Sorrow

A child of joy. A victim of Sorrow.

As a ward of the powerful Viscount and his wife, Faina whiles away her days exploring the palace and its grounds, dancing in the halls, hiding from her tutors, and spending time with the common folk she has grown to love.

And then comes Sorrow. An assassin of brutal efficiency, who weeps black tears over the corpses of the fallen, Sorrow has claimed the life of a beloved clergyman within the confines of the Viscount’s own palace, and the infamous Lord Ash has come to investigate the crime. Faina is key to both their quests.

Sorrow cares only for destruction. Lord Ash cares only for the hunt. Whoever wins, whatever the cost, Faina will pay.

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John Lawson's Sorrow
John Lawson's Sorrow

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Another lovely addition to the Witch Ember Tales and hopefully not the last. Read More
Amber Chalmers, Amberkatze’s Book Blog

…not only is Sorrow a serious contender for the Bethanie’s Favorite-Books-of-All-Time list, but it has also made the Yes-I-Want-A-Hard-Copy list, which is huge, because there are very few books that merit an allowance of space in my teeny, tiny house, as well as the I-Can’t-Wait-To-Read-It-Again list. Read More
Bethanie’s Brain

Once I really started getting into this book, I found that I did like it. The characters were somewhat interesting. Mr. Lawson does spin a good story in Sorrow . Read More
Cheryl’s Book Nook

The author has created a very real, dark fantasy world, and I was able to picture the setting vividly in my mind. The descriptions, mood, and dialogue all help bring Lawson’s detailed world to life. The characters are deftly drawn and come across as genuine people. The prose sparkles with beautifully crafted language. Read More
Mayra Calvani, The Dark Phantom Review

Author John Lawson, has created a dark fantasy/mystery story that takes us deep into the world of court intrigues and fanatical religious beliefs. Magic is masterfully interweaved into this struggle. The characters, presentation, dialogue…all are superbly done. The tension is enhanced by an underlying feeling that there is something else going on, but just can’t put your finger on it. Read More
Kathy Martin, In the Library Reviews

John Lawson’s vivid and detailed imagery bring us into the treacherous and murderous intrigues of the royal court and the duel between assassins. This story is not like the first two, which were more adventurous; this one is all about intrigue. It reminds me of those stories about 17th century European courts. Read More
Steve Oldner, J. Kaye’s Book Blog

This is an opportunity to try fantasy that is not the standard romance of the genre. Read More
Anne K. Edwards, MysteryFiction.net

The world in which it’s set is complex and full of little details that make clear the reader is barely scratching the surface and makes you want to explore further. Read More
Anna, OCD, Vampires, and Rants, oh my!

In this book, the world seems complex, but not so much more than our own. The characters were engaging and I really started to feel for the people. Not all of them of course, there are always some characters you’d wish the killer would get. The plot was fascinating! Read More
Ruth Schaller, Ruthie’s Book Reviews

This story, a fully fleshed and tightly plotted thriller, dances between the questions of church, faith, magic, human relationships and darker desires. Just like any good “detective” novel, just when you think you know who the killer is, the plot twists and you are presented with another possibility. The back stories of the lead characters are intriguing enough to pique your interest, allowing these folks to mingle and interact in a most realistic way. The writing is superb, enhancing the story, adding dialect and distinct flavour to characters’ voices. Read More
Kelly Jensen, SF Crowsnest

Despite the off-screen machinations of great rulers and esoteric magics, as well as the incursion of foreigners and alien species, the action here is defiantly local, not the least I suspect, because there’s a very “community” feel to the locale (the tavern, the woods, the church and the palace), it all has a relatively cosy feel to it (which is perhaps what makes Sorrow’s arrival — not to mention Hashii’s — so unsettling: both are alien to this place, but not completely unknown). Read More
Stuart Carter, SF Site and StuPC

The story has murder, courtly machinations and intrigue, assasins and several plot twists to keep you reading. John Lawson has crafted a fine tale to take you away from the real world. Read More
Judi, Sidhe Vicious Reviews

It’s a dark tale, a magical tale, a treacherous and murderous tale and it’s everything that I love in a novel. So smartly and deftly written that it truly blew me away at times and left me gasping for breath…seriously, I had to remember to breathe sometimes. Read More
Chris Howard, Stuff as Dreams Are Made of

I enjoyed John Lawson’s Witch Ember a lot, but I think I enjoyed Sorrow even more. The plot was tighter, the characters were just as interesting if not more, and the writing was more elegant. Most of all, I liked the fact that even though Sorrow tells a dark and sometimes quite violent story, it also has a very sweet side. Read More
Ana Silva, Things Mean a Lot

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Prologue: Prelude to Sorrow

One time, I was in the Dreaming, carried by the Wake and cradled by All-Mother, rising and falling in the rhythms of Her heart drumbeats. When I was low, I slept, but when I rose high, I could see and hear the Firsttime.

Rising and falling and rising and falling

Grandfather sat and sang around the Spirit Wheel and painted and turned and painted and turned. And He whispered and turned and shared His wisdom with the darkness. And He shared His wisdom with the Seekers and all those drawn to the warmth of His soulfire. And with each song, He turned the Wheel again.

Painting and turning and painting and turning

On the Wheel then was as it is now. Painted there was Zå and Her Son, grappling in conflict, embraced in union, never to be parted, forever separated. For all of time it has been, forever it shall be.

***

One time, I was in the Dreaming, carried by the Wake and cradled by All-Mother, rising and falling in the rhythms of Her heart drumbeats. When I was low, I slept, but when I rose high, I could see and hear the Firsttime.

Rising and falling and rising and falling

I stole close to Grandfather and whispered in His ear, “Manyfaces confessed. He broke Your finest iron spear.”

Confessions and crimes and confessions and crimes

“Tuq-tuq!” Grandfather grumbled, “So careless is Manyfaces! He has turned it red as blood! Never again shall He touch it. But for His honesty, I shall bestow upon Him honor.” And he made the designs on the Spirit Wheel and gave it another turn. And thus it was so.

***

One time, I was in the Dreaming, carried by the Wake and cradled by All-Mother, rising and falling in the rhythms of Her heart drumbeats. When I was low, I slept, but when I rose high, I could see and hear the Firsttime.

Rising and falling and rising and falling

Weepingchild began His feud with the Seekers, for their numbers crowded His sky and their cold sapped at His warmth. It was a contest of lies and venom against voices without breath.

Venom and voices and venom and voices

Grandfather lent Weepingchild His silver moonshone hounds, fleet of foot for the hunt. The chase was successful, but Weepingchild forgot to return the gift.

