I’m participating in the #World23 writing/worldbuilding challenge to build a little piece of my world every single day for the entirety of 2023. Every two weeks, I post the finished product of the area I just completed before I move on to the next one. The challenge is exciting because it allows me to use all my creativity, but it’s low-pressure in the way that it only takes five minutes to write a single entry if I want it to be done quickly.
During these two weeks, I got to talk about some of my favourite subjects: volcanoes, gemstones, climate, geology, and also centaur! Well, centaurs wouldn’t usually be on that list specifically, but I do think they’re rather neat and deserve to be utilised more in fiction. In general, though, there were a lot of things about this island that brought me joy to write about, and I hope it shows. I really love this stuff and getting to research it and learn more about it.
On the suggestion of @WitteringOfAWorldbuilder, I added in these Pompeii-inspired ruins as well. It’s perfect for the TTRPG I’m running, and I can potentially put a dungeon down there for my players to go through. For writing projects, I could put all sorts of threats down there, but I’m especially drawn to the ghosts of the dead coming back to haunt the place. In Tehoa, the world this is in, a soul can only go to the underworld once it has been freed from its body through ceremonial burning. To be buried is a fate worse than death, since the soul is captured. There must be quite a few restless and angry spirits in there whose lives were suddenly taken away.
(By the way, did you know they found a near-complete sorceress’ kit in Pompeii in 2019? You can read about it here. It’s really interesting stuff.)
As always, thank you for reading. If you have any thoughts or feedback, feel free to drop a comment. I love talking with you all.
Day 0-14 – Oshti, the shining and historical capital island of Tehoa
Day 15-28 – Gepnu, the Sunken Isle with swamps and multicoloured fireflies
Day 29-42 – East Eker, the Moth Isle with many moths and a love for (hi)stories
Day 43-56 – West Eker, the Shrinking Isle with water troubles and a turtle island
For a long time, Greenhaven was a quiet, tranquil village nestled in the rolling hills on the southwest of the Moondrop caldera. Until townsfolk digging a cellar for their house discovered a stone wall buried in the thick layer of ashes underground — a stone wall that had been there for centuries. Before long, scholars and experts flocked to Greenhaven and began uncovering a vast ancient town, buried underneath a cover of ashes and soil.
The Order of Light has taken an interest in Greenhaven, and members specialising in archaeology and history come to the dig site to help discover and document more. However, less savoury characters slip in as well, intending to steal the riches and treasure they are certain can be found. And in some structures, riches have actually been found.
The original inhabitants of Greenhaven, who are mostly simple folk such as farmers and hunters, regard all the activity with wariness. All the dead bodies in the ruins unnerve them, and they are worried that disturbing them will lead to hauntings. But although they are wary and not very welcoming, they aren’t hostile.
Spanning across the Lunar River at the edge of the renowned Moondrop Valley, almost all of the Moondrop wine passes underneath the great stone bridges of the city of Ipnus. It’s a city made rich from its export of luxury wine and is supplied by the other villages and towns within the valley.
While Ipnus is renowned for its drink, its food isn’t to hiss at either. Some of the best delicacies come from here. The rich volcanic soil that the valley is made out of results in a bountiful harvest of nutrient and flavour-filled crops, which are then turned into all sorts of food. The yearly cooking competitions are cutting-edge.
Due to its location, every ship going up to the Moondrop Lake or down to the Tehoan Sea has to pass through Ipnus, and they’ve made good use of that strategic position. Every vessel passing through has to pay a fee, and many inns are around to accommodate travellers for the night.
Burrowed into the side largest remaining hills on the island, Noxtown is the curious home of the equally curious rock gnomes. They have carved great burrows in the basalt, gradually expanding as their population did as well. Every room holds another wild contraption, an unexpected but thoughtful artwork, or strange and terrifying machine.
The gnomes of Noxtown are a friendly folk. Most of them are alchemists, engineers, tinkerers, and gem cutters. Those who manage to slow themselves down enough to focus on the tasks to keep the town fed and functioning are appreciated as heroes, for everyone else has their head in the clouds and thoughts going at a hundred miles an hour.
The gnomes of Noxtown sustain themselves on the fungi they grow in the burrows on a specialised blend of mineral soil. They’re always tinkering with different blends and engineered fungi to create the best possible yield. Whether this results in actual tasty food, though, remains to be seen.
