Design View | Articles and opinion on design professionalism, technique and culture by Andy Rutledge

Old Fantasy Writings

January 21, 2011

Digging through some old papers last night, I came across some of my early fantasy/fiction writings, some dating as far back as ca. 1985. This was stuff that I worked on sporadically for 15 years or so. All of it is handwritten manuscripts for a fantasy story project for which I once had high hopes, including copious history, snippets of poetry (ostensibly written by the characters in the story), and prose.

I found maps too, but the most important map and central to the writings was the one that has been hanging on my home office wall for the past 13 years or so. It’s a hand-drawn and pencil-colored full-size poster board map of the world of my story: Edessa.

Edessa map crop

Though I occasionally look at the map, I hardly ever actually see it, but the rediscovery of the manuscripts brought a flood of nostalgia that washed over me and has me writing about it here. Yes, I thought it might be fun to share some of my old fantasy story, or at least the parts that really get my creative juices flowing and emotions running on all 12 cylinders: the foundation legend.

I’ll get to that here in a moment, but first here’s the map that goes with the actual stories (but, sadly, not the foundation legend that follows here). I used to make maps of all kinds; fantasy and real-world ones. This one was always my favorite, hence the place it has occupied on my wall all these years.

Edessa map by Andy Rutledge

See a 3000-pixel version

It was hand drawn with pencil, then inked with a fine-point black pen, then colored with colored pencils. The hand-lettering is pretty awful and ridiculously garish; the large kingdom names, especially. Hey, I was not yet the designer I am today. Ahem. Okay, I still can’t hand letter like a pro, but I’ll always love these garish, awful examples of off-the-cuff typographic creations from more than a decade ago. Anyway, I hope you dig the map and the origin story that follows.

The Foundation Legend

by Andy Rutledge (ca. 1988)


Into the Utter Void came the Light and then the First, who entered the void, ever looking to the Light. The beginning of the First is a tale unknown; but that they were echoes of the Voice of Imagination and that they embodied the Voice of Creation, and so were made potent.

Each in his solitude brought forth creations of Imagination into the void and in these creations each found new gladness. Such was the love of the First for their creations that they bestowed upon them the Voice of Imagination. And so were born the children of the First. Each of the First dwelt alone with his children in his own Realm, ever looking to the light. Each, save one who had no children. Thus begins the story of the First gods and their children who named them. Each was called after the fashion of his children: Aerzë, Ennös, Loriil, Modrir, Sür and Ranyë.

Aerzë it was who brought forth a creation out of Imagination and he called it Üdan, the World. It was unlike any other creation in the Void. Üdan embodied the realities most loved by Aerzë and his children, whom he named Grungar, the stone people. The world was made hard and unyielding and would require some force of effort to change its form. The Grungar were wont to dwell upon this world and, with their Will and Imagination, fashion gifts and creations of their own imagining. In this, Aerzë was glad and his children went then from the Void to Üdan.

The presence of the world in the Void was as a clarion and the other gods harkened to it. Even as they beheld it in the Light, new longings were born in each of them. The gods entreated Aerzë to allow them to shape this Creation for they deemed it wondrous and would have it bear their own attentions. At the mention of their intentions, Aerzë was wroth. In his solitude he had forgotten the other gods and was jealous of his creation, wishing to have it for himself and his own children.

Quoth Aerzë: "What wouldst thou bring unto my creation which is beyond my Imaginings and wouldst so better it?" Then each shared his own Imaginings, for each envied Aerzë in his creation and coveted it. At length, Aerzë refused their petitions. Quoth Aerzë: "Though surely these Imaginings are themselves wondrous, I wouldst not suffer them upon my Creation for I could not direct them with mine own will."

Then he who was, by the others, called Modrir came forward; one who had no children and was in this respect unique. Quoth Modrir: "Speak thou not in such haste, for I see in this endeavor great beginnings." Quoth Ennös: "What is it that thou hast Imagined which we have not?" Modrir smiled, for he had begun to shape a plan to sate the longings he held in having no children. Quoth Modrir: "Each of us has Imaginings and Creations of great merit and singly they are wondrous. Yet, wouldst not they be doubly so if they were intermingled and each made aware of the others? I imagine this combined Creation and I am filled with gladness and wonder at that which is, as yet, unknowable. Wouldst ye all not wish to discover this new Reality?" The words of Modrir had strength and sway, for such was his gift.

And so Aerzë relented and this new endeavor was agreed upon. Each again petitioned Aerzë. Quoth Sür: "I will cover the World with my creation of waters and my children shall live in this realm I shall call Ocean." But answered Aerzë: "Nay, only a part of the World is for thou, and my children shall have no love of the Ocean." And so the ocean was broken by great masses of coarse land, which were surrounded by the waters. Quoth Ranyë: "I shall decorate the lands of the World with the beauty of Flora and Fauna and surround the World with Airs, and Winds shall move the Airs about the World." Aerzë assented, but said: "the beauty of thy creations are beyond my ken and my children will not love thine and will hunt them when they are met." Ranyë agreed, but secretly vowed to keep some of Her Own beyond the influence of Aerzë's children. Quoth Ennös: "I wouldst ask only to let my children dwell amid the wonder of the World and have but a parcel to call their own." Aerzë was pleased at these humble words and gladly granted Ennös' wish, though he could not know the further effect that these children, whom Ennös called Men, would have upon the world. Quoth Loriil: "I wouldst ask only, much as did Ennös, only a portion of the land for my children, but one possessed of all the gifts of Ranyë, for my children are inspired by them and wouldst know more of them." Then quoth Aerzë: "I grant thy wish, and that of thy children, but as my children share not a liking of Ranyë's gifts, mine will have no love for thine." And so came to the world the children of Ranyë, called Illandür.

