Following the release of The Path of Sorrow, the second full-length novel in our fantasy series co-written with David Pilling, will now post a series of articles about the universe we have created, and the characters that populate it.
The seed of The World Apparent germinated from twin seeds buried deep in the dank, fertile soil of two pissed plant pots. Together, David Pilling and I watered our brains with regular dousings of London’s finest ale, gibbered, ranted, gesticulated and hammered our sweaty fists on beer-soaked tables, flecking each other’s glistening beards with warm spittle until the roots took hold and a new world sprouted its first succulent leaves.
I had an idea about how magic would work in The World Apparent. This idea was heavily influenced by the supernatural – the power of gods of demons. This is what defined the basic principles of The World Apparent. Our idea was that three delicately balanced planes exist; the Celestial Sphere where the gods dwell, the searing caverns of hell where the demons fester and rage, and The World Apparent, the physical plane where the living fight for survival.
Before humans crawled from the primeval ooze, there was just the physical plane, just this roughly spherical lump of rock. Then, after millions upon millions of years of cells mutating over and over and over again, the first human slipped screaming into the world and, quite literally, all hell broke loose. As men and woman cowered in the darkness, vulnerable to disease, starvation and the wild beasts that roamed their wilderness, they experienced range of good and bad emotions. So powerful were these vices and virtues that they manifested themselves.
First, fear and self preservation beget selfishness, jealousy, wrath, greed and many more emotions that caused those humans to commit terrible acts of violence and murder. Those selfish emotions became demons and hell was born.
But humans are strange beasts, because in the most harrowing, desperate situations, many found strength, courage and tolerance. Some even found love. These emotions drove them to heroic acts of bravery or selfless acts of charity. Thus the celestial gods were born and their sphere came into being.
So The World Apparent, The Celestial Sphere and the caverns of hell exist side by side, with boundaries that separate them and maintain a precarious balance. But the human mind is a powerful thing, it created the gods and demons after all, and some can transcend those barriers. These people are very powerful indeed, for they can tap into the supernatural powers that lie beyond The World Apparent. Some minds can even transcend the three planes, and journey into the void, where indescribable and ancient horrors have lurked for aeons. Those minds either perish or return more powerful than ever, for when you gaze into the void, the void gazes into you.
Here is an excerpt from a World Apparent Tale we are yet to publish, which I think sums up The World Apparent quite nicely:
“As I drift through and between the three planes of existence, each mirroring the last, I occasionally catch a glimpse of the void. The place that existed before even the physical realm of men. The infinite chasm beyond The World Apparent, with its endless dimensions and crushing, incalculable vastness. The contemplation of which would drive even the immortal minds of gods, themselves as young and minuscule as man’s basest desires, to eternal despair.
I shy away from such terrifying glimpses, not just through a healthy fear, but through a sense of preservation. To know the limits of one’s own consciousness is to resist the temptation to discover the ancient alien horrors that dwell in the abyss, beyond the physical plane and its spiritual parallels.
In stark contrast to the void are the lives of men, by their very nature trivial and temporary, even fleeting. Yet their lives are governed by powerful things: love and hate, hunger and greed, honour and pride. Emotions so powerful they drive men to incredible acts of strength and heroism, and despicable crimes of brutality and murder. So strong are the hearts and minds of men they unknowingly created the Celestial Sphere and the searing caverns of Hell. They dictate the course of events in the physical plane, known to gods, demons and men as The World Apparent. A world of chaos.”
All this we thrashed out over several gallons of fabulous booze. After I demonstrated the proper use of a pen to my drooling, gibbering, feverishly drunken co-writer, Mr. Pilling, he used all his powers of concentration to scrawl what appeared to be a chimp’s cry for help on the back of a beermat. At length, I managed to acquire a note pad, and Pilling produced what he referred to as a ‘map’ and what I referred to as something I wouldn’t even put on the fridge if my four year old niece did it. On the contrary, she’d have been packed off to the zoo to have fruit thrown at her by tourists.
Despite Pilling’s lack of hand eye coordination, I liked his idea, so I briefly sobered up and set about translating it into a legible map. Pilling’s idea centred around ‘The Girdle Sea’, which basically looked like a thick belt running across one side of the world, with the southern lands beneath being warmer and more tropical, and the northern lands getting steadily colder the further one travels north. The coldest being The Winter Realm, an icy island in the middle of the sea. There was also a large continent far the west called Temeria. Not unlike the Americas, Temeria has a variety of different climates, from tundra to desert to mountains to temperate forests.
The World Apparent is now in its infancy, the more we write, the more we will explore this world and the more it will grow. I can’t wait to drink some more beer and write the next World Apparent Tale.
The next post I write will be about my inspiration for the rain forest south of The Girdle Sea and the people who live there: The Djanki. In the meantime, please write responsibly…