So what is this world I’m building?
I love being held in suspense. I love cliffhangers, I love ambiguity, and boy howdy, do I love foreshadowing. It’s why I love still not knowing what goes on in Asshai in A Song of Ice and Fire. It’s why I cried my eyes out (I’m not kidding, I cried excited, elated tears) at John Snow’s parents reveal. The slow burn, long con stories that give you small hints, so small you might miss them, all along the way, are the stories that pull me in and keep me begging for more.
This is the kind of story I’m working on.
Therefore, I can’t give away a lot of the plot or history of my world, which I’m calling tentatively Darkwerks, but I can introduce you to some elements to get you enticed.
Diana, The God Queen
Usually I would introduce the setting first, but my main character has defined the setting because she has never died and she is the only human on the entire planet that has never died. Her name is Diana and because of her immortality, she has been elevated to the role of a permanent Queen and permanent head of the religion. It’s been 7,000 years since she began her rule when the story takes place!
I’m approaching her character not from a “magical” stand point. I really want to dissect what immortality would do to a human. For 7,000 years she has started a family every thousand of those years and she has watched all of them die. She goes to war and can’t be killed. Anyone Diana ever knew is gone and knows that anyone else she meets and grows close to will die. The mental toll has reached a breaking point for her.
I’m also posing the question; how would an immortal female ruler change society? How is the government structured? How are families structured if she has had more than one husband over and over again? Is polygamy legal? Are women heads of household? How has she handled the boredom that comes with doing and seeing everything in the world? I love asking these questions and it makes writing incredibly fun.
The Mountains and Steppe of Dansayu
What I am calling Darkwerks is the realm that Diana rules over. It started as everything, but over the 7,000 years she has ruled, some territories and countries have pulled away from her reign. Some because of religious conflict, some because of war, etc. One country (one of my favorites but don’t tell the others) has stayed loyal for as long as it’s been a country. It’s called Dansayu and it is split into two regions; the mountains and the steppe.
The people of Dansayu as a whole have white hair and pale skin, from the minute they’re born till they die. The capital and all major cities are in the mountain region, so they tend to be more wealthy and high born, whereas the steppe is full of tribes that move with the weather, the seasons, the herds they tend to, etc.
Aesthetically I would say Dansayu is a mix between Japan and Mongolia. The mountain region architecture is elegant and ornate, reds and greens against the snow and stone of the mountains. The steppe is endless rolling hills of mustard colored grass, with low-lying wigwams and thatched-roof huts to protect against the ceaseless wind.
My favorite thing about them is that they have tamed the giant birds of the region. They ride them all over Darkwerks and work as messengers. Think of it like if pigeons and crows as message carriers were replaced by actual people riding birds; you can send a lot more messages and larger packages faster and more reliably! They also ride them into battle and the people of the steppe use the smaller birds of the lower regions as companions and in war.
As much as I want to talk for hours about what my story is about, I don’t want to give everything away.
Diana Durovernan has been alive for 7,000 years, and quite frankly she's sick of it.
Kept alive by the Gods who saved her life in a violent and ancient war no one remembers but her, she sits permanently on the Throne of Paran, the Capital of Darkwerks. Beholden to that debt, she returns to the Gods' forbidden valley every 100 years to bring back gifts of knowledge to humanity as well as the irrefutable reminder that her Gods are the reason they are all still alive. For Diana, it is a reminder that her life is not her own, and the loop will never end.
Diana has just returned from her 70th pilgrimage, bringing back news and orders that are so outrageous, she doesn't think she can go through with them; a law that will divide her people, a life that has to end, and a loyal empire she must cut ties with.
Meanwhile, a research team departs on an illegal expedition into the West, to a zone forbidden by law and religion, to learn more about The Few, a mysterious lost civilization that ruled Darkwerks 2,000 years before Diana. Advanced beyond their years, the secrets of their engineering and strange powers were lost to time. Banished by the Gods for the war they raged against humanity that nearly wiped them both out, their cities were ripped from the ground and hurled into the sky, never to set foot on the earth again. Some believe it is just a story told by religious zealots to keep Diana's followers in line, preaching that their return is inevitable. Some say their ruins scattered around Darkwerks are proof that they were real, and proof of their downfall at their own hands.
This is what I have so far, and the plot and more characters will fill in as I flesh it out more.
Thank you for reading! I hope this has enticed you even a little to stick around and see where my stories go in this world.