Quoth Aerzë: "And what of thou, Modrir. As thou hast no children, nor any creation besides, what wouldst thou bring unto the World?" Modrir then humbled himself saying, "I have naught which couldst cast more fair an aspect upon the World as those now therein. I wouldst ask only to help in the further Imaginings of the children of this World, for I have a great many plans." At these words, Aerzë was wroth and likewise were the others. Quoth Aerzë: "Methinks these words of thine bode ill, for I cannot judge that which is hidden. 'Tis better, perhaps, that our children suffer not thy assistance and be free to shape their own Imaginings. Thou wilt be forbidden to enter the World and may take no part in it! Only wilt thou go to the Void beyond the World and dwell in its shadow and, in darkness, look down upon the gloom thou hast brought to my perception. To remind me and my children of thy jealous words and dark intent, the World shall turn about the Light so that each part of the World shall take its turn in darkness, away form the Light and our fair Imagination."

As the will of the gods was one, Modrir could do naught else. In the shadow beyond the world did Aerzë bring forth a Creation formed in mockery of the Words of Modrir: A lifeless sphere, as if a hollow cast of Üdan, which followed ever in the shadow of the world, away from the Light and did seem to look down upon the world in pale envy. And so was born Wëre, the Moon, and thereto did Modrir depart in shame and wrath and was then lost to the sight of the others.

The gods looked upon the world and were pleased and they wondered at the fruits of their joining and vowed that further creation in the world must be accomplished only in joining one with another—that no single being could bring forth Creation of life or any sort. This was the First Law of the World.

The Üdanduir: The Centerstone of the World

The gods dwelt in the Void and though they looked in gladness upon the world, they were separated by the vastness of the Void and so began to fashion realms of their own within it. And so was formed the Multiverse (the godrealms) around the Light and the world which circled it.

In The World, though the children loved their new home, they felt a great loss, for they were separated from the Voice of Imagination which was omnipresent in the godrealms. In answer, the gods in their kindness bestowed a boon upon the world and made a conduit through which the divine vitality of the godrealms could be brought to the world. This conduit, the Üdanduir, was placed deep within the world and its form was that of a great stone obelisk with three sides.

Knowledge of its existence was kept hidden, known only to the children of Aerzë. It was decided that the Grungar would guard the Üdanduir from harm and discovery and it lay in the nethermost hall of their labyrinthine home. The Grungar were well chosen for the task, as they felt a most jealous love for The World which their father made. And they were not loth to keep secrets.

The Üdanduir brought the Voice of Imagination, a force through which many realities were conceived and realized. This force was present in all things and beings, though some were more attuned to the power than others. The Voice of Imagination embodied the three everpresent facets of the Multiverse: law, neutrality and chaos. Therefore, every thing and being also embodied a portion of each of these three facets, though only one facet would propound its nature.

The gods agreed that the world should grow and develop on its own without their direct and repeated molding, for their respective marks were upon it already. A guardianship had been established for the Üdanduir, but none had been placed over the power it conducted. And so the gods decided that a trio of Keepers would be appointed to maintain a watch over the use of the power of the Üdanduir and regulate the balance of the three facets of Imagination. The Keepers alone would possess any lore of the Üdanduir, save for the Grungar who guarded it. Three from the children of Ennös were chosen to assume the role of Keepers, for Men were the least tied to the Vitality which the Üdanduir conducted. It was agreed that they would be least likely to bow to the corruption of its abuse. Each Keeper governed one of the three facets of the Voice of Imagination and embodied its nature. The way in which the Voice could be manipulated by skill was called Shara by the Illandür, Khorulu by the Grungar, and Men called it magic. And so came to be the Order of the Keepers.

Unseen, Modrir noted the work of the others and in his wrath began to weave the webs of treachery. He had tried to bring forth children and found that he could not. Creation was beyond his ken. He had not learned to hear the Voice of Creation and its power was lost to him. Further, he was bound by the First Law of the World. Therefore, he set about to corrupt that which had been created. Manipulation of the Voice of Imagination was where Modrir saw the possibility of his victory. The Voice could be manipulated and so could those tied to it. It was there that Modrir directed his efforts and he knew that the Üdanduir would be the key to his victory.

**End of the foundation story**


I have piles of stuff that follows, but this story above sets the stage for a couple thousand years of history. Some of that history I've written and some I only have tucked away in my noggin. Then there is the actual story that I started writing to go with, as a trilogy: The Covenant of the Gods, I called it . Maybe one day I'll get it all out. Maybe one day I'll even get to share it properly.

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