***

One time, I was in the Dreaming, carried by the Wake and cradled by All-Mother, rising and falling in the rhythms of Her heart drumbeats. When I was low, I slept, but when I rose high, I could see and hear the Firsttime.

Rising and falling and rising and falling

Grandfather still sang and painted His Spirit Wheel. Many designs He had already drawn, many of the First Children had stepped forward, while many others stayed back in the shadows. Many gifts were taken, and many prices were paid. But the place on the Wheel between Manyfaces and Soullost was still empty.

Taken and paid and taken and paid

Grandfather shook His head sadly and sang another song. “Who shall take Manyface’s lost gray-metal?” He asked. “Who shall bear the burden of passing ages?” None stepped forward to accept this gift, to pay that price. And then He looked at me.

Thagan Yugal, shaman
Nhiibi Warragil tribe

***

They were going to betray him.

Phindol could see it in the eyes of the serjant, in the self-conscious way he flicked the reins of the team, in the flighty movements of his men. Phindol and his wagonload of cargo were too great a temptation.

Sitting back in the town cart’s bench, he chewed his lip and wondered when it would come. If they had been on an isolated forest trail, or a ship at sea, or a narrow mountain crevasse, he could know for sure—he’d be able to sense the moment coming—but it was not, and so he could not. He was in one of the largest cities of the world of Man, in an alien land, among alien people and their alien ways. How could he predict the time and place?

The cart rocked suddenly on the uneven cobblestones, and the cursing serjant lurched over, elbowing Phindol sharply in his afflicted side. The two men quickly retreated from the unexpected contact, the serjant muttering loudly in guilty embarrassment. Phindol crumbled and moaned silently at the pain of his withered flesh.

The serjent noticed the movement, and his eyes glanced down at Phindol’s side and then up at his ashen face. Phindol straightened as quickly as his body allowed, but he was certain he was no longer fooling anyone. His apparent weakness and vulnerability would be yet two more tics in the list the man was compiling against him, reasons why robbing him wasn’t wrong.

How will it happen? Phindol wondered. Shall it be the execution of a foreign infidel? The putting-down of a wounded animal? Or a simple robbery, his death no more than the snuffing out of a candle? There was nothing in the serjant’s countenance to betray the future. Phindol had only his growing sense of dread.

The serjant grunted in what sounded like satisfied amusement as he jerked the team to a halt. Dropping the reins into his lap, he braced his boot against the frame of the wagon, turned his head, and spat copiously over the side.

They had come to yet another gated archway, preparing to pass from one forgotten, untended garden into another. In front of them, the serjant’s men worked quickly at the rusted hinges, coaxing the gate to open through oil, muscle, and rough language.

Phindol’s eyes roamed as they waited. The walls of this arcade were fashioned from weathered marble, the baseboards covered in once-delicate molding. Time and the elements have done their damage and worn their wear. Paint was peeling, the surfaces were pocked, and the edges dulled. These walls were designed to be interior walls, with a ceiling above them, but now they were exposed to blue sky.

No, he amended that observation. The flagstones covering the ground were older than these delicate walls. This arcade was designed to be open-air, later was covered, and some time after that was exposed once again.

Phindol shook his head. What kind of people could build and live in a city like this? His gaze returned to the profile of his driver, his protector and potential robber. The serjant’s eyes were turned skyward, and they seemed to be tracking the path of the sun. The pain in Phindol’s side was slowly fading to a dull ache, and as he struggled to master his body’s reactions, he likewise looked upwards. High above, the sun blazed. In the wrong place in the sky. They were still going in the wrong direction.

Khat?” he blurted reflexively and then immediately grimaced in embarrassment. No wonder this Medianist planned to betray him. These people spoke in such subtly inflected ways, without the clarifying prefixes that made his Chroani tongue so perfectly non-ambiguous. Although the serjant didn’t react, Phindol knew his little habitual coughs and sighs served only to emphasize how alien he was. He shook his head and pressed on, “Are you a knight, Willam?”

The serjant’s eyes darted back to meet Phindol’s. He cleared his throat uncomfortably, and Phindol noticed the nearly unconscious clenching of the man’s fists. Willam stared at him for some seconds before answering.

“Knight?” Willam scoffed. “What, you can’t tell?”

Phindol shook his head, smiling, hoping he might still make a connection with this man, hoping any possible unpleasantness might still be averted. The rising and falling inflections of the Medianist tongues, like EroBernac, still confused and overwhelmed him, but he hoped it didn’t show.

“Quippe?” Willam’s eyes narrowed. “Where were you from again?”

Phindol took a slow, deep breath. “Açc… some would consider that a complicated question. My parents hailed from Solym, far to the east and north of these Seven Kingdoms…”

“Solym…”

Ats… yes, which is where I was raised, but I consider Lapárkwi my home, one of what you call the Chroani Kingdoms.”

“Yes, you have the smell of clay and salt about you.”

Phindol ignored the jab. He was well aware of how the Chroani were viewed by the people of this land. “Açc—of my particular journeys, they began in Synes, brought me north across the Bracklands and through many of the Chroani Kingdoms, back south across the Equoranda, Ymyl Gwland, Ehre, and hopefully, they will soon see me returning to Synes.” Phindol smiled back at the serjant. “And so, in regards to your question, you may take your pick of answers.”

Willam’s grunt was non-committal and unimpressed. “So, no knights where you came from… whichever land you choose?” There was no warmth in his words nor in his demeanor.

Phindol sighed deeply with a nod. “Ats. I have heard the term, of course. Who could not? Knight. We have such men in Lapárkwi, but we call them by other names. A special breed of warrior, provided with special training, special armaments, special mounts… and a special code of conduct?”

Willam barked a laugh so sharp, his four men turned to look in unison. “Yes, that is a knight, of course,” he chuckled. Phindol frowned slightly at his words.

—so you are not, then?”

“Well,” Willam hedged. With a flick of the reins, he urged the small team of horses forward through the opened gate. “There are many different breeds of knight… knights of Ehre, knights of EroBernd… Brackish cings, Muttese ritters, Mynyddi lovags, Söderkarl ridders, and others… You got the knights with inherited titles, knights of strictly military rank, and the templar knights… and of course, you have the Ravens…” He glanced at Phindol from the corner of his eye. “All the sort of men that you’d like to avoid right now, I would imagine…”

Phindol hesitated, rolling the tiniest of grains of sand between his thumb and finger. It grew warm beneath his attentions, and the áñme roused, wishing to rise. He quickly sent it away. He was slowly building a picture of the kinds of people Willam usually consorted with. “And so by that implication—khat—I would presume you are not that sort of man as well?”

