There are many different ways to introduce the world of Mortalissar, so naturally, I had to ask - where exactly do I begin? I can choose to start with her history, from the very first recorded history (the first Mer 100 years), her written and spoken language systems, the different wars and peace-times she had, the different kings, queens, princes and princesses each nation had through time, the Gods and Goddesses each region and country worship, the calendaring system they follow (what on earth is a Mer and Tae?), or even the magic system each region uses (the concept of Cores, free movement, voices and imbued stones).
But to start off easy, I've decided to do it geographically first, by introducing Mortallisar in the year Tae 4329 as a world with 11 great continents or regions, and three main island systems. So, let's break them down, shall we?
The 11 continents or regions (as of Tae 4329) are (from bottom right):
The 3 island-regions are:
Here's a quick summary on how these regions come about and why they are divided as such.
Many of the territories were carved out mainly because they were once believers (or still are) of a certain God or Goddess, thrived together based on their race (hair/skin/fur color), knowledge (language and magic systems) or regional climate or terrain. Subsequent posts will deep-dive into each region and explore them in detail but here's a general introduction.
The Territories of Zargandar are nations forged from the early wars of Tae 1000s when most of Zargandar was part of Aramyss. The wars were brutal and bloody, but mostly fought by slaves owned by Aramyssian lords. The slaves in turn rebelled and won over those lands. The land itself is mostly a giant swathe of bleak mountains and barren wastelands, yet harbor great quantities of magical stones and historical finds underground, so the slave-survivors of Zargandar managed to eke out a living learning to survive the harsh lands, populate their nations and learn to respect one another...mostly.
After the wars, the Zargandari's former masters to the east - the Principalities of Aramyss - continue to thrive as a feudal land. These lands are ruled by princes when they come of age (usually 15 or 16 after certain tests), and their then prince-fathers will abdicate their thrones and step back to serve as counselors to their sons. The concept of kings is remote in Aramyss as the princely heirs of the throne have as much right, devotion and protection as their prince-father. The principalities are also renowned for their infrastructure and citadels, which are often described as oriental and steeped in cultural significance. Some of the principalities are rumored to be ruled by mystical creatures - an oriental dragon, a jade golem or a many-faced courtesan, but they are a very closed-knit region. It is said that only in Aramyss can one find the famous jade-stones, with some having the magical capabilities to alter minds and change prince-doms overnight.
To Zargandar's west, the Realms of Fawyrn are clustered mainly because of the great Resgar Estuary. The deep currents of the estuary, mostly marshlands and dangerous black rivers, provides much needed leverage in the supply of food, equipment, raw materials, animals and even traffic and news. It is the realm's lifeblood and soul. As the local saying goes, 'rule the currents and you rule the currency.' The Realms have a high population of elves, faeries, gnomes and mystical creatures, some of whom actually rule several of these realms. The largest of the realms - Queyan - is home to one such Fairy-King, who speaks only in song and responds only if the guest does the same. The great Faw trees, gigantic and tall trees that dot the landscape, which is somewhat similar to the baobab trees we know, spread out all over Fawyrn, giving the region its name. There are even tales of giant lemur-like mounts called Mawrens, which one can mount and glide from Faw tree to Faw tree. At dusk, when the cicadas sing and the toads croak, a boat-ride along the swampy rivers of the Fawyrn realms can either be tranquil and soulful (with music humming in the air and fireflies illuminating the passage), or stinging and poisonous (with giant mosquitoes, alligators, piranhas or worse, lurking underneath).
The Monarchies of Morassin is a mish-mash of sultanates, pirate-kingdoms and baronies. For example, the pirate-kingdom of Prowden, though having ill-repute as a haven for thieves and outcasts, is also respected for its ship-building and offshore rigs. Farther north, the dwarven nation of Nolrim and gnomish nation of Queralin, have been known to build sky-ships and giant walkers to fight their border wars. The sultanates of Oeressa and Rassinia, stuck among these scheming and greedy nations, would pay handsomely to hire master dwarves and gnomes to build their contraptions, including giant drilling caravans known as Morashells, to traverse giant underground passageways and move from underground citadel to underground citadel. To the west, the baronies of Rhygar, Feonyr and Morlendar, fight above and under the waters off the coast of Issar Dae and its archipelagos, not just for territories, but to scoop the famed algae known as Morassin, and use it to tame the great and giant sea monsters of The Nieltersea. The algae is poisonous however, breathing its bloom leads to death and tossing it in fire will trigger a chain reaction of hallucinatory imagery, so one can imagine a sea battle (or party) among pirates with Morassin.
