Earth and Sky

These brief paragraphs were found among some artifacts of the Elder Folk. They appear to have been written by a woman and may be a fragment from a journal or a letter. 


We didn’t always live in houses that float above the earth. My grandmother says that her grandmother lived on the ground as a child and she used to tell stories, but they have been lost. I have tried to imagine what it would be like to live on the earth, and it’s hard.

There is a large boulder I can see from my window, and I imagine that it is a house sitting on the ground. It seems so vulnerable. In the springtime, the river expands to cover it. In the dry times of year, animals can walk right up to it. They climb up and sleep in the sun. Would they climb on houses? That would be strange indeed.

When the storms come, our houses in the sky sway and drift, but the boulder and the trees on the ground don’t move. How did houses on the ground stay still? I suppose they would have to have been flat on the bottom, but what made them stay put? Did earth houses have roots like the trees?

Animals and weather notwithstanding, the earth may be a safer place to live in some ways. Falling is certainly less dangerous when you start out closer to the ground. I sometimes think that taking care of children must have been so much easier. No child from our village has Fallen in living memory, but it is still every mother’s and aunt’s and older sister’s greatest worry. Greater than fire, greater than bathwater, greater than illness. We are haunted by the Fall. Sometimes when the straps of the sling dig into my shoulders or the toddler is restless on my hip, I envy the women who lived on the earth, who could set their babies down safely, without fear of the Fall.

Kadunghu Ka—The Writings of Illavallanism

The following are excerpts from the Kadunghu, the writings of the religion of Illavallanism.


uTu-av-kitik Tava-obo aT a-Te eh a-ava u
,uhov kava-obo ak amuduk im
ak agam-av-takat-a laNadok-ob al alli

The opening line of the Kadunghu Ka written in the Elder Tongue script

U ava-a he eth-a tha obo-avath kitik-va-uthu
kuduma ka obo-avak vohu,
Illa la bo-kodangal a-Takat-va-Maga ka…

1 When the sky was a blank canvas and the world a formless mass, the Mother began to create the Great Art. 2 She stretched out the canvas of sky and brushed onto it the hues of deepest blue. 3 She beheld the canvas of sky and declared it beautiful. 4 When the canvas had dried, she placed it within the frame of heaven and placed a great light before it so that all might behold its beauty.

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Illavallanism is one of the five great religions of the Sunrise Lands and may be one of the oldest, perhaps even dating back to the civilizations of the Hidden Lands.


Illavallanism maintains belief in one central goddess known as Illa he Kuduma “Mother of the World” or Illa va Alla “Good Mother”, among other names. In many lands, she is known by the name Illavalla, a contraction of Illa va Alla. Illa is the creator of the universe and mother of all living things.

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The Calendar

The calendar is clearly of ancient origin.  It is a calendar of twelve months alternating between 29 and 30 days each followed by an intercalary month, usually nine days long. The calendar was originally a lunar calendar but has been adapted through the intercalary month to conform to the solar year.

Because of the intercalary month, the lunar cycle slips out of synch with the solar cycle.  However, the years on which the 1st Day of Ralialul (New Year’s Day) and the first day of a lunar month occur on the same day (about once every 19 years) are known as “Moon Years” and are considered especially sacred and/or lucky in many cultures.  In Greatvale, the New Year’s Day of a Moon Year is known as “Monanhælletung” meaning “Moon’s Greeting” and is a great feast day, as is the final day of the 12th Month, which is known as “Monanforthweg” or “Moon’s Departure”.

The fact that all the month names are in the Elder Tongue hints at its truly ancient origins.  In some realms, a local variation on the month names exists alongside the traditional names.

MonthNameMeaningGreatvale NameNo. of DaysApprox. Gregorian
1RalialulRain monthRegenmath29March
3KinidululFlowers monthBlostmath29May
4GanadululTrees monthTreowmath30June
5ShadjalulSun monthSunnemath29July
6ZozhalulHeat monthHæthemath30August
7EtendelulHarvest monthHærfestmath29September
8OktotululLeaves monthLeafmath30October
10DunnolulDark monthDeorcmath30December
11LawalalulSnow monthSnawmath29January
12OthalulWind monthWindmath30February
MeralulBetween monthMidmath9-12 [1]

[1] The length of the Meralul is calculated every year and is usually nine days long, but may be longer if the calendar has slipped out of alignment with the sun.

