Second section of Crypt of the Mind (I won’t say “chapter”, since I think my chapters would be longer).
All feedback is welcome.
Second section of Crypt of the Mind (I won’t say “chapter”, since I think my chapters would be longer).
All feedback is welcome.
This is a short story about a Tosi guy named Kel whose older sister Koma decides to leave and join the war with the Ríli. Because Tosi society is a matriarchy, it’s not common for young men to be living on their own (especially in middle class homes like this one), and he feels abandoned by his sister and worried for her safety. Soon, he finds that the strain of being left alone is aggravating some mental problems he’d had in the past. Problems increase for Kel when he starts to discover some unsettling facts about his family’s past, and discovers that his ancestral home may be haunted by secrets unknown, both figuratively, and maybe literally.
Genre will be fantasy/scifi/paranormal with tinges of romance and adventure. Rating is at M for now just to be safe. Nothing to warrant the rating so far though. CWs for mental illness, mild violence, mentions of death, mild sexual themes, and paranormal scariness.
Feedback is welcome if you feel like reading!
In the northern-most reaches of Orikrindia is a region called Ellessia. It is one of the six provinces of the county. It is known for its very harsh and cold climate, including bitter sea storms from the northern coast. The people who live there must be not only tough and resilient, but also extremely skilled and knowledgeable about the land and their environment. Along this frigid northern coat was found an ancient artefact, called the Horn of Ellessia. It is a battle horn from eons past, found in the burial tomb of a long-forgotten king.
Soon after the horn’s rediscovery, it went missing. The earl of Ellessia, assuming the horn belonged to some ancestor of his, put out a reward for its recovery. This led to a long and bloody conflict, however.
So great was the reward for the Horn of Ellessia, that many forgeries were made, and various dishonest persons tried to claim the reward money, subsequently ending up in the Ellessian dungeons for their trouble.
In fact, the forgery problem became so widespread, that the earl started to have his men invade the workshops of armorers and craftsmen who were even suspected of forgery. Properties were destroyed, people were injured, and a few even were killed. Thus was the brutality of the Ellessian soldiers.
This continued for a few weeks until a riot broke out in the main city of Ellessia, and even more were killed.
Finally, after much strife, the actual Horn of Ellessia was recovered, by a woman called Ecnasia. She sent a detailed painting of the horn to the earl, and such was her skill and the level of detail in the depiction that there was no doubt she was in possession of the real item. She claimed, via a letter, to have been the original theft of the Horn, and also claimed to have been the one who started giving instruction to various artisans to try and replicate the Horn in an accurate way—but just inaccurate enough that they would be sure to be caught. Thus, she explained, she eliminated many artisans and armorers who were her competitors in the market, as female armorers were not popular in Orikrindia.
Ecnasia agreed to relinquish the desired horn only upon condition that she be given full pardon for her crimes and that no word of her machinations be made public to hurt her business in Orikrindia. The earl, being possessed of cruelty but moreso of greed and a lust for glory to his name, agreed.
The Horn was returned to the earl and Ecnasia returned to her business, short quite a few competitors.
However, 20 years later, the Horn disappeared once again from the palace of the earl, and has not been found since. Rumors surround its disappearance, and people speak of a curse of the ancient king whose grave it was robbed from. No one knows where the Horn May lie today, but few are willing to speak of it for all the strife it caused before.
I want to do a new segment about Orikrindian lore and legend (which may expand to other cultures), small little blurbs about ideas that have been floating around my head for a while. They don’t really have a home yet so we’ll see what becomes of them.
Today’s is about the Song of Esala. The word is not originally Ori, but comes from a nearby language from the mainland of Ei to the west. The word was originally Ashal, but changed over time and to fit Ori phonology a bit more closely.
The Song of Esala is a song that is supposedly divine in nature, or at least somehow supernatural. It is said to be heard in the wilderness when one is completely alone and can neither see, hear, nor sense in any way another person. It is at this time that one may hear the Song of Esala. What Esala is or means is not clear. There are competing etymological theories, variously saying that it is the name of a person, a place, or a concept.
To hear the Song of Esala is a disturbing experience. The listener will think they are going mad and may run even deeper into the wilderness, always avoiding the proximity of any other person. It is thought that this leads them to wander permanently and live like a wild person until a certain, unspecified time before their death, during which they will be released from the hold of the Song and “wake up” from their fervor or delirium. This time is usually months to years after first hearing the Song.
The Song is thought by some in Orikrindia to be a curse of the goddess Moltirin put upon those who have displeased her in some way. Others, however, consider it a kind of intense blessing given by the spirits of animals in the wild that have found a soul that they deem kindred to their own and wish to draw it in amongst themselves. This view is the predominant idea in Behr Gehen (country of the Ei Lands, west of Orikrindia). Those who return from being held by the Song are considered holy and are given special treatment upon their return to society.
Whatever the nature of the Song of Esala, it is a part of folklore that is commonly understood as one of the many risks of venturing into the wilds alone for lengths of time, both across Orikrindia and the Ei Lands.
