Howdie! As my next project is set in a fantasy world, it required for this world to have its own nature and rules. So, I thought I’d share with you some illustrated elements of this world building, with a bit of explanation as to what inspired them.
(I fiddled with Photoshop to create those, and I totally grabbed pictures from the web that I slapped together, which is bad practice. These are, however, mere concepts, not meant to be used for publication or commercially anywhere. Please don’t sue me.)
Because the story deals with historical and religious notions that might hit a little too close to home for some readers, I want to distance myself a little and set Silverleg’s world neatly apart from our own, and make it very clear that it isn’t earth, but rather a place that closely resembles it. Silverlegs’s sky has two moons, one slightly smaller than the other (and in fact, likely a much bigger planet, at a greater distance), so when she looks up, she might see something like this:
“Through the clouds, two orbs now glowed faintly in the sky: the eyes of the wolf, watching over our empire—two moons, in fact, hanging millions of leagues away from us in the sky according to the astrologists who came up with horribly complicated calculations to determine the distance. But I had no idea, back then. In truth, I didn’t even know what an astrologist was.”
The first peculiar type of vegetation we are introduced to over the course of the novel are the crusamantes, luminescent flowers that grow pretty much everywhere like weed. They’re used for medicinal or decorative purposes. Having some around your house means no need for any artificial light—very handy!
“Already, on the other side of the lake, a few patches of crusamantes were starting to glow softly. Once it was dark, insects would be drawn to the many shades of frosty pink and blue of their luminescent petals—and it was the last thing they’d see before those eerily beautiful flowers snapped shut and digested them . . .”
The Divine Water
Another type of glowing life form: the divine water is in fact filled with harmless microscopic bio-luminescent beings (inspired by the ones existing on earth, visible on the beaches of the Maldives, for example). Divine Water, also called Meditrinal water because it is believed to be a gift from healing goddess Meditrina, is used for medicinal purposes, with admittedly dubious efficiency. It becomes a central aspect of the Western Empire’s descent into religious fanaticism, as priests of Aus, the One God, believe that the water’s magical properties hails in fact from the power of evil pagan spirits. They chase those by throwing boiling water in the “contaminated” pools and rivers, which effectively kills the bio-luminescent micro-organisms. As the persecutions worsen, soon, anyone caught practicing pagan medecine using Meditrinal water is boiled alive as well, in a bid to cleanse evil…
“I locked my gaze onto a glass jar containing a greenish luminescent liquid. Divine water. We had some in a stream not far from my village’s temple, water that would sometimes fill with shimmering green tendrils during summer. They glowed like crusamantes did, which was said to be sign that Meditrina herself had bathed there. I wasn’t entirely sure why she would choose that particular stream rather than the lake for her ablutions, but it was a big deal, and priests collected it in bottles like Gemina had, for its healing properties. It was said that the water only worked if applied with the right kind of spell, but few villagers had enough money to pay for that; people just went to the stream and washed their swollen foot or bad tooth with the water. Like most free remedies, it didn’t work very well.”
The Scarlet Woods of Palica
The final act of Silverlegs takes to Palica, a city built on a rocky island in the middle of a river. Palica is surrounded by forests whose vegetation is perpetually red due to a natural substance present in the soil. The scarlet woods are perhaps a fitting metaphor for the trial awaiting Silverlegs in Palica . . .
Interestingly, ever-red plants exist in our world too, such as the Japanese blood grass. 🙂
“Toward the end of the third moon, the snow began to melt and a distant pinkish haze grew along the horizon’s line: the scarlet pines of Palica.”
“I crawled out of my tent a little before sunrise and feasted on pine nuts while the rest of the camp still slept. In the dim light of dawn, the forest looked more purple than red. In a few hours, everything would be bathed in the reddish hue of the sun filtering through crimson leaves. Hastius said it was something in the soil that did that to all the plants. He was probably right: under the damp bed of pine needles, the earth was the same deep red, with veins of ochre.”