“Yeah,” Willam chuckled, “I have no title, no lands. I served in the army… but the life didn’t suit me, so I moved on. You might call me,” the serjant hesitated, “a knight in action and deed rather than in word or title.” He made some grandiose gesture with the reins that clearly upset the team. “I may wear the trappings of a scoundrel,” he proclaimed with feeling, “but I have the heart of a paladin!”

Açc—your words are most reassuring,” Phindol murmured, not meaning it.

“Glad to hear it,” Willam laughed.

Phindol gripped the seat of the town cart and did a quick bearing of the sun. They were still headed south.

***

Aquilaleon. By Ñakte’s tears, what was he doing here? Phindol could do naught but wonder and pray.

A city without streets. A city of nothing but endless palaces, inns, taverns, shops, warehouses, tenements, and other structures, all connected by narrow alleys, arches, palisades, malls, gardens, and courtyards. Buildings and walls seemingly placed at random, around, atop, and within each other. They seemed interconnected by chance and happenstance, demolished by whim, leaving random dead-ends, switchbacks, and blind alleys. Colonnades might turn to basements, which might turn to rooftops with a sheer, unforgiving drop to the next set of courtyards far below. It was a labyrinth without clues, reason, or pattern. The secrets of negotiating it were likely known only to its residents and a select, favored few visitors.

It must also be filled with predators, as such places often are. Phindol felt eyes always on him and the boxes he protected. If it weren’t for Serjant Willam’s men and the weapons they carried, Phindol feared what might befall him.

Of course, now he feared Willam would treat him no better, and, of course, that realization had come too late to help.

Phindol nearly wept at his foolishness. Of all his travels and all of the things he had endured, how is it he had come to this place?

He should never have landed in this paranoid, magic-parched, faith-drenched nation. He was in the wrong place, and he knew it. This place, this Aquilaleon, whispered dreams of death and fear. It smothered his áñme and scattered his grains to the winds. Its people roared with fury at anything strange and crushed it without mercy.

With so much at stake, why had Fate chosen to bring him here? Had Fate Herself now aligned against him? In addition to everything else, must he now contest against Her? If so, he had no option but to fail, and this thought threatened to break his heart.

What of his family? What of the others depending on him and what he guarded? Too much was at stake for him to fail at the whimsy of chance.

Evidence seemed to show otherwise.

First, the untimely appearance of an EroBernac man-of-war had forced his ship to divert to this terrifying city. At least he could be grateful the frigate had not forced his ship ashore at Cærimonia during the Burning Time. What irony it would have been to find himself in the seat of this empire’s religious power during their season of witch and heretic burning. In retrospect, shipwreck or marooning didn’t sound as terrible after all.

And with the help of the Captain, Phindol had been able to escape the ship with his cargo intact before the Port Authority became aware of their arrival. He and his cargo had melted into the bustling crowds before the customs guards could discover him.

In just the same way the narrow walls of this cursed, baffling city seemed to close around him, Phindol remembered being overwhelmed by its docks. Piers stretched as far as the eye could see in either direction. Countless masts reached skyward, thicker than the trees of any forest he had yet seen. Air horns bleated like angry animals, engines roared, men shouted, livestock brayed,and cannon thundered in salute to arriving and departing ships. Great clouds of smoke and steam rose from gigantic ships and freight rail wagons, commingling with foggy sea air, so thick it at times obscured the sun.

So many ships, so much cargo, so many people! Phindol shuddered at the memory. There were thieves, thugs, pirates, mercenaries, spies, barbarians, and prisoners. Soldiers pushed and jostled with sailors, merchants, assayers, refugees, and holy men of the fearsome Bisected Circle. There were clothes, skins, and goods from every land and nation known to him and from many that were not. Clergy, well-dressed in silks of gold and royal red; ominous, sickly-looking figures in robes of gray and brown; grim, soft-spoken men in blues and reds; and thoughtful, serene elders in black and white argued passionately with each other and competed for the attentions of arriving sailors, merchants, and foreigners.

In such a place, even a slender, dark-eyed foreigner like Phindol might have easily disappeared into the crowds, at least for a time. Great warehouses spread out endlessly from the docks, interconnected by spider webs of roads and railways. Those were the paths to freedom, if only he understood their complexities. Those routes could have led him to other, smaller wharves, more remote corners of this city, and, ultimately, to the rolling countryside and farmland of the EroBernd Empire’s Ordohorht province. But those avenues were closed to him. Every visible entrance and egress appeared to be closely watched by attentive soldiers, accompanied by efficient-looking customs agents with the ink stained fingers and pinched mouths of accountants.

They had blocked his way with mighty halberds, muskets, and fearsome bureaucracy: the Search and Seizure Statutes, the Heresy Tariffs, and the Inconnu Laws. Phindol had despaired when he learned of the punishments they implied, too terrified to run away—and yet refusing to abandon his mission and his cargo. It was then he found Serjant Willam and his associates.

The man seemed earnest, frank and convincing, qualities that immediately drew Phindol to him. He repeated all the things about EroBernd and Aquilaleon Phindol had already heard, and reinforced the rumors he suspected. Normally, Phindol would have considered himself immune to clever wordsmithing and salesmanship, but he and his little stack of goods had begun drawing curious looks from lounging EroBernac soldiers. It was obvious to Phindol that he was not going to remain unnoticed for much longer, and so his desperation blinded him to other, potentially more troubling qualities in the serjant.

That morning, with suitable payment, Willam had assured Phindol of safe conveyance through the Aquilaleon sprawl to the Saints’ Gate suburb north of the docks. From there, he would have an easier time fleeing the region and making his way to the city of Green Shores, where he might find another ship to carry him home.

Phindol had placed himself and his property in Willam’s hands.

It was, perhaps, his last and worst mistake.

***

The day passed, and night began to fall. The sky above turned yellow, to orange, and then to purple. Behind Phindol the last vestiges of sunlight faded. He realized that meant they were traveling east now. They had traveled east and south and south and east but only rarely north, and north was the direction Phindol had been promised.

But their forays north had been brief, and, though at first Willam was careful to explain the detours, as the day drew on, and they moved deeper and deeper into the city, the explanations and excuses came less and less frequently. Certainly some backtracking may have been necessary—take one step backwards for every two forward—but now Phindol had to accept the fact that he has been kidnapped to be robbed and possibly killed.

Phindol watched his escort, Willam and his four men, furtively. They were adequately armed. The men carried knives and cudgels. Willam carried an EroBernac rapier and flintlock. It was enough weaponry to dissuade street thugs but not enough to attract the attention of city guards or private garrisons. They moved through these neighborhoods with confidence and seemed to have no fear of the urchins, thieves, and gangs that lurked in the shadows below and the eaves above.

