There was no absolute beginning as there will not be an absolute end. Forever there has been an endless cycle of beginnings and ends of events of the same nature to that which we call the Big Bang. Before what we call our beginning, other universes have been created and ended. The Journeys of Cliza takes place in one of a multitude of universes.
The Journeys of Cliza
Towards a Queer Trans-species Mythology
The Journeys of Cliza unfolds in a mythical universe inhabited by transmogrified beings caught in a long-lasting feud between rival Houses. The non-linear narrative explores conflict, displacement and trauma, but also hope and love, and overcoming adversity.
The House of Cliza
The House of Cliza are human-wild boar descendants of Turiacus. The House governed the land of Lusibriga for hundreds of years until its population was slaughtered and the House defeated during the War of the Winding Rivers, which was fought against the human tribes of the river Cynanas. The war lasted twenty-two years and left the House decimated. The few surviving members of the House went into exile over the mountains, taking with them an expansive library of ancient manuscripts. Many of the House’s belonging were lost during the war, but the Gloves of a Thousand Silver Hairs survived. The gloves are said to have been made by an ancestor of Cliza after they rescued a long-haired silver lynx that had been wounded by human hunters. The lynx remained a friend of the House and after many years, during a silver full moon, they completely shed their hair and transformed into a legless lizard. Those hairs were then spun into gloves. Each single hair is imbued with a powerful spell, which is cast the moment a hair is pulled off the gloves.
Cliza is the head of the House of Cliza. Cliza is a highly skilled warrior and military strategist and is the caretaker of their family’s precious library. Cliza is also a weaver and once, in a state of trance, possessed by the spirit of Aranea, a human-spider deity, they weaved a magical corset that gives the wearer superstrength. Throughout the years, Cliza’s corset has suffered damage in battle and every repair has weakened its strength. Until Cliza can again summon the spirt of Aranea, they keep the corset safe, wrapped in a cloth of gold spun by Theia. Cliza was once engaged to Vladik, a Slavic warrior chieftain, but Cliza called it off after they found out that Vladik was having an affair with Cliza’s rival Oretta, and with whom he fathered a child, Orella. Cliza has no heirs. Cliza’s mission is to avenge the death of her ancestors, who were murdered by human warriors, and reclaim their land. During the sacking of Cliza’s queerdom, they were abducted and raped by an unknown warrior who transformed himself into a wolf. Cliza managed to escape with the help of a sorcerer, who shape-shifted into an owl, and blinded and killed the wolf with their poison-secreting talons.
Clizette and Clizilde are Cliza’s lead warriors. They are in a triangular relationship with Cliza, but in order to avoid Cliza’s jealousy, they keep their true love for each other secret. They come from a long-lived warrior class. They survived the first war that the House of Cliza fought with the Cynanas tribes and, along with Cliza, they also survived the battle of Transterrum, which they fought against the House of Oretta.
The House of Oretta
The House of Oretta are human-fish descendants of Triton. The House is extremely wealthy and rules over all the known seas in the world. The only exception are the waters around the Cave of the Oracle, at the edge of the sea of Kumai, which are guarded by seven immortal seahorses. The House of Oretta collects heavy taxes from all who inhabit the waters and they own the exclusive rights to the oil under the seabed. The House employs an army of male sirens to collect taxes and anyone who fails to pay their taxes falls into a fatal lethargy upon hearing the sirens recite a deadly chant. Members of the House of Oretta can survive in dry land for long periods of time and with this ability they have waged war against many a nation. The House of Oretta defeated the House of Cliza at the battle of Transterrum, but then lost the conquered lands again after Cliza murdered Oretta.
Oretta is the head of the House of Oretta. Oretta lives in a vast underwater palace, but is equally comfortable on dry land. On the grounds of Oretta’s Rome palace there is a sex-changing fountain that Oretta bathes in whenever they need to change sexes in order to gain political advantage with sex-binary creatures. Oretta has seduced many a rival in this way; only Cliza resisted their advances. Oretta loves music and is a talented trumpet player. Oretta owns a magical trumpet, which when played permanently deafens anyone within earshot. At the battle of Transterrum Oretta defeated Cliza and to celebrate their victory, Oretta hosts a lavish banquet in Rome. The heads of other houses from neighbouring lands attend the celebrations. But Cliza, who was presumed dead, storms the event with their warriors and murders Oretta and the other dignitaries. Oretta is later brought back to life.
Orettela and Orettona are Oretta’s lead warriors. They are the guardians of the Trident of Graphene, and they are bound by a spell that if they ever attempt to kill Oretta with the Trident, their own fins will strangulate them. They survived the Rome massacre and later resurrect Oretta through the remains of Oretta’s cut head, with the help of a world-renowned experimental geneticist.
