Sorghum and Spear
The Way of Silk and Stone
The tenet, “Pray for Peace but Prepare for War.” is weaved deep into the culture of the An’Fre women. Sorghum & Spear speaks to the global diaspora, African, Latin, Asian and Indigenous. Stories that highlight or reveal a new perspective of fantasy in this rich, inclusive world are ideal. We seek works that explore love in all its forms, diversity, fate vs choice, self-discovery, and supernatural talents, and original works that portray the strength, sisterhood, and diversity of women—hallmarks of our world-building efforts. Given the unique guidelines of our world, we ask that you review Sorghum & Spear and its world-building rules carefully prior to submission.
Special consideration will be given to women and writers of color whose personal stories may additionally lend to their storytelling.
To guide in the world building within SORGHUM & SPEAR, a complimentary digital copy of the Sorghum & Spear: Simadan comic and The Sorghum & Spear Worldbuilders Guide are available via email request at email@example.com with the subject “ATTN: S&S Reference Request”.
Open for Submissions:
Author Updates May 29th 2020
Expected Publication: Summer 2019
Sorghum & Spear World Building Guide 1.2 Update
SORGHUM & SPEAR is a vast and inclusive fantasy series and creative brand, centered on the intersection of Girls & Women of Color, the African Diaspora, Historical Context and of course Storytelling from Marginalized Voices. Everyone is welcome to enjoy and participate in our world building, no matter their designations, as long as a mutual & professional respect is given.
There are NO MEN in the Eternal Realm.
The An’Fre and the SPELL OF MAKING
The rule of Eshe is both Religious and Political
The power of the young An’Fre girls
An’fre, Ascended and Mino
Storylines within the Realm
Important Names and Places of Note
Graphic Novel Story Arc
1. OVERALL STORYLINE –
SORGHUM & SPEAR is a fantasy-based world created featuring young girls called to serve during their ages of innocence to protect their world from an army of monsters. The storyline focuses around the relationships of four young girls from different walks of life who come together in adventure and friendship during a holy war between womankind and an army of demons. The women of SORGHUM AND SPEAR attempts to represent the intricacies of women in sum; not just in the of color of skin, but of thought, body types, relationships, cultural perspectives of the world and their influences upon it.
The AN’FRE warrior women of the fantasy world of ORUN AYE, also known colloquially as ETERNAL REALM, which is itself a Pangea of African, Asian and Latin antiquity among its vast cultures. They have been engaged in the FOREVER WAR with the demons known as ABIKU, who along with their allies the GOBLIN TRIBES, are commonly referred to as the SPORA. For generations, this war has been fought to a standstill, but in recent times, the ABIKU have gained access to a new magic, which is making them much more formidable. Now, they threaten to conquer the holy city of NGOLO ADE, the crown city of the South. In desperate times, the goddess ESHE, THE ALL-MOTHER created.
The An’fre were created by the FIRST WOMAN, ESHE, The ALL-MOTHER who came upon an ancient relic known as the LIFESEED and created the FIRST DAUGHTERS in her likeness lived in the paradise of the Eternal Realm.
noun sor·ghum \ˈsȯr-gəm\
Sorghum is an ancient cereal grain that grows tall like corn, highly versatile and found throughout African, Asian and Latin cultures. In the United States, sorghum is used as livestock feed and turned into ethanol. It’s a popular crop to grow within the drier regions of the States because it is drought resistant. This quality made it a popular crop in Africa — where it has been growing for over 4,000 years. Sorghum is thought to have been introduced to America from Africa, making its way over on slave ships. Today, sorghum can trace its historic expansion from Africa into Asia and Latin culture as well.
