Each Friday for the next so many weeks I'm going to highlight some aspect of Uhl, the fantasy world in which I set my novels. Posts will include details on Uhl's people, places, races, and more.
An excerpt from The Five Elements, wherein Aaron has his first real encounter with the enigmatic eslar mercenary, Ensel Rhe Alon:
Aaron started to round one of the chairs, then froze. A sheathed sword was leaning against the chair and a satchel rested on the seat. Aaron knew neither belonged to his master. The bag was of plain leather, bereft of design, with a fur-lined shoulder strap and nothing to distinguish it from any other bag. But because the sword was there, eslar glyphs so plainly etched on its bone hilt, Aaron knew exactly to whom the items belonged. He also knew that sword, satchel, and owner were never far from each other. Probing the darkest of the shadows, he saw nothing at first. Though his gaze swept over the remainder of the room, it quickly returned to that single corner furthest from the light. Even then, he did not see him until he chose to reveal himself. First, stark white eyes appeared from the gloom. Then a sleek, blue-black skinned face crowned by a shock of rust-red hair emerged. The rest followed until a man stood revealed. No, not a man. An eslar. Master Ensel Rhe Alon. Tall and lean, he was dressed for nocturnal events: black brigandine armor and dark leather elsewhere. A long coat stained dark with dampness from the road reached nearly to the floor. Without a word, the eslar came forward, the starkness of his eyes never leaving Aaron's. He lifted the satchel from the chair with one hand. He extended his other toward Aaron.
"My sword," he said, his words a near whisper.
Eslar are an ancient race whose origins are steeped in mystery and the shadows of elder times. The aura of secrecy surrounding them has remained murky over the decades because eslar lands are cut off by a variety of natural and unnatural geographic features, including the haunted Dead Lands to their north and the sitheri-infested Grimmere Swamp to the south. West lies the Merrow Woods, but there dwell the krill, who suffer trespassers only as long as it takes for them to hunt them down and kill them. While these boundaries have made eslar into a reclusive race, some do find their way to other parts of Uhl. The rare encounter with one of their kind will reveal a people that loves to laugh but that has very little sense of humor of their own. They are intelligent and industrious, as comfortable around a book of spells as they are an engineering diagram. Their melding of science, sorcery, and alchemy is said to be unparalleled.
They are unique amongst all the peoples of Uhl in that they are united under a single banner. Their kingdom is called Panthora and it is ruled by a magocracy of unknown size and make-up. Isia, their capital city, is a place of spiraling towers, magnificent domes, and vast gardens.
Tall and slim, their skin is blue-black in color, eyes are stark white with no pupils, and hair varies from rust red to copper in color. The hue of their every day clothing leans towards metallic colors and consists of long tunics or gowns, leggings, and simple shoes.
Panthora maintains a standing army of disciplined soldiers who have been known to test their mettle against warriors of the Freelands on occasion. These regulars are experts with sword, bow, and pike.
Like any people the eslar nation has seen dark days. Their darkest came with the ascension of the Masadi Order, a cadre of necromancers bent on enslaving all eslar. Had they succeeded they would have turned their attention to the other nations of Uhl. But their order was broken and scattered, their leaders killed. Many eslar maintain a vigilance to this day to make sure they never return to power again.
Note from the Author
Eslar began their existence as elves believe it or not. I quickly realized though as I was writing away that I really, really, really had no desire to deal with elves on any level. Many other authors have given them their due, and I just didn't feel like I had anything new to add. That being said, I did want to retain some of their qualities. Their Vulcan-like aloofness, exotic habitats, and penchant for sorcery, to name a few. But also I was eyeing another race when I set out to create eslar. That other race was Moorcock's Melniboneans, of which I've always been enamored of through the author's stories about Elric. If you were to make a comparison of eslar to any other fantasy race, look no further than an amalgamation of elves and Melniboneans.
Eslar characters make appearances in both The Hall of the Wood and The Five Elements. In the former we have Murik Alon Rin'kres, an eslar sorcerer. In the latter, Ensel Rhe Alon. The characters are quite different. One is a seemingly jovial wizard and the other a taciturn mercenary. Murik may harbor a dark secret (and the captured soul of his former master), but he generally wants to do the right thing. Ensel Rhe is a bit different. He's depicted in The Five Elements as your basic strong but silent warrior. But in the next book in The Alchemancer series, his background story will begin to unfold and take on a much larger role. I can't go into too many details, but we'll get to see not only his daughter, Jakinda Rhe, but also one of the parties responsible for his exile from Panthora.
Read more about the people and places of Uhl at the World of Uhl.