Phindol rubbed his hands together, seeking that comforting, familiar sensation of grinding sand. It took some minutes, but slowly the seed strengthened, his áñme stirred, and the feeling grew in his palms, spreading warmth and power.

Ñakte’s Eyes, this land is parched! The áñme languished, starved and begging him for succor. How could anyone survive here? Phindol ached for the fecund lands of home.

With a few grains of sand in his hands, he felt more secure. As he rolled them between his palms, he considered his options. Five-to-one odds were hardly favorable in any fight, but they were exactly what he would have to overcome if he were to survive. The men might be manageable, for they were armed only with close quarters weapons. The serjant and his gun, however…

He would have to best them without undue injury to himself or damage to the cart and team, and make sure that his goods remained safely in his sights at all times. Should he succeed in that, Phindol would then have to escape this city and complete the journey alone. Obviously, having wealth did not guarantee safety.

The thought put him into a grim mood, and he sat and brooded, massaging Ñakte’s sands, nurturing his seed, barely acknowledging the actions of the others.

So consumed was he that Phindol didn’t notice the change around him until the cries of Willam’s men roused him from his reverie. Their shouts and gestures were returned by greetings from other men. This was not as startling as the fact that they were standing on a road.

A road in Aquilaleon?

No, not quite in Aquilaleon.

Even as the men greeted and embraced each other, Phindol looked around and took his bearings. The sounds of the city were still all around him. The night sky glowed with gaslights and torches from countless roofs and balconies, but the buildings lining this avenue were dark, barren, and in disrepair. The cobblestones of the road were broken and uneven, with wide patches of bare earth and dried mud between them. Deep wagon wheel troughs marked the road, and further down it, he could see that the buildings were even more spread out and ramshackle, some little more than piles of crumbling stone and mortar.

They were at the edge of the city! Willam might not have taken him to Saints’ Gate, but he had taken him out of the city!

With a quiet sigh of joy, Phindol eased himself from the cart and once again flexed his good leg against the raw flesh of Zå. It had been too long since he had dressed his wounds, and the muscles of opposing side and leg ached with deep pain. Gingerly, he massaged his ribs and thigh, rubbing the warming officinal sand back into his skin, and his áñme rose to bring him more. It was a temporary easement, but for the moment it would have to do.

Willam and his men watched Phindol’s activities warily, but after a pause they returned to their conversation. Their words became short and clipped, using a tongue Phindol couldn’t understand but he recognized as Drungi.

He slowly limped around the back of the cart, his slender cane loudly ticking with each strike and step against the stones. He rested the cane against the cart and carefully lifted the leather tarpaulin. There, his 10 boxes lay, each sealed tightly and each untouched. If only—

Willam cleared his throat. It was a polite gesture, but Phindol knew it was not a request but a command. Slowly, he turned to regard the serjant.

Khat—so now you leave me, yes?”

Willam frowned and pursed his lips.

“We have decided to liberate you from your goods, yes. However, you will be relieved to know that we shall not otherwise harm you… so long as you do not resist.”

Phindol nodded, disappointed but not surprised. “Khat, is this what you meant by ‘action and deed rather than in word or title’?”

The mercenary curled his lip. “Your clothes, your cane, your boots are all very fine. Be grateful we choose not to take them as well.”

Phindol deflated, sagging onto his cane even as Willam’s men clustered around the cart, preparing to unload his goods. The vehicle was suitable for travel through the city, but the new men had brought a larger wagon and a team more appropriate for road travel.

Khat, may I make a request then, sir?”

Willam shrugged. “I will promise you nothing, but you may ask whatever you want.”

Phindol gestured towards the boxes behind him. “Bime—leave me with one, please. You will find the contents of the others more than compensatory—”

“Which one would you take?” Willam answered quickly.

After a pause, Phindol elbowed his way through the curious bandits and carefully examined the boxes. The men murmured and gasped at the implied weight as Phindol struggled to move one aside. Eventually, he found the one—the special one—and he turned back to Willam, lifting it to his breast. “Bime. This one, please, I beg you.”

The serjant frowned, his face darkening. At a flicker of his eyes, his men returned to off-loading the cart.

Phindol eased away, making room for them to work and trying to get some distance between him and them, but Willam stayed close. “What is it?” he asked simply.

Phindol hugged the box closer, his other hand shaking as it clenched his cane. “Açc, it is precious to me alone,” he said, “It is the reason for my travels. I must bring it home. What the other boxes contain were brought simply to facilitate that effort.”

Willam flinched, his eyes flickering between Phindol’s earnest face and the box he carried. “Listen, you whoressons!” he suddenly barked, making Phindol wince at the incivility of the words, “Open one of those boxes! Let’s see what we’ve troubled ourselves over!”

One of the men gratefully dropped his box into their waiting wagon and carefully turned it around, examining every side. “They’re heavy enough, forti,” he shouted, “but they’re sealed tight!”

“Open one with your club if you have to!” Willam bellowed.

The bandit emitted a cry of delight when he found two rings projecting from the face of one side. Inserting his fingers, he pulled, and a thin wire began to peel away, leaving a wax-filled groove all around the edge of the box. Tossing the cord aside, he slowly began to worry off the top. Wood and wax creaked and groaned.

Some of the men crowded forward, while others kept their distance. Willam’s eyes never left Phindol’s.

The lid of the box came off with a loud pop, and the men sighed in surprise.

“What? What is it?” Willam demanded.

The bandit threw aside some straw packing material and dug into the box. Slowly, reverentially, with both hands he turned and showed what he found. It was a small bar of substantial weight. In the night’s torches, it glowed like blood.

Willam’s eyes widened. Phindol sighed and looked at the ground.

“What could be in this box that you’d give away so much?” Willam whispered, almost too quietly for Phindol to hear.

, no, please,” Phindol begged, but the serjant’s hand was already moving.

The rapier hissed from its scabbard, the steel blade flashing in the torchlight.

Phindol staggered backwards, shying away even before the weapon was completely drawn. His feet became fouled with his cane, and he fell backwards, landing hard on the stones. His wounds burned like fire. Shock and pain seethed through him, and he was temporarily overwhelmed, curling into a gasping ball, as agony pulsed through his savaged flesh.

When his vision finally cleared, he saw Willam crouching over his box. His rapier was planted firmly in the dirt nearby.

Phindol levered himself back up with his arms and struggled to get his good leg beneath him. He rose and swayed, watching the serjant as he carefully pulled away the sealing cord.

