora’s Suitors (and Confidantes) of Death. If I need specific examples here I’ll be using that.

But before we get to specifics let’s see how magic works in general in Noctuina. The first thing you need to know is that there is a lot of variations of magic. It is a world where magic is as core to the land as the types of animals  and plants in the different parts of the world, to the people and their cultures.

There are 256 distinct Realms in Noctuina. On a flat map they’ll come up as rectangles, 16 across by 16 down. Each realm is approximately 2080 miles across and 1040 miles from north to south. So, give or take, 2.1 million miles squared. This is somewhere between India and Australia in size.

(Ok, I may need to rethink this “Playing With” series as I’m wondering if I need another one for Geography now).

The magic is not the exact same throughout the entire realm. Similarly to how one would imagine the culture of Northern India being different than Southern India, and so on. But it has a certain consistency to it. A mage from the north will be able to perform his magic in the south, though it may need some adjusting, or have a different temperament.

In Clandestina, the realm where Pierre lives, there are a few different magics. Among humans there’s blancræft, white healing magic; noircræft, a darker more volatile magic that can be used to heal or harm; and necrocræft, magic that involves the dead, dying, murder and resurrection of human life. The fée, faeries, of Clandestina have their own versions of magic that are less categorized. It’s more inherit, they’re born with it and while they can shape it, they can not get rid of it. Eglė, for instance, is fay (related to the fée though not from Faery) and she can take the form of any serpent (from cobra to boa ). A human though could learn this magic if they found a way to study it, and it would probably later be labeled as under a different type of -cræft. He could in theory also lose his magic. Probably changing to different types of serpents would be possible, but more difficult than it is for Eglė.

This is where things get a little inconsistent between the ‘reality’ and what passes for vernacular in a realm. Pierre often mentions his cræft as being necrocræft alone, as if he didn’t know noir or blanc, and while that is how it’s seen currently among the population, it isn’t entirely true. This is something I got to thinking about while working on Delphinium. If we’re being technical, necrocræft alone shouldn’t allow for things like healing, though it does. So he does have more than just necrocræft.

Here’s where more terminology comes in and the previous name I used, Suitor of Death, comes into play. There’s also some mythology here.

There are beings in Noctuina that I call Kyrioi. Kyrioi as a word is the Greek for Lords. Kyrios being the male singular, and kyria the female singular. They are akin to gods, with their title meaning they can bestow certain powers and magics to people. Usually this is a careful mix of several cræfts that work together to form, essentially, a whole new magic. Those that are devoted to certain kyrioi are given titles to express their variation of magic. In other realms this might be Wizard, or Ringian, or Sorcerer, but in Clandestina for those that follow Mora is it Suitor of Death.

So Mora, as the last of the keres, has been given the title of Lady of Death; Kyria. Those that follow her are Suitors, if male, and Confidantes if female, and those that pass all of her tests are lords and ladies in their own right, though not kyrioi. This is not yet something explained deeply in the books, and what it means for the realm as a whole is still up in the air, but it sits in the background as a detail I plan to unwrap more.

This also relates to the post I made a few weeks ago about consistency and how people make up things that aren’t quite true, but get passed off as true. I continue to call Pierre’s magic just necrocræft for the moment, even if a scholar of magic in the realm would disagree, because that is just what it is called among the people.

 

-cræft and -mancy

This is something I’ve mentioned before on this blog and in various reddit posts, but it does deserve its own Playing with Language section. (Now if I’m feeling picky I can point here instead of repeating myself 😛 )

Pierre’s magic is not necromancy. He brings back the dead, yes, so why did I go through the trouble of calling it necrocræft?

First of all cræft is just the Old English version of the word ‘craft.’ I chose the Old English version because it A) looks cool B) differentiates it from ‘craft.’ (There’s a certain mystique to using letters we aren’t used to seeing [in English] in Fantasy, and while I know it can get over-the-top, I think it adds to the immersion here).

Necro means ‘corpse.’ A dead body. It also has connotations with dying, death, ghosts, and other such things. But the Greek is just ‘dead body.’

