Blog Episode Two – Contextual Setting


So; you have created characters, you have a story, you have background, you have built a world and all of its rules, this is excellent. This is shiny and good, it has sparkle!
When one is thinking of making something beautiful out of whatever one discovers in the bottom drawer, one needs not only imagination and purpose, one normally needs some kind of glue or other to make all of the pieces come together and, as it were, unify.

Back in the days when Scratchy was still young, the tribes of Eire would, at times, need to communicate from afar and in secret. They would find highly reflective stones or would polish bits of metal and try to direct the light of the sun onto them. Using a code, they would flash a simple message to their compatriots. In later times, I heard about some war in distant Ippon over trade, the natives of an island under Navajo protection has been inconvenienced and the trade deal had become much less voluntary than they would have liked. In order to keep their movements and tactics over telelegon secret, they spoke to one another in the old language of their ancestors, a tongue even the most applied Ipponese intelligence officer could not know.

Eventually, like all codes will be, it was cracked but they found that the messages made no sense. Now, the Ipponese should have – with their own very lyrical and at times metaphorical language, have thought about this but they did not.

They lacked the context, in this case the cultural context that shaped the way Na-Dene is spoken and how it describes certain things, events, and even people; its slang and idioms. The Navajo has invented layered encryption and their innovation became the new standard across both the Empyraeum and beyond.
There is a valuable lesson in this.

How many hours, weeks, and days have you spent writing, rewriting, developing characters, creating art for them, perfecting, researching, rewriting again, refining….and so on until you knew the inside of each character’s head and their ‘life’ perhaps better even than your own?

Shiny indeed.

Now, we all know the dangers and the pitfalls of a new author’s path; we know the silly rules and the concensus opinions on commas, adverbs, and so forth. We have also heard of that of which we must not speak; the infomation dump. If you are writing an academic essay, research paper, text book, a book for Dwarves, or are being paid by the word, info dumps are fine and shiny. If you are, however, not writing one of these effulgent items, then it is not always so welcome. It is, in fact, mostly considered dull and boring.
So, that takes the polish off the gemstone doesn’t it? Now what?
Context, my friends, context.

How does one do that o-wise and be-bereted one? Simple.

How do human babies (the less we talk about goblin babies the better) learn what you people disgustingly call their milk tongue? By hearing it, by repeating it, by praticising it…by speaking!

Ah, you wise and shiny goblin, you cry! You’e talking about dialogue aren’t you? Yes. Yes, I am talking about dialogue, among other things. We have mentioned before a movie made by a certain Antipodean (from the Land of Dream) bearded fellow who did not even try to represent goblins in a good light. Yet he did something beautiful. In his movie he made sure every last possible detail was covered, every weapon, piece of armour, even personal items and imperfectations were present if not conciously seen. He told a story in silence which provided both belief and context.

I digress not at all by mentioning Patchy’s fine works at this point. He is good at that, building consistency and context into his work. He makes many things standard, and many things unique, as is needed. He will standardise armour types so it is clear that Kalshodar armour, Dracograth armour, and even epibatoi armour comes from the same place. You can see that all Empyraen vehicles were made by the same factories. Yet you can see how different characters have personalised their gear, how they carry different items, wear different badges, and so forth. That tells a small story about them.

You as writer today have so many places to drop your context and have people look and enjoy; you have social media, websites, blogs such as this, my fine audio-visoohaahl work, Patchy’s masterpieces, even Scratchy’s sneaky little bits and pieces he scatters around for as youse to find. Your world is not nly needing to be just inside a book any more. In fact, eBooks are opening you all kinds of new doors now!

Back to how they speak though, right? Yes, yes indeedy-pie, sir/madam/other/none!
The idea behind ESG started simple. Change a few names, alter a few ideas and linguisic constructs, give a feel for a different world in simple little casual exchanges of no apparent consequence. Then it got bigger, as these things often do. But the idea remains the same. A little causal ‘overheard’ conversation, a throwaway comment, a far-speaker in the background, a newspaper article the character reads while waiting for something important to happen. All these things give data, provide background, give context without interrupting the flow of the story. Not only that, but they feel natural in way no info dump ever can.

See, here is Sham, our good mate, doing regular people stuff as regular people do. Good old Sham, he does things like we do, we like Sham! We like Sham so we listen to what he has to say…see where the rat is running here? Towards the shine because rats are clever little bleeders.

Your job is not just to make the shine but to lead your readers towards it like a boss rat with his pack, see? Does you find the rat and force food down his gob til he chokes or does you leave some good quality victs out somewhere for him to find so that up he comes to snaffle ’em and….BANG!…he’s inna trap? Right! You leads, you doesn’t force. You drops crumbs for him to follow but you leaves the real shiny stuff for the trap, right?

