Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Year in Review - 2016

Welp, that year didn't go as expected.
There's been some pretty interesting highs and lows this year.  Here's the breakdown:

Illness Leads to Education

I started off this year "right" with a rip-roaring case of mono.  Though it knocked me on my ass, I apparently got off pretty easy.  I slept a lot, didn't have a huge amount of stamina, I tired really easy, and standing in one place for more than ten seconds (like waiting in line at the store or bank) was terrifying as I felt I could collapse at any moment; but I could function.  Maybe because I was in the best shape of my life when I fell ill.  I was just thinking about gearing up for my next Karate rank, and had just started taking boxing lessons to improve my sparring.  I was assistant teaching Tai Chi and was doing daily exercises in the morning before work.

So instead of staying at home in bed sleeping, like I should have been, I'd go into work for four hours (since I was at my strongest in the mornings), then go home and sleep for a little bit and then remote into work for a couple hours in the evenings.  Looking back I'd say this arrangement was suicidally crazy, but I needed money and I really hate doing nothing.  Because of that, during a stretch where I couldn't work even under those conditions, I decided to apply to a local community college with the intent of going to nursing school. (I get bored easy you see; if you leave me alone with nothing to do, I end up doing crazy things like that.)

I got in!

Now some of you might be asking, "What?!"
While others will be cheering, "Finally!"

For the first group: I've been toying with the notion of becoming a nurse for a very long time; I just never felt I had the level of maturity and emotional wherewithal to handle being in that noble profession.  However, a lot has happened in my life within the past five or so years to make me feel I might actually be ready to give this a go.  Being home-bound, (supposedly) recovering from mono was just that little nudge I needed to take the plunge.

I just finished my first semester of prerequisite classes earlier this month, passing with flying colors (while working full-time).  I put in my formal application to the nursing program as soon as the final grades were posted.
Next semester (which starts at the end of January) will be ten credits (three classes) of general education classes that I'd like to get out of the way before doing "real" nursing school (which starts next fall if I get in).  The summer semester will also be just gen-eds.

I'll know if I've landed a coveted a seat in the Class of 2019 about halfway through this coming semester.  If I get in, I plan on dropping back to part-time at the 9-5 job, or stop working completely to focus on school.  We'll be playing that one by ear as it comes.

The current game-plan is to get my RN and work in a hospital for as long as I can tolerate it.  During that time I'd like to see if I can find an employer who'll pay for me to get my Bachelor's degree.  After which I want to get even more nursing experience before going on to get my Master's and become a Certified Nurse Midwife.  We'll see where and how that all goes (you know, the way to make God laugh and all that...)

As for my health: it's taken most of this year to recover my strength and stamina.  I'm still seriously limiting the extracurricular activities, but happily there's plenty of others things going on presently to keep me occupied (more on that later).

Martial Arts

Though I had every intention to push for my next Karate rank this year, thanks to mono and changes at the Karate club, I've been laying low in regards to the martial arts.  I also had to drop the Tai Chi assistant teaching due to my illness; but I think the couple months I did do it served their purpose.  I still practice the whole short form on my own periodically, which is quite lovely.

Recently I tried to do my morning exercises again (something I just haven't had the strength to do for most of this year).  I was happy to see I could stick with it for a full week, but because I'm not really doing anything physically challenging at present, I didn't see the need to keep up with it.

We'll see what next year brings to my martial arts journey.  It might be another time for a hiatus.  Who knows.

Cabin in the Woods

As soon as I was well enough to do any level of physical labor this spring, my husband Rick and I headed up to Raquette Lake on any and all available weekends to continue cleaning out his father's camp (a project we'd been tackling since last summer).  We had hoped to get an offer on it this spring and get it sold ASAP so we wouldn't have to pay another year of property taxes on the place, but it wasn't to be.

Still, we toiled through the summer as we slowly lost hope of selling it at all this year.

Then out of the blue, a serious offer came in.  The couple were happy to pay the list price but on one condition: the camp had to be completely cleared out by the closing slated for November 1st.

Can do!
Rick and I hauled ass wrangling up friends and family to help get that place cleaned out.
An outsider may wonder, "How bad could it have been? It was after all just a little camp in the Adirondacks!"

Yeah well, Rick's Dad was a hoarder and avid collector of all things not valuable.  He'd lived in the camp every summer for several decades.  Slowly and methodically he had haul things to up one boatload at a time.  Books and furniture, and he NEVER threw out mail, newspapers or magazines.  He loved all things Disney, so long as it could be fished out of a trash can for purchased for five bucks off ebay.  Happily most of the stuff was meticulously cataloged and stored, but it didn't make getting it out of there any easier as you could only access the camp via a five-mile boat ride.

It was not a fun or easy project, but we prevailed and the camp was "broom-clean" before the end of October!  The closing went through without a hitch and we couldn't be happier! 


You might have noticed that the blog hasn't gotten much loving this year (apart from a couple really fun Kai'us-related series that I posted this summer).
It's not that I haven't wanted to write on the blog: I've got several half-baked drafts sitting in my queue waiting to be finished.  Lack of time and energy is what I'm blaming (see above, lol).

Really though all my writing has suffered this year.  I haven't even been working on my other WIP's, nor did I have much interest in participating in NaNoWriMo this year.

So what else could be keeping me from writing apart from recovering from a debilitating illness, helping to clear out my deceased father-in-law's Adirondack camp and going to school?  Glad you asked (see below)!


This summer, Rick and I became legal guardians of my nine year old niece in partnership with her parents (my brother and sister-in-law).  She started living with us in mid-August.  She started the fourth grade in our school district this September, and is loving Girl Scouts and Karate (when we go).

Our days now tend to go as follows: Rick gets her up and ready for school as I get ready for work.  I drive her into school as it works well with my work schedule and route.  She and I get a few minutes of in-the-car-bonding time, which is fun; then I continue on to work and do grown-up things.
Rick gets her off the bus in the afternoon, makes sure she does her homework and makes her dinner.
In the evenings I come home, eat whatever is left of dinner and give Child my undivided attention so that Rick can get some alone time as she unwinds for the evening.  Every evening, the three of us read together before bed.  She has an early bedtime, so I get a good hour and a half, to two hours after she's gone to bed to do my own unwinding before I head off to sleep as well.

So far it's been working really well for all involved.  I honestly don't mind spending my evenings this way as otherwise I'd just be on the computer, probably not being terribly productive as I haven't been writing much lately.

So what do I hope for 2017?

School will likely dominate my life for the next couple years, which doesn't bother me too much.  I love learning.  My current boss knows that my days at the printing company are numbered and he'll hopefully get me a replacement that I can train soon.

The small business that I run with a friend is humming along nicely.  We attended a couple events as vendors earlier this year and thanks to a new product we had to offer, we nearly doubled our sales from last year in just the first few months of this one!  We also have a quiet etsy presence that's continued to generate tidy sales throughout the year.  Interestingly enough my business partner will also be going back to school next year, so there's no hard feelings about me being busy with academic pursuits.  It just means we'll have plan our crafting days a little more carefully than in the past.  (She blogs too btw.  Feel free to give her a read!)

As mentioned before: what I'll be doing in the martial arts department next year is a little up in the air.  Right now I'm just taking it one day/week/month at a time.  I AM a martial artist though, so I'm sure something will present itself.

Same goes for writing.  I have a WIP that's very close to being ready to go agent-hunting.  It'd be nice to get the ball rolling again on that soon.

2017 Holds a lot of promise and potential.  We'll see how it goes!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Kai'us Racial Genetics

This is the last of series of posts regarding Kai'us culture (for now).
The first bit was a five-part series last month going into the Kai'us creation myths.
Earlier this month I also talked about the system Kai'us' use to prevent inbreeding.

This post will talk about how interracial Kai'us pairings work on an over-simplistic genetic level.
Kai'us races are different from Human races.  What we consider different "races" are just regional and ethnic variations.  Any human can successfully produce viable offspring with any other human.  In short: every "race" of humanity can interbreed.

