Greetings, Citizens of the Goldenwealth!
This section of the Journal of Ord is devoted to a more in-depth look at Ord, the world depicted in the Traveler of Ord novel series. Here, you will find character biographies, world-building data, and explanations of Ord's flora, fauna, concepts, religion, and so forth. This data will of course be updated as the series progresses. Relevant sections have been organized below.
SPOILER ALERT! - This page assumes that viewers have read all of the currently released books in the Traveler of Ord saga. As a result, the data presented here DOES contain spoilers, up to and including information in the most recently published book. If you're not current with the series and do not want your enjoyment of the story to be spoiled, I highly suggest NOT reading any further!
The information on this page is current as of Book I: The Goldenwealth Light. (TGL). Some sections of this page are still under construction.
The Goldenwealth Light, the first book in the Traveler of Ord series, is more about establishing the current story of Theo and Marie as they become accustomed to the world of Ord than it is about going into detail about Ord's history. In an effort to keep the story of the first book flowing along, TGL contains limited historical information apart from what is necessary to suggest that Ord has a long and well-documented history, which is largely the responsibility of the lorewardens to maintain. Nevertheless, the history of Ord is significant and will play a role in the overall saga. More information in this section will be added as facts are uncovered in future books.
Much of the historical background provided on the world of Ord and The Traveler in TGL can be found in chapters seven, eleven, and twenty-three.
At this point in time, there is no "official" map of Ord. Why? To be honest, drawing geographically accurate maps is not my forte, and I have yet to scout out any talent for it. I insist upon only the best for my readers, so any map that has a chance of being published here or in a Traveler of Ord novel simply must not beg the question -- "Wait, this map doesn't match what so-and-so said in chapter X!"
Long distances in The Traveler of Ord saga are measured roughly by how many days it would take for a person to travel on escarotback to get where they want to go. This assumes several factors not dissimilar to 19th century Earth and prior, such as pace, weather conditions, terrain, number of reasonable hours in a day to travel, and various stops. On average, it is assumed that a single rider traveling on an escarot at a moderate pace over mild terrain, who stops for meals, to rest the escarot, and to sleep at night, probably can make around 17 miles in a day, assuming they are dedicated to the task and not spending time smelling the roses. An important messenger who is pushing the animal and themselves might be able to make as much as 30 miles in a day, though both escarot and rider would be exhausted and famished to the point of collapse by the end of the day. A yurt moving at a run could cover a lot more ground, but bear in mind that yurt are significantly larger and have a far greater stride than most beings in Ord.
For example: In TGL, it is suggested that it takes slightly less than a week to travel from The Gossamer City to the city of Kell. Taking into account the first example above, it's likely that Kell is a little over a hundred miles away from The Gossamer City. Later in the book, Tessa comments that it would take three days to travel around the Reflectia Woods (on foot presumably, as the party only had a single escarot at the time for five people), and another three days to make it to Kell. Despite this, Theo and company are able to travel straight through the woods on foot, in horrible conditions, in approximately a day and a half.
This suggests three things --
- The Reflectia Woods are very wide, possibly at a circumference of 60 miles or more.
- The Reflectia Woods are very shallow (at least at the point where Theo and co. entered them), possibly as shallow as seven miles or less.
- The Reflectia Woods are located a little more than halfway from The Gossamer City to Kell, off the beaten path.
The overall shape of the woods might look something like an hourglass, as a result.
If you feel that you are up to the task of providing cartography for Ord, please get in touch with me by leaving a comment at the bottom of this page.
Diligent readers may have noticed that at no point in TGL does anybody refer to the world itself as "Ord". Individual nations are referred to by their names, and the characters do have a concept of what a "world" is, but the largest catch-all term used to refer to the land is merely "The Goldenwealth" (even though not every square inch of territory belongs to The Goldenwealth itself). The reason for this is that the people of Ord don't have a general concept of the idea of other worlds existing in other places. You may have noticed that some people (Olby, for example) have a hard time believing that Theo could possibly be from another world entirely. So, for the sake of ease of reference between you, me, and other people looking upon Traveler of Ord from the outside, simply refering to the world as "Ord" is the easiest thing. Will the concept of alternate worlds change for the people of The Goldenwealth Light of Quaylund as the story progresses? You'll have to wait and see!
As of Book I, there are four individual nations that make up the primary membership of The Goldenwealth. These nations are the most powerful members, boasting the most land, the greatest number of resources, and representative seats at the lowest level of the Gossamer Court. One nation, Guntervalt, is a former primary member that has since gone independent. There are a myriad of other minor nations with representatives at higher levels (such as the as-yet unnamed home of the Felkin). In some cases, these nations have their own lands. In other cases, portions of their lands may exist within the borders of one of the primary nations, as a sort of "protectorate". The lands of the Ripplewaifs are a unique circumstance (see the "Races" section for more information). As of Book I none of the minor nations have been dealt with in-depth, so this section will focus entirely on the major players, for now.
The Gossamer City
The Gossamer City is not a nation in and of itself. Nestled purposefully at the relative center of its primary membership, he Gossamer City could be considered akin to Washington D.C. versus other states. Washington D.C. has an individual identity, but it is not a state -- it is a seat of government that holds influence over the rest of the union. The Gossamer City operates in a similar fashion. While the fertile farmlands surrounding the Gossamer City supply it with food and support, no one race can claim ownership to the land or resources of Porchus Vale.
