Welcome to Slumberland, Pt. 1 – The Lay of the Land

The realms of the Mighty King Morpheus are splendid and sun-dappled plains, dotted here and there by small towns, interconnected by roads for horse-drawn carriages and surrounded by warm, peaceful woodlands filled with the smells of sweet leaves and the sounds of scurrying little creatures. The City of Som surrounds Castle Dreamstone and stretches to fill the Dreamheart Island that sits in the center of the Lake of Lilies. Open woods of white birch and golden gingko wreath much of the western and southern edges of the island in stunning foliage and rainbow-scaled carp and large, orange koi swim in the waters of the Lake, seeking their food under the veil of the waterlilies that float on the surface.

Even ol’ Saint Nick has a home in Slumberland

An even larger city stands just across a short bridge over the water south of Som, the bustling city of craftsmen, cooks, teachers, soldiers, etc that serve the kingdom, the city Belnocht, booming with trade in all the finer things in life, the place everyone wants to be and where anyone can always find whatever their heart desires. Further south, Belnocht once overlooked the strange Crystal Cairns scattered throughout the multicolored Painted Desert, but the desert seems to have vanished. The soldiers of Slumberland’s royal armies have been tasked with defending Belnocht from what can only be described as Nightmares attacking from the Void where the desert once lay.

A series of smaller islands to the west of Dreamheart, each with little villages, makes up the collective settlement of Wizwishle, each island home to gorgeous wetlands and hundreds of species of birds, insects, lizards, and frogs in every color of the rainbow. The Wishlewush Wizards and Wishmarck Academy dwell in the Wizwishle islands, highly regarded throughout Slumberland for their wisdom and knowledge of history, medicine, and of course magical spells.

To the east lies the tall red cedars and ancient oaks of the Pabrygg Vale, and at their edge, the city of Woodhaven, a place for carpenters and woodcarvers, artists, writers, herbalists, hunters, and apothecaries to ply their trades. Home of the Famous doctor, Cornelius Genius, a prolific man of science and medicine, now retired, who once taught many subjects at the Woodhaven College of Arts and Science. One must be careful travelling too deep within the Vale these days… the woods grow unnaturally dark ere long and several wanderers have become lost to never return.

North of Dreamheart lies the town of Erstwehn, in the shadow of the Blackspire Mountains. Just past the northern edges of this stalwart and vigilant community of miners, masons, and smiths lies the Salamog Swamp within which a fearsome artifact has been hidden – the Dragon Door, the entrance into Nightmareland. The Swamps have become dark and twisted and the creatures that once dwelled there have been completely displaced by Nightmares pouring forth from the Dragon Door.

Though Little Nemo once defeated the Nightmare King as a boy, the dark realm known as Nightmareland can only be sealed away, not utterly destroyed. It was once possible to travel to Nightmareland on foot, its lands directly connected to Slumberland’s, but King Morpheus sundered the connection and closed shut a magical gate that prevented anyone from accidentally wandering to Nightmareland, or anything from Nightmareland skittering into Slumberland. This Dragon Door was hidden in the swamps north of Erstwehn, and sealed with a great key that was entrusted to Nemo. But somehow, when Nemo got trapped in Slumberland, as he traveled between Earth and Slumberland, the key became lost. Now the Dragon Door is open and Nightmares roam free, plaguing Slumberland’s countrysides and spreading soldiers and warriors thin, defending the once-peaceful kingdom from invasion on all sides.

The Oreiad of the High Empire, Pt. 5 – Our Lady of Coldhearth and the Lyang Liutan Coven

Many Oreiad, pious and Manshrioi alike, died when the Dragonlord scoured the peaks, now controlled by the Dragonscarred of Godsreach, referred to by the Oreiad as the Wu Tzuzhou, or Witchcursed, for mastery of the Dragon of the Moon. But thousands more died trekking south as they fled the accursed region in search of a new home. The Oreiad are not made for warm climates and the mountains in the south of Ticonderos are not as tall as those towards the center, nor as cold or dry as the Oreiad are used to. The journey was long, incredibly taxing, and tragically deadly. These Oreiad had defied their Empress’ command and continued a fight against the Dragonlord that she had decreed finished. They would not be welcomed by any other Oreiad communities. They had to rely on each other, and, eventually, on the frigid powers that emerged within a disgraced family of Manshrioi lineage called the Lyang Liutan Coven.