When I refer to "race" in regards to Kai'us', I'm actually referring to different sub-species.  The seven genetically-unique Kai'us races can successfully interbreed and produce fertile offspring, but the racial genetic markers do not hybridize and it's possible (easy actually) to "breed out" specific genetic markers.

This hasn't always been the case however.  When their world goes through its periods of great geological instability, everyone's DNA becomes unstable and hybridization occurs much more freely.  During the time period I'm working in though (Post-Second Cataclysm onward), Kai'us DNA is incredibly stable to the point where chromosomal abnormalities are practically unheard of.  Even identical twins are incredibly rare (though fraternal twins are actually more common than among humans).

Before I go into the details though, let's refresh ourselves on basic genetics.  Remember that every person typically has two genes for any particular trait: one gene they get from their mother and the other they get from their father.  Using that Punnett Square I mentioned in the last post, let's do an easy one and lay out the probability of parents producing a boy or a girl child.  (Genetic) gender in humans is determined by the x- and y-chromosomes.  If you have two x-chromosomes, you're genetically female.  An x- and a y- together makes you genetically male.

Let's step it up a notch and pretend a person's height is determined by one of only two genes: "T" would produce tall people, "s" would produce short people, and a combination of the two would produce a person of medium height.

Okay, so now that you've recovered from flashbacks of Biology class, let's apply these principles to Kai'us'.  As mentioned before, I'm going to over-simplify the following explanation significantly since no one gene determines all of a Kai'us' racial characteristics, but to make both our lives easier, let's just say that Kai'us race is determined by either a dominant (D) or a recessive (r) gene.

Pairings made from the same race can produce viable offspring no matter what combination of genes are expressed (DD, rr, or Dr would all be viable combinations).

When you start blending races however things get tricky: to produce viable (live) offspring, one parent must provide a dominate racial gene, and the other parent must contribute a recessive racial gene.  Two dominate genes or two recessives will not produce live young.  Interestingly enough, when interracial pairings do occur, people are often more drawn to each other when they're genetically compatible.

Another nice thing is that any children produced with the requisite dominate and recessive genes will be fully fertile and able to produce offspring of their own.

For our first hypothetical pairing, let's put together a Spider Kai'us (represented by a "$" for dominate, and an "s" for recessive), and a Cave Kai'us (C for dominate, and ¢ for recessive) as this would be the most probable pairing, especially among the Ka-Kiu.

Spider Kai'us' are a tall, desert-dwelling race with four arms.  Red/orange mane colors are not uncommon among them, but various shades of brown are the norm (running more to the lighter end of the spectrum).  Brown eyes are by far the most common, but other shades pop up here and there and run strongly in families when they do appear.

Cave Kai'us' bear the "basic" Kai'us form (two arms, two legs, and average build).  For mane colors, nearly every shade of brown can be found among them, though the extremes (blond at one end and black at the other) are very rare.  Like most races, brown eyes are what you're most likely to find, but Cave Kai'us' are the most likely to have dark blue or dark green eyes of any other race.

Obviously this isn't the only combination that will produce viable offspring.  A $s Spider Kai'us parent could have children with a ¢¢ Cave Kai'us (with a 50% success rate; all children would have four arms), or even a CC Cave Kai'us (50% as well; with two-armed children).

A $$ parent could have children with a C¢ person (with 50% success; all children would have four arms), as well as a ¢¢ person (100% success; all children would have four arms as well).

A ss parent could also have children with a C¢ person (also with a 50% chance of success; all children would have two arms though).  Mating with a CC person would provide a 100% chance of Cave Kai'us hybrids.

Even though statistically there's a 50/50 chance of a genetic mismatch with most combinations; nearly every attempt at conception will produce a viable baby.  This is because Kai'us' tend to only mate six times in their entire life. (The reasons are many) and Nature will do everything in its power to ensure the right genes match up to produce live offspring.

Now let's pair up a few hybrids and see the interesting combination that get produced:

For chuckles and giggles, let's introduce a third race.  Though this is rare, even among the Ka-Kiu, let's put together a Cave and a Spider hybrid that both carry the racially recessive genes for Mountain Kai'us' (represented with an "m").

The Mountain People have a heavier build than the other races. They're known for their physical strength; and they have thick, bristly hair that runs down the backs of their arms and legs the same color as their mane.  Both their mane and eyes colors are consistently darker than the other races, almost always dark brown or black. 

From this combination, you can see there's a 25% chance of no viable offspring, a 25% chance of a Cave/Mountain hybrid, a 25% of a Spider/Mountain hybrid, but a 25% of a genetically pure Mountain Kai'us.

And so there's the long and the short of Kai'us racial genetics.
I hope you've enjoyed this peek into the science end of Kai'us'.
If you liked what you've read these past two months, be sure to bug me periodically to get the book finished so you can read a whole novel about these fascinating creatures!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Kai'us Clans

Last month I posted a series of Kai'us creation myths (check out the intro here if you like; it will also lead you through the rest of the myths).

I was having so much fun writing all this Kai'us stuff that I thought I'd spill things over into this month and get science-y; discussing a little about Kai'us genetics and how they avoid inadvertent inbreeding.  Both these topics are very briefly touched on in the novel I'm working on (currently called "The Kai'us Planet"), but obviously they're far too involved to go into in-depth in the book, so I'll post about them here.

This week's post will be about the complex clan system Kai'us' use to ensure couples aren't too closely related.  It's not fool-proof though because people as close as second cousins would be able to marry, and sometimes people who we wouldn't consider even remotely related wouldn't be able to wed.  Still, it certainly keeps siblings and first cousins away from each other at the very least.

Though the dynamics are there (and have been for years), there's certain details I'm still hammering out, like: should each race have 24, 32, or even 64 clans?  How much bearing should a person's clans have on how they're viewed in society?  Are there "good" clans and "bad" clans for instance?  What should the clans be called?

I've thought of the Cave Kai'us clan names being after birds and things related to birds (they REALLY like birds!); Spider Kai'us' having insect and small, desert-dwelling creatures names; Mountain Kai'us' having names to do with stones, jewels, and metals; Winged Kai'us' after types of trees and plants; but that's a whole boat-load of vocab I've haven't even begun to hit on yet! (And that's just the Old Races!!)

So for the sake of argument, I'll do this break-down with just numbers (which is how I've been doing it thus far).  Even with this simple labeling system though it's likely still going to get confusing, so I'll do my best to keep things simple.

Unfortunately it gets insane right out of the starting gate: each and every Kai'us is identified by four separate clans, and how they're ordered is slightly different depending on if you're a boy or a girl.

First I invite you to re-familiarize yourself with the Punnett Square that you likely learned about in biology class concerning bean plants, fruit flies, and blood types.  Though it'll relate more to my next post about Kai'us racial genetics, it's general principle will come in handy with the clan break-downs as well.

With that in mind, you get your first clan name from the parent who's the same gender as you.
Your second clan name comes from the first clan of your opposite-gendered parent.
You get your third clan and fourth clans from your grandparents (that part will be easier to show than tell).

Let's break it down from the beginning starting with the "first man" and the "first woman".

The colors are arbitrary by the way.  I’m just using them to separate things out a little better visually (you’ll thank me in a moment).

The boy’s first clan is the same as his Dad’s.
The girl’s first clan is the same as her Mother’s.
And their second clan is the first clan of their other parent.
(Obviously for this example their parents only have one clan, but this will work even if there’s the normal four clans involved; we're starting out simple here.)

Now, these kids can’t hook up because they share clans. 
Even if just one clan is shared between two people, they can’t get married.

Lucky for these kids, their parents had neighbors of completely different clans!
Now let’s see what happens when all these young people get married and have kids.

This chart is likely going to look like an overwhelming mess, so let’s take a looksie at just one grandbaby.

Following the numbers (and handy colors), you can see that this young man’s first clan is the first clan of his father and his paternal grand-father.
His second clan is his mother’s first clan as well as his maternal grand-mother.
His third clan is his father’s second clan, which is the first clan of his paternal grand-mother.
And his fourth clan is his Mom’s second clan, same as his maternal grand-father’s first clan.