Nû-bime, please,” he whispered, “Willam. Don’t.”

The bandit didn’t pause in his work.

Phindol sighed. Ñakte has cast this die. There was nothing left to do but see it through. What must be, must be.

Silently, Phindol rubbed his hands, and the sensation of sand returned. His áñme was excited, enraged by the pain he was experiencing. Despite the drought of this land, it brought the sand through his seed. The essence was waiting for him, and he reached out to touch it. It would be difficult, but thankfully all of Willam’s men had stopped in their work on the wagon and were watching with hungry fascination. They seemed eager to see what Willam might discover and yet hesitant to put any distance between themselves and so much gold. As a group, they would be easy to capture. And Willam, Phindol hoped, would deal with himself.

Carefully, the serjant lifted the lid off the box and tossed it aside. Inside, his torch revealed more packing material, but a quick touch showed it to be more than mere straw. In this light, it shone. His eyes darted up at Phindol. “Gold?”

Thin wispy coils of spun gold filled the box like sprays of tangled hair, cradling what lay within.

Willam shook his head. Carefully, he began removing the finely spun gold and placing it in the discarded lid. As he worked, a new light began to shine upon his face, radiating up from within the box, as if from a source of light itself and not merely a reflection of his torch’s fire, and with each coil of gold he removed, the light increased.

Willam stood and took a step backwards, absently wiping his hands against each other. There in the box nestled a shard of orange light, a spike just over 2 feet long, glowing like liquid fire. It beckoned.

Phindol could not help but look. It had been so long since he’d last seen it.

“What is it?” Willam demanded.

Phindol flinched. “Açc, I call it the Splinter. It is a blade.”

Willam frowned. Phindol understood his confusion. A blade it may have been, but not of a shape or design like anything seen in the EroBernd Empire. The Splinter was straight and narrow like a rapier, single edged, with small disemboweling hooks across the backside. It was without pommel or handle, and, despite its short length, the size of the tang implied a two-handed grip. But such strangeness was nothing compared to the flowing orange metal from which it was forged. “But what is it?” the serjant sputtered.

Phindol’s eyes widened. “Khat, you have not heard of—”

Willam stared blankly down at the blade, hungrily, and Phindol sighed. There was no warning this man, and he resolved to stop trying. Let the man’s greed carry him into Ñakte’s embrace, let Chance roll Her dice. “. No, no…” he said quietly, “Perhaps it is not important…”

Phindol might be vying against Fate Herself, but he resolved to fight on nevertheless. Now was as good a time as any. He opened his hands and let the sand fall to the cobblestones at his feet. He unleashed the áñme.

Curiosity finally overwhelmed the other men, and they pushed forward for a closer look, or they tried to. Many fell or stumbled, some screamed in sudden pain. All were completely immobile, their feet having sunk into the soil and solid stone beneath them. One broke his own leg in his struggles, bending it where it shouldn’t. Cries of outrage, confusion, and fear filled the night air.

Willam looked from the Splinter to his men to Phindol. “What did you do?” he demanded with sudden anger. “Magery! Sorcery!”

Phindol ceased massaging his thigh and raised his hands. “! Oh, no, no. I have no talent in that art.” Bending down, he picked up his cane and took a new stance. No longer did Phindol, crippled foreigner as he might be, feel quite so helpless.

Sneering, Willam looked about wildly, but his rapier was no longer at his side. He looked up accusingly at Phindol.

As if growing like a summer stalk of corn, the rapier burst out of the ground next to Phindol, rising up to him pommel first. Grasping it, he took a dual weapon stance.

“Interesting magic,” Willam growled, “Sorcery or not.” Willam drew out his pistol and cocked its doghead. “Now can you make this disappear into the ground?”

Phindol blinked. He had forgotten about that.

His foot dug into the ground, seeking to touch the essence, seeking his seed. He found it. Without any warning for the serjant, a spike of rock and dirt erupted beneath him as the áñme leapt upward. The weapon discharged with a roar as the bandit fell backwards. Phindol ducked instinctively, though he probably did not need to.

Trying to capitalize on his advantage, Phindol leapt forward and onto the new rocky mound, swinging both his weapons through the foul-smelling smoke.

He connected with nothing, and then he was face-to-face with Willam. The bandit leered, brandishing his pistol once again. The doghead was cocked and ready to fire, but part of Phindol reasonably reminded himself that there was no way Willam could have reloaded it so quickly. The gun was harmless.

The hesitation cost him dear. The gun wasn’t pointed at him but to the side. Willam pulled the trigger, and a brief fusillade of sparks and burning flint sprayed into his eyes. Phindol reeled away, pawing at his face with the back of one hand while swinging madly with the other in the hopes of keeping the serjant at a distance.

He fetched up hard against something solid—a fallen column, a piece of wall—and the unforgiving object crushed the withered flesh and bone of his yielding side. Phindol howled in agony and dropped to the ground.

He tried to call for his áñme again. He tried to stand and defend himself, but he could not make his body answer. It was overwhelmed by the pain, and his áñme cowered. The seed was closed for now.

The serjant grinned at him, and Phindol suspected his end was near. Willam’s rapier was some paces away where Phindol had dropped it, as was Phindol’s cane. Then Willam’s eyes fell upon the Splinter, and his smile faded as he reached for it.

Phindol curled into a ball and tried to catch his breath. He almost pitied the bandit.

Without hesitation, Willam lifted the Splinter from its box, holding it in two hands by the long tang. He had no fear, he showed no caution. His leather gloves provided sufficient protection to grip a blade without a handle.

Willam stood, and then a shadow of doubt passed across his face. His eyes widened, first in surprise, and then in terror. His hands clenched into fists around the blade and began to tremble. Blood welled up from inside his gloves, pouring down his sleeves, but it hardened and faded to dust before hitting the ground. His arms began to shake, and then his whole body. His mouth gaped, his cheeks and chest sank inward. He turned his clouding eyes to Phindol and pleaded without words, but Phindol could do nothing.

When Willam collapsed, he was naught but a heap of bones and desiccated flesh, which quickly blew away as dust and ash.

In the silence that followed, Phindol sighed deeply. When he was able, he struggled to his feet and limped over to the remains. Tiny bits of metal shone in the torchlight: Willam’s buttons, trinkets, and coins. Slowly, Phindol circled the corpse and examined how the Splinter lay within the dust. Lifting with his silver cane and Willam’s rapier, he carefully levered it back into the golden cradle inside the box. After a few more adjustments, he replaced the rest of the packing material and closed the lid. He would have to find a way to reseal it with wax, but that wasn’t an immediate concern.