The Gossamer City operates at all due to the believe in a united front by the major nations of Ord, but this is not to say that it doesn't have its own identity. The Gossamer City is the seat of the Knights Foamcrest and the Lorewardens -- while members of both of these institutions can be found in other most other lands, they are based only in The Gossamer City, where they are at their highest concentration. The Gossamer City is also the home of the ruling house of The Goldenwealth, currently headed by Princess Fatima. Though human, Princess Fatima was not born in Calharik and steps have been taken during her development to ensure she shows no favoritism to human lands simply because she is one. In effect, Princess Fatima is somewhat analogus to the Queen of England, in that she is a powerful figurehead, but still has a parliament (the Gossamer Court) to mind. Though all of the nations of The Goldenwealth have their own traditions, the idea of a single, united land has taken root. This is evidenced by the fact that the various rulers of the participant nations refer to themselves with titles such as "countess", "baron", and so forth (titles clearly in deference to "princess"), as opposed to "king" or "queen".
With the outer portions of the city walls and the castle constructed of prismastone mined in Kreegermoor, the city's name derives from its fantastical appearance -- it glows in a kaleidoscopic array of beautiful colors such that "(they) shimmered from blue, to indigo, to violet, to white, and back again. It was as if they weren’t even real, just a holographic image from a trading card." (TGL - Chapter 6)
Due to the need for an appropriate site, The Gossamer City is not perfectly set in the middle of all of its participating nations. Porchus Vale is arranged with Kell to the east, Clapsaddle to the west, Calharik to the south, Kreegermoor to the north, and Guntervalt to the northeast. It is hinted in TGL that it takes the better part of a day to travel from the edge of Porchus Vale to The Gossamer City, suggesting the whole of the valley to be around 30 miles in diameter. The land surrounding Porchus Vale sweeps upwards drastically into foothills and forests, such that the glow of the city can be seen from the edges of the vale on a clear day.
True to traversimorph naming traditions, the simple name of "Kell" applies to both their lands, and their capital city. Kell is located approximately 102 miles east (slightly southeast) of The Gossamer City. The city itself is not described in TGL because Theo and Marie have yet to visit it, but lands surrounding Kell are described as "seemed to be alive with magic power. It showed itself in the form of a subtly everpresent, sparkling clear liquid that refracted light and spread it in a soft spectrum the way prismastone glowed. It played about the surface of leaves and grass like morning dew, danced throughout patches of wildflowers like swarms of fireflies, and rested in small pools here and there like puddles after a storm. At dusk and dawn, it hung heavily in the air like mist – when Marie walked through it, she felt a playful tickling sensation not unlike the pixies she encountered at the Gossamer City." (TGL, Chapter 22)
The lands of Kell are so heavily infused with magical energy that characters unfamiliar with traveling there feel a certain unexpected surge of vitality, something like ingesting an energy drink without any of the negative effects. At the end of TGL, Marie and the remainder of Theo's traveling companions are poised to enter the city of Kell. Detailed information will be revealed in Book II, along with several new characters. Countess Vaniril is the current ruler of Kell (mentioned briefly in TGL, chapter 20).
Calharik is the primary nation of the humans of Ord, though humans can be found in many other nations as well. Very little information is given on Calharik in TGL because Theo and Marie have yet to visit it. In TGL, Calharik is described as the most powerful individual participant in The Goldenwealth following the departure of Guntervalt. Calharik is also the only nation directly suggested to have access to water and the conventions of sailing, though TGL does not make it clear if other nations have this access as well.
Calharik is unique among The Goldenwealth's participants in that it boasts a significant level of industrialization. Princess Fatima comments "(Calharik) boasts industrialization the likes of which no other land can match. They provide us with marvels of technology, right down to the amazing ‘plumbing’ as they call it, in the castle lavatories." (TGL, Chapter 23). In the same chapter, Princess Fatima and Olby Noggin are heard to discuss the concept of a camera, which they regard in such a way to suggest that the device is a rarely encountered technological marvel. While much of The Goldenwealth's technological development is akin to Tolkien-esque high fantasy, it can be inferred that Calharik at least has a few telltale hallmarks of 19th century Earth. Despite this, it can also be inferred that such technology hasn't become mainstream. Theo and Marie observe very few significant technological advances in The Gossamer City that could have been provided by Calharik, and it is clear that humans from Calharik still serve in the roles of knights and peddlars (Lord Calvert, for example).
Calharik's capital city is located to the south of Porchus Vale, on the shorelines of an ocean. Baron Enic Calvert is its current ruler, despite the fact that he is actually Lord Orin Calvert's younger brother. At the time of TGL, it is unclear if Calharik is also the name of the land's capital city. There are currently plans to feature Calharik in much greater detail, in an upcoming volume.
Kreegermoor is home to the balthans -- the largest, most physically imposing and adept among the primary participants in The Goldenwealth. Among the primary nations, Kreegermoor and Clapsaddle get the least attention in TGL, so not much is known yet about these nations. Suffice to say that will certainly change as the series progresses.
What is known about Kreegermoor is that it is due north of The Gossamer City, situated on mountainous terrain. Princess Fatima describes the Balthan contribution to The Goldenwealth as "From Kreegermoor, we receive stout warriors, prismastone, and fantastic architecture." (TGL, Chapter 23). It can be assumed from this statement what Kreegermoor is most well known for, and it is suggested in TGL that the Balthans are primarily responsible not only for providing the raw materials to build much of The Gossamer City, but for spearheading its construction. The only named balthans to appear in TGL are Lord Tolyn Brachhus and Zaradi Brachhus -- the ruler of Kreegermoor has yet to be named in the story.
Like Kreegermoor, Clapsaddle is touched upon only briefly, to be described in greater detail in a later volume. Clapsaddle is the land of the humming-gnomes, situated to the west of Porchus Vale. Though it is not mentioned in TGL, Clapsaddle's capital city is the closest in distance to The Gossamer City of any of the major nations.
Princess Fatima describes the humming-gnome contribution to The Goldenwealth as "Clapsaddle contributes art, song, fine cuisine, and able purveyors of information." (TGL, Chapter 23). While most of The Goldenwealth's participants focus upon utilitarian contributions such as functional magic, raw materials, technology, or physical might, Clapsaddle is best known for finished products of entertainment and hospitality. The only named humming-gnome to appear in TGL is Obly Noggin, but suffice to say there will be more.