Lady Coldhearth, governess of Coldhearth and Matron of the Lyang Liutan

Their city is small, and technically, it is not actually a recognized part of the Oreiad Empire at all, but the Oreiad who live there still revere and love their Empress and live under Imperial law, custom, and traditions. It is often said there, by their Manshrioi, that the Empire may have abandoned them, but they have not abandoned the Empire. Indeed, it was their ancestors’ pride in their duties to the Empire and to the protection of the dragons their Empire had millenia of friendly relations with, that caused them to be exiled in the first place. They are a proud, hardy, resourceful, and hospitable community, brought together under the benevolent wisdom of their Manshrioi Lady.

Referred to by her pious as Our Lady of Coldhearth, or Lady Coldhearth for short, she is kind, generous, and surprisingly powerful. Rumor is spread voraciously that her mastery over wind and cold may rival the Empress, but only in whispers that are dramatically and violently stamped out as offensive, unspeakable heresy in the northern mountain regions of the true Oreiad Empire. But were it not for her great power, the city of Coldhearth itself could not exist and the Oreiad who live there could not survive. In this ongoing crisis in the True North, in the lands of the Empress, as Oreiad flee the region by the hundreds, Lady Coldhearth welcomes any refugees who make it so far south as her city, which is, in fact, a surprising number. Indeed, she has even welcomed Dhogem refugees fleeing their own underground horrors, as well as Dragonscarred fleeing from the battles between the Alo Pagtria and the armies of Zelos. There is even a whole village of Alo Pagtrian separatists dwelling along the coast at the base of Lady Coldhearth’s mountains on the Dragon’s Tail who worship her as a goddess of bounteous wind and rains who blesses them with fish and long lives.

The city itself is covered in a constant blanket of snowfall, the surrounding mountains a haze of cold fog and condensed air. As a consequence of Lady Coldhearth’s power, warm, seaborne winds laden heavy with waters evaporated from the oceans to the west are constantly drawn to the area, pelting the shores with high tides, and steady rainfall. Lately, however, these hot, humid winds have been lighter and less frequent, giving Lady Coldhearth less water to work into snow and air to dry and chill her city, but also causing the fishing for the Dragonscarred beneath her mountains to be unexpectedly, markedly less bounteous this season. Something has changed out there, the Dragonscarred villagers fear. Something dark, and empty, and hungry.

The Oreiad of the High Empire, Pt. 4 – The Shi Cei Qoji of the Salt Crags

Atop the sheer cliffs that rise dramatically from the western shores beneath the Savage Sea, looming over the King of the Coin’s quaint nation of traders and sellswords, the Shi Cei Qoji Coven reigns with a dramatically iron grip in the name of their Empress. Called the Stonecutters by the Dragonscarred below, the Shi Cei Qoji are an ancient Coven of sword saints, odd amongst the Oreiad in their focus on martial arts over sorcery and looked down upon as Dragonscarred might regard country bumpkins by many of the more celebrated Oreiad Manshrioi. Make no mistake, they are Manshrioi in their own right, but more humble, more reserved, and their magics more subtle. They direct their gifts inward, imbuing the best of their kind with impossible strength and durability and their strikes with a hardness and sharpness that can cleave cleanly through a slab of granite.

Saint Qi Lei of Shaofanguil, Matron of Shi Cei Qoji Coven

While the Shi Cei Qoji are looked down upon by other more prominent Covens of the Empire, their territories atop the Salt Crags brook no disrespect for the Empress and require the utmost loyalty from their pious subjects, both to the Coven and to both the law and reverence for the Imperial Dynasty. They are an unwavering, rigid people and demand the same from those they rule and are known for their merciless punishments meted out against those that would defy both their own law and Imperial law. Death being the most obvious of these, and the reward for breaking even the most minor of Imperial statutes, but exile, dismemberment, even spiritual severance – a process in which an Oreiad’s ancestral relics are taken and destroyed – are common sentences for those that break with local law.

