Loremageddon 2019, Day One: Eiltisch, the Rotary Catapult, and the Coyetta Republic

Welcome, readers mine, denizens of the Internet, any and all fellow writers, to Loremageddon! Now, kids these days with their-their voice dictations and those dratted writer’s groups–don’t even get me started on beta readers– this new generation of authors just don’t understand how to kick back and listen to the breath of the world! Ol’ papa Tolkien, rest his soul, now there was a man who understood the importance of lore

Did most people notice or care that he kept the dates consistent? Not a chance! Did it really matter how far he traced the lineages of all those Númenórean kings? Course not! Who gives a rip! Lore ain’t about what matters or don’t, sonny! It’s about having a vast archive of thousands on thousands of facts so you pluck a single one off the shelves each book when you see the perfect chance to use it, and then you feel like all that hard work’s paid off!

I’m, uh, not sure where I was going with all this. Plenty of writers still delve deep into lore before sitting down to write. So, for those who treat their work as much like Archaeology as art, digging through the bones of fallen empires for scraps from a nobler age, for those who need to know the architectural inspirations of that ancient shrine with its gold long since ripped from the walls, for those who want to be able to explain why and how the Redaga people came to the tradition that long sleeves with trailing ends are ill-omened–let’s dive in!

As promised, we’re going with three excerpts per day, ideally tallying close to 1,000 words, from the grand total of whatever I’ve written. Today’s samples: a goddess of springs, mist, and rebirth, a remarkable piece of siege equipment, and a little about Canno’s vanished Coyetta Republic–let’s get to it!

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Snippet #1: Eiltisch Spring-Warden (World: Creation’s Fringe)

Eiltisch is the prime goddess of Kalinger, and associated with hot springs, the spring thaw, and rebirth. She manifests as a tall, sinewy human woman wearing an archaic green dress of ankle length, trimmed in gold. Her arms are entirely concealed by countless iron rings fitted exactly to their contours; on her legs, these run only ankle length. Her hair is fiery red, and her eyes a green so bright as to be blinding in close proximity. She brings with her a warm, earthy smell, and has a raspy yet soothing voice. She’s wreathed in a light mist at all times, of course. Wherever she walks within Kalinger, dead or dying life rejuvenates.

Called the Spring-Warden, Eiltisch seems to be an elevated primordial spirit rather than an entity formed solely for her worshippers’ benefit. While this gives her considerable leeway to act for reasons which aren’t well understood, she prefers to maintain a hands-off approach. This does not mean that Eiltish is inactive—far from it! She often manifests around her shrines without much warning, however, and greatly enjoys taking her clerics off-guard. She’s fond of theater and music, with a special love for the more-recent innovation of opera. When choosing to attend, she’ll temporarily add a new balcony crafted from emerald mist; it can’t normally be accessed by mortals, but she’s quick to pluck any favorites from the general audience and seat them with her.

In conversation, Eiltish stays pleasant unless provoked; in most cases the worst she’ll do is indulge a burst of cutting wit if one of her priests says something especially stupid. However, she has no tolerance for false priests and hypocrites, casting them out in dramatic fashion by doubling their age and wracking them with joint-pains the moment they pass the point of no return. If they wish to redeem themselves, she demands a three-year pilgrimage, stark naked, to every spring in Kalinger, during which time the shamed priest must perform any service demanded of them as long as it’s within the law.

Full Segment: the Nilaboran Rotary Catapult (World: Canno)

The rotary catapult is an iconic and perhaps over-ambitious siege weapon for which Nilabora is renowned. It features a complex mechanical mounting made from one of two materials. Most rotary catapults use wood from the Tolleba tree; after soaking the wood in a specialized oil-based solution for two days, its natural chemicals merge with its grain structure and the solution to form an internal resin which maximizes both its springiness and its tensile strength. This combination makes Tolleba wood able to withstand almost the same impact forces as Cumas’s famous Shahir wood without any of the notorious difficulty in cutting the latter from the tree to begin with.

