Astranar’s Secret Gem: The Mirror World

Astranar’s Secret Gem: The Mirror World

Hidden beyond the next tree. Over secret paths only a few can see. Through the arches of branches and flowers. There is a world of magic and wonder. Teal skies. Vivid greenery. Unique flowers. Maroon earth. Only on the continent of Argentum, in Astranar, can people cross over and discover the enchantments and peoples of the Mirror World.

A simple name, perhaps, while others over the world may have slipped through cracks, they called it different things. Underhill. Wonderland. The Never Ending Wood. Ever After. In Astranar, the natives know that names have power and the true name of the World is best left to those that live in it. They simply call it the Mirror World for it mirrors their own.

When Astranar is in the heart of summer, the Mirror World is in the deepest folds of winter. And while in Astranar, it takes a powerful spell caster to work anything beyond basic spells, in the Mirror World, magic is as easy as breathing—for better or worse!

If one could see both the Mirror World and the mundane world at the same time, one would be able to see the towns co-existing in the same places! The people going on about their lives doing everyday things. For the people of the Mirror World have the same wants and needs as the people in the mundane world no matter how different their appearance.

And oh how different they are! Those that live close to humans can be breathe taking and magical. Fairies in their tiny snow globe sized bubbles. Elementals that take on the shape of humans or giant birds. Griffons that share a passing resemblance to eagles. Deer with colorful coats and exotic antlers like flowering branches and crystal. And many different types of sheep.

Then there are the magical beings that only choose to share the shape of humans. Though their skin is anything but human looking as if someone took liquid metals, and glowing paints to create abstract and fantastical designs. Some may have wings to mock the humans and their tales of fairies (or is it mockery?). Take care of those that live in the ponds.

Those that live deep in the Mirror World have names and faces familiar to the mundane; Santa Claus, Cupid, The Pumpkin King/Jack Frost, Mother Goose, and the Green Man. They come closer to the mundane world around the solstices and holidays when the veil between worlds is thinner. The ways to their towns and castles are only available for a short time each year as they are celebrated (or appeased.) Perhaps, if the main character helps them enough, they will open special places, special towns for the player to visit them all year round.

Then there are the horses! Horses in the Mirror World are the horses of every rider’s fantasy. The most prolific and easiest to find, because often they find their own riders, are the magical color changing horses. Reminding outsiders of a Fjord horse, in the mundane world they come in all shades of dun and have bi-colored manes. In the Mirror World, their coats and manes become an array of bright, muted, or pastel colors. And in the Mirror World, they can talk to their riders. (This may or may not be welcome depending on their personality.)

One can make friend with unicorns, tame the wild pegasus, help the rainbow alicorns, and even discover beautiful nymph horses that take after plants and trees. They can take their rider to places no normal horse can reach (much to the MC’s main horse’s displeasure.)

A word of warning, as with the magic of Astranar, in the Mirror World there are places of Light and places of Shadow. Woe betide those who are of opposite sides stumbling into places they shouldn’t be. Those of the light, beware the arches of dead branches covered in moss. And those of the shadow, beware the arches of living branches covered in ivy. If caught inside, riders of the rong faction have to flee to avoid capture or bargain for their freedom. Some can be convinced to let people go if they are offered something nice or if they are entertained. (Though this brings to mind playing with your food…)

Explore carefully.

But in order to explore, main characters are going to need a winter coat. Don’t think a raincoat can be passed off as a winter coat either. The horses are too smart for that to work…

Everyone is Talking About Astranar!

Everyone is Talking About Astranar!

Late to the Global Stage. Hanging onto a Victorian Edge. This new Horse and Equestrian Capital of the World feels enough like Europe to make most tourists from that area feel right at home but at the same time defies expectations. And nowhere is this more exemplified than the Astranar royal family.

Ruling from the Diamond District, a massive city that feels like several sprawling interconnected towns, King Edward and Queen Katherine set the tone. He is a bit reserved and proud, a statesman from birth with a charming smile if quiet in words; she is passionate and stubborn, the backbone of the family that wants what’s best for her children, even if they don’t know it yet. The eldest prince, Sebastian, is in self-exile in Sapphire District, removed from the line of the throne and glad for it. He is content to raise horses at the family estate. His younger brother, William, is the Crown Prince by default. He still manages to sneak off into the city, despite an upcoming visit by his betrothed from Zablana (or perhaps because of it). The trick for the younger Prince Elowen and Princess Rowan is telling them apart! (This family sounds like a whole lot of trouble…)

While the nobility answers to a Parliament, most of the remaining nobles maintain enforcement of the government in their eight districts and serve the populace as needed for the areas around their estates. Knighthood in Astranar indicates battle prowess and honor in these modern times, and it is gender-blind. You are as likely to meet a female knight as you are a male.

While you’ll never mistake Amethyst’s sharp mountains for Ruby’s steep tree covered hills and lake country or Morganite’s marshes or Citrine’s mossy groves and heather covered moors, every district has its quirks and their people are proud of them. Each of the districts does have things in common. Mild weather during the spring and summer months, and a tendency for gentle frosts and snow dustings in the autumn and winter, Astranar is abundant with wildlife outside of horses. Several species of deer and owls call the woods home, and swans and ducks grace lakes and ponds. Wild turkeys make menaces of themselves, and river otters steal melons from gardens to munch on. Farmers keep more than cows and chickens, even if Citrine’s cows are rather shaggy looking, but also stately buffalo and bison, cute and fuzzy alpacas, and there seems to be an over fondness for goats in pajamas or hats.

