This is an attempt to outline the world, concepts, and characters behind my story, Iris.(If anyone could tell me what genre this is, please tell me. I'm guessing "urban fantasy" right now but I've really just no clue.)
In general, I am looking for any and all sorts of feedback on this: shoot questions at me, point out peculiarities or loopholes, ask me about potential consequences, or just tell me what you think of it all. I'd love to hear what you have to say; help me build my world! : )
This journal concept is taken from *Uinn
, whose write-up of their own absolutely fascinating story LOI can be read here: [link]SUMMARY(trimming of this would also be much-appreciated.)
In a near-future world devastated by flood and drought, humans seek to survive in the remnants of once-great cities now thick with dust and salt--and they don't struggle alone. Creatures out of myths and legends now walk alongside them: mermaids, centaurs, harpies and nagas; vampires and werewolves; even angels and demons.
And in this world Seth is just one more lost and weary soul, a half-breed angel without a future who yet finds himself caught up in the rumors of a single creature said to bear all the bloods, a god in the form of a child, a child called "Iris"...STORY INFO/STATS
First draft started 10/2005, completed 06/2007, 120,000+ words. [Scrapped]
Second draft started 10/2010 for NaNoWriMo. [Abandoned]
Current draft script started 10/2011, 3/4 done (~90,000 words), final draft still pending.
Considering options as a graphic novel. (.../cries)
See my Iris Gallery: [link]WORLD
This is a world ruined by flood and drought. Months of ceaseless rain, paired with mass erosion and ever-rising sea levels from anthropogenic causes, led to a flood that devastated human civilization. The rains were replaced by years of drought, and the salt-crusted remains of the soil were turned to dust and swept away, leaving behind vast wastelands of bare rock. Though human civilization is struggling to rebuild what they once had, there is a lack of satellite capabilities, reduced technologies and a loss of communication between cities. The establishment of nobles and lowers, of Quarters and slums, begins to restructure the great cities. DEMI HISTORY
(So named for being "half": half-human and half-animal, half-monster or half-god.)
The first Demis began to appear after the Flood. Mermaids, Centaurs, Harpies, and Nagas: creatures out of myth and legend began to wander through the remnants of once-great human cities, and the humans, huddled behind doors and gates, turned to watch. The language barrier and difficulty in connecting concepts with the Demis provided no solid conclusion as to where they had come from, but for sure the Demis were here to stay. The second generation of Demis were taught English and many raised among humans, causing both conflict and compromise. Vampires and Werewolves appeared as well, and as these demis bore their own next generation, Angels and Demons began to appear. Faith in the church, long-forgotten, is now restored, and the Order is established, an organization that treats Angels as guardians meant to bring humanity back into another Golden Age. The ability of Demis to wield Sigology, a form of power concentrated through symbols and markings, is discovered and researched.
As time goes on and Demis become commonplace, they begin to interbreed with humans, resulting in a new generation of half-breeds belonging nowhere, a lost generation.SOCIETY
The governmental force in operation is "The State" (pending name, please suggest something better). Large portions of human cities now lay abandoned after the humans' Decline, and dubbed the "Fringe" by inhabitants. Rich/wealthy humans have mostly walled themselves into nicer districts and avoid dealing with Demis/lower-class people. Demis and humans of lower income meanwhile either scrounge for a living on the edges of the Fringe, or usually end up in the Underground, a large, sprawling portion of the city "unofficially" free of the State's watch and guard, though it's also home to considerable shady dealings and lacks law enforcement and civil services.
Demis are often treated as inferior, barbaric and dangerous, and thus nearly all Demis end up in the poorer districts. Firearms are very carefully regulated, and it is illegal for any Demi to bear a firearm of any sort--because of this, many Demis (and humans who live among them in the Underground) have become highly skilled in fighting by knife or blade, or even just by using their raw speed and strength. Crime is all too commonplace, but as human police (even with firearms) are often no match for Demis, many criminal Demis have bounties placed on their heads, and other Demis are encouraged to hunt them.
