Monday, February 27, 2012

A Very Small Sample of My Brain At the Moment

I have something over two million word roots at the moment, and am working to try and narrow down that list to something more manageable - say, ten thousand or less. Here is a very small snippet of that two-million-plus list of word roots:

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sometimes, You Just Have to Start Over

Thankfully, I'm not talking about my novel. What I *am* talking about is my Elvish / Elefdar language. I simply found that I wasn't happy with the lexicon I'd developed, so I decided to re-write my word generating program and create a completely new lexicon. The program itself it coming along nicely, and in fact it's been a relaxing geeky project that helped me keep my creative juices flowing without requiring me to work on the story itself. I needed a break, and this was it.

Not only that, but I spent some quality time working on finishing my basement this weekend, which was also a nice break from my job and everything else I've got going on. The theater is just about ready for me to install the TV and all the electronics, and I expect to be ready by next weekend. Sweet!

Once I have a working lexicon again, one that I'm reasonably happy with, I'll post a sample of it.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Linguistic Influences

I've written about created languages a couple of times, specifically in reference to Elvish. Today, I thought I would briefly discuss a related topic, the real-world languages that have influenced my work. And since it's getting near to my bed-time ("Early to bed, early to rise..."), I'm going to be very brief.

  • English: Well, duh.
  • German: I studied German in junior high and high school. I actually learned more about English grammar by studying German, than I did in my English classes. In German, I learned all about nominative, accusative, genitive and dative cases, and how to apply them in both German and English. I also learned about the concept of relatively strict suffixes used to indicate gender, number, tense, and case. German was complex enough that I had to work to wrap my brain around it, and logical enough that I was able to pick up the basics pretty quickly.
  • Koine ("Common") Greek: Koine Greek was the Greek spoken throughout the Roman empire around the time of Jesus Christ. It was less complex than, say, classical Greek, but still more complex than other languages. I found it to be more difficult than German, although I think part of that was the lack of easy references to English except in a few cases. Greek had more tenses than German or English, thus more suffixes to learn. It also used a different alphabet that was only vaguely related to the modern Latin-based alphabet. Still, I really liked Greek, and had a lot of fun studying it.
  • Biblical (Old Testament) Hebrew: For me, this was the most difficult language to study. Not only did it have an even more alien alphabet than Greek, but it was written from right to left, and it introduced the  concept of vowel notation rather than vowels as actual written letters. There was also the lack of simple references to English, like Greek, thus making the language more alien still to my ears and eyes. That said, Hebrew grammar is quite simple, with only two tenses, and fairly simple rules for adding prefixes or suffixes to indicate the various word forms. In the end, I grew rather fond of the idea of vowel notation, as well as the alien letter forms in the Hebrew alphabet.
And that's it. Those are the languages I've studied, and each one has influenced the design decisions I've made in relation to my own Elvish language, simple as it is.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Character - Meldarion

Meldarion is an Elefdar youth of two hundred thirty-seven years. At this age, he is fully grown in his height, standing about one inch short of six feet tall. This is about average for an Elefdar man, so he stands neither taller nor shorter than most of his companions. Though he is full grown, his face has the freshness of youth, and it is easy for people (Men anyway) to assume he is about the same age as Balfrith. He also has the slender build of all Elefdar, which again contributes to his appearance of youth, from a human perspective.

Meldarion has dark hair, almost black, long enough to hang down to his shoulder-blades. Most of the time, he keeps the front and top parts of his hair held back in a silver clip, while the back just hangs free.

His eyes are a deep blue, striking and vibrant. His face is long, with a narrow jawline and high forehead. His brows, as dark as the hair on his head, arch high over his eyes and are very expressive when he wants them to be.

Meldarion's voice is a pleasant tenor. He tends to talk a lot, much more than most of his people, though by human standards he might be considered only a little less taciturn than other Elefdar.

Meldarion tends to joke around a lot, avoiding serious discussion unless he has no choice. He would much rather sing and dance, and drink, than study or practice the sword or apply himself to anything resembling work. He has the common attitude of youth, the assumption that he will live forever.

Meldarion is an only child, which is quite common among Elefdar. Families tend to have few children, and even if they have more than one child, their births are typically many years apart.

Meldarion has many friends, but they tend to be casual relationships. This is unusual for Elefdar, who generally develop very deep relationships over a long period of time. While most Elefdar tends towards introversion, Meldarion is a natural extrovert. This contributes strongly to his seeming appearance of youth and immaturity. But it also makes him more likely to venture out into the world of Men, and make friends there more easily than a typical Elefdar.

Meldarion’s father, Felaranthir, is lord of all Illithëon. With the Elefdar, of course, rank will only get one so far. They tend to value age and wisdom over rank or class, and Meldarion’s reputation as a practical joker and his lack of seriousness have caused some friction between himself and his people, but also between himself and his father. Felaranthir follows the more traditional mold of the Elefdar, aloof and formal as a lord is expected to be though less so when in private company.

Balfrith makes a good friend to Meldarion, in that he is less formal than most Elefdar and more likely to enjoy the practical jokes of his friend. He tends to look at Meldarion as a slightly older brother, who he looks up to and gets along with, but not so much that he follows him around like a puppy. Meldarion, for his part, tends to fall into a more serious mode when around Balfrith, as if he is stepping into that role of older brother and trying to be a good example.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012




Nifflgarde, in the far north, is largely separated from the other nations by two mountain ranges. To the north, its shores touch on the Worldsea, known by Nifflgarders as the “Wyrmsea”. To the west, those same shores turn south and into the Bay of Thunder, known to Nifflgarders as the “Bay of Thror”. This bay is shared with Danannsidhe, on its southerly side. Directly south are the Dwerdenheim (“Dwerden-home”) Mountains, which slowly curve northwards and become the Trollhome Mountains to the east. In the far north-east lie the Giants Teeth Mountains, which stretch all the way to the sea. The nation of Nifflgarde is approximately 1350 miles from its westernmost point, all the way to the edge of the Giants Teeth Mountains, and about 850 miles from north to south.

Features and Landmarks

Nifflgarde has two major rivers. The longest is called the Sky-fork, a poetic term for lightning bolt, and it runs from the Dwerdenheim Mountains, down and north through the Blackwood Forest, and thence north and northwest to finally empty into the Wyrmsea. The smaller river, called the Wyrm-tongue, also descends out of the Dwerdenheim Mountains, just to the west of the Blackwood Forest, and quickly turns west to empty into the Bay of Thror.

As noted, Nifflgarde has three mountain ranges along its borders: the Dwerdenheim, the Trollhome, and the Giants Teeth. In addition, the country itself is very hilly, though this is not often depicted on large maps. Nevertheless, it would be true to say that there are more rolling and rocky hills, and even small mountains, to be found in Nifflgarde than there is open plain.

Nifflgarde has two major forests. The larger, called the Blackwood Forest, grows along the Dwerdenheim Mountains, and is split by the broad-running Sky-fork River. The smaller one is in the far north-east, near the Giants Teeth Mountains, and is called, aptly enough, Northwood. Although it is not depicted on many large-scale maps, most of the country is heavily wooded. These two forests are named and listed because they are wild areas that do not readily suffer the incursions of Men.


