Songs from Aenya: At Sternbrow Hill

At Sternbrow Hill the armies came

with copper on their heads all gleaming

and copper swords in belts a shining

and copper spears in hands a bristling

met men with men to kill and maim

at Sternbrow Hill they came        

they fought till from the hills they bled

met sword with spear till all lay dead

at Sternbrow Hill

they came to die; they came to kill

The Aenya Bestiary

ILMAR (HUMANS): Though they are considered to be more animal than human, the Ilmar can trace their roots directly to the first protohuman. Hidden from civilization, they live a primitive existence, devoid of government, walled housing or clothing. They typically have dark skin, leathery soles, and exceedingly resilient skin. To learn more: ILMAR

SEPTHERA: This long extinct race ruled Aenya around 10,000—9000 BGM. For centuries, humans were herded by the Septhera like livestock, forced to do labor, fight for entertainment, and at times, were used as food. The Septhera vary in appearance and color, from black, green, red and purple to many hued. Stripes and diamond patterns along the arms, legs and tail are common among females. By 9800 BGM, the Septhera were overthrown by the emergent Zo. To learn more: SEPTHERA. Figure courtesy David Pasco.

MERQUID (singular or plural): This aquatic, communal species once dominated the planet, living in ocean-vast cities that have since become desert. What remains of their kind is now concentrated along the coasts. Though benign, they can become terrifying in defense of their offspring, with a set of retractable teeth, barbed claws and wide glossy eyes. To learn more: MERQUID. Figure courtesy David Pasco.

HALFMAN: A distant human relative, this beastly primate has limited use of language and tool making skills. It is most commonly seen in the wildwood west of Kratos.Shy in nature, the halfman can become a terrible predator when the need arises, counting both human and animal as its quarry. To learn more: HALFMAN. Figure courtesy David Pasco.

HORG (singular and plural): Few creatures on Aenya are as feared as the horg. Rarely seen beyond the dark hemisphere, the horg is found on the outskirts of the eastern kingdoms. Females of the species are turned into slaves by the more diminutive bogren. Adult males (known as bulls) act as living siege engines, carrying immense clubs and shields made of ice and wood pulp called pykrete. To learn more: HORG. Figure courtesy David Pasco.

BOGREN: Small and crafty, the bogren are thought to have evolved after the Great Cataclysm. Their human ancestors remained, or were forced into, the eastern hemisphere, finding sanctuary deep under the ground where the lava flows. To learn more: BOGREN. Figure courtesy David Pasco.

AVIAN: The avian or “bird man” is a human subspecies, which can best be described as a cross between a human and a bird. They are reclusive and fearful, tending to avoid contact with other intelligent races, but are also proud, believing themselves morally and intellectually superior. In appearance, the avian is as diverse in the hue of its plumage as the bird species of Aenya. They are also fond of ornamentation, and wear beak-like masks, which they use to conceal their hominid ancestry. To learn more: AVIAN.

The Princess of Aenya

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Radia by Selene Regener

Once, not long ago, there lived a king in the land of Tyrnael, who had but one daughter. This daughter he loved with his whole heart, but upon her eleventh year she fell ill, her cheeks paling like the petals of a dying ilm. Never leaving her bedside, the king called for every physician in his kingdom, but all were at a loss, for her ailment was unlike any they had seen. With enduring hope, the king sent emissaries to lands near and abroad, and learned men did arrive from as far south as the One Sea and from as far east as Shemselinihar, yet all were utterly mystified by her sickness. Beset by grief and desperation, the king offered all that he had, his very kingdom in recompense, to save his little girl from doom. 

And it so happened, that upon this decree, a wizened sage appeared at the gates of the Compass Tower. Examining the girl with care, he declared with confidence that he could make the girl whole again, brewing an elixir so that she might drink of it and become well. And shortly thereafter, the rosy hue returned to the little girl’s cheeks. Overjoyed, the king asked what the stranger wished from him in return, reminding him of his vow. 

“So long as you know,” the sage said to him, “I can stay the hand of the Taker, but only for a time. At the close of three days, before the moon eclipses on the third night, if she does not drink of my elixir, Death shall surely claim her.” 

Hearing this dreadful prophecy, the king turned ashen, but the sage comforted him, saying, “Be not dismayed, for it is not beyond my power to procure this remedy, enough to keep your daughter in good stead for her remaining days. Yet it is not without its price.” 

