When Philosophy was Magic

An elven druid deep in her forest, drawing strength for the trees around her. She is more than a hermit or kook. She knows that life is everywhere and powerful. That it can be used or abused, therefore it is precious. She holds that all life gives and takes, so all things are connected. She prizes life and nature above everything else. She is a naturist.

A shaman hidden within a cave, transforming into hawks, and hares, and bears on a whim. He is more than a monster or madman. He questions what physically makes a man. Whether what we see is a fact or illusion. He holds that our opinions shape what is around us, not the reverse. He prizes uniqueness and identity above all else. He is an individualist.

A council of wizards high in their towers, uttering words of might that make the earth melt. They are more than recluses or babblers. They see the world as understandable. Hidden beyond our senses, but understandable. They hold that you can tell the gods “I’m on to you,’ and make them work for you. They prize knowledge and observation above all else. They are empiricists.

All magi, wherever they are, casting spells however they do. All are more than magicians or tricksters. All know the world to be magical when looked at right. Applied skillfully, the magic becomes reality. All hold that wisdom is the path to this power. All prize truth and understanding above all else. All are philosophers.

AKS Appendix: Solas

Solas is an Agrian who’s past, present, and future are shrouded in mystery. At the very least, in the perspective of the hero, Erland. What Erland absolutely knows about the man is that Solas is the jarl, or leader, of the Agrian town of Elderbear, and that he has one of the strangest verbal tic Erland has ever heard.

By ‘strangest verbal tic,’ I mean that Solas manages to not only make his sentences bounce with meter but actually manages to make his sentences rhyme with the people he’s talking to.

Regardless of speech patterns, all that ultimately matters to Erland is the fact that Solas has ruthlessly blocked Erland’s way home. Solas has orchestrated a search patrol to locate the boy and has branded him a spy to be questioned.

Infla​med and Disgruntled

There are many times when I feel we should just stop trying to make English make sense and just switch back to Latin. Since time immemorable to present, we’ve tried to make words work by saying that they ‘based’ on words from other languages. This generally takes the form of Latin or Greek root words, but we are far from using them consistently.

To back this claim, I provide Exhibit A: Inflammable. When broken down, this word should be simple. It starts off using ‘flame,’ then adds ‘able’ to denote that the substance can be made into flame. Now, ‘in’ is a prefix taken from the Latin that loosely means ‘not,’ so of course, this word should mean ‘can’t be burned.’ Look inflammable up in the dictionary, though, and you’ll find that it means “capable of being set on fire; combustible, flammable.” If you want to be extra sure, look up ‘flammable,’ and the dictionary will say it means “easily set on fire; combustible, inflammable.” Frustrating isn’t it? Two words that by all logic and pixie dust should be opposites are really synonyms.

Still not convinced? Well then, to Exhibit B: Disgruntled. This adjective means “displeased and discontented; sulky; peevish.” So far so good. As some of its synonyms go to show, ‘dis’ is a prefix that, much like ‘in,’ is a negative. Logically speaking then, ‘gruntled’ must mean “pleased and contented; cheerful; patient,” right? Wrong. ‘Gruntled’ is a nonsense word that only contains meaning when shoved behind ‘dis.’ I rest my case.

In conclusion, English is a language that tries to act like another language entirely, fails miserably, then expects everybody to pretend that it makes sense anyway. Switching to Latin, on the other hand, would have many benefits. Including ready access by everyone to classical thinkers, rendering the flammable study of grammar inflammable, and making me very gruntled.

AKS Appendix: Agrians and Shaloor

Agria and Shaloor are the names of the two feuding countries in Across the Kolgan Sea. No one knows the particulars of why the two peoples hate each other since both sides tell a different story. Some Agrians claim that the Shaloor were a malcontented segment of the middle class that they had to exile for numerous crimes, whereas some Shaloor claim they merely escaped from forced thralldom. Either way, the consensus is that they were once the same people that divided over some reason.

But none of that matters anymore, as the two kingdoms have mostly forgotten this ancient war, and have simply made a tradition of opposing the other.

Gourmet Gruel

An oboe blew a slow tune into the background as I waited for my order to arrive. Perhaps it had been thirty minutes since I had placed it, so I was content to sip on my mint lemonade as I waited. Occasionally, I would glance into the stream beside me and watch the carp swim about. I tossed the tip of one of my breadsticks into the stream, and enjoyed watching them leap at the morsel.

The flower vase on my table also served me as a sundial. It cast a shadow about at 7 o’clock, covering up the little butter dish beside it. Thanks to my fidgeting about, my table cloth grew wrinkled, so I tugged on the white sheet to straighten it out. The oboe faded away in sink with the sun. I called a waiter over and told him to pass my five dollar tip to the musician.  He took my money and my emptied soup bowl with a smile and left.

