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Ancestral history of Erfins

A landscape similar to Eol with Mateote in the background.

In fantasy there is no real history, of course, but in order to give things some background to how they came to be the way they are, it is important to create some history. This was important, especially for my second book, as all of Mirrortac’s other lives were as individuals from ancestral races, going back to the original tribal ancestor that he meets in Three Stones of Destiny — the Roznogh. The planet in which all of the first book takes place is Mareos, which has nine orbits of its moon, Mogog, in a single Mareos year. Let us now explore the ancestral history that finally leads to the erfins living in their valley of Eol, effectively isolating them from all their remaining ancestors.

The ROZNOGH we already know in Three Stones of Destiny, live in clans in the tundra lands of Yidrogh in the far north of Mareos. The clans consist of clan elders, maja-taks, who are sacred spell makers, and the hefty hyfnuks who are responsible for collecting the hyfnu weed and killing animals for food. There are also the regular roznogh people.

In the 9000th moon of their history, there is an extremely cold period when the Great Viyu (numbness) brings heavy snow falls. The roznogh survive by living near an area of hot springs.

The Stone Wall of Viyu (Glacier) comes in the 9010th moon, dividing the land of Yidrogh. Some tribes are caught on the southern side of Yidrogh, fleeing to warmer lands to the south.

The glacier retreats on the 11,800th moon, but by this time the southern tribes have formed into the UZDREE.

12,007th moon: The maja-tak seek more freedom to exercise their spellcraft, challenging clan elders. The maja-tak seize power from the clan elders who are exiled along with a group of loyal followers. The power play continues between the maja-tak spell casters, forcing the division into two factions — the URDAN and the MADREE clans. Skirmishes break out between the Urdin and Madree but the Madree gain control, forming a powerful ruling clan that reigns for many moons.

13,851st moon: The Monsters-of-the-Deep-Earth (earthquakes) create great destruction in the land, swallowing villages and spitting fire out of the volcanic mountains. The Madree flee the great under-gods of fire, and escape south across a narrow neck of land which is swallowed up by the angry gods of the Great Waters. Plumer-Ra and the other Islands of the Meretees are formed at this time.

13,860th moon: The Madree have been scattered into groups all over the southern lands and each settles to form new clans — RADREE, HUGHWA, URTAK, MADIN and ERFIN.

13,900th moon: Under the maja-tak spell casters, the clans thrive and expand their territories, exploring lands until clans encounter each other.

14,000th moon: Border skirmishes erupt as the power game begins anew between the five clans. Warriors are trained and their short swords bound by various spells to enhance their power over their enemies. Wooden swords give way to ones of metal with hilts adorned in precious stones.

14,005—16,154th moon: Battles rage between the five clans as each pits its might against each other. Finally, only two clans remain — the Madin and Erfins. The Madin are forced into the mountains where they maintain guerrilla style raids on outlying erfin villages.

16,155—17,000th moon: The Erfin empire reigns with battles continuing against the Madin mountain clans.

17,008: The hero warrior Merftac is born to the erfins of Fot. He grows up to lead a major offensive in the 17,146th moon against Madin mountain clans, forcing them to flee to the end of the earth where they are slaughtered on a precipitous mountain ridge and cast below into oblivion. The valley below the Mountain at the End of the Earth (Mateote) is so beautiful and richly endowed with nif-grass and fote fowl that Merftac convinces his maja-tak ruler to shift the people there in the place they name Eol. Merftac is dubbed Thane of Fotwood at the 17,164th moon for his service as a great warrior chief.

17,170: The erfin warriors grow restless, and many brawls break out. They start to challenge the authority of the maja-tak. Merftac realises that he must find a solution to their idleness.

17,180: Nite-wolves, attracted by the potential prey in the previously empty valley of Eol, grow in numbers in the woods east of Eol. Lorcs predate in the stream and lake to the west and south, resulting in the deaths of erfins. Merftac sets his warriors to work hunting nite-wolves and protecting villagers.

17,188: Alien demi-gods appear from beyond Mateote. They work powerful magic and tell of the wondrous worlds beyond the mountains thought to be the end of the earth. Nite-wolves retreat to deep within the woods while the demi-gods convince Merftac of the benefit of exploring these new worlds. Under their charm, Merftac and his warriors follow them over the mountain, promising to return once these new worlds are scouted. These same aliens also visit the Meretees people during this time period.

