I’ve been doing these “worldbuilding shorts” lately, where I start with a simple idea, situation, or story for a world, then extrapolate out from there to see where it leads me. It’s still pretty tightly bounded; most of these “shorts” are really that: just ideas I’m having and playing around with, with no intention of being fully developed into anything—though sometimes I do get caught up in the idea and will keep going for a while!
One of my early worldbuilding steps is often to write a creation myth. This is something I remember first doing for my D&D campaigns as a kid, and I guess I’ve never stopped. I like the shift in scale: how the creation myth simultaneously arises out of my existing ideas about the world, its people and histories and values; and also ends up informing those ideas, usually causing me to change course or focus as I continue developing the socio-historical fabric of the world.
This creation story is for a game I’m making with some friends (contrary to what I said above, it is attached to a larger project). I’m primarily responsible for the writing, background art, and some UI. It’s a traditional Western board game which we’ve reimagined as a Japanese fighting game, served up inside a BL otome game wrapper 🙂 The player’s characters are twins, a brother and sister, and so I thought it would be nice to weave that detail into the genesis story of the world. Enjoy.
Brush and Glance, and the Dreaming Wolf
First there was the Cave, and in the cave slept a Wolf. The Wolf dreamt of the world beyond the Cave, and she saw a Tree to the east and a Well in the west. In her dreams the Wolf hunted rabbits and deer. She built a fire beneath the boughs of the Tree to cook her dinner and afterwards she ate the tart apples which had fallen to the ground. She drank sweetly-scented water from the Well, and drew baths for herself after every hunt.
After a thousand thousand years of dreaming, the Wolf grew bored. She dreamt of finding two babies asleep against her belly: strange furless creatures with blunt, square teeth—quite monstrous, really—but she suckled them and taught them to eat rabbit and apples and to bathe every day. She called the girl child Glance because she saw everything in a moment; and the boy who touched everything so gently, whose every movement was like a dance, she named Brush.
Brush and Glance sometimes fought, as siblings will do. As they grew and became stronger and faster, their fights became dangerous; and the Wolf’s sleep was restless with worry. One day her strange hairless children were attacking one another with such ferocity that the Wolf bared her teeth in a snarl and leapt between them, shoving them apart—for she loved them both dearly and wouldn’t see them hurt one another. But she had forgotten that her foundlings were not strong, sturdy wolves but nearly-hairless creatures with square teeth who shivered in the snow, and her maternal gesture sent them flying away from one another with an unexpected force.
Glance fell down the Well in the west, into a darkness which rendered her lost and blind, sunk beneath the sweet waters forever. Brush flew east into the trunk of the Tree with such force that his back was broken, and when the Wolf ran out of her Cave she found him lying amongst the apples and leaves that had been shaken loose by his impact. Brush was unable to move or dance or touch the world around him. The twins would never again lay eyes on each other, nor share a meal they had hunted together, nor doze with their heads pillowed on their mother’s chest. Knowing this, the dreaming Wolf whimpered in her sleep, and the Cave around her trembled.
Our land of Biellia was created when Brush struck the Tree of the World, his body pushing up the walls of the Pale around it, which slowly filled with his salty tears as he lay there for eternity. Like all twins in the world since, the siblings never lost their uncanny sense of one another—even across the span of worlds. This is why the Spirits can travel to and from Biellia with such ease: from the Well they travel the bridge between worlds that stretches between the shattered body of Brush and his lost sister Glance.