Situated in the far north, facing the winds coming out of both north and west, Nifflgarde is a cold and harsh country. The hilly terrain is rough enough to make taming the land difficult, and yet those same hills do not rise high enough to present a shield from the ever-present winds. In addition to the cold, it is also very humid almost year-round due to those same winds coming off the Wyrmsea. In the summer, it gets warm enough for a brief growing season of hardy plants, especially root vegetables but also those which are cold-friendly. Eastern Nifflgarde tends to get warmer in summer than the western areas near the sea. Likewise, the winters tend to be more harsh in the eastern regions, and less cold near the sea. It may come as little surprise that the majority of the population lives in the western part of the country, near the sea or along the two main rivers.


Nifflgarde has two cities. The capital, Drakenmount, lies near the mouth of the Wyrm-tongue River, on the north side, within the Bay of Thror. This is also a very large port city, with many stone quays for both merchant ships and ships of war to dock year-round. The city itself is centered on a large hill overlooking the docks and the land round-about. The other city, Farhaven, is on the Sky-fork River in the far north, on an open plain some distance from the shore. The land in that region is very rocky, and the coastline is all fjords. There is a small port at the mouth of the river, but the majority of merchant traffic to Farhaven takes place over land.



The country of Nifflgarde is nominally ruled by a high king, but that high king is elected from among his peers, who are each kings of their regional domains. While the law states that the high king serves for life, there are allowances for him to be peacefully deposed by the council of lords (the peer-kings) if he is deemed to be a poor ruler. The council of lords is an informal group of men composed of anyone powerful enough to raise a small army, tame a region to call his own, and declare himself a king. Given the size of Nifflgarde, there is plenty of room for expansion, but few enough people to expand into the wild lands very quickly. The high king, though he is supposedly the ruler of the nation, must be a master of deal making if he is to keep the regional kings in line. At the same time, any sign of weakness can quickly lead to his being deposed. His primary role is to lead the armies in time of war, whether that is against monster incursions from the mountains, or against Men (although they haven't engaged in an international war in some decades). It is very rare for a high king to serve for his entire life – he will either be deposed due to some real or perceived weakness, or he will die leading the armies in battle against trolls, giants, and other monstrous invasions.


Regional kings run the country of Nifflgarde, acting as petty rulers over their own domains and only answering to the high king when necessary. In spite of this, there are certain laws and rules held to be sacrosanct, such that no king is able to set himself up as a tyrant – at least not for long. The Men of Nifflgarde are strong and proud, and stubborn as well, not given to bending the knee to anyone unless there is a good reason. Anyone strong enough to become a king, has managed to do so for good reasons. Even if he lives long enough to pass on his kingship to a favored (usually eldest) son, that son must still prove himself to his people, lest they rise up and depose him in favor of someone they will follow, or simply move away to another domain where the local king is considered more trustworthy.

A typical domain is composed of a single walled town built on a defensible hill, with one or more long-houses where extended families live and do their daily work or business. Everyone lives within the walls of the town, for safety's sake. Those who farm, must go out to the fields each day rather than living in or near their lands. Taxes are generally minimal – the king may take a tenth of farm produce, or other profit from skilled workers and merchants. The king is expected to maintain a small army for defense of the town, and he can call up local militia when the need arises for a larger armed force. All men between fifteen and fifty years of age can be called to service, unless they are disabled or crippled in some way. All young men are trained to use a sword and shield, and spear, for the defense of their homes.


While local and regional politics are largely the same in Nifflgarde, there are a few powerful kings who exercise their authority over more than one town or village. In these cases, each town is expected to be mostly self-sufficient, maintaining its own armed force, enforcing the king's law as well as any local rules, and paying taxes back to the king in their season. The king will appoint a jarl over each town or village to act in his name and exercise his authority. The jarl's position is even more precarious than that of the king, for if enough townsfolk testify to the king that he is weak or corrupt, he will be removed, and harshly punished if found guilty of some crime. The jarl's position can be hereditary, however this only happens in the rare cases where the loyalty of the jarl has been proven over many years, and the king himself has had a long and prosperous reign.


The high king is appointed to negotiate treaties and alliances with other nations, however anything he does must be ratified by his peers, the council or lords, before it becomes Nifflgarde law. Among the other nations, Nifflgarde is largely regarded as a backwater, even by its allies. Most people see their elected “high king”, and their many petty kings, and see only a land in chaos without a strong ruler. To some degree, this is true, however it overlooks the strength and pride of its people. However, their warriors are respected and feared, and Nifflgarde mercenaries are among the most highly-paid of any in the West.

Nifflgarde has no formal alliances, although they are friendly with Sildara and Nûmidëa. Their relations with Danannsidhe are neutral, but strained, due to their own invasion of that country some decades previously. Though the name of Nifflgarde is known among the nations of the West, they have no other international relations, good or bad, to speak of. Among the nations further east and south, Nifflgarde is a name, a legend, a frozen hell where terrible warrior-monsters dwell, who occasionally venture south to steal from and kill the civilized peoples.



Though the population of Nifflgarde is relatively small, its best-known export is mercenary soldiers. Nifflgarde mail is a type of augmented chain mail that has risen in popularity along with the reputation of Nifflgarde mercenaries. While there is some demand for exported Nifflgarde mail, most demand is handled by local armorers who have figured out how to copy the basic design.

Nifflgarde is also home to the legendary longships of the north-men, with their stylized dragon crests, colorful round shields hung along the sides, and square main sails. Though the ships are of a simple design, they are well-known as being able to survive the roughest seas, and with a good crew that are both fast and maneuverable whether under sail or oar power. Few shipyards produce such craft save those of Drakenmount, in the Bay of Thror, and those ships can be on order (prepaid) for a long time  before delivery is made due to the backlog in demand.

Nifflgarde merchants and traders export exotic (to the southern nations) furs and pelts of animals such as mink, ermine, silvertip bears, and winter wolves. Wood is another major export, as the many conifers of different breeds grow tall and straight in the north-lands, and such wood is used in ship making as well as large timber construction.


While the lives of common folk are fairly simple and with little need for items not produced at home, there are a few things imported due to popular demand. From Dwerdenheim, quality cut gems and jewels, even of small size, are very popular among commoners and lords. The people produce their own gold and silver jewelry, but cut stones are more difficult to come by, and the Dwerden are happy to supply. From Vilandria, colorful dyes are imported to be used in all manner of cloth items from clothes to blankets, banners and sails.

In addition, the people, from karls (free folk) to jarls to kings, love to horde gold and silver. Perhaps they get this tendency from their nearest neighbors, the Dwerden , but whatever the source, they do love things made of gold, and even gold coins. This is, in fact, one of the main drivers for mercenaries leaving the country to adventure in other lands: they desire to get rich, return home with a small horde of gold and perhaps a few loyal friends, and setup their own domain. Even if they don't attain to a new king-ship, such wealth can often buy them a place among the jarls of a powerful king, or set them up to be master merchants in their homeland. Thus, gold is itself an import of sorts, brought back home by its own people.