Though never having formally left, Guntervalt is the only known nation as of TGL to have once been a participant in The Goldenwealth, that is no longer a part of it. There are details concerning Guntervalt in TGL, but these cannot be elaborated on much at this point without giving away key plot points.
Guntervalt is a fallen empire with an interesting history, but Theo isn't clued in about it until much later in TGL due to the fact that its history is old news to the people of The Goldenwealth, and they prefer not to talk about it. Think of it as a nation who lost a great war subsequently not wanting to refer to that war much decades after it happened. The first detailed mention of Guntervalt occurs in TGL chapter 18, but only after Theo insists that Tessa tell him what she knows. In that conversation, Tessa describes the historical Guntervalt as "Most of the nations of the Goldenwealth have one dominant race in their population. Guntervalt was the exception. Pretty much every race had equal sway there and equal representation in the local government. In a lot of ways, it was the ideal that even the Gossamer City had to strive towards." (TGL, Chapter 18).
According to TGL, the strange circumstances leading to the fall of Guntervalt began during the childhood of Princess Fatima -- fairly recently in years, but long enough ago that characters like Tessa, who weren't born yet, think little of it. More details on this point are elaborated upon in TGL chapter 23, but suffice to say, Guntervalt is no longer a land frequented by The Goldenwealth's citizens. Tessa elaborates in her explanation to Theo, "Today, nobody goes there. It’s a swampland with all kinds of crazy rumors popping up here and there. You know, ridiculous tall tale junk. Things like dead bodies wandering around or screams that’ll drive you insane in a second." (TGL, Chapter 18).
Guntervalt is located northeast of The Gossamer City. Its last known ruler was Lady Corvera, but as of TGL, nobody knows who (or what) is in control there.
The main governmental body of The Goldenwealth is The Gossamer Court, named for its seat of power at the Gossamer City. The Gossamer Court assembles on the first level of the royal family's castle, which is a massive, stadium-sized dome area several open floors in height. Upon Theo and Marie's first visit to the castle, it is mentioned that it takes their group approximately five minutes just to walk from one end of the room to the other. Later depictions in TGL suggest that the room is large enough and the gates sufficient to accomodate adult yurt.
The Gossamer Court is arranged as a set of alcoves in one wall in four rows of five, one atop the other, each large enough to support two or three people. The only alcoves that are obviously accessible are those on the lowest level, suggesting that the others have some manner of access from the opposite side of the wall, out of sight. There is a raised platform separating the lowest alcoves from the room, while two sets of bleacher-like seating to either side frame a square-shaped section where defendants, witnesses, and other persons addressing the court stand. The lowest levels of the court are considered higher positions of authority than the upper levels. Princess Fatima occupies the middle alcove on the first level while court is in session, flanked by the representatives of Kell, Calharik, Kreegermoor, and Guntervalt. The representative of Clapsaddle occupies a perch positioned slightly above the lowest level. There are nineteen total members of the Gossamer Court, each representing a participating nation (as of TGL, Guntervalt's alcove stands empty). The forum is open to observation by the people, who may view the proceedings openly. Court is often held amidst typical everyday activities occuring in other parts of the room, much like a modern circuit court might try cases while other activities are progressing nearby.
While it is likely that The Goldenwealth has ample volumes of law, only a few of these are mentioned in TGL. Theo's percieved crime, that of faking the status of a Traveler of Ord, is among the more serious offenses, carrying a penalty of execution. Other laws are mentioned in TGL as well:
- The right to innocence until proven guilty is suggested by the directive that the defendant's testimony is accepted as truth unless it can be proved otherwise. (Theo was treated to this clause during the days of his trial.)
- Double Jeopardy appears to be a tenant of Goldenwealth law, as evidenced by the announcement that the matter of Theo's guilt or innocence could not be brought before the court again, once he had been acquitted.
- Both defense and prosecution are afforded the right to speak on their own behalf.
The Gossamer Court operates similar to a modern supreme court, with a group of judges (the representatives) debating and then voting on an issue rather than a jury of one's peers. Rules of law and other matters not related to trying crimes are handled in the same manner. Under this line of reasoning it can be assumed that there are other judicial levels for smaller cases in The Gossamer City, as well as local law for its various nations. These have not been elaborated upon in TGL, however.
This section deals with the various groups presented in The Traveler of Ord saga.
The Knights Foamcrest
The Knights Foamcrest are the primary military body of The Goldenwealth. Headquartered in the Gossamer City, they are more of a national law enforcement body than a local one -- think of the army as opposed to the police. As of TGL, not much is known about the organization of the knights save for the presence of an overall Grandmaster. In Chapter 11 of TGL, it is shown that the organization employs mages as well as warriors.
Knights of the order are equipped in a similar manner to a typical european knights of the Middle Ages, with chain armor adorned in key places by plates, helmets, swords, and lances. Knights typically have an escarot they are responsible for mantaining, as well. Shields are not mentioned as a part of a knight's equipment in TGL, and though the first book does not speak of it, there are reasons why (this is one of those moments where I am inclined to offer some free information). See the commerce section for more details, but suffice to say that outfitting a knight is an enormously expensive ordeal due to the value The Goldenwealth places upon useful metals. Shields are made use of in times of war only, to cut down on any wear and tear such valuable items might incur over time.
The livery of the Knights Foamcrest is green, emblazoned with the device of the Goddess Atlaria from whence they derive their name. The current grandmaster, Lord Orin Calvert, wears red livery to set himself apart from the rest of his men. The Knights Foamcrest operate under the laws of The Goldenwealth, but their lore suggests they consider the Goddess Atlaria herself to be their highest authority.