The king readily agreed, preparing to surrender his great wealth, his kingdom if need be, but the sage asked for one small thing, and one thing only, in return for his ministrations, that the king take as his own a young boy to be adopted. The sage’s own son.


 

Chapter 1: Radia: Upon her father’s death, Radia inherits the throne of Tyrnael, ancient capital of Aenya. Though she is only 15, Radia finds the courage to refute her brother in court, only to be betrayed by the people she trusted to protect her. Her only hope is Demacharon, an aging soldier from the distant land of Hedonia. But why should a stranger risk certain death, for a girl he hardly knows, when all the military might of Tyrnael is bent on destroying her?

Chapter 2: Demacharon: He has no memory of who he is or how he came to be. He walks through a nightmarish wasteland and his dread is palpable. Is it a dream? The afterlife? Or merely a glimpse of things to come?

Chapter 3: Eros: Like his mother, Eros is branded, invisible to society. It makes him the ideal assassin, the only man capable of hunting down and cutting out the heart of the princess. But can even the self-appointed king of Tyrnael deliver his fee?

Songs and Poetry: Noora’s SongThe Procession

Zaibos Facing You

Zaibos by David Pasco

SUPPORTING CAST: DEMACHARON – ZAIBOS – NESSUS

Races of Aenya: Avian – Bogren – Horg

Eldin’s Brief Timeline

Cosmology of Aenya: The Hayden Planetarium Answers Questions about Aenya: Aenya is uncommon in the fantasy genre in that it follows real world physics. Specifically, it is a moon of the gas giant Infinity. Close proximity to this large planet accounts for the turquoise “moon” Radia and Demacharon can see in the sky. Since one side of their world perpetually faces Infinity, life can be harsh on Aenya. I would like to thank Alejandro Nunez, at the Hayden Planetarium, for helping me add credibility to this fictional world, by answering my questions about an Aenya-type planet.

About the Author: I wrote my first story when I was six, and by age nine, convinced my father to take me to DC Comics Headquarters, in New York City, to solicit my own comic book series. I later attended the University of South Florida, where I graduated with my BA in English Fiction, helped as a tutor, ran a fan-fiction site, and worked as a freelance editor. My short story, The Gorgon’s Lover, was chosen a semi-finalist for the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award. For more about my life, please visit my bio page.

 

The Princess of Aenya is the second book set in the world of Aenya.

THE AENYA BESTIARY: BOGREN

Grumblestump2

Bogren by David Pasco

HISTORY: After the Great Cataclysm, over ten millennia ago, Aenya was forever altered. Tidally locked, the planet remained with one side perpetually facing the sun, becoming the desert, Ocean, while the opposite end became forever shrouded in moonlight, The Dark Hemisphere. Only the narrow region between the two hemispheres, The Midlands, continued to be suitable for human habitation. As a direct result, wars broke out over limited resources. The strongest, wealthiest, and most clever managed to find a place in this new median, whereas the weak and the poor lost their lands to become vagabonds.

Over less than a decade, these displaced peoples found themselves as migrants to the dark hemisphere, joining other fallen civilizations. Together, they managed to eke out an existence under a sunless sky. Forever in search of sustenance, those living by the twilight bore witness to the worst of humanity, routinely denied admittance to settlements whose resources were stretched too thin, picked off by beasts who hunted in the dark, or slain by members of their own as desperation took its toll. By 40 AGM, nomadic groups settled in underground caverns created by the Zo that, in places, reach to the core of the planet. Adapting to this new environment, these cave delvers carved out an ever expanding network of tunnels to house their burgeoning population. Never forgetting the cruelty inflicted upon them by their human kin, they evolved into an altogether new species, bogren, and as the centuries passed, their hatred for humanity only intensified.

PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES: Ironically, the small stature of their ancestors aided in adapting to life below ground. Less body mass necessitated fewer calories. It also helped in hiding from predators. Natural selection continued to favor this attribute so that adult bogren are scarcely taller than a human child. With the only light available from fire, volcanic vents, or from Aenya’s twin moons, the bogren developed larger eyes. Ear size also increased to detect predators and prey, and for navigating pitch black tunnels through a weak form of sonar. Due to sun deprivation and a drastic drop in temperatures, bogren skin adapted to both manage the cold and synthesize Vitamin-D, a dull gray fish-like hue.