With the loss of most of the world's soil and the lack of rain, crops are grown in carefully-controlled greenhouses, usually by hydroponics, and food is carefully controlled through ration cards. Most of the protein now comes from fisheries/aquatic farms that now comandeer most of the coastline. Nearly all citizens, when deceased, have their bodies burned to provide fertilizer to the crops. Feral dogs that prowl the Fringe can be a considerable threat to citizens.SIGOLOGY
A form of power utilized through symbols and markings, Sigology is a difficult art to understand, and mainly used by Angels, though most Demis seem capable of wielding basic sigils if they study them. Very few humans are capable of wielding sigology, or even fully understanding it. Sigology is not "magic" nor spontaneous; it draws upon latent energy from the surroundings or from within a being. Things such as teleportation or invisibility are not possible; however, a user can utilize sigology to strengthen a physical blow or diffuse an incoming attack. More commonly Sigology is used for control: sigils can be etched onto bands to create seals, or carved onto the stem of a sapling to direct growth--these sorts of things are the more common applications of Sigology.
Humans learned to use sigology to create "seals" that would bind a Demi in a human form, and often times for jobs or in public locations, Demis are required to wear their seals (the exception of course being in the Underground). Each Demi is assigned at least one seal on birth, though they may have another crafted if they so desire. Seals are made of metal bands fitted around either the neck or the wrist, the sigil's effects being strongest closest to a primary blood line, where Demi power is hypothesized to originate. Many Demis opt for bands around their wrists, which are easy to remove at a moment's notice, while Demis who choose to/end up living their lives sealed will often wear the bands around their neck. In "sealed" form a Demi appears like a human and though they usually retain some of their higher senses (eg. vision in harpies), they are unable to wield much in the way of brute power unless they remove their seals. Their Demi forms will still manifest in a kind of "ghost" sensation following them around; angels don't like leaning back against walls, for example, even though their wings won't be there to get in the way in a physical sense. There's a vague, out-of-the-corner-of-your-eye or blinking afterimage kind of glimpse of a Demi's true form when one views a sealed Demi. DEMI SPECIES:
Demis are particular in that each species has an opposite species with which they are incompatible; to come into contact results in physical pain for both, and even a close proximity can give a Demi headaches, light-headedness, nausea or more.
Demis are capable of successfully breeding with humans, but have never been documented successfully breeding with another species of Demi. Though rare, a few instances of Opposite Demi couples are known of, though no successful accounts of offspring have ever been reported.
Demis are still being researched by the Foundation, an organization funded by the State where the more advanced technologies of human civilization have been partially restored.Mermaid
Among the first species of Demi discovered. Mermaids (often called just "Mers" or "Fins") have a human upper body and aquatic lower halves, with webbing between their digits. They have a labyrinthiform organ along with gills to allow them to gulp air abovewater and store it for longer periods of time, however most mermaids rarely have the opportunity to swim for extended periods of time, as access to the ocean is even rarer due to the fisheries in place, which have a history of conflict with the mermaids. In sealed form a mermaid's hair will often still appear wet. Their opposite is the Centaur.Centaur
Another of the first species of Demi discovered. Centaurs have a human upper body and the body of a horse. They are fairly outgoing and social creatures, but often choose seals even when not required, for convenience's sake. They have a tendency to be competitive but are otherwise fairly diverse in personality and behavior, and get along with other species better than most. Their opposite is the Mermaid.Harpie
Harpies have elongated limbs that resemble wings more than arms, but these have shrunk in the second and third generations, and most harpies are not capable of flight outside of extended gliding; very few can actively take off from level ground. Harpies tend to be aloof and proud, but are also fiercely loyal to loved ones. In sealed form a harpie's stiff hair will often exhibit downy feathers near the base. Their opposite is the Naga.Naga
Naga are a cold-blooded species with a human upper half and a serpentine lower body. They are a very relaxed, ambivalent species that tend to form social clans, and have been known to hibernate through colder seasons. Even when sealed nagas often have trouble regulating their own temperatures, and tend to enjoy physical contact with warm-blooded individuals. Their opposite is the Harpie.Vampire