Standing, he held Willam’s blade up to the torch light. A stripe of rust bruised it wherever it had touched the Splinter. His cane of noble silver was marred only with patina, easily polished away.

A horse whickered and stamped its foot and Phindol returned his attention to the wagons. There, Willam’s seven bandits remained, their feet still swallowed by Mother Zå beneath them.

Phindol measured the weight of his cane and performed a prayer to Ñakte.

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Glossary show/hide

World of Vestigia Gæsi

aballo: Fruit commonly found in the Bracklands.

açc: (Chroani) Exclamatory prefix, indicating a statement.

adage: At ease. A dance move consisting of a series of slow, graceful movements.

adagio: A series of sustained and perfectly controlled dance movements.

adamas: One of the 15 noble metals. Associated with the element of earth. Poisonous to Nature.

Agape of Ehre: Medianist patron saint of courtly love. Disciple of Guiot.

ahrounoi: Largely subterranean member of the Tribe of Fée.

aitvara: Member of the Tribe of Fée. Renown for their speed and agility. Also known as goblins.

Âkapirmas: (EroBernac) The Medianist God. Considered archaic.

alf: Member of the Tribe of Fée.

altupater: (EroBernac) Honorific for a Medianist bishop or archbishop.

áñme: (Chroani) Elemental.

Anwar Clobyn, Tribe of: One of the great tribes, consisting of the centaurs, paqa, and other beastmen.

Aquilaleon: Capital of the EroBernd Empire. Crown of the Seven Kingdoms. Seat of the current superbus tyrannus.

archbishop: Senior clergyman within the Medianist church, ranked between bishop and præfect. Oversees one or more nomarchies.

ard-vitchoor: (Brackish) Ultimate bastard.

ats: (Chroani) (1) Exclamatory prefix, indicating a positive response. (2) Yes.

bascinet: (Drungi) A full helm with either a hinged visor or grille.

Bik chan!: (Aitvara) Disrobe!

bime: (Chroani) Exclamatory prefix, indicating a suggestion.

birtuoso: Dancer of great skill.

bishop: Senior clergyman within the Medianist church, ranked between ordinary and archbishop. Oversees one or more eparches within their bishopric.

boduus: (Brackish) (1) Raven. (2) Racial epithet for all non-Bracks.

braca: (Brackish) Leather pants.

Brack: Native of the Bracklands.

Brack/Brackish: Language of the Bracks.

Bracklands: Undefined territory north of the Palpi Peninsula, and the homeland of the Brack Tribes. Currently experiencing rraakk incursions in the northwest.

bratos: (Brackish) Thanks.

Bredbeddle of EroBernd: Medianist saint and disciple of Hoël. Considered the pinnacle of Medianist knighthood. The first Raven. During Bredbeddle’s Crusade, he drove the asps from the Seven Kingdoms. Also known as Bredbeddle of Tavs’a.

brinneal: (Chroani) Beautiful girl. Beloved.

Burning Time: (1) Holy day recognizing the battle between God and the Devil, occurring on the Winter Equinox of Hard Winter. The holiest day of the Medianist calendar. (2) Act of burning witches.

caltrop: Spikes dropped on the ground to maim horses.

Camboglanna: City in northern Ehre and capital of the Orqueneles province.

casti: (EroBernac) Title preceding surname of unmarried female laity.

Cathru-Gaoshem: City on the Ulbandi coast.

cauaros: Species of giant, and member of the Tribe of Fée.

Cærimonia: City in the EroBernd Empire, and seat of the Medianist church.

centaur: Member of the Tribe of Anwar Clobyn. Distinctive for their apparent mix of human and animal attributes.

ceorl: (EroBernac) Urban peasant. Along with the cottar, the lowest free class of the EroBernac laity.

Certu: Rarified Word of the Medianist God. The collected teachings of the Medianist Prophets and saints.

Chroani: (1) Native of the Chroani Kingdoms. (2) Language of the Chroani Kingdoms.

Chroani Kingdoms: Region somewhere north of the Bracklands, and homeland of the Chroani. Currently suffering from numerous rraakk incursions.

cing: (Brackish) Knight.

circle magic: (EroBernac) Form of magic derived from the invocation and control of spirits and demons.

coept-inigena: (Brackish) Prize bride.

commerçant: (Ehrech) Prostitute.

contouche: Sack-back dress.

copper: One of the 15 noble metals. Associated with the element water.

cottar: (Drungi) Rural peasant. Along with the ceorl, the lowest free class of the EroBernac laity.

Court of Love: Party game of logic, manners, and courtly love. Popular among Seven Kingdoms gentry.

cravat: A band or scarf of fine cloth. Worn around the neck and tied in a bow with the ends hung down in front.

decency skirt: Under-petticoat worn between the shift and the stays. Intended to preserve a woman’s decency in case the lady falls or if the panier is lifted by a high wind.

Darkblood: Blood drinking, flesh eating undead. Member of the Tribe of Night.

Dedicant: A child who has undergone the Rite of Dedication to the Medianist Church. The lowest order of the clergy.

Dedication: Turning over of the responsibilities of raising a child to the Medianist church. Essentially the adoption of a child by the church and enlisting them as a Dedicant into the clergy. Held on the Harvest Festival.

dedre: (Brackish) Sorrowful.

Deivas: (Drungi) Great Spirit, god.

diutnum: One of the 15 noble metals. Associated with the element of dust. Poisonous to humans.

donios: (Brackish) Husband.

drolle: (Drungi) Mischievous child.

Drungi: (1) Native from the lands of Katsarloki. Now very rare. (2) Language of the Drungi.

dubi-gnatos: (Brackish) “Black-born”. Stillborn, miscarried. Demon.

Dulia: Veneration and worship of Medianist saints.

dust: One of the 15 known elements. Associated with the metal of diutnum, the symbol of Time, and the Tribe of Ešhar. Also known as sand.

Dux Bellôrum: Supreme commander of the armies of the superbus tyrannus.

dwarf: Racial epithet referring to ahrounoi.

earth: One of the 15 known elements. Associated with the metal of adamas, the symbol of Petrifaction, and the Tribe of Zå.

egglikker: Paqa egg alcohol distilled within its own shell.

Ehre, Duchy of: One of the Seven Kingdoms.

Ehrech: (1) Native of the Duchy of Ehre. (2) Language of the Duchy of Ehre.

elemental magic: (EroBernac) Form of magic derived from the worship and control of the elements.

embers: (Drungi/EroBernac) Sources of sorcerers’ power. Also known as stones.

embrekton: Thick mixture of lard, halki meal, and bits of meat, fried over an open flame. A Brackish delicacy.

eparchy: (EroBernac) Circuit of a bishop’s jurisdiction.

