When I was running the Kickstarter campaign to fund this publication, I shared several updates about my fantasy setting and the characters who appear in this first installment of The Way of the Falling Star. This seems like a good moment to bring those introductions off of the Kickstarter page and into wider circulation.
As the day draws near for Mornnovin to permanently enter the world we live in, I thought I’d start to build a little excitement by talking about another world:
I was ten years old when I drew the very first version of this map to impress a cool new girl at school who I wanted to make friends with. At the time, I was OBSESSED with Tolkien to the point where I could actually draw the full detailed map of Middle Earth from memory. It should come as no shock that my first stories of the adventures in Asrellion pretty closely mimicked the tales and faces from Tolkien’s world.
That was a long time ago, and my stuff is now my own stuff after taking a meandering detour through a lot of Shakespeare, various fantasy greats (Roger Zelazny, Tad Williams, Guy Gavriel Kay, Neil Gaiman, Susan Cooper, Stephen R. Lawhead, and Lloyd Alexander among others,) a smattering of sci-fi, and a loooooooooot of fanfiction over the years.
Now, the world of Asrellion has become the world I’ve needed to see in fantasy and haven’t until creating it myself. I guess you’ll see what I mean if you read the book.
“Don’t like it, make your own!” the jerks like to say.
Okay. I did.
Strap in for Ye Olde Creation Legend.
At the start of time, there was one great spirit. No one can say where it came from, but it’s said by the wise that there are many realities coexisting parallel to our own, and that this great spirit most likely originated in one of these.
Above all else, they say, this spirit is a Maker. When he first came to this plane before anything yet existed, what he saw was a blank slate, an empty canvas, an unformed block of clay – a whole universe just waiting to be filled and shaped and made into something beautiful from his imagination.
And his imagination is vast.
He imagined and so brought into being the sun, and stars, and the rocky, watery world of Asrellion with its silver moon. With an artist’s care he shaped the grass, and trees, and flowers, and everything green and growing. It was so beautiful by the time he was done that all he could do was walk his own world enamored of his own creation.
He swam in the pools and climbed the mountains and trees, ran upon the beaches, sang in the forest glades. But of course, that wasn’t satisfying for long. Tired of hearing only his own songs in his ears, he created the nightingale. That ended up making him so happy that he created a variety of other birds in order to bask in their wild serenade.
But that gave him an idea.
Listening to songs other than his own was so satisfying, so exciting, so stimulating to his imagination, that he wondered what the world would be like if it were full of other beings with their own voices expressing their own ideas. Beings who would appreciate the artistry of the world he had made. And because they would each have a distinct consciousness, with their own thoughts, their valuation of his work would be all the more valuable.
As soon as he had the idea, he knew he was going to do it, but he made preparations first. He created more animals to fill the world while he planned out this new ambitious work. Soon Asrellion was full of the sound and the music of life.
If these new beings had their own thoughts, he realized, that would mean sometimes they’d disagree with each other. Opposition isn’t itself an evil, he knew, but he didn’t like the idea that their arguments might spoil the beautiful world he’d put so much of himself into creating.
To protect his work, he imagined into existence an order of beings whose only purpose was to care for Asrellion and to keep it safe. These beings would not be bound to physical form; they were the energy of life drawn from the land itself. He did not imagine them with a desire to align themselves with sides or feelings or disagreements. They were of the land, for the land.
Only then, he felt, was it safe to create his thought children.
The evlé’í came first. He made them strong and handsome, vigorous of both mind and body, with a thirsting curiosity like his own and an appreciation for beauty – the better for them to appreciate his art and the workings of the world.
Because of their curiosity, they were amazed by everything and started devising names for all of creation. They called the Maker Vaian, which to them meant “endless.” Just like he’d hoped, they had a voracious love for Asrellion and everything in it. He was so enchanted by their childlike wonder that he began to teach them all about the natural world and how to shape it just as he had. And because it was their nature, they were eager to experiment with the things he taught them.
This obviously was a problem for the guardian beings, when the evlé’í started to multiply and really change the world they’d been charged to protect. Cutting down trees and carving into wood and so on. Worse, Vaian hadn’t made them with a natural end to their lifespans, so they just kept multiplying and filling up the world, causing more trouble for the guardians.
There were deaths. Not out of malice or vengeance – the guardians were just trying to do the job they’d been charged with. Vaian had to step in with a new directive: protect Asrellion, yes, but his thought children were not to be harmed. Not all of the guardians were able to accept this new directive.
As he tried to get a handle on the chaos he had unwittingly created, Vaian had to rethink the way the world worked. He made seasons, with a natural length of time for all things to live and die – except the evlé’í. He had grown so fond of them, and so protective, that he couldn’t bear to see them die. Instead, he limited the children each of them could bear in their lifetime.
The guardians were unsatisfied with this situation, but because they’d been explicitly ordered by their maker not to harm the evlé’í, they couldn’t do anything outright. Instead, they tempted the evlé’í to impulsive and dangerous behavior with manipulated thoughts and implanted suggestions. Many evlé’í began to die as a result of foolhardy behavior, self-destructive habits, and needless strife.
