The Rowa is my oldest world. I've been working with it, living in it, changing it, developing it since I was ... seven? Yes, I think I was seven.
It's gone through a LOT of changes, as This Story demonstrates. I've set many stories against its backdrop - some innocent, like the story above, some not so innocent. My main character (whose family has pretty much been my one constant) has had pretty much every adventure in the book, and has had skills ranging from cake making to herbalism.
However, as it now stands, the Rowa is my interpretation of what the Church would be like if it was pretty much isolated from the world (which is called Limbo). In other words, it a bit of a utopia.
And, since one of my school assignments is to design my vision of a utopia, I feel justified in presenting to you some world building.
|Via Pinterest - The word "Rowa" means|
Rainbow in the old Elven Tongue.
The Rings showed up about a year or two after V and I came up with the elvings themselves. I don't remember whether it was V or me, but one of us had a cheep plastic ring and we wanted to add it to the book. We tossed around ideas for what the rings would do, (including growing plants) and we finally settled on communication. Basically, if Tiger wanted to talk to Mary, and Mary was out in the fields while Tiger was still in the apothecary, all Tiger would have to do is close her eyes, picture Mary's face, and wait for Mary to realize that Tiger is trying to contact her.
Since then, the Rings have become far more important, so important that I almost could have given Infiltration the title Ring of Faith instead. (Oh, grrr.... now I want to change the title ...) Elvings did not always have Rings. When the world was young, it was called Rolimbo, and there was no physical difference between those who follow Yshew, and those who don't. When Yshew built the Hedge, however, which divided Rolimbo into Limbo and the Rowa, He judged the Limboians - and gave the Rings to the Rowans.
With the addition of the greater importance, the Rings have acquired a few more abilities, such as being able to grow an Elving's name-flower or the leaves of their name-tree. The most important ability of the Rings is that it helps with an Elving's life-work. If an elving is an herbalist, it helps her to determine whether or not a particular plant has medicinal properties or not, if an elving is a Eagle Flier, it helps him not get lost. This is mostly done by changing the color of the gem, but some life-works also involve the heating of the gem (such as bakers). They also slow the Elving's aging to one-fourth the rate of the Limboians.
(Years, in the Rowa, are the length of two of ours. So if a Rowan tells you that he's 12, he only looks 6, but he's really 24)
The Rings come in two main categories: Rings of Innocence and Rings of Faith. They do pretty much the same things - communicate with family and friends, grow name-plants, and help with the life-work. However, they mean different things. The Ring of Innocence is given to a child by his or her ma or pa (usually ma ... um, yes, I was highly influenced by Little House on the Prarrie growing up ...) as soon as he or she is born. They will wear this Ring until their twenty-fourth birthday when their Ring fades and they are given the Ring of Faith, usually by their Pa. However, while the receiving of a Ring of Innocence requires only that your parents believe in Yshew, the Ring of Faith requires that you believe in Yshew.
If you don't receive your Ring of Faith, you're exiled to Limbo ... and is considered dead. Nothing lives in Limbo you see.
The Ring is worn on the ring finger of the left hand.
Naming in the Rowa is simple. First names are flowers for girls and trees or bushes for boys. Middle names only exist if the name is break-up-able (such as Mag Nolia, Tiger Lilly and White Oak) and in the early days of world building, it didn't even happen then. (Tiger was Tigerlilly for the longest time). Sometimes an elving will go by both, such as White Oak. Other times an elving will use a form of their first name as a nickname (such as Maggie). In rare instances (in my book at least) they will go simply by their middle name. Last names are handed down the same way ours are, and are based on the Animal Kingdom (Bunnitoes, Elkhyde, Skunktail, Beavertoothe ...). An Elving woman will change their last name upon their marriage.
Housing in the Rowa is divided into two types - hole and tree, as demonstrated above. All elvings prefer one or another, though they can tolerate either. It has been noted that Tree Elvings tend to be more adventuresome than their hole-preferring fellows. The holes can be used for generations (and there are some notable holes that are said to date back to the days before the division), but the trees are used for 50-100 years at the most. Any variety of tree is used, for the the Rings of the Tree-Builders are capable of growing trees larger than natural, and faster than normal.