When I first started researching this project, I imagined our mighty warrior goddess, Namazzi, holding up a spear to inspire her people, as she charged into battle. As I created the mythos of the Eternal Realm and the first arc began to take shape, I wanted to relate my world something that was symbolic to much of the story; something analogous but not obvious. Sorghum is a vital resource in the real world, and in this fantasy one. The premise that sorghum is an ancient and powerful thing that originated from Africa; a gift that was shared with the world. The ability of sorghum to not just survive outside of its homelands but to thrive in other cultures and civilizations, eventually becoming an integral part of their legacies unveiled a mystical attribute I saw not just of this indigenous crop, but of the indigenous people it represented as well. The “recipe” of Sorghum & Spear is that every woman is growing and blossoming into something new, and the seasons of their harvests are not the same, or as bountiful, and tragically not promised for them all. Sorghum also aesthetically related to the symbolic African spear from the granular tip to the long stalk below, with a great visual parallel of these young farm girls being conscripted to serve in a Holy war. Sorghum still has great relevance throughout the African continent, which is the foundation of this SWORD & SOUL adventure, and as we expand our story through the many diverse histories and influences of these and other civilizations, this symbolism is one that is both far-reaching yet soundly rooted in the heritage we want to portray.
2. There are NO MEN in the Eternal Realm.
There are no biological males in this fantasy world. At. all. The premise of such to the An’Fre has been long forgotten and is not of any importance or relevance to the mythos, history or storyline in any way. This DOES exist with the remaining parts of the humanoid and natural biological ecosystem as one would expect it to, including the ABIKU demons. The reference to the males of an outside species may be taken as a slight, a sign of disrespect, or in some instances a slur dependent on the cultural connotation. Interest in this dichotomy can be scientific, creative and so forth as it would rationally be conceived by any other person, but the An’Fre universally agree that this is one of the freedoms granted to them by ESHE and is a source of purity and strength that the spectrum of their femininity is broad enough to encompass all aspects of human life. Our writers and collaborators should also take this mantra to heart.
3. Magic System
There was a time of the AFRICAN ORISHAS that existed in conjunction with the dawn of recorded history in the Eternal Realm and a few Elder Gods that somehow intersected shortly thereafter with their magic and influence. They are all eerily silent now as the Forever War draws to its climax.
The primary magic system of the Eternal Realm centers around the HARD MAGIC mythos of ESHE and the LIFESEED, which grants powers, talents and abilities based on the amount of TWILIGHT ESSENCE they possess within them. The lore is that the FIRST DAUGHTERS were the most powerful and purest forms of magical beings created by the will of Eshe from the ancient artifact the LIFESEED, which is itself the singular, raw energy source that forms reality. As the First Daughters procreated, this ancient energy was instilled in their bloodlines, and various levels of this power could be found in their children. This is how the SPELL OF MAKING is available to all An’Fre, but the higher magical levels, i.e. powers and abilities are related to how pure the bloodline is from the First Daughters and the Lifeseed itself. This is what makes the girls of Marduri so special; they are the purest concentration of this bloodline anywhere in the Eternal Realm, and Namazzi herself the most endowed with the Twilight Essence. The Abiku have now figured out how to distill this essence from captive young girls and grant themselves access to this ancient power, turning these children now into the rarest of resources.
A secondary SOFT MAGIC system exists within some smaller but powerful intersects of outside sources, such as the ORISHAN VODUN magic system of the spellcaster DEMBE. She is a conduit of great magical energy, but it can become exhausted quickly and requires meditation, chants and in some instances sacrifice to replenish. We refer to this magic as a level of mysticism, as it exists outside of the Lifeseed’s power, and often is romanticized and feared as an alternative to the traditional powers that be, both political and magical.
4. World Ecosystem
The Eternal Realm itself is a high-level fantasy Pangea comparable to the continent of Africa, set close to 500 – 1000 A.D, with several facets of culture, technology and metalsmithing. Exploration is encouraged but boundaries between Queendoms exists and are politically and militarily enforced. An expansive system of global commerce is realized, but under a good and service bartering system. Humanoids exist that have similar cultures but are more natural and nomadic in their societies. A comparison to the traditional Dungeons and Dragons realms of fantasy Forgotten Realms, Dark Sun and Dragonlance would serve as great templates of the general ecosystem direction in a pinch.
Elves, Dwarfs and otherl D20 humanoid classes to this point are not available, though the may very well exist somewhere else.
Political systems are widely democratic, though ideals of socialism and feudalism exist. The overarching systems is the political and religious leadership of ESHE governing all An’Fre women. This entrenches her vast city of NGOLO ADE as both a political seat and a religious mecca, as well as a military stronghold.