Equoranda: Frontier. Border between the Bracklands and the territory of the rraakks.

EroBernac: (1) Native of the EroBernd Empire. (2) Language of the EroBernd Empire.

EroBernd Empire: One of the Seven Kingdoms. The current seat of the superbus tyrannus.

erolonaise: A lively dance from the Duchy of Ehre.

êtqra: (Drungi) To complete. (EroBernac) Amen (as an expression of faith).

Eulalian Medianism: Heretical practice of worshipping Eulalius as the second Prophet of God.

Eulalians: Followers of the Eulalian heresy.

Eulalius, Anti-Prophet: Attempted to claim he was the second of God’s prophets in 1000 PA, sparking the Heresy Wars. Allied with Rixueramos Oswui. Was defeated by Hoël.

fairing: Sweet cake.

Fallen Lords: Anti-saints. Observed and honored by Medianists as bad examples.

Fée, Tribe of: Largest of the Great Tribes, including races such as the alfs, ahrounoi, aitvara, cauaros, and traellern. Vulnerable to iron.

fire: One of the 15 known elements. Associated with the metal of phosphorus, the symbol of Rebirth, and the Tribe of Nature.

forti: Title preceding surname of male laity.

Gaudin of Vis’I Qira: Medianist saint and disciple of Pennenc. Defined the requirements of demonic possession.

gilet: Waistcoat.

gnomes: Member of the Tribe of Fée. Also known as cabeiri.

goblins: Member of the Tribe of Fée. Also known as aitvara.

God of Love: Player in a Court of Love, designated as ruler, judge, and final mediator to the arguments made by the other participants.

Golagros of Tergalo: Medianist saint and disciple of Kahedin. Known for his practices of extreme sadism, perversion, and bestiality. Left no writings or testimonies, and his derived philosophies are rarely taught. Was sainted personally by Kahedin.

Gold Season: Last season of spring.

goody: Goodwife. Title preceding surname of married female laity.

grains: (Chroani) Physical manifestation of the link between an earth elementalist and their áñme. Also known as Ñakte’s sands.

Green Shores: A city in northern EroBernd in the Ordohorht province.

groundling: Member of the poorest segment of the population. Often a peasant, beggar, vagrant, or refugee.

Guiot the Virgin: Fourth Medianist Prophet, from EroBernd.

heat: One of the 15 known elements. Associated with the metal of iron, the symbol of Death, and the race of Man.

Hells, Fire and Ice: (1) Place of eternal punishment for demons, heretics, and fallen Medianists. Also known as the Eyes of God, Pànupikulas and Pikulas. (2) The sun and the moon.

Heresy Tariffs: Scale of rates and charges imposed upon non-Medianists wishing to enter the EroBernd Empire.

Hoël the Traveled: Second Medianist Prophet, from Mut. Taught the first laws of sorcery, tools, and learning. His refined the laws of chivalry and courtly behavior are called Cortegiania.

Hoyw!: (Brackish) Hail!

Inconnu Laws: Laws restricting the movements and freedom of non-Medianists within the EroBernd Empire.

infinity: One of the 15 known elements. Associated with the symbol of the Wheel. Also known as world.

inigena: (Brackish) Daughter, girl.

Inquisition: Collection of Medianist clergy dedicated to the detection and correction of heresy and witchcraft.

Johlpa the Ax: Ruler of the Brackish gods. God of warriors, farmers, sheep, and cattle.

jupes: Skirts.

justaucorps: (Ehre) Jacket of the Ehrech fashion.

Kahedin the Pure: Third Medianist Prophet, from EroBernd.

Kahedinites: Followers of the Prophet Kahedin.

khat: (Chroani) Exclamatory prefix, indicating a question.

kobolde: Vermin-like race. Travel in packs. Member of the Tribe of Fée.

kulum’i: (Aitvara) Deeper.

kwyall: (Chroani) (1) Exclamatory prefix, indicating surprise. (2) Why?

laity: Commoners of the Medianist faith.

lamna: Silver currency from the EroBernd Empire.

Lapárkwi: One of the Chroani Kingdoms.

Latria: Novena in veneration and worship of the Medianist God.

learning magic: (EroBernac) Form of magic derived from the accumulation of knowledge.

Liz: A province of the EroBernd Empire.

lovag: (Mynyddi) Knight.

luct-marvos: (Brackish) (1) Clan of the dead and its members. (2) Outcast, exile.

: (Chroani) (1) Exclamatory prefix, indicating a negative response. (2) No.

magic/mana: One of the 15 known elements. Associated with the symbol of Stone.

mandala: (Chroani) Circular construct, representing the elements of the world and their relationships.

mantelet: Short hooded cloak worn by women over their gowns when going out.

Median: (1) Holy symbol of the Medianist church. A bisected circle. (2) Hand gesture representing the holy symbol.

Medianism: Dominant religious belief in the Seven Kingdoms. Based on the belief of one god and the teachings of four prophets and multiple saints.

mirain: (Brackish) Beautiful, comely.

miter: (EroBernac) Official hat worn by Medianist bishops and archbishops.

moon: Ice Hell. Also known as Pikulas and the Eye of God.

Mut, Duchy of: One of the Seven Kingdoms.

Muttese: (1) Native of the Duchy of Mut. (2) Language of the Duchy of Mut (high and low).

Mynydd, Duchy of: One of the Seven Kingdoms.

Mynyddi: (1) Native of the Duchy of Mynydd. (2) Language of the Duchy of Mynydd. Largely a cross between Drungi, Söderkarl, and Muttese.

nage: (Brackish) No (denial of an affirmative).

nahush: (Aitvara) Ignorant child. Student.

Ñakte: God of peasants, kings, wisdom, and war.

Ñakte’s sands: Physical manifestation of the link between an earth elementalist and their áñme. Also known as grains.

nishe: (Aitvara) Kneel.

Nola!: (Aitvara) Please, no!

nomarchy: (EroBernac) Circuit of an archbishop’s jurisdiction, consisting of one or more eparchies.

: (Chroani) (1) Exclamatory prefix, indicating urgency. (2) Now.

ogres: Cannibalistic members of the Tribe of Man.

oraru: (Aitvara) Sleep.

Order of the Raven: Elite knights of the Seven Kingdoms, distinctive by their black cloaks. Medianist paladins.

Ordohorht: A province of the EroBernd Empire.

Palpi/Palpin: (1) Native of the Palpi Peninsula. (2) Language of the Palpi Peninsula. Largely a cross between Southern Brackish and EroBernac.