Shaofanguil is the fortress of the Shi Cei Qoji and the Holy City of Hei Lan unfolds around it. The winds sweep around it and throughout, and a thin veneer of salt, swept inland and up the mountains, coats the edges of every building. Salt crystals, carried by rare gales all the way into the Stonecutters’ domain, are highly prized and considered artifacts of great magical import. Used by the Oreiad of the Salt Crags as focuses for ancestral anima, they are thought to be capable of storing, and thus transferring to their possessor, a tremendous amount of magical might. It is the law of the Shi Cei Qoji that any crystals of a specific size or larger are automatically the property of the Shi Cei Qoji Coven and that any pious found in possession of such a crystal be subject to both spiritual severance and exile from the Salt Crags entirely. Such Oreiad will not be welcome in any other Oreiad community thereafter and must, with only the rarest of exceptions, make their way amongst the Dragonscarred. It is rumored that such exiles are from whence the legendary soldiery and sellsword companies of Zelos first honed their martial techniques.

Even the pious of the region are more than competent warriors, and their daily lives consist of the grueling labors of salt farming, physical training, and, for most, worship. Indeed, the Shi Cei Qoji are regarded as saints of their deities of Wind and Stone and are afforded less a celebrity intrigue and more a divine reverence in a manner somewhat similar to the Dorun of the Icethorns. But while faith in the gods themselves is required of the Doruns’ pious, faith in the Shi Cei Qoji is merely expected and the gods themselves still regarded with the antagonism inherent to the rest of Oreiad cultures. Many Oreiad pious quietly wonder amongst themselves in private moments if the Shi Cei Qoji and the Dorun are related, perhaps one having emerged from the other, but publically the two Covens make their hatred for one another abundantly clear.

The Oreiad of the High Empire, Pt. 3 – The Witch’s Spine

Central Ticonderos is dominated by dense temperate forests covering miles and miles of hill and short mountains converging into a single, massive mountain range that eventually grows too tall for even the trees to grow upon. This bony protrusion is called The Witch’s Spine and as the Oreiad Empire spread itself ever further, this unique location became home to an old, eclectic coven of hunters, gatherers, brewers and distillers, craftswomen, and hexers – Kayaga Coven. The Oreiad in this region are closer to more abundant plant and animal life than any of the other cities and covens and they have learned strange secrets and magical techniques from their interactions and observations. Oreiad do not require much in the way of protein to survive and do not typically kill the rare animal life they share the austere mountain peaks with – once it had been dragons, or giant eagles. Lately griffons or mountain lions or goats. Few creatures dare to climb to such lofty heights; fewer still survive the daring. But along the Witch’s Spine and just a short journey down into the forests, life is abundant and while the Kayaga and their pious still treat these creatures with respect, they do not place them on a pedestal like the rest of the Empire does.

A Manshrioi of Kayaga Coven consumes the Anima of a once-living creature.

Presided over by the Witch of the Woods, Babei Kayaga, the Kayaga govern the mountaintop city of Lohan where they have established a strange place of learning. A sprawling campus filled with dormitories, lecture halls, open grounds with modest enclosures in which forest animals are held for observation, and levels below where experiments on plant and animal life are conducted to better understand how to leverage their Anima for magical power. Babei herself wanders the whole of the Witch’s Spine in her walking mansion, a grand, four-story house filled with dozens of rooms for repose and dining, for servants and for the menagerie of woodland creatures she captures for the Lohan grounds throughout her travels. Did I mention it’s a walking mansion? With eight, massive, spindly legs that you’d be forgiven for mistaking as a giant spider’s simply thrust through the foundations, but you’d remain mistaken nonetheless. Through sorcery known only to the Coven Matron, Babei has brought the house itself to life and caused it to sprout living, fleshy legs, each ending in blackened, five-fingered hands covered in coarse hair and gravely skin.

Lohan is famous throughout the Empire for their “green magics” and their healing in particular. The streets are lined with alchemists and apothecaries each specializing in their own brand of medicinal treatments and spells, and breweries and distilleries crafting their own potent concoctions. Manshrioi, or pious hopefuls, flock to Lohan, even from prominent families, to learn restorative magics and the secrets of the woods, despite the stigma.

