Category Archives: The Continent
Different “kingdoms” on the Continent as well as some of the major Nations.
I was rereading something and was inspired to give a little blurb on one of All World’s defining geological features. It’s known as the Great Desert. It’s a gigantic expanse of sand that covers a good portion of Seiryu’s East along the border to Genbu’s North. It has a bad reputation though well-earned. I’ll tell you how it came into existence as well as why it has been reputed as a dangerous place.
Back in the beginning, the Great Desert was called Sanctuary. It was where the Almighty breathed life into the world and where all creatures and plants of the earth had their beginning. Sanctuary is the birthplace of the Kings, the Shogun, and the Sovereign as well as the forerunners of all creatures, including humans. In the garden that it was, there two special trees. The Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. When the Descent occurred and the human forerunners were banished, Sanctuary was guarded by the Almighty’s flaming Sacred Sword. It guarded the Tree of Life and Sanctuary became a forbidden place. When the Landless Time buried the Continent and Island Reptilia underwater, Sanctuary was destroyed and reverted to a desert after the waters receded. Legends tell that the Sword of the Almighty still stands guard where it was placed. Legends also say that the dead remains of both the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil still stand. The flood waters had uprooted and drowned many, many tree but those two in particular were two of the very few whose roots prevented that from happening.
The Great Desert, as it came to be called, became associated with evil because those who wandered into it seeking the Trees never came out again, even if they went in fully prepared with food and water. It’s also the only place in All World that is truly dead. Nothing grows or lives in it. Shogun Yamata no Orochi claimed the desert as his territory because his duty is to prevent others from entering it and to find those struck down by the Sacred Sword and reunite them with their souls. That is the Sword’s ability. It cuts down any and all who manage to find it and the remains of the Trees. The souls cut free from their flesh are stuck in sort of limbo until Orochi is able to use his God-given ability to reunite them with theirs bodies.
Over the course of the six thousand year history All World has seen since its formation, the numbers of wanderers into the Great Desert number only in the low one-hundreds, a vast majority being humans. Orochi himself is successful 95% of the time at turning the curious away from the desert. The other 5% were those who either disregarded his warning or never met up with the gigantic eight-headed serpent. Orochi is not permitted to violently prevent anyone from entering his territory. He can do little more than to warn the curious of the dangers but the choice is ultimately up to them. Out of all those who went in and met their fate from the Sword, Orochi was successful in saving all of them except thirty. Those thirty souls weren’t found in time. Their bodies expired and the souls were taken into Paradise. The Shogun, as written in his bio, originally had no intention of policing the border to the Great Desert but was compelled into service.
Though Orochi has immunity from the Sword’s soul-rending power, even he dares not enter the Desert unless needed. The Sword acts of its own accord and has attacked him every time he came to retrieve a body rent of its soul. The Almighty had granted the Shogun special armor that he wears at all times to make the serpent well-protected from the duty-bound Sword. Orochi is always uneasy in its holy presence because he is evil by virtue of All World’s fallen state and the Sword strikes down all evil that comes across it. Innocent or vile, it makes no difference. All who live in a fallen world are judged the same by the Sword.
The Almighty has told the Kings that when All World’s clock ticks down to zero, He would remove the Sword from its place in the Great Desert and that would be the sign that the end was at hand. As the Desert is in Seiryu’s Domain, the dragon King has made it his unending duty to keep a close watch on the sword from his Castle, via the Seer’s Ball. Even ancients like himself fear the Desert and the Sword within but they haven’t forgotten Sanctuary, their birthplace. Their hope is to see it again in Paradise when things finally tick down to zero and are reset.
Suzaku is the phoenix High King of the South. His appearance was inspired by the film version of Fawkes, the phoenix of Professor Dumbledore from Harry Potter. Even then, I always saw phoenixes are more hawk-like than other versions. Suzaku is said to be the most beautiful of his kind. His second, Royeren, joked in the pilot story that looking on the King could render someone blind. Suzaku is closest to Seiryu out of the Four. They all refer to each other as Brother but Seiryu and Suzaku are definitely the best of friends. Suzaku’s also known as the kindest out of the Four.