5. The An’Fre and the SPELL OF MAKING
The poignant and often-asked question asked SORGHUM & SPEAR is how do the An’Fre reproduce as a population of only women. This is possible through the SPELL OF MAKING, a magical gift that manifests within most young women during puberty. The Daughters of ESHE are all derived from the same primal energy sources known as the LIFESEED, the universal force that created the Eternal Realm, and the An’Fre women themselves. A sliver of that energy exists in every woman, a reality-shaping essence that enables them to transcend their own dreams and manifests itself in various skills, abilities, and powers throughout our saga. Think of it as a spark between two people that can grow into a warm, sustaining light within one of them. Intercourse is not required for the Spell to take, but a level of emotional connectivity, proximity, timing, and luck are factors. While not literal sparks of energy, there is the same energy given to partner with someone to make a life that should be considered here.
Typically, there is a “PROVIDER” and “VESSEL” role surmised between the two women, and a faint, passive mental connection that exists between Mothers and Daughter that echoes strongest during fertilization and wanes until live birth, still retaining some resonance thereafter. While it would be expected to assign Masculine and Feminine roles upon the Provider and Vessel assignments, I would encourage authors to shy away from this, as the assignment of the Feminine in SORGHUM & SPEAR should not be assumed through this action alone. There also exists a chance that the Seed may not be planted within the woman who seeks to be the Vessel, to which a “switch” occurs, as the presumed Provider becomes the Bearer of Seed. Rituals to address this within Midwifery are also very common, but it is unknown how effective they are.
Women may make colloquial references to animals, farming, fighting and the like to relay their own interpretation of this, their interests and their perceived fertility.
Consider the rules of intimacy, relationships, becoming pregnant, gestation and the birthing process to be parallel to the real world. Midwifery and ritual surrounding pregnancy are very much engrained in each culture, from the smallest village to the holy city of NGOLO ADE herself.
6. The rule of Eshe is both Religious and Political
From the southern city of NGOLO ADE, the Golden City shines as a beacon of hope and freedom across the Eternal Realm. It is the home of the living goddess ESHE, THE ALL-MOTHER. The ANKH. The GIVER OF LIFE and the FIRST WOMAN. She is the central figure to the monotheistic religion of the An’Fre, that they are all the direct descendants of Eshe, and that with the power of the LIFESEED, she created the Eternal Realm and all life within it. The lore is that before here, there was primordial darkness and unconsolidated magical energy that ebb and flowed in construct and in consciousness. Life was simultaneously being creating and destroyed on a plane known as TWILIGHT. An amalgam of those who were, those who are and those who would yet be, this became the basis of spirituality, that all things came were and retuned to this plane of creative energy. Life in the Eternal Realm was fleeting, and the connectivity to TWILIGHT was the focus. Eshe was among the first of these beings, a human woman who gained knowledge of herself and the desire to see others like her. Harnessing the creative energies of Twilight, which had been mystically consolidated into a physical construct referred to as the LIFESEED, ESHE came to possess it, and stilled the chaos of her time, and heralded the creation of the ORUN AYE, the ETERNAL REALM, to which she populated with life, including the first of the An’fre women, the FIRST DAUGHTERS. Given unto each of them a small shard of the Lifeseed itself, they were also powerful beings, and able to in their own way seek to thrive and create as ESHE now could.
This premise is challenged by some based on the existence of the ABIKU, the demons who are at least similar in their age of existence to Eshe. The same legend says that these were the unbridled energies of Creation that had escaped Eshe’s reach and were forever tormented in this new world as they longed for the chaos of the old. This is the beginning of the FOREVER WAR, where the ABIKU seek to claim the Lifeseed for their own and bring back the Old-World Order, undoing the magic that Eshe brought forth.
Therefore, ESHE is revered throughout the Realm, and is the most common point of reference for cultures to base themselves on, whether loyal, separated or indifferent. The books of religion, faith and holy edicts are based on traditional Islamic faith, for example, the recitation of daily aayats(verses) to show devotion and multiple daily prayers would be synonymous. Eshe herself does not seek rule, dictate a particular doctrine nor make holy policy for the An’Fre but allows them to democratically make their own laws and decisions. The main ideal that Eshe exalts is known as the WAY OF SILK AN STONE, translated as “Pray for Peace, but Prepare for War”. This leads towards the dual nature of the world of SORGHUM AND SPEAR, where farmers are also soldiers, that there is a duality in both home life and life away, and in many other aspects of the human civilizations throughout the world. Having been at war for so many generations, there is a strong sense of feudalism that underwrites most of the political ground in current times, as each Nation or Queendom is beset with their own unique perspectives of both the Forever War and Eshe herself.