17,200: The maja-tak, realising their warriors would never return, seize the opportunity to assume supreme power without fear of challenge by restless warriors and their ‘charmed’ swords. They announce that Mateote is their god and warn erfins never to scale the great peak as oblivion awaits them on the other side. They brand the demi-gods as deceivers from the Netherworld who robbed them of their warriors.

17,210: The maja-tak form the priesthood of Mateote. The spell language of Maja is declared sacred and forbidden among the common erfin folk. In the ensuing years, the High Priests of Mateote establish firm control of Eol which becomes their prison as there are no warriors to kill the nite-wolves and slimy lorcs. The erfins settle into a subsistence lifestyle of harvesting nif-grass and herbs as well as raising the fote fowl for eggs and meat.

 

Mirrortac’s “Worlds” — 8: Thenigmas

The planet world of Thenigmas

The planet world of Thenigmas

Thenigmas is not a planet you would like to visit on a holiday. Everything about the place is violent — earthquakes, volcanoes spewing ash and lava, and fierce tribes that are at war with each other. Mirrortac comes here through the portal connection to his home planet of Mareos, but it is not through his own volition. Nevertheless, he needs to be there as this is where the second Stone of Destiny, Darm, is hidden. This planet is so vast and complex that Mirrortac’s experience of it only touches on a few tribes in the central western sector. Thenigmas thus also features in another novel I am working on, but that is for later. I will discuss all the tribes and their lifestyles here:

NORTHERN TRIBES OF THE FOREST OF TREACHERY

Haks, Futs, Teks and Woks

All the woodland tribes are fiercely territorial but do not indulge in raids of other tribes. They wear animal skins for warmth against the cold seasons, and hunt with the use of bow and arrows. Each tribe has its own identifying arrow design and utilise various poisons to quickly disable the animal or man as the case may be. Food consists primarily of small and medium sized animals up to the size of a deer. Other foods include various herbs, roots and leafy plants; refreshments are from the juices of various plants and include an intoxicating drink made from fermented fruits of the forest. Almost without exception, all intruders are killed and eaten after they have been basted in herbs and roasted in hot ashes underground. Men and women are likewise long haired with hairy bodies and pale tan skin. They are as tall as an erfin (short) and of like build with flat noses. Men exhibit small beards but are the same height as the women. They are agile climbers and build raised huts made of slender tree stems and thatched pine needles. Tribes distinguish themselves by the style of hair which may be tied back in a specific manner.

TRIBES OF THE PLAINS

Zidites, Shrones and Bluves

Zidites: This tribe lives on the edge of the Slosh of Sour (see map above) and the Plain of Scorched Flesh, and ride the plain on a horse-like creature, the Parduk. They wear hide armoury and hunt the large herd animals of the plain with sickle-shaped weapons made of sharpened Mamorf bones which they use to cut the animal’s throat while riding alongside on their parduks. They can also use these as weapons against other tribes they may encounter on the plains. Competition for food animals against other tribes results in constant battles between the tribes. Other tribes-women are also kidnapped and taken as their own and vice-versa. Thatched grass huts are built in the village of Zid. Food is solely meat, including bones and innards, and warriors prize the heart of their victim — animal or man — which is eaten raw fresh after the kill. All Zidites have shaved crowns of their heads. This is a light tan skinned tribe. Fresh blood and water are the only drinks they partake of.

Shrones: This tribe lives farther west and up the coast alongside the plain. They also ride parduks and live in thatched grass huts at their home village of Shron. They wear animal hide armoury marked with the insignia of two parduk shoes crossed at their apexes and also a helm of cranium hide with inward curled horns. Their chief weapon is a wide-bladed bone dagger which they use in a thrusting action while leaping off the backs of parduks to kill their victims. The men are bearded with almost shoulder length hair. They eat the meat of animals but detest the flesh of their enemies, lest they be despoiled by inferior blood. They are also fishing people who build natural fish traps using the tide to advantage. They use reed canoes to cross over to the island of Woin where they invade the people there in an age-old rivalry going  back many generations. They drink the milk of domesticated animals and have a liking for an intoxicating beverage made solely by the Woineks.

