The Scorched Continent Series

Over on Pinterest, I've been keeping a pin board full of images that inspire and capture the spirit of the Scorched Continent series. With book one, Steal the Sky, coming out January 5th, I plan to explore some of these images here and explain what they mean to the world and the characters which inhabit it.

The Valatheans

Desert Flower by Jenny Eight
Desert Flower by Jenny Eight

 

The people of Valathea are dark of skin and tend toward being taller than their Catari counterparts. They inhabit a tropical archipelago just north of the Scorched Continent. It was once called Thea, but they have reverted to calling the whole island chain the Valathean isles.

Due to the island-chain nature of their homeland, the Valatheans quickly became adept at ship building, and currently control a trade network that stretches across the entire known world. Upon discovering the Scorched Continent, it did not take them long to adapt their seaships into airships, furthering entrenching themselves as an empire of trade.

They are ruled by an imperial family, the current head of which meets with her heads of state to formalize law and direct the empire. They consider themselves a meritocracy, but the reality is that wealthy landowners pass their fortunes down through the generations, effectively stymieing the efforts of the poor to rise through the ranks. For many of the disenfranchised, joining the Fleet (their military) is the only way in which to gain upward social mobility.

That said, those with special abilities who can prove their talents are of value to the empire - botany, chemistry, etc - can apply for and be granted Concordants, which are contracts that function as grants, providing living costs and materials as long as they continue their research.

Steal the Sky can be found on AmazonGoodreads, and Barnes & Noble

Click here For more Scorched Saturdays

Over on Pinterest, I've been keeping a pin board full of images that inspire and capture the spirit of the Scorched Continent series. With book one, Steal the Sky, coming out January 5th, I plan to explore some of these images here and explain what they mean to the world and the characters which inhabit it.

Sel-Sensitives

Anise with Djinnling by Tyler Jacobson | What a sensitive might look like manipulating small amounts of selium
Anise with Djinnling by Tyler Jacobson | What a sensitive might look like manipulating small amounts of selium

From my previous post about selium, we know that it's a lighter-than-air gas made up of molecules that are prismatic in appearance. What, then, of the world's magic users - those sel-sensitives who can manipulate selium?

Sel-sensitives are the magic users of the Scorched, but there's no fantastical magical school awaiting their talents. They are, primarily, used for grunt work - moving selium from mines into pipeways from which the raw material can be stored and shunted into the buoyancy sacks attached to airships. Those with refined ability - and political connections - may be able to train as airship captains, or work as diviners sussing out new pockets/mines of selium, but for the most part sel-sensitives on the Scorched work as little more than glorified miners.

But, of course, sel-sensitivity doesn't always manifest in ways appropriate to imperial needs. The backbone principle behind sel-sensitives is simple: they can move selium. The ability doesn't care that Valathea wants those talents standardized. Consider that varying individuals can control a wide range of amounts of selium, at different speeds, and have control on both macro and microscopic scales, and things get complicated.

Doppels, for instance, are still just moving selium around like their miner counterparts - they just happen to be very, very good at it. They can control small amounts of selium without much effort, and adjust the prismatic nature of the selium by reflex to turn it into the colors they desire. But doppels, like all other unique variations of sel-sensitive, are labeled deviant by the empire of Valathea. They must either learn to hide their odd abilities, or else face either imprisonment or death.

The big question currently plaguing the citizens of the Scorched, however, isn't how many variations of deviants there are, it's: where do sensitives come from in the first place? When Valatheans first arrived on the Scorched, they suspected the ability was tied to the bloodline, but after three generations of intermingling with the native Catari population they've yet to discover any meaningful correlation that would imply genetic inheritance. The current rumor is that it has to do with place of conception, and many well-to-do are vacationing back in Valathea to conceive their children as to avoid producing a sensitive of any type, let alone a deviant, but it's too early to say if this correct thinking. Only the Catari have an inkling of the truth, and they're not about to share with their imperial invaders.

Steal the Sky can be found on AmazonGoodreads, and Barnes & Noble

Click here For more Scorched Saturdays

Over on Pinterest, I've been keeping a pin board full of images that inspire and capture the spirit of the Scorched Continent series. With book one, Steal the Sky, coming out January 5th, I plan to explore some of these images here and explain what they mean to the world and the characters which inhabit it.

The Catari

Feathers by Jon Lock | Bears a resemblance to the Catari
Feathers by Jon Lock | Bears a resemblance to the Catari

As with most imperial outposts, the Scorched Continent wasn't exactly empty when the Valatheans decided to settle their new found territory.

Descendant of an ancient, common ancestor, the Catari people do bear a slight resemblance to their Valathean counterparts. The ways in which their physical countenance differ are subtle, but obvious to one who has lived among either group of people for a substantial amount of time. The Catari tend toward tanned, beige skin, that blends with the dominate color of the sands of their homeland. They verge on slender compared to their Valathean neighbors, and have smooth, rounded cheeks where the Valathean facial structure is more heavily angled.

The Catari are a nomadic people, traveling across the Scorched in sync with the continent's changing weather patterns. They herd a pack species similar to real-world goats, and don't bother with crop growing or permanent settlements as the monsoon season makes soil maintenance difficult for them. Their population is sparse compared to the large continent they inhabit, and even sparser now that the Valatheans have driven them away from the selium-producing firemounts that were once their birthright.

Their struggles with Valathea have made them insular, secretive, and it's rare to see a full-blooded Catari anywhere near a Valathean settlement. However, Valathean-Catari intermarriage was extremely common in the early days of Valathea's arrival on the Scorched Continent, as the Valatheans believed at first that the ability to manipulate selium was tied to a person's bloodline, and the Catari were rich in the ability. As such, most residents of the Scorched now have some Catari blood in them, and the interbred settlers are trending lighter in skin tone than Valatheans who stayed in their archipelago homeland.

The Catari themselves embrace diversity, but resent the Valathean monopoly of the firemounts and the diaspora of their people. They mounted a brief resistance, but were quickly pushed back and outmatched technologically.

As the Catari embrace diversity, they are no stranger to the various ways in which sel-sensitivity can manifest and even embrace and name different varieties of talent. They have no trouble harboring doppels amongst their midst, and are happy to harbor those of deviant abilities who are fleeing from the empire which requires conformity of strength and ability in their sel-sensitives.

Steal the Sky can be found on AmazonGoodreads, and Barnes & Noble

Click here For more Scorched Saturdays