Now you get it! Same as with your readers, you drops lilli hints and clues along the way to keep ’em sniffing but you leaves the real shine for them to find for themselves and think ‘what a clever little fellow am I, what with all this shine what is mine!’ right before – BANG! – you got ’em…
And, yes, me letting me ‘inner goblin’ slip out, as it were, was also me giving you some sniff and context.

The Language of the Empyreaum (Là Glostèan Empyraen)

ESG (technically it’s LGE – Là Glostèan Empyraean – but I chose to keep it simple and produce intresting acronyms) was the result of several years of soldiers from across the Empyraeum trying to determine the location of the mess tent or latrines during the Bloodless Conquest. Six million soldiers, artisans, merchants, and the numerous other professions that support what was effectively a mobile city, two hundred and fifty languages, many more dialects…Greek was no longer the predominant language of this force of unequalled size and people had to communicate.
It started with various pidgins and cants, a word here, a phrase there – this thing is called that and you say this in this fashion, it costs this many – but, eventually, words and phrases started to integrate and spread, especially those not meant to be heard in polite company! Soldiers are rarely know for their smooth tongues and gentle manner, after all.
Nobody really knows how it started, it was not recorded, no one group sat down and decided, it ws purely organic osmosis and people doing what people do best; taking what they have and making it work. Eventually, a universal argot started to emerge; every soldier knew it and you can be certain that everyone who made a living taking their wages away from said soldiers knew it. Alexander got to hear about it when his Kalshodar and Dracograth (many of whom, such as Neshaa, were not Greek by birth and had struggled to learn their King’s speech) started to use it and he was delighted, he took it as an omen; his cultural melting pot blending together nicely, no longer were they Greeks, Perisans, Sythians, Celts and so on; they were something new and were creating something new together. He knew this boded well for the Empyraeum to come.
With each country conquered and each fresh batch of recruits added, the flavour of the argot changed as the shiny-faced young men and women in search of adventure added their own languages and dialects to the mix. So delighted was Alexander with this developing language that he made his first formal edict to the new Empyraen Senate, the task of formalising this argot into what would become Empyraen Standard Greek. The greatest minds of the whole Empyraen descended on Alexandria-The-First and debate with lively and passionate. Alexander smiled to see it because, once again, people from all over the new Empyraen were, after a fashion, working together and, once the bruises had faded, forcing a unified identity into being.
Empyraen Standard Greek or ESG was formalised on Gamelia 25th, HA7. The first Lexicóm Empyrean was produced and distributed from Manchuria to Eiré over the following years, to schools, libraries, and town/city halls.
Of course, individual nations kept their own versions, brought by soldiers or merchants who were either returning home or starting a new life elsewhere. ESG is the formal language of the Empyraeum but there are hundreds of vulgar dialects thereof.
To practise;
“Nera ú chalk mug siú éjookaíd drúsa” – An ugly conman finds little business
“Gwyn-ía espry, gage. Sui oy-toy shy yonks anoí.” – Dude, Gwy’s (he is) gone. He surely got captured ages ago.
“Shy itú tevo-éi kat dú la-choir, ma geall” – That sneak is a police informer, I’m sure of it!
“Itù laebh tì èjookàid gamma orì anoì!” – You’ve been staring at that book for three hours now!

[Note; for the purposes of invention, we have focussed on five languages, together with some artistic license, to create ESG. Those languages are the ones we felt worked best together and made the most coherent combination. Ancient and Modern Greek, Nepali & Burmese, Gujarathi and Sanskrit, and Scots/Irish/Welsh Gaelic.]

Empyraeum Videos Now Live!

The Empyraeum YouTube Channel is now live and we aim to present regularly a new series of background and writing skills videos!

We decided to divide our video blog entries into chapters, as if they were a book and the first chapter will be on Worldbuilding, something we consider essential to both the writer;’s art and the success of both your book and your own writing career. When you build an immersive, consistent, and fully-realised world, you open up a wealth of experiences to your readers and give them opportunities to truly feel like they are somewhere else.

For The Empyraeum Cycle, a world whose history seperated from our around 3,000 years ago, it highlights and draws our audience’s attention to those differences, especially when it comes to the language which evolved in the Empyraeum, ESG or Easy-G which evolved from 6 million people, from 250 nations, trying to ask one another where the latrines were and what was for dinner that night.

Notice that the Empyraeum’s image is now fully consistent and realised. This, too, is important as a writer in these online times. Be bold, be consistent, be different, be what you want readers and fans to love; stand out!
More episodes to come…

Empyraeum Videos Now Live!

