The continent of Ertset is known for tall granite spires in the north with plains and lowland forests in the south. The Ertsetans are all centauroid, based on hoofed creatures, with the northern unicorn kingdom of Rinnock laying claim to a wide span of territory. The duchies don't mind sending taxes north for protection, but the border of the kingdom is hard to define and Meracchia has also claimed a lot of the same land. The magic-heavy ruins of Tenjō are in this contested area.
It's impossible to capture the people of the continent of Zem in a single picture. The reptilian Zemrin are not just Delyria's most populous group, but also the most diverse, consisting not only of a wide range of lizards, snakes, turtles, and dragons but the aquatic Vanagantans, the avian Xeraphandi, the dinosaurian Tximisti, and possibly others. There are more kinds of Zemrin alone than other worlds have kinds of people, so here's just one of the many.
A page full of colorful notes. Delyria's magic is heavily based on color, revolving around an energy called "chroma" that is present in all kinds of things and can be controlled to make magic happen (I'll explain how later). Roughly they correspond like this:
Red - fire and explosions
Orange - earth, metal, sand
Yellow - light, lightning, and sound
Green - life and death
Blue - wind, water, ice
Purple - time, space, and dimension
Silver - thought, emotion, other abstract things
Let's kick this off with kind of a crossover. Here's Blit's newly updated shape in color, showing off that he's still got some hologram-related abilities. He's always liked to juggle little sets of shapes, and the seven magic symbols from Delyria make a good set; they're explicitly based on card suits (the usual 4 plus sun, moon, and star) combined with elements I'll explain later. There used to be more, but I've been working the kinks out of this for years now and I finally like it.
🧬 That's about the end of it, I think. I got my body-crafting studio back, and Blythaniel "Blit" Bitkin there was my first customer. We went with a look halfway between his old and new forms. He's a part-time defender of the city and needs to look the part, though it's a city that can speak for itself now and that we know is going to look out for us.
⊷ So what is he? Organic? A hologram? A wizard? Some kind of physical math spirit?
🧬 It doesn't matter. This is Elseways. Here, you're just you.
Felt like more exploratory Delyria sketching. Here's another attempt at figuring out how Meracchians look. Her two heads aren't entirely separate; they're joined just behind the cheek, giving her only single pairs of ears and horns. I think it's a decent compromise.
Meracchia is home to a school of magic that emphasizes practical applications over theory, which makes it a good place to study medicine. This woman is one of their instructors.
⥣ Good evening, Blythaniel … is your surname still Bitkin?
⎈ I don't know if it should be. I'd like to be one again, at least.
🧬 We can work on that later. But since I'm leaving the Corps, there's an opening.
⎈ You want me in the Corps?
⥣ You know more about the Empire than almost anyone in the city. We could use your expertise.
🧬 If you've got this new responsibility, you may as well get the badge that goes with it.
⎈ But I still work here.
🧬 _And_ the body.
⎈ …Part-time consultant, then?
Hours later, at the Nexus Center:
🧬 So here's where you've been. We were wondering.
⎈ Not all that time. I took a long float around the city. I guess the whole place is my responsibility now.
🧬 Why's that?
⎈ I'm the "wizard" who "owns" this city now. It's my territory to defend if the Empire ever comes back.
🧬 …that explains why you didn't seem very happy when we kicked Principia out. They know we're here.
⎈ Yeah. I'm part of the game now. They'll come back.
🧬 And when they do, we'll be ready.
Drew the Ertsetan girl from yesterday - her name is Hann - out for a walk down the road with her Guild mentor. His extra pairs of arms and legs aren't natural; they were added on later when he could afford the alterations. Adventuring is a high-risk high-reward occupation, and some of them decide that it's better to invest in some spare parts. Hann is still young, but she's got plenty of time to learn and grow into her role.
Dipping back into Delyria for a bit here (and you'll be seeing a lot more of this setting once the Elseways story wraps up) - this girl is a novice adventurer, just learning how to channel her inner chroma to cast spells. She's from one of the many lowland forest duchies of the land of Ertset, home to all kinds of hoofed centauroid folk. Tired of a slow life out in the provinces, she's made her way to the nearest Guild hall to make something of herself.