Many of the more traditional Manshrioi, especially those living in the Icethorn Mountains, regard the Kayaga and their “woodscraft” with contempt and disgust; however, their magical potency cannot be denied and they have developed arts in healing and curses that the Oreiad Empire had never known before. Ancestral power is important to all Oreiad, the Anima of their ancestors is, or is believed to be, how the Oreiad are able to channel and develop magical powers and become Manshrioi able to challenge the gods’ rule over their fates. What the Kayaga and other Oreiad in the Witch’s Spine have begun to do is ply their understanding of ancestral Anima and attempt to wring some similar power from the abundant life of the forests surrounding them, and they have had some undeniable success, despite it being, for some Oreiad, too disturbingly different. So in the same way all Oreiad cherish and keep totems and artifacts of their ancestors, the Oreiad of the Witch’s Spine keep twigs, dried berries, and animal bones, among many other strange items from the woods, and even consume the occasional piece of animal flesh, a taboo within Oreiad society, in the interest of discovering new avenues of magical might. There are many within the rest of the Empire who fear these Oreiad have sullied and debased themselves, becoming more like the lower folk that live beneath them by taking up some of their habits.

The Oreiad of the High Empire, Pt. 2 – The Covenant of Icethorn

Something is happening in the northern tundras of Ticonderos. The once-unshakeable Oreiad Empire is in chaos and no one knows what, why, or how. Already strained by chaos erupting in the Dhogem communities below them, the kingdoms of the Dragonscarred must also deal now with Oreiad fleeing a mysterious, frigid catastrophe taking place in the lands of their capital. The south teems with grim rumors of death, of undeath even, and war, but certainty is swiftly becoming a rare commodity. But there is still stability to be found within the Oreiad Empire in the south. In these uncertain times, the pious look to their Manshrioi to lead them, and the greatest of those that remain unaffected by the events in Tyr Rin Zho are found in the Imperial cities of the mountains to the south.

Aran, City of the Dorun coven in the Icethorn Mountains – art by Ling Xiang?

Just south of the Trollsrush, spanning a massive, triangular swathe of the continent, lies the Icethorn Mountains, tall and jagged, perpetually wreathed in snow, nearly impossible to climb and home to many ancient and powerful Oreiad nobles. Further south, bending through the center of the continent, standing conspicuously tall among a sea of lesser hills and crags stretches the Witch’s Spine. Toward the western shores, the mountains grow taller once more, if briefly, standing over the Mines of the Coin King, the Salt Crags are home to the least of the Oreiad Empire’s nobility, considered backwater and ill-bred, their culture and governance much more focused on physical prowess than magical. To the south of the Salt Crags, years ago, before the Dragonlord’s reign there was a thriving society of Oreiad with a great city where Thanolund now stands, but the Oreiad abandoned even their tallest mountain peaks in the aftermath of a fateful battle, declaring the mountains cursed, and ventured farther south than any Oreiad had ever dared before. Few survived the dry heat, but those that have endured have scraped together a dwelling in the tallest mountains at the end of the Dragon’s Tail west of the Deserts of Alo Pagtria.

Home to the highest concentration of the oldest, most powerful Manshrioi dynasties in the southern Oreiad Empire, the cities atop the Icethorns are the natural location for thousands of Oreiad pious to flock to. Though the mountains themselves compose a vast section of Ticonderos, the cities of the Icethorns dot along the highest peaks and then descend into lesser towns down the mountainsides only so far. And while there are many such settlements, each ruled by magically powerful bloodlines, three in particular stand out. Aran ruled by the strangely devout Dorun coven in the more southeastern corner, and Rgu Coram and Ippankir, neighboring cities on either side of the Scragsrun, the powerful stream gushing out from the Trollsrush down into the valleys leading toward Kingspeace, ruled by the reclusive and wealthy Maru coven and the haughty, grandstanding Piraku coven respectively. Each of the three families by and large hate one another and their vicious in-fighting often catches the pious under their charge unfortunately in the midst of economic struggles they have no control over.

The High Priestess Po Dorun wields the intense, stony magics typical of the Dorun coven with poise and a dramatic elegance. While the Manshrioi throughout most of the Oreiad Empire eschew any faith in the gods, or even take an antagonistic stance against them, Priestess Po and her family preach a rigid, unyielding, unquestioning faith to the pious they rule over. The Dorun coven, rather than claiming to have been born “exempt” or to have taken their powers by force, are said to have been chosen by the gods to rule Aran, and some of the pious even whisper that they were descended from the gods, though such a claim is heresy. Indeed, the pious in Dorun’s charge worship the Dorun coven with the same reverence they might reserve for the divine and they are ruled through a mixture of awe, fueled by thousands of years of ritual and spectacle, and fear, enforced by the coven’s merciless inquisitors, the Shaogal.