Elvings choose their Life-work at a young age, usually before the age of twenty. If they choose the life-work of one of their parents, it's likely to be even sooner than that. Their Life-work is, in simplest terms, their occupation. It's what they do to help out their community. Some Life-works are common - such as the Farmers, Gardeners, and livestock keepers. Indeed, probably over half of the village is comprised of those. The Seamstresses, Builders (whether they be Hole-Builders or Tree-Builders), Bakers, Baxters, Teachers and the like. Depending on the size of the village, there may be five to twenty of each of those. Then there are the rarer jobs, of which there are usually no more than two (the master and the apprentice) at a time. There are a few extremely rare Life-works, such as that of the Finder, who tend to be only one to every hundred villages. These include the Doctors, Herbalists, and the Scribes. No Life-work is looked down on.
Most Life-work belong to just men or just women. Women's Life-works include Gardeners, Seamstresses, Baxters, and Herbalists. The Farmers, Builders, Bakers, Doctors and Scribes are always men. There are a few either-or's, such as Finders and Livestock-keepers, and some of them, such as Herbalists and Doctors, Bakers and Baxters, and Farmers and Gardeners, are merely different sides to the same coin.
There are a few Life-works that are family specific, such as the Scribes and Eaglefliers. The Scribe will aways hand down his Life-work to his eldest son, and all Eaglewing boys are trained as Eaglefliers.
Eaglefliers are the messengers. They are so-called because they ride eagles. (And they must be light-weight to do so, which is why the task is kept in the family.)
No one is paid to do what they do. They do it because they enjoy their Life-work, because of their love for one another, and because of their love of Yshew. The Doctor and Herbalist don't hesitate to cure anyone who comes to them sick, and the Farmers and Gardeners do not hesitate to share the food they grow with those who do things that are not food-related.
Children start school at the age of eight, where they learn the three r's. History is taught by the Scribe on Sundays, which is the day of rest. On that day, no one works (unless it is an emergency) and they instead gather at the Great Hall (the oldest, largest hole in the village, and whether they are inside or outside depends on the whether) to listen to the Scribe read. Children graduate to fully study their Life-work at the age of twenty-four. How old they are when they are considered masters of their Life-work depends on the Life-work, but it is usually between the age of twenty eight and forty-two.
There is no king in the Rowa. Every village functions pretty much on its own. Neighboring villages tend to be friendly with each other, and the Eaglefliers fly constantly between them. Once or twice a year they'll meet with each other, and it's not uncommon for them to intermarry with each other. When another village is in trouble, surrounding villages will offer whatever help they can give.
Villages themselves are governed by a board of elders, which is comprised of every man over the age of sixty. The only exception to this is the Scribe's apprentice, and sometimes (in rare cases) the Scribe himself. Every elder has equal vote, but the Scribe's words carry more weight than the others. The Scribe is the keeper of the legends, prophecies, laws and such, and the recorder of anything important that may be decided. His closes equivalent in our world is a pastor.
If a man or woman refuses to work, they are first examined for their reason why. If the Elders deem their excuse faulty, they are denied the services of their fellows. If they are married and have children, their family is also denied services. If they continue to be stubborn, they will be exiled out of the village - though they are allowed to stay inside the Rowa. Their Ring, however, is discolored by a dye (kindly provided by the Herbalist) that marks them as lazy.
If an Elving is caught stealing, or is convicted of murder, the penalty is death. Executions are done by making the offender drink a painless poison (again provided by the Herbalist). This is not a often-used punishment, however, as offences are rare, as children are taught from an early age to abide by the ten commandments (though they don't call them that.) The ones who don't learn usually end up being the ones who do not get their Ring of Faith.
And that's pretty much everything. So, yes, that's my personal utopia. However, I do not believe that we will ever have anything that good in our world. We don't have a Hedge separating us from the world, nor do we have Rings to mark us as Christian. Limbo, which is, contrary to Rowan belief, still very much alive, is in a constant state of disorder.