🧩 You haven't seen the last of me…
⎉ Sorry about the tackle, but you did try to vaporize our friend.
⎈ I was even going to offer you a place here. I wanted you to live with us and see what we'd built, but…
🧩 You have no logical reason to expect any of this to work.
⎈ I don't need one. It feels right, to me and to all of us. So when someone like you comes in, doing real harm…
⎉ Yeah. We can defend ourselves too.
⎈ The Corps is keeping your ship, by the way.
⎈ You're going back alone.
🧬 How're we going to do this? Lillian, any readings?
⊷ Someday I'll learn how the Empire makes sharp angles in flux lines… I can see what's powering those cannons, anyway. If you can knock the pointy bits off, they should backfire.
🦠 come back safe
✧ We'll see if those pens are mightier than my sword!
🧬 Viv, come with me. If that thing is crewed by more antihumans, the morph gun will make short work of them. Trying to be anything but a soldier makes them disintegrate, right?
🦠 let's do this
🧬 You're not alone out here.
✧ As soon we saw what was happening, we suited up. This is our battle too.
⊷ I'm not sitting this out. You'll need my help.
⎈ …And Vivid? How'd you get out of there so fast?
🦠 still there
🧬 Yeah, I made more of the substance he's made of and the Corps outfitted it with some quantum entanglement gizmo. I dunno, I'm a biologist, not a physicist.
⎈ So what's the plan?
✧ You keep the witch occupied.
⊷ Distract her.
⎈ Like she did to me…
✧ Exactly. Leave the ship to us.
⎈ …Vidrio!? What just happened?
⎉ She came in that ship, remember? While you two were having that argument it was lining up a shot on you.
⎈ The duel was a distraction… I wish I'd seen that coming. And why are you a dragon?
⎉ I got my shapeshifting back! The longer I visit worlds outside Elseways the more time I can spend in those shapes back here.
⎈ Thanks for the save, anyway.
⎉ No problem! We couldn't let you take this on yourself.
Drew Simka Choi today - I needed to give someone a reference for how she looked outside her uniform, so here she is in casual clothes. She's possibly the only character of mine who's aged in realtime; she was 13 when I came up with her around 2003 or so, making her 31 today. She's been a Cosmos Corps recruit nearly as long, putting her skills with a paintbrush to use by operating the high-powered dangerous landscape-reshaping equipment the Corps uses on worlds in dire need (like their own).
⎈ Why are you so concerned with productivity, anyway?
🧩 It's what cities are for!
⎈ Shouldn't we worry more about the happiness of the citizens?
🧩 You can't measure happiness!
⎈ Shouldn't you care when people are unhappy?
🧩 Stop talking about emotions!
⎈ Shouldn't you do what you can to let people be themselves?
🧩 Stop worrying about weird people!
⎈ …are you sure you really understand who we are?
🧩 AND STOP ASKING SO MANY QUESTIONS!
More sketches of Tiph; marked sensitive because while Tiph is sexless and has nothing between their legs at all, they're still nude in a couple of these. Being an expert potion-brewer means knowing a great deal about the natural world, and Tiph tends both a small herb garden aboveground and a mushroom cave deep beneath the temple where they live and work.
Sketch done over my lunch break at work - this is Tiph, a six-armed alchemist, at work preparing a batch of potions. Despite how it looks, they live in Elseways, not Delyria; Tiph is another of Scylla's attendants and has a small side room of her temple set up as their laboratory. Tiph is polite and quiet and mostly keeps to themself, although they make occasional trips to the mainland to explore libraries, bookstores, and kitchen supply shops (a useful source for their tools).
⎈ Because she's got an extra pair of legs?
🧩 Precisely. Why waste her mind on fruitless creative pursuits when her body is better suited to labor?
⎈ What does it matter how she spends her time?
🧩 A proper city wastes no time. Each citizen is productive. We can measure that, we can control it, and we can optimize it, in the name of greater efficiency.
⎈ What does her body have to do with "efficiency"?
🧩 A productive city is uniform.
⎈ Not really. You know by now what we look like here.
This server's admin. Manages the interface between the real world and all the strangeness that goes on inside. Also posts about his own life sometimes.
The official server of the City of Elseways.