If you scroll back up, you can see that his sister’s clans are the same as his, just reversed.  
His cousins' clans are also the same, just flopped top to bottom
Now let’s go one more generation and see what happens.

As you can see, half of the clans get lost by the fourth generation, but the first clans of all the men carry through as do the first clans of all the women.

This is why it’s so important to Kai’us parents that they have at least one boy and one girl.
Boys carry on their father’s clans and girl’s carry on their mother’s lines.

Because the people living in a village can become very related very quickly, the clan system helps keep straight just who are cousins and who are a little too closely related for comfort.  

To give young people more options in the potential mate department, groups of villages gather together once every four years or so in a great festival called, "Keush-na-eekai" which translates roughly to the "Gathering of Young People".  Here eligible folks wear colored ribbons or beads to clearly display their clans.  They show off their skills and talents in various games of skill involving archery, races, and the like; or they'll set up "booths" where they can show off their crafts in weaving or pottery-making, etc.

Obviously these games and displays aren't just limited to the unmarried; anyone is welcome to participate.  These gatherings are an excellent opportunity to trade with others outside of one's home village and to see new techniques for making products and tools.

Village chiefs also have an opportunity at these festivals to discuss crops, births, deaths, and any problems they may have run into in the years between Gatherings.

There's music, singing, dancing and story telling in abundance at these multi-day events, and of course plenty of food.

If two people meet up who like each other, they'll spend time at the festival to get to know each other.  It typically doesn't take long for Kai'us' to determine if they like a particular person or not due to their telepathy.

Matches are made purely at the young people's discretion; parents are rarely directly involved in who their children choose to marry.  It's actually the villages chiefs (each village is run by a husband/wife pair) who make the ultimate decision if a potential match is a good one.

If the two young people are from different villages, the two sets of chiefs will sit down together and discuss what the young couple will contribute to the village they would live in and then determine which village needs those particular skills more.  If both villages already have a glut of what the pair has to offer, they'd be encouraged to move to another village where they'd be more useful.

Either way, once married, a young person leaves their parents' house and moves in with their new spouse.  When a person marries, they're considered part of the whole village rather than just their parents' families.

And so there's your glimpse into Kai'us clans and how they work.
Be sure to come back next time for an explanation of Kai'us racial genetics!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Kai'us Creation Myth: The Second Cataclysm

And here is the final installment of the Kai'us creation myth.
I hope you've enjoy this little glimpse into Kai'us culture!
Head over here for the intro if you're just stumbling on this now.
Then there's Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3

To be honest, I can't say I'm 100% happy with how this section has turned out.  Since it's the "end" of the creation myths, it's suffered the plight of being written down the least amount of times, so it's not as solid as I'd like; but I've noodled on it long enough and now it's time to shove it out into the daylight, come what may. 

Something I do like about this part though is the nod to the past as far as Kai'us development is concerned.  Back in grade school I had tons of Kai'us races (then called "breeds") and some were pretty ludicrous ("Princess Ciusses"? Really?)  The events leading up to the Second Cataclysm let me hug those crazy races one last time (yes, even the Mermaid Ciusses), before wiping them off the face of the earth to make way for something a bit more realistic (as realistic as fanciful, horse-faced creatures can be anyway...) 

One thing I've neglected to mention thus far is the word "Kai'us" means "Person".  Hence why I never call them "The Kai'us People" (otherwise I'd be saying "The Person People").  That little piece of information will come in handy in this final section as you may have noticed: the Kai'us' actually haven't shown up yet in any of these creation myths!

*  *  *

The Kai'us Creation Myth: Part 4

Now there existed among the animals beings called "Creatures" who were more than animals but less than People.  They spoke the language of the gods, but did not know how to read or write.  They used simple tools and weapons but did not live in villages.  They could hunt, but they did not yet know of agriculture.

There were far more varieties of Creatures than there are now People and they lived all over the world as best suited them.  For instance the Ground Creatures lived underground; the Tree Creatures lived in the trees; the Winged Creatures lived in the air, and so on and so forth.

One day the Ground Creatures were conversing with the Water Creatures about how the gods interacted with them.

"The God of Creation has taught us how to move the very rocks to make spaces for us to live in," the Ground Creatures were saying.  "And the God of Water has given you the ability to breathe both air and water."

"This is true," replied the Water Creatures.  "But we are the only ones who can breathe underwater; and no other Creatures can move earth as you can.  It is a shame such powerful abilities have been given to just one type of Creature or another."

"Yes, can you imagine how powerful we would be if all Creatures shared the powers of the rest?"

The Water Creatures were thoughtful, "We had asked the Goddess of Fire once to teach us to use fire in the way she has taught the Desert Creatures.  She laughed and asked what use have we of fire?"

The Ground Creatures nodded, "And we have asked the Goddess of Life to teach us to heal as well as the Plains Creatures; but she would not.  It seems obvious to us that the gods choose to give only small pieces of knowledge to each type of Creature so that one does not know all.  Perhaps they fear how much power we would have if we all had the same knowledge."

"Perhaps we would be more powerful than the gods themselves!" the Water Creatures replied in agreement.

The two types of Creatures then tried to teach the other their own abilities but failed.  No matter how hard they tried, the Ground Creatures could not learn how to breathe underwater; and despite their best efforts, the Water Creatures could now make the burrows and tunnels through rocks like the Ground Creatures could. 

This failure enraged them both.  "The gods have made it so only they can teach new skills! We must all gather together and demand the gods teach all creatures everything they know!"

So the Ground Creatures and the Water Creatures approached the other types of Creatures and told them of their plan.

The Tree Creatures were intrigued, but were dubious of the plan.  Still they promised to tell the Winged Creatures since neither the Ground nor the Water Creature could reach them.  The Winged Creatures turned down the plan outright.  "We have the air and are therefore the closest to the gods.  We have no desire to know anything else."

The Mountain, the Cave, the Plains, and the Desert Creatures were also completely against the plan.  "The gods have given each type of Creature the abilities that best suit their purpose and inclination.  Why should we have the abilities of all when there is no need for them?"

The Ground and Water Creature became increasingly angry as each type refused them. "Can you not see the gods keep our skills separate so we will remain weaker than they?  We could be greater than the gods themselves if we all had each other's powers."

And so to prove their own power, the Ground Creatures heaved up the earth; leveling tall mountains and changing the lay of the land.  The Water Creatures drained whole bodies of water and made them appear in other places.  Out of spite they moved river beds away from choice places and gathered up all the dew that collected at night.

"All Creatures possess abilities just as powerful!" the Ground and Water Creatures declared to the others.  "Join us in demanding that the gods teach us everyone's powers."

Instead of being awed, the other Creatures were frightened by the senseless destruction that had been wrought.  The Mountain, Cave, Desert and Plains Creatures used their own abilities to protect themselves and the other animals rather than to strike out against the aggressors as it never occurred to them to bring harm to other Creatures.

The Tree Creatures on the other hand were impressed with the strength of the Ground and Water Creatures and they decided to join them.  Their own powers were meager compared to their new allies however and they had little to offer them.  The Goddess of Fire was the matron of the Tree Creatures though, so they would shoot off balls of fire at any Creatures or animals who tried to stop the Ground and Water Creatures from their demonstration of power.

The Winged Creatures completely ignored the suffering far below them.  They were of the air and the actions of the land-bound Creatures was none of their concern.

The Ground and Water Creatures saw the Mountain Creatures diverting lava flows from where other Creatures and animals lived; they witnessed the Cave Creatures creating shelters for those who were frightened or who had lost their own dwelling places; saw the Desert Creatures finding water in the bleakest, most barren places so that others may drink; and the Plains Creatures producing healing medicines for those injured in the great earthquakes caused by the angry Ground Creatures.

These acts only enraged the usurpers more.  Could they not see they were squandering their single abilities and if they just worked together against the gods then none of this suffering would be necessary?

In their rage, the Ground Creatures lost all sense of reason.  They gathered together all their powers to one purpose and caused the very earth to swallow up the Plains Creatures, killing each and every one of them.