The Maru and Piraku are counted amongst the most fervent friends of the Empress and, thousands of years ago were the staunchest of her supporters as she prepared to take control of the empire. And though they shared the common goal of lifting their Empress to glory, it’s no secret they also had much to gain from such a mercurial rise to power. They never did care for one another, always vying to be “best” among the friends of the Empress and now that the capital is in chaos, they despise one another, vying to take control of what’s left of the Oreiad Empire. Your more traditional Manshrioi, they are elitist, fabulously wealthy celebrities, though the Maru are the more secretive and rabble-loathing variety, while the Piraku thrive on attention, making great shows of their beautiful superiority. While the Maru are quiet, reserved, and calculating, the Piraku are bombastic, emotional, and magnetic. The pious of Rgu Coram regard the Maru as one might a dragon – with a mixture of awe, respect, and fear… and from far away. The pious of Ippankir conversely adore the Piraku despite the family’s oppressive narcissism.

Although there is no love lost between any of these three powerful Manshrioi families, they form an ancient Covenant, bound by a blood oath sworn to the ancestors of the Imperial Dynasty untold millenia ago. No member of the three families may harm any member of the Imperial Dynasty or one another directly. No member of the three families may speak falsely to any living being about the Imperial Dynasty or one another. No member of the three families may, through written or spoken contract, compel or coerce any living being to harm any member of the Imperial Dynasty or one another or to speak falsely about the Imperial Dynasty or one another. It is unknown what the consequences of this oath are, or by what or whom this oath is consecrated, but they are heavily implied to be quite severe. Some of the pious whisper their heresies, of course, but as the Empire is itself, the secrets that built it are as old as the bones of the earth and likely buried amongst them.

The Oreiad of the High Empire, Pt. 1 – Tyr Rin Zho, the Frozen Heart of the Oreiad Empire

Statuesque and cold, the Oreiad are an aloof people of a vast, ancient empire established in the frigid tundras of northern Ticonderos and spanning across the peaks and ridgelines of the continent’s imposing mountain ranges. They consider themselves above the petty squabbles of the Dragonscarred and have relatively little to no interaction with, and thus no judgment on, the Dhogem of the Deeps. Their empire is vast, secure, and self-contained, so they keep, for the most part, to themselves; however, as loathe as they would be to admit it to anyone, the actions of the Dragonlord have left their scars on the Empire as well.

Art by wwsketch @ deviantart.com

The High Empire is ruled from the northern tundra, from the icy realm of Tyr Rin Zho, called the Frozen Heart of the Oreiad Empire by the Dragonscarred, a solemn wasteland by mortal reckoning, sparsely populated, mostly only by the officials of Imperial governance and their families where the Empress Feyoung Giliaor had presided over a powerful coven of Manshrioi, and a court of frost giants, snow elementals, and ice golems. The unforgiving cold that surrounds Tyr Rin Zho renders the region little more than a frozen tomb, too extreme for most life to survive, the majority of cold-resistant Oreiad included.

But the tundras of the north are vast and the cities beyond the intense cold of Tyr Rin Zho had been many and prosperous. The settlements of the Oreiad are all organized by a central governing body and spiral out from there in ever widening coronas of gradually lessened social stature. These rigid castes are determined by a combination of governmental importance and familial bloodlines, specifically those bloodlines with the most potent magical gifts – the highest seats of Imperial governance being occupied by the most powerful sorceresses of Oreiadkind. While the social mores of the southern, mountainous settlements of the Empire differ slightly from those of the tundra, their settlements and governance remain organized the same.

While the areas surrounding the Oreiad capital city have always been dangerous, their deathly cold notwithstanding, they are also haunted by frozen spirits both ancestral and of a foreign ancestry known to neither man nor Oreiad. Worse are the storms that seem to be emanating from Tyr Rin Zho of late, intensifying the already uninhabitable chill of the capital, and throwing frigid wind, punching hail, and feet of snow every day for weeks. No one knows what is happening, but Oreiad are fleeing the tundra and their once prosperous nation for the human settlements to their west and to their brothers and sisters in the mountaintops covering much of southern Ticonderos.

