Microscopic

One principle underlying the magic and metaphysics of Edgewhen is that nothing has a microscopic cause. At the macroscopic level, Edgewhen is very similar to our world. But it has no mysteries that can be explained only through modern science.

Infection and Disease

Edgewhen has no microorganisms. And so there is no infection or disease (with the exception of certain macroscopic plant diseases such as insect galls and parasitic fungi).

Rot and Decay

But things do rot and decay in Edgewhen. Decay is accomplished not through digestion by microscopic organisms, but rather by the leaking of elemental Life out of the world. Living creatures, whether trees, squirrels, or people, maintain corporeal form only because of elemental Life. As that Life leaks out, the other elements dissipate.

Atoms and Molecules

These do not exist on Edgewhen. Water is not made of hydrogen and oxygen. It is made of elemental Water. In fact, all liquids are made of elemental Water (although most will have traces of other elements as well).

Electricity

If there are no electrons, then you can’t power anything with electricity. It doesn’t exist on Edgewhen.

Of course, there is lightning. But it is made of Light and Heat. In The Dragonslayer of Edgewhen, a dragon makes lightning that contains only Light.

Magnetism

Magnetism is seriously weird. Most of the stuff in our world doesn’t behave like magnets. So there is really no reason for anything in Edgewhen to behave like a magnet either.

However, some materials in Edgewhen do have special properties. In The Artificer of Dupho, Kittiwake employs a “sympathetic garnet”. This rock changes color when it is near a concentration of elemental Emotion.

Can This Work?

In general, if a technology relies on physics or biology that would seem miraculous to someone in a pre-industrial world, that technology probably doesn’t work on Edgewhen.

So How Does This Work?

In general, an educated character’s understanding of metaphysics is correct. If a character explains that ice is Earth and Water, and that melting is caused by destruction of the Earth to leave only Water behind, then that is a pretty close approximation of the truth on Edgewhen.

If I write that, I’m not being cute. I’m not winking at the reader. I’m not mocking the character for not understanding how cold-temperature water molecules crystalize into a solid form.

If you went to Edgewhen and set up an experiment to see what the water molecules do when ice melts, you would discover that your apparatus cannot find any molecules. And if you had the ability to sense elemental Earth and Heat, you would be able to see the Earth pushed out of the world as the Heat enters the melting ice.

Conclusion

Most natural phenomena in Edgewhen appear identical to their counterparts in our world, but they have a different metaphysical explanation. If you do an experiment that can distinguish the Edgewhen explanation from our explanation, you will discover that the Edgewhen explanation is correct and that our explanation makes no sense.

Church of Three Sisters

The Church of Three Sisters is a major religious institution headquartered in Dupho. Their healers are renowned for their skill.

Origins

The Church of Three Sisters began as a cult that worshiped Seawind, a woman from the Children of Knowledge who healed people by manipulating elemental Life.

Early Years

After Seawind’s death in 608, the Cult of Seawind began expanding along the coast, looking for new healing techniques. Seawind had taught them how to manipulate elemental Life, but they were also interested in mundane techniques and in requests for divine guidance.

Many members would call on Seawind for miraculous healing and some stories suggest that on more than one occasion, their prayers were answered.

The cult was successful enough to become a church, with its legitimacy recognized by giving it a role in the governments of the two republics on the coast.

As the church grew, their studies became more intense and their healing techniques became more advanced. Although Children of Beauty do not usually have an affinity for Life magic, the Church of Seawind was able to teach people how to use even a weak affinity. Even healers with no affinity were welcome, if they were willing to constantly push themselves toward learning new techniques.

The Reformation

Religion has always been important to the Children of Beauty. The artists look to their religious institutions to guide them, and they expect churches to play a central role in government.

The Church of Seawind, though respectable and successful, suffered from the fact that the object of their devotion had been a mortal. Non-adherents felt that they were a cult, not a church.

In 932, the clergy found an ingenious solution to this problem. They observed that all their healing techniques could be categorized as magical, miraculous, or natural. They said the magical techniques came ultimately from the Goddess of Knowledge, because Seawind was her child. The miraculous techniques came from the Goddess of the Sun, because she was the religious authority over all the deities. And the natural techniques came from the Goddess of Beauty, because they had obviously been known to Children of Beauty since entering the world.

Thus the church stopped emphasizing worship of Seawind and began to portray her as a messenger from three Goddesses. It was these goddesses that people would worship from then on. They became the Church of Three Sisters.

