Thursday, 22 December 2016

Spirit lanterns

Nature spirits guarantee good health for their homestead, which is most interesting for plants and the people who care for those. A lantern is supposed to attract tiny spirits by burning incense; the then occupied lantern can, very carefully, be taken away and the spirit offered a new home in a plant of choice. Especially plants grown indoors or in greenhouses, or in otherwise inaccessible places, can lack a spirit which would normally turn up eventually.
Larger spirits are not as impressed by lanterns, unless there are many, but apparently they still notice them.

"Those blasted children stole my lanterns again. My crop of famkafeathers will be mediocre at best - but the wild rurgra trees ot the end of the street are just brimming with spirits. They will bear excellent fruit this year, I'm sure."
— Revchira, greenhouse owner
Lanterns are regionally different but often playfully designed to appeal to spirits, and are filled with carefully chosen incense, containing bits of the plant the lantern-owner wishes to become home to a spirit. Some also have windchimes, or are bird-shaped to glide down through hopefully spirit-inhabited spaces.

Artists' notes
These were a random bit in a drawing once, but the idea was pretty. Mostly spirits will just arrive one day, but in the middle of the desert or winter-dark lands, a little help is appreciated. Great Forest children conduct runs, snatching up an many lanterns as they can, and watch how many spirits come to see them. 

Tuesday, 13 December 2016


A mindsmith is someone whose job it is to forge a mind into something less raw. The smiths themselves often laugh at that description, but the name stuck with folks. They are a proper profession - unlike voices, who have a calling - and are taught in small schools. Their methods range from philosophical debate, to torture-like practices best described as brainwashing, to meticulous mental exercises, and each only takes on one pupil at a time. Former voices may take this profession, and all plasmats are seen as mindsmiths.

"It's true that Lady Etto was one of the rebel leaders - she had started the capital's fires. When the mindsmiths returned her some years after her capture, they advised us to not waste her skills. She's been invaluable in the city's protection, and the murder attempts on her become fewer every year."
— Djigferra Solmor, citizen
Mindsmiths are often called upon to educate someone for a difficult position. They are found in royal households, teach diplomats or lunatics, but are also employed to "fix" criminals who seem utterly unwilling to behave. No pupil of theirs ever complained about the treatment, and all agree that it was a strenuous but worthwhile experience. Nobody taught by a mindsmith has not risen to greatness.
Known pupils are the Crowned Aslahenead of Brighthold, or Digaëner from the Summerstar Isles. Among the most famous mindsmiths are the plasmat Kortife of Echamien, and Avaqui Der, who teaches in Gdera.
"I can't complain about the captain's ways, but she sure doesn't seem human - she's nigh-infallible, barely rests, always has an answer, and iron-clad principles. As long as we're on the same side, I feel invincible beside her."
— Quahna, dust sailor

Artists' notes
The danger of brainwashing cannot be overestimated. And it is so easily done. In fantasy however, I can downplay dangers, and reap the benefits of one-on-one teaching with no other goal than perfection of a person. Mindsmiths are the legendary teachers one finds so delightfully often in Asian tales. I don't even want to know what they do with fake mindsmiths, but it can't be good.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Mainalhar II of Tsir

Mighty Tsir in northeastern Lozir is surrounded by the warlike Discordant Cities in the north (which it can easily hold at bay), the wastes to the west (which bring some distance to its more neurotic neighbours south), Urlakal (that has recently been turned into a tyranny by civil war), and Brunnavah (the neurotic neighbour, mortally afraid of speechcraft) to the south, and Starwatch to the east (its only quiet neighbour. Maybe too quiet).
"The proximity of Urlakal's renamed capital Uhlenburg to its Tsiranian border throws a dark shadow ahead. The new rulers claim part of Tsir used to belong to them - let us hope the Tsiranian army can hold its own in that far-flung corner of the map."
— Getnamir, Tsiranian parlamentarian
Mainalhar I was a weak and warlike ruler, under strong influence by his egotistical cabinet. When the much-beloved prince Mainalhar II recently took the throne, he began to change many things. The relatively young gar has so far managed to strike a good balance between a firm hand and diplomacy. If he can keep the country's interests unsabotaged by the Discordants, and make safe the border to Urlakal, Tsir's future is looking quite bright.
Mainalhar II is unmarried, and for the moment doesn't look like he takes any interest in partnership at all, instead investing all his strength into politics.

Artists' notes
I have quoted a stressed Mainalhar before, threatening the Discordants, but that was a rare moment. That corner of Lozir is slowly forming into an interesting place.