It’s kind of difficult to me to say what Quariosian culture is, because it’s made up of so many things/people/histories. It is, by nature, multi-faceted. Quarios is, at the time of Elucuna’s arrival, a relatively new state. It was born, politically, of a merger of two countries, Gotêvi and Lomilin. Gotêvi also consisted of several different nations in its southern regions, such as the Teg and Phul peoples. From an early time, then, these two separate nations were not homogenous, but culturally complex. The first rulers to merge the two countries were Queen Inacaporia of Gotêvi annnnd…some other dude whose name I forget, who was the Prince of Lomilin. Anyway, I think they merged the country both via their marriage to each other and also by a mutually agreed upon pact that would combine their states into one. The process, as you could imagine, was not a quick one. It took years to carefully intertwine the countries into one new country, which now covered the whole of the continent. The name Quarios was previously just the name of the continent, but then began to refer to the new country as well.
The port city where Elucuna lands in Quarios, Naeglitan, is a Gotevian city. It is Gotevian in its cultural origins, the language used there is Gotevian (even though Quarios has two official languages, Gotevian and Lomi, only governmental documents, signs, etc. are required to be in both languages). Glohitan is culturally and ethnically Gotevian (the meaning of ethnicity here, is separated from physical identifiers such as skin color, as people in Quarios have differing skin tones/facial features depending on whether their ancestors came from the north or south of the continent–the northerners tend to be darker in tone, but this fact is not as culturally salient for the Gotevians as other factors of their origins may be), but he is multilingual, and speaks to Elucuna in her native Ori. He considers himself a Gotevian, but also a Quariosian. Many inhabitants of Lomilin would likewise say that they are Lomi, but also Quariosian. Members of the other nations of peoples of Gotêvi identify themselves as Teg, or Phul, or whatever, but also Quariosian. Some of these people would also use the word Gotevian to describe themselves, depending on their personal attitude toward the government/majority culture of Gotêvi.
So all of that is what’s behind my thoughts when I think, “What does it mean for Elucuna to be in Quarios? What is this culture she is encountering?” The thing is, her journey is just beginning, and she will come into contact with myriad aspects of Quarios, and will discover how different from each other they can be. She’ll also discover that what she thinks she knows about Quarios may not always hold true–still other elements of her new surroundings will surprise her. For example, I imagine that Elucuna is a skilled knitter and fiber artist. This is a typical kind of skill to teach girls in upper-class Orikrindian homes. She views this activity as deeply feminine and completely hidden from the world of men. In Gotêvi, however, there are artisanal guilds of fiber artists, and many of their members are male. This is something that both surprises and intrigues here. In Orikrindia, men habitually do not devote any thought or attention, and certainly not any admiration, to the private arts of women (when it comes to things like knitting, embroidery, etc., at least). In Gotêvi, I think she would feel almost overly flattered that a man would show interest in her work and her skills, even though to them, it is just a normal amount of respect as one would show to a skilled colleague whose work is interesting or worthy of attention. Perhaps one of these men who compliments her work or shows interest in it is slightly confused as to why she feels so honored that he would talk with her about it, as for him, he talks with his female colleagues all of the time and does not consider it particularly special.
I have all of these scenarios forming in my head about how Elucuna interacts with, and responds to, the differing cultural environments around her. I hope that my writing will hold tight when it comes time to put these ideas into the story.
A bit more of Elucuna’s story. She arrives in a new location with Glohitan and is met with the prospect of a new ally.
Morning had broken, and my fatigue weighed ever more heavily on me. It started in my eyes and spread outward, dulling the adrenaline of traveling in a strange land with a man I had never met before. Glohitan remained reticent throughout much of our journey, and I was hesitant to start any kind of conversation again, given his short manner with me before. I was surprised that the amsas weren’t tired, but they seemed steadfastly unaffected.
Continuation of Elucuna’s first days in Quarios. She and Glohitan meet a strange woman along the road outside of Naeglitan.
We took two amsas (1) to the edge of the city. My meager belongings were strapped onto the young female that was given to me. Glohitan called her Isma. I was unused to riding since it was not an activity considered womanly in Orikrindia, but I managed well enough given my inexperience. The mount was, thankfully, very calm and patient. Glohitan’s walking stick was tied to his back, wrapped in a saffron-colored scarf, and he rode just ahead of me as we made our way down a dark road near the outskirts of Naeglitan.
Poem about the Orikrindian goddess of the forest. I don’t have enough of the Ori language done yet to translate it BUT it still spoke loudly so I had to do it.
Moltirin (known alsois the Orikrindian goddess of forests, mysteries, vengence, the past, memory, and rebirth/reawakening. She is also the matron goddess of lost things, women who have died in childbirth, dead children, men who have died in battle, storms, and those who have been wronged.
the woman of the wood
the threads of days past
she weaves again
a whisper from before
taken up again
bright and vital in memory
damp with energy refound
glowing in the night
alight with vigor
surging forth once more
pulsing in the rain
dancing beneath the arms of trees.
and her eyes
lit like lodestones
a stormy blue
and shot through with light
the dust of an eon
settled and reformed
again we have awoken
the woman of the wood.
Untitled Rílin poem, originally written about my mother.
More of the story of Elucuna, a runaway Orikrindian woman who goes into hiding in Quarios to start a new life.
It was from there that I made my way to what I had long planned would be my destination. First, I navigated the cramped streets and alleys of Naeglitan to a man who was an acquaintance of my brother’s. His name was Glohitan and he was in the business of ground transport—whether of cargo or person, he did not care. Moreover, he was in the business of discreet transport, which was of utmost concern to me, as I did not wish for my family (other than, of course, Poltyar my brother) to get wind of my location in Quarios, or even that I had in fact fled there. For all they knew, I had perished in some dark wood of Orikrindia or fallen in the hands of highwaymen.