Hi! I'm Nick, a 19 y/o from STL Missouri. You can find my illustration + character design portfolio here, but this site is for my big writing WIP.
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"He knew the war had found him..."
From Ashes to Empires (FATE) is a novel I'm writing! It's set a while after an empire's industrial era and has an aesthetic and technology sort of equivalent to the real world 40s-60s. A new war for resources has broken out between the Haelian Empire, where the narrative actually takes place, its northern neighbor Terres Nord, and other nearby world powers. Pockets of precious jewels, which are religiously important to the Empire, as well as oil have been discovered in Terres Nord, which they're unwilling to hand over without a significant sum of money. Other nations join forces with Terres Nord against the Empire, promised some of its precious resources in return, to form the Federation of World Powers, or FWP.
The war begins, displacing hundreds of families from the Empire's northern border, and one of those families is Danny's. After his family is captured by the FWP, Danny is forced to flee south into the Central Provinces along with Valtteri, until they come across a commune at the base of the Western Range. Here, Danny meets Rui, and a darker side of Valtteri begins to creep through his prickly, though overall unassuming exterior. As the FWP crawls further south and more and more civilian resistances begin to pop up, Danny has to decide how to protect his new family and rescue his old.
FATE is currently in a stage of writing chapters while simultaneously outlining + changing things up. I want to get it right, so the amount of times I change things to improve them is pretty much constant. That being said, I'm at a point I'm fairly satisfied with now in terms of the actual plot, so hopefully I'll be able to get stuff done quicker!
I first started making characters for FATE around 7th grade. Their original designs, personalities, and overall roles in the story were AWFUL. Speaking of the actual story, it was 100% different back then. It spanned over 3000 years, involved the american revolution, immortality, and an eldritch deity named Tenebris, who was from an entire species of deities with unlimited power (I still have him as character, he's just in an entirely different universe now).
he/him | pansexual trans man | mixed black/white | early-mid 20s | reference sheet
Danny grew up in a medium-sized town called Ansfield with his sister, parents, and Valtteri, having a relatively calm and happy childhood. He'd spend most of his days with the other townskids, chasing critters through the woods and hanging out by a nearby stream, then once he was old enough, apprenticing at a local mechanic's shop. At some point, he decided to pick up guitar to try and impress his peers--it didn't work, he was terrible at first and took years of practice to get to a spot he was content with. Now, he practices regularly alongside his work at a mechanic's.
- - Birthday: November 15th
- - Extrovert
- - Trusts way too easily, since he tries to see the best in people no matter what
- - Sometimes verges on being toxically positive
Art, problem solving/puzzles, warm weather, motorcycles, his family and friends
The cold, horror, conflict, planning things
he/him | gay trans man | white | mid 20s | reference sheet
Anthony grew up in a small, rural town in the northwest with a highly Andinian (essentially a fictional version of christianity) population. He was never allowed to be himself or take a single step out of line. The guilt caused by the town sometimes manifested into a creature, which he was never quite sure was real or not. Eventually, he burned down the local church in a fit of rage and escaped into the seaside, where he was picked up by military recruiters--he eventually escaped from there too, taking a group of deserters with him. Now, he travels the empire with his group, fighting off military patrols while helping out where they can.
- - Birthday: September 17th
- - Introvert
- - His nickname is "Ant"
- - Has CPTSD + lots of social anxiety
- - Incapable of trusting most people. It takes a significant amount of time for him to build up trust
The quiet, cold weather, lighters, surrealism, the mountains
Large groups, his blood family/his hometown, religion, disorganization, strangers
she/her | bisexual trans woman | livendan-haelian | early 20s | reference sheet
Rui grew up on the west coast in a major Empire port city. Her family was affluent, and owned a lot of the ships used to export goods to other nations. However, when she started to reveal who she truly was, her parents rejected her, and she was forced back into the closet before deciding to escape east. She eventually came across a commune and was welcomed with open arms by people who both looked and identified like her, resulting in her deciding to stay. Since then, she's been passing the knowledge she gained from her high-end education onto the kids of the commune as a teacher.
