Worldbuilding for my Daughter: Onwards to Dreamland!
I've accidentally started a new world building project. I started babbling about where my daughter could visit in Dreamland while putting her down for a nap. I wanted to share this with you in as unvarnished a way as possible as I have for people on Max's Discord from Weird and Wonderful Worlds.
This then is a somewhat disorganized stream of conscience with a few additions. I have included questions and ideas from Kyana of Noise Sans Signal and Max since they added in a lot. (I did fix up the story a lot.)
By David Hong
One idea was people living on boat houses their whole lives sailing up and down a great river. When they get married they lash their boats together until you have raft mansions going up and down the stream carrying Love Fruit down to the Thousand Islands in time for spring
Kyana: Who lives on The Thousand Islands?
The Thousand Islands are connected by the branches of a giant tree, the Sky Tree. The Islanders don't touch the water if they can avoid it due to an ancient curse. They bury their dead in the water who transform into Naiads on the Elusive Isle. The Islands are rich with giant spider silk in the tree and flowers that make bright dyes. There are giant birds of paradise that are sacred to the Islanders. They ride these giant birds as their primary mode of transportation due to their rightful fear of the water.
Max: I am intrigued by the Love Fruit.
Love Fruit is a seasonal delight and a psycho-active drug that facilitates romantic infatuation. Its popularity on the Thousand Isles means that people are rarely single. Love Fruit might create an artificial sense of love but it can also embolden people to act on feelings they wouldn't have the courage to otherwise. People in committed relationships find that Love Fruit reawakens passion and keeps marriages strong.
This will likely not be related to my infant daughter
Kyana: Are spiders in Thousand Islands sapient? Do they have Tapestry festival?
They definitely have a Tapestry festival. They cover the tree in beautiful handwoven tapestries and it's an incredible sight. The spiders are entirely intelligent but they do not talk. They are some of the friendliest and most content creatures so much so that they feel no need to talk. They are entirely absorbed in creating their webs but they immediately forget them once they are completed so they don't care about the humans harvesting them.
It might help that they entirely subsist on Love Fruit.
The Islander's use of the giant birds of paradise made them natural enemies of the Cloud Barons, giants that used to be known as Cloud Shepherds before the largest among them rose up and named themselves Barons. The clouds in Dreamland are alive of course and cloud cotton grows on their backs. The giants once took slaves to work the fields from the smaller mortals. Baron Nimbus was one of the mightiest among the Barons. The Cloud Barons are quite protective of their territory in the sky.
Kyana: Why Baron Nimbus didn't stomp on Thousand Islands or on the home-ships of the great river? (which I want to call Great Veridian River for some reason, or Gevara)
Funnily enough it is called the Great Veridian River or sometimes the Gevara depending on who you ask. The boat-homers or Veridiani and the Islanders call it the Great Veridian while the inhabitants of the Khanoun Jungle through which the river flows tend to call it the Gevara.
The giants did tyrannize the Thousand Islands and the Gevara River for a long time before Baron Nimbus was defeated by Iskandar, an islander boy whose sister was taken during a cloud giant raid.
Iskandar and his sister Tella loved to climb to the highest branches of the Sky Tree. Their elders told them not to. "What if the Cloud Barons come to take you away?" they would say. Iskandar and Tella probably should have listened to them, but Tella was a brave girl and Iskandar was a protective brother. She couldn't go up there all by herself, surely?
One day like so many other days, they poked through the leaves to see the sunset. The sunset casted the sky all in hues of purple and orange and rosy pink, yet the gray clouds which approached full of thunder seemed unlike the rest of the gentle sky.
The Cloud Barons had come. In an instant, Tella was gone, a gray giant hand scooping her up as a stormy steed rushed overhead. Baron Nimbus rode on the winds, laughing as he carried Tella away. One of his eyes had been replaced with ball lightning. His beard billowed like rolling clouds as he laughed. He wore a pointy silver crown atop his head and a pearlescent trident. He pointed his trident at the Sky Tree and a bolt of lightning leapt from it, setting the tree alight.
As the rest of the Paradise Riders went about putting out the fire, the Cloud Barons flew away, Nimbus' thundering laughing echoing in the distance.
Iskandar ran to his own paradise bird as fast as he could, giving chase. He flew all through the night, one sunset giving rise to the next sunrise when it seemed his poor bird could fly no more.
Then, hovering into view Iskandar saw a white fluffy cloud emerging from a chimney on top of a quaint little cottage, swinging side to side beneath the cloud from golden ropes. A perch hung beneath the cottage where Iskandar could allow his bird to rest. A hatch opened beneath the house and a rope ladder unfurled to meet Iskandar. Taking hold of it, he climbed up with weary arms into the hatch.
Everything in the house slid back and forth. A cat slept on a basket of recently dried clothes as it drifted back and forth. Somehow, a flower pot rattled wildly but never toppled over. The small shriveled owner of this house knitted in her highbacked chair. Her hair was a pale beehive atop her heard, worked throughout with brass rings. Her eyes are kind but small above drooping caramel jowls. She wore a nightgown with golden moons and stars lovingly stitched into them.
"Hello, dearie, I am Zabubu. Care for some tea?"
Zabubu drank her scalding tea without effort as Iskandar juggled the delicate porcelain cup as his stool skids across the floor boards. Zububu took a gentle sip. She gave Iskandar three gifts: a spool of woven moonlight with two needles of bone, a book of unsung tales which come to life when read, and a bag of disgruntled winds.