All the Creatures and animals were shocked by what the Ground Creatures had done.  Even the Water and Tree Creatures were appalled by this willful act.

The gods living on Shuko had observed all that was transpiring on the world below.  They allowed events to run their course to test the mettle of the Creatures they had loved and nurtured.  But with this last act of destruction, the gods could no longer passively sit back and watch, they mobilized and took immediate action.

The Ground Creatures hardly had time to gloat over their display of force, for they were smote at once from the face of the earth for the wickedness.  Not a single one escaped the wrath of the gods.  Then the gods gathered all the water left in the world into one place and turned it bitter, killing all the Water Creatures. (This was the creation of the world's single ocean.)

The Tree Creatures begged forgiveness, saying the uprising had not been their idea and they had simply been coerced into joining with the Ground and Water Creatures.  The gods held back their anger against the Tree Creatures and instead turned them into mova (a type of small, tree-dwelling animal), declaring they would forever be animals living among animals.

After the world had time to settle and heal from the corruptions of the Ground and Water Creatures, the gods turned to the remaining Creatures.

"Winged Creatures," the gods said.  "Out of your arrogance, you sided with neither the destroyers nor the protectors of the world.  For that you shall learn humility.  You will become People, but you will be larger than you are now, unable to to live solely in the air.  You will tire if you fly for too long and will need to touch the ground and hopefully will learn that the suffering of others should also be your own concern."

The Winged Creatures sadly accepted their lot and settled in the thick forests of the south, away from the other Creatures.  They eventually became the Winged People of today; aloof and still arrogant, but willing to help those who ask.

Then the gods gathered the Mountain, Cave, and Desert Creatures around them.

"All of you showed great bravery in the face of horrible destruction and loss.  All of you will become People."

The gods taught them how to build houses and grow crops.  They gave them written language, numbers and math.  The gods opened their mind so they could speak as readily with their thoughts as with their voices.  The new Peoples were taught how create fire and move things with just their minds.  They were shown how to make more efficient tools and hunting implements; how to tan animal hides and weave colorful fabric. 

From eating better foods and no longer needing to move from place to place, the People became larger than when they were Creatures.  They stood tall, yet they continued to care for all animals even though as People were even greater than them.

The God of Creation had always enjoyed the company of the Mountain Creatures and he continued to teach them his wisdom.  As People they became great story tellers and users of metal.  They learned to build their homes with stacked stones in a way that was stable even when the earth occasionally trembled, and kept them warm when the nights were cold and windy.

The Goddess of Life looked after the Winged People.  Though they were saddened by the ruling of the gods, they were happy to be made People.  The Goddess of Life taught them how to make medicines from the trees and plants they lived among as well as from various animal parts.  She also taught them poetry and great songs.  They became the best makers of musical instruments.

The Goddess of Fire looked fondly upon the Desert Creatures.  From her teachings, they lived happily in the dry deserts where few other animals cared to dwell.  Because life in the harsh desert was difficult, she gifted the Desert Creatures with another set of hands; making them the Spider People.  She taught them how to make bricks for building homes and how to glaze and fire clay to make light and durable vessels for storing food and water.

The God of Water took the Cave Creatures under his care.  He showed them how to live on the plains where the Plains Creatures had once inhabited.  They learned how to build houses with thatched roof so birds could live among them and offer their teachings as well.  When he asked what they wanted to be called as People they said that though they would no longer live in caves, they would be called the Cave People to remind them of their humble beginnings when they shared their cave homes with other animals during the devastation wrought by the Ground and Water Creatures.

And so the remaining Creatures became People and the world recovered from the Second Cataclysm.

*  *  *

And thus concludes the Kai'us creation myth.

Happily I'm on a roll and will be returning next month with more fun information concerning Kai'us clan structure and racial genetics.  Hope to see you then!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Kai'us Creation Myth: The First Cataclysm

Here's Part 3 of a series I'm posting weekly this month pertaining to the Kai'us creation myths.
Introduction is found here.
Part 1 can be read here.
And Part 2 is here.

This section of the creation myth introduces a major mainstay of Kai'us culture: The Moon Path.

*  *  *

The Kai'us Creation Myth: Part 3

All the animals of the world had now been spit into male and female and new animals were created from their joinings.  The God of Death removed the souls of those whose forms were too weak to live on or those who were eaten by other animals.  The Goddess of Children would then guide the waiting souls to new forms to live again; or, if there were not enough waiting souls of a particular animal, she would call a new soul from The Void.  Thus the population of the world steadily increased.

Over time however as there became even more animals, it was harder and harder for the God of Death to collect the souls of the dead.  Souls started to get lost, trapped on the ground to fester and cause illness among the living.

It also became harder for the Goddess of Children to keep soul-pairs together.  The souls of the first animals were once a genderless whole after all, and it was only fair that those split pairs find each other again in their next life.  Offspring made from mismatched pairs were often weaker than those who had once been the same soul.  She also sometimes had difficulty pairing up the right souls to the right forms. If a soul ended up in the body of an animal it had never been before it would cause an ill-fit and deformities.

Another problem arose from the fact that every soul held all the memories of their past experiences.  If a previous death had not been pleasant, those bad memories would linger; this became another reason that deformities arose.

Drawing on all their past memories, older souls felt they were superior to the newer ones as they had known what it was like to live as whole beings, before there was male and female.  They lorded over the newer souls and treated them as inferior, causing jealousy and anger despite the fact the new souls had not chosen to be called from The Void.

Great misery arose as the world itself became scarred and poisons from all this suffering.  The ground itself heaved and waterways changed their courses to get away from painful places.  The great mountains burst forth with fire and ash, choking the very air.  Plants and animals withered and died for no apparent reason.  Something needed to be done.

All the gods gathered together to discuss a remedy.  There needed to be a place for souls to gather when they left their bodies as there were now far too many for the God of Death to personally handle.  Souls needed to be purged of the pains and anguishes of their previous existence.  Though the gods felt it was important that, say a deer-soul always be born as a deer, there also needed to be a way for it to be safely born into a different animal form if there was more need for another animal.  Soul-pairs could also not always be born near enough to each other to become mates; but offspring shouldn't have to suffer from mismatched soul-pairs.

To answer these quandaries, the God of Creation formed three discs which he placed in the sky.  The Goddess of Life touched each disc to give them light and life.  The first disc was a beautiful, rich green.  This disc would serve as a beacon for souls newly departed from their bodies.  It was lush with good foods that would draw the soul and give it a safe place to linger until the God of Death could help it along its way.  This disc became known as "Pako", or "Green Moon"

The second disc was filled with a special water which would make a soul who drank from it forget all their past pains and experiences.  This disc was "Nuko": "Blue Moon".

The third disc was the largest and red.  Fires burned across its surface.  On this disc, a soul could be reforged to undo any damage it may have accumulated in its past existence, or prepare it to live within a new animal form.  Soul-bonds between those who had originally existed as one being weren't necessarily destroyed, but they were weakened enough so new, healthy matches could take place.

Because the gods found the third disc to be the most beautiful, for the fires could be clearly seen even during the light of day, they chose this one to live on.  It was named "Shuko", or "Red Moon".

Once a soul was ready to be reborn into a new form, the Goddess of Children could lead it back to Nuko where it could drink more of the waters that would help it sleep while its new body formed.  She would then lead it to Pako where it could eat its fill once more.  This time the food would sustain the soul until it was born in its next body and able to eat physical food again.  Lastly she would lead it to its new body still forming in a stone or inside the body of its next mother.

In this way the Moon Path was established to guide souls from death to rebirth.

A problem quickly arose though as the light of the moons was blocked when souls gathered on each of the moons.  With a moon's light obscured, newly released souls could not find their next step along the Moon Path.  Also during the day the bright light of the sun would easily drown out the light of the green and blue moons, also making them hard to find.

The God of Death and Goddess of Children had to be careful that a soul did not linger on any of the moons longer than a few days to keep the cycles of light and dark balanced.