A species of Demi that appears physically almost indistinguishable from humans, though marked by their pale yellow eyes. Vampires are peculiar in that they require another Demi or human to sustain their own strength. They will become severely sick if they attempt to subsist only on animal or plant-based nutrition, and because of their dependency on the bodies of others they are often scorned or feared by the rest of society. Vampires are said to be sustained even better on the flesh of a Demi or human, but as this is strictly forbidden, they maintain themselves through blood alone (they have been nicknamed "Cannibals" by some). A half-blooded vampire's requirements are weaker than a full-blooded vampire, and vampires have been encouraged to breed with humans for this reason. It is very difficult for a full-blooded vampire to sustain themselves in society; vampires often form partners with a certain individual willing to provide them with their blood in a continual relationship, but a full blooded vampire can exhaust a partner if not careful. Their opposite is the werewolf.Werewolf
A species of Demi that has the ability to shift between a fully human form and a fully lupine form (there are no intermediary forms). Werewolves (often just called "weres") are highly social animals that almost always form packs of their own kind. They are however usually encouraged to wear seals, as the shifting to the wolf form, though entirely controllable, leads to a shift in cognitive abilities and bestial urges that can be difficult to control, particularly in younger werewolves. Their opposite is the vampire. Angel
Among the last Demis to appear, Angels are characterized for having pale/white hair and golden eyes. They are the most powerful of the Demi classes, with outstanding physical capabilities and extended longevities. Though other Demi classes demonstrated the occasional use of sigology, it was the Angels' sigology that humans began to grasp and to decipher, though very few can wield its power. A religious movement, the Order, centers itself around the concept that Angels are messengers sent to lead humans back into a Golden Age and elevates the Angels to a position above all over citizens, and many Angels are a part of the Order (whether they actually believe in their roles, or are simply enjoying the benefits), or serve the State. Half-breeds, however, are not accepted in the Order. Their opposite is the Demon.Demon
Among the last Demis to appear, Demons are characterized for having black hair and red eyes, though few examples remain to validate this statement. Ever since their appearance the Demons have been denounced as uncontrollable killers and immoral monsters, a convention the Order has pushed. Though initially permitted as civilians, Demon populations have continually decreased until now they are nearly impossible to find: whether they were taken away to be guarded "for their own good" or as research experiments, hardly any Demons are left these days to either verify or disprove the suggestion that they are mindless, blood-lusting beasts, and those that are left keep their identities carefully sealed/hidden away. Their opposite is the Angel.CHARACTERSSeth (formerly Valkier/Valkyre)
A half-breed angel currently living in a poorer district by the Fringe, Seth gets by with a meager lifestyle and the occasional pay doing odd-end jobs for Rouka, an acquaintance of his. Seth hides his dirty yellow eyes behind unkempt bangs; those, along with his black hair, make him a mongrel among pureblood angels, and he avoids interacting with angels entirely. He's remained sealed all his life by a band around his neck carved by Samuel, but he continues to suffer recurring migraines and pain along his back and throughout his body. Though he has found ways to dampen the effects before, Seth still doesn't know its cause, and with the return of the symptoms he expects that it won't be long before he dies.
Full Background here:
Seth's peaceful childhood was destroyed with the murder of his mother and half-sister, both fullblood angels. Seth himself was almost killed, heavy scars torn down his back--but was saved by Samuel, who nursed Seth back to life, taught him sigology and how to fight, and told him that it was Seth's own father who'd destroyed his family. Seth lived for revenge through his teenage years, and this fueled him even after Samuel disappeared: Seth wandered into the Underground, still seeking the father he'd never met, but over time, as he continued to come up empty-handed and his body began to rebel against him, he lost his way. He carved sigils into his own arms trying to momentarily take away the pain, and nearly lost everything in these darker years of his life. He eventually found Maeve, who prescribed him medicine that pushed away the pain, and has moved back aboveground to live out a quiet life, when he first hears of the rumors of Iris.