Class Structure

Nifflgarde society is composed of three classes of people. There is a great degree of movement allowed between the classes, so the lines between them are not very strict and in fact there are many gradations of power and influence even within a given class. At the top of society are the kings and their jarls. Even the regional kings are legally considered to be jarls of the high king, and the high king himself is only a peer of the other kings, thus he is a jarl as well. Below the jarls are the karls, the ordinary free folk who make up the vast majority of the population. These are the farmers, the tradesmen and craftsmen, the merchants and men at arms. Below the karls are the thralls, bondsmen who are little more than slaves, with few legal rights and very low standing. There is also a sort of fourth class, the outlaws, who have been banished from society for one reason or another and declared outside the law. They have no legal standing, cannot own property or exercise any rights of common Men, and may be killed on sight without any fear of punishment (and often are). Outlaws are usually branded in some obvious place such as on the forehead, to indicate their legal status.


Nifflgarders are very conservative in the way they view the world and how things are or ought to be. Their three-class system, for example, is deemed to be the perfect structure to allow for some class mobility while still allowing people to find their place in society and maintain it through hard work. Aside from the hording of gold, they are not particularly greedy or materialistic, and in fact the most popular jarls and kings are also known to be the most generous with their gifts. Generosity is thus a highly respected and loved quality, even among those who have little to give. Marriage is common, but so is divorce, and in fact Nifflgarde is one of the few nations where a woman is allowed to sue her husband for divorce. Nifflgarders do not like too many rules, preferring to exercise their freedom and fulfill their responsibilities as adults without outside interference.


There are few taboos in Nifflgarde society. Breaking of an agreement, whether the vows of marriage, or a contract, or a vow of service, is harshly punished and certainly considered taboo. Common vices which might be taboo in other nations, such as public drunkenness, may be frowned upon by some but are not illegal or socially taboo. People are mostly free to live their lives as they see fit, and only expect that others respect their right to be free. 



The people of Nifflgarde are the tallest human race of Aerde, men averaging over six feet tall, and women themselves averaging almost six feet. They are also massive people, heavy-boned and tough, like the lands in which they thrive. They have pale complexions (many are freckled) and blond or red hair, with blue or gray eyes being most common. Some southern Nifflgarders have brown hair and/or green eyes, from intermixing with Dedannan and Sildarans. Most men wear beards, in a wide variety of styles. Likewise, their hair is usually long and kept braided. Women also grow their hair long, and often tie it in different kinds of braids or plaits.


Clothing tends to be thick wool and leather, with additional furs in the winter. Men wear a tunic with breeches and long boots, and often multiple tunics are worn for warmth, rather than a cloak, which is rarely used. Women usually wear a simple dress, often with an extra under-layer and perhaps an over-tunic/apron as well. Married women wear a scarf over their hair, while single young women of marriageable age do not. Girls too young for courting keep their hair in braids. Clothing colors tend to be plain, white and gray predominant, though some blues and browns are also seen.

Culture and History

The people of Nifflgarde are, like those of Danannsidhe, generally considered a backward society by those more “civilized”. Nevertheless they have a rich culture and heritage, and are a strong, proud people. They are ruled by a high king, however, this king rules at the sufferance of the other lords of the land, peers and kings in their own right. If they find he is a poor ruler, they will depose him and select a new king to rule, from another family. The king is basically just a military leader for Nifflgarde. Most of the population of Nifflgarde lives in small walled villages or family longhouses, and have little need for or contact with the government. They solve their problems themselves, and fight their own battles when necessary. However, living in the harsh north-lands, they have many orc and troll incursions, especially during the winter, and so the high king leads his army against the larger threats, or sends smaller military units to take care of the problem.

These are the Men of the North, similar in culture and society to the early Germanic and Scandinavian peoples. Hardy and tough, they eke out their survival in the rocky and frozen soil of the north-lands. While they are predominantly farmers, hunters and fishers, the harsh lands and cold winters breed a toughness into them that is never lost. All men, and even many women, are trained fighters with broadsword and shield. They must be: many fell monsters dwell in the mountains to the north and east, and the people must be able to defend themselves.

Nifflgarde is not a single kingdom, but rather a land of “princedoms”, where any clan leader can proclaim himself a king if he wishes, and if his people will support his claim. Most clans live in fortified villages surrounded by wooden palisades, and the people go out to work the nearby communal fields during the day, returning to the protection of their walls before sunset. Each clan is like a large extended family, with smaller family groups each living in their own longhouses within the village. A longhouse is a narrow, single-story home constructed of logs and insulated with peat moss, and having a thatched roof, with a long central hall, or great-room, and one or two smaller rooms on either end. The vast majority of activities take place in the hall: eating, sleeping, playing, education, what have you.

The clans form loose alliances for mutual protection and trade, however relations frequently go sour, due to some personal slight, or perhaps greed, or a long-standing grudge. In these cases, clans will go to war for a season, until one side or the other tires of the fighting and sues for peace. On rare occasions a clan will engage another clan to war against a third. However, this is generally avoided, since the clans prefer to not fight unless they are personally involved.

If (and when) monsters invade an area, the local clans will drop their feuds to fight off the external threat. Once the invaders are driven away, these clans are just as likely to proclaim their feud over and done with, as they are to pick up and begin fighting each other again.
The people of Nifflgarde are a superstitious folk, seeing in the mists many spirits and other things, both visible and invisible. This isn't to say that there aren't supernatural creatures living in those lands – but the people may tend to see more than is really there.

Likewise, they have an obsession with the concept of luck – a supernatural force that can either bring fortune or tragedy to an individual, a family, or an entire clan. Weapons and armor are particularly believed to carry the luck of their current and former owners, either for good or ill. Over time, this “luck” develops the reputation of a magical enchantment or curse, and such items become either treasured family heirlooms, or things to be buried or burned. Certain makers of weapons and armor, because of the quality of their work, also will become known as workers of beneficial magic in the items they create. Such items will fetch hefty prices in the market, even several generations after the original maker has died and his creations have seen much use.

The folk who live along the coast are fishermen as well as farmers, while inland folk combine hunting with farming. Neither group has an easier life than the other, for both the land and the sea are harsh, with the weather often stormy and cold, and monsters waiting to catch the unwary. Although much of Nifflgarde life is communal, there is still trade between families and clans, and also with traveling merchants who come in caravans from the south, or in large vessels that sail along the coast. There are Nifflgarders who go exploring over land and sea as well, actively seeking trade with other peoples in faraway lands.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Maintaining a Work/Life Balance

I'm not very good at it. The novel continues forward, slowly, in fits and starts. I've got about 1200 words of chapter five written, which is good. But when I come home from work, eat dinner, and immediately get back to work with my laptop while sitting at the dining room table, it tends to push aside the activities I'd rather be doing, such as writing.

Such is life. I'll get through this wave of busy-ness, and restore the balance once again. Or, I'll go crazy. If you read about me in the headlines, you'll which happened first.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

One of those great days...

Today was one of those great days where you mess around with this and that, doing half a dozen different activities with no set goals or to-do list, but at the end of the day you find you actually did accomplish a few things. So it felt like I was just playing and relaxing, but it turned out I was working, a little bit, and getting some stuff done. Gotta like that!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Importance of Reading

I have always been naturally drawn towards reading as a pastime. The earliest books I can remember reading were Dr. Seuss stories. His creative rhymes and fantastical art grabbed my attention and stimulated my imagination like no other stories did. When I graduated from kids' short stories to actual novels around the age of eleven or twelve, I was reading a mix of horror and science-fiction, such as The Shining, Alien (based on the movie), the Star Wars novel written by George Lucas, and some Asimov and Heinlein short story collections. While I eventually lost interest in horror stories, sci-fi, and later fantasy, grabbed and stuck.