Bluves: These are a black-skinned race who inhabit the hot northern part of the plain at the foot of two volcanoes — Grorl and Somok. They wear metal breastplates and short leather skirts, hunting on foot. They use a range of metal weaponry forged at volcano fed furnaces. They have long ponytails stemming from otherwise bald heads, and are tall and lithe, with little body hair. They use spears to kill the animals of the plains but have wicked little daggers which  they store in their ponytails, and can draw them swiftly to finish off an enemy. They are often at war with the Clunuks to the north of them who always try to steal their food, women, weapons and whatever they can get their hands on. They live in clay huts and eat the meat of animals as well as a kind of bread made by their women. They drink the blood of their victims as well as milk and a floury gruel like porridge.

HILL TRIBES

Warriors of Ning, Huds and Clunuks

Clunuks: The Clunuks are a dark-skinned tribe who inhabit the hills of the Tor of Clun. They have long waxy black hair and wear headbands and spiked anklets. They armour themselves with sleeveless mail shirts with an undershirt and tailed into a skirt of light leather. They often hunt and raid under the cover of darkness, and are discreet and treacherous in their movements. They are notorious thieves, and will steal the enemy’s metal, including weapons and armour off those they have killed in battle, then smith the metal into their own weapons and armour. Their weapons include crossbows, swords and daggers. They inhabit homes made of layered stones transported from the nearby hills, and their food includes animals of the plain, various wild vegetables and wildfowl. They drink a variety of vegetable juices and a steamed leaf tea with a certain narcotic quality that promises to heighten the warrior rage.

Warriors of Ning: Perhaps the most feared tribe in Thenigmas because of their slave animals — the giant insectoid Gnax which they use to ride the skies from their homeland in the Hills of Ning in the far eastern quarters of the world, to swoop upon their enemy, the Huds, in the Hills of Crush. Generations of tribal hatred stand between the two tribes who battle on without end; their whole purpose bent on war. The women are left to hunt for food while the men go out to battle, returning only to recover from injury and gather more food supplies. Women hunt the giant creatures in the country north of the Hills of Ning and the volcano, Qaja, that provides the furnace fire for forging helms and the solid metal balls slung at the enemy with sling-shots made from bone and animal sinews. Male smiths operate the forges and also teach the young men to be warriors. These are a dark-skinned but hairy tribe who wear helms with slightly curved horns. They are loud and raucous, fight hard and play hard. Women are expected to be mated early, and to give birth to many sons and daughters, as both ensure a constant supply of warriors for battle where losses are great despite their aerial advantage. A number of domesticated animals are kept to provide milk and eggs; and vegetables are grown to save time in searching for food. They value the heavy mineral waters of nearby springs for drinking and also have a variety of juices.

Huds: This tribe lives in the Hills of Crush in the south and must battle on two fronts, but mainly against their most hated enemy, the Warriors of Ning. Their reply to the slung metal balls from their insectoid riding enemy is to use catapults armed with oil soaked stones set alight and shot at the gnax which are often severely burnt in flight, thus forced to ground where their Ning riders can be killed. The Huds also use the huge Mamorfs to pull their platforms constructed on rounded boulders which offer a vantage point for battle and to literally crush any enemies. The Huds use a variety of metal weapons, including sling-shots and spears. They are similar in appearance to the Warriors of Ning but go naked except for leather loin cloths, and instead of armour, use heavily studded metal shields to ward off shot. Their women collect a variety of water plants from Heathens Sunk in the north and will also hunt with spears for herd animals on the plain if there are none to be found in the hills. The women are also fierce warriors and can take care of themselves against men from other tribes wanting to have their own way with them. A particular bulb collected at Heathens Sunk has highly potent properties and is used as a smoke or in a narcotic drink.

TRIBES OF THE DEVOURING ISLES

Shrids, Ashes and Ihaytites

These closely related tribes are perhaps the most beautiful in appearance as their bodies are deeply tanned, slim but strong, and with little hair over their naked skin. They have multi-pronged spears for fishing and wear no clothes bar ornaments such as shell necklaces, metal earrings and circlets around arms and legs. They live on fish and fruits of the islands, and use outrigger canoes made out of carved out tree trunks. The tribes keep an uneasy peace with one another, killing any who cross the boundaries between their home island and the neighbouring ones. There are no raids but frequent skirmishes in the waters between the islands. Island chiefs can start a war if they feel their tribe has been compromised by the actions of individuals in other tribes. Rising populations strain at relations.