To help souls whose bodies died during the day, the God of Death took a little water from Nuko and mixed it with the rain brought by the God of Water.  The moon-water would release any souls that got lost or were trapped on the ground.  The mist the rises after a rain is the souls of trapped animals lifting up into the sky.

The God of Death and the Goddess of Children worked together to create rainbows that would guide souls newly-released by a rain into the sky.  A rainbow could also be used by souls waiting to be reborn to find the ground again and their new existence.

Through these measures tortured souls could now find healing and peace, and as a result the world itself could heal and settle again.  Mountains went back to sleep, the rivers stayed within their banks and the ground stopped its roiling and churning.  And so the First Cataclysm ended.

*  *  *

Side note on Kai'us culture: it's considered bad luck to die when the Green Moon, Pako is New.  Even a tiny crescent is preferable since it's believed the soul will more easily get lost and/or trapped when the moon isn't visible at all.

Same holds true with births.  Kai'us women though have a bit more control than human moms as to when their child is born, so it's easier for them to speed up or delay the birth until the moon is in a more auspicious phase.

Dying or being born during a rainstorm though is the most auspicious (no matter the moon phase; but the more Full the better!).  Of course that's also incredibly rare.

Next week will be Part 4: The Second Cataclysm.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Kai'us Creation Myth: The First Death

Now onto Part 2 of the Kai'us creation myth.
Head over here for Part 1 if you haven't read it yet.
And here for a not-so-brief explanation of what this is all about.

I should probably note that these myths don't reflect my personal views on things.  They're just the fictional tales of a fictional culture.

*  *  *

The Kai'us Creation Myth: Part 2

The God of Creation and the Goddess of Life had created the world; and their oldest children, the Goddess of Fire and God of Water had created the means of keeping the world alive.

Now the First Pair wanted their four youngest children to have tasks as well, so they set about creating numerous plants and animals.  Tall, tall trees all the way down to tiny, scraggly shrubs.  Some with beautiful blossoms and scents, others with no flowers at all.  Some flowers bloomed all by themselves between rocks or straight out of otherwise barren soil.  Every color imaginable was crafted into leaves and petals for the enjoyment of all.

The God of Creation particularly liked to make animals though.  He formed so many in every conceivable shape and purpose.  The Goddess of Life would then breathe a soul into each animal, calling it straight from The Void.

They placed small, scurrying animals among the trees and shrubs; birds they gave to the air; lizards, insects and snakes to the ground; fish to the waterways; deer and antelope to the plains; as well as many other living, breathing creatures.

The four youngest children were indeed enthralled by these multitudes of creation.  They spent a great deal of time among all the plants and animals, teaching those who were interested the wisdom of their great parents.

Now it came to pass that the geegaw (a type of large, saber-toothed feline) felt that it was not getting its fair share of attention from the four god-children.  Because the gods particularly liked to spend time with the birds and other flighted creatures, they must possess some quality the geegaw lacked.  It concluded that if it ate a bird, then it would take on the bird's qualities and then surely the gods would like it more.

Carefully the geegaw selected and stalked its prey: a particularly beautiful bird; just the right size to fit in its mouth.  When the time was right, the geegaw sprang upon it and took it into its mouth, crushing its delicate body with its teeth.

The bird cried out in surprise and pain so loudly that it was heard throughout the whole world and the gods as well as every creature stopped to listen to the wretched cry, not knowing at first what it could be.

Alarmed, and instantly ashamed, the geegaw spat out the bird.  It flopped about on the ground, unable now to fly, continuing to cry out in unspeakable pain.

The Second Son could not bear to hear the poor bird's suffering and he touched the bird in a way that separated its soul--which was not in pain--from the mangled body that was.  In this act he became the God of Death.

The other gods gathered around the cringing geegaw asking, "What have you done?"

"I felt you loved the bird more than me," the geegaw replied miserably.  "I thought if I ate it, you would love me as much."

"How can you ever know how much we love any of our creation?  But if you feel that you are unloved then leave us and know what it is to truly be without love."

And so the geegaw left in great shame, the other animals drawing away from it, appalled by it's selfish act.

The gods then turned their attention to the bird-soul, still being protectively held by the God of Death.

"And what are we to do with you?"

"I would like my body back," the bird replied.  "For I miss my friends and being able to soar through the sky with them."

"Unfortunately your body was destroyed by an act not of our doing.  We do not have the power to heal it."

"May I have a new body then please?"

The God of Creation and Goddess of Life conferred with each other, but it was concluded a new body could not be made by them, for a new soul from The Void would fill the fresh form instead of the existing bird-soul.

The Second Daughter offered a suggestion: if another bird were split into male and female as the gods themselves were, they could call to the lost bird's soul when they joined together as her parents had done and since they weren't uniting within The Void, a new soul would not dwell in the body created from their joining.

The First Pair agreed that would likely work, but the gods had come into being straight from The Void as male and female and were therefore immortal in both body and soul.  The souls of the animals came from The Void and were immortal as well, but their bodies had been formed outside of The Void.  If a bird were split into two genders, its soul would have to be split as well thus weakening the form and the two would eventually die.

Still, the bird-soul yearned for the companionship of its friends and the other birds as well missed its presence; so a bird volunteered to be split into male and female so it could create a new body for the bird-soul to inhabit.

The Second Daughter therefore touched the bird in a way that separated its form into male and female.  She then taught to two new birds how to join their bodies back together again as her parents had done.  In doing so she became the Goddess of Children.

The birds were disappointed though when all that was produced from their joining was a stone.

The Goddess of Children explained that a new body was forming within the stone that would reflect the soul that was to inhabit it.  They had to call to their friend through the stone and treat the stone as though their friend was already among them; this way the soul could join with the new body.  So the bird-parents sat with the stone and spoke with the stone as though it were their friend.  The bird-soul settled into the stone, listening to its friends and dreamed of its new body.

At last the stone burst open and the bird was reborn into a newly-formed body.

The birds and all the other animals rejoiced.

The bird parents asked what would happen to them when their gendered-bodies became too weak to hold their own souls.  Who would create stones for them to grow new bodies inside?

The reborn bird instantly volunteered to take on the task.  Then the question was raised as to what would happen if a stone were produced if their wasn't a soul waiting to fill it.

The Goddess of Children explained that she would watch all stones made from joinings and she would personally make sure a new soul was called from The Void.

At this, many other birds asked to be split into male and female.  Despite the fact that they knew they would eventually die, to have the opportunity to join as the First Pair had done and produce new life from nothing was far too compelling.  And so the Goddess of Children split all who asked.

Alas the bodies of the newly split birds weakened far sooner than they had expected.  They could produce only one stone before they were too weak for anything else.

Though they had accepted this choice, they still asked if there was anyway they could stay with their bodies a little longer before going with the God of Death to await a new body. 

The plants, who had observed all that had transpired and had great compassion for their plight, took pity on the birds and offered their own bodies to give the birds strength.

The Third Daughter was greatly moved by the plants' sacrifice and offered an alternative rather than giving their whole bodies.  "What if you gave only a part of yourself?" she asked.  "A part you grew solely for the purpose of sustaining others.  That way your own existence wouldn't end."

The plants were delighted by this compromise and the Third Daughter touched all the plants who offered themselves as food and they produced seeds and fruits for the birds to eat.  In doing this she became the Goddess of Plants.  Now the gendered birds could enjoy existence far longer before weakening.  When it was time to surrender their bodies and go with the God of Death, they did so willingly.

Eventually other animals became curious and asked if they could be split as well.  All requested were granted.

Many of the smaller creatures produced stones as the birds did when they joined together, but the bigger animals were large enough to grow a new body within their own.  This allowed them to continue to move around and do things without putting all their focus on the new life being created.

As larger and larger animals requested to be split into male and female though, it was found that their larger bodies could not be as easily sustained by the seeds and fruits offered by the plants.  They worried that their lives would be unduly shortened for lack of food.

Some of the smaller animals wondered if they should offer their bodies as the plants had done, but what could they grow that others could eat without bringing harm to themselves?