Each bogren is distinct, and can vary in appearance to a greater degree than a human. Some possess more human-like features, while others have more exaggerated ears, ridges above the eyes, or a bat like facial structure. Body types range from muscular torsos to bulbous stomachs to lithe skeletal frames. Variation may be indicative of caste or subspecies. Differences in subspecies correlate to different depths and geographic regions of the dark hemisphere.

SOCIETY: Bogren society can be divided into three separate castes: workers, warriors, and foremen:

Physically smaller and weaker than their kin, the worker is the lowest in the bogren caste system. Females birthing workers rarely survive, due to the crude way in which infants are delivered. The sounds the mother makes during labor becomes the worker’s name. There is no upward mobility for a worker. A worker is born, lives, and dies a worker. Among them, the worker caste can be subdivided into smiths, wranglers, and diggers. Least of the least are the diggers, who work in the mines with pick and ax, cutting an eternally expanding network of tunnels and hovels, called warrens. Diggers receive the least food, often the scraps left by others. Their lives consist of equal parts misery and monotony, though they delight in the suffering of their own, whenever a digger falls into the magma. Rarely does a digger know anything but digging, coming to their deaths without ever seeing the light of the moons. Smiths works in the Forge, a crude network of bridges, winches, pulleys and cauldrons. They work with molten metals, hammering tin, copper and iron into crude armor and weapons. Highest among the worker caste is the wrangler. The wrangler domesticates beasts for war and for labor. These include saurians like the bandersnout, and the dreaded horg. Among bogren kind, the wrangler is the most intelligent, but intellect is of little value where everything is measured by brute strength.

Selected for their size and strength, the warrior stands at the top of the bogren hierarchy. They are given armor and weapons and are trained to fight. These weapons are crude and misshapen, rarely following any design. Cutting edges and bludgeoning surfaces are merged without distinction to form sword-hammers, ax-shields, mace-spears and other deadly perversities. A warrior seeks always to rise in rank, and rank can only be won by killing another of higher status. Chieftains are usually found among the warrior caste. Others may challenge them at any time. For this reason, bogren leaders rarely live to old age. Warrior names reflect physical attributes, but can change as those attributes change. Such names include: grumblestump, meatface, and bloodsnot.

The foreman is a fallen warrior, having been severely injured to the point of being ineffectual in battle. Typically, they are missing eyes, hands, feet, or some combination of the three. Very few are retired warriors, having grown old and infirm. The duty of the foreman is to enforce labor. Embittered by their fallen station, foremen can be unusually cruel, seeking any and all reasons to punish their workers. This includes being thrown into the magma.

Dark Side Beasts: To supplement what they lack in physical power, bogren have domesticated a number of beasts, including small saurians, like the mild-mannered bandersnout. Familiar with animal taming, and beasts of war, from before the Great Cataclysm, the bogren also set their sights upon more fearsome companions, like the horg. Dominating such monsters highlights not only their cunning, but the depths of their cruelty. Young female horg are baited with icksak fruit, rendering them numb and unconscious. A wrangler then scalps the head, and through gruesome needlework, attaches strings to the horg’s brain. The invasive process drives the creature insane, further feeding into its ferocity. The end result is a living marionette, a near unstoppable siege engine controlled by the wrangler. Should the wrangler companions be killed, however, the disowned horg body will fly into a violent frenzy, before ending its own life.

Wrangler Chiefs: On rare occasion, a wrangler may ascend to chieftain, having learned to control their horg mounts with enough proficiency to act as a single creature, with the wrangler acting as the brain and the horg the body. Despite overpowering any challenger, wrangler chiefs are often despised, their rule typically ending in murder, whenever the chief is separated from its horg or sleeping.

6296 to 6300 AGM marks the rule of Zogbak the Wrangler Chief, one of the bloodiest periods in Aenya’s history. Using sophisticated military strategy uncharacteristic to bogren kind, Zogbak’s armies swept across Aenya, from the Dark Hemisphere to the Potamis River. Over a hundred villages were lost, including the fabled city-state of Kormingar. Zogbak’s rule came to an end when a rival party of bogrens joined into an uneasy truce with a legion of displaced troops from Kormingar. A man-at-arms named Jennick is said to have struck the killing blow, and for this history grants him the honorific of Batal, though he and the other human conspirators were slaughtered moments later by their bogren allies. A new chief was elected for his size and strength, but failing to understand basic military tactics, the bogren force fell into disarray and were quickly routed.

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Bandersnout by David Pasco.