Welcome to project Leylan; an ambitious worldbuilding concept in the making. Currently, only the basics have been fleshed out, but the aim is to fully enliven the world with a deep and rich history and feel. You can look up the world and its current progress here, powered by Worldanvil.
Rather than throwing out another nation, as I did yesterday, I thought I’d share some of the foundational principles about the world of Leylan. It is important to understand that Leylan is alive, it is a conscious being the size of a planet. Born out of random fluctuations in the void, Leylan is fundamentally terrified of being reclaimed by the void around it (look up the Boltzmann brain if this is nonsense to you. It might remain so afterwards, but just go with it). This article on ether explains how Leylan uses this… ‘stuff’… to keep the void at bay, while not having to be completely isolated. It also touches upon how ether becomes corrupted, and, briefly, how humans train themselves to use it. There are mentions in this article that will make no sense whatsoever without context, you can gleam the gist. Take a look if you’re interested.
Ether is everywhere on Leylan. It suffuses the air as it keeps everything in proper order, protecting Leylan’s true body with a layer of protection against the onslaught of the void. The most curious feature of ether, however, is its attraction to intention and will. It became apparent when Leylan first spawned the Ordos from its own dreams, which later became useful for the elder races, as they each arrived to build some kind of order to countermand the inevitable flow toward disorder.
Ether was originally a waste product during Leylan’s long isolation, shortly after being born. Once Leylan became curious about the outside world, it expelled this waste produt to guard against the void ripping it apart once more. From Nodes all over its surface, functioning as exhaustpipes, Leylan expells ether into its surroundings, keeping it and the Ordos safe from the Void.
However, using ether this way drains Leylan, and it has to recover from eating the radiation off the Cold Sun. This was enough in the beginning, but soon Leylan had to get creative, and together with the Ordos, it hatched a scheme to invite creatures onto its surface who could all create some variance of order, thus lessening the burden on Leylan’s resources.
Ether and the etherscape
Because of how ether is attracted to intent and will, it concentrates around such sorces, forming a flow. This flow, over time, is reinforced until it creates a permanent pattern in the ether itself, and the outline of this pattern is known as the etherscape. The depth of the etherscape around a certain intent or will determines how much ether there is to draw on from this particular source. This is why ethermancers discipline themselves rigerously, to the point of inhuman resillience, as they will therefore have more ether to draw upon.
The etherscape and language
This effect translates further into language, where words in and of themselves form a similar pattern in the etherscape. The words used most often, or with a particularly strong degree of intent, edge outlines deeper into the etherscape, and are thus more powerful. However, this does not matter to everyday language, as the ether is also expended in corrolation with the amount it is used. Thus, greeting your neighbour does not cause a noticable effect from the etherscape.
Over time, though, some words have acquired powerful patterns in the etherscape, and being able to use such words in conjunction with strong will and intent is the foundation of ther ethermancy discipline of oration — famously practiced in the legendary Oratorium in Plumage . An orator with a strong will, using powerful words with meaningful intent can do almost anything with ether. Merely ordering a person to ‘stop’ can make them freeze up, while entire crowds can put into a psychotic trance with a powerful enough oration. Such is the power of the orators that the art is highly regulated by the government of Plumage , and the secrets of how to train it is guarded jealously.
As Leylan and the Ordos invited the elder races to stay in the ether, they made sure to only invite those who were compatable with ether. However, despite all of their care, the elder races were still not immortal. In the end, the first elder died, and with it came the discovery of nether.
Nether is a twisted part of the ether, as it comes into contact with the ‘idea’ of death and decay, thus ether becomes its own worst enemy. Ether and nether naturally annihilate in contact with one another, and thus a small source of nether can be cleansed with enough ether.
When humans came crashing down on Leylan, however, the death of thousands in an instant caused such a thick corruption of ether into nether that, even thousands of years later, no one has been able to cleanse it, or even make a dent in the corruption.
Affinity and training among humans
Among humans, ether is mostly employed by the Orders, especially the Whiteclad Orders. Whether one can use ether or nether is determined at birth, due to various factors; being born in an area with a high density of either nether or ether, the affinity of the child’s parents, the nature of the Fate in which sphere the child is born, among many, many others.
Once a child has been determined as having a ethereal affinity, and it is strong enough, it will be taken in by an Order, depending on where the parents live, and how many candidates a given area has. The usual practice is that the most powerful children goes to the most powerful Order in the area.
Now in training, the child must undergo a grueling conditioning in order to attain the level of discipline required to use the ether with one’s intent and will. A not insignificant amount of children die during this training before they ever become able use ether. Once they have completed their conditioning, the children are taught the basic words to direct the ether.
In the beginning, these are simple human words, but in time the practice is expanded to include certain words from the language of the elder races, which have more power than human words, because they’ve had more time to edge their presence into the etherscape.
After years of study and further discipline, the budding acolyte is finally presented to their patron Fate, who makes the final judgement. Few are turned away at this stage, when a Fate has found them wanting, or in some cases, unsuited for their particular sphere. Once they have been accepted, they are proper members of their order, and must then pick a school to follow.