Original Story: Uurha
Recorded History: 3,000 years
Political System: Monarchy w/elected advisory council
Social Structure: Hierarchical
Background: In this society, each person is trained from an early age to harness their connection with the natural world, which is called their “uurha.” It is commonly said that everyone is born with a specific uurha, but anyone can learn any uurha that interests them if they have enough talent and motivation. However, seeking new uurha is incredibly rare, as most people simply stick to that which is easiest and/or most natural. The royal family is said to be naturally skilled with several uurha each – in fact, some say that the royals can perform nearly any given uurha – but this has never been demonstrated in any meaningful way.
Origin: Within the realm of its earliest records, Virdith functioned just like any other evolving society: The people had tow ork very hard to survive, and those that didn’t soon perished. Technology was scarce, and that which did exist was beyond the understanding of most people. This all changed when a woman named Aglinn was supposedly visited by a spirit that gave her the gift of the first uurha. Aglinn’s uurha was manipulation over the process of photosynthesis, allowing her family to grow a great abundance of crops each year – even in a drought. Word of Aglinn’s ability spread, and she was able to feed the entire town with her talents alone. This led to Aglinn becoming Virdith’s first queen. In her later years, Aglinn found a way to teach others to discover their own uurhas – a discovery that quickly led to a revolution in how the entire society functioned.
Geography: The bulk of Virdith is constructed on flat, open plains, with the royal family living directly in the center of the city. The plains give way to high hills after a few miles, which eventually leads to mountains on the west and ocean shore to the south and east. The hills continue north for quite a distance.
Neighbors: Virdith’s citizens are aware of a neighboring nation to the north, but the popular opinion is overwhelmingly isolationist. As the population is able to provide almost anything it needs for itself via uurha, Virdith sees no need to engage in trade with its neighbors.
Dominant Species: Lyra
Singular: Lyra (Leer-uh)
Plural: Lyrans (Leer-ins)
Having the characteristics of: Lyrish (Leer-ish)
Diet: Early on in their history, lyrans were primarily insectivores. Over time, as they gained new abilities and widened their knowledge base, the culture shifted to a more omnivorous diet, particularly as culinary skills took off and introduced society to new kinds of foods. Insects are now often viewed as a low-end peasant food.
Tails — The positioning of the tail is an easy way to tell gender at a glance in most cases. On females, the tail often sits higher and is of shorter length, often curving back up at the end. For males, the tail is longer, rides lower, and often points straight back or toward the ground. Many males also have a slight ‘hump’ near the point where the tail connects to the rest of the body.
Horns — Males are the only ones to have horns. They linger from a previous point in their evolutionary path in which headbutting was a necessity. While in the past horns were large and heavy, they are now only small, 1-2” nubs. They’re usually dull by nature unless the individual chooses to have them sharpened.
Body Textures: There are three major categories of body texture, which are fuzzy, fleshy, and scaley. A lyra’s body texture is NOT always indicative of the rest of their family’s appearance; that having been said, sometimes specific patterns in the texture do run in families.
All lyrans have fleshy palms, regardless of whether or not the rest of their bodies are scaley or fuzzy. This is an evolutionary trait that has become dominant in all three body types, and is largely due to the period in which lyrans began using intense fine motor skills to utilize tools. This trait has all but become obsolete, however, as now almost everything that once required these skills is now performed via uurha. Despite this, fleshy palms continue to be universal, as having them isn’t hurting the population’s ability to reproduce.
Weak Spots: The skin on the bottom of a lyra’s foot is extremely thick and durable, except for the arch. For whatever reason, very few lyrans have the same toughness over the arch as they do on the rest of their feet. The arch of the foot is an extremely sensitive spot that is easy to injure, so many lyrans wear a special foot guard that wraps specifically around the center of the foot.
It is also worth mentioning that the inside of the elbow, back of the knee, and bottom of the chin share similar characteristics and are also sensitive spots. Given that they’re nowhere near as easy to injure as the bottom of the foot, not many people protect these areas on a regular basis.
The world in which I chose to set this story was very important because the world itself acts as the driving force of Dibi’s character. Her perception of society’s degradation is what motivates her to go on her quest to “fix” what she believes has gone awry. The question for me, however, was whether or not to make the society of Virdith actually as flawed as she sees it.
With a protagonist of this nature, I honestly felt that making Virdith as unsalvageable as Dibi says would be taking the easy way out. Part of the appeal of Dibi’s character is the fact that most readers don’t actually agree with her (or at least, not completely), and making her stance appear to be justified would ultimately hurt the storytelling. Virdith walks the line between virtue and disgrace as much as any other nation of advanced beings. It has its flaws, but are those flaws serious enough to bring validity to the extreme path Madame Dibi chooses in the name of morality? Well, that depends on your morals — which is one of the overall themes of the story to begin with.
In the original manuscript, Virdith was written to be much more in line with the way Dibi personally sees things: slothful, run-down, and generally careless about details or improvement. However, when it was time to start constructing the storyboards, I realized that Virdith didn’t need to overtly appear the way the monologue was indicating. The narrative may be told from Dibi’s view, but the visual perspective is that of the reader, and the reader has no reason to see Virdith with tinted shades. I happily discovered that showing Virdith in an average, mundane manner helped to pull focus toward the protagonist herself, as the audience began to wonder how she came to see the world in such a negative light.
When it came to creating the lyra species, it was at least partly due to a challenge with myself. I often created creatures that were very mammalian, and for this project, I decided to step out of my usual box and aimed for something more reptilian. Reptiles are often difficult to make visually appealing to me, so the fact that I was able to create a character of this kind that I still considered beautiful was a personal accomplishment.
This did not, however, stop me from allowing certain lyrans to have furry skin textures. I spent weeks wondering exactly what lyra skin should look and feel like, and I repeatedly bounced around between fuzzy, scaley, and fleshy. In the end, I decided to utilize all three, in the same vein as the fact that we have three predominant ‘types’ of human (mongoloid, caucasoid, and negroid). Not only did this allow me to include all of my ideas, but I believe it benefits the species itself in terms of portrayal. A lot of stories that have an invented race often have difficulty with characters appearing too same-y, and I think a variety of flesh options will help mitigate that for lyrans.
Uurha, Madame Dibi, Lord Tyvs, Virdith, and all related characters, locations, and items are my own personal original work, © 2012. None of it maybe the reproduced in any way without my written permission ahead of time.