The Lorewardens are an enigmatic institution of stoic, monk-like individuals from all the races of Ord, charged with the task of maintaining The Goldenwealth's written history. At least one lorewarden is certain to be encountered wherever a library can be found, or wherever the services of a scribe, recordkeeper, or researcher is required. They are housed primarily in The Gossamer City, at the National Library of Quaylund.
As their name suggests, lorewardens are bevys of knowledge that can be called upon in times of need. Chapter 11 of TGL supports the most significant scene involving lorewardens and how they operate, when Theo visits the national library in hopes of obtaining more information about his situation. Full-fledged lorewardens behave much like monks from restrained religious orders -- they rarely (if ever) speak, hide most of their bodies behind drab robes, make few unnecessary movements, and always exude an air of calmness. The order of lorewardens cannot be joined -- one can only be born into the group by being abandoned as an infant before a library or lorewarden dwelling. This act is taken as a sign by the lorewardens that the person leaving the child either cannot (or will not) care for the child, but does not simply want to leave the baby to its own devices.
Though it has not been specified in TGL what exactly is required to become a full lorewarden, it is clear that younger members of the order (called "apprentices") are afforded more personal freedoms in their mannerisms and speech. Lorewardens have been shown to posess a few supernatural powers to aid them in their work. Even apprentice lorewardens have the ability to read the thoughts of others, so long as they are willing. Full members often use this power to "speak" through apprentices during a conversation. Lorewarden eyes are also said to function incredibly well in low light, to allow them to read ancient texts without exposing them to potentially harmful light sources.
It is considered rude to directly address an apprentice lorewarden who is speaking for a full member. In TGL chapter 11, Tessa scolds Theo for even acknowledging Maxwell's presence during such a conversation.
This section deals with the various sentient, intelligent races currently known to be found in Ord. For animals such as yurt and escarots, see the "creatures" section.
Humans in Ord are physically and mentally no different from humans of Earth. Their greatest strength is their adaptability -- they can be found in all nations, thriving in all manner of climates save those that are openly deadly to them. Humans are also the most numerous intelligent race of Ord, most of whom are organized under the powerful banner of the nation of Calharik. Humans cannot be classified as having specific personality traits that are "common" to the species, since their tendencies and behavior differs so widely.
Traversimorphs are very similar looking to humans, save for a few key features. Most traversimorphs sport more graceful features and lighter builds than humans, suggesting a race more suited to mental disciplines than physical ones. They have vibrant hair in all manner of colors from human hues to pinks, blues, greens, and purples. Even the colors that are closer to human tones are still far brighter -- a red-headed traversimorph, for example, would have fire-engine red hair, while a blonde might have a tone similar to a ripe banana peel. Traversimorphs are very pale, to the point that their flesh has a slight bluish tone to it. This same tendency in their blood suggests that they may either have a higher concentration of copper-based pigmentation throughout their bodies, or their skin refracts light differently than human flesh. Whatever the reason, this blue pigmentation is slight, but still present enough to be noticed. Where human skin might turn red from blushing or tenderness, traversimorph skin turns blue. (This phenomenon is referred to colloquially as "blueblush".)
Traversimorph names are usually very simple -- while important persons might make use of a title to distinguish them, one can expect a traversimorph to have a given name consisting of three syllables or less, without a family name or any other distinction. Traversimorphs are sometimes referred to by other races as "traversies", as it seems the longest name they make use of is the one they use for their entire race.
Traversimorphs all begin life as females. During puberty, the traversimorph obtains the ability to spontaneously switch genders, like a shapeshifter. This ability eventually falls under the control of the traversimorph to use when they please, but during adolesence while the power is developing, they have no control over when it happens. As a result, the young are sometimes ridiculed for their inability to "keep their forms straight". Most traversimorphs regard gender as a state of mind rather than a physical manifestation. When they are old enough to control their forms, a certain amount of soul-searching usually leads them to the realization of what gender they "feel" they are. From that point, the typical traversimorph usually remains in the physical form they are most comfortable with most of their lives, switching only when they feel they must. Traversimorph children are conceived and born in the same manner as human children -- as of TGL, there is no information suggesting how traversimorphs handle gender shifting during pregnancy (if it is even possible). It is not yet known if the process of gender-shifting is difficult for adults, but TGL suggests that it is slightly painful for children, coupled with feelings of mild abdominal pain or nausea. A traversimorph's female aspect is more adept at manipulating magical power, while their male aspect is significantly stronger -- in TGL chapter 14, Tessa in her male aspect is able to wield an entire small tree in battle. Traversimorphs prefer specially designed clothing that can be easily drawn in or let out, to match with changes in height and build brought on by a transformation.
Traversimorphs are accepted by the other races of The Goldenwealth as the most authoritative source of magic throughout Ord. In more cosmopolitan areas they are received well enough, but it is not uncommon for them to be viewed with distrust by those who are uncomfortable with their ability to become either gender at any given time. This makes social interaction all the harder for young traversimorphs, who are known not to be able to keep this ability under control. In TGL chapter 18, Tessa goes into more detail regarding this stigma.
Like traversimorphs, balthans have the same general shape and features as a human. They are on average taller, broader, and more muscular than humans are, with darker skin and more robost features overall. Their skin tends to be pale, in stark contrast to the rest of their bodies. Their most notable physical feature are the deerlike antlers sprouting from their heads, under the hairline. These begin to manifest when the balthan is a toddler, and can grow as considerably large as a full trophy buck rack on an adult male. Females have antlers too, but these are usually smaller and less prominent.
Balthans are known for their gregarious nature and sense of honor. They laugh deeply, eat heartily, and are often quick with an amusing quip. On the other hand, a morose balthan has a tendency to spout any number of unpleasantries that might get them into trouble later. Balthans are proud warrior types -- they excel at physical disciplines and are typically the last to admit to an injury or shortcoming. The phrase "its better to have the balthan at your back" is sometimes heard when comparing being on their side, as opposed to against them.
