There are but three things in the lands of Nyxos:
The Sea Beneath,
Sky Above, Land Between.
There are but three creatures: Gods, Men, and Beasts.
Those who live are New Men, humans, born of
what was, inheritors of what is now.
For ages long and in time now long lost,
When Gods dwelled in vaulted sky halls. Proudly
they stained the Earth with their bloody wars and
the Sea grew crimson and the Land barren.
Dusty bone fell upon the mountains black,
and fields howled empty.
She of the Earth wept bitter tears for
those children lost to the petty duels
among brother and sister, Gods and Men.
“This cannot stand, this warring state above!
Go forth, my Sons, seek aid for us in deep
places, where no god nor man hath tread.”
And so her son, the Lord of Secrets, found
a deep well, beneath Sea and Land alike.
Whispers into dark places set free
the wild forces of madness and chaos.
Gods and Men turned their arms to the new foes,
But She of Earth had loosed a fire too mighty.
The Gods burned.
The Citadel, beacon bright and high,
could not stand before the raging blaze.
The chaos would consume the world entire.
Mountains flowed like wax, the sea seethed,
The stars fell.
The Citadel was left as madness howled,
and the last God spoke a curse to avenge
his end and the ends of all of his kind.
“Let my tower burn for half of all time,
Let my gate stand empty the rest,
and so let the world know what it
once had and now has lost forever.”
With his spear, he clove through the Citadel,
and the Chaos was dismayed.
The treasures of the gods fell down to Earth,
into the well of fire Secrets had tapped.
Sealing the world, saving it, even as
it died away.
In time the Age of Men arose amid
the ruins of the Gods and Elder races.
The Tower still burns above every day,
The Gate glows empty each and every night,
And the peace of death descends upon all.
Save in dreams, where bloody battles old,
are fought in sleep by wretched mortals frail,
to caution Men of how they may yet fail.
The next month is going to be full of great news for my writing career, so let’s kick it off with the release of a short fiction anthology featuring my story “Dreamflight of the Katatha.”
The Ways of Magic anthology, released by Deepwood Publishing, is now available via Amazon as well as Barnes and Noble and Kobo. I encourage you to check it out, as I’m proud of the story within it and have every confidence the whole thing is a good read. If story anthologies are your thing, then you’ve got a lot of good news coming your way, as I’ve got two more like this coming out in the next couple weeks (one of which has an advance copy sitting on my desk right now).
And then, of course, is my Big News, which is still under wraps, but never fear – you’ll find out soon enough!
Enough listening to me gab, though – go out and buy this book!
Like a lot of writers, I’m really good at doing lots of work on projects that have nothing to do with the project I’m supposed to be working on. It’s a kind of constructive procrastination, I guess, and it has its uses. Lately, while my short story projects are a bit stalled and the novel I’m working on plods along at a moderate pace, I’ve been spending entirely too much time fleshing out the land of Nyxos, a setting for future stories, novels, etc..
The primary, operative element of information about Nyxos is that all the power in this world, all the sorcerous might and arcane ability, finds its genesis in dreams. Dreamstuff can be made into physical objects; dreams can be spied upon, invaded, and even taxed. Some species live more in dreams than they do in ‘reality’ and, indeed, the line between the two is often held into question. A lot of this is really rough, mind you, but that’s the gist of it.
The primary villain in the world is the Oneirarch, the Dream Tyrant, who ‘taxes’ the dreams of his subjects to both keep them in line and to build his own power. He is something out of a nightmare – not seen, but glimpsed in the corners of nightmares. He is a presence felt, but not known. His priests maintain a fleet of dreamships – powerful vessels of pure dreamstuff that sail the skies of Nyxos, imposing the Onierarch’s will through the terrifying violence of nightmares-made-real.
But as I develop these concepts, I’m left with the question: Of what shape should the dreamworld take? The closest analog in fantasy literature I know of is Tel’aran’rhiod, which is from Jordan’s Wheel of Time – a world of dreams that is unified into a coherent, if malleable, landscape that loosely mirrors the real world. This is a kind of ‘universalist’ approach to dreams (i.e. we all visit the same dreamworld while we dream, we just lack the skills to navigate it). On the other end of the spectrum we have the world of dreams as set out by Inception, wherein the dreamworld is not a universal landscape but rather an idiosyncratic construction of an individual’s subconscious. Each dreamer is unique, each dream has its own unique foibles, and each is a reflection of individual will rather than collective belief.
To some extent, this seems to find us floating between the poles of none other than Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. These two giants of psychoanalysis explored the importance of dreams in our psychological landscape, and while they share many of the same ideas, there are key differences. The most significant, perhaps, is the fact that Jung sees dreams as plugged into a kind of collective subconscious – an amalgam of myth and religious folklore that permeated the subconscious of all people and was shared between them. This, of course, is more in line with Tel’aran’rhiod than the dreamscapes of Inception. Freud, meanwhile, sees dreams as reflections of problems felt by the dreamer in the waking world (and these problems he saw as frequently sexual in nature). Jung agrees with his former teacher to a point (i.e. that dreams reflect waking problems), but takes it one step further to insist that the dream isn’t mere wish-fulfillment caused by some conscious issue in need of resolution, but is itself an entity worthy of independent consideration. To paraphrase this paper by Brlizg on the matter, whereas Freud might wonder what caused a dream and how to fix it, Jung wondered what the dream itself meant on its own terms.
This connection between dreams and the real world and the connection between one person’s dreams and another’s is something worthy of personal reflection as well as a direction for fantastic extrapolation. It’s something I’m going to need to study at greater length, at any rate, before Nyxos is ready to go.
Now, back to more pressing writing projects.
Dusk born and dawn dead,
Crown of Stars about their head.
Young as dewdrops, old as Stone.
Clad in Whispers, Speak in Silk,
Seek them not, nor all their ilk.
Wand’ring Kyklos, where no man tread,
With the shades and restless dead.
Dancing they on darkest moon
to ancient words and madman’s tune,
Carry silver, holly, purest lye
and Skie revels shall pass you by.
I’ve begun developing a new fantasy world, inspired by a story I wrote called “Dreamflight of the Katatha”, which will be published in Deepwood Publishing’s Ways of Magic Anthology. The place is called Nyxos, and it is inspired by a mixture of Ancient Greek, Egyptian, and Celtic cultures. Unlike Alandar, which is more gritty and realistic (and more ‘modern’), the idea of Nyxos is to be mythic, ancient, and dreamlike. It’s in the very early planning stages, but the above is a verse description of one of the ‘creatures’ roaming the lands beyond the ‘civilizing’ influence of the Oneirarch. Of note, most of what people know in Nyxos is based off verse and song – almost no one can read or write. Anyway, thought I’d share it, and I hope you like it.