I still read for relaxation and entertainment, thought not nearly as much or as often as when I was younger. I've also become more picky about who and what I will read. Unfortunately, that makes it difficult to find new things to read. I can spend literally hours in a bookstore and walk out empty-handed, having sampled twenty novels on the shelf and not found a single one worth taking home. If an author's style isn't to my taste, I know it fairly quickly. Sometimes it's just a matter of style and I really can't fault the author; other times, I truly wonder how such dreck ever got published. Thankfully, that doesn't happen very often. But in either case, it goes back on the shelf.

Still, reading is important to me, not just for entertainment, but to keep my inspiration and imagination working. I get ideas from other authors, and other stories. Yes, I've even borrowed a sub-plot or theme or other small idea from other stories, and added it to my own. There's not a writer in existence who hasn't; anyone to claims otherwise is lying. But the point is, reading helps me to write better. It's not just about getting ideas to borrow, it's at a much lower level. When I read or hear a poetic or beautiful turn of phrase, it stays in my mind, and inspires me. "This Mortal Coil" has always stuck with me, and I recall that the first time I heard the phrase wasn't in a Shakespeare play, but rather as the name of a late '80's industrial band. JRR Tolkien's writing is full of them, and I'm well-read enough to know that he borrowed ideas liberally from Norse and other myths, as I've run into "his" ideas and themes many times over in older literature.

Where am I going with this? Well, I started reading The Fountainhead this morning. Not my typical genre entertainment, I will admit. But I did read Atlas Shrugged a few years ago, and a former colleague once told me that he actually like The Fountainhead better, so I thought I would give it a try. I wouldn't say that Ayn Rand's writing is particularly beautiful or inspiring, however some of the themes she used in Atlas Shrugged have influenced me. And occasionally I have found value in reading stories outside of my chosen genre, as they can present me with new ideas and themes that may not be found in fantasy, at least not in the fantasy stories I've read. But still, I generally read for entertainment and relaxation first. If I happen to glean some good ideas from a story, that's just an extra benefit.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chapter Four Done!

I completed Chapter Four last night, and so tonight I am taking a break from writing. As of this moment I have written about 24,000 words, out of an estimated 100,000 to complete the story. So yeah, I'm almost 25% done. Gotta like progress!

More to come this weekend.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Simple Math

I have determined that if I write an average of 1,000 words a day, every day, I should be able to finish the rough draft of my 100,000 word novel in ... wait for it ... 100 days. Amazing, yes? I figured that out all by myself.

And how, you may be asking yourself, do I propose to write 1,000 words every day, when I can barely manage to post a few-hundred-word blog entry a few times per week? Simple! I'm going to keep my blog posts very short, or post extracts from the novel in progress, or background notes that I've already written previously. Of course now you're thinking, 'Wait a sec ... he does that already!' And you would be correct. You're so smart - and observant! Pat yourself on the back for me!

And now, I must go back to writing my 1,000 words for the day. See you tomorrow!

Monday, February 13, 2012




Sildara is located in the southwestern region of the continent, stretching further south than even Cychlos or Vilandria, and almost as far west as Danannsidhe. The land forms three broad fingers out into the seas, one on the south directly into the Inner Sea, one pointing west into the Worldsea, and the third forms the northern promontory of the two Pillars of Heaven, the natural gateway from the Worldsea into the Inner Sea. Its northern border is shared with Danannsidhe, following the line of the Hale River. Where the river flows out of the Silverspire Mountains, the Sildarans count their border along the southern edge of that range, tracking around the southern shores of Lake Silvermere to the Aelfwine River. Although there is no nation directly east of the Aelfwine, Sildaran influence is generally considered to end at that point, with a broad wilderness extending thence further east and north into the confluence of the Silverspire and Seawall mountain ranges, and the beginning of the Vales region. Where the Aelfwine joins up with the Upper Vineland River, Sildaran influence extends generally south to the Seawall Mountains, and thence turns westward, following those mountains all the way to the Worldsea. Though Sildara's southern border is technically the shoreline along the Inner Sea, they do not attempt to control that region beyond the mountains, as it is too wild and difficult to maintain. West to east, Sildara is about 1000 miles across, and from north to south it also stretches about 1000 miles.

Features and Landmarks

Sildara has two mountain ranges that form part of its northern and southern borders. The Silverspire Mountains are the source of the Hale River, as well as the source of the great Lake Silvermere, which is fed by three rivers and several large glaciers. Sildara has several mines in the western Silverspires, producing mainly gold, silver, copper and tin.

Lake Silvermere is the largest freshwater lake, almost a sea, in the West. The water of that lake is cold, yet flows freely year-round. Though chunks of glacial ice can be found floating in the lake year-round, even in the high heat of summer, it does not freeze over in the winter as smaller lakes do. Sildara's border follows the southern shores of Silvermere, as far as the Aelfwine River. The Sildarans maintain open trade and political relations with the Elefdar of Ildallïe there on the lake, in the free city of Amyntas.

Sildara has two large rivers, one forming its northern border from the Silverspire Mountains to the Sea, and the other flowing east to west through its midst. As mentioned, the Hale River flows out of the western Silverspires, and thence west and a little south to the Worldsea. Sildara has a large port city, Castor, on the Hale River at its mouth on the Sea. Sildaran influence extends a short distance north of the river, perhaps a day's ride, near the city. Further east, there is little of interest, and the Sildarans call the river their northern border. From the point where the Aelfwine River joins the Upper Vineland River, it flows through the middle of the country and all the way to the Worldsea, as a great artery of lifeblood to the rich farmlands north and south. The Vineland River (both Upper and Lower), and the Vineland region, get their name from the many vineyards growing throughout the region along the river's great length.

There are two forests in Sildara, the Alder Forest along the southern shores of Lake Silvermere, and the Farwood in the far southwest point near the Seawall Mountains and almost reaching to the Pillars of Heaven. The Alder Forest, so named because of its expanses of red, white and black Alder trees, stretches almost the full length of Lake Silvermere, making much of the lake's shoreline wild and difficult to reach, much less tame. This fact has prevented Sildara from exercising more influence over the lake and its inhabitants, and allowed the free city of Amyntas to maintain its status as a neutral entity. The Farwood is hardly known or noticed by most Men of Sildara, and is so named simply because of its great distance from the capital city.


Sildara is in the southern temperate region, with a generally warmer climate than that of the northern countries, although it spans such a great distance from north to south that the full range of seasonal changes and weather can be experienced within the country. Along the western coasts the weather tends to be more even, with warmer winters and cooler summers, but further inland the seasonal changes are more distinct and temperature swings more extreme. The northern latitudes get a full winter with heavy snows and cold winds from the north, while the southern latitudes are warm almost year-round, with snow only rarely.