7. The power of the young An’Fre girls
Given the explanation of the procreation methods of the An’Fre, the idea of why the young girls of SORGHUM & SPEAR are such precious commodities throughout the storyline should come into view. There are three main intersections to consider.
The first being that at this stage of the Forever War, the reality that the An’Fre may actually be defeated is now at the forefront of the entire Realm. The children of this time are being considered as the last generation of girls that may grow up free. During the history of the war, there are times in which the young girls are summoned to the holy city to learn to use their skills, and to harness the Twilight within them to manifest their powers, somewhat prematurely through ritual and training. This is known as the HAREVEST OF THE ALL-MOTHER, and THE CALL from Eshe herself is considered holy law and it is forbidden to disallow a child to participate. This creates the dichotomy of child soldering that is unfortunately prevalent in some emerging countries to this day but is a parallel that should be a point of conversation. There are mothers who are reluctant to send their children forth into the War, and there are stories of defiance to this edict, but it is for the most part followed, agents of THE WILL have been known to enforce Eshe’s wishes.
Another idea is more of a military race to consolidate power not only against the ABIKU but having a stronger army, but also against ESHE herself and the reliance of NGOLO ADE for protection and governance. The outer Queendoms are much aligned to try and separate from the monotheistic rule of they are currently under, as the splendor of Eshe’s light shines less brightly in the farther reaches of the Realm.
8. An’Fre, Ascended and Mino
There are three different variations of the An’Fre that exist. The typical AN’FRE are normal human women, and the reference of An’Fre can be applied in the same term as human for the entire species. Those who are called ASCENDED display some type of special ability, magical prowess or capacity of some sort outside of the normal scope. We see these as advanced soldiers, casters, and those connected to the mysticism of the Eternal Realm in some special way. The Vodun Spellcaster DEMBE, who has her magical affinity that exists outside of the power of ESHE, would be great example. The MINO are considered the rarest of the Ascended class, those who truly transcend their station. These are those fated to play the largest role in our story, either by choice, situation or accident. Our lead heroine NAMAZZI is considered Mino, as her considerable power level and abilities exceed expectation from the initial point that her abilities manifest, and only grow stronger from there. The MINO have the highest concentration of Twilight magic within them, and as the storyline goes, the children of Marduri village are the last living descendants of the original Mino left untouched by the generational Forever War, making them especially interesting to everyone.
9. Storylines within the Realm
The main storylines of the Realm center around the current situation of the Forever War swinging in strong favor of the Spora over the past few decades of time, and now after a series of notable defeats, the PENDULUM PLAINS are almost totally overrun by the hordes of evil. One last bastion of Mino soldiers is holding the line against a particularly aggressive army of Goblins, lead by a group of Bugbears.
The holy mountain MOUNT JULEH sis at the center of the Pangea of Orun Aye and has not been visited by the An’Fre by the proclamation of Eshe. Atop this village is the hidden village of Marduri, which is a tropical location hidden within a recessed crevasse atop the mountain, just above the cloud cover. It is unseasonably warm and fertile and is the highest point within the world.
Because the Northern Queendoms are suffering the most from both being closest to the battlefields, and the depletion of the
The VODUN captives within the citadel are political prisoners, who are confirmed to a spire-like tower in the center of Ngolo Ade. Not seen fully as heretics or blasphemers, the concern that a magical power exists outside of Eshe’s influence contradicts much of the
METZTLI the MOON GODDESS, a rival of ESHE has also been increasing her presence with coastal raids from her island nation known as the OTOMI. Metztli’s motivation is to capture the Lifeseed for herself and bring the entire Eternal Realm into perpetual night, where her powers of the Moon and Afterlife would rival that of Eshe.
