Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Paradise Spring - Creating a world

My last post talked a little about my latest story, Paradise Spring. Now I will elaborate on the setting. Some of these concepts are referenced directly from the story itself. Others are infered but not clearly stated.

What makes elves and humans in this world different from each other? There are the obvious ones like pointed ears and round ears, eternal elves and mortal humans. So the cliche things. So what else makes them different?

The elves I pictured in this setting were magical in nature, using song to weave their magic in the world. To go with the musical magic, I needed a musical language. I pictured the elves like Melaana speaking and singing in a very melodic nature. I pictured tonal and pitch variations as means of differentiating words, simillar to Chinese. Unlike Chinese, however, I also pictured the elven tongue to speak/sing only in vowels and soft consonants. Any consonant that could not be held out for a whole note or more was not used. Melaana would use consonants like L, M, N, Sh, S, etc. and avoid using T, P, K, etc.

The human language on the other hand I pictured to be more free in the hard consonants and much less melodic as the humans cannot use the song magic of the elves. I imagined the humans having a more germanic style language and hence the frequency of names with hard consonants in them, Torrin, Gretchin, Clara, Yvette, etc.

If Torrin asked Melaana to pronounce the word Montanha (mountain in portuguese), she would probably pronounce it like Monyana. She would say the english word mountain like Utahns by swollowing the T in mountain and say moun'an. Elves would have a very rich accent among the humans and likewise the humans would likely sound flat and off key to the elves.

Cultural differences would also exist. As the elves musical magic is centered around a musical rythm possessed by all living things, the heartsong, they thrive on being surrounded by life. Gardens and even homes are made of living materials. Trees are grown and shaped to make houses and shops. They are not killed or cut. Paths and roads are made of grasses rather than dirt or rock. A stone or cut timber structure to the elves would be considered dead and lifeless, a place only fit for a fort or prison.

The humans on the other hand cannot hear their own heartsongs, let alone anything else's. To them building materials are building materials. Wood is wood, stone is stone, straw is straw. Building materials cannot be shaped by magic but by ax, saw, or chisel. The elves find the idea of living in a lifeless, heartsongless home to be appalling. Humans can comfortably live in anything and often mistake elven distaste for human style dwellings as arrogance or prejudice.

How do immortals keep from overrunning the local environment? Humans live short lives and have many short lived children. The natural world easily accomodates their presence. Elves however live very long and if they bore children at the same rate as humans would quickly overwhelm the local ecology. Nature builds into the elves a variable fertility depending on the amount of death and life around them. If a lot of elves die in a short time (natural disaster, war, disease, etc), the sudden drop in elven heartsongs triggers physical changes which significantly increases fertility among the surviving members of the population. If the presence of many elven heartsongs is felt (ie stable healthy population), then the fertility rate drops significantly and few or no births occure.

That also brings up the perspectives on death. To the humans death is natural and an expected part of the cycle of life. They tend to be more fatalistic than their elven counterparts. The elves , in general, are more risk averse. All death to elves is sudden and violent. They can live forever if nothing ever happens to them but the longer one lives, the longer the dice of chance has to roll some kind of fatal accident or calamity.

Those are just a few of my thoughts surrounding the setting of the Paradise Seasons stories. I have other ideas but they can be saved for another time.


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