Sildara has several large cities. Castor, named after one of Sildara's oldest kings, is the northernmost, on the mouth of the Hale River at the shores of the Worldsea. It is a large port city, and a central hub for many eastern nations wishing to trade with the West. Most ships bound for Nûmidëa, Danannsidhe and Nifflgarde, set sail from (or at least re-supply at) Castor. The capital city of Linden is also a port city, at the mouth of the Lower Vineland River on the shores of the Sea. This was the first city built in what is now Sildara, when it was still an unexplored wilderness at the edge of the known world. Further up river, at almost the far eastern border of Sildara, lies the city of Deepfall. This city spans the great falls separating Upper Vineland from Lower Vineland, with great stone quays around the lakes at the head and foot of the falls. The High City of Deepfall surrounds the quays at Upper Vineland Lake, and the Low City does the same around Lower Vineland Lake. Deepfall's primary reason for existence is to facilitate river trade up and down stream, by transporting goods back and forth by wagon between the upper and lower lakes. 



Sildara is ruled by a hereditary king, the ninth in his family's dynasty since their ascent over one hundred twenty years past. There have been a total of five dynasties in the history of Sildara, and none of them transferred power peacefully. Sildara has thus been victim to its own internal strife and civil wars more than any other nation in the West. Under the king are several layers of nobility, from dukes, to barons, to knights. Commoners, of course, are the majority of the population. There are a large number of serfs in Sildara, bound to their local manors (and lords) for life as are all serfs. Though serfdom is not exactly an honored position, serfs do have legal rights as Men and are not considered slaves. The strength of the king varies widely with his charisma, strength of personality and force of will. It can also vary with the strength of the dukes and duchesses who are legally beneath him but who in reality must support his reign if he expects to be king for very long. The king is technically the head of the army, and by tradition he leads it into battle when the country goes to war with another nation. In reality, Sildaran kings usually select a Champion to serve in their stead, while the king directs the war from the rear.


Sildara is largely divided into manors owned by dukes (a manor is a fiefdom given by the king). There is plenty of wilderness in the country of Sildara, but a large part of the arable land is well developed, such that the king rarely has need to develop new manorial fiefs for loyal dukes. He can simply recycle old ones that have gone fallow for one reason or another, typically the death of a duke with no one close enough in the family line to take his place, and none worthy to be granted the land. Dukes rule their manor lands almost completely independently of the king, but also receive little help when they have troubles such as brigands. Management of the manor is typically delegated to barons appointed by the duke (and sometimes by the king). Poor dukes may only have a single manor, and one baron (or none at all) over the entire estate, while wealthy and influential dukes may have multiple manors and many barons each managing their own fiefs within one of those manors. Knights can also have their own fief granted by the baron or the duke above him, although most live in the baron's manor estate and own no estate.


A manor may have one or many villages, towns, and even cities within its area. The manor estate is the place where the local lord, usually a duke, maintains his manorial court. Such a court is not too different from the king's royal court, it is simply at a lower level. Towns and villages are centers for trade and crafts, places where farmers (the free men, not serfs) can bring some of their produce to sell or trade for other goods, and craftsmen and merchants can bring their goods and find a steady market. If the village is small, it is likely ruled over by the local baron or duke, but larger towns often elect their own mayor, or have one appointed by the local lord. They may also have an appointed shire-reeve (a “sheriff”) for enforcement of local laws and keeping of the peace.


Internationally, Sildara is known as a wealthy and cosmopolitan nation. It has a loose alliance with the Vales, and more formal treaties with Danannsidhe and Nûmidëa. It is the sworn enemy of Vilandria, and Vilandria shares that enmity, although they have no laws barring Sildaran entrance into their country, unlike those against Nûmidëans. Cychlos tends to look down upon Sildara and all other nations of the West except perhaps Vilandria, as being immature upstarts compared with their own older civilization. Nations further out on the rim of Western civilization are quite aware of Sildara as a trading hub and transportation center for goods and people traveling all around the world.



Sildara is a wealthy nation due in part to so much trade being conducted within her borders (and the taxes gleaned thereby). But in addition to that, the country has a few extensive resources which it exports to other lands. Among these are several varieties of maple wood, from rough cut lumber to finished boards. They also grow some of the healthiest cattle and horses in the West, and export both the animals and animal products such as rough hides and tanned leathers. Nûmidëa in particular imports many of these goods, but they can be seen being bought and sold among all the nations of the West.

Perhaps the thing Sildara is known best for, however, is its own silver and gold coins being the international merchants' standards for coinage and values. The coins from all other realms in the West are valued in terms of how pure they are, and how much they weigh, relative to the Sildaran silver double-eagle and the gold crown. Even nations with coins more pure than Sildara, such as Nûmidëa, have their coins valued as a small multiple of the Sildaran standard rather than as a standard themselves.


Due to the vast wealth of the nation, virtually every item in the world that can be bought and sold in the world, is done so somewhere in Sildara. Certainly the port city of Castor is a hub for international trade and importation, but the capital (and also port) city of Linden is not far behind in both wealth and influence. When it comes to imports, the majority of items imported into Sildara are small, and of great rarity and value in the world, such as diamonds and other difficult to mine stones, or rare spices such as black pepper from the far east. The other extreme would be items made cheaply by slave labor in other nations, and imported into Sildara as inexpensive copies of the more expensive real items. There is a fiber that can be made into a cloth similar to silk but neither as soft nor as flowing as the real thing. It is sold in Sildara in large and inexpensive bolts, for those of lesser means to be able to make their own fake silk clothing and appear to be wealthier than they are. This is but one simple example, though many others could be found.


Sildara is perhaps the most secular nation in the West, save for Cychlos. Religion certainly has its place in the country, but it tends to be more ritualized and compartmentalized, such that certain high holy days are national holidays, but their sacredness is often marred by drink and debauchery among the citizenry. While the vast majority of Sildarans would say they believe in the One God and perhaps even the lesser gods or saints, for most of them the actual influence of religion and gods upon their lives is minimal, if it exists at all.


Class Structure

As mentioned previously, there are multiple layers of nobility in Sildara, from the king to dukes to barons to knights. Among free men who are citizens but not nobles, are the merchant class, the craftsmen of many different professions, and some free farmers who own their own land. At the lowest stratum are the serfs, tenant farmers who are bound to a manor and its lord and do not have the right to travel or leave that manor. They are allowed to keep some personal property, and have most of the legal rights of citizens, however they have sold some of their rights, as well as the produce of their hands, in return for guaranteed room and board from their lord. Most people would not willingly sell themselves into serfdom, but rather it comes about due to familial hardship, sickness or injury. Those who are able, will buy out their serfdom contract as soon as they can, but in reality this is a rare thing. Most serfs, once sold into that bondage, die in the same position. But they generally do not die hungry, or without a roof over their heads, and for some that may be all they hope for.


Sildarans value wealth and a “good deal” over just about anything else in their lives. If they can negotiate a good deal for some item or service, it is a good day. “What profit is there in it?” is a common question in Sildara, asked when the individual considers a certain proposal to be of little value. This may come from a merchant, from a noble, or even from a serf. No matter the social class, thought of profit and value tends to be foremost in their minds.


In a nation of such vast wealth and secularism, there are few taboos to be found. Even breaking one's word or breaking a contract can be seen as “sharp business” and admired, rather than condemned as it would be in most other nations. To the Sildaran who values profit above all things, paying a legal fee or penalty in order to break a contract that is losing them money, may be seen as simply the cost of continuing business – the honor of one's name doesn't even enter into their thoughts. 



The Sildaran people are mostly have a medium of complexion (though some are pale with freckles), with brown to red hair and blue, green or brown eyes. Most men prefer to go clean-shaven – in fact, Sildarans tend to do exactly the opposite of their cousins in Nûmidëa. They tend to be average height, men about five and a half to six feet tall, women five to five and a half feet.