Although the Moondrop volcano has long since collapsed, there is still plenty of volcanic activity happening. Signs of this are especially visible in the town of Rheyda, a small flourishing settlement which has been built around the many geothermal springs and wells that come out of the ground here. The different pools of water range from lukewarm to scalding hot, and people have built bathhouses and pools around them to make them more easily accessible.
Many swear by the healing properties of the warm waters, especially the people of Rheyda themselves, and countless people make the journey to the town to bathe in the pools. It does seem to have some effect, since the people of Rheyda are generally healthier and live longer.
It’s a town that prides itself on how close it is to nature, blending wood and stone in flowing architecture while leaving lots of space between buildings for nature to remain. Lots of little streams, fed by the springs, make their way through the town. It’s generally quite a peaceful place where people come to rest and recharge.
The North Sidean Centaurs
Two clans of centaurs roam through the forests and fields of North Sideog. Due to their differences in culture and lifestyle, they have agreed that the Silvermane Clan’s territory is north of the Zepsen river, while the Thunderhoof Clan resides south of the waterway. Although they occasionally mingle, they usually avoid one another while they go about their lives.
The Silvermane Clan is predominantly nocturnal, resting when the sun is high in the sky. They are renowned sages and healers, with great knowledge of magic and herbal remedies to cure ailments and injuries. They are led by the old and wise Starlight, who is known for his keen insight and unwavering integrity.
The Thunderhoof Clan is the opposite of the Silvermanes in many ways. Active during the days, this rugged group of aggressive centaurs are especially fond of the hills and the open fields. They are known for their strength and their combat prowess, and they were on the frontline when the island was fighting to keep the Rabirian Empire off its territory two centuries ago. These days, they only go to people to exchange the weapons and armour they’ve crafted for other goods.
Both clans are deeply connected to the island and the elements, and they can often sense when volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are about to occur. Due to this sense, they are often called upon to provide warning or protection against natural disasters.
The Sidean Stonemasons Guild
The Sidean Stonemasons Guild is an influential cross-island guild that oversees the quarries on both North and South Sideog and the processing of the stone and minerals excavated there. Previously known as the North Sidean Stonemasons Guild before they joined forces with their southern counterpart, they are now a behemoth of a faction and a force to be reckoned with. Most of the buildings on both islands have stone that comes from their hands, and the resources they produce are sold and shipped off throughout Tehoa.
Their main string of quarries on North Sideog is along the north side of the Zepsen river. From there, the stone blocks are cut up into smaller parts and then shipped off to wherever they need to go. Most are transported by ship since that is easier than transporting large amounts of stone through the hills of the island.
Due to the nature of North Sideog, they mainly produce metamorphic rocks, with their main exports being granite, quartzite, gneiss, and marble. Different locations yield different stones. They also regularly find minerals and gemstones, which they sell as a byproduct, although the most high-quality stones are cut and auctioned off.
Climate in North Sideog
North Sideog has a temperate climate with year-round precipitation. Although its winters aren’t particularly harsh, it’s enough to get some frost there and small amounts of snow, meaning crops cannot grow year-round. The growing season is long, however, and tends to be forgiving — when there isn’t too much rain, pests, or disease.
This amount of rainfall has allowed for the formation of a river that runs from the Moondrop mountains to the Tehoan Sea on the west, collecting precipitation from about half the island as it does. The Moondrop Lake and its rivers collect and transport another good amount of rainfall, and smaller rivers and streams take care of the rest.
The Moondrop caldera
Although the Moondrop Valley, the caldera of a collapsed volcano, certainly commands the most attention of North Sideog, the whole of the island’s ecosystem is quite interesting. The powerful volcanic eruptions that led to the Moondrop volcano’s collapse cast great amounts of ash filled with minerals and nutrients onto the island, blanketing it in layers upon layers of it. That was long ago, and now lush vegetation has overgrown it once more.
Although the volcano has become fully inactive and its giant crater filled with a lake, earthquakes still shake the island now and then, as they do all of Tehoa. Thankfully, the last couple of years have been quite calm in terms of seismic and volcanic activity. Still, a lot of the buildings on North Sideog are made of wood because of this.
