There is probably more here than you'll ever want to know about this story. But I'd thought I'd lay it all out for anyone curious about any aspect of the story. Because of limited time and how bulky this thing is I broke it up into two parts. This first part focuses more on how the story and the world in it is structured conceptually and socially. This has the concepts, themes, and more overarching ideology stuff explained. The Second part will cover the characters and their histories, backgrounds, connections to one another, and the major events of the story, and the plotline.
IMPORTANT: I realize I run the risk of plagiarism and having my ideas or entire story stolen. I obviously hope that doesn't happen. For now I'm putting my faith in people like always and hope that it isn't ever an issue but that may be wistful thinking. That said, should I ever find out that anything was stolen/taken without permission or at the minimum, proper credit, I will take down the entire story and look into reporting those who stole or other consequences should they try to do it on another website (yeah, I know that trick). If you want to use something ASK. Most of the time I will probably give permission. And give me credit ALWAYS (whether you ask for permission or not). I realize some of the stuff I use is not exactly my original material. I'm talking about a) lifting the entire story/ plot or identifiable amounts of it b) or taking ideas that are clearly original (life vein, Vitarious, etc).
Important Note: The entire plot, events, characters, and the world are not completely thought through/finished in entirety. Thus, there will be gaps and consistency issues abound.
Blood Contract Overview/Wrap-up Part I: Concepts, Ideas, and Themes
(1) The Universe of Vitarious explained (to the best of my ability):
Inspiration: So first things first, I was asked to explain this universe and why inspired it. Well, I'm into fantasy and science fiction, obviously, but I also have a deep love and enthusiasm for actual science and the scientific method. I so happened to listen to a lecture by (I think it was) an astrophysicist some years back (in 2011 I think?) who explained the concept of an older universe and a multiverse. Needless to say the lecture inspired me.
Concepts/Explanation for how Vitarious exist: The multiverse is the underlying concept I used to explain Vitarious and the bulk of how most of the stuff in the story can exist (magic, shape-shifters, soulmates and the life vein, etc). Vitarious is in a different universe, which implies the multiverse concept I was talking about. For those who don't know how this works: in order to have more than one universe that exists at the same time and separately there must be something that these universes exist within, like a galaxy exists within a universe, something bigger has to contain it. So in order to have multiple universes there must therefore be an older universe that is bigger to contain these universes. If this is hard to imagine then draw a circle on a page and label it our universe. Then draw another circle next to it, that doesn't touch, and label it universe 2 or something. After that, draw a bigger circle around those two. The multiverse exists within that older, bigger universe. (Am I putting too much effort into explaining this)? Not the best explanation but youtube it or look it up on Wikipedia if you really want to know/are curious.
Is the universe or the planet named Vitarious?: I was asked once a while back if Vitarious was the name of the universe or the actual world (I assume the meant planet?), and my response was both. Partly because I was just that unimaginative with names, and partly because I was at a loss for what you would call a universe as we in reality don't name our own universe. I still have not come up with a better name for the universe.
Meaning behind the name Vitarious: There is no real meaning behind the name "Vitarious" other than "vita" is a feminine noun in Latin that means "life" or "way of life." Yeah, I'm that unimaginative and still dislike the name to this day.
(2) Explanation of the Six Kingdoms (Including History):
Species and Kingdoms)they are part of: There are six kingdoms on Vitarius. Each kingdom is comprised of species of creatures that all would categorically be filed under the same family (which is to say snakes and dragons are different species but they are both part of the same family, the family of reptiles, and therefore belong to the same kingdom).
Quick and Basic Summary of the History of the Kingdoms (How they came about): The prevailing belief in Vitarious is there originally was one species that all others descend from (the concept of evolution!). The belief is that the dragons were the original species that appeared on Vitarious. And that essentially what happened was other species started evolving from dragons as they spread throughout Vitarious. This is believed to have taken a long time, so originally the other reptiles (like snakes, lizards, etc) evolved first. And as they spread, other species evolved from them (these were not direct descendents of the dragons) like amphibians, birds, etc. until you have all the different creatures that make up the six kingdoms that inhabit the world. (Interesting side note is that this is somewhat backwards from how we know evolution happened in the real world; you know excluding the dragons and wizards and what have you). *See point 7 for further discussion
Because the population of the world had spread out to vast places and had developed to be different from dragons physically, culturally, and needs wise, they created their own geopolitical spheres (they divided land based on similarities and differences) which lead to the formation of the six kingdoms that exist in Vitarious currently.
The Six Kingdoms in Descending Order of Social Rank Explained:
Ophidian (Ophidia is the Latin term) Kingdom: The kingdom of the reptile and amphibian humanoids. It's known as Kingdom of the Dragons by many because dragons are part of this kingdom, as well as considered the highest ranking members not only in the kingdom but in all Vitarious. Dragons are the ruling class. This is due to the fact that dragons are considered the progenitors of all species, as well as believed to possess the most magic and ability to wield it. This is the first and top kingdom.