- Birthday: January 5th
- Danny gave her the nickname "Roo"
- Very kind, but also knows how to fight very well (taught by Anthony)
- Has ADHD
- Knows how to sew
The ocean, sailing, making her own gear/clothes, women
Big corporations, the empire, extreme heat, valtteri
they/she | nonbinary lesbian | black | early 20s | reference sheet
Marie grew up in a medium-sized town called Ansfield with their brother and parents. Though she'd join her brother in his exploits around the nearby forest, most of her youth was spent doodling in her bedroom or sketching the wildlife she saw in the nearby hills, since she only had a few close friends who were just as shy as her. Once they graduated highschool, they planned to go to a well-known art school to pursue a career in painting. Alongside her studies, she works at a local cafe as a manager.
- - Birthday: June 8th
- - Introvert
- - They're very shy and don't like to draw attention to themself
- - Minds her own business, too anxious to try and dig into anyone else's
Painting, reading, being in nature, rainy weather in summer
Parties, big cities, any kind of fighting
he/him | gay cis boy | abrassian-haelian | 16 to 17 | reference sheet
Marco grew up on the west coast of the Empire, but was orphaned when he was very young. He was taken in by an Andinian school for boys and received a decent education. However, once he was 16, he was sent off to the Empire's military--specifically the air force, which he excelled in--alongside most of the boys his age. Despite growing a love for planes and jets, he never enjoyed the rough environment of the military and, when Anthony arrived, he decided to escape with Ant's group of deserters. He quickly became the group's mischievous little brother. Now, they travel together across the Empire.
- - Birthday: November 9th
- - Androvert
- - Looks up to Anthony
- - Hates it when people treat him like a little kid
- - Butts into a lot of conversations and other things people are doing--he just wants to be included
Planes, big cities, anything horror related, parties
The military, school, authority in general
he/him | cis straight man | white | early 30s | reference sheet
Valtteri grew up in Ansfield with Danny and Marie, Danny being his only true close friend. Val's parents never tended to care what he did, and because of that, he could get away with almost anything--especially since his parents were quite well off. Despite this, he gradually grew resentful of quiet and calm Ansfield, always wanting more than what he already had. So, he started making plans for how he'd run things. In the meantime, though, he works short hours at his father's winery. He hates every second of it but tries not to let it show.
- - Birthday: December 21st
- - Extrovert
- - Formal in front of most people
- - Will do anything to get what he wants
- - Genuinely wants Danny to join him in "improving" Ansfield (later in "improving" the commune)
- - Doesn't like to get his hands dirty
Big cities, being in control, the cold
Rural areas/small towns, the commune, his parents, being questioned
Made with Azgaar's Fantasy Map Generator
*Currently undergoing revisions + Some countries are loosely based on real places--for example, Alexandria is vaguely based on Britain--but The Haelian Empire is such a mix of different things that it isn't taken from any one place.
THE HAELIAN EMPIRE
The Haelian Empire is the nation FATE is set in. It's a highly divided, oppressively religious and neoliberal society. The "empire" bit isn't just a part of its name, it's an oligarchy with a long line of emperors at the top, the Haelans. They've been in power for hundreds of years now and originally came into power using military force and, afterward, established Andinity as the national religion.
Major sections of the nation are called "provinces," which were divided according to their respective environments. The Western Province is generally warm and humid, but cools during the winter (and is always fairly cool on its mountain peaks); the Southern Province is dry and hot and stays that way throughout the year; The Central Provinces are colder in their mountains, while the lowlands are temperate and thoroughly represent each season; the Northern Province has freezing winters and warm summers; and the Eastern Province is generally cool and wet, but warms significantly in the summer.
Most of the central empire is uninhabited, with scattered towns and villages along the valley between the two dangerous mountain ranges. These communities are usually poor, as they lack the access to resources that the coastal settlements have, and traffic from travellers is infrequent at best. A train runs along the southern and northern ends of the ranges, but there's few actual stops between them.
Meanwhile, the coastal cities thrive due to their trade, with the eastern coast being the nation's trade hub and where the emperor lives. There are smaller fishing and other working towns the further away from the capital, Hamnar City--which doubles as the business capital of the nation--one goes, but they're still far more wealthy than any town in the Central Provinces. On the western coast, the port town of (insert name. lol i still need to think of one) lies. While Hamnar is rigid and formal, (insert name) has a far more carefree environment, but still remains a center of trade with nations farther west.