Clothing is serviceable, tunic and hose for men, long dress with fitted bodice for women, and most people also wear a cape or cloak for protection from the elements. High boots are common for both sexes, as are gloves. Colors tend to be basic browns and reds, black/gray/white, or frequently combinations of these.


Sildara broke away from the Nûmidëan empire several hundred years ago, and though there has been much blood spilled over their borders in the past, at present the two nations enjoy neutral relations. Many families have members in both nations, and relatives have often fought relatives in those border clashes, so the present peace is good for them. The king of Sildara is a weak man, prone to sicknesses and fits of madness, and so the entire royal court is presently on edge, waiting to see who (if anyone) will intervene on behalf of the nation and assume the throne. At the moment, the major noble houses are maneuvering for position, but it is expected that within the next year or two, one or more of them will make a grab for power. Civil war seems likely at this point, and Nûmidëa and Nifflgarde are both trying to stay out of the way, even while being wooed by the major noble houses. Meanwhile, even though rumors exist concerning these matters, most of the common citizens have no idea that their lives are about to be overturned by the rising tide of events.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


The Elefdar city of Fanyalonë, or ‘Skyreach’, encircles about three quarters of the mountain of the same name, in the middle of the great Illithëon Forest, on the island of Nûmidëa. Its outer walls are some miles from the base of the mountain proper, protecting the outer settlements from encroachment of beasts and monsters alike. Of course, the “wall” isn’t a stone wall as one would find circling a city of Men. Rather, it is a raised ring of land, an embankment, covered with a thick growth of thorny brush and scrub trees. Roses of many colors, red, pink, yellow and white, grow along the wall as well, their thorns adding to those of the brush and their flowers bringing beauty to the wall where one might only see a forbidding defense.

Several guarded openings are in the wall, to allow traffic to pass in and out. There are major gates at the west, south and eastern points of the compass, and smaller minor gates on the southwest and southeast points. The southern gate is the largest of all, and is often called the main gate or great gate to the city.

The outer settlements, those along the inside of the great wall, are large farming regions where fruits and vegetables of all kinds are grown. The Elefdar keep some domesticated animals for food and other needs, mainly sheep and goats, but they also hunt the surrounding forest. In the eastern quadrant of this outer region are also light industries such as tanneries, large forges for the smelting of raw ore, and other processes that generate undesirable fumes or by-products. The prevailing winds, coming from the west, drive the smoke and other odors out to sea. The chemical by-products of tanning and other processes of light industry are seen as necessary evils, things that must be disposed of in a way that won’t hurt the land or the forest, and the Elefdar have found ways to re-use them in other processes, or dissolve them in the sea when no other option exists.

In all things, the Elefdar try to be good stewards of their environment. Domesticated animals are well-protected from predators and provided shelter from the worst elements. Though they are no longer wild, the Elefdar recognize that they still have wills of their own after a fashion, and are allowed to roam freely within the confines of their grazing and pasture areas. Growing plants are tended well and kept free of weeds, though the weeds themselves are but other varieties of plants - simply less desirable for food or beauty. Trees are likewise tended, sometimes helped along in the dispersion of their seeds, and allowed to grow in open areas. The Elefdar prune both plants and trees, removing the dead branches in order that the main body might prosper. The same treatment is applied to undergrowth, so that the roots of the trees may spread both broad and deep in the earth.

A few miles inward from the outer wall is another encircling embankment, though this one is not covered with a wall of thorns. But it marks the border between the outer ring region set aside for farming and industry, and the inner region which is for the people to live in. Craftsmen and artisans live and work in this area of the city, in a way not too different than that of Men, with their working areas on one floor and living space on a separate floor of the house. Farmers and industry workers live here, but walk or ride to their places of work, as needed. This inner ring goes all the way to the lower area of the mountain itself, and the majority of Elefdar dwell here. It is in this ring that the great knot-work of paved stone roads is laid out, and the pattern of it can be seen from higher up on the mountain. The stone paving is pure white marble, and it gleams like the full moon under both sunlight and starlight, providing natural reflective illumination for anyone traveling in the evening or night hours.

Rising higher along the mountain, up through the tree-line and to the lower snows, the high city of Fanyalonë is reserved for monuments, temples, parks and gardens. It is here that annual holiday ceremonies are conducted, as well as occasional Elefdar celebrations. From these heights, the pattern of the paved roads can be seen, a complex knot-work of twisting and twining lines, which somehow makes sense even on the ground where those roads are used. Also at this altitude, astronomers watch the heavens for signs and portents, and mark their calendars as constellations rise in their due moon, thirteen months in a year.

There is much more that could be told of Fanyalonë and its inhabitants, but this will suffice for now.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

How I Come Up With Story Ideas

I have a short list of blog ideas that I maintain, to help me keep posting on a regular basis. (For the moment, we'll ignore the fact that I haven't exactly been posting "regularly"). One of those blog ideas is, how I come up with story ideas. I've held off on posting anything about this, as I wasn't really sure what to write.

You see, the funny thing is, I don't really know how I come up with story ideas. I don't really try to come up with original plot ideas, and it wouldn't take much knowledge of the genre to recognize this. If you look at any of the stories I've written, they are pretty standard fantasy themes: quest for the magical widget; David vs. Goliath; etc. But with that said, I do try to come up with my own unique angle on the classic plots. I'll let the reader decide if I have succeeded.

Of course there are many possible plot ideas to choose from - how do I select mine? Honestly, I just pick whatever interests me at the moment. The way I have it figured, this writing thing is a fun and interesting hobby. I do it for recreation, not to make a living. And since I'm doing it for fun, I might as well write about the stuff that catches my eye, and keeps my interest. So when you read any of my fiction, you know that I wrote it because, at the time anyway, it was an idea or plot or theme I was interested in exploring.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Elefdar Creation Myth and early History

I wrote the following creation myth well over a decade ago, and as with the Dwerden myth I posted previously, it isn't necessarily canonical with respect to my current understanding of Aerde. Still, I think it catches the flavor of how I see the Elefdar and their place in the world, even if some of the details aren't what I would use were I to re-do this myth.

* * *

In the beginning, when Aerde was only newly formed and had just begun to bring forth life, Illë created the Elefdar, which means firstborn in the ancient tongue. This is how Illë brought forth the Elefdar. In the heat of the day, Illë walked among the glades of the first forest. That forest had been birthed from the seeds of Yggdrasil the Life Ash, the One Tree from whom all others are descended.

Illë walked in the shade, looking upon these first trees of Aerde, and He smiled, for it gave Him great joy to bring forth life of all kinds. And as He gazed upon one particular sapling, He saw that within it beat the heart of something greater. Illë reached into the narrow trunk of the young tree, and drew forth Lofdar, the Firstborn, and father of those who call themselves by that name, and whom Men call Elves. Now Lofdar was born of the first generation from the Life Ash, and in his blood flowed the life of that great tree, such that he and all his descendants even to this day are very long-lived. Indeed, it is said that no Elefdar can die of old age, but only by a fatal wound, disease, or perhaps the weight of sorrow that only a very long life can bring.

