Introducing: Lavana

The Tri-System itself is the solar system in which Lavana resides; it consists of three planets (hence the name), two moons, and an aging yellow star much like Earth’s own sun. The Tri-System is very unusual in the fact that the planets do not orbit the sun separately, and the moons do not orbit any one planet. As lore goes, a highly advanced race of beings, simply called the Creators, are responsible for making not only all life on the worlds, but also the solar system itself. So, it’s their ‘fault’ that the planets wound up too close to each other to resist one another’s gravitational pulls: all three planets, with the two moons in the middle of the mess, orbit each other in one massive battle of gravity, even as they swing elliptically around the sun. So, even at night, even when the moons aren’t visible, one planet or another is usually seen hanging heavily in the darkened sky.

The star is called Ghrayu, the name given by Nila ages ago and adopted by nearly all other races; it appears orange and huge in the skies. The larger of the two moons is Veron, a silvery-blue orb that hangs very close to Lavana’s surface; the smaller of the two is Xerachin, which appears copper-colored and, being farther from Lavana than Veron, is often partially eclipsed by the larger moon. The largest of the planets is Lavana, which we’ll discuss more in a moment; the other two are Terole – the smallest planet – and Shakala. Terole is the planet that stays closest to Ghrayu; it appears rust-colored or tawny and is a barren desert on the surface, only capable of supporting unprotected life in a strip along the Tropic of Nankampi. Shakala is the planet farthest from Ghrayu; it appears pearly-white and is a snowy wasteland, though a small handful of creatures do live in the midst of blizzards and glaciers.

Lavana is a beautiful world whose surface appeal belies a vicious and deadly ecology. With pale violet skies and rosy clouds that darken to greyed red-purples when heavy with rainstorms and deep violets when filled with snow, Lavana seems like a child’s fantasy world. While most of the trees have grey, grey-brown, or brown trunks like those of Earth, leaves are most commonly shades of blue, although purple and green are also very common. Lavana’s two main types of grass are also interesting in hue: short blades of pale blue grass shaped like stiff strings of beads (appropriately called beadgrass) often intermingle with long, wheat-like strands of golden grasses. Seen from Lavana, the sun is fiery gold, Veron silver, and Xerachin ruddy golden; the stars are all the colors of the rainbow. Water is tinted slightly teal-violet, and oceans especially display this rich, vibrant color.

Lavana has two main continents: Handak and Penyns. Penyns is the largest continent: two massive, irregular blocks of land (one in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern) connected by a thick landbridge on the far left (west), a sea invading from the right. Penyns’ northernmost and southernmost points are frosted and covered in snowy tundra, while the rest of the continent has climate appropriate to its distance from the equator, which crosses the lower half of the landbridge. On the opposite side of the world is Handak, second-largest continent and rather ambiguously shaped. While not as east-to-west wide as Penyns, Handak has the same range north-to-south and thus much the same variety of climates, though its terrain is far less mountainous and thickly forested. The few Lavanian deserts are all on Handak, scattered to the north or south of the equator.

Lavana’s only minor continent is southwest of Penyns and southeast of Handak; Honshane (“Refuge” or “Sanctuary”) was discovered in the third millenium during the Dark Wars. Honshane is perhaps the most interesting of the three, for its surface area is likely equal to that of Penyns due to so many huge cave systems networked under rolling mountains, although its amoeba-like shape is only the size of the northern half of Penyns. There are also strange floating islands that drift with the cross-currents of air over Honshane; these can be reached by a Minmon standing on its hind legs, so low they fly, yet none of them ever seem to brush against a mountaintop. Honshane holds untold mysteries and very, very few native inhabitants – but here are a few new species never before seen on the rest of Lavana, as well as the fifth Korat breed, browns.

While Lavana has relatively few continents, it is fairly riddled with islands and island chains. Most chains are near or on the equator, and one of the most famous ones – the Stepping Stones – provides a bridge from Handak’s eastern shore to Penyns’ western, with the largest water-gap between islands only twenty-three miles across. Some of the Stones are a foot or two underwater, but they still provide a way across for Lavanians who have never made boats.