The Elder Folk

The Elder Folk were one of the primordial civilizations of the Hidden Lands. It is unclear whether the Elder Folk were once civilization or many.  The existence and near ubiquity of the Elder Tongue suggests that the Elder Folk who colonized the Sunrise and Sunset Lands were of one cultural stock.  However, the existence of some cultures and languages whose linguistic heritage is markedly different (e.g., Greatvale, Kastan’ose, Norrist) argues for a much more diverse ancestral group than is commonly supposed.

The Elder Folk civilization first appeared around 7000 PC and developed what they referred to as “the sciences”—written language, mathematics, architecture, bronze working, and agriculture; in short, all the technologies of civilization.  Although the Edler Folk invented writing, they left behind no written records of their history and much of what is known (or believed) about them is the stuff of legend.

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Fire Flies and Sorrow Eels

Spotted throughout The Hidden Lands are water sources inhabited by two animals involved in a symbiotic relationship, one fire-based, the other water-based. Both feed on a victim’s spirit if they come too close to an inhabited lake or river. Fire-based “insects”  lure victims in by distorting their reflection in the water as an image of their greatest desire – food, lovers, items, whatever – and when the creature reaches into the water for it, they immediately turn into water themselves. Their soul is devoured by the water-based creature therein. It feeds on the sorrowful memories of said victim and entering them into an eternity of reliving them, but discards the positive energy of that particular creature to feed the fire-based “flies.” However, if the “flies” ever actually touch the water, the entire water source and the creature therein will turn to a stunning gold-inlaid blue marble. If obtained, this marble is rumored to be the most precious item on the entire continent and is believed to heal all illness, grow any plant when buried, and even raise the dead or turn back time.

Many explorers and fortune-seekers have met their ends searching for – or attempting to outsmart – these creatures and the water sources they inhabit. One survivor of a exploring group reported that his entire outfit of 37 men and women fell victim to the enchanting images superimposing their reflections in the water and, upon attempt to retrieve them, were engulfed. A few even tried to escape, but according to his report, their stifled cries and desperate reaches for land appeared to be nothing but treacherous waves splashing on the rocky shores. Shortly after relaying the story to a stranger in a pub, the traveler lost his mind in mourning for his lost friends.

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The Hidden Lands

The Hidden Lands are the home lands of the human race.  It was here that the first human civilizations were born including the great civilization of the Elder Folk, whose great legacy, the Elder Tongue, is still used in the world today. It was from the Hidden Lands that the other two great continents of the world were settled: the Sunrise Lands to the east, and the Sunset Lands to the west.

After the collapse of the civilization of the Elder Folk, memory of both their civilization and of the Hidden Lands faded into memory.  Some said that the Hidden Lands had been removed from human knowledge by magic; others denied that the Hidden Lands had ever really existed.  After the journey of Meharanganar Toreanastrarax of Denesatiriux and Dunmearh Swordsmith of Greatvale, the Hidden Lands were reopened. The realms of the Sunrise and Sunset Lands are reluctant to colonize there for fear of bringing on a curse, but intrepid explorers and fortune seekers will travel there seeking fame or riches, but not without peril.

Map of the Hidden Lands
The Hidden Lands

Thuva-Tha: The Elder Tongue

The language of the Elder Folk who inhabited the Hidden Lands before The History began.  Their civilization is no more but their ancient language survives as a ritual language in many of the cultures of the Lands Under the Sun.

I. Alphabet and Pronunciation

The Elder Tongue is written in the Elder Script, also called kedeng. The script can be written either left-to-right, right-to-left (as in most sacred texts), or in boustrophedon (“as the ox plows”) style, alternating between right-to-left and left-to right.

Pronunciation is generally the same as in English, although the vowels are monophthongs, closer to the vowels of Latin than to the diphthonged vowels of English. IPA values are given below:

Theme I Theme II Theme III Theme IV Universal Vowels
f f f t t t s s s l l l p p p a a a
v v v d d d z z z r r r b b b e e e
T th θ n n n S sh ʃ y y j m m m i i i
D dh ð k k k Z zh ʒ W w w       o o o
h h h x g g g C ch         u u u
    N ng ŋ J dj            
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