Now Illë taught Lofdar all that was needed to know about the tending of plants, from the smallest of flowers to the Ash itself. But He did not teach Lofdar everything, for He had already placed within his heart and mind a keen discernment of the way of things, and the ability to learn and understand even what could not easily be taught. And Lofdar tended the great forest, the children of the One Tree, and helped them to spread across the face of Aerde. He also came to know the animals, and he watched over them, and tended them as necessary. For though animals have their own natures, and intelligence of a kind, still in those days they needed someone to watch over them, and protect them from dangers of which they were unaware, until such time as they learned to protect themselves.

* * *

And it came to pass in later days, when Illë and Lofdar spoke face to face, that Illë perceived a darkness in the heart of Lofdar. And inquiring, He found that Lofdar craved a helper, a companion with whom he could share the joy of tending the forests of Aerde, and especially the One Tree.

And so, Illë took Lofdar back to the forest surrounding Yggdrasil, and together they walked among the first generation of all trees. And Illë told Lofdar to choose the most beautiful of all trees, and He would fashion for Lofdar a suitable companion from it. Lofdar wandered among the trees, looking near and far, and found it difficult to decide, for each had a beauty that he enjoyed greatly, and he was hard pressed to choose one over another.

Lofdar looked then at the Life Ash, and saw immediately that it was the greatest of all trees, the most majestic, and the most beautiful by far. But he loved the Great Tree too much, and respected its life too greatly, to ask Illë to change its nature. Then, looking down, he saw a sapling of the second generation among the older trees. This tree was beautiful in its potential for greatness, even though it was small and awkward at that time. But Lofdar smiled, and his heart was glad, for he saw in it the promise of future grace.

Illë smiled, too, for His son had chosen wisely, not selfishly – he had not asked for the Life Ash, even though its beauty surpassed all other trees by far. And He reached into the small tree, and drew forth Eltahar, the mother of the Firstborn. Lofdar took Eltahar to be his wife, and he taught her all that he had learned of tending the plants, the shrubs, and trees of the world, and of teaching and protecting animals. The two worked together, and they shared their joy with Illë.

Now Lofdar and Eltahar had children, who grew to adulthood and had their own children. And the race of the Elefdar, the Firstborn, prospered greatly, and with them prospered the great forests all across the face of Aerde. But it came about, that once again a darkness was found in the hearts of the Elefdar. Illë inquired of His children (for such He called them) what was the matter. The Elefdar replied that while they took joy in tending the forests and watching over the animals, surely there must be more they could do?

And Illë laughed, for He had awaited this moment, not truly knowing if His children would become as He had hoped. He took them up to a high mountain, and showed them all the lands of Aerde – and the Elefdar were astonished, for what they had thought of as the whole world was, in fact, only a small island by comparison, ringed about and protected by a great ocean that separated them from the outer lands. The lands they knew, only covered a tenth part of what they now saw as the whole of Aerde. And the rest of the world was wild, and untended.

The Elefdar looked upon all that Illë showed them, and they saw that there was a great work to do in service to their Father. They saw the forests, even breeds of trees that none had ever seen, ranging across the whole of Aerde; they saw animals and creatures that did not exist on their island; and most of all, they saw Men, a race like unto themselves, though a little lower in stature. And the hearts of the Elefdar swelled with joy, and they wept at the gift that Illë had given them, for they knew that this would be a great work, one that spanned generations upon generations, and would likely outlast all those who now looked upon its beginning.

* * *

Now some of the Elefdar were quite happy in their island forests, and these were allowed to remain. But the greater part of their people, even Lofdar and Eltahar, took up the great task given them by their Father: to tend and protect both the forests and the animals of Aerde, and to teach Men the ways of Illë. These, therefore, went forth from their protected island into the wide world, and settled in various places, wherever their hearts led them. And some specialized in tending trees, some in shrubs and smaller plants, some in various kinds of animals, and some chose to dwell among Men.

So it has been since the very early days until now, and the great work has yet far to go until it should reach its completion. The Elefdar watch over those in their care, tending them, protecting them, and teaching them over many years. They are aliens and strangers in this world, for their home is an island across the Western Ocean, and ofttimes they long to return. This is why they are a people set apart from the world, though they dwell in its forests, and along its rivers, and even, sometimes, among Men. Even those children born in the East, have a longing in their hearts for a home they have not seen, a home across the sea. They experience all the many evils and heartbreaks of this world, and though time can lessen the pain of loss, it does not erase the memories. And with every passing year a few more return home, for the heartbreak of this wide world becomes too much to bear after many years and multiplied sorrows.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sample from Chapter One

Balfrith! Attend! He felt the hard smack of the thin wooden rod on the backs of his hands, before the words penetrated his consciousness. Their combined force snapped him out of his reverie.

Balfrith rubbed his throbbing hands together, glaring at his father’s retreating form, as he walked around the table to resume his stance at its head. From there, he was trying to explain to his sons the tactics of siege defense. Unfortunately for Balfrith, trying was the operative word, for his mind was not on today’s lesson. In fact, he had to admit, his mind was often away on other streams of thought, when it was his father doing the teaching.

Balfrith’s oldest brother, Aldfrid, glared hard at him from the other side of the long table. Wilfrid was watching him as well, though his stare seemed more contrived to gain the approval of the elder rather than bring a rebuke to the younger.

The three youths all shared some similarities with their father, and it was clear to most casual observers that they were brothers. In Balfrith’s case, he had the early height of his male relatives, already almost six feet tall at only fifteen summers of age. His hair was a medium brown color, lighter than his father’s but with the same natural straightness, combed and parted in the middle as was common with Nûmidëan men. He also shared the sharp cheekbones and strong jawline of his father, though in his youth he still appeared gawky, almost gaunt, as his upward growth outpaced his body’s ability to put on corresponding weight. On the other hand, his narrow nose and hazel eyes were received from his mother - or so he’d been told.

Their father, duke Osric Aethelred, began again, talking about some old battle or other, and Balfrith’s mind immediately turned elsewhere - to Elves, and ancient forests with towering trees, and he wondered what it would be like to live among them. His tutor, Leofred, had once told him about an ancient tradition among the noble families of Nûmidëa, one no longer practiced, in which they had traded sons with the Elvish lords of Illithëon. Of course they didn’t call themselves “Elves” - that was just the Mannish word - they called themselves Elefdar, a word meaning something like “firstborn sons” according to Leofred. Balfrith wondered about that, too: firstborn from whom? Leofred had said he didn’t know that particular detail, but Balfrith hoped to find out some day.

Meanwhile, his father droned on.

Saturday, February 4, 2012



Illithëon is located on the island of Nûmidëa, in the expansive northern forest. It shares its southern border, the Rushing River, with the human kingdom of Nûmidëa. To the west and north are the Red Mountains that run the western coastline of the island, while to the east is the coast, and the Worldsea. The forest of Illithëon is about 300 miles from north to south, and 200 miles wide along its southern edge near the Rushing River, narrowing as it goes further north.

Features and Landmarks
While the entire forest is called by Men the Illithëon Forest, the Elefdar (called “Elves” by most Men) prefer to think of Illithëon as their hidden domain within the larger forest. The forest is known to hold several breeds of trees that have not been found by Men elsewhere in the world, among them the silver maple and golden oak. Within the domain of Illithëon, there is a hidden mountain named Skyreach, that rises in the midst of the forest and forms the center of their realm, crowned with the silver maples and golden oaks that are rarely seen along the forest's outer edges. Few Men have seen the mountain, and none in several generations, for their relations with the Elefdar have suffered and dwindled over the past two centuries.