Balthans prefer cold environments, and have a better time handling low temperatures due to thicker and more numerous layers of skin. They are not merely bulk for an army, as they are equally proficient at making goods with their hands as they are at making war. Balthan jewelry is considered to be of the highest quality throughout The Goldenwealth, and anybody who wants to create a truly impressive dwelling would do well put a balthan architect to the task.
When Theo first encounters a humming-gnome in TGL chapter 5, he thinks of it as a "santa claus elf with wings". This is perhaps not an entirely inaccurate comparison. Adult humming-gnomes are perhaps two feet or so in height, with pronounced and sometimes exaggerated features. Their hair and skin colors are similar to that of humans. They are often plump in build, but it is not uncommon to see a skinny one fluttering around.
A humming-gnome's feet are almost never seen to touch the ground, and walking is all but unheard of. This is because they all have pairs of wings on their backs that resemble the wings of hummingbirds. These wings are always in constant motion, allowing the humming-gnome to float about as unceasingly as a human would walk about a room. Though the wings do pause whenever the humming-gnome takes up a perch somewhere, they seem able to keep beating them at a furious pace for long periods of time without rest, and at as much of an afterthought as breathing. A humming-gnome who is serious about getting somewhere is easily the fastest intelligent race in The Goldenwealth, with an ability to zoom by that far outdistances even the mightiest stride of a fit human or balthan.
Humming-gnomes have a gregarious streak that allows them to get along well with balthans. They also have a tendency to be excitable, though when put to the test, they can be as devoted to a given task as any human. Of all The Goldenwealth's intelligent races, humming-gnomes are best known for their art, cuisine, and song, such that Clapsaddle is a favored destination for travelers looking for the finest in entertainment. Due to their natural speed and agility, humming-gnomes act as couriers between the various nations of The Goldenwealth, ferrying messages and light goods that are too complex or unwieldy for magic to handle.
In a world full of fantastic creatures the likes of which Theo has never encountered before, ripplewaifs are among the most outlandish to be found in TGL. Not humanoid in any sense of the word, ripplewaifs have no obvious head or limbs. They are simply sentient columns of water, held together by an independent will. They move about through constant shifting and warping of their bodies like an amoeba, extending appendages or mimicing basic features of other races when it suits them. Light refracts straight through them like it would through any body of water, making their appearance that much more fascinating when encountered amidst the prismastone walls of The Gossamer City.
Ripplewaifs posess a host of abilities, not all of which have been explored in TGL. For one, they can increase or decrease their size, as evidenced by the actions of Lord Uchurus in TGL, chapter 8. Also alluded to in chapter 8 is the fact that their bodies conduct electricity in the same way as actual water, without causing any apparent harm to them. In TGL chapter 6, Theo believes he is witnessing a ripplewaif holding a conversation with a normal person, but he has yet to confirm how exactly they communicate, with no obvious mouths nor vocal cords.
Ripplewaifs are unique throughout The Goldenwealth in the sense that though they have a representative to the Gossamer Court, they do not have their own lands. They are considered a "nation" simply because of how expansive their numbers are, and the fact that they seem to be present in any decent-sized body of water, anywhere in Ord. Whether or not they have some sort of community under the ocean is in question, though ripplewaifs do not "exist" in water the same way as a fish or crustacean. Since they already are water, they simply "become" whatever body of water they enter, and are nearly indistinguishable from it until they leave (like pouring a pitcher of water into a swimming pool). Due to this, it is any wonder how ripplewaifs interact with each other when two or more of them occupy the same body of water.
Felkin are a race whose existence is only touched upon in TGL. Despite this, they will eventually be elaborated upon more. The only named Felkin in TGL is Glora, the proprietor of the Barley Tavern in The Gossamer City. Theo describes her as "like a human-sized calico cat walking on two legs." (TGL, Chapter 7). Glora has no lines in TGL, but from what Theo says of her, she has a habit for ensuring the Ellsworth children are well-fed and cared for that suggests a motherly personality.
The details of Felkin have yet to be discussed in depth, but suffice to say that being extremely cat-like, they are liable to have personalities and features to suit.
While only depicted from the standpoint of foreshadowing in TGL, trogloyaks are at least described in the Traveler of Ord's first book. Tessa says of them, "Nasty monsters. Almost as smart as a person, but bigger, stinkier, dirtier, and scary looking. Furry with big tusks and stuff." (TGL, Chapter 18). Theo's mental picture is something akin to an orc, or perhaps a hobgoblin. All that is known of their organization in TGL is a rumor that they are concentrated in the nation of Guntervalt.
The personality and mannerisms of trogloyaks are still a subject of conjecture, but the way Zaradi reacts when she hallucinates about being surrounded by them suggests they are dangerous and powerful adversaries, unlikely to respond well to reason.
Stottlefairies are wingless little creatures with attitudes that far belie their size. Standing only a few inches tall, Theo describes them as "a lot like little fairies, but with poofy orange hair all over their heads and faces...(that) made them look like marigold flowers." (TGL, Chapter 16). They are otherwise humanoid looking, with fleshtones typically tan in color from exposure to the outdoors, where they spend a lot of their time.
Stottlefairies are obsessed with two things -- height, and posessions. While not entirely devoted to thievery due to the difficulty they have hauling away valuable objects, most Stottlefairies get what they want merely by claiming it, or manipulating others into claiming it for them. When first encountered in TGL chapter 16, stottlefairies Rik and Rak have laid claim to (of all things) an adult yurt, and are shouting commands into its ear, trying to get it to do what they want. They then proceed to lay claim to Theo, Marie, and the escarot Cassandra, even going so far as to threaten Theo in attempt to obtain the animal. Though it may seem backwards, stottlefairies tend to look down upon other races, reducing them to their most stereotypical traits (such as finding little use for balthans other than brute strength). They judge their own personal worth based upon how tall they are compared to their fellows, but often this has less to do with fact than it does with perception. Rik and Rak, for example, are constantly declaring that one of them is taller than the other, regardless of their actual size.