The Third Son greatly respected the choice of the smaller animals and said, "No, you can not grow a part of yourself that can be easily sacrificed; if you offer yourselves, it will have to be your whole body.  But worry not, for I will make you swift and strong.  I will teach you how to hide from those who would eat you.  I will make your young able to run from birth or I will ensure you produce multiple young so that some may live even when others are eaten.  I will give you defenses to remind those who would eat you that your sacrifice is a gift and a choice on your part.  I will make sure the fastest and cleverest of you will survive."

In taking on this duty he became the God of Animals and he taught both predator and prey how to live with honor and respect for all so that all may live.

On and on, more animals became split into pairs.  Even the villainous geegaw--one of the last--eventually came forward, begging forgiveness and asking to be split into male and female as well.

And so through one act of selfishness, death and rebirth came to the World and all the gods were given names and tasks to perform.

*  *  *

Side note on Kai'us culture: all races hold birds in high esteem.  Because they believe birds were the first to suffer the pain of death, it's forbidden to hunt or kill birds.  Because birds were the first to experience the joys of creating new life, it's also forbidden to eat or harm eggs or nests.  Birds are believed to be beloved of the gods so their presence in a village is considered a good omen.

Next week will be Part 3: The First Cataclysm.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Kai'us Creation Myth: Cosmology

This is Part 1 of a series that I'll be posting installments of once a week this month.
Hop over here for the introduction to all this.

Before we begin, I thought I'd give a brief explanation on Kai'us storytelling methods as these tales aren't going to be presented in way a Kai'us would be familiar with.  Storytelling in Kai'us society is a call-and-response, group participation type deal.  There's lots of back and forth that would be tiring to a non-Kai'us audience.  A big thing I'm leaving out is the vocab lesson: "And the male being called the female being, 'Wife'.  And the female being called the male being, 'Husband'.  And they called the two new beings 'Children'; the male they called 'Son', the female they called 'Daughter'." And so on.  Maybe someday I'll put together a version that's closer to the Kai'us style of storytelling, but this version will be easier for humans to read.

As with any Old Tales, a lot about the originating culture can be gleaned from how they believe their world was created, so though I'd love to fill in cultural backstory, I think I'll just let the story speak for itself.

*  *  *

The Kai'us Creation Myth: Part 1

Before there was anything, there existed nothing but The Void.  From The Void emerged two beings; one male, one female.  They could not see each other for all was still in darkness; nor could they communicate with one another as language had not yet come into being.  Despite this, each knew of the other's presence and they were intrigued by the other being they co-existed with.

For a very long time the two existed like this and they became increasingly interested in knowing more about the other.  Words filled the male's heart that he wished to express, but he had no way to arrange those words coherently.  The female was filled with song, but she too could not bring it forth in any way that had meaning.

An idea came upon the male, and using his own powers he formed thousands of small stones, one for each word that lived within him.  These he presented to the female as a gift.  Intrigued by the gift, she touched the stones each in turn and the music that lived within her filled each stone with light.  The lighting of the stones was her gift to him.  These stones became the stars and the two arranged them in a way that was pleasing to them.

In the soft light of the stars the First Two could at last behold each other and they fell deeply in love.  They joined together and the two became one.  In this union they return for a brief moment to the blissful nothingness of The Void.  The words of the male joined with the music of the female and language came into being from their joining. 

When the joined pair separated, two new beings emerged from The Void with them; another male and another female.  The First Two were thrilled with their new children and they taught them the language that had been created from their joining.

The four beings existed happily for a long time, but after a while the Husband and Wife wished again to experience the oneness of The Void and so they joined together again; and again another new male and another new female emerged with them.  This time poetry came into being, which the Parents taught to their four children and the six beings were all happy together.

Once last time The First Two joined together and another son and another daughter came into being.  Lastly came song which was also shared among all of them.  Now they were eight and the Husband and Wife were content.

Through the First Two, six new beings had come into existence as well as language, poetry and song.  Now they felt it was time for their children to express their own abilities and so they embarked on a great undertaking.

The Father formed a Great Disc of rock and soil.  From this act he became known as the God of Creation.  The Mother touched the Disc and it turned green, full of life and water.  This made her the Goddess of Life.

However the light of the stars was not enough to sustain the new world.  Seeing that the world needed both greater light and warmth, the Oldest Daughter formed a great ball of fire and held it over the world.  In doing so she became the Goddess of Fire and the ball of fire became known as the Sun.

Holding the sun in one place over the world however posed several problems: the parts directly under the sun became too hot and scorched while the parts farther away cooled too much and withered.  Plus it was very tiring for her to hold the sun up over the world.

He twin brother had great compassion for her plight and so he took a great deal of water from the world and placed it above it, resting it on the mountains at the edge of the world.  This formed the Sky, making him the God of Water.

Now his sister could place the ball of fire in the sky and float the sun across it, thus providing light and warmth to the whole world evenly.  When the sun reached the other side of the sky it was put out and the world could rest in the cool light of the stars until the Goddess of Fire lit it again the next day.

Now there was balance between Day and Night, but the God of Water had taken too much water from the world and it started to dry up.  If he returned too much of it though, the sky would surely collapse and all the work of his sister and himself would be undone.

Instead the God of Water watched over the world and when he found a part that was too dry, he would poke small holes in the sky, bringing rain to just that place.  In doing so he was able to keep just enough water in the world so that it could continue to grow and flourish.

Now the Goddess of Fire and the God of Water loved each other has purely and as deeply as two siblings can and the separation brought on by their duties caused their hearts to ache for each other.  The Goddess of Fire had to carefully watch the progress of the sun across the sky lest it wander too far in one direction or another, or go too fast or too slow.  And the God of Water had to be ever vigilant over the world below lest too little rain fall where it was needed.  Even at night they could not be together for though the Goddess of Fire did not need to tend the sun, her brother was busy delivering dew to the world to bring just a little more water even when he could not bring rain.

Their parents took pity on their oldest children and gave to them each cloaks made of clouds.  The Second Pair were ecstatic.  Whenever the God of Water brought rain to a part of the world, the brother and sister could cover the sky with their cloaks of clouds.  With the sun covered, the Goddess of Fire did not need to watch it as closely and she could spend some time with her beloved brother, no matter how brief that time may be.

The two could race their guwana (a type of beast of burden) across the sky.  The sound of their running feet was what created the sound of thunder.  When one sibling or the other reined in their beast, the impatient guwana would flick its tail, creating a streak of lightning.

And so the First Pair created the world and gave it life and the Second Pair created the means of sustaining it.

*  *  *

Come back next week for Part 2 to see what the Third and Fourth Pairs end up doing.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Introduction to the Kai'us Creation Myth

I first came up with the Kai'us' when I was about 10 years old.  They've been part of my life ever since.  When I show people pictures I drew as an adult or explain parts of Kai'us culture they ask in amazement, "You came up with all that when you were ten?!"

The simple answer is no.

Kai'us' have grown up with me.  Though their general appearance and the main themes of their society haven't changed much in all that time, they have matured and become more "realistic" and well-rounded.  Nearly all my interests and things I do have something to do with development if Kai'us culture.  It's my semi-closet obsession.

There's a lot to their culture that lives solely in my head.  Though I have endless drawings as well as notebooks upon notebooks of story chucks and numerous drafts of a first Kai'us novel (called "The Kai'us Planet"), as well as a website to try to document all this (no, I'm not sharing the link; the website is awful), it still only scratches the surface of what lives in the three or so pounds of grey matter chilling in my skull.

Because I'm dragging my feet on getting the novel finished, I thought I'd share some non-spoiler stuff here to get more Kai'us-related things out in the the world and hopefully inspire people to relentlessly badger me to keep working on the book.  Over the next few weeks I'll be posting bits and pieces of the Kai'us creation myths.

Okay, so first and foremost: what the heck is a Kai'us anyway?