Suzaku is the strangest of the High Kings because of what he is. Being a phoenix means he goes through the life/death/rebirth cycle, making him eternally younger than his counterparts yet just as old as them. For most of history, Suzaku’s death and rebirth was fixed annually, mostly as a tool for humans to create a calender. His cycle was fixed by the Almighty after the Descent. After he was freed from that duty, he could choose his own time to die. His chosen time now is every twenty years. Towards the end of his life, Suzaku, like all phoenixes, looks utterly dreadful. After he goes up in flames, it can take anywhere from sixty seconds to five minutes for him to be reborn, depending on how well he died previously. The only time it took longer than five minutes for Suzaku to return was when he died a particularly violent death.
Suzaku’s only known violent death was during the Siege of Ganpon in the pilot story. He was fighting in that battle when he noticed that the anti-villain was aiming to kill Judge Krakatau and Anna with an arrow. Suzaku was compelled to fly in the arrow’s path and took it to the heart. His death resulted in his body glowing, followed by an immense explosion. To get a good scope of the intensity, think of Sauron’s death in the first few moments of the Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring film. It took fifteen minutes for him to come back from that death. Since then, even though his fatal wound was healed by his rebirth, Suzaku often claims to still feel the wound in his heart. Likely because he had never been shot before. He had died in other ways aside from the natural cycle but nothing at that scale.
Unlike most storybook phoenixes, there is a way to permanently kill one of my own. It’s called the Eternal Death, a spell the Deceiver developed and later caused to float around for humans to use. It negates a phoenix’s ability to return from the dead. Signs of its use are obvious. Aside from the obvious fact that the victim doesn’t come back to life, a victim’s plumage goes from scarlet red to an ashy grey, symbolic of their eternal fire going out forever. Allow me to delve into Suzaku’s history so we can get an idea of what this spell is.
In the beginning, unlike all other animals, the Almighty created just one phoenix, Ho-oh (more commonly called Fenghuang). Many legends say that phoenixes embody both male and female. I used that idea for my own mythos as well. However, after the Descent, the Almighty split Ho-oh in two. Ho became Suzaku while Oh remained known by that name. They became as siblings. Oh was supernaturally implanted with eggs to jump start the Phoenix Nation. Five hundred years later, Suzaku came to his sister side. He found Oh dead on the ground below her tree home. Her plumage was ashy grey and her wings were spread out, indicating she had been killed while on the ground, likely in her human form. Her death reverted her back.
Her death confused Suzaku who didn’t understand why she didn’t come back to life. Death as we know it is a foreign concept to a phoenix. They can’t wrap their minds around it. Since their cycle is all they ever knew, that’s understandable. Even after six thousand years of watching his mortal friends age and die, Suzaku still can’t imagine what it’s like to die and not come back. Since Oh’s death, several other phoenixes have been permanently been killed by the Eternal Death. The last known casualty was a phoenix servant named Cara who took the spell for the King when he was threatened with it. Unlike other victims, her death was a bit slower, likely because it was an alchemist (a human) who used it and alchemists aren’t likely practitioners of magic. All the same, Cara died and didn’t come back.
Like all phoenixes, Suzaku has to spend a few months in a burning furnace every time he comes back to life after going through his cycle. Phoenixes naturally retain their memories from their “past lives” so Suzaku is still able to rule the South effectively, even as a chick. The mark of his kingship is visible on his forehead when he first comes back because his fluffy down takes a while to grow after he comes back. Like all baby animals, Suzaku has been the subject of adoration from the female population every time he comes back and grows his down.
Back when he was helping humans create a calender, Suzaku would be taken to the Imperial Palace in Ganpon and placed on a pedestal for all to see. At the stroke of midnight, he would go up in flames and come back the next minute to signal the New Year. He would then be taken to a furnace to stay until he was big enough to be transferred back to his Castle. Now that that duty is over, Suzaku can now burn in the comforts of his home.