Stottlefairies are friendly and extremely knowledgable regarding nature, but they are also highly argumentative (mostly with each other) -- a personal quality that has not endeared them to most larger folk. In public places, stottlefairies are regarded as a quaint amusement at best, and an infestation to be exterminated at worst. Tessa referrs to tottlefairies using the moniker "shotglass fairies", which is a term that was apparently coined from the idea that the only way to get them to shut up in a public establishment is to trap them under a shotglass. Theo originally describes them as close in height to a Barbie doll, but naturally they must be shorter than that due to the idea of trapping them in such a way.
The first creature Theo and Marie encounter when transported to Ord is an escarot. They are also perhaps the most frequently encountered creature native to Ord that is mentioned in TGL, due to their usefulness to The Goldenwealth. Escarots are essentially horses with six legs, and two unicorn-like horns jutting out from their foreheads. They are considerably faster than a horse due to the extra set of legs, and though they are animals, it is suggested that they possess a keen intelligence. Theo and Marie's escarot, Cassandra, is able to follow their trail after an entire day and catch up with them, despite having only known them for a short time and the fact that they are traveling off of paths she is likely to be familiar with. Likewise, she circumvents the Reflectia Woods and returns to the party of her own accord in chapter 22. Escarots are loyal and sensible, the latter almost to a fault -- in chapter 26, Cassandra refuses to continue until she has taken the time to graze, despite Theo's insistence to the contrary.
Yurt are towering humanoids with hulking forms that make them look like something between a giant and an ogre, with a few features not entirely unlike a gorilla. They have large ears, bulbous noses, and a very heavy brow ridge. Some can stand as many as four stories tall, with males a bit taller than females. In TGL chapter 16, it is suggested that there are no obvious physical distinctions between males and females other than the presence of extra hair on the former.
Yurt are herbivores and posess animal level intelligence, acting mostly upon instinct. They can be trained however, to act as beasts of burden or even mounts, and seem to have an affinity for music and kind words. Being among the largest of creatures in Ord, packs of wild yurt have the ability to cover enormous distances when walking or running.
Yurt are for the most part non-violent creatures, but they can be provoked. When one considers the possibility of a wild animal larger than a clocktower, being cognizant of the potentially destructive power of a yurt is indeed important. When questioned, Tessa is heard to remark, "Driving and caring for yurt is all about respect. Would you want to make one of them angry?" (TGL, Chapter 11)
Theo put it best, "Wraiths are malevolent spirits that suck out the life force of their victims." (TGL, Chapter 19). In Ord, wraith-spirits inhabit various types of animate or inanimate objects, luring their prey to said object to feed. Wraiths are capable of attacking their prey directly, but prefer to incapacitate victims rather than kill them. A small number of wraiths (perhaps only one) will render a target immobile, while the rest of the community draws the target's lifeforce out, discarding or killing it only when it is completely drained of any essence they can absorb. A popular wraith tactic is to demoralize a victim by manifesting as a copy of the person featuring all of that person's worst personality traits amplified. If the victim is capable of speech, it will communicate with them, destorying their self-esteem to the point that their ability to resist is weakened. A wraith who "copies" another being can sometimes obtain special abilities the target possesses, and often has access to any of the equipment the target may be carrying at the time.
A wraith in contact with its prey is physically vulnerable to outside attack. To compensate for this, a feeding wraith has the ability to render itself incorporial to physical touch. It can still touch its intended target, but any attempt to attack it by the target or an outside influence will pass right through the wraith's body harmlessly. Wraiths typically hold their prey in place through embracing or a similar attack, allowing for themselves and their bretheren to extract the lifeforce of the target through means akin to osmosis. Defeating a wraith typically involves destorying the object the wraith has bonded with, though even the objects can sometimes take on unexpected powers when the wraith inhabiting them has copied the features of another being (such as the ineffectiveness of Tessa's fire spell in TGL chapter 20).
Wraiths are particularly fond of inhabiting reflectia trees, and do so often enough that there are many rumors going around The Goldenwealth about avoiding such trees.
A grabina tree is a common, fruit-bearing tree that can be found in forests and orchards alike. It produces the aptly-named grabinafruit, and its low-viscosity sap is particularly useful in the disinfection, cleaning, and healing of wounds. As of TGL Theo and Marie have yet to describe an actual grabina tree, but it is likely the trees either aren't particularly tall, or have low-hanging branches, as evidenced by the fact that Rik and Rak were able to obtain a quantity of grabina sap on their own (and appear to be familar with the taste of the fruit) without help from another creature.
Where grabina trees are an inviting source of nourishment and medical care, reflectia trees are exactly the opposite. Reflectia trees are tall, dark, and forboding, growing in dense groves with tangled networks of gnarled roots that make passing between them challenging indeed. They bear broad leaves that effectively blot out all but the slightest rays of the sun, and are typically barren near their bottoms simply because so little light can reach that far into their groves. Reflectia trees produce their own heat, and as a result their groves tend to be dank and humid, with stagnant thick air throughout.
Reflectia trees are so named for patches of their bark that is so smooth, one can literally see their own reflection in them, like a mirror. Though it is only a rumor throughout The Goldenwealth, it is said to be very dangerous to stare into the bark of a reflectia tree for too long (wraiths have something to do with this, see the "creatures" section above for more info). The ominous status of reflectia trees remain in question because few people ever see a need to travel among them -- their wood is damp and of little use for fires or construction, and the groves are simply too difficult to travel through when one could simply go around them.
