Friday, August 20, 2010

The Weekly Offworlder

The Search for Solan

Early in 2008, I compiled a series of messages from a good friend I once knew here on Rynaga named Solan. I released these messages in a book entitled Prelude. It's been some time now since Solan's disappearance and I must say that hope of seeing him again is beginning to fade.

Solan entered the Shrinking Depths over a year and a half ago. Since then, not a word has been heard from him or his team. I've heard rumors that an expedition to find Solan is in the works. Solan was an accomplished guide and outdoorsman, so it is possible that he is alive. However, Rynaga is a big place and finding out what happened to him will not be for the faint of heart.

The Shrinking Depths have always been a rich source of myth and legend. This series of caves seems to have a strange effect on visitors, described most often as a loss of time or feeling of disconnection from reality. Many explorers have visited this landmark. A few have returned with their strange tales. Most have never been seen again.

It would be a mistake to underestimate Solan and his survival skills. Yet, he entered a place no one on Rynaga understands or knows how to navigate. This fact presents many challenges to even the most intrepid soul. After all, how does one prepare for the unknown?

I know how Solan would have answered this question. "When preparing to face the unknown, first take control of your fears."

-Safe travels!

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Weekly Offworlder

Owls of Veratar

Of all the flying creatures of Rynaga, owls have proved to be the most endearing and useful to its peoples. In fact almost every family keeps owls for messaging, scouting, fishing, hunting, playing or even protection. They've become extensions of the family structure to a great degree. Here are some of the most common breeds found throughout the land of Veratar:

Glade Owl – Glade owls are known for their distinctive screeching, which takes place for an hour every day around dusk. They're white with grey spots and have a tuft on their heads that makes it look as if they have a single horn. These owls live on fish and tiny carapid.

Silentwood Owl – This abundant species comes in many colors and sizes. However, all have small manes and ear tufts resembling small horns. Silentwood owls mate for life and hunt in pairs. Because they hunt in teams of two, they are emboldened to attack larger prey at times, bringing down smaller deer with ease.

Ocean Owl – Ocean owls stand about three feet tall and have a wing span that reaches 10 - 12 feet, making them one of the largest owl species known. They're usually white with blue pinions and green eyes. While ocean owls are rarely tamed, they're quite friendly. They've been known to land on traveling ships to rest their weary wings.

Trinket Owl – The most commonly kept owl, trinket owls are trained messengers. While these playful little owls measure out at 1 foot tall when fully grown and have a wingspan of under 4 feet, they are one of the most durable creatures in Veratar. With the help of air currents high up in the atmosphere they have been known to travel great distances in a small amount of time. trinket owls are also adept at swimming and traversing storms.

Lylean Owl – Thus, hunters and wood keepers of the land use lylean owls for tracking down prey and scouting. This is mostly due to their solid build and almost non-existent need for sleep. Lylean owls have a keen sense of their surroundings and are able to sense danger from afar, another trait that comes in handy for their handlers.

I grew up seeing images of owls in National Geographic magazine and on TV during Nature documentaries on PBS. The great impression these creatures left on me as an Earth child has not waned in recent years.

-Safe travels!

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Weekly Offworlder

Notes on the Sidrani People

Among the five most common races populating Rynaga, the most widely dispersed are the Sidrani (sid-raw-nee). Hailing from the peaceful continent of Hyvalis, the Sidrani are a force for unity and goodwill. Sidrani city states are ruled by monarchy, with rule being passed down from parents to children. The capital government is supported by a cast of advisers, ambassadors, magistrates and guardians overseeing each Sidrani city state.

Sidrani values are rooted in the family structure. Loyalty, honor and respect of ones heritage are ideals held in the highest regard. In order to promote self-sustaining attributes in their young, most Sidrani children are trained in the art of concealment and basic self-defense. As they grow older, they are taught to hunt with the bow. They are also instructed in basic to advanced wilderness survival skills, which includes learning how to track prey, avoiding danger and identifying many forms of wild life, such as Carapid. On average, the Sidrani lifespan is about one hundred twenty years.

Sidrani are strong physically and fair skinned with dark hair and dark eyes. They are taller than Sarion, ranging in height from seven to eight feet tall. Sidrani have an affinity for the sea and its colors, which is reflected in their culture in many different ways. In fact, Sidrani cities such as Phaedra are known for being decorated in blues, golds and greens, colors often associated with the sea. Many Sidrani fables and stories tell of great civilizations and mythical creatures living beneath the ocean waves.

In recent decades, the Sidrani took the lead in unifying many of Veratar's people to work together. The Pact of One was the first step in reaching a common goal between races and creating a measure of peace across Veratar. While peace throughout Veratar is still a fragile thing, the Pact of One has made it more difficult for Sarion city states to impose their will on others. These expansionists do not recognize the Pact, its decrees or regulations. In view of this, the Sidrani keep a close eye on Sarion activities.

Most of the time I spend on Rynaga is with the Sidrani people. The stories I could tell of them are countless. Yet, the most important thing to know about these people is how strong they are inside. They are the very essence of balance, keeping emotion and logic in their proper places. My sense is this will serve them well in the coming years, just as it has throughout their history.

-Safe travels!