Suzaku’s main enemies are the Harpy Nation, even though he has a non-aggression pact with their Queen, Celaeno. I’ll delve into that at a later time.
Jackalopes have always interested me, mainly because they’re not mythological. It believed that jackalope legends arose when people saw rabbits with the Shope papilloma virus, which causes horn and antler-like growths on the rabbit’s head and body. My jackalopes take on some characteristics from local tales around the US. They’re able to imitate human voices and they’re often hunted for their antler racks. My jackalopes have one thing in common with caribou as both males and females have antlers. The antlers themselves looked the antlers of a whitetail deer. It’s not known if they lose their antlers during the winter or not. Jackalopes are so rarely seen, study on them is limited.
My jackalopes are an evasive race and given their small size, their power to transform is hardly used as the antlers and ears remain in the human form. In their true forms, their ears stand straight up but in a human form, the ears take on the flopped position seen in lop-eared rabbits. The antlers are difficult if not impossible to hide in a human form so jackalopes hardly take the form of a human for that reason. They live in communities around the entire Continent, one of the more prominent ones being Jackalope Hollow in Suzaku’s South and located in the Crête Isolée region. The communities are governed by a chief. Their culture is derived from Native Americans. The size of a jackalope’s antlers is proportional to their size so they aren’t overly big or heavy. They’re often decorated with various things. Jackalopes are preyed on by the foxes but both sides know that its part of the cycle.
Jackalope Hollow is one of the larger tribes. The Hollow is surrounded by large redwoods and the roots themselves interweave to create a barrier that’s hard to break through, making the Hollow a very safe place. The former Chief was Swift Antler but his position as both Chief of Jackalope Hollow and as a Council of Myth member were handed down to Fleet Foot. Swift Antler had grown too old and retired from his post. Chiefs can either be voted into power or it can be handed down through a family. It varies from tribe to tribe. Jackalope Hollow is one of the few tribes where the chief can select his own successor without the tribe voting on it. Swift Antler’s family had been killed years before by a fox hunting party so he had no heirs. Fleet Foot was one of Swift Antler’s students and the best he thought for the job.
As a jackalope hardly uses his magic to take a human form, their area of expertise is using their magic in their voice mimicry. They’re not known for fighting but it’s no uncommon for them to be used in wars as messengers given their speed and evasiveness. They generally make themselves scarce during times of war so messenger jackalopes are the bravest of their kind, not afraid to take messages in the thick of battle.
I may do a post on foxes but the story was centered around them has been canceled. I may yet bring them back.
This post is for me to describe my werewolves and the Assassins, shape-shifting wolves. While I refuse to introduce vampires into my mythos, werewolves are better in keeping to my world’s rules. It’s also to free me from the obligation that most stories dealing with one or the other seem to follow: if you have vampires, you must have werewolves and vice versa. I find the whole vampire-werewolf conflict to be incredibly cliched so my werewolves are the main frenemies to the Assassins, they themselves wolves. There are various differences between my werewolves and the classic werewolf and those differences also set them apart from the Assassins.
Let’s start off with the All Worldian werewolf. What makes them different from the classic usage is that they are not humans with lycanthropy. They are merely anthropomorphic wolves that go by the name werewolf and it serves as the main difference between a werewolf and an Assassin, which transforms into a human (albeit with the ears and tail remaining). Had my werewolves followed the classic example, it would invoke the Not So Different trope in their relationship with the Assassins and that would cause more problems than I’d want to deal with.
Werewolves cover the entire spectrum of fur colors seen in real world wolves. They are taller than humans, with males at seven feet and females reaching at most six feet, six inches. Their legs are digitagrade like a wolf and they have opposable thumbs like humans. They generally run on all fours but are capable of running like humans. Werewolf females have the same attributes as a human female but as their bodies are covered in fur, werewolves don’t wear any sort of clothing. The fur in both sexes provides the same amount of modesty as human clothes do. Werewolves aren’t bothered by it that way humans and transforming entities are. Like humans, a she-werewolf usually has one pup at a time and werewolves mate for life, like a human should. Werewolves live in packs scattered around the Continent and each pack has an alpha.