Much of Oreiad society is held together by an odd sort of competition between the pious and what the Oreiad call the Manshrioi, a word that translates literally to “exempt,” and a type of ritualist that specializes in claiming the power of the gods for themselves. What the Dragonscarred might see as heresy and witchcraft, the Oreiad see as their people asserting dominance and indeed providence over deific entities that would otherwise control their destinies. While the pious pray to their gods, these prayers are more often entreaties to be spared some harm or tragedy or to be given permission or good fortune in the pursuit of some endeavor. The pious represent the everyday Oreiad, unblessed with magical birthright (or who lack the daring, skill, and/or wits to claim such power), who even if they may revere some of the more kind or gentle deities, see themselves as at their pantheon’s mercy. Meanwhile, it is at least believed and hoped, that the Manshrioi need not bend to the will of untouchable and unknowable gods. These Manshrioi are afforded a celebrity status and make up most of Oreiad governing while their family members often occupy roles of bureaucracy.

But there’s a darker, sadder side to very long lives of the pious. Oreiad can live for hundreds of years, perhaps for thousands, aging at a small fraction of the rate humans do, and with the way their society is set up there can be tremendous pressure on Oreiad, especially as they get older and older, to either become Manshrioi or to aid their family through what is called Ga Xhofu, or The Blessing. The Blessing is why Oreiad of the pious caste older than their early 130s are exceedingly rare, as the idea is that, at such an age, if one still has not obtained or been granted any magical gifts, even if their family might not think so, society portrays such an individual as a burden. The Blessing is a sort of ritual suicide and a stepping aside, a way to, through an individual Oreiad’s death to potentially assist later generations in becoming Manshrioi themselves. The pious thus covet artifacts of their deceased, especially of those who have committed Ga Xhofu, in the hopes that through the spiritual power of their ancestors, they may awaken magical abilities to challenge the gods.

Outlining Again: Snowflake Method, Pt. 5.4 – All About Nemo

The Dream Master

Name: Nemo Mackay

Age: 30 in Dream years, but 45 by human reckoning, Nemo ages at half speed in Slumberland.

Place of Birth: Brooklyn, New York

Current Location: Slumberland

Nationality: American/Slumberlundan

Education: High School Sophomore / Tutored by courtiers, advisers, and servants of the Kingdom of Slumberland on everything from courtly manner, politicking, economics, philosophy, and martial arts.

Occupation: Acting King of Slumberland

Income: $8/hr American, but net worth as Acting King of Slumberland measures up to hundreds of millions of dollars.

APPEARANCE

Height: 5’8″ Weight: 168lbs

Build: Average, leaning slender, athletic

Eyes: Hazel

Hair: Medium-short, messy, thick, mostly-straight and black

Nemo is a rather unimposing-looking fellow, but one whose life has been filled with adventures. There is a hard gleam in his eyes, sometimes tempered with the mischief of one who knows he is underestimated. He is garbed in a very fancy, very tailored one-piece pajama, grey but detailed with red and gold woven images of lions, griffons, and olive leaves, with black felt and suede boots and gloves, and a cloak of subtly glittered sable, shimmering indigo in the right light, lined with midnight blue. He carries in his right hand a large, ornate scepter with a blue jewel the size of his fist at the end that he uses as a walking cane, and within his nest of black hair rests a simple, golden coronet beset with a single, large ruby. Despite the near-constant smirk playing over his soft features, his eyes seem to be searching for something in everything, in everyone, suspicious perhaps. Or angry.

He is in fine health, but requires the use of his scepter/cane to get around, an injury to his left leg rendering it stiff and unresponsive and a constant source of pain. He seems to pay it little mind except for the rare occasion that the pain suddenly spikes, either in response to a pressure or strike, or sometimes for no discernible reason at all.

QUIRKS AND TICS

Nemo is distressed by the burdens of rule having been thrust upon him. He does not like acting as King of Slumberand and is frustrated with himself that he cannot personally find and rescue the Princess and her father the King. He feigns confidence, but he feigns a great deal of things. Another such example — he gets around much easier than he lets on. His leg is injured and pained, yes, but push to shove, Nemo can move and react faster than he wants people to believe.