A braycorn is a tree nut that can be found scattered around forest brush in a manner similar to pinecones and the like. They are hollow inside and considered excellent natural containers for liquids and other small items. Marie describes braycorns as "she found the tops of the large acorns twisted off with a popping noise and a release of air that reminded her of opening a jar of strawberry preserves." (TGL, Chapter 21)
Braycorns can be found for sale in various settlements around The Goldenwealth, and are often purchased by those who either haven't the time or the ability to go foraging for them on their own.
Ordic everystew is a very popular dish all over The Goldenwealth. It is so popular in fact, that it is almost universally known amongst the intelligent races and versions of it can be encountered readily in nearly any settled area. The reason for everystew's extreme popularity is that there is no single recipe to create it. As a result, literally thousands of different versions of the dish exist, all of which have the name "ordic everystew" attributed to them.
When Theo questions Tessa as to what exactly everystew is and how it's made, she has this to say:
"I dunno,” Tessa grinned. She poked at hers for a moment with the spoon, “looks like...potatoes...carrots...some pink stuff...it doesn’t matter. It's ordic everystew. There’s no recipe for it. Just like the roads of Tarad Ord that go off forever randomly, everystew is...well, anything and everything. Anywhere you go, it'll be different. It's always good, though." (TGL, Chapter 11)
Ordic everystew is named for Tarad Ord, for reasons elaborated upon in the above quote. It most often takes the form of a hearty stew, but may possibly appear in variations so wild that one might find them indistinguishable from one city to the next. The only rule that is attributed to everstew is that it "must be great". Tessa goes on in her chapter 11 explanation to suggest that it would be culinary suicide to tack the name "ordic everystew" onto a dish that is not very popular among the locals in a given area. Glora creates special traveling versions of everystew for Theo and Marie that are meant to be eaten without having to heat them up.
Aptly named fruit from the grabina tree, grabinafruit is described as the general shape and size of a pear, with a lustrous, rainbow hue to its skin. Grabinafruit is very sweet and delicious, at least according to Marie, Rik, and Rak.
Brandlebread is a food mentioned briefly in TGL chapter 11. Nothing is revealed of it except that it is apparently eaten in the morning, and tastes good with jam. Judging from the name, it is most likely prepared in loaf form, as most other breads.
The Goldenwealth operates off of a general, feudal mercantile system consisting of both bartering for goods and the exchange of money. The Goldenwealth's common currency is called ironpence, and it is an important hint at how The Goldenwealth's citizens regard precious metals.
In Ord, value is placed upon a substance in accordince with its usefulness versus its rarity. While gold does exist in Ord and has some value to it insofar as creating trinkets is concerned, metals like iron and steel are considered more precious because they have a variety of practical applications (gold is simply too soft to be used in the construction of tools, for example). Materials such as paper are useful, but in this case not particularly valuable because they are very easy to come by (paper is also a completed product as opposed to a raw material).
Ironpence is dark in color and minted in coins similar to the quarter-dollar.
This section deals with the more "colorful" aspects of language in The Goldenwealth.
The list may be expanded as the series continues, but for the moment contains the following terms:
- Jackbeans -- An insult, roughly similar to "fool" or "ignorant".
- Fallwillow -- A similar term to jackbeans, except that the former is used to address someone directly, while the latter is often used when talking about somebody, rather than to them.
- Fizzlebottom -- An interjection suggesting discontent. An equivalent term in modern English might be "Oh shoot!" or "Dang!"
Magic in Ord is not entirely dissimilar from how it appears in many works of high fantasy, but there are a few specifics to be noted. Magic power exists in nature in a raw form, at times becoming so well concentrated that it can be observed with the naked eye, as evidenced in the magic-rich territory of Kell. Still, "magic" is said to have a mind and will of its own, which any person studying to be a mage must be respectful of. One can be a wizened scholar of magic without being an actual mage (the term used to refer to wizards in Ord). An aspiring mage must not only study magic, but be accepted by magic. This acceptence is conferred upon the mage by the bestowment of a "keyword", which simply appears in the mind of the student at such time that magic has accepted them. Most spells beyond the level of a cantrip require the use of a verbal component, or "magic words". The mage's keyword must be spoken before the incantation for the spell, to let the magic know who is attempting to control it. Each individual person is unique as far as the requirements of magic power flowing throw them to produce a spell effect, so if the wrong word is spoken, an incorrect amount of power flows through the caster, which is likely to cause an unexpected or even dangerous result. As of TGL, the following keywords are known (listed with the character they belong to):
- Veritas -- Tessa
- Mott -- Lady Miria
- Elquibris -- Maxwell Fableton
- Terbillium -- Unnamed traversimorph mage in TGL chapter 11
As dictated by Lord Calvert in TGL chapter 13, the successful casting of a magic spell requires four things:
- A verbal component
- A somatic component (gestures)
- A properly shaped item (such as a wand) to focus the power through
A mage must therefore have the ability to speak, the freedom of movement to make gestures, an appropriate item to use, and enough time to complete the incantation and focus the power being released. In a combat situation, mages are considered to be support for melee soldiers, as only the most highly skilled among them would be able to cast spells quickly enough to counter the speed in which an attack could swing a weapon at them. There are two exceptions to these requirements, listed below.