Werewolves do have the ability to speak in the human tongue but when it’s among their own kind, they generally use the same body language seen in real wolves. They speak human when dealing with non-werewolf outsiders and when they have to use words to communicate what body language can’t. They are one of the few intelligent races with no magic, as such they cannot transform.
Assassins, on the other hand, are transforming wolves. Their true forms are the same size as wolves found in the world, with the exception of Grandmaster Fenrir, who is about the size of a tiger. Fenrir is ancient as well but he wasn’t the first Grandmaster of the Assassin Guilds. He has predecessors whose names are lost to history but it’s accepted truth that Fenrir was the greatest of all. He rose to prominence during the Wolf-Werewolf War, a silent war not found in human history and he was the one who drove the Ganpon Forest Pack from where human city, Ganpon, would be built. This has earned him the emnity of a white werewolf named Gilgamesh who was born centuries after the fact. More on that in my next post.
My wolf Assassins are inspired by the assassins from the Assassin’s Creed games by Ubisoft. Rather idealistic, I know, since murder is still murder no matter the reason. They are under the control of Fenrir but they are also willing tools of the Emperor. The Guild based in Ganpon act as supplement protection for the city and its people, as well as the Emperor. Despite this, Ganpon’s human citizens are usually unaware of the Guild’s existence and the Assassins themselves are looked down on due to their profession. As the Assassins are mere wolves able to take a human form, they are as territorial as the real thing. The Ganpon Guild is fiercely protective of their territory and, given the bad blood between them, won’t hesitate to chase off a werewolf. However, since they are both sapient races, they can and will parlay with each other if the need arises.
Assassins generally dress in clothes that match their true form’s colors. They wear hooded cloaks to hide both their tails and ears, the only traits that remain when they transform. Fenrir, for instance, is a grey wolf so his clothing reflects that. The Guilds around the Continent aren’t separate packs but are mere extensions of the Ganpon Guild as that’s where Fenrir directs his kind from. All the Guilds can be seen as one large pack, just separated into various regions, while Fenrir is the alpha. The named Assassins in my stories are male but there are females as well. The named Assassins had names of ancient cities with the exception of two. They are Rome, Syracuse, Damascus, and the traitor Hebron. The two exceptions are Tiberius (who went under the alias of Emmaus for 13 years) and Fenrir himself. There may be a couple I’ve forgotten.
Next up is Gilgamesh and Fenrir.
Tobias is the middle of the three Lords in terms of age. He was hatched just as the Age of Ice was wrapping up. He is the successor to Lord Anan.The Ziz were what the ancient Hebrews called pteranodons and other flying reptiles like them. Since they aren’t dinosaurs, I was able to get away with calling them by their Hebrew name. Tobias’s wing span is pretty large for his kind. He’s the smallest of the three Lords and can land comfortably on Azariah’s back or Nimbus’s head.
Like Azariah, Tobias is also endowed with a strange eye. His right eye looks like the sun, burning glow and everything. It also “sinks” in conjunction to the actual sun so it’s dark at night. When the Ziz went into hiding after the death of Anan, they broke up into communities that hid out in the remote regions of the world. Tobias’s strange eye led to his exile from his community and he flew off to hide in Verboden Waair. He remained there until he received the call to head northwest, to the shoreline where the Sea Lord’s Keep sank into the ocean. There he met members of the other two Great Races, Azariah and Nimbus. Naturally wary of each other given the bad blood between their kinds, the three hid together until the Kings appeared and told them their destinies: to take the Lordships that been vacant for over 4,000 years.
Tobias answered his call, noting that three unlikely members of their races were called. Tobias was an exile, Azariah was a bandit, and Nimbus was just all-around jaded. Through their shared destiny, the three became friends and worked to patch things between their kinds, made easy when they learned the truth behind their predecessors’ deaths. Tobias reopened the Air Lord’s Keep, located far in the southern reaches of Verboden Waair. The Keep was built into the the top of a mountain and can only be reached by flying. The Watchers remade themselves in Tobias’s image to prove he holds authority.
