Worldbuilding: Reapers, Part 1

Apex

Or, as the common folk call them, dragons. The original namesake of what’s nowadays simple referred to as Reapers and oftentimes whispered of as Guardians, though no one knows any more what they are meant to be guardians of. 

Apex is a name they’ve earned from how all other Reapers— gentle tillers to any of the rowdy Devils —submit to them. Well, almost all of them. Old tales whisper about the Grim, a type of Reaper that came and went during the Glitch, who don’t answer to anyone. Not even an Apex.

Status and Religion

Dragons are, generally, revered. For one, they are the ones who come collect the dead (man or Reaper alike) and carry them to walk the Trails forevermore — or cast those unworthy onto Hell. What constitutes unworthy is up to debate.

But they don’t only take. They also bring Reapers down, plucking them from the Trails or from Hell (if they’re Devils – seeing a pattern yet?). 

Hard to not revere something that crosses the threshold between life and death with nothing but a few wingbeats. 

Myths 

Lady Death’s Servants

When Elaya courted Lady Death, her gift to her were stars she’d plucked from the skies. Not just any stars. She’d blessed them with life, and after a short while, the stars hatched the first flock of dragons, made to serve Lady Death forevermore. 

End-Enders

Others say that dragons were the creatures that slept at Elaya’s feet as she wove life from her dress and have since then watched over all she’s touched. And when the Rain of Fire comes, man will be judged by how they’ve treated them. Treat them wrongly and they’ll leave mankind to burn. Treat them right, and they’ll whisk everyone away in time. I’m currently taking suggestions on what the religion that spawned from this belief is called 😀

Appearance

Dragons also stand out from other Reapers by not one being quite like the other. The exception being Einlings, who are even more aggressively unique, but more on those another time. Dragons vary in sizes, some just about the height of a draft horse, while others stand as tall as a two story building. 

Their skin colours range from pale grey to blood red and the wildest of pink. And their feathers can come in any colour imaginable. Sometimes all at once, because if you’re a dragon you don’t need to choose. 

Where some have horns, others don’t. Those that do may have no more than a few blunt knobs on their skulls — or sport long, intricately twisted antlers. It can go either way or anywhere between.

But there are a few things all of them have in common: Sharp teeth and sharp claws. 

Personality / Aggression 

There aren’t a lot of people out there crazy enough to seek out a dragon to pick a fight with it, or to stand in its way with harmful intent. Unless they’re waiting to die. 

Because dragons are ferocious when challenged. Territorial. And they hold a grudge. While dragon hunting is outright banned by the Ward, there are hunters who make it their life’s goal to take one down, whether its for glory alone or some promise of unimaginable wealth. Wealth that they won’t ever be able to spend, as even if they succeed in killing one, their fates are sealed. There isn’t a corner on the map they can hide in where another dragon won’t find them and pay them back in turn. 

And after that they are left to rot where they died, as the only bodies dragons won’t carry to the skies are those of the people who’ve wronged them. 

Ferocious or not though, dragons are also cited to be fair. Depending on who you ask, many will tell you that a dragon knows right from wrong. That they’re merciful. That they’ll go out of their way to answer a call for help from a child in danger and that they’ve traded old lives for youth during a Reaping. 

Symbolizm 

Dragons and marks inspired by them often represent strength and honour. Although for the most part? They are heralds of death and judgement, servants to Lady Death. 

Book Review: Forbidden Enchantment

Welcome to a world of subdued magic and beauty in this short queer romance novel by the incredibly talented Bran Lindy Ayers.   Get it from Less Than Three Press, it’s worth it and will leave you smiling. 

Genre: Fantasy / Romance / LGBT
Explict content: No

Sidhe cannot lie. Yet Cedric lies about everything from being happy to being human. Hiding his true appearance with glamor runes, he’s managed to live quietly among humans for nearly fifty years. But as he journeys to the capital at the behest of the empress, a chance encounter with the first dragon to be seen in a thousand years threatens to reveal all his secrets.

Talfryn commits a taboo every time he leaves the mountains. Yet for an outcast, long banished from the dragons’ last city, taboos are trifles. He’s more interested in acquiring items for his hoard. Drawn by the scent of a rare enchantment, he’ll risk everything, including his freedom, to find the source.

In Forbidden Enchantment, traditional high fantasy themes rub shoulders with Celtic mythology and flirt with the idea of modernisation.  It’s imaginative.  Vivid.  Has characters that come alive within the first few lines of their introduction, and gives each of their leads their own, unique mysteries and secrets.

Forbidden Enchantment

I adored all of them. Cedric— Talfryn— Jurryt— they’re a real delight. Cedric I mostly admire for how he’s lived his life with dignity.  Talfryn for his curiosity and want for more, and Jurryt— Jurryt for being an incredibly strong and resourceful boy.  He stole my heart almost immediately, and probably with a great deal more ease than the narweed he was after.

All world building is subtly woven into the story, leaving just the right amount of gaps to be filled by the readers imagination, and making you want to know more.  Least it made me crave more, and I’m still horribly curious about the Sentinels and the wealth of different magical creatures that we get to see glimpses off.  But especially the Sentinels. Damn.

The plot itself is clearly focused on romance first and foremost.  We see Cedric and Talfryn pulled together despite their conflicting heritage and a world that has it out for both of them.  But even so, there is more going on around them.  They’re not suspended in their own bubble, but individuals within the greater gears turning around them. Gears which we get to see glimpses of as they keep the world turning and remind us that there is more to see past Cedric and Talfryn.

And that brings me to the… more.  Or the lack of it.  Forbidden Enchantment ends rather abruptly, the last quarter feeling just a little rushed.  While there aren’t any unanswered questions, and no real loose ends wanting tying, I do wish there’d been more time spent with our heroes and the hardships they had to endure towards the end. 

That, and the Sentinels.  I wanna know about the Sentinels, damn it.

Anyway.

Overall, I’d highly recommend Forbidden Enchantment.  It’s a quick enough read, well written, and I’m fairly certain that the characters will stay with the reader far longer than the last turn of the page.  They did with me- and I’m not likely to forget them any time soon.