A Kai'us is a humanoid being with a horse-like head.  Their eyes face forward though and their muzzle is significantly shorter than a horse's.  Their teeth are those of an omnivore (more so than humans).  They have four digits on each hand - three fingers and a thumb.  Their feet are blunt with four, stubby toes; the two center toes are larger than the two outer ones.  They have a long tail with a tuft of hair at the end the same color as their mane.  Their skin is dark grey typically, but they're covered in short, white fur.  Because they're fur-covered, Kai'us' don't wear clothing; though those who live in colder regions will wear a belted poncho for warmth.  They do like to decorate themselves though with creative braids, bracelets, necklaces, arm cuffs, etc. Typically any body and mane decorations show social status and/or one's trade.

Kai'us reproductive organs are all internal (even for the guys), and there's very little sexual dimorphism between genders; though males have thicker tails with more blood vessels (to keep those internal testes cool).  Females have slightly wider hips than males, though their waists aren't nearly as narrow as human females.  Females' breasts do swell when they're nursing, but any other time they look fairly androgynous.

There's eight different Kai'us races with their own physical characteristics that set them apart.  For instance, Spider Kai'us' have four arms; they're also the tallest race, topping out at about six feet when full-grown.  Winged Kai'us' are the smallest, barely breaking 4 and a half feet.  They have (you guesses it!) wings.  Think more bat-like than bird-like.

The different races can (kind of) interbreed, but in general it's rare since they tend to stick to their own kind.  The genetics involved are fairly simple, but that's the stuff of another post.  One race though: the Ka-Kiu (also called the People of the Whole) are actually not a genetically unique race, but rather any race can become Ka-Kiu by receiving a special mark (it's more complicated than that, but again that's a whole other write-up).  The Ka-Kiu encourage intermarrying between races who join them so there's far more hybridization among them than any other race.  Children born to Ka-Kiu parents though are without a doubt Ka-Kiu even without the mark (they receive that as part of their coming of age ceremony); therefore Ka-Kiu are indeed their own race.

Kai'us' range all over their planet, though each race lives in a specific region.  The planet itself is far more dry than Earth - there's only one ocean that takes up about 35% of the planet's surface.  The ocean and the rivers feeding it, as well as a vast mountain range that spans from one pole to the other located on the other side of the world from the ocean, splits the planet into four main regions that I call "Territories".  The Spider, Cave and Ka-Kiu all live in the North-West Territory.  The Winged live in the rain forests of the South-West Territory.  The Crystal Kai'us' live along the ocean's coast in the South-East Territory.  The Snake and Deer live in the North-East Territory.  Lastly the Mountain Kai'us' live in, well, the mountains.

Though the Kai'us' within a particular region will have contact and trade with each other, there's very little contact (or sometimes even knowledge of) the other races outside of their part of the world, save for the Mountain Kai'us' who trade with everyone (except the Ka-Kiu <- no one likes them).

On the whole Kai'us' are a peaceful people.  They're highly adaptable and readily adjust to whatever environment they settle in.  If an area is lacking in necessary resources they'll either move somewhere more plentiful or trade for what they need.

Across the board Kai'us technology is around the late Stone Age, though some races dabble a little with metal.  Most races have agriculture and live in villages of 75-150 individuals.  Deer Kai'us' are the least advanced though and live simple, nomadic lives.  They tend to live in much smaller groups. Mountain Kai'us' are semi-nomadic due to the seasonal changes where they live.

Many races live among semi-domesticated animals which are used for championship, pest-control, protection, beasts of burden, or travel.  No animals are penned or captured for these purposes and they don't deliberately breed animals.  All animals who live near Kai'us' or interact with them do so of their own volition.  Meat and animal products are acquired exclusively through hunting and any prey animals that are felled in that process are greatly respected.

Despite their relative low technological status, Kai'us' have advanced metal abilities: telepathy, telekinesis and pyrokinesis.  Their telepathic abilities more or less function similar to a walkie-talkie.  One "tunes in" to the person they wish to communicate with.  Physical contact strengths the "signal", distance weakens it.  Though telepathy is developed in the womb, telekinesis and pyrokinesis must be learned, usually at around seven to ten years old.

Telepathy is a very important aspect of Kai'us life.  Mates join together mentally and that's what triggers full sexual maturity.  A person who's "mentally deaf" (unable to send or receive telepathic signals) is often shunned and not considered trustworthy.

Despite the fact that telepathic communication with those of other races is difficult, all Kai'us' share a subconscious telepathic bond that keeps their language and culture fairly consistent even with races on opposite sides of planet.  Though there are certainly racial and regional dialects that can sometimes make verbal communication difficult. (Okay, it makes my life easier not having to track a bunch of different languages and writing systems!)

So that's the general gist of things without being too overwhelming (believe me, I can go on and on and on!).  Before I dive into the actual creation myth (which will be next week's post), I wanted to also talk about "time" and "place" as it can get confusing when I talk to people about Kai'us'.

There's literally centuries of Kai'us history that I play in.  I break time up on the Kai'us planet into four categories:
1) Old Tales
The stories I'll be posting in the coming weeks fall into this category.
These are ancient tales that have been passed down orally through the millennia.  Though most Kai'us races to have both writing and math, these tales aren't typically written down as everyone knows them.  They originate "before time" and are therefore timeless.  They encompass the creation of the world and the first two Cataclysms.

2) Between the Second and Third Cataclysms
I consider this time to be Kai'us "prehistory".  The planet the Kai'us' live on goes through periods of great geological instability every few million years.  During that time the genetic structure of most creatures (not just Kai'us') becomes incredibly unstable and mutations reign supreme.  As the world settles, so does everyone's DNA.  The mutations best suited to survive in the new environment get to continue on, becoming increasingly stable.  Once the dust settled from the Second Cataclysm and Kai'us' settled down into their current seven (later, eight) races, not much of note really happens.  Kai'us society grows and develops as cultures of fresh, young sentient races do.  I don't deal too much with this time in Kai'us history.  It's just not terribly interesting as there's no wars or conquests to speak of; no subjugated people; no great tales of forbidden love. 

3) The Third Cataclysm onward
This is where Kai'us history starts in my opinion.  The Third Cataclysm isn't a geological event for a change, but rather an ideological one.  This is when the Ka-Kiu come into being (they're a very new race).  As a result of their creation, the first Grand Chief also comes into being.  This is a really big deal in Kai'us history, affecting nearly every race on the planet.  Marking time from this point on is easy: the Grand Chief holds their station for 100 years, at which time they pass their power and position off to their successor (it's okay that this doesn't make much sense, I'm being vague on purpose here).

4) "Modern History"
This is where "The Kai'us Planet" takes place.  The eleventh Grand Chief is nearing the end of his "reign" at the start of the story and the twelfth Grand Chief is installed by the end.  This period also encompasses all time and events after the book.

Now onto "place".  The North-West Territory is the approximate origin of the Kai'us species and is where all the "Old" races come from.  As mentioned earlier, this is where the Spider, Cave and Ka-Kiu presently live.  This is important because, like I said before, not all races know about the others.  In fact only the Grand Chief (who's a Spider Kai'us) and most of the Mountain Kai'us' know of the existence of all the races (they're also the only ones who know the world is round).  Apart from the Ka-Kiu, all the "New" races live on the other side of the world.  These tales are from the perspective of the "Old" races and don't mention the "New" races at all.  The "New" races have very similar tales with slight variations that take into account vast migrations that don't affect the "Old" races at all.

Numbers are important to the Old races and knowing how all the races are numbered is important in understanding Kai'us mythology (the New races don't get as hung up on such things as their cultures are younger).  Two, four, eight and sixteen are considered "good" numbers.  Five is the worst number out there.  The four Old races are associated with elements that also correlate with the first four gods (there's eight gods total by the way).

The Kia'us races by the numbers start with the Old races:
1) The Mountain (Earth)
2) The Winged (Air)
3) The Spider (Fire)
4) The Cave (Water)

The New races are:
5) The Ka-Kiu
6) The Crystal
7) The Snake
8) The Deer

The the Ka-Kiu are hands down the youngest race by a few hundred-thousand years, but they're always stuck in fifth place just to show how much everyone else doesn't like them (poor new kids; well they earned their place).

Next post will kick things off with the 1st part of the creation myth.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Lets Talk About Star Wars

It's hard to explain or even quantify the incredible impact that Star Wars has had on my life.  From the day Dad recorded the 10th anniversary airing of it off the TV in 1987 I've been hooked.