Apparently, the reason Verboden Waair was forbidden to all outsiders was because Anan was pretty territorial. He controlled a vast portion of the Range while Roter Stier, the red bull, controlled the portion near Ganpon. Both the Ziz Lord and the demon fought for complete control of the Forbidden Range and when the Ziz disappeared, Roter Stier was able to take control of the whole Range. Even after the existence of the Ziz was forgotten, it was pretty engrained in the collective human consciousness that Verbodden Waair was off limits (especially with Roter Stier still around) and the Range gained a reputation of being evil. Tobias has since driven Roter Stier back to his old territory.
Genbu, the High King of the North, is a mysterious character, even to me. Out of the Four Kings, he and Byakko of the West are the Kings I deal with the least since I write more on Seiryu of the East and Suzaku of the South. Genbu now has a story dedicated to him so I decided to share what he is and what makes him greater than his own kind/kinds.
Genbu is a fusion being, the only one in the world. What makes him different than a chimera is that he was two creatures in the beginning (a black tortoise and a brown snake), while a chimera is an entirely artificial lifeform grown from the test tube and whose DNA was spliced through alchemy. Genbu’s two halves were fused together at some point in the third century A.D. (After Descent). He had already been King for that long and decided that two heads were better than one. His true form relies on his tortoise half for locomotion. The snake (a reticulated python) is embedded in his shell on the right side. The head and a majority of the tail are free moving. The rest of the body vanishes into the shell, as if the shell grew over it. His human form keeps the snake half, leading to an need to disguise what he is. Genbu, if moonlighting as a human, merely acts as if the snake was his pet, instead of a part of him. Because of the python’s length, he usually has that half wrapped around his waist and the head comes up over his shoulder. He’s of the opinion that the people wouldn’t accept him anymore than they do chimeras if they were to learn the truth.
Because of his unique body, he has two of every organ except his lungs (he has four). Each head is capable of independent thought but they think as one, so the snake doesn’t act on its own if it ever does. Each half has to feed on the same diets they had when they were two. Currently, it’s not clear on if killing either side would qualify as full out regicide and trigger the cataclysm that would destroy the North should Genbu be killed somehow. It’s likely that both of Genbu’s hearts have to cease functioning in order for it to be considered a true death, thus triggering Domain-wide destruction.
Both then and now, Genbu rules over two animal kingdoms in conjunction to being one of the kings of the world. He rules reptiles, except Old Reptiles (dinosaurs) and venomous snakes (Orochi’s shogunate). Because his dominion doesn’t extend to adders, the Almighty had intended for Orochi, the Shogun, to be Genbu’s second and bring all snakes under the rule of Genbu. The High King had to wait over 6,000 years before Orochi awoke to his destiny and submit to the King as a vassal. The shogunate still survives as a separate entity and Orochi’s authority is still law but now he is accountable to the King for any actions he takes.
Genbu is a being of several quirks. The most noticeable quirk is his usage of the Royal We. A sample of his dialog goes something like this: “We are King Genbu.” Being two separate creatures in the beginning and the snake losing his voice after the fusion, the main body speaks for both halves. There was a long stretch of time where Genbu used singular words like “I” for himself like normal beings but he has since regressed back into the Royal We. A bit of Fridge Brilliance comes into play when one remembers that snakes are deaf. In-story, Orochi and Kusanagi are the only snakes capable of hearing anything. It has to be because they are capable of transformation into a human form. As Genbu’s snake half lost his power to speak and transform when the two bodies fused together, it makes sense that he lost his ability to hear.