Pagan religions were the first to surface, long before the Haelian Empire ever existed. However, once the empire was established, Andinity was made the national religion.
Andinity is essentially a fictional Christianity. It's monotheistic, has angels, demons, etc, and the way its most extreme believers interact with it is, essentially, a cult. For most, though, it's a part of their everyday lives, so most don't too hard about it beyond their prayers. Pagans are still around alongside other non-Andinian religions, though they mostly keep to themselves as it's, while not illegal, still frowned upon to practice non-Andinian religions in the empire.
One thing that's always been religiously significant for Andinians is jewels and gemstones, which the empire was rich in. Gems were originally given as offerings during church and prayer. The more you gave, the more likely you were to win the Lord's favor. But over time, they evolved into more of a status symbol than religious symbol due to that promise of favor.
The empire is one of the wealthiest nations in the world and getting richer by the second--it's becoming a bigger and bigger threat to the surrounding world powers. It's positioned near the center of all these powers, making it a massive trade hub, especially on its eastern coast. Basically Hamnar (and any towns north of it) is in one of the best possible spots for trade.
If you were to judge the empire's success by its richest citizens, it'd look like a utopia. However, the wealth gap between aristocrats living in big port cities and working-class families both in those same cities and in rural regions is staggering, especially in the years leading up to the war. People aren't fighting in the streets for food, but survival often means working multiple jobs or, in rare cases, even moving to the more dangerous but cheap regions of the Central Provinces.
Haelian cultures vary wildly across the empire, but a common thread they tend to share is the desire for jewels and gemstones to show wealth. This is extremely prominent in the coastal cities, while being almost entirely subconscious in areas like the Central Provinces. The rich and wealthy, no matter their gender, will be adorned with gemstone-embedded jewelry of all kinds. From rings to necklaces to body ornaments. Meanwhile, normal civilians will have a passed-down heirloom at most, but maybe not even that. Jewels have become scarce, save for in the dangerous Western and Eaastern Ranges, since tons of them were mined during the empire's establishment.
A few northern settlements are notoriously extreme in their religious beliefs, especially in the northwest (Anthony's hometown is one of them), and are cults in all but name. Empire leadership hasn't taken any initiative to intervene and it doesn't seem likely that they ever will.
The missionaries you'll see throughout this timeline were from the countries north of the empire, namely The Empire of Sanguari, Chambray, and Alexandria. I based most of this on a mix of Viking history and culture, Christianity, and American history in terms of the economy and politics, as well as the cross-continental train system.
"Haelan" (no first name yet) is the man who established the Haelian Empire and who's descendants would continue to rule it after his death. He was a ruthless Andinian military general from Alexandria, and conquered the pre-empire country, which had already been significantly weakened by Andinian missionaries, by force.
This is where Daniel flees to after Ansfield, his former home, is invaded by the Federation of World Powers. It serves not only as the setting for the beginning of the story, but the basis for what his eventually resistance group will function like.
Founded by the five original People's Assembly members, Kiyah, Oscar, Ellis, and two others who have since been voted off of the Assembly. They were a group of wandering travellers who, out of dissatisfaction with Haelian society, set up a small encampment near the base of the Western Range. The entire time they had the intention of turning it into a sanctuary for other outcasts of Haelian society, or anyone else who felt they didn't belong in the huge cities of the coasts or any other towns sprinkled throughout the empire. However, they didn't expect it to become as big as it did. Over the course of around 20 years, the community flourished into a pseudo-village. Most of the buildings in the commune are fairly rustic besides the hospital. They try to keep the hospital as technologically modern as possible, though the aesthetics of all the buildings reflect the nature surrounding them--they're built of both cottonwood and pine logs, with most having wodden roofs, while the hospital has stone shingles and the barns metal sheets as roofs.