Kyana: (I would imagine winds to be quite disgruntled in the bag. I wonder if they lost a bet of some sort)
Do those winds have names?
Zabubu is a notorious card shark. She's got the South-North, East-West, and Weast winds.
Kyana: Weast, I imagine, is the most disgruntled. So did these gifts help Iskandar?
Certainly. In true mythic fashion he would face three trials each demanding one of the gifts. (Which we shall return to here after a brief digression.)
Kyana: I am also curious what lies further after Thousand Islands. Or Gevara ends there?
Somewhere out in the seas is the Elusive Island, a mystical wandering island where the Pale Naiads guard the Springs of Forgotten Things. If you can manage a glimpse into the Springs, you will find something that has been forgotten like treasure or an ancient city
Kyana: Or an important memory, I'd imagine. Maybe in a dreamland there is a desert which sings your name and then it slips into the sands and fades, but the Spring might recover it, because all springs are in truth are the roots and some go even deep under the desert.
There are the Dustlands, a vast desert drained of color where old dreams go to die. As you stay in the Dustlands your color and memories fade. But there are valuable things that have it yet been totally consumed there. The water of the Spring restores color if sprinkled there. Yet oases of Spring water do rise up there for nothing is ever truly forgotten and nothing is truly lost.
Kyana: There is an Kuvia, the Dusk Tortoise, which swims the desert as if it was water. She is very big, like a ship, her shell painted with stories of long-lost kingdom. She alone somehow never is lost in Dustlands, at least in a usual sense. In the springs, small rainbows play.
Kyana: Does Nimbus live in palace?
Yes it is a palace with high minarets. Cloud Giants wear silver and black silks made from star worms that get caught in cloud wool when they soar up to the high heavens.
Kyana: Do star worms ever dream about becoming star caterpillars and then star butterflies (or star moth, maybe?)
Star Moths for sure. Unfortunately they don't get to become Star Moths but their dreams do.
Max: I like the bittersweetness of this.
The high heavens are less like a void and more like a canopy. It all looks black from the ground, but up there you see the ghost shapes of celestial branches and glittering leaves of gold.
Kyana: This is very lovely. I wonder if the wings of Star Moth become parts of that canopy after they are ready to go further away.
Beyond the canopy it is a deep dark ocean and strange old things live out beyond whose thoughts ripple in the vastness of time.
Kyana: Deep Slumber Land, dark and quiet. But back to the brightness of the lands below. Is there anything on the shores of Great Viridian River?
The Great Viridian passes through a jungle, the Khanoun Jungle. In the north are the trees where the Love Fruit grow. The Jungle is home to lemurs who like in little perfectly oval nooks in the Lieku trees so these lemurs are called Nooks. They say that each Nook is born from a tree and their nook grows with them.
So taking the witch's gifts, Iskandar flew to the great cloud where Nimbus palace was. There he found the slaves including his sister but all the slaves were bound with a magical brass chain that could not be broken or unlocked without the key around Nimbus' neck.
So Iskandar snuck around the back of the castle, encountering a chained Storm Hound with teeth of lightning and a bark like thunder. Before the hound could alert anyone, Iskandar took out the spool of woven moonlight and the bone needles and as he imagined it, knitting in the air, the woven moonlight transformed into a muzzle, but it took all but a single thread of the spool.
While the dog wrestled with the muzzle he went inside to find most of the giants napping in their great hall. They must have feasted and drank heavily after their raid. All but the guard at Nimbus' bedchamber were asleep and even the guard was dozing.
So Iskandar flipped through the book of unsung tales and read: "The music of the harp soothed the beast to sleep." From the ether came the lovely music of the harp and the giant's eyes closed fully as he began to snore.
Then as Iskandar entered Nimbus' bedchamber, he found the massive giant asleep with the key on a chain about his neck and his great trident of storms leaning on the wall beside him.
Iskandar could not wield the great trident as a weapon but he could slide it over and under the chain. He gently stuffed the bag of disgruntled winds beneath the chain and tied his last string of moonlight to it. He slid off the bed and pulled the cord, releasing the winds with a mighty boom! The trident flung backwards pulling the chain taut then breaking it, sending the key flying! The boy hero caught the key and ran.
Nimbus woke in a rage, took the trident and stabbed the floor of his chamber, barely missing the boy. He chased him stabbing again, this time barely missing one of his own slumbering men. And as the boy ran outside, Nimbus stabbed one more time, piercing the hide of his own cloud! Clouds are alive in Dreamland you see. The cloud bucked and shook , shaking the castle and plantation both! Nimbus dropped the trident off the cloud and it tumbled into the jungle below.
Iskandar freed the slaves, turning the great key which released them all at once and he fled with them to the edge of the cloud, grabbing his sister's arm and running towards the cloud's precipice.
But Nimbus was on their tail!
"I will crush your villages and your homes and your kin!" He boomed.
And even as he lifted a fist to crush them, Iskandar's giant bird of paradise came to the rescue! The bird flew into his face and scratched at his eyes! The giant reeled and tumbled off the side of the cloud, impaling himself on his own trident in the jungle below.
And so Iskandar defeated Baron Nimbus and freed all his friends and saved his sister! But he did not forget to get the trident that his people replicated to keep the giants at bay forevermore!
There was more worldbuilding in Dreamland that has happened and continued to happen since this, but I think this is enough for now. I was reminded of this because I just started trying to start this back up with my daughter who is one year old now!