His voice seems louder and deeper than you’d expect from a man his size and build. He can be intense and intimidating, and he seems to be amused by how this surprises his subjects and his enemies.

Nemo is charmed by and very fond of small woodland creatures such as squirrels and chipmunks and has several little furred pets that scurry around the castle causing mischief in all sorts of places they shouldn’t be.

Preferred Curse Word: Blast.

Outlining Again: Snowflake Method, Pt. 5.3 – All About Elayne

Knightess of Nowhere

Name: Elayne (no last name)

Age: Elayne appears to be in her late twenties but in truth she died long ago. She is undead now and effectively immortal but does not know exactly how old she really is.

Place of Birth: It’s strange… for some reason, Elayne has no idea where she was born, or when, but she tenses up and feels angry when she thinks about it…

Current Location: The Void, amongst the stars.

Nationality: It should be significant… the heraldry of her armor, the distinctive design of the pauldrons… they were the emblems of some great order, proud knights of… of Somewhere! It was important to her, she’s so sure… They called her Elayne of… no, no it’s no use, she can’t remember.

Education: Well read in courtly etiquette, knowledgeable in fuedal law, and a trained singer and dancer.

Occupation: Knightess.

Income: None.

APPEARANCE

Height: 6’1″ Weight: 174lbs

Build: Tall and lithe, with impressive muscle definition.

Eyes: Grey

Hair: Windswept and brown, short but just long enough to occasionally get in her eyes.

Tall, athletic, and more muscular than most men, Elayne is rather plain, even mannish some would say, lightly-tanned of skin and with angular features and scowling eyes that make her seem dangerous. She doesn’t care what men think of her, she’s not interested in them, and thinks her appearance suits her station as a warrior. She wears an intimidating, custom suit of armor, heavy steel plates with huge pauldrons shaped into mangled faces, gazing into the sky, from which, oddly enough, thick, thorny branches grow, dotted with blooming roses. Her tabard covers her breastplate and is cinched by a plated belt at her waist, trailing in four flowing bolts of fine fabric to just below her knees. It’s faded, but a crest that was once greatly detailed seems to depict perhaps a battle or a dance between two winged creatures, but it’s difficult to make much sense of it. She carries a massive, oval-shaped tower shield, seemingly made of tortured, rotted wood and many weapons, a huge greatsword on her back, and two swords scabbarded at her waist, a shortsword and a curious longsword, again, of rosewood motif, the hilt a tangle of thorned branches.

Elayne seems healthy, being undead of course, she cannot be afflicted with diseases or sickness like a mortal would, but she does bear several deep scars across her body that no longer heal as they ought to. She seems to take them well enough in stride and if she’s in any pain, she never admits to it.

QUIRKS AND TICS

Elayne is a stone, betraying no emotion or fear publicly. She is stoic to a fault and can be overbearing, rude, arrogant, and downright offensive. She does not care what others think of her, or so she wants everyone to believe.

She walks with the surety of someone who never expects to lose, with the knowledge that she is elite and powerful, and yet she is perhaps, at times, too confident.

Her speech is crass, blunt and to the point, peppered with swear words and curses, not exactly what you might expect of either a knight or a lady. Privately, however, among those she loves, she is downright doting, nurturing, and full of warmth.

Preferred curse word: All of them.

Outlining Again: Snowflake Method, Pt. 5.2 – All About Ziegander

It me.

Name: Ziegander (no last name)

Age: 43 eons. No, really. Death doesn’t come easily to one chained directly to The Spider’s web.

Place of Birth: We called it Earthsong back then… I think it went by a different name there for a while… … …We were good… I’ll never know what set him off… See, that… that’s what haunts me… not knowing why…

Current Location: The Switchboard.

Nationality: There weren’t nations in the beginning and we moved around a lot. I come out of the lands north of the Drakgaduns, warm, sunny, green fields for miles on end. We hunted and planted and we liked to roam to give the earth time to heal after harvest. It wasn’t until later that we had to build walls to keep us safe… from each other…

Education: No formal education. Just lots and lots of experience.

Occupation: Dispatcher for The Waybetween.

Income: None.

APPEARANCE

Height: 5’11” Weight: 190lbs

Build: Broad and muscular.