Seth has no faith in himself; he's haunted by the fact that he failed to protect his younger sister, and he feels as though his life is just a sequence of failures dragging him down. He has no desire to be any sort of fighter or hero, but when he first meets Iris he is drawn to protect the child from others: to Seth, Iris resembles the little sister he failed once before to save, and he's determined not to let that happen again.Maeve
A young human scientist working independent of the Foundation who took interest in Seth's condition. She helped Seth through a rough point in his life by providing him with medication that dampened the headaches and pain he was feeling, in exchange for letting her run tests on his blood, as she studies Demi physiology. She is cool and good-natured on the outside, but does seem to care a great deal for Seth's well-being.Rouka
An easy-going and playful centaur who chose to work for the State--few Demis are willing to bear the thick metal seals the State requires for any non-human employee, but Rouka seems to care nothing for his bloodline (even though he is a pureblood centaur) and ambles at ease between the human and Demi spheres. His canniness and outgoing nature allow him to work for both sides, and he has ended up a sort of informant dealing often along the Fringe. He met Seth in the Underground years ago and throws the odd-end job to him, which helps keep Seth paid and fed. The two get along quite well, though Rouka's outgoing nature has made Seth a little uneasy at times. (Read: Rouka tried to pick up Seth but got rejected. Baaw.)Asher
A pureblood vampire currently part of a Demi "hunter" team that subsists on bounties, usually on criminal/illegal Demis or other related issues. Asher is an excellent fighter and the main muscle of the team; he comes across as arrogant to outsiders but is fairly quiet and calm around his teammates. Asher had a rough time growing up a full-blooded vampire; he was abandoned by parents unable to care for him and spent a fair portion of his life in illegal vampire fighting rings, an unfortunately common fate for full-blooded vampires unable to find themselves a blood partner. Ayra was the one to finally break him free of that situation by becoming his blood partner. Ayra and Phelan are his sole reason for living; without them, Asher knows that he would've lost himself long since. Ayra
A part of the Hunter team, Ayra is a naga and the brains of the group. She gathers information on the bounties, pulls connections with other contacts, and plans their actions. Ayra is outgoing, sassy, and incredibly manipulative when need be, but around her teammates she behaves as an older sister, and cares intensely for them. She likes wearing lots of jewelry and trying out new dresses, and is more touchy-feely than Asher will admit being comfortable with. Ayra is Asher's blood partner, a condition she chose for herself though it frustrates her sometimes by how weak it makes her, physically. Phelan
A werewolf with excellent tracking skills, Phelan is the youngest member of the team, and (unknowingly) acts it. He is innocent and playful and almost always smiling. Phelan is very social and holds the other members of his "pack" very close to his heart; he gets very upset if either is injured or goes missing. He was found by the other two wandering alone without a pack, and driven nearly crazy by his solitude. Though the fact that Asher is his opposite in blood has created some difficulties in their working together, the team has found ways to operate around it. Samuel (formerly Camael)
Seth's mentor and father-figure though neither will admit to it, Camael is a human who formerly worked with the Order (a religious sector composed mainly of angels and humans), but was mainly there to learn sigology; he was later kicked out for studying more unconventional applications of the craft. He is incredibly talented at Sigology, an art few humans can even understand, and taught Seth some of what he knows of it, as well as how to fight. He saved Seth's life and served as a guardian and teacher to Seth, but disappeared on him after several years. His real motives are unclear; it is only known that he grew somewhat obsessed later in life with figuring out how to give a human (himself) the powers and longevity of an angel through sigology.Raguel
Half-vampire by birth and half-demon by forced design, Raguel is arrogant, cold, and frighteningly powerful. He was born a full-blooded vampire and led a very violent, questionabe life among the vampire rings. He was later experimented on by the Foundation to see if bloodlines could be "added" to an individual; his hybrid nature left him with one pale yellow eye (vampire) and one blood-red eye (demon) that he hides behind his black hair. He has gained an utter disdain for humans--and for all the Demi species as well--thanks to his nightmarish past, and has absolutely no qualms about killing anyone that gets in his way. He has a philosophy all his own about who survives, who dies, and how to save the world. He wears one seal on each wrist for his two bloodlines, and though he carries a small knife, he mostly just uses his sheer speed and strength to overwhelm an opponent. He is intruiged by Seth for some unknown reason, and attempts to ally himself with Seth rather than fight him--an option that Seth is far from comfortable with. Eire and Rheis