Another oddity about him is the North itself. Genbu’s Castle is in the Far North, nestled safely in the Northern Range. The Far North is a permafrost area, contrary for the suitable habitat for reptiles. The Mid-North is a more temperate zone but still has winter for a season. The region near the center of the Continent is a bit warmer as the equator splits the East and West in half, and runs across the Central Crossgates that connects all four Domains. More on the Crossgates later. Genbu’s power allows him to have central heating all over his castle and he has a greenhouse where his vassals live and grow food for the main body. When he lives the Far North to travel around, he travels in a human form because of the convenience of faster mobility, the disguise of his fusion, and having warm blood. The heat from his human body also travels to his snake half and allows it to stay warm. His circulatory system is more expansive than a regular human, thanks to his fusion.
The King of the North is regarded as the wisest of the four and he has a love affair with astronomy. He loves documenting the heavens, making him the All World equivalent of Galileo and other ancient astronomers. It’s not a long shot to assume he’s discovered other planets circling the star All World revolves around. Genbu is highly analytical and not prone to emotional outbursts even as a human, kind of the Vulcans of Star Trek fame. But when he gets mad, you know it. I look forward to finishing his story.
The human population of All World are united under one leader, the Emperor/Empress. While they are scattered throughout the Domains as well as residing on Island Reptilia, they form a single Empire. The Capital is called Ganpon (Japanese for Capital) and it’s located in Suzaku’s south and surrounded on three sides by Verboden Waair (German for Forbidden Range). Humans outside the Capital live in towns or small villages that pepper the Continent. Ganpon itself is influenced by Chinese/Japanese architecture. The Imperial Palace is the largest structure in the city and is situated nearest the mountains that provide protection to the city’s flank. The Assassins (shapeshifting wolves) have their main base in the Capital and are often called upon by the Emperor. They police the city and help defend it against threats.
All World humans are no different than us. They’re just a step lower on the power chain. The commoners answer to their town/village leaders who answer to the Emperor who, in turn, answer to the Kings. It often falls on the Kings to keep things peaceful so they have more of a partnership with the Imperials than actual lordship. However, they have the final say if they are involved in human affairs. Aside from that, the Emperor is free of their interference, barring corruption. The Assassins pull that duty off behind the Emperor’s back. If Fenrir or one of his wolves sees signs of corruption, they will watch the situation and gather evidence before sending a messenger off to a King. Since it’s easier simply to head to the Far South where Suzaku resides, the messenger will travel the weeks it takes to get to Suzaku who will take it from there. He then has the choice of either confronting the problem on his own or seek out of his fellow Kings to help.
Though humans live in a vast Empire, many of their freedoms make it similar to a democracy. The Imperial Family has ruled since the Empire was established and is handed down from parent to child. It doesn’t matter if the child is male or female. If they have what it takes to rule, they will be crowned Emperor/Empress in the event their parents retire or pass away. Royals are able to choose who they wish to marry since there are no other human governments at the same level. Commoners are often allowed to come before their ruler to petition for help at anytime. It depends on who’s ruling at the time so the rules for that are subject to change.
While the Emperor has the power to order the Assassins around, they answer to Fenrir only. The Assassins’ Guilds scattered throughout the Continent are an autonomous force under the Masters while Fenrir is Grandmaster. He has the power to turn down orders he doesn’t like or would go against their code. More than once in his life, Fenrir has been targeted by the royals for turning down orders but, as old as he is, the Great Wolf is not to be taken down by mere humans. Given the fact he’s the size of a tiger in his true form, it isn’t wise to provoke him or turn him against the Empire. He’s invaluable with the protection of the city.
Humans on Island Repitlia have no intermediary between them and Sovereign Quetzalcoatl. One could say the entire Kirin Nation functions as such. Humans there either have Old Reptile farms or other services with mammoths or dire wolves. The humans there have lived on the island for generations and often have no desire to visit the mainland. Island Reptilia serves as an autonomous force where the Sovereign is equal in power to the Kings. The humans are generally more peaceful than their mainland counterparts. They main concern are rogue carnivores so they don’t spend a great of time fighting each other. Each farm has enough territory and resources to care for their herd. As Island Reptilia is a closely guarded secret from the Continent, many beings are ignorant of its existence. It’s reversed on the island. The islanders know about the Continent and why their home is a secret. That will be detailed in a post about the island inhabitants.