Ironically, most of the northern monarchies of Morassin (from Rhygar to Nolrim) used to be part of the Desert Empires of Djasandur. There are some cults in Rhygar, Oeressa and Rassinia who believe that they belong to the continent instead of Morassin. One of the reasons is because of the Gods they worship. Djasandur is a dry, arid continent of sand, mesas and camels, and that's really just a summary. Many of Djasandur's emperors used to worship the Sand Gods, where self-sacrifices and deep vaulted burials were common. According to legends, the Sand Gods used to rule the people around the Myrrhgadan Seas, but like the sands of time, people changed, wars came and went, and the Djasanduri empires now fight to preserve their old traditions, against many new cultist sects bent on introducing new ones. The two largest empires - Barakhan and Yarrsul - are always in disagreement, while Mykral and Djasan, provide the magical insights to these emperors as a service. Urugand has its own problems naturally; it is ruled by a mysterious sect of long-dead emperors from the other empires, whose goal, according to rumors, is to restore Djasandur to the glory days of the Sand Gods.
Which brings us to the Primal Lands of Praemos. Among the primal lands, Primoeria is the largest territory, not because of its hot, volcanic shifting landscape or the absence of any unified leader, but because it is the only territory (since the sages began documenting user accounts of their fleeting adventures) that has the largest concentration of mixed tribes and clans from the different lands of Praemos. To the west and south of Primoeria are disparate lands belonging to individual clans (also known as breeds) - the Akwipi (Hawks), the Gaeru (Wolves), the Ursas (Bears), the Tigaraths (Tigers) and so forth. Go farther west and one will find the Anuras (Frogs), Xerpathians (Snakes) and Lakhtians (Lizards). Within each clan, there are tribes (sometimes known as sub-breeds or communities). For instance, within the Gaeru clan, there are several wolf-tribes - the Nishral tribe being one of them and the Whurugar tribe being another - these are normally families or pack names, but may mean other things, such as a community located in a particular region, or survivors of a particular genocide. Anyway, not all of the primal lands are occupied by these clans. To Primoeria's north lies Dreuden, the only non-clan territory of Praemos. Dreuden is ruled by silver-haired elven kings and queens, and they worship different Gods (Xeptemoth the Wyrm God being one of them). Their history stems from years of being a bridge between Praemos, Oeren and Aramyssian territories (something which we'll get further into in later posts) so their adaptive ways to survive are unique. Anyway, the rest of the continent kind of belongs to the Beast God, Primus (whose divine name is actually Praemos), creator of all natural and ungodly beasts, master over all creatures of His land - known also as the Primoerials, Primus kun or Children of Praemos. Until the later centuries of the First Age, no one really knew what sort of creatures live in Praemos (with the exception of the Dreuden elves of course). Those who ventured too deep never returned, while those who did, came back different and took awhile before they spoke. But one thing's for sure, the Sky Cliffs of Mortalissar, a belt of tall, cloud-covered canyons stretching from east of Barakhan to west of Primoeria, is a natural wonder of the world. Many cartographers and adventurers have set their minds on visiting the Sky Cliffs to see their magnificence at least once in their lifetime. Most who did, never lived long enough to tell of it.
To the north of Praemos are the deciduous forests and mountainous regions of the Oeren - separated into Oeren Lowlands and Oeren Highlands. The Oeren Lowlands are ruled by descendant kings mostly. From Ferreven to Allastria, most of these kings have their tasks laid out for them from the day they are crowned - protect their southern borders from the invasions of the Primoerials. Each kingdom is unique: for example, the Thalls of Thalladorn aren't human after all - they're fire giants who lay hidden in their mountainous citadels, breeding horses and forging weapons for their Black Knights (automaton representations of their souls). They worship the God Thall, who is renowned for starting and ending the Apocalypse in Mer 9897. One other interesting kingdom is Vassalon, which is not ruled by men but women - a matriarchy of queens - where princesses are treated like royalty while princes serve as high priests, never to marry except to their Goddess, the Blessed Vassa. This, in turn, forms a queen - high priest combination on the throne, and yes, all of Vassalon's warriors are women, known as Vassaris.
