That Which Is Made to Give

We here in 2019 in the post-colonial late-stage Capitalist Earth are really hooked on the idea of money. But it’s not an obvious idea, and modern economists even have a hard time describing what it is.

The World of Names is big and Earthen-Being are small; While the Giants strode across it like a single field; and to the Descendants of Heaven all distances are as one; to even the boldest Earthen-Being, the reach of their life is like a single poppy seed in a field stretching far past the reach of the eye.

And so, when an Earthen-Being has a desire and does not wish to force its satisfaction, what have they to trade in foreign lands that those recognize as worthy of the satisfaction of that desire?

Money, or things that we think of as money: a stone weight in the form of a grasshopper; two links of golden chain of which only 1000 were ever wrought; three glass rings to be worn in the hair of those honored by the previous bearer.
Clockwise, from left: two of the thousand links of gold chain wrought by the famed smith, Shebahfzu; a stone grasshopper used by the Gashab Family of merchants, inscribed with the sigil of the family; and three glass rings used by the Jigham people of the Western Desert, worn woven into the hair and clothes, and given to show honor.
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Tiamut, Mother of Chaos, Womb of Salt

Among the Great Names, none are as dread, nor as venerated, as that of Tiamut, who taught the Earthen-Beings right from wrong that they might rebel against the Giants and taught them writing so that lies would persist as long as truths.

It has been difficult to portray her. Tiamat, from whom I draw inspiration, is described in two ways: the salt water mother whose union with the fresh waters of the rivers birthed the world; and as a terrifying monster described only in glimpses that usually sound like a sphynx with the head of a lion, hands of a human, wings of an eagle, and udders.

Since Labiasam is the Mother of Sea Monsters in the World of Names and I wish to be faithful to the mythological feeling of the setting, I’m being completely unclear about which is what.

That said, here she is in my first decent sketches. I think she will be something like this in the final. I’m making her features just slightly human, but I don’t want her to quite be personable. The character I’m keeping in my mind is that she’s like a 50-year-old woman, who’s had her kids who have grown up and now she, more than anyone, knows how absolutely everything works.

My favorite canonical feature of Tiamat, by the way, is the pomegranate of wisdom growing out of her head, echoing the Forbidden Fruit of Gan Eden (do your research, Christians!) and Persephone’s pomegranate that makes her retreat each year, bringing winter.

What are heroes like in The Fifth World? Absent sedentary, agrarian life, how do their culture heroes demonstrate the values of their society?
What do you have to trade in the Fifth World?

Bahamut, whose Stride Spans the Horizon

I was having a hard time illustrating Bahamut, so I needed to figure out its physiology. Were one to back up against the Vault of Heaven, this might be what you would see far below, somewhere. How this beast manages to hide is a deep mystery. It surely does not want to be found.

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Hanta, the Sacrificial Pharaonic Oarsbearer

The World of Names writhes with living promises, the words of Namedealers plying the whims and vanities of the mighty forces of nature.

But Hanta has made a promise to enter the Waters of the Underworld. To most, that would be a simple condemnation to death. And Hanta is fairly certain that for her, it is, too.

What matter, the splendor worn on the body if they are worn only to enter the Waters of the Underworld?

As she rows downstream, dressed in the splendrous ceremonial regalia of an escort of the Pharaohs, she broods on her fate, bound she is by a complex knot of long-held promises — a knot pulled tight by generations of treaties spun by the priests, astrologers, and magicians of Misr with the river; with the Sky that covers it with its unblinking eyes; with the towns and ports that seed its shores with life; with vassal kings and heroes.

Losing hope, she accepts the offer of the young, pretty courtesan Tinkari for companionship.

…and to uncover what transpires between them, you will need to read Hugo-nominated author Mimi Mondal’s tale, detailed in the pages of the upcoming Bloody-Handed Name of Bronze! Of course, like all of my work, you will be able to see it first as a patron of my work at my Patreon!

What are heroes like in The Fifth World? Absent sedentary, agrarian life, how do their culture heroes demonstrate the values of their society?
What do you have to trade in the Fifth World?

Padeb Cuts a Deal

“I know I appear to you as a sweetmeat, mighty Bashet, Queen of the River Ia, but if you allow me to pass, I will bring you an army, led by one far fatter than I, upon which you might feast.”

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Demise of the Gulabadam

Heroes have deaths. In fact, sometimes it’s the crux of their whole story, per Le Morte D’Arthur. And, like so many myths, they’re inconsistent. Did Herakles die? Or did he ascend to Mt. Olympus? It depends on who you ask and what their interest is in the answer.

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Galil and the Gudabadam

There were many ways this story could have gone. You know one already.

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The Age of Giants

The Earthen Firmament was born from the passionate union of the Sky and the Waters of the Underworld. Their love cries we remember now as the Language of Names.

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A Dzung Raiding Party Takes to the Air

The Dzung live to the north of the center of the world, in the cruel mountains and vast, unknown high plains beyond.

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Zujabji, Ancestral Spearhead of the Chiefs of the Dzung Mountain People

The Dzung people live far to the north of the center of the world on the mountains that form the border to the high plains. They are nomadic and broken into many tribes, but all answer to the wielded of Zujabji, the ancestral spearhead of their chiefs.

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