The suffix -mancy, though, comes from ‘manteía’ meaning divination. Seeing the future. Necromancy would therefor be the use of corpses, ghosts, etc to tell the future. Somehow over the years though it began to, in fantasy circles, be used as a catch-all for magic. Allomancy from the Mistborn series, for instance. It’s even a trope (which I may just have found out this second) http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Whatevermancy

Hence why I went with cræft. But I did it for the same reason a lot of people use -mancy: like tvtropes points out “This structure makes it quite easy to create names for branches of magic using just about anything you can think of. You use fire? You’re a pyromancer. Water? Hydromancer. Ice and cold? Cryomancer. It’s that simple.”

I do plan to have a lot of other magics in my world, often with the terms used similarly as the above. But with, say, pyrocræft I think it would be more than just fire. I want to use all the connotations of a word. So it’s less “this is fire magic, let’s call it fire” and more “this magic is about heat, change, destruction, the word that sums it all up best is fire.” Of course that discussion I think I’ll keep for Playing with Magic. (Yes, I seemed to have turned this into a whole series).

That said, the subtitles to all of the Larkspur Series books do involve the word Necromancer. There are two reasons for this- one, like I said before, we all know and understand the term necromancer. The term has changed over time despite the suffix. To be extremely pedantic here and use another phrase would just confuse instead of explain, which is the main reason for these subtitles.

Secondly I do have a scene in Delphinium where necromancy is mentioned. So it is part of necrocræft and being a Suitor of Death.

 

Playing with Language – Intro, or The Noctuinad

I love words. Language, varying languages, dialects, translations, and etymology as a whole.I have an English degree and I’m fluent in English (duh), at a speaking-level in Polish, and have a passing knowledge of varying words in a dozen other languages from Spanish to Japanese. This helps with the whole writing thing 🙂

And in more ways than just the obvious. Sometimes I use specific names, the meaning behind words, or what words can mean for certain people in my work (this isn’t of course just me, many writers and artists do this). Some of the time this is on purpose, while other times I realize the meaning only after I’ve already chosen a name and go with it.

(Now, a few of these first ‘Playing w/ Lang’ entries are probably going to be repeats of stuff I’ve mentioning before. Mostly because I can’t remember exactly what I’ve said already, but also because I want it all filed officially with categories [I keep forgetting to use them aside from with the Scenes]. As I’m writing this I realize I could also probably do a similar ‘Playing with Mythology’ where I expand on the varying legends, myths, religions, and miscellaneous inspirations for my world and magic.)

I’m fairly bad at naming places. I love naming people (shout-out to behindthename.com!), but places are always hard for me. Which is why I kinda cheated with naming my world and realms: I looked through random scientific names for animals, plants, and insects and picked the pretty ones. Rarely I took into consideration what the Greek or Latin name might mean. For some things it doesn’t matter, for others it might be amusing in hindsight, and some things were just so perfect after I realized the meaning I’m a little embarrassed to confess it was an accident.

First thing’s first: The world
Noctuina as a name I picked mainly because of the beginning of the word, ‘Noct,’ meaning night. I’ve always loved the darker side of fantasy and I wanted to imply and showcase that my world would involve that. In reality it is a subtribe of a type of moth.

So why is my blog The Noctuinad? Now, I confess here I’m not sure I did use the suffix entirely right, but the idea was to add the Greek ending -ad “meaning “derived from,” “related to,” “concerned with,” “associated with” ( oread), introduced in loanwords from Greek ( Olympiad; oread), used sporadically in imitation of Greek models, as Dunciad, after Iliad” (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/-ad)

Mine would fall into the “used sporadically in imitation of Greek models” part.

With realms I did similar.

Clandestina actually has a fairly obvious meaning that I totally blanked on when picking it. It just looked ‘pretty’ and ‘right’ to me. Only later on did I realize it’s related to the word ‘clandestine’ meaning hidden or secret (especially if the activity of thing is illicit). Works well between the fée and necrocræft going on in the realm.

But those terms are entries for another time. Right now I’m going back to the Scene (which has its own variation of a Slavic word, hence me thinking about Playing with Language in the first place) and Delphinium. If I get bored tonight I may do another quick Playing with Language specifically about Larkspur. I put a few ‘clever’ things in there.

