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.