Under The Theocratic Empire

In 1084, the Theocratic Republic conquered the Republic of Dupho, putting the region under the control of the Theocratic Empire of Beauty.

The Theocratic Empire had no tolerance for other churches, and the Church of Three Sisters was driven out of Dupho.

In 1311, the time of The Artificer of Dupho, the Church of Three Sisters has returned to the province and built an inspiring temple on a hill above the city. The church’s influence is spreading throughout all lands where Children of Beauty live.

The Church of Beauty will tolerate them as long as they do not interfere with government and do not challenge the authority of the Church of Beauty.

Seawind

Seawind was a Child of Knowledge who came to Dupho around the year 539. (This would be Old Dupho, which is little more than a village when Shiko and Higomu arrive at Dupho in 1311 in The Artificer of Dupho.)

Early Life

Seawind proved to be a gifted healer in her early days at the Academy. Not only did she out-do her peers, she out-did the faculty.

Perhaps her skill made her arrogant, or perhaps her skill made the faculty jealous. (Most likely both.) For whatever reason, she left the Academy before her training was done and went to live with the Children of Beauty in 539.

Seawind in Dupho

In Dupho, Seawind quickly achieved great renown. Children of Knowledge were rarely seen in the city at that time, so she was something of a novelty, but mostly people were desperate for her skills. The ability to manipulate Life magic was largely unknown among the Children of Beauty.

Her skills seemed miraculous. She soon had a large following consisting of people she had cured or their relatives. By the time she died in 608, her following had taken on religious attitudes toward her.

Seawind the Teacher

But her desire for self-aggrandizement diminished during her time in Dupho. In 570, she finally admitted the harm of her extreme vanity, and she began an earnest attempt to convert her personal mansion into a teaching hospital. She became more willing to share her knowledge, and she began accepting students even though their talent was always far below her own.

Cult of Seawind

After Seawind’s death, the Children of Beauty continued to pass on her teachings. She had a cult following that would meet to worship her as a demi-goddess of healing and bodily perfection. This cult would go on to become the Church of Three Sisters.

Hicho Dragons

Every culture on Edgewhen was impacted by the dragons’ incursion into the world in 1001. This article discusses what happened to the Children of Knowledge.

Before the Time of the Dragons

Before 1001, the Children of Knowledge were organized into clans. Unlike the Clanfolk clans, these clans could divide and proliferate. So Hicho and the Redwood River Valley had hundreds of clans. But they were also somewhat like the Clanfolk clans in that each was its own legal entity with financial obligations that it could owe to other clans.

A clan held certain lands and ran certain businesses. Clan Glassmaker, for example, made glass. They also fished for food and raised sheep. Each clan needed some way of providing its own food, but other goods and services were obtained by barter with other clans.

To improve the efficiency of their barter system, they kept detailed records. “I’ll give you ten hoes and you can owe my clan a set of glassware to be specified later.” These debts were always clan to clan, not individual to individual. If Clan Glassmaker needed more hoes than Clan Toolmaker needed glasses, they might get together with a third party who owed Clan Glassmaker and redistribute the debts.

The system was complex, but they were all educated people. Every clan had at least one member who found such accounting interesting.

The Time of Dragons

The dragons that attacked the Children of Knowledge were intelligent and malicious. Two dragons worked together to terrorize the countryside. In particular they attacked sheep herds. This was particularly devastating for the Children of Knowledge because they depended on sheep for meat, milk, and clothing. Worse, the sheep were their only draft animals for working the fields.

Unlike Clanfolk clans, the clans in the Redwood River Valley were small and localized. Some clans had their fields destroyed and their entire sheep herd devoured. This left them without food.

The Academy to the Rescue

Element-wielders at the Academy eventually figured out how teams of people could resonate together and defeat the dragons’ magic. In 1005, they eradicated both dragons (and offspring – one of the dragons had reproduced).

Aftermath

Some clans had been untouched, while others had been devastated. The devastated clans were unable to pay their debts. People left their clans and went to Hicho, searching for other clans that would take them in.

To distribute food, the Academy collected surplus food from those who had it and gave them coins to represent the food that had been taken from them. The coins were debts owed by the Academy. A certain number of coins was theoretically worth a full 9 years of courses. But in practice, the coins were used as currency, as the Academy intended.