10. Important Names and Places
Abiku – Ancient demons that seek to destroy the An’Fre and claim the Lifeseed for themselves.
Ash Sea – A silent ocean of charred ash and silt from some phenomenon long ago.
Bronzewoods – Ancient timber forests that sit below the sacred mountains.
Bugbear Tribelands – A sector of the Bronzewoods that runs outwards into the expanse Pendulum Plains. Thought to be the original warlands of the Goblin hordes.
Coatepec – Tropical island and home of Metztli and the Moonlight Queendom
Dembe – The youthful Vodun spellcaster and political prisoner.
Eshe, The All Mother – Living goddess and ruler of the An’fre people
Guhiji – Tumarin huntress and tribal representative for her plainsfolk
Hall of Bones – Massive Necropolis temple within the center of Ngolo Ade
Hellwalk – The Northern lands occupied by the Abiku, comprised of feudal castles built within the mountains.
Hyenia – Band of wandering soldiers and cutthroats that claim no Queendom
Kumara – Ascended Leader of the Hyenia Sisters. Known as Kumara the Feaster.
Linebreakers – The name given to the small Mino-lead army holding off the progression of the Spora.
Mama and Oii – Mother and older sister of Namazzi.
Marlannah – Wandering Griot and Ancestral speaker
Mason’s Steppes – Stone Quarries a few days outside of Ngolo Ade.
Metztli – Unliving Moon Goddess and adversary of Eshe.
Namazzi – Farm girl who discovers her legacy as one of the Ascended, our main protagonist.
NGOLO ADE – Holy city to the southernmost point of the Eternal Realm Pangea.
Odari – Leader of the City Guard of Ngolo Ade, trainer and seasoned warrior.
Pendulum Plains – Large savannah that encompasses most of the western part of the Eternal Realm. Here is the primary point of conflict within the world, with the Abiku encroaching from the South and the An’Fre looking to push Northward.
Tooth Mines – Series of crag mines near the Bronzewoods
Mount Juleh – Holy Mountain that is the center of the world.
Salt Ergs – A dried body of water now a dangerous environment just below the Blood Sands of the East.
Spear of Hope – An ancient relic of power, forged of an unknown metal and crafted around a
Spirit Circle – Mysterious relics that can transport people between locations.
The Lifeseed – A cosmic artifact that alters reality to the whim of its bearer.
Western Wall – A monolithic wall that has begun to be built around the Ngolo Ade as a military strategy to withstand the final conflict.
White Forest – Within the Bronzelands, there is a grove of thin white trees, whose origin is unknown.
11. Graphic Novel Story Arc
The All-Mother Eshe has declares that every young woman to the citadel for training for an all-out assault on the marching armies of the Spora. Namazzi’s quiet rural life is suddenly in upheaval when she and her friends find themselves as key contributors to the narrative of the war.
The battle of Marduri will have several key components to the storyline, as we will be a large reference for many parts of our story as a key point of the Forever War.
Several village girls make it to the citadel of NGOLO ADE, becoming separated and dispersed among the Eternal Realm. Following these girls of Marduri in their highs and lows is a discovery of the larger world around them.
Namazzi and 5 other girls make it out and they are eventually separated as follows in NGOLO ADE/ Queenswalk -
Queen of Coin
House Maiden (one with the Baby Turtle)
Slave (to the Quiet House ~A Torture Castle) Becomes a Poisoner
A conscript sent directly to the to the War lines
Baby is adopted by the Church
Guhiji’s first mission lead goes bad
Dembe is recently made Exalted and is loving life
There is dissent among the An’Fre of how to proceed with the war.
Namazzi’s best friend KETT is captured by a local demon lord, presumed dead by Namazzi.
Ceremony of Simidan – Importance of Event (revealing their magic ability to young girls) -introduce most young girls by name - Notice Namazzi is Missing
Namazzi is outside of the village, notices the sky is changing – another key rumble of the village (Kaiju is approaching)
Dembe and Guhiji are traveling by the Egret’s Eye (Think Rainbow Bridge) to Marduri to find the girls, and will come in during the early parts of battle
Intro the Abiku Demons Father & Son, who are leading the charge of goblins and monsters to attack the village and interrupt the festival. Their goal is to capture, not kill the girls, though some of the monsters do not listen. The reality of their ruthlessness is pronounced upon the village. A kaiju appears,
All of the women of the village are ASCENDED, meaning their lineage is rare but powerful, and this is the biggest concentration of them ever. This is the reason the village was hidden, think of it as a secret reserve for a last resort. This is the last resort. The younger girls are now seeing this for the first time.