The Highlands are ruled by earls and dukes, whose care and concern are mainly for their own estates and no one else. From Kressmoor to Dassentry, the earls, dukes and duchesses make the highland grounds their home, living in beautiful fortresses built on pinnacles of highland rock and are usually impenetrable from the ground. While they do have their bickering and conflicts with each other, their greater fear is the winter, which can get really cold and fatal - an enemy in itself. So it is that one season a year, the earls of the Oeren Highlands go into a parley and convene to plan how they'll beat the next winter, trying to find the next best innovation or strategy. Trust me, these mysterious and haunting conventions are never cheery and friendly (someone usually gets stabbed multiple times while others forge alliances through romance and intimacy), considering it's extremely chilly and freezing outside.
Right up north are the Ice Kingdoms of Serpentriss. Little is known about these cold, arctic-like lands, except that the ones who survive are usually not the living. The Ice Kingdom of Nethulsis for instance, is reported to be ruled by a Wraith-Lord whose predecessor must always be a living sea captain. The Wraith-Lord now demands that every full moon, a sea captain must sail him (or her) out across the Kaeosis Span, into the unknown of the Upper Vaults, and if the captain proves himself worthy, will take over the Wraith-Lord's place. Mortarsis, which lies beyond the borders of Dassentry and Fexgrol, is ruled by a Necromancer-Serpent called Orimanthus (or Orimanth), who is constantly expanding its icy cavernous home for eager adventurers to explore, where the ultimate reward (if they find it and kill it) is the ruby gem on its forehead - known to be able to revive a long lost loved one.
Moving on to cheerier climates, the Bridgelands of Iorensia to the west is a region that's exactly as it's named. It comprises of a series of land-bridges connecting the Praemos, Oeren, Serpentriss and Djasandur continents with the Iosian peninsula. These land-bridges are broad in some tracts and narrow in others, but they are broken up into seven stratocracies, or bridgeland nations ruled by military commanders and their land-bridge armies. With a strict adherence to code and honor, the Bridgelands offer passage to anyone moving from the larger continents (including Primoerials from Anura, Xerpathia and Lakhtia) to the peninsula (the Illanto nation being the receiving end), vice versa, charging fees and earning repute when they attract famous dignitaries, ambassadors or item of unique interest making the cross. The competition among the seven Bridgelands is intense, so one can imagine a highly reported crossing being sabotaged by a rival Bridgeland as a way to taint their reputation. The Bridgeland of Calandaria for instance, being the northernmost among the seven, has access to the Bridgean Sea. Yet whenever it commissions a crossing, either across its land-bridge or by ship, the Bridgeland armies of Craghmeer and Keltiss are often on the move beforehand, sending their dignitaries to the crossing passengers with offers of a discounted but safe passage - forcing Calandaria to ferry a bogus passenger and claim a bluff instead. Well, bad news is still news in the Bridgelands.
The last of the landmass continents - The Dynasties of the Iosian Peninsula - is a feudal territory ruled by famous and infamous family houses of royal descent. Each dynasty worships different Gods and Goddesses, but they all have a high sense of duty and honor to their countries and royal families. The dynasties of Keitan, Shindai and Maiku to the south are constantly at war with each other but are united in their border wars against the undead emperors of Urugand. Illanto is a nation with an immigrant problem, having to receive thousands of refugees crossing the Bridgelands daily and yet manages to thrive with the wisdom (and corruption) of its pure-blood and wealthy Illanti. The dynasty of Taragewa is famous among the Iosians - the king or queen, upon nearing his or her death, goes through a de-aging process known as Agewan, where his or her old age is reversed slowly and he gets to rule the Taragewans for another 50-60 years (this time with greater wisdom), before passing on to his aged son or daughter (while slowly turning into a young but hapless invalid - of whom his son or daughter must kill). A visit to Taragewa is a visit of astounding genealogical findings, because a mother may look younger than her daughter, and a son may look much older than his father. Then there's Soseizaki - a cold, wintry dynasty ruled by the vampire-lords of Sosei. The land itself is large and receives thousands of the dead from neighboring Kazaewa and Taragewa, only to be frozen and hung suspended from stalactites. The vampire-lords then suck and drink the brain juices of the hanging dead to gleam the person's past lives, gaining much wisdom and insight on the going-ons of the world beyond theirs. As long as they are well-fed and they continue to see that the world remains in turmoil, the vampire-lords will prefer to remain within their homeland. So one can imagine if the Kazaewans and Taragewans fail to deliver their dead to them...