The Empyraeum YouTube Channel is now live and we aim to present regularly a new series of background and writing skills videos!

We decided to divide our video blog entries into chapters, as if they were a book and the first chapter will be on Worldbuilding, something we consider essential to both the writer;’s art and the success of both your book and your own writing career. When you build an immersive, consistent, and fully-realised world, you open up a wealth of experiences to your readers and give them opportunities to truly feel like they are somewhere else.

For The Empyraeum Cycle, a world whose history seperated from our around 3,000 years ago, it highlights and draws our audience’s attention to those differences, especially when it comes to the language which evolved in the Empyraeum, ESG or Easy-G which evolved from 6 million people, from 250 nations, trying to ask one another where the latrines were and what was for dinner that night.

Notice that the Empyraeum’s image is now fully consistent and realised. This, too, is important as a writer in these online times. Be bold, be consistent, be different, be what you want readers and fans to love; stand out!

More episodes to come…

A Linguistic Nightmare?

When the idea of the modern and current Empyraeum was set out, it came with a nagging problem; Latin never came to dominate because Rome never rose in the vacuum left by Alexander’s death and Ptolemy’s failed legacy in Egypt.

Citizens of the Empyraeum, even in its current state would not speak a language we’d recognise. Latin languages wouldn’t exist. Turns of speech and even complex words would be quite different.

We touch on this is first acknowledging the rise of koiné in the invasion of Persia and hints toward what we called the argot or emerging conlang of the Empyraen army; the result of one hundred different cultures and armies melding into a whole. Some would learn the koiné, others would speak a pidgin of their native tongue and koiné, others would make up an odd mixture of both. By osmosis, an argot started to spread, even Neshaa and Kalliades started to converse in it.

Following formal foundation of the Empyraeum in Alexandria, the argot was formalised as ESG or Empyraen Standard Greek.

Early stages of its use can be found in the stories of the Collections and inside the Novellas. Place names and little terms and insults were replaced, just to give an idea of how different the world of the Empyraeum is.
After much thought and linguistic play, we decided more was needed and below, we introduce you to a particular flavour of ESG, that spoken in Lúndún, the capital of Brytton, where much if the action of Book One “A Flame Undying” will take place.

What we consider Great Britain was never invaded by Rome, the Vikings, the Saxons. The Welsh and Gaelic tongues common in 4th Century BC remained the mother tongue of the common people who learned ESG later on, at school or for work. Also London of our world is known for its unique slangs and argots, as is Britain as a whole so our Bryttons will, of course, add and adapt words to their preference. Elements of Irish, Scots, and Welsh mix with the ancient Greek and, often, the two blend together;

Common Empyraen insults and slang of Lúndún Town

Kop = idiot/stupid Ease/Easy-G = ESG Myrt = slapper of either gender, a person of adaptable morality Moik = untrustworthy Kora = *uck Kopra = s*it Koraka = *ucker Kúna = bitch/dog Glàm = falsely flashy Laik = wimp, little bitch Proko = arse kisser Chalk = wiseguy, smartass, sort of a compliment of the backhanded type Myx = stubborn person Gràs = stinky Pòra = p*ssy, invaliant person Tod = overweight fellow, slang for aristocracy/the rich Pánastás = rebels, commonly known as Pans Hèg = boss or leader Kos = military unit or group The Choir = slang for the Keepers, Union Police Savs = Alexander Loyalists Savmor = The Kalshodar, considered a myth Gowl = clumsy person Gomb = trick, trap, ambush Felci = a fart, often used for an unfocused person Cach = crap, worthless Twm = jumped up officer, often pronounced ‘Tim’ Man = undecided, indefinite reply…”Man a well” means, ‘why not?’ or ‘might as well’ Pilli = Day dreamer, head in the clouds Clats = fight, violent disagreement Soomp! = Brilliant! Excellent! Cool! Sometimes simply “Soom” Lemb = Embarrassingly Stupid Moog = bad/dangerous Cleka = informant, grass, traitor Gaida = arse, annoying person. “On the Gaid” – messing around, fooling with someone. Skatagam = A Charlie-Fox, or complete and messy failure militarily Melit = one who favours DIY intimacy; an objectionable individual Och = multiuse term that can mean almost anything depending on context. “Gaid och” means ‘**ck it’. “Och soom” means indescribably amazing. “Och man” means ‘give me a minute to think about this’. “Och Aye” can mean anything depending on the speaker’s tone of voice. Tevo = a sneak or thief Gamina = multiuse word of emphasis meaning anything between ‘darn, ‘curses’,’**ck’, ‘**cking’ etc. Kàton = negative situation. “Dwin a lig gamina katon…” means ‘I’m in serious effing trouble here…’ Lig = a bit, a small amount. Often used ironically. Mor/Maw = big or large. Serious. Dwin = I am . “Dwin Pan, drae sior” is a common rebel greeting.
More may be coming as time allows but, for now, enjoy playing with speaking like a Lúndolix using the clues I have scattered around.