The door to the kitchen swung open, letting a waitress onto the dining room floor and distracting me from the fish.  She made a quick turn and placed a plate in front of me. There was my order, served over a bed of lettuce and with house-made fries beside it. My waitress began to describe the dish. “The bun, Mr. Perkins, is a roll that was made in house, brushed with olive oil and lightly toasted. Inside of it is a sausage made only with the choicest cuts of beef, and fire roasted on each side for an even charring. To top it all off, the chili has been made with an aged cheddar, and seasoned with a unique blend of spices chosen to provide heat and bite to the meal, but not distracting from the distinct profiles of the meat, beans, or cheese.”

I took a deep breath to appreciate the warm, savory aroma that arose from my chili dog, an experience that made me reluctant to eat the meal. Nevertheless, I unwrapped my silverware from their black cloth casing, and carved off a bit with my fork and steak knife.  I took my first bite and studied it a moment in my mouth. The crisp exterior and foamy interior of the bread, the moderate spice and silky smoothness of the chili, all worked perfectly with the meat. After swallowing, I turned to the waitress. “Superb.” I bowed my head, thanking and excusing her in one fluid motion.

She smiled and bowed back, “And for your wine, sir?”

“Oh, yes. Bring me whatever you think would complement this meal best.” As she walked off to the restaurant’s cellar, I pulled out my pen and notepad to jot down a few thoughts on the meal. To Gourmet Magazine: The dish has been very carefully crafted. Quite clearly, the chef contemplated not only each individual ingredient, but the technique and application of all of them. This chili cheese dog is a grand example of the five-star food patrons have come to expect from Le Mal de Ventre.

“Pardon me, Mr. Perkins,” the waitress interrupted me one last time, “but I have your drink.” She commenced pouring it into a shallow glass. I picked it up to get a whiff of the aroma. Tantalizingly sour. Using my fork, I dipped the chili-dog bun a little bit into the white vinegar, letting it soak into the bread.

“Thank you,” I excused her again. This time I slipped her a twenty, which is fittingly 20% of my bill. As she went on to help some other patrons, I added one last comment to my review of Le Mal de Ventre. My only problem is their choice to include filthy street foods in the menu. Foods as lowbrow as lobsters and clams do not belong in such a well-accredited eatery. Regardless, I anticipate dessert as eagerly as I did my main course. Funnel cake seems appetizing, and I’ve heard that the Celtic knot-work they do with it is among the grander arts of this world.

AKS Appendix: Volva

As a world of magic, AKS naturally has magic users. The volvu (singular: volva) are the practitioners of magic among humans. The craft of volvu is limited mostly to peering into the future, though there are other, more subtle, uses of their power. For example, many volvu also know magic chants that make them useful midwives.

Volvu are given a high place of respect in society. Some of the most experienced among their order even often advise kings on the right order of things.

Across the Kolgan Sea Appendix: Erland

With Across the Kolgan Sea (abbr. AKS) coming out in the foreseeable future, I’ve decided to start setting up a little dictionary of persons, places, and things for it.

In this first post of that series, I will introduce the hero of the story, Erland.  Erland hails from the land of Shaloor, which is a cluster of seafaring kingdoms that share a common history of war against the Agrians, the kingdoms on the coasts and mainland. He is second eldest of his family, and has eight sisters (though Erland’s mother is with her ninth child).

Like most Shaloor, Erland despises the Agrians for their constant harassement. However, his father knows much about the ways of the Agrians, which has consequently tempered the boy’s attitude into a much more specific attitude.

Polaia: Deific Cast

The following are blurbs about the big, primary gods for the world of Polaia. As I develop them more, I’ll make more posts describing them individually.

Kaweio: God of metal, commerce, honor, and ambition. He is known to advise Kanuha on several matters of state, and maneuver things so that they work in his favor.

Geila: Goddess of the moon, water, repose, death, and introspection. She was so disgusted and annoyed by all the other gods’ antics that she went up to the sky to become the moon. Iwau is her husband, and together they control when life begins and ends in the world.

Lila: Goddess of agriculture, forests, alcohol, art, and love. She is married to Reho, but only one of her several children was sired by him (if you get my drift).

Reho: God of fire, passion, creation, storms, and industry. He is married to Lila, but is just as disloyal as Lila. Accidentally unleashed Iwau and the Wasp Mother upon the world.

Kanuha: King of the gods and god of earth, completion, satisfaction, and kings. He is responsible for getting the other gods to work together to do great things, such as create humanity. Legends with him often disagree about whether he is a man or a woman. Most scholars conclude he represents the ideal of both.

Iwau, the Wild Dog King: A soul-eating demon, patron of all dogs, and god of hunting, sportsmanship, luck, and chivalry. He is married to Geila, and often serves as a ‘guard dog’ for her realm.

The Wasp Mother: A demon, matron of stinging insects, and goddess of horticulture, farmers, communities, and nature. When she entered the world long ago, she stole the lantern of the sun from Reho. The other gods fought hard to return the sun to Reho, but quickly returned it to the Wasp Mother when they realized that she actually wielded it better.

Imowa: God of evil spirits, disease, calamities, and strife. A demon much like the Wasp Mother and Iwau, but thoroughly irredeemable. The only society that worships him is hidden deep within the forbidden mountain, where they have been convinced his darkness is truly light.