 

Mirrortac’s “worlds” — 6: Yidrogh

I did not create a map for this land but you can imagine a landscape similar to our Tundra, covered in snow for most of the year, and dotted with bogs. It is a twilight land that is plunged into darkness during its winter season or Season of the White Veil as the inhabitants, the Roznoghs, call it. They live in caverns under the snow referred to as holloks, and are divided into clans according to their location. The icy stream called the Bringer of Viyu (numbness) winds its way through the landscape. The roznoghs are distant ancestors of the erfins. Their food comprises mostly hyfnu weed from the  bogs (Greevuns) and meat from the small furry Nimply-wiks, and the large carnivore, the Wooil, which has four eyes, huge shoulders and powerful front feet, sloping down to smaller hindquarters. The Wooil can tear a roznogh to pieces, but its meat is valued, and also its fine fur hide. The roznogh worship the Skymaster Yidu, who is a big part of the story in the second book Three Stones of Destiny. It is here that Mirrortac encounters the Werdstone — a much revered stone — and gets himself into a whole heap of trouble.

Three Stones trailer

My graphic artist Michael Lenehan has been busy the last month working on a trailer for my second book Three Stones of Destiny.  It has been his first venture into creating a animated trailer, which he has created in a cartoon style rather than a more painstaking method.  Overall, I am quite pleased with it, as it captures the drama of a key point in the book when my erfin character Mirrortac faces his antagonist Yidu  for the first time.  My YouTube link for the trailer is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i98tLcgUu4Q&feature=em-upload_owner

The links for Michael and the book are:

My writing retreat

Provided there are no cyclones bothering the coast early next week, I will be heading off for three days to the nearby national park of Cape Hillsborough to sit and absorb the ambience and write away on my second book in the series. In between writing bouts, I will walk around the rainforest and nearby beach to snap photos of nature and get a little exercise in the best possible way – bushwalking. Cape Hillsborough is the ancient culdera of a volcano that was action millions of years ago. Now, all you can see are some forested cliffs and hills alongside a wide sweep of beach, which makes for a very pleasant backdrop for writing.

I will be spending my time at the low-key resort where I will be staying in a ‘Villa’ of modest design but adequate for my purpose. I’ll have my laptop with me, and all the other paraphernalia necessary to write, including my music on tap to put me in the mood and keep me on track.

When my trusty Dell laptop of many years decided it was time to give up the ghost just a week ago, I realised that I had not backed up about 3000 words of my new writing, and was sweating on the hope that the documents would be rescued and transferred to the new laptop.  It worked out fine in the end, with everything intact, but I quickly did a back-up to the external drive just in case.

The second in the series of the Nine Worlds of Mirrortac – The Three Stones of Destiny – is coming along well, with three of Mirrortac’s offspring coming to the rescue to find the erfin and continue his mission. There are more ‘humans’ in this book than the last, and indeed this will continue through the third and final book of the series. The setting of the story moves from the home planet of my star erfin to another planet that is less comfortable, as it is always being beset with earhquakes and volcanic activity, not to mention the hostile tribes that inhabit it. This is the planet Thenigmas, which has two suns and a whole lot of death and destruction. This is where my fantasy becomes more spec-fic as it crosses the boundaries of fantasy into science-fiction. There is even some space travel involved, but the magical elements are still there. I am hoping that readers will enjoy this new book when I finally finish it and polish it, and those who haven’t yet read The Wizard’s Sword, may go back to enjoy it and this story.

Teaser for Book 2 in progress

Chapter 1: Yidrogh ― land of bogs

 

The stench was unbearable. Mirrortac’s paws were tied behind his back and he was up to his neck in it – a muddy cold green slime. What a way to treat a distant cousin, although there was the small matter of the theft of these people’s most treasured and sacred object – the Werdstone. But he blamed Phantac for that. It was he who set him on another mission without fully explaining the consequences of such an action. It had all seemed an easy matter from the First Heaven where the hard realities of life in the physical plane were mere abstractions. In the here and now, hardly able to move in a bog hole, and nauseous from inhaling the smell of the putrid plant matter, the First Heaven was fast fading into dreamland.