Before the movie came on there had been an anniversary special hosted by Mark Hamill that went into the affect Star Wars had had on American culture over the past decade.  I'd watch it and rewatch it, along with the movie, transfixed as to how such a thing could have so much power over so many people.  How one movie could shape a whole culture.

As The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983) were released to video, they were added to our ever-growing movie collection to be watched over and over again as well.  My love for the original trilogy bordered on religious fanaticism.  I wasn't interested in collecting the figures or posters or anything like that; it was ideals that drew me in.  The forces of good battling against a horrible evil, and not always with clean-cut success.  The princess had wit and nerve, the heroes had flaws, the formidable villain had a heart in the very end.

All of that was compelling, but it was the calm and wise Jedi who were the role-models for my growing years.  Them and the ever-stoic Vulcans from Star Trek (yes, I love both fandoms).  I was prone to emotional outbursts as a child, and both the Jedi's and Vulcan's unruffled demeanor showed me how to remain calm is trying situations (not that I was terribly successful, but it was something to shoot for!)

I started reading the Expanded Universe novels in my mid-teens.  Though some were better than others, they at least gave me more Star Wars and I was eternally grateful.

The Phantom Menace (1999) came out while I was in college. 
More Star Wars!!
Watch the movie Fanboys (2009) if you want to remember the hope and anticipation leading up to the release of Episode I.  I played hooky from school the day it came out.  I was fourth in line for tickets and first in line for the actual movie.  I'd waited my whole life to see a new Star Wars movie in the theater!  I will admit I saw it several times on the big screen and watched it several more times on DVD, but with it's Jar Jar, midi-chlorians, and stiff acting, it didn't satisfy.  It wasn't till other people admitted the blasphemous statement that they didn't like it that I realized there wasn't something wrong with me.  Yes the pod race was fun, that lightsaber battle at the end along with Duel of the Fates will forever hold a special place in my heart; but it wasn't a good movie overall.

I'd felt let down.
The following two movies were even more abysmal for me.
They didn't follow the story I had created in my mind over the years of what the prequels should have been.  The story-line of Episodes I-III could have been so much more compelling.  So much less awkward, so much more bright and beautiful.  But they weren't and I was sad.

The release of the MMORPG "Star Wars: The Old Republic" at the end of 2011 gave me a new hope (see what I did there?)  Though I never played the game beyond a few minutes on one of my brother's accounts (as I had quit WoW cold turkey a few years before and vowed to never play another MMORPG), I was giddy with delight.  The opening intro cinematic is still beautiful, still powerful, still everything I had wanted the prequels to be.  It assured me that there were others out there who knew what Star Wars was supposed to be!  Maybe someday it would really happen in movie format.

When Disney acquired the rights to the Star Wars franchise a year later, I was worried and dubious like other fans.  Disney's promise to release a whole crap-ton of Star Wars movies ASAP wasn't exactly cause for celebration; but I remained hopeful when looking at what they had done for Marvel (X-Men was another beloved fandom of mine).

The first few trailers for Episode VII didn't pique my interest at all.  I'd been hurt before and I wasn't interested in repeating the same old feels.  It wasn't going to be "The Truce at Bakura", so what did I care?

Then. THEN! that famous trailer with the reverently delivered lines of, "Chewy, we're home!" was released and for the first time in years I felt excited for a Star Wars movie.  Maybe, just maybe The Force Awakens would be okay!

An oh it was!
It was so okay!


I had tears in my eyes throughout most of the movie (I've only seen it once sadly; not opening day, but opening weekend.  First showing on a Sunday; and the theater was packed!).  Finally I felt like I was seeing a real Star Wars movie on the big screen!  The fact that it parted so drastically from the Expanded Universe was actually a breath of fresh air.  This next trilogy is going to be new to die-hard fans and newbies alike.  We will all be gazing up at the screen in wonder, no one knowing what would happen next.  It's a thrill I wasn't expecting, but one that I was so thrilled to experience!

So am I excited for the next one, along with the other spin-off films lined up?
You bet! Though I'm being cautions: as much as I liked it, Episode VII is riddled with plot holes and superfluous characters that may or may not have any purpose in subsequent films.
Though I know we won't get the delightfully subtle philosophy that was interwoven in the original trilogy, I have no doubt the following movies will be just as pretty as The Force Awakens.
I've accepted that the Star Wars franchise has been delegated to the "popcorn flick" and frankly I'm okay with that.  It still provides me with music by John Williams.  It still provides familiar characters, themes and settings while introducing new planets, creatures and people to love and hate, the names of which I'll never remember.
There's the Force, there's lightsabers, there's Jedi.
I'll be there in the front-ish row with my overpriced popcorn soaking it all in.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Life with Mono - Week 12

A milestone I never thought I'd reach and still be feeling symptoms.

My fellow Karate classmates have been asking when I'll be "cleared" to come back to class.  Honestly I'm not under any medical restrictions; it all boils down to lingering fatigue and I've got it in spades!

Just this past Monday I stayed home from work because I couldn't walk straight when I got up, or string two words together coherently.  That miserable day of special hell was the culmination of a lot of me-not-taking-care-of-myself though.

You see, last week was my first week of working 8-hour days again (finally!).  I could feel myself slipping by about Wednesday, but I was determined to push through (hadn't it been bloody long enough already?).  By Friday I was beat and asked to go home an hour early.  Honestly I was surprised I'd made it that far.  I made it home safely and immediately laid down for a half hour.  I was too tired to sleep, but it felt so good to not have to be a functional human for a little while.

I had hoped to get some rest over Easter weekend, but I really should have known better as I was going to my mother's house for the holiday.  I love that woman to pieces but there's a few things working against anyone thinking they can convalesce at her place:

1) There's no guest room.  You can sleep on the hide-a-bed in the living room or in her room.  Though her room has a door, there's no point in closing it as the cats and dog will freak out no matter what side of the door they're on.

2) Her dog likes me.
Her dogs sleeps with me at night.
Her dog snores louder than a creature his size should.

3) Mom is not a quiet person.  My mother has a voice that carries and the house has a pretty open floor plan.  She's also been very distracted lately, so five minutes after I laid down for a much-needed nap on Sunday afternoon she called out, "It's 46 degrees outside!"
Thanks Mom, didn't really care.  Trying to sleep and all.
Five minutes after that she made some other pointless observation or asked a question.
I wanted to cry.
Fortunately exhaustion *did* allow me to sleep eventually but it wasn't enough (<sobbing> it's never enough!)

So I went into this week running on fumes and on Monday I crashed...into my bed and there I stayed all day.  Fortunately I felt worlds better yesterday and today I've felt better still, but just to provide a point of reference: the fatigue I feel today would have been worrying in my pre-mono days and it likely would have sent me home early to rest while guzzling down copious amounts of orange juice. (Now backtrack that to two days ago!)

Post-mono though it's just a fact of life.  And a relatively good day to boot as I don't have one of those lovely fatigue headaches to go along with it!

One of the nice things though is the fatigue I've been feeling lately has been different from the "heavy", oppressive fatigue I had experienced earlier in my illness.  This fatigue feels more "normal"; it just doesn't ever seem to want to go away.

Just today I was contemplating saying "screw it!", throwing caution to the wind and starting my morning exercise routine back up (easing into it of course, but finally starting to at least do my stretches again).  Cooler heads prevailed though and I did a little online research.

Sadly, experiencing lingering fatigue even 3+ months out is considered normal within the scope of mono and everyone, EVERYONE said "DON'T PUSH IT!".  "The fatigue is your body telling you that you still need to take it easy.  Heed the warning and TAKE IT EASY!"

So I'll be good (...or as good as I'm capable) and not pick my exercises back up just yet.  I'll continue to "take it easy" (try not to laugh too hard please).  I'm still going to keep up these 8-hour days at work because I really can't afford it monetarily to stay home and do "nothing"; but I'll stay away from my extracurricular activities a little longer.
And mono sucks.