World-building: Haukmarn - djedwardson.com

World-building: Haukmarn

Map of the Northern Lands of Warding

Welcome back to the World-building Journal.

Today our trip will not be a pleasant one, for today we travel to the land of Haukmarn. It is a land as brutal and deadly as those that inhabit it. Indeed, lacking much in the way of originality, the land and its inhabitants share the same name.

The haukmarn are a violent race, ever at war, if not with the Four Wards, then amongst each other. Gray-skinned and dim-witted, they are eight feet of muscle and wrath. As long as any can remember, they have spilled over the border into Inris to either raid and pillage or come in force to claim the southern lands for their own.

Nasty, brutish, but not short

haukmarn miniature from the gorger model by Games Workshop for their Warhammer Fantasy Battles Game
This is a gorger miniature I painted years ago when I played Warhammer Fantasy Battle. Though this is painted white it’s similar to how I picture the haukmarn.

The word “haukmarn” is the plural form of “haukmar.”

We first meet the haukmarn in Truesilver, book 1 of the Swordspeaker Saga. I won’t spoil their role in that novel completely, but it should come as no surprise that they feature as some of the main adversaries of the hero, the shepherd-turned-warrior, Kion Bray.

Chief among this villainous cohort is Vayd Mokàn, the zaron (leader) of Haukmarn. Though a mere seven feet tall—a foot shorter than the rest of his kin—Vayd has never lost a battle. More troubling still, he is possessed of a savage intelligence that makes him far more dangerous than even his formidable strength.

Large, double-bladed battleaxes are the preferred weapons of the haukmarn. They also wear crudely fashioned plate armor, but generally it only covers their legs and hands. This is because most men have difficulty striking blows at these towering foes. It is also due to arrogance and laziness on their part as the haukmarn have little patience for crafting anything with their hands.

What’s that smell?

The haukmarn do wear crude leather jerkins to protect their upper bodies. One would think that would be the main purpose of this armor, but it also serves house the strange glowing stones they wear embedded in their shoulder pads.

These stones give off a pale, corpse-like glow and faint tendrils of smoke. They also exude an acrid stench. The stench is difficult enough to endure on its own, but prolonged exposure to the stones seems to have an adverse effect on a person’s mental state. They lose their reason, giving into wrath and delusions and eventually devolving into madness.

The taint of the stones extends even to the land itself. Where haukmar battles have been fought in the past, the soil loses its fertility, becoming dry and tainted. Things fail to grow in such lands or when they do, they are pale and colorless, like the skin of their haukmar masters. The Wimwissle Swath between Roving and Furrow is one such place that is featured in Truesilver.

Not much is known of the stones or where they come from, but it is believed that they lend the haukmarn endurance beyond any natural means. Haukmar warbands have been known to march for days on end at a pace far greater than what can be achieved by even the heartiest of men. Finally, they are also said to speed the healing of the haukmarn who wear them.

The Marred Wastes

Of the land of their namesake, little is known. It is bordered to the south by the Clefts, rough and barren hills with little to no game or growing things, and the Lathethicket, a forest full of thorns sharp as daggers and thick and pathless.

Beyond that, the haukmar capital of Direroc is said to be somewhere to the west of the Marred Wastes. No army of the Four Wards has ever fully conquered these lands. This is due not only to the might of the haukmar armies, but also the inhospitably cold climate and the wanstone taint of the land.

It is not known what sorts of goods or food the haukmarn produce to sustain themselves. They do have some skill in raising animals it would seem. They use musk oxen to pull their lashtail war engines. These rickety contraptions made of resin-soaked beams fire heated metal clouds of scrap into the air. Though wildly erratic, when they do land they can wreak havoc among enemy troops.

Far more fearsome that the oxen are the dreadwulfs. They are even more than the haukmarn themselves. These massive creatures have been known to pull haukmar chariots into battle, but they are even more dangerous—at times to haukmarn as well—when unleashed to savage their enemies on their own. Here is a passage from Truesilver from when Kion first sees these terrifying creatures.

A few snarling dreadwulfs strained against their handlers’ chains at the back of the haukmar ranks. They were enormous, even taller than Kion. Their eyes glowed white. Wisps of blanched smoke issued from them, as if they had wanstones instead of eyes to see. Their wicked-looking fangs snapped, and their ragged claws scraped the ground, pawing to be loosed. 

War of the Claws

According to haukmar lore, such as it is, they are the true heirs of the Four Wards and were wrongfully denied their place of preeminence in the distant past. As records and learning are scarce in their lands, this seems more like an invented claim and in truth, few haukmarn believe it is true. Not that it would matter. They would invade Inris all the same, desiring its fertile lands and riches, little caring that they would destroy the land and ruin the very reasons they desire it should they ever come to rule over it.

Ten years from when Truesilver begins, the haukmarn invaded Inris in what came to be known as the War of the Claws. Haukmarn tribes are called “claws” and normally they fight amongst each other.

The tribes united for the first time under the former zaron, Rymoth, and he led them in a massive invasion of Inris. For a time it looked as if they would prevail, but the war ultimately ended in a decisive battle at Roving known as Fane’s Falling. Though the fane of Versiward was slain by a young Vayd Mokàn, through the valor of Strom Glyre, the haukmarn were ultimately defeated.

After the war, the haukmarn returned to infighting, but the vision of a united Haukmarn lives on the heart of Vayd. And even the most hopeful in Warding know that it is only a matter of time before the huakmarn invade once again.

Inspiration

My inspirations for developing haukmarn come from what I imagine Siberia to be like, or the tainted lands around Chernobyl. To be honest, as none of the story takes place in Haukmarn (at least as of yet), I have not done as much research into its appearance as I have the other lands.

The name “haukmarn” phonetically combines the words “hawk” and “mar”. Warlike nations or people are often called hawks or warhawks. And “mar” of course carries the meaning of to deface or destroy.

Although I like fantasy and its use of monstrous creatures and inhuman enemies, I did not want to simply create another world with orcs, goblins, ogres, and trolls. I think those have been done well enough in other books. While the haukmarn are very similar to ogres or trolls, the addition of wanstones is meant to add a bit of mystery or uniqueness to them.

And on a final note, I have an unpublished novel that tells a great deal more about the haukmarn and even includes several chapters from Vayd’s point of view. It essentially tells the story of the War of the Claws. I hope to publish it some day, but for now, my plans are not to release it until the main arc of Swordspeaker has finished.

The journal continues

And that is all I have today for you. I hope you enjoyed this visit to Inris. I’ll see you in the next entry of the World-building journal.

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