Meet Concordia's Constellations

I'm learning how to paint watercolor and was super excited when I saw that one of the lessons had us painting a sky with constellations! Concordia, the main country in the Unexpected Inspiration series, has a ton of history and mythology about their constellations, which they call the Muses.

It’s said that these were beings who came down from the sky to teach the original Concordians art and magic. This is partly true. There were beings who granted this magic and knowledge, but they came from other worlds via a portal, not the sky. The humans simply assumed the sky when the beings seemingly popped out of nowhere when they heard the call for help. Each of these constellations became the Muse of a specific branch of art/magic because they granted that particular flavor of arcane creativity. Most of the Muses are no longer remembered as their original appearance; over the centuries stories have made them larger and stronger (or at least stranger) than they were.

They're not in quite the right locations, but artistic interpretation, right? I included all nine Muses that make up my world's sky. From sort of left to right: Piquant, Pritchel, Chiaroscuro, Stele, Andante, Mortise, Tessera, Twisen (which is Whorl and Weft in one spiral constellation), and Scriven. Here's a bit about them:

Piquant: Muse of the culinary arts. I introduced him ages ago as a human-shaped imp who had a few small mushrooms "growing" on his body. He is now remembered because of the mushrooms; his constellation is a mushroom turned on its side. His name comes from a flavor. He helped grant food magic to the early Concordians because he saw they were hungry and wanted to help.

Pritchel: Muse of metalwork. Pritchel (along with Scriven and Stele) were Creators, who were beings from another world who moved into what became Concordia and joined together with the humans there to create one culture. At some point, these three Creators lost their human forms, however briefly, because they’re remembered for what they actually looked like. (They’re also remembered for their human forms, too; somehow the humans never made the connection that these three beings were the same as the “human” newcomers who helped unite the two groups of people into one. This means Pritchel, Scriven, and Stele are remembered separately as the founders Petra, Dee, and Elda.) The Creators’ original forms, before they crossed through the portal that shifted them to human, were all of one species, but took on the appearance of the material they worked most. This means Pritchel was golden with flecks of silver to represent iron. Her constellation is based on her namesake: “a pritchel is a type of punch used in forging, particularly in making nail holes in horseshoes.” In this case, the constellations is the punch and the horseshoe. Concordians have never kept horses, but back before the Concordian humans were sent to Concordia, they did. Pritchel had lightning and metal magic, so she granted the ability to work metal, as well as use lightning to power magical inventions.

Chiaroscuro: Muse of illustration. He’s a celestial being of both light and shadow, who had come to Concordia's world centuries before events of the Muses. This makes him very, very old, even at the time these Muses visited Concordia. He had no physical form except as an amorphous dark spot with glowing golden eyes. Mostly it's his eyes that are remembered and the constellation is simply these. “Chiaroscuro” means “the treatment of light and shade in drawing and painting.” I know Chiaroscuro best of all because he’s important to both Concordia and Montglace and he comes into play in the current books. He granted illustration and illusion magic.

Stele: Muse of sculpture and another Creator. In her case, her appearance took on the look of either marble or clay. A “stele” is a variation on “stela,” which is “an upright stone slab or column typically bearing a commemorative inscription or relief design, often serving as a gravestone.” The constellation was supposed to be an upside-down gravestone. It became a clay teacup pretty quickly because this was too morbid for a Muse remembered as fondly as Stele. The reason Stele is associated with memorials was because when she was alive, she helped create the walls that contain the names of everyone in Concordia who has passed since the founding; these update automatically because of the magic tied into them.

Andante: Muse of music. He was originally some sort of bird person and is somehow still remembered as a bird person. The fact that this constellation looks like a bird person with wings and a tail is probably the reason. I’m still amazed that the program I used to generate stars threw some together in a way that made this shape form so well! His name is a musical term involving tempo. The magic he granted involves sound, both in terms of music but also in recording and amplifying.

Mortise: Muse of woodwork. They were a being of the same species as Chiaroscuro, but even older than Chiaro. While Chiaro stayed a celestial, Mortise bonded with the land and became one with the planet. They're remembered as a tree because their voice came from the grotto at the center of the early Concordians' homes. It's not barbaric to have a tree be the Muse of woodwork because Concordians use fallen wood whenever possible and always replant. The earth magic granted by Mortise makes the land flourish; they've grown weaker over the centuries so now their magic can only stretch as far as Concordia. A “mortise” is a woodworking joint and Mortise granted magic over wood.

Tessera: Muse of glasswork. She was originally a Salamander, a human-sized lizard person, but over time she was remembered as a dragon. Possibly this is because large, scary dragons are more exciting than lizards, but more likely because the constellation’s arms got mistaken for wings. The tail probably didn’t help since the constellation is all tail. Tessera did have a tail, though, so that part’s okay. “Tessera” means an “individual tile, usually formed in the shape of a cube, used in creating a mosaic.” She granted light and heat magic, which generally manifests in control over glass.

Twisen (Whorl and Weft): Muses of textiles. They were sisters or at least appeared to be sisters. They're from the same world as the Concordians, but their kind was there long before the humans arrived and long long before Concordian's founding. Their species lives deep underwater and most of the world doesn't realize that they share their planet with other people, even now. These two are remembered as a pair of waterspouts and they’re closely tied into wind and water, such as the wind in the sails of boats. Their names are spinning and weaving terms because they granted textile magic.

Scriven: Muse of words. This also includes poetry, stories, and words both spoken and written. Scriven was the third of the Creator-Muses and was the Creator who called on the other beings and their worlds for help. This constellation looks weird, but I see it as the side view of a person holding a book or a piece of paper. It could also be an old-fashioned desk where the chair is connected. Either would work for Scriven. While Pritchel looked almost like metal in her true form and Stele looked like stone, Scriven's skin had the appearance of parchment and whenever he used magic, his words would show on his body. He granted power over words, such as an ability to bring emotion from the audience/reader.

Concordia's culture revolves around art, hence the art-themed names, so painting this felt wonderfully appropriate. Chiaroscuro, the Muse of illustration, would approve. At some point, I'll get the chance to finish introducing my other six Muses in their own posts, but for now you can read the ones for Mortise, Piquant, and Scriven.



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