The First Heaven – the gateway of the river of light. Mirrortac thought he was dead when he saw Phantac amid the mists and changing rainbow of colours that surrounded him. He had only just arrived after leading many souls across from Hopocus where he had triumphed over the sorceress, Helok, and her partner, the sorcerer, Krak. Hopocus was a lower astral realm – closest to all physical worlds. Mirrortac’s people, the erfins – a furry race of cat-like people ­– knew Hopocus as the Netherworld where demons and all creatures and beings of darkness dwelt. The erfins had believed that this world was beyond the great mountain that guarded their valley. But it took the courage and curiosity of one erfin to prove that they were wrong. Mirrortac never knew then that the journey would eventually lead him through many worlds where he would encounter various races of people and come into contact with beings of both darkness and light. And all the while, he was inevitably drawn towards Hopocus where he completed the prophesy of an ancient legend wherein it said: A great warrior will return from the outer world, bringing with him his sacred silver staff – the Staff of Thaum – which he will use to conquer the dark rulers of Hopocus and lead many out of slavery into a new life.

Phantac had seemed like something out of a dream – his fur was a dazzling white, and yet he was clearly an erfin. His eyes were like brilliant emeralds, glistening. There was an immense air of calm about him as one came to expect of such spiritual beings, but it was no longer just a sense, but a palpable feeling. When he smiled, it lit up his whole being, and his voice was gentle and strangely familiar. Then there was the First Heaven itself.

Mirrortac struggled with the memories of what he had seen. How does anyone describe something that is always changing? Landscapes were in a constant state of flux – transforming themselves from vast fields of yellow flowers to deep valleys dotted with fir trees and populated with herds of strange animals. Feeding into this was an immense river of golden light, glistening with millions of tiny flecks as it tumbled out in a curtain from a gateway above. The river broke up into hundreds of streams that in turn split into hundreds and thousands more. And each one of the streams was tendered by god-like beings who shone with the brilliance of suns, dipping their hands into the golden soup and directing threads of it into the vast reaches of the Greater Sky where suns and worlds bathed in the void.

It was during their discussions surrounded by all this beauty that Phantac revealed this new mission. ‘What? Can I nought stay here?’ Mirrortac had pleaded.

Then Phantac smiled with that peaceful, patient expression. ‘An incarnate being can nought remain in a spiritual domain. This is nought your time to give up the body,’ he explained.

‘I wish to return then to my kin in the Faug Forest. Have I nought done with my mission? Send another!’ Mirrortac retorted.

‘You will have help on this mission, but you are the only one who can begin …’ Phantac cut short what he was about to say. ‘It is your tasking.’

Mirrortac sighed with resignation as he acknowledged the responsibility.

‘Then what task must I do?’

Phantac waved his paws in the air and opened them, revealing three strangely marked stones.

‘These three stones are in the likeness of three stones of great power – one for each of the Greater worlds that are linked in energies and empowered from a fourth stone – the crystal Werdstone.’

Mirrortac’s brows lifted. ‘Werdstone? The Werd has a stone named for it?’

‘Yea, the name of the Werd is lost in your erfin past. You shall soon re-discover this lost past and the great controlling power of this crystal stone. It is filled with the Werd – the secret knowledge of the Ancients. You must take this stone, but you shall face a great enemy who assumes the mask of god to your ancestors. It will be your task to protect the stone and find the other three stones of destiny, and destroy them with the controlling Werdstone. The three stones are each named Oashu – the keeper stone of the Greater world of Mareos; Einuk – keeper of Nerthule; and Darm – keeper of Thenigmas. Only when you have all three and the Werdstone can they be destroyed and the task completed.’

‘And why must these stones be destroyed? What matter to the worlds are such stones?’ Mirrortac queried.

Phantac struggled with the burden of explaining. ‘The secret knowledge of the Ancients includes much of the lesser and higher magics that are dangerous in the hands of the unwise. When the stones are destroyed all the spells shall be broken, and your erfin descendants trapped in the bodies of animals on Nerthule shall be released and allowed to continue their lives in Eol. If the spells are not broken then they will soon be forever trapped in the animal closest to erfin likeness, and many more will be bound from all the worlds.’

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