Community in North Sideog
The people of North Sideog have a strong sense of community, which is partially forged by the way they also live communally in large homes that often only have two to three rooms but house ten to twenty people. People eat together, sleep together, and generally live together.
Visiting the home of friends is quite common, too, especially when young. Children will often sleep over at their friends and more or less get adopted by other families, just as those friends will be adopted by theirs. Friends and acquaintances are never unwelcome, and there’s almost always a place for strangers in need, too.
The Solfest celebration
Every fall, there is a grand celebration called Solfest lasting a full week to give thanks to Solaman, the god of life, fertility, and harvest, as well as the spirits of the land and the water. In this time of abundance, drink flows freely and food is shared between neighbours, friends, and strangers alike.
Every town and village square is transformed into a gathering place. The celebrations continue until deep in the night and continue again around noon the next day. Games, music, and communal cooking are a large part of it. It’s all about bonding as a community and enjoying the last warm weeks before winter comes. Strangers will be welcomed as esteemed guests — no one is unwanted. It’s generally unusual for those needing aid to be turned away in the North Sidean culture, but during Solfest, it is especially unheard of.
Captain Johansson Kesar, weathered sea captain
Captain Johansson Kesar is a gruff and weathered sea captain of a cargo ship. The port he calls home is Ipnus, but he has seen almost all of Tehoa. As one of the proud leonin, his hulking figure resembling a lion is hard to miss. His visage is marred with scars, remnants of his experiences on the high seas during the Rabirians’ conquest.
Although he’s well beyond his prime years now and he spends more and more time on land, he can still often be found on or near his ship, the Golden Lioness. Although she’s decades old, she’s well-maintained, and Johansson’s care for her shows. The two have been through hell and back together and would do it again.
Due to his many years of service, Captain Kesar has countless connections with other sea captains, merchants, and others working in and around the harbour of Ipnus. Although he rarely chooses to interfere, he always keeps his finger on the pulse of the state of things. When he does speak up, his words are weighed heavily, and his influence is considerable.
Galen “The Raven” Forrester, bard with a penchant for trouble
Although most people from North Sideog are quite happy to live a sedentary life and stay in the community they grew up in or somewhere close by, Galen “The Raven” Forrester never remains in one place for long. The charismatic bard travels from town to town, entertaining crowds with his music and his tales, earning his night’s meal and stay with lifelike stories told around the central firepit.
The man has a penchant for getting caught up in trouble, yet somehow, he always manages to talk his way out of it as well. There’s simply something about him that makes it difficult for people to stay upset with him for long. With how he cracks jokes and gives smiles easily, even in the most difficult situations, it’s not impossible to figure out why.
In return for a good meal and friendly company, he’ll happily share the best highlights of North Sideog, give directions on where to go, or give information on which places to avoid. If he sees someone in need on the road, he won’t hesitate to give them a hand, either. He’s not a bad egg, even if mischief does follow him wherever he goes.
The locals say that there’s more underneath Greenhaven than just ruins and skeletons still frozen in the position they were in when they died. They whisper about monsters buried in the ashes, ready to awaken and wreak havoc when – not if – uncovered. Every night, the people of Greenhaven ward their homes to protect themselves from the looming danger they know will come.
Johansson Kesar’s secrets
Some say that there’s much more to Captain Kesar’s scars than the old leonin lets on. While he might say he’s just a merchant and a cargo hauler, his pelt is far too marred to explain it. Wild stories go around about his potential past as a pirate, with some saying that he has been evading capture for years, and other voices whispering about a treasure map of his leading to a secret stash of his most valuable bounty.
I’m very pleased with how this all turned out. Although I ended up ignoring the prompts (as usual), things came together and formed a cohesive narrative in the end. And writing about the things I love the most… I’m going to do that more. The next island, South Sideog, will therefore be volcanically active, so I can tell you all even more about the wondrous world of geology and minerals and volcanology. Mixed in with a healthy dose of fantasy, of course, such as really cute magical snail companions and fluffy forest dogs. Stay tuned for the first WIP post next Saturday, or wait for the overview post that’ll come in two weeks.
I suppose wholesome is the word I’m looking for. I can use the comfort, and maybe it can cheer up whoever’s reading as well. Although I will have to put in some danger, since it will be used for my TTRPG campaign, after all. Ah well. I’m rambling at this point and I should probably get to bed. Good night!