The Anatomy of a Map

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The Diamond of Kalea is located on Kalea's extreme west coast and called as such because its completely made of a crystalline substance called Skyglass. Home of the Alvina of the Stars, cultural mecca of knowledge seekers, and rife with Ethaefal, this remote city shimmers with its own unique light.

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The Anatomy of a Map

Postby Dust on November 28th, 2014, 11:15 pm

Fall 5, 514 AV
morning

Dust loved her map book. It was a pretty book, with brown leather cover, the title stamped and gilt, its pages all the color of eggshells... or of Dust's own hair. Brown and white made a good combination. It was a bit more worn now than when Dust had received it, having survived a sea journey and the repeated application of fingerprints -- for if the outside of the book was pretty, its contents were downright cool.

Over past seasons, Dust had traced and retraced every one of her own journeys across the map. Traversing southern Taldera. Bouncing back and forth across Sylira. Passing down through Cyphrus to Ahnatep, and back again by ship to Riverfall. And then, most recently, crossing the sea to Kalea. Why, the only region she hadn't visited yet was Falyndar!

It all seemed like so great a distance for one little Kelvic to have traveled, when she looked at it that way. Though, Dust hadn't figured out exactly how far, yet. Maybe she would do that today, she thought, as she paged through the book yet again.

She took her book outside onto the terrace, sitting down on the low stone retaining wall and turning to the region map of Sylira. Of all the regions, it had the most detailed map by far. Dust guessed the bookmaker must have been from Syliras, or maybe Zeltiva -- he definitely had the most to say about those cities and their region. Quite unlike Falyndar and Kalea, which were almost empty aside from the dots of cities and notations of what she had inferred to be surrounding terrain.

Maybe she would map those herself, sometime.

But in the meantime, she was using, not making, and somewhere on these maps there had to be a way to tell how far she'd traveled. The map of Sylira had a great big symbol in the lower corner, a circle with elaborate decoration and eight points radiating out. The same symbol could be found somewhere on every map, whether region or city. But the round thing didn't suggest distance to Dust's mind. She did notice, though, that four of its points were labeled with letters. Dust spared a moment to puzzle over those, jumbling them around in her head -- did they spell out a word? No, at least not a word in any language she knew... but as she looked to other pages, she realized the letters always pointed the same ways on every copy of the symbol. Like directions -- north, east, south, and west... which, now that she thought about it in terms of writing, started with those same letters!

That made sense. It wasn't like you could use the sun for direction, or landmarks, or anything else, when looking at lines on a piece of paper. Just because the paper was right-side-up didn't mean it corresponded to the rest of the world. The symbol made all the difference, there.

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The Anatomy of a Map

Postby Dust on July 10th, 2016, 3:30 am

The other constant in the maps was a little bar, tucked away (usually) on the left-hand side. This was divided into pieces with alternate black and white blocks, and numbers marked on either end. Each piece proved about the same size as the middle part of her finger -- about an inch, she thought. Numbers probably meant distance… what else on a map came in numbers, after all?... so each inch was... about three hundred miles? Dust walked her fingers over the space between Syliras and Zeltiva, mostly following the track of the Kabrin Road. One... two... three... three counts of three-hundred... well, that spelled a lot of miles, for sure.

A lot was what she'd expected to come up with, so that at least was appropriate.

There were plenty of other symbols on the maps, of course, but those quite clearly had to do with the actual map. Mountains were obvious, upended cones emblematic of the terrain they represented. Plus there were bunches of them around Lhavit. What could be clearer? Trees, too, were self-explanatory, either rounds with stems or jagged-sided cones depending on the region. Dust figured that had something to do with the kind of tree. The winding lines were rivers -- the Amaranthine stretching inland from Lhavit, the Bluevein at Riverfall, others she recognized besides -- and more she didn't. Wavy lines crossed with verticals at Kenash, which had to represent the swamps. There were other swamp marks near Lhavit, which surprised Dust; she'd have to go check that place out sometime, see if it really resembled Kenash!

But for now, the Kelvic resolved, she had her own map to make.

Dust ducked inside to fetch out her own less-grand map book, one rather more weather-beaten and travel-stained. It contained her own scribblings, sketched maps mostly of city environs. Plopping herself back down on the stairs -- to one side of them, where people would be less likely to trip into her work! -- Dust paged through what she'd done so far. There was the very first map she'd made, with Van. And her map of Riverfall, and of the Sanctuary. They weren't good maps, not like the ones in the real map book, but she was getting better!

Maybe Van would like to see how much better. Ooh, there was an idea! She could draw a map for Van, and send him a letter with it, so he'd know not to worry about her. That was a good plan. First, though, she needed to make that map.

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The Anatomy of a Map

Postby Dust on July 10th, 2016, 3:31 am

Dust opened her book to the next blank page, and set up the map book on the next stair down, opened to the map of all Mizahar. It didn't want to stay that way, so she found a convenient rock and weighed down the rebellious pages. After that, all she needed was an ink stick, her hands, and her eyes -- which were all right here. The rest was simple… albeit not easy.

Copying a figure, Dust soon found, was just about as hard as drawing anything else by eye. If she wasn't looking at the original, she couldn't copy it right -- but if she wasn't looking at what she drew, she couldn't copy it right either! She settled on drawing little pieces of lines, consulting the original at every frequent pause.

Here was the curve of Cyphrus, where the Suvan narrowed and curled around. A little hump and another curve, followed by a projection that looked something like a human foot. Dust was almost compelled to give it toes... but she was making this map for someone else, so she wanted to do it right. And the original map didn't have those. Too bad.

That whole region was labeled Eyktol, which she didn't need to draw anyway. Just the part their ship had gone out past. After copying the stubby end, she started on the other side of the Suvan, the shore opposite Riverfall. It curved out and then cut back before curving south again, then around to the west. The whole curvy blob looked kinda like a head, upside-down, with an open mouth to chomp the island that -- well, whatever it was, Dust hadn't even seen it from the ship.

She wondered, briefly, if the island was an interesting place. Then again, did places even exist that were not interesting?

Well, probably they did. Somewhere.

After Falyndar was Kalea, which had this big dip -- a bay, if Dust remembered the word right -- and then a long projection up, plus a very wobbly coastline. It looked like someone had nibbled on it, like beavers at a tree or rodents at an apple. Dust drew a little more of that coastline to show that Kalea kept going -- it was a very big region, the book made that clear, just about as big as Sylira and Dust had been all over there -- but not too much. She hadn't traveled up there, so it didn't matter on this map any more than Eyktol did.

A dot where the book said 'Lhavit', and another where it placed 'Riverfall', and... well, she didn't want to write out the whole city names in her sloppy handwriting. They'd sprawl all over the lines she'd worked so hard to make! So Dust settled for just using the first letters to label both cities. That would be good enough, right?

And that -- made a map!

Well... almost. It didn't have the direction-symbol or a distance bar. Dust studied her own map some more... and figured it probably didn't need them. Van knew where Riverfall was, and Eyktol -- or she thought he did -- and that would be good for direction. As for distance... well... she mostly had the region shapes right. Distance seemed like maybe too much to ask for.

It was good enough for today.

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