I am beginning to realise, as I work to document the world of the Known Kingdoms, that the process is less about World building and more about World revealing. While the foundations were being laid – the map of the Known world sketched out, the concept underpinning the various Kingdoms established, and the general nature of their inhabitants identified – the characters and the stories they wanted to tell were quietly growing. The process shifted from simple construction to an inner dialogue between the creator and the created.
We did not invent Asconar, or Nemithia, its capital. We explored them in the company of expert guides. Parasin has lived in the Known Kingdoms for her entire life, and she brought with her a comfortable familiarity that coloured our view and added detail that might otherwise have never occurred to us.
Passing remarks and casual references were glimpses of a rich and detailed world, just waiting to be found. The things that she takes for granted – references to people and places, mentions of events now history, and glimpses of the other races that can be found lurking in her city – generated tantalising pieces waiting to be fitted into the larger jigsaw.
In Oscallon, Patchitt and his fellow students were doing much the same.
Those fragments demanded attention. Needed to be added to the notes of World History. And required careful placing on the map.
What are Stonefolk? Where does Foo’s tribe live? Why was there war between Asconar and Highharren, and what role did the Kahrad and the Hoomin (whose own Kingdoms border both those countries) play in the conflict?
Do treaties between Asconar and Daberon make sense? And how did Alwick’s second marriage benefit his Kingdom? It obviously benefitted him, but this is a World of politics and diplomacy as much as it is one of character and emotion.
Considering that focused on the position and influence that Asconar has among the other Kingdoms – and influenced the map, clarifying borders, adding points of note (and making sure that the rivers ran in all the right directions!)
I’m still trying to figure out exactly how far away from Nemithia the Phair’faneffra hive might be – and what exactly is it that the Phraif trade with their human (and non-human) neighbours.
Fragments from other stories lead to further exploration – and the understanding of things which, in turn, both influences characters and stories in progress, and offers the seeds, and the settings, for further stories about other, equally fascinating characters.
Patchett and his friends, for instance have a little trouble with a Blighted skuzzer – and the questions that encounter generated added, not only details to the Known Kingdom’s bestiary, but a few additional features to the World Map.
What was the Masren Blight? And what impact did its arrival have on the Kingdoms around it? How do they guard their borders, and how do they regard those who enter (or try to leave) that cursed land? Masren occupies a space on the map that lies against the Southern Mountains – and while its borders can be contained and monitored, what about the rivers that flow through it and on – down to the sea?
Understanding about the existence of the Darkwater River emerged from that question – and while it is currently merely a passing mention for those who have already told us some of their story, its existence is an important factor in the shaping of the Kingdoms through which it flows, and the people who come from them.
Penelope Howard March 2022