Aquatile: Classification of water creature humanoids. This kingdom has everything from fish to whales to mermaids. It even has sharks. Second kingdom in ranking due to being considered the next most direct decedents of the dragons. All in this kingdom involved directly from a lower tire member of the Ophidian Kingdom (for example: evolving from snakes that directly evolved from dragons, so only about one degree of separation). They also are believed to have the more magic than the other kingdoms in general because they more directly descend from what is believed to be the source of magic, dragons. *I never decided on who would be the ruling class in this kingdom or the ruling king*
Aves: Classification of bird humanoids. Third Kingdom because it is believed all in this kingdom descends from the Aquatile Kingdom, so they have two degrees of separation. It is believed those in this kingdom have less magic than those in the Aquatile Kingdom but more than the one considered below it. The one exception is the phoenix species, the ruling class of the kingdom, which seems to have about as much magic as the ruling class in all other kingdoms. The current ruling king in this kingdom is a phoenix humanoid by the name of Ra.
*All ruling classes have much more magic that is almost equivalent or in some cases possibly equal to that of dragons.*
Lupus: Classification for canine humanoids. This kingdom includes wolves, dogs, foxes, coyotes, etc. Currently fourth top kingdom because they are thought to descend from those in the Aves Kingdom, giving them three degrees of separation from dragons. The species that is the ruling class are the hellhounds. The ruling king is a hellhound called Cerberus.
Felidae: Classification of feline humanoids. This kingdom includes lions, tigers, leopards, lynxes, etc. Currently fifth in kingdom rank as they are thought to descend from the Lupus kingdom and thereby making them separated by four degrees, though there is plenty of speculation by those within and outside this kingdom whether that order is correct and the line of decent is true or not. Most believe they are technically tied with the Lupus Kingdom in magic and ability (besides perhaps those in the Lupus kingdom). The ruling class in this kingdom is the lions. The current king is a lion by the name of Tristan.
Sortiarus: Classification for human-looking humanoids of magical abilities. This kingdom includes Sorcerers/Sorceress, warlocks, wizards, witches, etc. This is considered the bottom kingdom because they are the most removed from dragons, believed to be separated by five degrees. The "ruling class" in this kingdom is the sorcerers / sorceresses though they don't really rule, but are the species with the most magic and capabilities. This technically isn't even a kingdom as the government is a form of democracy. The current elected ruler is a Sorceress by the name of Nona.
(3) Magic Explained:
General Synopses/Belief:There are two different types of magic in the Vitarius universe. How these divisions came about, in theory, is due to how closely related each species and entire kingdoms are to dragons (who allegedly were the first to ever appear on Vitarius and therefore the source of magic); the closer the connection to dragons, the more and higher level of magic one is likely to have. Those who are separated by many degrees or further down the branch of evolution in theory are the ones further from the original source of magic therefore over the generations and changes taken place some of the magic gets diluted or perhaps evolved out of the species so they use a lesser form of it.
The Two Types of Magic (From Purest/Strongest form to Diluted/Weakest:
Flux: Considered purest magic due to it being the highest any one being can tap into. Usually only close dragon decedents can achieve this, the royals or ruling class of each kingdom are capable of reaching this level as well. Flux magic refers to the fact that there is great variability and fluidity of what type of magical abilities people with it develop and are able to achieve. All higher levels of spells and enchantments are used with this magic.
Base: The diluted or weakest form of magic. Consist of standardized abilities like starting fires with hands and briefly levitating objects. This magic is fundamental but not inclusive in all its possibilities to everyone. For example: the Aquatiles will have developed uses that suit their lives in or around water (no fire tricks), and would teach each generation their knowledge, therefore the fire capabilities would not be used or tapped in that kingdom, but would in other kingdoms, like perhaps the Lupus.
(4) Contracts Explained:
Inspiration: This idea of contracts was the foundation (sort of) for the story. It's where the idea for the story started and where all the other ideas either came about or were connected with. I got the idea for playing around with the concept of contracts when a friend of mine was signing this lengthy and somewhat suspicious sounding contract for a phone or something. I was with her as she was looking it over and signing it. And I just remember watching the interaction and starting to speculate on how much our society uses contracts and what they really say about us and how they seem to have good and bad things about them. Also the guy that was selling my friend the contract for whatever it was at the time seemed like the devil offering a deal that had a implied/hidden price. This is where the blood contract and a dragon offering to make that contract with a girl came about.