A wise evlé devised a strict philosophy for his people to live by, to protect them and prevent them from falling victim to such manipulation. This philosophy – The Seven Principles of Wisdom, or Qíarnos – would become the basis for their entire civilization.
When the maker spirit saw what the guardians were doing and how many of his children had died through their influence, he removed the rebellious ones from Asrellion. But since they’re made of energy itself, they could never be truly contained, and their thoughts at times still escape to influence the minds of the children of Vaian.
After so much death and grief had stained his beautiful world, the maker felt the need to create again. This time, keeping in mind the limitations of the world he’d built, he didn’t make another immortal people. He hoped these younger children, with their brief lives and shorter attention spans, would live faster and brighter than his inquisitive eldest children, seeking out more joy and pleasure to fill their limited days.
And that’s how Asrellion and the beings in it came to be. So we’ve got the guardian spirits — or farín, which humans later called fairies — then the elves, then humans.
But then what happened?
These newest children of Vaian were not made with the same burning curiosity or love of all nature as the evlé’í, so when they awoke to the world it was with confusion and fear. The evlé’í took the newcomers in and tried to teach them so that they wouldn’t be afraid. They called these new beings mysían’í.
In the beginning, there was real affection between the two groups even though they had their differences – much like siblings. But it didn’t take long for that to sour into resentment.
Vaian knew he’d made some mistakes, and that his creations were the ones really suffering the consequences. When he made the mysían’í after learning from his mistakes with the evlé’í, he’d made some changes to their design that he hoped would protect them. He really wasn’t trying to give them the shaft, but when the newcomers realized they were ageing and dying while the evlé’í just went on unchanged…
Some of the mysían’í remained fond of their elder mentors and chose to stay close, both in proximity and in philosophy. Most, however, decided to strike out on their own now that they knew enough to make their way in the world. Their numbers grew quickly and soon Asrellion was filled with many kingdoms. Because it was in their nature to always crave more, they squabbled over land and possessions. And to further separate themselves from the evlé’í, they made their own languages and called themselves “human.” The evlé’í they called elves. Simmering resentment slowly began to coalesce into hostility.
The guardian spirits were now kept so busy trying to protect the land from humans as they continued to spread and conquer that they demanded further instruction from the maker. Because humans were less careful with the land than the elves, he sadly conceded that the farín’í would need more latitude in dealing with them.
This was a mistake.
After the guardians decimated the human population with a plague that nearly wiped them out, Vaian had to be more specific. No more outright harm, he told them. They would have to frighten humans into behaving.
As the years passed, this led humans to hold a primal horror of anything that seemed like magic to them or could not be explained. It was all fairies.
Eventually, the warring human factions were absorbed by their stronger neighbors until only six major countries remained. The two greatest human kingdoms, Grenlec and Telrisht, fought each other almost constantly. When they were not at war, they were planning for war. This balance came to shape life in all of Asrellion.
And in the middle, the elven homeland, Eselvwey, warily watching as hostility built on all sides.
By now, Vaian realized that when he tried to intervene, he only made things worse. As much as it wearied and grieved him to watch the way his children treated each other and the land, he felt they needed to figure out on their own a way to coexist in peace.
They did not figure out a way to coexist in peace.
The one thing Telrisht and Grenlec shared in common was their growing enmity for elves. So smug, so pretty, so superior, the humans thought – and it wasn’t fair that they lived forever.
A certain Grenlecian lord grew preoccupied with what he thought of as “the elf problem.” He hated them in a deeply personal, irrational way, but he presented this hatred to others as a matter of logic. His ambition was that Grenlec should rule all the known world, and he said that for this to happen, elves had to be eliminated.
He was subtle about introducing these ideas, starting on sympathetic ears until he’d built a following. Elf-hating soon became quite the fashion in Grenlec and grew like a disease, spreading through all the human kingdoms – except loyal Mysia. Long after the lifetime of this one lord, the sickness grew until finally the hostility reached such a pitch that the elf king had to cut contact with humans for his own people’s safety.
Of course that was all the elf-haters needed.
After a brief, tense period of threats and political posturing, the entire human world marched to war together against the elves and Mysia.
The short version of what happened then is that the humans won. There were more of them and they had more practice at the art of warfare. The longer version of that story would detail unspeakable atrocities committed against the elves before the few survivors were able to flee into the wilderness. Grenlec and Telrisht split the elven homeland between them, but neither ever formally occupied the territory – the land itself was haunted by the horrors done there. Mysia, they annexed and sanctioned into near oblivion for their “traitorous” support of the elves right up to the end.
The devastated elven survivors were able to limp their way to a safe place in the uncharted wilderness, where they established a new kingdom in hiding. As far as the outside world was concerned, elves had been erased from Asrellion.
Of course, all of the scientific learning and advancement in the world went with them. And what they did not take with them, stubborn Grenlec and Telrisht cast off willingly. There would be no more reliance on knowledge gained by elves. Humans plunged into a dark age of ignorance and struggle that was entirely of their own making.
And the heartbroken maker did nothing.
So there you have it! All the excuse I needed to make up my own elf-language just like grandpa Tolkien, which of course is why you even get into the fantasy game in the first place if you’re a particular type of nerd (which I am.)
Roll on Day 7!