Hegemony Concept Alkemas Neshaa

Alkemas Neshaa; The Persian, The Zoroastrian, the Dracograth.

Neshaa joined Alexander’s campaign at Susan, during the Night of One Thousand Weddings. Neshaa himself remained unwed that night.
He was one of the first to become Dracograth, together with Kalliades, Korae, Lysander, and the acerbic Iapetus.

Neshaa is an odd choice for a soldier, he is a devoted Zoroastrian and, thus, a pacifist. He explains it;

“protecting one’s friends and the innocent from evil is the ultimate Good Work. To stay passive while ubiquitous men and their works flourish serve Ahiriham more than any act of justifiable violence…”

Neshaa is also the only man in History who has not only sermonised (cheeked, according to Kalliades) to a dragon and lived to tell the take upon he also won Her respect and love.

Though chalk and cheese to all appearances, he and Kalliades are the deepest of friends. They stand guard together, laugh together, play jokes on the other Dracograth together, and enjoy Lupernikes’ famous lamb stew together, usually in the company of their fellow ‘conspirators’ (though they only conspire to make sure first Alexander’s ‘malady’ then his disappearance are kept secret).

They have many adventures in Korae’s company before reuniting with first Lupernikes tgen Alexander and Sham on The Dragon’s Crown in a far-flung corner of the galaxy. Sham greeting him,as, always, as “that big ginger dreamer” and received a joyous hug in reply.

#Hegemony #Dracograth, #Persian; #Neshaa #Zoroastrian #alanjfisher #digitalart #bookseries #writingcommunity #bookart #booksecrets #Kalshodar #concept #conceptart #bookseries #characterart #characterconcept@LaurieGoulding

Hegemony – Marcos Lupernikes

Marcos Lupernikes; Spartan deserter, vagabond, general , Kalshodar, punisher of the guilty…

Once, he was known simply as Marcos the Spartan but dramatic events one day changed that. He picked up the name “Lupernikes” or “The Victory of Wolves” that day in what would be one day called Nepal.
The army had been camped on a frozen plain for months while Alexander did gods know what inside the mountain. Big armies get restless when they’re inactive; with no enemies to fight, they look for action closer to home.

By this time, Alexander’s army was made up of Macedonians, future Greeks, Persians, Sogdianians, Scythians, Indians, various Asians along with thousands of “camp followers” (suppliers, wives, children, artisans, entertainment)…division was already very much present. Some of the younger soldiers formed gangs of the kind often found in less salubrious neighbourhoods.
The “little wolves” ran various extortion schemes, petty theft, prostitution rings, protection rackets…the usual. They were tolerates until they crossed into murder and rape…

They raped young prostitutes and then viciously murdered them and Lupernikes got to hear about it.
Their leader was a cocksure little pup; full of vim, verve, and fancy Athenian ideas. He felt he was owed something. He felt his band were fighting oppression and his little pack would be instrumental in liberation Greece from the Macedonian Tyrant. He gave such a speech as Lupernikes sat in judgement.

Lupernikes, who was going to whip them all and them hang them had another idea…he told the assembled army thusly;

“You are big bad wolves chasing away the dogs, eh lads? Biting the hand that feeds and maintains you too? See, rape is rape and bullshit is bullshit, lads, no matter how you season the dish. You little dogs are no threat to Alexander or, by extension to me! Call yourselves wolves? Bollocks. Wolves don’t yap, wolves watch, wait, and when the time’s right, they do. Little dogs yap.
You say me letting you off, as you’re certain I will – in the spirit irresistible fellowship and all that – will be the victory of your wolves, right?
Right. Only, see, there is no victory of the wolves, there is only me.
Geld them. Chain them in the yard for the night and any little pup yaps, end the lot of them, clear?”

So he became the big bad wolf that are the balls of the guilty or The Victory of Wolves from then on because army humour is rarely sophisticated. As a loconic Spartan, we think Lupernikes liked the titles.

Lupernikes here, in his excellent 3D model, holds Wolf-breaker, his imfamous black sword that is longer than most men. Note how his armour varies little from that of his fellow Kalshodar. This probably shows his laconic spirit as well as his practicality. A soldier is a soldier no matter his titles. Achilles dressed like his men, so does Lupernikes.