Eyes: Amber.

Hair: Dense and frizzy, Ziegander’s hair is drawn into dozens of tight locks that hang from his head to about his shoulders with a thick but neat black beard and mustache to match, lightly dusted with a bit of grey.

Tall, dark, and handsome, Ziegander is of a dark brown skin tone and has a strong, squared-off jaw with deep dimples, yet a round nose and cheeks to take the edge off. He can look both warm and intimidating in almost the same breath. His style of dress seems mismatched, taking articles of clothing and accessories from several cultures and periods of time and piecing them together in a way that almost does, but just barely fails to blend together seemlessly. But the most immediately obvious piece of his ensemble are the chains. Chains around his waist, chains around his wrists, shackles around his ankles connected to chains that trail behind him allowing him to step only so far as the edge of his streetcorner. A heavy, two-handed sword is chained to his back and the pommel is connected to chains as well, those that wrap around his right wrist and hand. Some of the chains dangle and drape, others hold him tight in their grasp.

He appears to be perfect in health despite his age and his burdens. He has the appearance and apparent vitality of a hale man in his early forties. Even against the chains, he does not seem to chafe, drag his feet, or limp. He stands straight and tall and his voice does not falter.

QUIRKS AND TICS

Ziegander seems always to wince when talking about his past, as though he has deep regrets there, and he doesn’t like to talk about it in the first place.

Uses humor as a mechanism for deflection and defense.

Speaks with a relaxed, modern parlance, often using words and turns of phrase that seem, honestly, not to suit him.

Preferred Curse Word: Fuck.

Though he seems to perform his role with poise and confidence, it is clear Ziegander longs to venture the stars, and almost equally clear that this is a longing born from experience having already done so.

Outlining Again: Snowflake Method, Pt. 5.1 – All About Len

My Novel’s Main Squeeze

Name: Len (no last name)

Age: Len was 23 when she was married and still looks that age. She is undead and effectively immortal and honestly doesn’t know how old she is anymore.

Place of Birth: Does it matter anymore? It’s gone. Fine. Lothersburg. Father Lother had been travelling a long while before he made his way into the ruins far below the mountain castle. Our ruins. And he brought us all together. He brought hope back into our cursed lives and together we built a cathedral as gleaming and tall as anything you’d have seen in the great cities of legend. We built the settlement off from there and it was almost like we had lives again. We opened up the shop, we took care of each other. Of course we named the town Lothersburg. But then the Deacons took control of things… and that Abbess… they killed him. And everything went to hell again…

Current Location: The Waybetween/Void. The stars. Outer space.

Nationality: She doesn’t remember.

Education: Religious. Can read and write.

Occupation: Currently none. Previously: Assistant shopkeep. Assistant innkeep.

Income: None.

APPEARANCE

Height: 5’4″ Weight: 125lbs

Build: Slim but not very fit. Working on building muscle, though.

Eyes: A greyish blue/green

Hair: Unruly, long, light blonde hair with a braid.

Rosy cheeked, pale, with angular bone structure, Len is considered quite the beauty, but she hates her teeth and thinks her nose and ears and feet are too big. She prefers to wear short, flowy sun-dresses but instead wears magical robes and chainmail for protection. Carries a blessed crossbow, a big, fuck-off holy symbol that can double as a mace, and a boxing caestus for each hand. Her style is best described as barely put together. She is a mess but is always trying to look presentable, given her circumstances.

Technically, she is in great health, no diseases or pain, but then again technically she’s been dead for who even knows how long anymore? Her mental health could use a little therapy.

QUIRKS AND TICS

Turns her Ring of Remembrance (her wedding ring, it disguises her mangled, dead flesh so she appears as her husband remembers her on their wedding day) whenever she’s frightened or thinking of her husband.

Walks fast, eyes darting everywhere, nervous and distracted, yet watching everything for signs of danger.

She speaks with an elegant temper, though at times emotional, but usually very measured and proper, the way a lady of the cloth should. Only… she’s not a lady of the cloth and is trying to loosen up. She prefers to make direct eye-contact.

Preferred curse word: Gwyndamned/Gwyndammit.

She is typically guarded around strangers, but a gushing open-book around those with whom she feels safe. Highly emotive when vulnerable.

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