Cantrips are magic spells of only minor usefulness. Spells that produce a limited amount of light, a dash of color or sound, or that could be used to entertain small children fall under the realm of cantrips. Cantrips require neither speech nor an appropriate item, and can typically be cast very quickly, with a minimum of movement on the part of the caster. Most importantly, cantrips can be used by any member of a sentient, intelligent race, whether they are a mage or not. Cantrips are therefore considered to be everyday conveniences, accessible by all whether knight or farmer. Magic can also be imbued into various inanimate objects, creating a "magic item". Magic items can cast spells of greater power than cantrips, but since all of the power required is already imbued within the item, the user need not be a mage, and need not have the four standard requirements to cast a spell. Still, casting a spell through a magic item typically requires at least some manipulation of said item. A magical instrument, for example, would need to be played to make use of the power within it. The advantages to using magic items should therefore be obvious, however said advantages also include the fact that an item user's limitations are only set by how long they can make use of the item. A mage is calling upon power to flow through their own body -- this is a tiresome task, and as such the mage can only keep casting spells for a certain amount of time before they tire out. By the same token, a magic item contains a finite amount of power -- once this is used, the item must "recharge" naturally by being left alone. Failure to respect this fact will cause the greedy nature of an item running on empty to begin forcing magical power through the body of the user, taxing them far quicker and more brutally than a mage tires.
Perhaps one of the most important lessons to be learned regarding magic in Ord is to never take it for granted. No matter how experienced a mage is nor how many times they have cast the same spell, complacency invites the fickle nature of the magic to take over the casting process. In effect, the magic spell "casts the caster" as opposed to the caster casting it (whew!) The result is known as The Dali Effect (named by the author in honor of Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali). When a mage or item user allows magic to "get away from them" during the casting process, the power can temporarily take over the caster's mind, repeatedly casting itself over and over again while producing a myriad of unexpected and potentially dangerous effects. A caster so afflicted is referred to as a "dreamer". A skilled mage can terminate this effect by dispelling the magic that has taken over the dreamer, but apart from that the only way to end the effect is to distract or otherwise get the caster's attention (which can be difficult, as the runaway magic power may seek to keep this from happening). It is quite possible that an unchecked Dali effect could be one of the most dangerous situations in all of Ord, but what will actually happen once the effect takes off in earnest is anybody's guess.
The following is a list of spells known thus far in the Traveler of Ord series (without keywords):
- Ashen Cindarr -- Produces fire effects, including walls and gouts of flame. Can also cause nearby objects to burst into flame.
- Strangulum -- A secondary spell that condenses the effect of the spell cast before it. Walls of flame cast by ashen cindarr, for example, could be made to close in upon a target.
- Repitoc Multarium -- Creates several illusory copies of the target, under the control of the caster. These copies can be made to attack something, but they are illusions -- they will dissipate when they are called upon to come in contact with a tangible surface.
- Dispelatask -- A spell used to terminate the effects of another spell.
- Aeroliarium -- Levitates an object.
- Elordnik -- Produces lightning effects, in a similar vein to ashen cindarr's fire effects.
- Medadichi -- Soothes and heals injuries to living tissue. This spells is heavily dependant upon the skill level of the caster.
Magic is helpful, but never assume that it can solve all of your problems.
ReligionThe dominant pantheon of The Goldenwealth consists of a trinity of gods. Spirituality in Ord (at least in The Goldenwealth) is less a matter of religious practices as it is a series of traditions and prophecies. Still, there are creeds, traditions, and observances that clearly link the people of The Goldenwealth to belief in higher beings, and evidence of that belief is clear through the existence of things like magic and the Traveler of Ord himself. The trinity of gods is as follows:
- Tarad Ord - The "Allfather", Tarad Ord is considered the highest deity in the pantheon. Father of siblings Atlaria and Tarad Knuuse, Tarad Ord is said to love both of his children and as a result, will not allow one to gain dominion over the other. Tarad Ord therefore represents the balancing force of neutrality. A popular saying in The Goldenwealth is that Tarad Ord is "not your friend, and not your enemy". The mark on the Journal of Ord and Theo's palm is called the "Traveler's Mark", and it represents the roads of the traveler, endlessly and equally extending into the distance, with no one road standing out from another. Popular opinion of Tarad Ord varies. Those who follow the roads of the traveler, such as merchants, messengers, and essentially anybody who has somewhere to go, often look to him as a source of comfort and strength. On the other hand, some are wary and even fearful of Tarad Ord, believing that he is just as likely to make things go wrong as he is to make them go right. The prophecy of the Traveler of Ord, Theo's surmised role in the series, is based upon the idea that Tarad Ord summons a "traveler" or champion, to tip the balance of power in Ord against whichever of his children has gained the upper hand. In this way, travelers are just as likely to be evil tyrants as they are champions of good.
- Atlaria - Referred to by her followers as "Our Lady of Peace", the Goddess Atlaria is the greatest force of good in the pantheon. Atlaria is deemed to be responsible for everything bountiful in the lives of Goldenwealth citizens, from ample harvests to finding an ironpence lying on the street. She is the spiritual leader of the Knights Foamcrest, and her likeness can be found in most of the civilized nations. Atlaria is closely associated with the element of water, and as such she is often depicted in statues with some source of it nearby. Water is the bringer of life, and as such, so is Atlaria. Atlaria is almost universaly championed among the intelligent races, though the aspects in which her presence is appreciated vary. Some appreciate her peaceful, nurturing side, while others live for the righteous power she is said to bring against her brother, Tarad Knuuse.
- Tarad Knuuse - Where Atlaria represents all things good, Tarad Ord's son represents all that is not. Reviled as much as the Christian devil, Tarad Knuuse is blamed for as wide an array of misfortunes as his sister is appreciated for the opposite. By the same token, Tarad Knuuse is highly feared, as it is believed he is in a constant struggle with his sister to depose her hold on the civilized realms, and should he ever succeed even marginally, it could mean a cataclysm of apocalyptic magnitude. While Tarad Knuuse is seen as a highly intelligent conniver, what followers he does have are largely radical chaotics, spreading about cruelty just for cruelty's sake under the believe that they will be rewarded by their patron for the purity of just being plain evil, agenda or no.
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