Many debts had to be written off as a loss because the owing clan had disbanded. But with the newly invented currency in circulation, people no longer needed to track barter debts. They could pay for goods and services immediately.

Impact on Society

So many familial ties had been broken that clans rapidly lost their importance. Companies rose to take their place.

The idea behind a company is that many Children of Knowledge, unrelated to each other, band together to produce something of value. When they sell it, they all get paid.

Companies had several advantages over clans:

  • Young people could marry and work for separate companies. One no longer had to learn how to be a glassmaker before marrying a glassmaker.
  • Companies were not required to produce food, so they could focus on their business.
  • Companies were free of the debts that clans had accumulated.

So that is why Higomu and Shiko do not have family names in The Artificer of Dupho and why it is plausible that they might be merchants for a linen company.

The Order of the Dragonslayers

The magic that defeated the dragons was deemed too powerful to teach publicly. The techniques became closely guarded, passed on to only a select few. The Order of the Dragonslayers is responsible for ensuring that people can use that magic when the demons come and for preventing anyone from using that magic until it is necessary.

The Seminary

The Seminary was the second educational institution founded in Hicho (and probably second in the world, as well). In The Artificer of Dupho, Higomu is a graduate of the Seminary.

Inspiration

Followers of Weaver sought to make Children of Knowledge aware that people had a responsibility to all the deities.

At the time, the dominant idea was that Children of Knowledge only needed to serve Knowledge. As long as they preserved knowledge that would be necessary to defeat the demons, they were doing their part.

In particular, they did not believe that any of their descendents would be called upon to physically fight invading demonic forces. The followers of Weaver maintained that knowledge of hand-to-hand combat was important for everyone. They said Children of Knowledge should not rely on Lith’s Children to do all the fighting. Every people would have to do their share.

People who served other deities (they were a minority, but they did exist) seized on this idea and suggested that it might be a general principle. Every people had something useful to contribute in the war against the demons, but Hicho and the Redwood River Valley had only Children of Knowledge. Surely they would need warriors if the demons attacked. And they would also need merchants to move supplies, judges to tell right from wrong, religious leaders to guide them, laborers to build the infrastructure, etc. They would still be Children of Knowledge, but they needed to learn that every deity has something to teach.

Founding

In 902, the Seminary was founded by a council of 9 priests, one from each deity. Their goal was to provide alternative paths to serving the deities and to advance knowledge about each of the deities individually.

Course of Study

Study at the Seminary is in many ways similar to study at the Academy.

The first 2 years at the Seminary are mortar years. Students fill in the cracks in their basic education and they also build a firm foundation in theology.

After the mortar years, the student is expected to choose a practical discipline, a secondary pure discipline, and a primary deity. The student’s primary pure discipline is assumed to be theology.

The seminary is divided into 9 schools, one for each deity. Even in later years, students are encouraged to study outside their school. Many students choose a secondary deity.

Graduation

Not all graduates go on to become priests. (Or priest-equivalents. “Priest” is a generic term that does not accurately capture the various roles of divine intermediaries in Edgewhen’s various cultures.)

A Child of Knowledge who serves another deity is most likely a graduate of the Seminary. But Knowledge’s ritesmasters are more often graduates of the Academy, although Seminary graduates form a large minority.
Seminary graduates are especially knowledgeable about demonology and cosmology.

Weaver

Weaver was a Child of Lith who had a profound impact on the Children of Knowledge.

Early Life

Weaver grew up in the Chillwater Valley, in what would become the Falkadwen Province of the Klindrel Empire. Her mother taught her to weave and her father taught her to fight.

The Vision

When she reached womanhood, Weaver received a revelation from Kashram, the God of the Lith. Women would need to fight demons, too, and Kashram wanted women to learn to fight as well as men.

One tradition holds that Weaver’s message was for other women, that Kashram wanted her to remind women of their place in the eventual war against the demons. Another tradition holds that Weaver’s message was for her male-dominated society, that Kashram wanted men to treat women with more respect because women would have to become warriors, too.

Among the Klindrel

Some say that Weaver gained several followers in the Chillwater Valley and then left to spread the word. Others say that her views were so unpopular, she was forced to leave. Both versions are probably correct.

Weaver left the Chillwater Valley and went to the Klindrel Valley, which was the major population center of her people at that time. The priests found her views unsavory. In 818, she was banished from the Klindrel Valley and cast out to wander through the wilderness.