Realms

My world is Noctuina. I’ve been writing about it in one way or another since I was thirteen. Before that I still created stories, but they were more urban fantasy at the very start (I moved over to mediaeval and historical really quick).

At first I was enamored with the idea of a new world and story per book. I had picked up a novel at the shop and the back had had a review where it praised the author for the new worlds she had every story. I decided this was an awesome idea and began to think of stories in singular entities. I had ‘The Wolf Within’ ‘Of Darkness’ ‘Labyrinth of the Heart’ ‘Born at Night’ … etc. About 30 ish stories, from very well plotted to barely an idea.

After a time I realized there was mild cross-over. I would use the same themes or species so much (occasionally a very similar character) that it made more sense to tie things together.I started doing that, working on an overarching world.

This was also a process. It took years, and a lot of that was me flip-flopping over what I wanted to do. When I thought they were all in one world, I also thought the world would have to be the same all over. It hurt the uniqueness of a lot of these stories, so I would in turn break them back apart.

Eventually I worked out the system of Realms. Most of my stories have some sort of magic, but it differs between each ‘set.’ So I created these magical laws of the universe. That everything was composed of spirits (roughly similar to atoms), and with magic you could manipulate them. How you did it was up to several factors- one of which being where you lived. Each realm would have it’s own set of spirits, just like our world has animals or plants native to one part of the world or other.

This solved all of my issues. I could have my individual stories, with their own forms of magic and yet still have them all set in the same world. Because a world is large, interesting, and even without magic we have astoundingly different cultures and thoughts. Add some magic in and it’s even better.

“The Wolf Within” as a story, or even as a series, turned into the realm of Astrarctia. A mountainous region based around snowy Europe, where wolves (and werewolves) lived. I follow one vague family ‘set’ in these stories, but they branch off as well. It began as Inisaira’s story at the very start, with my first real attempt to write a book. Then I got to know Rohan, and Jasmine, Rastus, Fenrith, Korith, Arith, Ondrej.. also Kilisane and Aqua, whose tales were later woven into another realm because they didn’t quite fit in that place anymore. Essentially if I have named a character, I will find a backstory and a frontstory and they will get their own day in the spotlight at some point.

How to break the world up into these realms was another problem. At first I decided each kingdom would just be it’s own realm- simple enough. Well, not so simple. I tried to make maps, but I wasn’t even sure of how to start.

I ended up getting the ProFantasy program Fractal Terrains 3. It essentially makes you a map, and you can use the software to make custom changes. I did this with one map, was fairly satisfied.. and eventually lost the data. So I made another map. This one I preferred, so it’s all good. You learn, you keep going.

I wanted to make this map detailed. I exported it in pieces as PNG files- 16×16, 7500px by 3750px. I then tried to take the pieces and line them up in photoshop to remade the huge ass 120,000px by 60,000px image.

Even photoshop could barely handle it. After about one column you could barely do anything. That, *and* annoyingly enough, there were thin white lines between each rectangle even after placing them as close together as possible (turns out, after you hit save, these lines disappear. I did not know at the time).

So I got to thinking why would these lines be on a map. I noticed several boxes fit well to what I decided were specific places- but countries arranged in squares would be silly. Yet magic- magic might be that sort of weird-strict that given a round globe, and flattening it out, you would find the magic grouped perfectly.

So that’s what I did. I kept each bit of the map separate, since putting them all together couldn’t work, and decided that each piece was a realm. Sometimes a kingdom would be within a realm entirely, sometimes it would pass through two realms (though more rarely).

(Math Time
Each realm, as these rectangles open in photoshop, was a little over 104 inches wide, and 52 inches tall. One inch is ~20 miles, or what an average person on foot could get through in a day, assuming a trail and at best rolling terrain. This is not always the case of course [both how much a person can go, and if the terrain is more dangerous]. So each realm is ~2080 miles by ~1040).

(And this is a globe that has been flattened into a rectangle. There is distortion in many places. I’m taking the distortion and going with it, based on things like the land being difficult, or magic. Yes, magic.)