The Brightmoon world (which doesn’t have a name) is a planet not unlike Earth. It may be a little bigger, but it has various landmasses, a lot of water, a pair of snowy poles and a hot equator. There are several moons, at least three and perhaps as many as seven. The day and year lengths are similar to Earth. The flora and fauna, while not exactly the same, fulfill the same niches as on Earth. If it hops about like a bunny, eats something resembling grass and lives in burrows – let’s just call it a rabbit, and be done with it. There are a few unusual plants and animals, just to make things interesting.
In its original state, there were numerous islands scattered over the whole globe, varying from tiny tropical ones to continent-sized masses. There was a huge variety of wildlife, as on any planet of similar fecundity. There were humans, too, living in various states of evolvedness, from high-tech societies to stone age and all points in between. So-called civilisations rose and fell with some frequency.
And, since this is fantasy, there was magic. It was a quiet, gentle sort of magic, and every human had some capability, a ‘connection’ to some aspect of the world around them. One might have a connection to metals, another to plant life, another to the air. They could ‘feel’ (in some sense) the attributes of whatever it was, and could enhance or reduce them. Someone with a connection to the air could raise a breeze to a storm, or reduce a storm to a breeze. Someone with a connection to plants could make them grow better or reduce their vulnerability to pests or diseases. Someone with a connection to the human mind could smooth violent emotions, and make people more placid or (if they wished) more angry or more friendly.
Such broad connections were very rare, however. Also, the strength of each connection varied, and few people were strongly enough connected to affect the weather or people’s feelings. Most people’s abilities were very limited and they might never be aware of just why they had such a way with horses, or why their root vegetables grew so splendidly.
In time, as connections were studied and became better understood, a few people began to develop a different kind of magic, one that joined many connections together so that they enhanced and fed upon each other. Such people – mages, for want of a better word – were able to outperform even the strongest connection, and became very powerful. They understood their destructive capabilities, so they managed their own affairs reasonably well and avoided mage wars, building a safe place for themselves which kept mages away from the general population. But the safe place had the effect of focusing their powers and multiplying them manyfold, and none of it stopped them from becoming arrogant and acting as if they were gods.
Eventually, they started messing about with the planet; terra-forming, if you will. It was all done with the very best of intentions, to improve the lot of humankind, shifting bits of land about to better locations, but once started the process developed a feedback loop that made it almost unstoppable. The safe place, the focal point, began to draw all the land masses on the planet towards it, and eventually even the moons began to be pulled out of orbit and started spiraling towards the planet’s surface.
It had to be stopped, and in the end the only way to do it was to destroy the magic altogether. Everyone who had the new form of magic would die, but the planet would be saved. Now, none of this happened overnight. It was many centuries before anyone realised quite what was happening, and decades more before it reached a critical point. There was time to make provision for survival after the event.
When the dust settled, virtually all the planet’s islands had been pulled into one giant landmass in the southern hemisphere. Around the focal point, the seabed had been drawn upwards to create the vast, featureless Plains of Kallanash. Below it, the bedrock had been fused so solidly that mining or drilling more than a few dozen feet down was impossible. Where larger landmasses banged together, vast unscaleable mountain ranges had been thrown up. Several moons had been deflected into safer if erratic orbits, and the one remaining moon orbited much closer to the planet’s surface. It was hollowed out so as not to create devastating tidal surges. Around the equator was a narrow band where violent storms occurred year round.
The effect on the flora and fauna was devastating. Tropical islands were now landlocked in temperate regions. Former polar regions were now tropical. Much of the wildlife simply died out, unable to cope. What survived was the most widespread, most adaptable, least picky. The end result was vast uniform areas – endless pine or broadleaf forests, grasslands from horizon to horizon, or desert. There were few large predators. Some species did well – rodents and deer, for instance, birds and flying insects, anything which could move easily. Cockroaches survived everywhere, needless to say.
This incident was known, not surprisingly, as the Catastrophe. Everything on the current Brightmoon world is therefore technically post-apocalyptic.
What about people? Many died, of course. There were numerous violent earthquakes and tsunamis. Rivers changed course overnight. Whole towns and cities were swept away, farmlands destroyed, ways of life gone for ever. But things were not as desperate as they might have been. The mages might have gone, sacrificed to save the planet, but they had done their best to protect as many people as possible. Magically enhanced artifacts survived in full working order. A few populations were protected by safe havens. Records were kept, seed corn and domesticated animals were stored until it was safe to rebuild, knowledge was passed on.
And there was still magic. Some mages had tried to ensure that a limited form of magic would continue, and although they were only partly successful, it was better than nothing. And humans, of course, still had their basic, innate form of magic, their ‘connections’. What the mages did, and how humans tried to adapt to the aftermath, form the basis for the Brightmoon Annals.
Why Brightmoon? Because there in the sky is the enduring reminder of the Catastrophe: the Brightmoon world’s moon is much closer than our own moon is to Earth, and that makes it much bigger and also many times brighter. At full moon, in a clear sky, there is almost as much light as during the day, although softer. Even under cloud, it’s possible to carry out normal activities. The Brightmoon planet’s people live a different life because of it.
The Brightmoon Annals are set in various parts of the world, more than five thousand years after the Catastrophe.Follow PaulineMRoss