Higher-grade rotary catapults, especially those of the Queen’s Own Host, instead use springy low-carbon steel which must be painstakingly tempered to ensure it neither warps nor cracks under the enormous stresses produced by operating the device. Once they gather the materials, Nilaboran engineers use a combination of mundane and magic processes to shape them into the catapult’s components. The frame comes first, and relies on simple enchantments to actuate the prong-footed spars which anchor it before firing; otherwise, its support beams use concave arches for greater strength, and to keep the center of mass more directly in contact with the firing braces.

The catapult’s arm is constructed with a built-in recurve which is believed to increase release velocity; the bowl resembles a combination of a chute, a scoop, and the simpler, spoon-like shape common to Ceslonian catapults, making it easier to load, while both the shape and deep grooves in its faces create the friction needed to contain its deadly load until the crucial moment.

The catapult housing itself resembles a cone set atop a cylinder, allowing the rotary catapult to adjust its aim both up or down and across without needing to move its base. A heavily reinforced steel cylinder on one side of the frame holds the arm in place while it’s being loaded. To fire the catapult, a single switch both retracts this holding cylinder and dumps power from the catapult’s enchantments into its mechanisms, spinning the arm up to three times depending on how long the switch is held in order to build greater momentum. At the operator’s discretion or upon the third revolution’s completion, the blocking pin springs back up, stopping the arm dead and releasing the loaded projectile.

The rotary catapult is obviously complicated, and learning to aim, load and fire the weapon to perfection takes several years. However, an experienced crew can deliver precise shots against targets as far away as a mile or as close as fifty feet depending on the weapon’s exact size and placement. If a mage is on hand to load the weapon, it can both be further overcharged and fired much more quickly. When Binusi, the Scourge of the Shards, launched her ill-fated assault on Tushirsi, rotary catapults both atop the walls and further back in the city’s depths wreaked havoc on her massed undead, and did more to save the city than any force save the Inquisitors of the Vigil themselves.

Snippet #2: the Coyetta Republic (World: Canno)

The Coyetta Republic was the home of a branch hominid species who mixed human and ilbaret elements with insectoid influences from an unknown source. This might have been magic, or long-forgotten science. They existed during the Fourth Age of Canno, the end of which is generally referred to as the Age of Splendors by contemporary Cannoans. Coyetta biology featured silky tufts of hair along the cheeks and the sides of the neck, while their chitinous inclusions general conformed to areas of especially thick bone structure such as the chin, cheeks, and jawline.

While they did tend to have mandibles running parallel to the jaw, in most Coyetta these amounted to nothing more than a vestigial inclusion; those who knew them well found these a charming addition to their native expressiveness.

While obvious potential existed in this combination for discomfort, in the Coyetta it produced extraordinarily vibrant individuals—whether by design or a happy genetic coincidence, their fur tended to contrast with the iridescent chitinous inclusions, which appeared closer to a mix of stone, crystal, and precious metal than normal insectoid gloss. Their eyes were larger than average, which did make those Coyetta at the spectrum’s upper end a little uncanny, but lent the subspecies as a whole a kind of wide-eyed charm.

Whether truly a result of their mixed heritage as has sometimes been argued, or—more likely—a cultural adaptation to their appearance, the Coyetta formed a hyper-inclusive society. At its height the Coyetta Republic populated large portions of the continent now know as The Between, which was then dubbed Syenta. The Coyetta depended heavily on an annual census to keep track of population shifts, as it was their law that a city must have a representative in the Senate for each five thousand members.

They also espoused the most liberal attitude towards demons and spirits of any culture during what was already the most liberal period in Cannoan history; in addition to their mortal genetics, many Coyetta families came to feature demonic heritage. It was commonly the case that a demon would adopt or be adopted by a Coyetta family; many were still happily playing roles they’d accepted a millennium or more prior when the Loar descended upon Cannon.

***

There we are, that’ll do just fine for Day One! I’m not sure quite what I’ll be doing tomorrow–in future years I’m sure I’ll set up prompts for this, but for today, just making the count is good enough. Let me know what you think of these snippets–and Loremageddon itself, for that matter!–down in the comments. Otherwise, please leave a like, share this post wherever you may go online, and follow me on Twitter if you’d like to keep up with my day-to-day musings.

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