Geographically, Illithëon is bordered by the Red Mountains to the west, and the Elefdar keep a close watch on the passes coming out of those mountains, for goblins and trolls are known to dwell there and make occasional raids into the forest. The Rushing River, called Asca by the Elefdar, on the southern edge of the forest forms the border between Nûmidëa and Illithëon. While Men seldom cross that river, the Elefdar pass freely over it in their traffic with those few Men still friendly to their race. There are many hidden coves along the eastern coast of the island, and the Elefdar keep several shipyards there, and use their craft to travel between the island and the mainland.

Being an island nation at a mostly temperate latitude, Nûmidëa can have some strange weather patterns. Seasons are mild, with neither great highs nor lows in temperature. Summers are warm and humid, but tend to cool off at night. Winters are cool, with some snow but it rarely sticks for long. It does rain quite a bit, however. Due to the high humidity year-round, it tends to be quite foggy from autumn through to spring. The coldest days will bring the fog down as rain, snow or frost. The summers are generally warm enough that the fog lifts early in the morning. With the wet climate and moderate temperatures comes great wealth in growing plants and trees of all sorts. The forest of Illithëon has been called an Elefdar paradise for that reason, and there is great truth in the statement.

The nearest thing to a city in the realm of Illithëon is the central mountain which forms the base of Elvish power in the forest, and is their main dwelling-place. The Elefdar call this mountain Skyreach, and the “streets” (really more like broad walking paths), such as they are, wind up and down its sides in a pattern only visible from its heights. From that lofty place, it can be seen that the whole of the pattern is like a great silver knot of many threads, coming together and twisting apart in many places, mind-boggling in its beauty and almost indescribable in its complexity. This central settlement does not have a name, but Skyreach would suffice at need.


Elvish internal politics are on a small enough scale that national, regional and local are basically the same. They have a lord, Felaranthir, who stands as their leader and lord though he has no vain need for such lofty titles as “lord” or “king”. He is advised by a council of Elefdar of like stature and standing, lords all, each of whom represents one of the greater old families that originally settled the island. It is this council of lords that truly governs Illithëon, though Felaranthir is its popular face. The Elefdar keep a standing army called Guardians, composed of light infantry and archers, trackers and scouts who patrol their lands and keep them safe from troll, goblin, and even Human incursion. The Guardians are composed of all young male Elefdar, who must serve a minimum of ten years though many serve for much longer terms. Upon completing his service, a male Elefdar may then apprentice himself to a craft-master to learn a professional trade – but not before this service is complete, except in extreme cases such as disability.

See National politics, above.

See National politics, above. The only item to add here is that there are other settlements scattered throughout the forest of Illithëon. These settlements conduct their own affairs independently, even maintaining their own small company of Guardians, but at need the people can be called by the council of lords to the service of all Illithëon.

While the Elefdar have grown more and more insular over the past few hundred years, they do still maintain some relations with Men. The Elefdar of Illithëon primarily deal with the Human kingdom of Nûmidëa. Across the Sea, they occasionally have dealings with Sildara and Danannsidhe, and the Men of the Vales, as all three of these nations also have dealings with the Elefdar of Ildallïe. Thus they have some common ground for trade and traffic, if only occasionally.


The Elefdar do not have any exports, though their rare gifts to Men are often traded, sold, or stolen as being considered of great worth. Their ships they keep to themselves, as with their armor and weapons and other implements of war. They are generous with jewelry and decorative items, to those whom they call friends. But again, there is no industry to speak of, nor any goods that could truly be called exports.

As with exports, the Elefdar of Illithëon do not import anything to speak of. Certainly they receive gifts from their brethren across the Sea, and even from Men such as those of Nûmidëa. But as for imports, the Elefdar have all they need within the forest, and generally only trade with other Elefdar if they are found wanting anything. 


The Elefdar do not practice formal or organized religion, as it is found among Men. They do honor the One, whom they name Illë, though they seldom invoke His name. They also revere several lesser Powers whom they occasionally name. Elefdar have been seen to meditate for hours at a time, resting the body whilst the mind travels elsewhere. They are rather elusive about how and what they do in such a trance, but it has been seen by enough Men that it is recognized as a common practice among the Elefdar.


Class Structure
The Elefdar do not have a class structure per se, however they do tend to break down into two groups: lords, who are elder Elefdar, and the rest. All Elefdar are free, in that they are neither bonded nor enslaved to other Elefdar, but they are mostly subservient to the greater needs of their people and will willingly set aside personal desires and personal freedom if need demands it. Those who are called lords are viewed as governors, but also as servants of the Elefdar, and it is a noble calling to ascend to that role when one becomes old enough and is considered wise enough to do so.

The Elefdar value that which has beauty and that which endures, whether their own creations, or special regions of the world which have stood for millenia, or more rarely, the creations of others. They value freedom over slavery, and right over wrong, as all peoples of good conscience would, but they also value truth and wisdom over wishful thinking that leads to self deception. When an Elefdar marries, it is for life – and the Elefdar live for an exceptionally long time, barring a fatal sickness or injury. Thus they value a good reputation, and an honorable word.

The Elefdar have an absolute taboo regarding any violence against others of their race. This stems from violent civil wars in aeons past, and given the long lives of the Elefdar, there are some alive today who still remember those dark times. That doesn't stop them from getting into heated arguments – but one will never see an Elefdar come to blows with or draw a weapon against another Elefdar.


Elefdar of Illithëon look much like their mainland counterparts, with almond-shaped eyes and pointed, lobeless ears. They share the same build as well, males averaging five and a half to six feet in height, and women five to five and a half feet, and sharing the light bone structure common to all of their race. Illithëon skin tends to be somewhat paler than that of other Elefdar, seeming almost white or silver, and are sometimes called “Moon Elves” (by Men) because of this. They have lighter hair as well, ranging from platinum blonde to golden yellow. Their eyes have the same bright colorings, blue and violet being most common, but also green, golden and (rarely) gray can be found. Both men and women tend to wear their hair long, either tied back in some sort of braid, or held in a circlet or other piece of jewelry.

Illithëon Elefdar tend to dress like their mainland brothers, preferring bright colors for their flowing clothing. Clothes may be made from common fibers such as cotton or wool or silk, but they are generally of a very fine weave, with complex knot-work and other decorations sewn into the fabric. At home, men wear a long tunic and hose, while women prefer a fitted dress with a close skirt. When traveling, they generally dress in more utilitarian woolen clothing, cut and fit similar to that worn by Nûmidëan folk, though still of fine weave with complex colors and patterns.

Culture and History
The Illithëon live in the forest just to the north of the Rushing River and kingdom of Nûmidëa, on the island of Nûmidëa. They are governed by a council of lords, as are their eastern brothers, but the Illithëon have much more traffic with humans in Nûmidëa than the Elefdar among the other human nations, and are considered to be actually friendly with Men rather than xenophobic. There are Illithëon Guardians, and every young adult male serves for a minimum of ten years, but the Guardians of Illithëon are more concerned with troll and orc incursions from the Red Mountains to the west than they are with human expansionism from the south.