Welcome back to another Worldbuilding Wednesday! Today’s focus is on my first ‘verse, the Tormal ‘verse. Do bear in mind that there are spoilers in this but given that I haven’t published much for this verse yet they’re not terribly urgent spoilers.
All right, last time I explained how I used my (meager) understanding of physics to decide on the shape of the Tormal universe, who Baramir is and why he was necessary for the story. Now I want to talk about bigger issues and how they tied into Baramir, Violet and Samuel’s story.
The Tormal universe is shaped like a dumbbell, with two globes joined by a very narrow bridge. It’s so narrow that it’s functionally a wormhole between two universes. Traveling through that bridge was never an easy task. Anyone who didn’t have the ability to shape the bridge around them wasn’t able to go through it.
Conversely, it took someone who could shape themselves to match it to go through. The ancient souls like Lirelia and Phaeneru couldn’t alter themselves or the universe. They were too powerful, too large, for that. No matter what their physical bodies might look like, Ancient Souls held the remnants of what they were Before Time Began.
As such, they couldn’t go through the bridge. Most of them couldn’t even see it. So the Ancient Souls who had been on Lirelia’s side of the War Before Time (WBT) were exclusively reincarnated on one side and those who had been on Phaeneru’s side were reincarnated exclusively on his side with no knowledge of their compatriots on the other side of the bridge.
This was something that they all accepted. The other half were gone. It was over. Now it was time for living.
Except that Phaeneru couldn’t let it go. He had a severe mono-focus mania on having killed Lirelia. Rather than living his life he spent all his time in his reincarnations obsessing about her, wishing that he could fix it, that he could bring her back. For all the power that an Ancient Soul had, they didn’t have the power to affect time.
Until Phaeneru was reincarnated as the God of Time.
I used the Buddhist/Hindu concept of reincarnation for this ‘verse. One life you could be a human, the next an animal, the next after that a deity. There is causation for why you shift from one sort of being to another but in this ‘verse I never explained what exactly Phaeneru did to become the God of Time after he was reincarnated. I didn’t feel it was necessary to the story.
What mattered was that the man with an obsessive focus on his lost love suddenly had the power to control time. Not just in minor ways but completely. He could rewind time. He had the power to affect time locally and in larger ways. Phaeneru as the God of Time very literally could rewind the universe back to the Big Bang if he wanted to.
And he did. Not at first. At first he was occupied with learning how to deal with his duties, how to be a decent acceptable God. But eventually his mind snapped (possibly due to outside influence though I’m not sure I’ll keep that plot point). Phaeneru decided that the universe was corrupt. That it was broken and needed to be wiped clean. That there was no reason to hold back on rewinding the universe even if it would annihilate every living being that had ever existed.
So he started meddling with time, testing his abilities to rewind time on a larger and larger scale. At first he was quite successful (though he always put everything back because there was no reason to do it in increments). But soon he discovered that the fabric of reality itself seemed to be fighting him and he had no idea why.
He didn’t know about the other half of the universe. He didn’t realize that he was only rewinding time for one half, not for everything. That was why he kept failing. His failures didn’t stop him though. Phaeneru was nothing if not determined.
Now, I mentioned that there were those who could see and interact with the bridge between the globes. They are called World Mages. What they do, at the most fundamental level, is feel the curvature of the universe and twist the bridge open so that people can slip through. It’s an incredibly rare gift.
At the time the Wars of Time began, there was a World Mage who was Lirelia’s brother. His name was Ukel. I truly do want to write his story because he led that battle against Phaeneru. Ukel was the one who killed Phaeneru, who saved the universe from being rewound, and who was then trapped in the middle of the bridge between the globes for 200,000 years.
He was the reason why no one could travel between the two globes of the universe anymore. As long as Ukel was stuck there no one, God or World Mage, could open the passageway. Nothing physical could pass through.
Which brings me back to Baramir who had just committed suicide so that his powers would be at their peak, allowing him to block his former lover from committing mass genocide and destroying the world. He succeeded in that task and then discovered that, hey, I’m still around. I’m a ghost, but I’m not fading away and I’m not being drawn to a reincarnation. That’s weird.
He watched his family for a little bit but it was too painful for very long. So Baramir started exploring. Very soon, he found the passageway between the universes, drawn subconsciously to Ukel and his pain. Baramir, who had no body at all and no really significant amount of power, was able to slip through the bridge. He was the first person to do so in 200,000 years.
What he found on the other side was a whole new world filled with different cultures, different races and magic which he’d never realized was real. Baramir fell heavily in love with the world and the people. He also got involved with a group who had been created to keep an eye on Phaeneru’s reincarnated soul, now called Fall or The Fallen One.
One of the things that Baramir was able to do for the group as a ghost was keep an eye on the activities of Phaeneru’s angelic son turned demigod of knowledge, Yukiyasu. Yuki has an equal and opposite obsession to Fall’s: He wants Fall eradicated from the universe.
After the Wars of Time, everyone from deities on down finds that obsession very worrying. So they keep an eye on Yuki through Baramir who, unfortunately in many eyes, finds himself falling in love with Yuki despite knowing very clearly that Yuki is no one to get involved with.
One of the things he learns about through his involvement with Yuki, though, is that Yuki works with Gabriel le Haas up north of the Forest of Perpetual Rains. No one knows what le Haas is working on and they want to know so they send Baramir off to check. Which leads to him meeting Violet and Samuel. Which very quickly leads to Baramir realizing that they were key to both le Haas’ private plans for world domination and to Yuki’s plans for destroying Fall.
And that brings us full circle to the beginning of Book 1, finally! *laughs*
Bear in mind that a lot of this developed from vague ideas and plans when I started writing. Telling about it after the fact makes it seem a good bit more planned than it actually was at the time. In reality, I had Violet and Samuel and needed to get them away from le Haas. I needed to know why they had to escape, why Baramir was a ghost, why Fall was the sort of obsessive person he was.
It all grew in a highly organic fashion as I wrote the first three books and then the other books in this ‘verse. I imagine that it will grow even more complex when I rewrite them for publication. And that’s perfectly fine.
There’s no one way to build a world. I don’t follow any one pattern when I build my worlds. Sometimes it’s a process of creating things as I write and then cleaning up the mess I make during revisions (very much the Tormal Verse!) and other times it’s a matter of careful planning and forethought with extensive notes (Muirin, mostly). Most of the time it’s a combination of the two with rounds and rounds of going deeper and deeper.
So! Next time I’m going to explain how I actually write a story to build a world because I don’t believe I’ve done that yet. The Tormal ‘verse is a perfect example of how it works. Look for it next week!
I hope that you enjoyed reading this. Please do ask questions if you have any. I like sharing my world building but writing these takes time away from writing stories that I could publish. Thus, it would be greatly appreciated if you would consider leaving a donation. All money received goes toward keeping me writing and posting these columns. Thank you very much!