The Worldbuilding of Maaren pt. 1

Welcome to the world of Laoche! This is the home of all the stories in the (appropriately named) Laoche Chronicles, including a main trilogy (that has yet to be named) and the prequel, Storge. While these stories take place in the same world, Storge focuses on a conflict in one specific reason – a powerful city-state called Maaren. Because this is a sociopolitical conflict, I mainly focused on world-building the class system, government, and religions of the city, and that’s what I’d like to discuss in more depth today! In the future, I’ll elaborate some more on the lore, magic system, and flora and fauna of the world in the future, but for now this will focus on the key topics that apply to the understanding of the story.

I would explain all of this in-story as the reader follows along with the main characters going about their lives and navigating the conflict, so this isn’t strictly necessary to know before getting into the story. However, I’ve found that explaining it informationally like this helps people understand what on earth I’m talking about online, so I hope this can also be useful as a reference guide of sorts!

The Geography

Image ID: a map of the city I attempted to paint. It’s not very detailed, so I’ll explain below, but wanted to include it as reference. It shows a landmass with the Maariad Sea to the North, and a river emptying into the sea that cuts a canyon through the inland mountains. The city itself is on the coast built up along the river.

Maaren is home to two groups of people – a large human city on the coast that’s built up around the river and sustains itself on farming the banks, and the Avian population that lives in the cliffs. Avians are a race of bird-folk with four wings that live and work in the cliffs of the canyon (including the characters of Acheran and Chara – check out their bios or the fanart page to see what avians look like). They built their city by carving homes out of the rock, and constructing on top of the existing mountains with what they dug out, so that the building’s tower into the sky above the river. The cliffs are full of valuable mineral, gemstone, and precious metal deposits, which are used for creating magical as well as utilitarian things.

The Atilan

The ruling class of Maaren’s human city, comprising a few noble families who have the privilege of using magic. Their position at the top of the social ladder is enforced by the leading religion, Daziam. Followers worship a pantheon of deities that hold domain over common aspects of daily life, led by Daza, the god of the sun and fire, and his wife Nymbi, goddess of the river and ocean, who created the world and other deities through their powers. It is believed that the Atilan are the only people who can perform specifically structured magic, because they are directly descended from or are otherwise chosen by the gods and using magic is a way of tapping into their power, while the Debilan exist to serve.

The government consists of a council of 5 Atilan, including one High Lord/Lady who is the tiebreaker on decisions and final say-so on important issues. These are chosen whenever the previous ruler dies through a tournament called the Trials. Young, ambitious Atilan will compete in several challenges in which they fight, argue, and perform magic to show that they’re the most powerful and most in-tune with the gods, with weaker competitors being eliminated and sent back home. The person who wins becomes the new ruler, and the four closest runner-ups become their new council. During the Trials, the entire city watches and celebrates and enjoys time off of work.

The Debilan

Almost everyone else in the city! This is a blanket term for any human who is not an Atilan, who cannot do magic, and labors for their living, and can range from street beggars to rich merchants that aren’t a part of the ruling class. They have little say in how the government operates, though they can air their grievances to a system of bureaucratic channels created by lower-ranking Atilan that handle the problems and take the biggest issues to the council. Many concern themselves with providing for their families, enjoying the company of friends, and entertaining themselves at any of the plazas that serve as the social centers of the city. They also frequent the arena where the Trials occur, as well as plays, other smaller tournaments, and public punishments. Most Debilan follow Daziam in imitating the example of the Atilan, whose magic abilities are revered and respected. Though most don’t even try attempting magic themselves, they still leave offerings and pray to their favored patrons in order to ensure blessings and safety for their homes.

A few Debilan who have figured out magic, however, have turned away from the Daziam temples to follow a single creator deity known only as the Artist. They worship in back alleys and underground catacombs for fear of being discovered, and actively practice their abilities with the other members. They believe that their magic can be a powerful asset and strong emphasis is put on the idea of creation – mothers are honored for raising and teaching their children, craftspeople decorate their spaces of worship, and they appreciate nature as being another part of the Artist’s creation. They also treat each other as one extended family, greeting and saying goodbye to each other with the phrase “Storge” – a wish for blessings with the connotation of familial love. The Atilan persecute this group as heretics when possible, and this is the faith that the Laine family practices.

This got pretty long when I was first drafting it, so I’ve decided to split it up into two weeks so it’s a little easier to read. Next week, I’ll be discussing more about the Avians and the Anarchists, two other groups that play important roles in the main conflict of the story. Feel free to leave questions in the comments if you’re curious about any of the information here, or let me know what you find most interesting!

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