Vitarian culture is based upon the concepts of balance and connection. Over the millennia, the overall culture evolved these ideas into more literal terms (contracts) as the knowledge and ability to control magic came about. In current times, contracts are the cornerstone of the customs. They are part of everyday life, ranging from simple frivolous ones to complex sinister ones.
The longer a specific type or style of contract has been around, the more powerful it is and more magic it requires; thus, ancient contracts are the least used, most powerful, and make the people of Vitarius wary to even discuss.
The saying that many Vitarians are taught as children concerning contracts are: "The higher the gain, the higher the cost."
Types of Contracts:
There are four main types of contracts, but hundreds of deviations exist. These four are the foundation from which all others come out of. In theory, if you know these four you can make any kind of contract and be able to guess how it will work. **See point 7 for further discussion
Quid pro quo/ The Blood Contract: "Something for something." The more that is given by the contractor, the more the other party must give up in return. Is considered the most highly regarded and potentially powerful and saddest contract due to the rules surrounding it. Requires two equally powerful beings able to use Flux magic in order to make the contract. Neither percipient can exit contract once made. Only contract that is sealed in blood that makes it ever binding. Used when one or both participants are in distress and are mates.
Few attempt or even consider making this contract due to the aggressive quality it takes on, particularly the longer it is active. This contract is infamous for the destruction and leech-like eminence that has killed one or both contractors in past cases. If one partner is considered weaker in a moral or mental way, the contract will feed off them to support itself – literally devouring their "time" or lifespan or soul.
If one partner makes this contract in combination with Mala fides, the contractor that unknowingly entered the toxic arrangement will fall prey to the leeching of their life expectancy because they are perceived as being weaker for their ignorance. This can happen via the partner with the dishonest intentions unconsciously or unintentionally excluding something to put the other at a disadvantage. Balance and shared aid is what the Blood Contract was created from, and when there is a leaning one way or another it contradicts the point of the contract, thus the destruction of one or both partners as it tries to make itself null.
Because of the amount of magic required for it, it is believed the contract develops a sort of "soul" or being onto itself and becomes sentient, which allows for it to tell when the balance has been broken.
Mala fides: Considered the second most destructive contract due to it usually involving dishonesty and or deceit in some fashion. Repercussions can range anywhere from one day of bad luck to losing one's life or magic for forever. Usually one participant unwittingly enters into this agreement. Possibly can leave contract, though slightly difficult.
Comes comitis: Friendship for life pact. Can be very strong when given the right emotions on either or both sides. Strength also depends on type/amount of magic used.
Inter alia: Part of a broader contract. Not all details are given, but for the most part, implied. A more common contract that can easily be entered or exited with minor to no real damage done. Requires Base Magic to work.
(5) Theologies/Religions/Beliefs of Vitarious:
The spiritual aspect of the culture heavily intertwines with the metaphysical and magic. It should be noted that some of the kingdoms have differing viewpoints ranging from mild alterations to nonrelated superstitions in place of another. Also, some chose not to believe at all in the stuff listed below, and would be considered the Vitarious versions of agonistics and atheists. How the beliefs are broken up is usually dependent upon culture though that is not always the case.
Polytheism: Is equally as common as monotheism in Vitarious. Polytheism is predominately (but not exclusively) found within the Aquatile and Aves Kingdoms. Both kingdoms share a few deities/gods/goddesses but also have their own separate ones they believe in/worship.
Monotheism: Equally as popular a practice/belief system as polytheism. However, this belief is usually but not always found in the Lupus and Felidae Kingdoms. They both worship the same goddess but their mythology about the deity and their rituals for worship differ.
Agnosticism/Atheism: Of the two, Atheism is the least popular current belief as it is usually only found among the dragons and sorcerers/sorceresses. Agnosticism is a common belief amongst the rest of the Ophedian and Sortiarus Kingdoms.
(6) Explanations for all things to do with the Soul:
Life Vein: approximately equivalent to what Earth's religions believe to be a soul. If it could be seen, Vitarious inhabitants believe that it would look like a glowing network of energy that branches out into millions of small threads that attaches the body of someone to the Spirit Stream, which is thought to be the life force keeping someone's soul alive and able to reincarnate.
Spirit Stream: This is supposedly the equivalent of heaven in the Vitarius Universe/world. It 's said to be pathways of raw energy that circulate around Vitarious, much like Earth's magnetic field, made entirely of the souls of dead individuals waiting to be reincarnated back to life. Each soul is made of the magic energy they possessed in life, thus making the Spirit Stream a powerful collection of endless magic. It can be visible in the sky at dawn and twilight, just barely for a few moments before the sun starts to crest the horizon and before the last traces of sunlight are gone from the sky. As more souls are cycled in at one time, it may grow more evident to the point that it becomes fully visible at night and maybe even at day for longer periods of time.