Eire and Rheis are two artificially-created beings, part of a more recent experiment by humans to synthesize their own Iris: Eire carries all "lighter" bloods (Mermaid, Harpie, Werewolf, and Angel), while Rheis carries all "darker" bloods (Centaur, Naga, Vampire, Demon). They are inexpressive and rarely speak, but their synchronization while fighting is absolutely frightening to behold; they are "connected" through mirrored sigils each carved into half of their bodies. Eire is actually the stronger of the two, but Rheis is more tactical and, it would seem, bears some kind of conscience, as he begins to question himself when his connection to Eire is damaged.Corryn
Once a normal human boy, Corryn was subjected long ago to a series of experiments by the Foundation to try and physically "create" an angel from a human. They consider him a failure: Corryn has the brute physical strength of an angel and the golden eyes, but nothing else came out right. The twisted, skeletal wings on his back continually form and do nothing more than irritate Corryn, who has occasionally tried to break them off. He was deemed unstable and set to be destroyed when he escaped. Corryn is bipolar sometimes, philosophical occasionally, violent too often, and entirely crazed. He's absolutely fixated on Iris, and soon Seth as well; his ramblings don't usually make total sense, yet he still seems to know too much about everything, and no one knows whose side he's on. He is incredibly powerful and can heal from seemingly fatal wounds with insane speed; but he knows that his body is slowing down and will eventually break down from the angel transmutation. He never wears a shirt for the wings on his back, and is often seen crouching or squatting, covered in scars and dirt and dust. He detests Raguel.Renenutet
An ancient naga rumored to be one of the Originals, the first Demis to appear after the Flood. Renenutet has spent most of the hundred-odd years in hibernation, but stirs for the (re?)appearance of Iris. Kashpa
A pureblood naga and a guardian to Renenutet. An aquaintance of Rouka's. Syena
An ancient harpy said to be one of the Originals, Syena is bound to the rooftop of a skyscraper by a set of sigils carved both into the stone and into his own flesh that have granted him immortality at the price of mobility. He has been watching the city change beneath him in solitude and silence, his only company the wind. Iris
Iris is a being rumored to possess all bloods: a rumor that most dismiss, as beings of opposite bloods (eg. angel to demon) seem fundamentally incompatible with the other species; for a creature to contain all the bloodlines within one body seems absurd. Iris is rumored as well to be a wish-granter, and a god: so, of course, Iris is a novelty that just about everyone wants to get their hands on--those who believe in Iris, that is.
When Seth encounters Iris, he sees a child the color of ash who shows absolutely no emotion and speaks very rarely. Seth later finds that Iris is also a combination of both genders, and everything about the child seems to push the image of gray. Iris seems fragile, reacts badly to wounds, and appears apathetic for the most part to its surroundings. It's not sure where Iris came from or what it desires, but there are brief moments of lucid clarity when those around realize that Iris might, quite possibly, know everything. The child ends up with Seth and remains with him, seemingly having chosen him for some unknown reason. Seth is soon run ragged by the unwanted attention Iris attracts, yet he feels drawn to protect the child, perhaps even at the cost of his own life.Extra characters (not included in the main novel) Carius
Just another human kid lost to the Underground, Carius is part of a generation of humans growing up among myths and legends and just wanting a little bit of the fantasy for themselves. Carius is an awkward, shruggy, nervous and spastic idiot who's not particularly smart nor capable of much anything, but has his heart in the right place. (Tentative design prone to change. May also be throwing him into Angel Dust.)Cana
A peculiar child indeed, Cana is one half Werewolf and one half mutt. She was raised by a pack of feral dogs stalking the Fringe, and can barely speak because of it; she hardly ever assumes human form at all. She ends up saved by Raguel when the rest of her pack was being exterminated. Caerwyn
(beware, old art)
A child with eyes too wise, Caerwyn's existence is a mystery and a history of aborted beginnings, the martyred prophet and the sacrifice. His form now is of a strange sort of centaur with a deer's half rather than a horse's, and he bears a set of antlers on his head. General Note:
The story is primarily divided into two novels.Iris
focuses on Seth's life upon encountering Iris, and of the other characters that seek out the child rumored to be a god. It is a story of redemption, of what's worth fighting for, of judging good and evil, right and wrong: the choice to end the world or to save it; but it is, above all, a story about the power of belief.
A prequel to Iris is also planned that will go into the early life of Seth (the years he spent in the Underground, and the peope he met there), and will focus more on the social disparity between humans and Demis, possible planned Demi rebellions, and backstories to a lot of the other characters (Asher/Ayra, Raguel/Cana, other unnamed characters). It is about finding a reason to live, a place to belong, and what it means to have an identity.
As the prequel is only in the early concept stage for now, I don't have too many specific details worked out yet about life in the Underground and Demi/human relationships, so I might not be able to answer all your questions. But shoot me them anyway, they really get me to brainstorming about it-!
And hell, if you actually bothered to read most of this--C-Can I (or better yet, one of my characters) make you an egg?? Fried, scrambled, omelette, eggy-in-a-basket style... whatever the hell you want. Let me express to you my undying gratitude. ;-;