From small hamlets to the massive capital city in the Diamond District, there are many sizes of towns and many types of people to meet. From farmers and horse breeders, to smiths and other craftsmen, the people of Astranar come from many walks of life and have several different types of lessons to teach, if your main character (MC) seeks them out. They all love pets! Besides the usual dogs, cats, rabbits, and ferrets, riders will sometimes travel with chickens, piglets, badgers, and otters, with special education programs occasionally having wolf cubs and wild cat kittens for fostering. If carrying a real animal with them isn’t their (or their horse’s!) cup of tea, there are several types of stuffed toys and flower bouquets to brighten up saddle bags.

When not traveling by horse or cart, the best way to get around Astranar has to be by train. The cars are carefully set up to insure not only the MC’s comfort but that of their horse, with most of the horses in Astranar being used to such travel by now. How to identify whether a platform is next to a cargo track or a passenger one? Keep an eye out for the conductor cat! These little rascals are dressed to impress, matching the district they are in but each with a bit of a difference, so you can recognize the station. They will see to everyone’s comfort—after all, a conductor is both friendly and particular, which sounds like most cats we know.

Scattered across seven of Astranar’s eight districts are Royal Summer Equestrian Camps for Girls, which sends out invitations every year to lucky girls between the ages of twelve to thirteen. How they are selected, no one knows. Some are sent to complete novices, others are sent to well-known rising stars in equestrian riding. Once invited, they can then attend each year in hopes of improving their riding ability enough to win one of the district’s championships for a full scholarship to the Royal Riding Academy.

At the camps, there is more than just riding and basic crafts to attend to, there are fun basic camp things like swimming, hiking, fishing, boating, and even archery. Every week, each camp holds a dance in their dining hall and campers are asked to help with the open house where they can meet the different clubs of Astranar. There are twenty-four original mother clubs in Astranar, and every year new campers are invited to create new sister clubs to these original clubs. And not all of these clubs get along.

But would they band together if all of Astranar and the world was threatened?

One word of advice if the MC ever visit Astranar, keep your eyes open. You never know what secrets and wonders may be hiding behind the next tree or through the arch of branches and flowers. What will you (and they!) discover?

The Mysterious Continent of Argentum

The Mysterious Continent of Argentum

Hidden by storms. Shrouded in silver mists. Protected by rocky shores thick with wild fierce reefs. In the mid to southern Pacific Ocean, the continent of Argentum was nearly inaccessible until the invention of aircraft. Throughout history, stories thrived of lost ships and aircraft, and with them, people. It wasn’t until the people, survivors of these lost souls, reversed engineered technology were they able to bring the wider world’s attention to this secret land.

Home to mountains, deserts, swamps, hills, plains, forests of many varieties, and farmlands within a relatively small space, sailors and passengers of wrecked ships found homes on terrains that reminded them of their countries of origins. Four distinct countries have developed with the culture of the survivors, the most well-known being Astranar, the new Equestrian and Horse Capital of the World. People were drawn to where their ways were suited.

The Whistleback Mountains cut through the continent, creating a barrier and dictating the weather and geography. To the south and southeast lies Astranar, the proverbial bread basket of the continent. Pastoral and serene, the Whistleback Mountains turn into steep hills covered by dense forests parted by lakes and rivers that feed into marshes and grasslands along their coasts. Ruled by a King and Queen, Astranar is the more heavily European with the gothic style and the Victorian Era having left a harder stamp on the continent than elsewhere.

Rather than embracing a reliance on fuel-dependent cars, most of Astranar still travel by horse, with long distances being covered by train. Horses center around Astranar life, and not only is the island home to a wild breed banned from export, but several breed books for other horses around the world.

To the North of the Whistlebacks is the country of Zablana and its great Highwind Desert. Their greenery thrives on the coast lands. Divided into districts, each is ruled independently by a governor, and together they make the decisions for the country by claiming a seat at the ruling council of Zablana. Here sailors of Arabia, Africa, India, South East Asia, and the Pacific Islands gathered together, mixing their love of spicy foods and intricate carvings and mosaics with their own love of horses.

On the north side of Zablana’s coast, Cheoi Bastia has claim to an island chain, featuring seven main islands. Cheoi Bastia boasts to be the home of those descended from China, Korea, and Japan. One island is divided in two, with half belonging to the imperial palace and the emperor who resides there. They don’t rely on the horse as much as other countries and their lands remain something of a mystery even to the other countries as they are just beginning to open their borders.

In the southwest, Nospos controls a portion of the mainland and a large island, reminiscent of their Greek heritage. Ruled by a beautiful queen, with many daughters and one son, descendants of sailors of the Mediterranean and sailors from the Americas blended their cultures. Other countries considered them snobbish, but they consider themselves refined. Their love of racing is only rivaled by their love of showing off their horses in order to admire their fine lines and beauty.

There are many mysteries and secrets on the continent of Argentum. Mysteries that need to be solved and each year, tied to their love of horses, young girls are invited to come from all over the world to discover their connections to this beautiful but hidden land. Does your main character dare to find the solutions to these mysteries? Where will they hunt for answers? What will they be drawn to? Will they find their heart’s home in Argentum?