Namazzi is making her way through this madness and seems to be having some illness take over her. She’s slowly building up this swell of emotion as she is trying to get back to her hut and find her mother and sister. The relationship of her finding out this secret life they have held from her, and now their lives seemingly about to end, will change her into the warrior goddess within.
Dembe and Guhji come and attempt to sort this new situation and are witness and first-responders to a situation well above their expectation.
Book One – Harvest Of The All-Mother
Synopsis- The Village of Marduri is introduced to the Forever War as both sides converge upon the small hidden village. During their rite-of-passage ceremony of SIMADAN, the girls of the village find out horribly about the world below the mountain. Namazzi is the center of the story, where Kett is missing and now the village is under attack. Dembe and Guhiji, sent from Ngolo Ade to investigate the state of things, now are the lone rescuers against a tide of goblins and monsters lead by the Abiku Hunter A’shar and his son K’ban to capture the younger girls. We see through several of these girls the horrors of war, the sacrifice of a mother, and a glimpse of why these monsters came to Marduri. The women of the village are actually much more adept at fighting and mystical skills that they let on, and now it is an all-out fight for survival. In the lower parts of their shrine, there is a hidden object of interest known as the Spear of Hope. Namazzi’s family look for her as the stress of the situation awakens something within her. Elsewhere, the Royal Guard Odari and the mercenary Kumara are at odds as how to proceed with the expedition. And in the great city, a goddess grows worried for the future of the Realm and confides in her attendants. And at the base of the mountain, a young heroine finds her path leading upward. A flash to the characters “Queen” Sasaria in her Coin House and the Half-Demon Satari and her as premonitions of their introduction to the next issue.
Book Two – Fate of Marduri
A cliffhanger resolved as Namazi has to choose between her mother and her sister to save. She chooses to save her mother, and we see her sister and the other girls taken by the giant Abami (giant monster) spawn. Namazzi sets her sights upon the Abiku A’shar in revenge, showing a prowess that surprises both. Guhiji is rounding up the young girls as the tides turn for the worse. As the last women hold out, Patasa and a few remaining girls & women decide to create a distraction to draw the horde to them, allowing for a moment of escape for the youngest children & girls to escape down the mountain pass. Dembe’s magic runs out, making escaping from the portal impossible. Meanwhile, Marlannah has been making her way up the mountain, finding a few Hill Trolls and a Bugbear mercenary guarding the way up as a battle, we showcase her skill and ability to decipher. Kumara decides she has waited long enough at the portal and tries to convince Odari to leave. Sasaria calls for council with Eshe, offering to sell her mercenary services to the Realm. The issue of introducing economics is outlined by Eshe. Satari fights for honor in the arena outside of Ngolo Ade. The girls are hunted through the downwards slope of the mountain, where they meet Marlannah and formulate a plan to recharge Dembe’s power in order to escape. The demons close and in a last-ditch effort, there is a sacrifice that allows for them to achieve this and escape; the Eldress caster gives her life energy over.
Book Three – Ngolo Ade
Intro of Masako and the Line Breakers (our Avengers) going to even the odds on the main front in as the parlor conversation between her and her squire highlights the larger war effort. Intro of the necromancer Madame Laveau and Council, to which Guhiji is now seen as a representative member of her people. Dembe is put back into protective custody as we find out more about her home life as a political prisoner with the rest of the Vodun. Namazzi finally meets Eshe who reveals the larger parts of the Forever War to her. She is deemed a prodigy and set to train along with the Mino, while the other girls are conscripted into different paths to serve. The legend of the Marduri girls becomes a phenomenon of hope during a hopeless situation. We introduce the city and some of the political aspects of some of the surrounding countries/queendoms. The demons return to Hellwalk, where we also see a synonymous lifestyle and talk about their perspective. Marlannah continues her search for more about her quest to find her missing tribe of Jamla.