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.

-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.