Lavana’s bodies of water don’t attract as much attention as they should, likely because most saltwater is filled with vicious sea monsters that are bigger than many islands. The ocean that stretches from Handak’s eastern shore to Penyns’ western one (which contains the Stepping Stones as well as part of Honshane) is called Vyolit, “Beauty” to those living on its shores. The ocean separating Penyns’ eastern shore from Handak’s western one, a place largely devoid of large islands or even island chains, is called Tiuna, “Fierce” to any who have ever glimpsed the saltwater behemoths underneath its calm surface. The arctic seas (which freeze into glaciers at the poles) are simply called North Sea and South Sea, although they’re large enough to be considered oceans, and the last body of saltwater worth mentioning is the long, narrow sea sandwiched between the two halves of Penyns — Morning Sea, as the sun touches its waters first. While Lavana has no major rivers (comparable to the Mississippi or the Amazon), it does have one delta-marsh-swamp area north of the land bridge on the northern half of Penyns called the Falls. The Falls encompass several thousand acres of land and fill these areas with thick, warm mist that never completely clears and often becomes so dense that one cannot see their nose in front of their face. The Falls are also the birthplace (technically Creation-place) of many of the older but odder species, and rumor holds it to be a strange, mysterious, dangerous area that few voluntarily enter.

Lavana is one of my primary settings for writing and a world I’ve been discovering/developing for over a decade. Storytellers, why don’t you tell me about some of your worlds or settings that are near and dear to you?

Introducing: Korats

“Korats? You mean those pretty silver-blue housecats from ancient Siam?”

Um, no. I mean these:

That, my dear readers, is my kind of Korat. (The fact that they share a name with an admittedly nifty breed of cat is completely accidental. My Korats got their name years before I ever found out about Korats-the-housecats.)

Korats are my favorite and one of my most-often-featured fictional species. They reside on Lavana, one of my primary worlds. Lavana is slightly larger than Earth with proportionately stronger gravity and a similar range of terrains and climates; its sky is pale violet, its clouds rosy pink, its sun – Ghrayu – a bold orange, and much of its grasses pastel blue. Don’t let the fanciful color scheme fool you, though – Lavana is a hostile, deadly world, filled with strange and dangerous creatures.

Quadrupedal predators, Korats are often regarded as the ‘average Lavanian,’ for all that they seem to be one of the most successful species. Korats have canine heads, shark-like teeth, round-pupiled eyes, and lupine ears. Their necks are a few feet long and held tightly in an S-curve, almost jointed; it takes a muscle spasm for them to ‘unlock’ their necks, and it’s also rather hard to slit a Korat’s throat, as their necks are thickly-muscled. They have deep chests and narrower waists. Their forelegs are slender compared to their hind, ending in forehands with small V-shaped palms and two retractably-clawed ‘fingers’. Their hind legs are powerful with a three-toed paw resembling that of a Velociraptor; their innermost toe is held upright, off the ground, and totes a ‘longclaw’ – a scythe-shaped claw usually 6 inches long. Males have long, fast tails with a curving ‘tailblade’ made of bone branching off near the tailtip; some females can have this as well, though it’s rare. Most females, instead, have shorter and very muscular tails.

Korats are small for Lavanians, standing at 3-6 feet at the withers. They’re striated into five distinct breeds – lean and swift tans, graceful and toned blacks, sturdy and muscular reds, tall and powerful whites, and tough and shaggy browns – as well as a genetic mutation, a striped that combines two breeds. Koratian breeds determine not only the physical appearance, but also the body’s strength, speed, endurance, flexibility, and agility, as well as the mind’s general temperament and sociability. Korats tend towards a pack structure, with a leader and a few secondary leaders guiding the group’s activities and drawing the bounds of territory; they don’t use tools and many abhor the scent of metal objects.

The complete biography – including full physical description, breed details, history, society, and culture – can be found in the Bestiary under ‘Korat’. I have all the details I could think to write on that single page, so it’s fairly long (and why I summarized, rather than copy-pasted, in this entry). You can also check out the Korat Gallery for some illustrations by various artists.

I’ve written (but not finished) one Korat novel so far, entitled Outcast, and I’m contemplating either completing that story or starting anew for my third writing project. I figured now was a good time to get you used to hearing about Korats; I’ll see if I can’t find a little piece of fiction to toss up shortly. Besides, the Korat biography is a good glimpse of how detailed my creature-building can get – and perhaps an inspiration for other worldmakers to write their ideas down.

What kinds of creatures have you come up with to populate your fiction?