When the first five came across the spot they'd soon call home, there was already a chapel built along with a few small cabins and two wells--an old, abandoned missionary settlement. They repaired and converted the chapel into a schoolhouse once children began being born in the commune, but before that they just used it as storage for grains and building materials. The architecture of the cabins was sound enough and besides some slight renovations, that was the template they used for future cabins. The barns, halls, workshop, and hospital were built of their own designs, however.
Ideology / System
The commune is very much mutual-aid based (the closest real-world ideology would be anarchism). Everyone does what they can and receives what they need. But if a disabled person can't do much, for example, they'll still get whatever they need to live comfortably within the commune. Early on in the commune's history this would've been difficult, as the founders didn't yet have any farms or means of gathering food besides hunting (plus, they had to build everything themselves), but now that they have a stable community it's easily achievable. While no ideologies are specifically banned--besides ones comparable to fascism of course--the community is generally very left-wing. Even commune members who don't strongly associate with a specific political ideology tend to be perfectly fine with the way things are ran. It's not for everyone however, and members are free to leave if they so desire. The Assembly tries to do whatever they can to prepare commune members to move out, as there's no way to make money by actually working in the commune. Members would have to go to the surrounding towns in order to sell things they make (note: the selling of any food items or other necessities produced by the commune is prohibited. Art and any other non-necessities is not).
Elections for the People's Assembly are held annually. Assembly members don't have to be voted off and new ones don't have to be voted on--they usually aren't, as the founders are incredibly experienced at running the commune--but there's always the option to do so. Voting is counted with ballotts, and the commune is still small enough that the process is truly democratic. Despite elections being held annually, there's always the option to kick an Assembly member off of the Assembly if they're causing enough problems or just not up to the task. This would essentially work just like a regular election in terms of voting on a new member. Anyone can apply (which is just putting their name on the ballott alongside doing a bit of campaigning, nothing huge) to be an Assembly member.
Speaking of addressing problems within the commune, concerns that can't be solved easily between commune members are brought up to the Assembly. Commune members can come together to ask the Assembly to correct a problem--if enough commune members bring up a certain problem, *the Assembly will host a community meeting in order to vote on what to do about said problem. The Assembly only makes decisions by itself if the problem is extremely urgent, for example purchasing updated hospital equipment, farming equipment, etc, if the current equipment breaks.
*In terms of kicking out current Assembly members, commune members vote on whether or not to kick out and Assembly member, and only after that do they move onto electing a new member.
So what exactly does the People's Assembly do?
- - Keep records of the commune's history, purchases, members, medical records, and anything else that needs archiving.
- - Organize commune members into work groups based on their skills and what they'd like to do. For example, someone who's good with animals and enjoys working with animals would be assigned to tend to livestock, and someone who enjoys working with vehicles would either be assigned to make supply runs or work in the workshop (like Danny).
- - Figure out what the commune needs on a macro scale and keeps track of what's going on outside of the commune, which they'll share with the commune members during their weekly meetings if the issue is big enough (radios are very much allowed in the commune, but not everyone listens to them).
- - Helps with any extra work around the commune. Oscar, for example, lost a finger while trying to fix some farming equipment, and Ellis enjoys helping cook in the dining hall.
- TL;DR: They keep everything organized and up to date.
In general, the commune is a very tight-knit, diverse community. There are folks of all races, genders, sexualities, abilities, religions, etc from all over the Haelian Empire--a few are even from outside of the empire (Abrasador and Terres Nord, specifically). Compared to most other places in the empire, there's little to no judgement based on these things, and discrimination based on them is seen as strange and the perpetrators are shunned if they continue with that kind of behavior.
While the national religion of the empire is Andinity, the commune definitely doesn't have an official religion. Again, everyone pretty much just does whatever they want as long as it's not hurting anyone else. There are very few devoted Andinians in the commune, most are either non-practicing or follow an entirely different religion/practice.
Members have skills ranging from carpentry and mechanics to painting and writing, meaning that pretty much every job you could imagine has someone to do it in the commune. Labor is only required to keep the commune thriving, there's no expectation to put in more work than is necesarry, though some members do.
THE FEDERATION OF WORLD POWERS
MAIN STORY> Read on AO3 instead <
Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3 - Chapter 4 - Chapter 5 - Chapter 6 -
Anthony / Death of an Angel