!The idea that the Spirit Stream would be visible is not originally mine to take credit for. Alias h. anonymous (correct me if I'm wrong) suggested it to me after looking over some of my ideas and stuff years ago!
This is the term that is usually used when talking about death and the transition between the physical state of being and becoming part of the Spirit Stream once more in Vitarious culture.
Anamchara: Translates roughly to "Soul friend" though the more modern and literal meaning for it is "soul mate." Every being in Vitarious has one. The genesis of each soul is always balanced by the creation of a second complementary soul. So someone's soul mate is not their opposite or antithesis, but someone that fundamentally is similar.***See point 7 for further discussion
Aztri: the mark found somewhere on the body of both partners of a shared mating bond (a contract or bond prior to the mating bond enacts it as well). Translates approximately to "significant mark," though if literally translated it is "mark of the significant." This concept is universal, each kingdom and species has it, with the same essential requirements; there are slight variations depending upon the kingdom, though it is known by the same name. For Aztri to appear: there must be two individuals that share an affinity with their magic, be soul mates, or both. Yes, this is the mark that was talked about early on in the story – the one Xavier touched, which upset Lazarus.
(7) The Wrap-up for Part I: Where I expand on earlier ideas to highlight themes and points I had
*Theme 1; History should be evaluated critically for ideologies, assumptions, and biases (History of the Kingdoms):
The history presented is what most are taught and believe on Vitarious. It does not necessarily make it true. Throughout the story, Jena was going to encounter evidence that would contradict this history. She was also going to encounter some characters that offered a viable different explanation for how the six kingdoms came about, alternative ideas regarding how magic manifested on the planet, and what the original progenitors were of all the species.
The idea I was driving at was that those in power write history and they have an agenda. The dragons in this story are the social elite, and most certainly have the ability to influence what is taught and what is "known." Perpetuating a "fact" (the history of Vitarious/the kingdoms in this case) that paints them in a favorable way and ignores evidence to alternatives gives them a privileged position in society. So of course they want people to keep thinking they came first, have the most magic, and whatnot.
Another idea that goes along with this is that history when it's given to us should be looked at critically. The message was not to assume history as it's taught to us to be inherently true and not questioned ever. History is told/written by people who are not always objective and are incredibly fallible.
**Theme 2; Social Interdependence/Connectivity is powerful and for the good (Contracts)
Where to start with this one. The intended purpose of the contract was to be a symbolism of a few things rolled into one: social interdependence, how people rely on each other in order to do bigger and important things that is mutually beneficial; connectivity, in that a lot of people make contracts with other people who make contracts with yet more people; and a sort of morality or ethics of care (hopefully) comes out of this interdependence. The point was that socially we are all connected and when we aid and work with each other, we do better than we would on our own because there is power in numbers and diversity in ability and specialization and all that.
For those wondering, the Mala fides contract is sort of the antithesis to what all the other contracts because it goes against the morality/ethics of good faith, trust, solidarity, etc. The Mala fides is based on greed, deceit, orientating people against/away from each other, etc. It has the Latin word for bad in its name (mala).
Theme 3; Industrialism and Environmentalism
I intended to make a comment on how harmful industrialism can be with this story. I also intended to have the message in this story that conservation and caring for the world we live in is important. This was supposed to be conveyed through the fact that the most advanced places in Vitarious looked awful and were toxic to those that lived there. This was something I never got around to developing as much as other aspects of the story.
***A point/commentary on Love and Romance (Anamchara)
One major thing to note is nowhere in the story or in my explanation of Anamchara/soul mates do I state that soul mates equals, implies, or automatically means romantic love. In this story, soul mates can love each other romantically, but they don't have to. Soul mates in this story are associated with true love. However, true love doesn't have to be between a man and a woman romantically/sexually. True love can come in many, many forms. It can take the form of deep friendship, be between family members (sibling bonds), etc. Also, one other thing to know about how soul mates work in this story, they don't have to be born at the same or even be alive at the same time – ever. In Blood Contract, it could happen where certain people never once meet their soul mate while they're alive because they are cycling through life and the spirit stream at different times. And even if they are alive at the same time, they do not necessarily have to or will find each other. People could live their whole lives with their soul mate somewhere else on Vitarious, also live, and never meet.
I had all this in mind years and years ago when I originally conceived of this story. Two of the characters in the story so far were/are (to some extent hinted at) intended to be used to make the point that soul mates and true love can exist, but it doesn't have to be romantic/sexual. Which is the point I had, love does not have to equal romance.
The social commentary I wanted to have in Blood Contract was that there seems to be this idealization/fascination with love, romance, and sex to the exclusion of other types of love that are equally as important. I wanted to comment how those three ideas sometimes are assumed to go together all the time when they should not be. I wanted to so that there was variety, that romance and love could exist independently of each other and both could exist without sex.