Orella is the offspring of Oretta and Vladik. Orella inherits the combined large estates of their parents and joins forces with Karlina to defeat Cliza. Orella is a warrior and a poet, and is also well versed in cleromancy. They warn their mother of their impending end, but Oretta dismisses the warning and is beheaded by Cliza at a banquet in Rome.
The House of Karlota
The House of Karlota are human-crow descendants of Odin. The prosperous House, which has been headed by Karlota for centuries, occupies the vast Blackcynian Forest. They live in complex tree palaces built with ultra-strong fibres extracted from the oldest living mycelium in the world, which becomes invisible when under threat. The House and the mycelium have a symbiotic relationship; the House protects the mycelium from harm and in exchange the mycelium gives the House its precious fibres. The palaces that the House of Karlota builds turn invisible when under attack and in this way the House has remained undefeated for millennia. Only Cliza manages once to enter Karlota’s palaces when, aided by an insider, Cliza covers themselves with an ointment made with the mycelium extract, which allows them to enter Karlota’s realm without being perceived as an outside threat.
Karlota is the head of the House of Karlota. Karlota is an herbalist healer and secretly owns the last known drop of the Mead of Poetry. Karlota was briefly married to Oreva, but the marriage was annulled when Oreva found out that Karlota had kept two long-standing lovers, Karšita and Karšila. Karlota survives the Rome massacre and returns to their queerdom, but Cliza eventually finds and kills them. However, Karlina drinks the last drop of the Mead and learns how to resurrect their mother Karlota.
Karlina is Karlota’s ofspring with an unknown progenitor. Karlina is Orella’s lover, and together they vow to defeat Cliza. Karlina is a shape-shifter who learnt from a Sylph how to travel through air at great speed.
The House of Brightwyna
The House of Brightwyna are human-deer descendants of Cernunnos. The House of Brightwyna was founded inside an ancient mega caldera where the air was too toxic to most, except members of the House who developed immunity throughout the times. Even though the House was protected by its position, it was eventually obliterated during the War of Torcs, when human warriors released a deadly genetically-modified virus on Brightwyna’s land. The House was the main manufacturer of golden torcs in the world, with some of the surviving exemplars being of exquisite quality, and this brought great envy to the neighbouring human tribes. An ancient torc, said to give its wearer the power to communicate with any living being, was lost during the war.
Brightwyna is the only known survivor of the House of Brightwyna. Brightwyna is a Queer psychopomp – they walk between the worlds and escort newly deceased queer souls to the afterlife. Along with Karlota, Brightwyna survives the massacre at the banquet of Oretta in Rome. Brightywna loves daffodils, collects votive statuettes, and is the proud owner of the first editions of all of Mary Butts’ books. Mary and Brightwyna were close friends and it is said that Brightwyna inspired Mary to become an ardent nature conservationist. Brightwyna is extremely photophobic, so you will never see them in daylight. Their favourite colour is purple. Brightwyna fell in love once, when they escorted the trobairitz Comtessa Beatriz de Dia on her journey to the underworld. Upon setting her eyes on Beatriz, Brightwyna’s heart leapt with such joy that they delayed Beatriz’s entry into the underworld for as long as they could by asking Beatriz to sing endless Occitan love songs.
Over several centuries, Brightwyna has built an eclectic collection of votive figurines. Unbeknown to Brightwyna, amongst their votive collection there are four figurines, which are believed to have been destroyed long ago, that have special powers. They were created by an unknown ancient sorcerer with the help of Arawn and gifted to the four ruling Houses: Cliza, Oretta, Karlota, and Brightwyna. The statues give their owner the power to shape-shift into any being they desire, changing their own appearance in the process to that of the temporary appearance of their owner. But once their owners return to their original appearance, the figurine’s own appearance returns to that of their original rightful owners. These statues came into Brightwyna’s possession when an antique dealer sold Brightwyna a solid marble cube engraved with the stamp of Composita, the goddess of composting. Upon arrival at Brightwyna’s house, the cube spontaneously disintegrated itself revealing the four statues.
The Oracle is said to have been born out of a flameless fire. They live in the Cave of the Oracle, at the edge of the sea of Kumai, guarded by seven immortal seahorses. The Oracle is currently bound to serve the House of Oretta by a serpent wrapped around their neck. The serpent, which is under a powerful spell cast by the House of Oretta’s Padricha, feeds off the Oracle’s vital energy, keeping them in a weakened state. Only the death of the Padricha will break the spell. On the night of the Banquet of Rome, the Oracle appears to Oretta and utters Oretta’s demise.
Padrichas and Madrufas
Padrichas and Madrufas are nameless high-ranking sorcerers with mystical abilities and the gift of prophecy. They study the cosmos, nature, and immortal beings. Each House has one Padricha or Madrufa, traditionally assigned to the Houses by the Oracle. The Houses of Cliza and Brigthwyna have lost theirs in battle and since the Oracle has been in servitude to the House of Oretta, they have not been assigned a replacement.