Calliome is the world in which my fantasy fiction is set. It’s a polytheistic fantasy world with so many influences, I can’t list them all. My first novel, tentatively titled Wings of Twilight is set there. Wings of Twilight is scheduled to be released this fall, probably around November, in the Kindle Store, the Barnes & Noble Nook Store, and in print. But, more on the novel later; this post is about the world in which that story takes place. In some ways, Calliome is a typical fantasy world; there are elves and dwarves, but there are also draks, minotaurs, and gnomes. I’ll start with some of the species that are atypical of most heroic fantasy and work my way down to the species with which you’re probably already familiar. Don’t worry if you don’t have a frame of reference for some of the place names or deity names; those will be covered in future posts.
The world itself was once a virtual paradise, filled with magic and humans and fae freely mingling. Naturally, there are always exceptions to those who are content to live in peace, and a massive cataclysm, the Sundering, rocked the world, shattering it. It was only through the will and sacrifice of Gaia, the Earth Mother and her son Nethuns, god of the sea that kept the pieces of the world from flying apart. For nearly a millenia, the pieces of the world clung together, each piece separated yet bound by the Maelstrom. The faeries fled the world, leaving humans to their fate. The dwarves sealed themselves up in their homes underneath the mountains. To compensate for the diminished magic in the world, humans developed technology to survive, bolstered by what little magic they could muster. Dragons appeared, great fearsome beasts that terrorized the countryside. Eventually, the world was brought together again with the help of a Sky Pirate named Xanos. Wings of Twilight takes place over a thousand years after the Healing, when elves and other fae have started returning to the world. Stories of the Sundering will come at another time.
Draks are small, reptilian humanoids, averaging between 3’ and 4’ in height. Their scales range the color of the rainbow, bright at birth and dulling with age. Stripes are considered an omen by many clans. Both genders have horns. They are close to nature and spend a lot of time studying astronomical and meteorological phenomena. Many draks believe their people are descended from dragons.
Most draks hail from villages in the Dragon Spine Mountains, though there are a few scattered farming settlements in the Etrunian plains and in Vlorey. These draks, for the most part, get along well with their human neighbors, often helping each other in times of drought and famine.
Calliome’s mountains are also home not only to dwarves, but also to a large population of minotaurs. Unlike dwarven communities, though, minotaur communities are small, close-knit and labyrinthine. They are rarely friendly to outsiders and often at war with neighboring dwarves. They have started to make their way down out of the mountains in an attempt to open trade and improve relations with humans and elves, however, and most adventuring minotaurs have such things in mind when they leave their homes and families behind.
While they appreciate the accumulation of wealth and the luxury it can provide (many successful minotaurs will buy golden sheaths for their horns), most minotaurs are more concerned with the accumulation of personal honor and glory. It is not uncommon for them to carry a journal in which they will record their accomplishments.
Minotaurs average between 7’ and 7½’ tall. Covered in fur ranging from white to brown and black, the males sport large horns by the time they’re mature. Females have smaller horns and usually have a mane of hair they arrange in various styles. They walked with digitigrade locomotion on cloven hooves.
Gnomes are diminutive (compared with elves) fae associated with forests and rocks. They are rarely seen in human lands, though a few have made their way to Vlorey. Gnomes have a deeper connection with the world than even elves, and it is a rare gnome that doesn’t worship Gaia (though there are a few more agriculturally-bent gnomish communities that venerate Cybele). Their fae nature and closeness to the natural world gives them an affinity to animals of the forest and rivers. Nearly every forest, river, stream, and lake has at least one clan of gnomes that look after it, though many do so discreetly; their presence barely known to other nearby communities. Females are more likely to seek out adventure than the males, who take their duty to guard the environment around their burrows very seriously.
Gnomes are extremely curious and eager to experience new things and explore new places. Often thought to be related to dwarves, gnomes actually appear closer to shorter elves than dwarves. They’re slight of build and their skin tends to range in earth tones; their hair grows in as much variety as petals on flowers. They use twigs, vines, and flowers for decoration in their hair, with females adorning themselves more than males.
Renowned miners and craftsmen of the mountain halls, dwarves retreated to their underground cities when the world was sundered and did not emerge until several hundred years after the world was healed. Generations of humans lived their whole lives without ever seeing a dwarf, and by the time the world was healed, they were thought to be mythological misunderstandings of extremely short humans.
The truth, of course, is far different. Dwarves are indeed part of the world, and though adventurer dwarves are rarely seen outside of the Underworld, they are known to be tough fighters and stubborn opponents.
Most dwarves seen in Andelosia hail from the trade city of Ironkrag, in the Dragon Spine Mountains. Ironkrag has three major gates: the south gate opens to the trade road that leads to Celtangate, the north gate opens to the trade road that leads to the Western Wastes and Ligurian Desert, and the Underworld Gate that leads to the Deep Road.
The Deep Road winds under the Dragon Spine Mountains and is said can take travelers to other dwarven cities in the Underworld, though no human has made that journey and returned to talk about it; not because it’s dangerous, but because most humans don’t enjoy being underground for a long enough period of time to make the journey.
Dwarven ale is known for being horrible stuff; it’s difficult to brew good ale using only ingredients grown underground. When they can get their hands on surface grown hops, malts, and other grains, they produce beers and ales of unmatched quality. Unfortunately, because of their poor attitude towards humans and other surface-dwellers, they are only rarely able to acquire such ingredients.
The most widely-known and prominent of the fae races that returned to Calliome after the healing of the world, elves play an important part in the day-to-day shape of both Andelosia and Nihonsu. They are very spiritual and most pay homage to Gaia, if not outright worship the Earth Mother. They are very closely connected to the Fae Realm and can detect nexus where the Fae Realm touches the Mortal Realm, and can even pass between the realms at these nexus (only fae can do this).
Elves form friendships quickly and love deeply, though they tend to hold humans at arms’ length due to their shorter lifespan and humans’ prodigious ability to adapt and conquer. After about a thousand years in the mortal realm, they feel compelled to return to the fae realm for the rest of their lives, though how long that is can range from a few centuries to another millennia or more.
They tend to stand about the same height as humans, though of a more slender and delicate build. Elven skin color tends to range in the light blues, lavenders, and light greens; hair ranges from light blues and greens, to silver or white, and even black, but never blonde or brown. On Nihonsu, elves are known as Imperial Elves and have similar skin colors, but darker, and their hair is usually black or white in color.