Originally posted on Patreon in June 2018 and part of the Great Patreon Crossposting to WordPress.
It’s World-Building June! So I’m building Worlds! Here on Patreon, I’m building “Aerax”, the world of Expectant Woods. Over on WordPress, I’m working on Bear Empire, the world of the so-named story, and a new thing called United Space.
And it’s also June World-Building! So I’m shifting over to Inspector Caracal’s questions, but as I already had a few (a week) written on the first set, there’s some overlap.
4. What’s its history? (How did it come to be?)
Many years ago – around 500 – there was a great and long battle between two factions or nations. The final act of the opposing side, the side that does not live in this area (I see them living off to the left, which would be west, over a great obstruction, perhaps a very wide river) was to cast several plant-growing spells on the area.
The most notable of these lifted up the sky islands. It left below them something like craters, but considering the amount of plant matter that quickly covered everything else, those craters were not very notable.
Everything – roads, the remnants of cities, the wizards themselves – it was all covered over. And in the peace treaty that was made with those who survived on the surface, it was said that they must remain apart. The people on the sky islands had to stay up there, where they couldn’t cause any more trouble, and all of their magical artifacts left on the surface must be destroyed.
Then the wizards went back over their river.
This left the people below to do what they could. They hid or destroyed the magical artifacts. They carved out a life in the ruins of their once-great nation. And they sent to the islands via one last magical burst an ultimatum and a message: they must stay up there And they must forget magic. Or the survivors down below would cut the stalks holding their islands up, and all would die.
Now, of course, not everyone up in the sky knew magic or was part of the magical war. In the one unified act of all the islands, they, too, agreed to the ultimatum. Nobody would go down. Nobody would come up. No magic would be performed and they would erase magic from all of their archives.
Of course, neither the Down-Belowers nor the Sky Islanders 100% stuck to that.
And of course, 500 years is a long time. 489 years ago, the Americas were first named and put on a map. We can’t always agree on things that happened – and were written down – 240 years ago. So you can imagine how, in twice that time, the memories and the agreements have faded and changed.
And in all that time, the people from over the river had not been back.
5. What sorts of civilizations and architecture fill your world?
The Sky Island people have a very limited amount of space and limited materials; wood and reeds, especially bamboo-like plants, make up most of their structures, because these are renewable and you’re not risking digging up the structure of your world in using them.
Their buildings are tall and narrow, often built right up against each other in organically-meandering rows that follow the lines of the geography.
In some cases, the wooden buildings are built jammed between and on top of old stone buildings, still left from before the Uprise.
Flat roofs are the norm, as there is very little snow — almost never, as a matter of fact — and these allow for future building further upward. You can see this in the busiest places, another two-story house atop a three— or four story building, the old roofline still visible around the edges.
Down below: The Candlemar are semi-nomadic. They have three to four set camps, depending on the time of year, per tribe-family, with one of those, usually the winter camp, being held between several family groups. Those are made of stone and packed earth with thatch roofs, repaired yearly but fairly robust.
The rest of the year — generally about half of it — they live in hide tents or tents made of cloth traded from the Aulerons or the Hechniger; the Candlemar do not make a great deal of fabric and their looms are far too narrow for easy tent-making.
The Aulerons live in two different places: deep in the jungle, outside the shadow of the sky islands, there are the ruins of an ancient city. And in there, the Aulerons have made their own new city. They used the walls of the old city, rebuilding them where needed, and hung tapestries made of brilliant plants, planted more bright colorful plants, and filled the stone and grey space with color.
Closer to the trees and under their shadows, they have several villages; after all, it is their job to monitor that the agreements are kept. These villages are closer to the homes of the Candlemar, although usually bigger, housing several people, usually at least a family, in one building.
4- What kind of day and seasonal cycles do people who live there experience?
Being very near – straddling – a tropical latitude line, the day and nights are of very close to equal length all year round in the realm of Aerax.
The seasons, in turn, stay very close to similar, although there is a rainy season, or, rather, a split season of rain, generally referred to as “first rains” and “later rains”, and a dryer season, which is a bit longer and tends towards slightly warmer weather.
There are rumors that the weather used to be colder, and that is why the old buildings are all made of stone, but there is nothing geologically to support this. Perhaps the colder times were magical, or perhaps the realm of Aerax was moved closer to the tropics when its islands were lifted up.
5- What is the weather like? Is it natural, artificial or a combination?
As far as anyone can tell, the weather in Aerax is natural. There may be some artifacts of magic left over, but those are subtle and do not tend to get on the radar of the every-day person.
Weather on the islands above is windier and a bit chiller than weather below; weather below is temperate, with a rainy season that brings intense rains and sometimes flooding of the rivers, especially further away from the ocean, as well as the occasional hurricane.
The dry season sees less water, slightly colder temperatures, and far less chance of hurricanes. The winds mellow out during most of that time.
The only weather that might be considered magical is a series of winds that sometimes come from over the river. They are always either too hot or too cold, and they never last long at all.Want more?