This leaves us with the three large island systems. The Northriss Isles to the north-east comprise of seven main islands. The denizens of Northriss are usually beasts which can withstand the extreme cold or the frozen monsters who are banished for eternity. Beneath the islands' frigid wastelands are deep, subterranean vaults and sepulchers meant to keep these frozen monsters buried and locked away. Every once or twice a year, a crew and a ship, will set sail from the Island of Dessan (an independent island nation - but disputed by Dassentry and Essan as theirs), cross the Kaeosis Span and do a check on the vaults (to make sure they remain locked and sealed). If any of them are broken, they must investigate and if they encounter the frozen prisoner awakened, use whatever they have to re-imprison it or kill it. The ship is often labelled as the Dessanti (translated, it means Destiny) and the crewmen (an assembled group of able-bodied and fearless mercenaries and soldiers from both Dassentry and Essan) are paid extremely well if they return (if they don't, then their families get paid well and they become martyrs). There had been reports of mishaps before, but the earl of Dassentry and the ruler of Essan were quick to downplay them and maintain the peace.
The Sutharii Island Kingdoms to the south-east has seven main islands. Each island is ruled by different kings (or shaman-kings), but they are constantly at war with one another, so the kingdoms can come and go as quickly as a day or a week. The largest island at its center - known as Suthar - houses large pyramid-shaped altars supposedly used for sacrifices and torture, to please their God, Tharii (which oddly, was never part of the divine pantheon). The islands themselves are prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, so it is possible for smaller islands to sink and new ones emerge, wiping out entire civilizations before they are ever documented or rescued.
Finally, we have the Mortharii Isles to the south-west. The isles are known to be uninhabited in the day. So it is possible that ships from the archipelagos of Daessar may sail to any of its shores and plunder whatever they can find above and below ground. But at night, the Mortharii comes alive. It is rumored that the entire island system is formed by the severed and broken fingers of a colossal God, with the rest of his arms bounded together and body sunk deep beneath the ocean. At night, the souls of the God's worshipers convene on Mortharii to feed on any crew-member crazy enough to remain on the islands. There is a reason why some of the Daessari sailors are brave enough to stay till dark and risk a plunder-raid: at night, the souls usually gather near the spell-stones of power, known to be the crystallized blood of their dead but not forgotten God. An ounce of these crystals, called Mort, can give anyone who drink it an extended life, or perhaps even immortality. The conundrum however is that Mort resembles a dull-looking granite rock at first but turns into a red crystal with bubbling liquid inside when the souls are near it. This means, anyone who wants its effect must consume the liquid in the presence of one of these souls.
So there you have it, a quick summary of the different regions and islands within Mortalissar, her boundaries and some crazy stories from some of the eclectic lands. I will deep-dive into Mortalissar in my subsequent posts, covering areas like language and writings, the great landmarks, the magic systems and religions. Once in awhile, I will zone into a particular region or country, or share a short fiction story relevant to that country or region. I hope this introduction has been fruitful and insightful. See you again soon.
About the World
This section highlights the world of Mortalissar in greater detail, especially her territories, countries, races, magic, calendar and belief systems. Occasionally, I will write short fiction stories relevant to a particular realm to define its unique characteristics set against a larger canvas. Hopefully, over time, the collection gives you, the reader, a greater appreciation of the uniqueness of this world, and her many qualities and flaws.