#Hegemony #Kalshodar #Lupernikes #alanjfisher #conceptart #scifi #digitalart #concept #bookseries #bookart #characterart #bookseries #writingcommunity #writerscommunity

Hegemony – Enter the Dracograth

The Dracograth, the First Made, The Three-Hundred, The Fire-Born…
It does not matter what they are called, these golden armoured giants are rightly feared. They are Alexander’s Royal Guard and did not, to a man, give up hope in finding him again. Roaming bands if Dracograth searched the galaxy for 1500 years for any trace of their Lord…finally it was them that found him.

Standing 9 feet tall, the Dracograth are powerfully built, but do not let their size fool you; Neshaa was able to slaughter close to 30 professionals in under a minute using only his speed and the Dracograth’s signature “spear”. This massive bardiche-like weapon is longer than a man and weights about the same as one, an ordinary human could not lift it without help. Yet in a Dracograth’s hands, it appears as light as a fencing foil as it the fiery runes on its surface blaze trails through the air.
The instantly recognisable helmet can seal in a vacuum or hostile environment but, the rest of the time it is often joked that the Dracgrath recognise one another by the shape of their lips…

The model we created was, in part, inspired by a very famous classical fantasy painting. The idea was to bring over elements of my original Dracograth artwork and modernise it significantly while keeping clear baroque and fantasy elements. I also thought it important to give the Dracograth armour elements in common with their cousins, the Kalshodar. A consistency as it were.
The more observant among you will notice in this model, as much as my #Kalshodar and #Lupernikes models, I avoided the common sci-fi fantasy trope of overindividualising armour. Lupernikes’ armour is the same as that of a line Kalshodar with minor touches. The Dracograth can only be told apart “by the shape of their lips” when on duty. I feel this is more faithful to the idea of a functional army.

You tell me. 9 times out of 10, one spots a sergeant by their stripes of their demeanour, not a stark difference in their uniform. Individual soldiers carry a different loadout, their armour has different repairs visible and, in the case of Alexander’s army, the patterns of runes covering their armour are unique enough for the trained eye to notice.

#Hegemony #Dracograth #Kalshodar #3Dmodel #characterart #digitalart #bookseries #writingcommunity #bookart #booksecrets #scifi #scifiart #conceptart #writerscommunity #writingcommunity #writingtribe #bookart #characterart

Kalshodar 3D Models

Two 3D models of a Kalshodar Kasha or sergeant. He is armed with a “growler” (Manticora LAR) rifle and his original dwarf-made sword.
His armour and sword are aglow with powerful runes making up a large part of his defensive reflex field. Dragon designs are clearly endemic.
Also shown, of of the mysterious and tragic One Hundred, his armour whitened in mourning. The pure black and silver colour scheme of the ancient Kalshodar has developed into a more practical look for a Modern age; the main surfaces are darkened or bright silver with some golden or black details.

The stature and power of a Kalshodar warrior is well represented in this model which exudes menace and clearly demonstrates his superior size.

Deciding on the look of the modern Kalshodar after the fantasy-inspired ancient armours you have already seen was a challenge. As you can see, elements of the original suits remain but they’re sleeker with more of a future soldier aesthetic. Their heritage, however, remains present; the ancient flaming sword paired with an ultra-modem rifle is a very intentional design choice.

More is to come seeing as the first three Hegemony Collections were quietly re-released over last weekend.

#Hegemony #alanjfisher #bookseries #bookart #booksecrets #Kalshodar #digitalart

Hegemony Concept Art : “Manticora” LAR

Kalshodar compact rail-gun or LAR

The “Manticora” LAR (Linear Accelerator Rifle) is the favoured distance weapon of mainline Kalshodar in combat.

Using technology recovered from the cache on the Moon, the Manticora crystallises and accelerates projectiles of an exotic metallic allow at hypersonic speeds, similar to a compact rail-gun. The Manticora gets its name from the distinctive “growl-bark” sound it makes when operating and firing.

Its projectiles are both very dense and sharp, though they tend to fragment upon penetration, causing significant (usually dramatic) trauma to an unarmoured enemy.

One canister, as you see mounted in front of the trigger, is good for around 200 shots and can provide a good rate of fire at 45 shots per minute, one shot every 3-4 seconds. This slower rate of fire is best suited to squad based covering fire scenarios and accuracy is vital. The rifle’ s targeting systems are slaved directly to his armoured internal HUD.

#Hegemony #alanjfisher #writerscommunity #writingcommunity #bookseries #bookart #booksecrets #kalshodar #weaponry #weaponconcept #design #conceptart