Among the Sharadrel

Weaver’s message finally found a home among the Sharadrel. These Children of Lith lived in coastal villages and hunted whales along the Lithward Coast. They had forgotten the commands of their creator and had given their souls to the nature spirits.

Weaver reminded them that they were created as warriors to fight off armies commanded by the demons. She taught them forms and combat techniques which they had forgotten. Scholars debate whether Weaver had learned these forms from her father or whether they came from Lith himself. Regardless, the Sharadrel now view these forms as sacred.

Among the Children of Knowledge

Following her success among the Sharadrel, Weaver took a boat to Hicho, arriving at the Academy in 821. As the only Child of Lith in the city, she was very interesting to all of Hicho’s citizens and they were quite interested in what she had to say (even though she had to say it through an interpreter).

Weaver used this attention to interest people in her martial arts forms. She began training selected people in hand-to-hand combat.

By the time of her death, she had established a sub-culture of martial artists in Hicho. All Children of Knowledge who study combat trace their techniques back to her.

Higomu

Religions Implications

Among the Children of Knowledge, Weaver met no resistance to her ideas of gender equality. Nor did she need to remind people that they had an obligation to the deities.

The important idea that came from Weaver’s teachings was that Children of Knowledge might be expected to do more than just guard the knowledge that would be used to stop a demonic incursion. For the first time, Children of Knowledge realized that they might be called upon to physically fight.

Mainstream culture found this idea ridiculous, but those who believed studied ardently, and this devotion has been passed down through the generations.

The Academy

When Children of Knowledge say “The Academy”, they always mean the academy in Hicho, the first educational institution in the world.

Origins

The Academy began as a common school for all children in the village of Hicho. As the city grew, the Academy expanded.

As the Children of Knowledge spread over the farmland, it became impractical to send students to the Academy every day. The Academy became a boarding school for children ages 18 to 27. (Among Children of Knowledge, people are not recognized as mature adults until they graduate.)

Children ages 9 to 18 now go to a school within walking distance.

Study

The first 2 years are mortar years. Students fill in any cracks in their education and become accustomed to Academy life.

Then students have 5 years of focus study. Each student must choose 3 disciplines: 1 pure science, 1 craft or trade, and 1 food-producing activity.

The final 2 years are spent in independent research which usually emphasizes one of the three disciplines. Because young people are expected to find mates at this time, there are also many social activities.

Food Production

The Academy is able to feed its students and faculty because it produces its own food. In fact, it produces excess food, which is sold to raise funds for building projects and faculty expenditures.

Students work on Academy farms and fishing boats as part of their tuition. Food production occupies enough of students’ time that it takes them 9 years to complete what would be in our world a 4-year undergraduate education. (Even so, they are the most educated people in the world. Most other cultures don’t even have elementary schools.)

In the early days, everyone was expected to go to the Academy and so it seemed reasonable to expect everyone to produce food. By 1311 (The Artificer of Dupho) Hicho has reached a size where it relies on the agricultural communities of the Redwood River Valley to support its population, but the tradition of food production persists.

Role of the Academy in Society

The Academy takes on many functions that we might expect a government to perform.

The Academy mints coins. Each coin represents the amount of money it would take to keep a student at the Academy for a certain amount of time. For example, the thozi is a coin that could theoretically cover one day of study at the Academy.

The Academy codifies laws. A faculty council reviews customs and judicial rulings. From these, the council deduces basic legal principles, which are then published as the standard for all Children of Knowledge. This is not quite the same as making laws, but it is close.

The Academy graduates judges, who are then empowered to judge disputes.

But most importantly, the Academy sets educational standards which are followed by all educational institutions of the Children of Knowledge.

No Longer the Only Game In Town

Eventually the population grew too big and it was no longer feasible for every student to study at the Hicho Academy. Other educational institutions were authorized.

Since 1217, apprenticeships have been recognized as a substitute for academy-style learning.

Dragons In General

In 1001, 57 dragons broke into the world. Because few of them were discovered until 1002, scholars believe the dragons must have taken several months to grow.

The dragons commanded elemental powers that threatened to destroy the balance of nature. To prevent the world from unraveling, most dragons had to be slain. Some were killed by nature spirits, but most were killed by the people the deities had created to protect the world. This was their first test.

Some dragons integrated with the laws of nature and were allowed to survive. Nearly every culture on Edgewhen was impacted by the Time of Dragons.