Palpi city-states: Twelve cities of the Abaisd Territories, occupying the Palpi Peninsula. Most are independently ruled by a doge or other municipal official.

Palpi Peninsula/Palpin: Region occupied by the 12 city-states of the Abaisd Territories.

pañä’s’äk: (Chroani) (1) Fifteen. (2) Form of magic derived from the worship and control of the elements. Also known as elemental magic.

panier: Hoop petticoat.

paqa: Semi-intelligent bird-like race with especially long arms and legs. Known for their delicious flesh.

pater: Honorific for a Medianist priest or ordinary.

Pennenc the Wise: First Medianist Prophet, from Ehre. His laws of Cortesia defined the gender roles for Medianists, the three “pure” forms of magic, and the nature of chivalry. Established many of the accepted Medianist traditions.

phan: (Aitvara) Hand. Palm of the hand.

porik: (Aitvara) calm, rest.

priest: Clergyman within the Medianist church, ranked between deacon and ordinary. Serves the laity at the church level.

primate: Religious leader of the Medianist church.

pro memoria: (EroBernac) (1) Official written record on the death of a member of the gentry or clergy. (2) Memorial gathering for the deceased figure.

quietus est: (EroBernac) Writ of discharge, exempting a vassal from payment of their tribute to their master.

Quippe?: (EroBernac) Indeed? (ironic).

quodlibet: Whimsical combination of melodies.

Reccared of EroBernd: Former dux bellôrum under Superbus Tyrannus Serli, crowned superbus tyrannus when Serli denied Guiot the Virgin and became the anti-prophet. Led the EroBernd Empire to victory in the Resurrection War. Considered one of the greatest of the superbus tyranni. Disciple of Guiot.

reeve: (EroBernac) Village headman.

retiré: Dance move where the thigh is raised with knee bent so that the pointed toe rests on the supporting knee.

ridder: (Söderkarl) Medianist knight.

Riphe!: (Aitvara) Stand up!

ritter: (High Muttese) Knight.

Róncolo: Province of the EroBernd Empire.

Rovers, Tribe of: One of the great tribes, consisting of insects, arachnids, and worms.

rraakk: Hostile species invading the northwestern Bracklands.

sand: One of the 15 known elements. Associated with the metal of diutnum, the symbol of Time, and the Tribe of Ešhar. Also known as dust.

Sayap, Tribe of: One of the great tribes, consisting of avians and flying things.

Search and Seizure Statutes: EroBernac customs laws defining when cargos can be searched, what is considered contraband, and what fines and punishments can be levied in the case of violations.

seed: (Chroani) Link between an elementalist and their elemental.

Seekers, Tribe of: One of the Great Tribes, consisting of all spirits and those who are immaterial. Also known as the Tribe of Circles.

sellâria: Professional hostess, entertainer, and courtesan.

seneschal: Servant in charge of a lord’s estate.

serjant: Non-commissioned officer within the EroBernac, Palpin, and Ehrech militaries.

Serli of EroBernd: Superbus Tyrannus and son of the Fourth Prophet, Guiot. Denying his father’s title, he claimed himself the true Prophet of God and fled to Ehre. As a result, he was excommunicated and labeled the anti-prophet, sparking the Resurrection War. Captured and executed at the battle of Fallen Statues in 23 GA.

Serlian heresy: The dominant Medianist heresy, following the teachings of Superbus Tyrannus Serli, the second anti-prophet. Their existence is only marginally tolerated within the Seven Kingdoms, with extreme persecution commonplace.

Serlians: Followers of the Serlian heresy.

Seven Kingdoms: Confederation of eight Duchies circling the Skudd Sea: Duchy of Ehre, EroBernd Empire, Duchy of Mut, Duchy of Mynydd, Palpi City-states (Abaisd Territories), Southern Territories, Duchy of Ulbandus, and the Ymyl Gwland Baronies. Ruled by a superbus tyrannus, currently Duke Valven of the EroBernd Empire.

shortgown: Non-fitted gown worn by ladies in the morning before they are dressed. Worn by groundlings for day labor.

sica: (Chroani) One-handed battle scythe.

Silavad Panegyrics: Six blessings invoked during every major Medianist occasion, representing the six stages of life as defined by Pennenc: Birth (creation), discovery (growth), chaos (rebellion), union (marriage), patronage (parenthood), and death (destruction).

sinfonietta: Small chamber orchestra.

snipper: (Aitvara) Master assassin.

Söderkarl: (1) Native of the Southern Territories. (2) Language of the Southern Territories.

solidus (pl. solidi): Gold currency from the EroBernd Empire.

Solym: Enemies of the Synesi.

sorcerer: (Drungi/EroBernac) One who possesses a stone and practices sorcery. Also known as a witch or wizard.

sorcery: (Drungi/EroBernac) Form of magic derived from the manipulation of a sorcerer’s stone.

stays: Corset stiffened with bone.

stipis: Copper currency from the EroBernd Empire.

Stolest: A tiny independent nation residing between the EroBernd Empire and the Duchy of Mynydd.

Stolesti: Native of Stolest.

stomacher: Heavily embroidered, jeweled, or otherwise decorated front piece of a bodice.

summoning: (Brackish/EroBernac) Invocation of magic through a sorcerer’s stone/ember.

sun: Fire Hell. Also known as Pànupikulas and the Eye of God.

Superbus Tyrannus: Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. Currently held by Duke Valven the Usurer of the EroBernd Empire.

Synes Republic: Nation east of the Seven Kingdoms. Much more tolerant and syncretic than the Seven Kingdoms.

Synesi: (1) Native of the Synes Republic. (2) Language of the Synes Republic.

tabard: (Drungi) Loose-fitting coat or cape worn over a knight’s armor. Adorned with his blazons.

templar: A knight serving the Medianist Church and primate rather than a lord.

Tergalo: A province of the EroBernd Empire.

themoch: Member of the Tribe of Masks. Shape-shifting enemy of Man. Also known as shades.

tools magic: (EroBernac) Form of magic derived from the design and creation of tools, technology, and science.

traellern: Member of the Tribe of Fée.

Trinousian Medianism: Heretical belief that there were only three Prophets, denying Kahedin. Established by Saint Grefflet.

triptych: A picture or carving in three panels side by side.

troq: (Aitvara) Widow’s Veil poison.

uinom: Brackish wine.

Ulbandi: (1) Native of the Duchy of Ulbandus. (2) Language of the Duchy of Ulbandus.

Ulbandus, Duchy of: One of the Seven Kingdoms.

vavasour: Noble ranking below a baron.

ve’co: (Brackish) (1) Rage. (2) Brackish berserker.

Vestiga Gæsi: (1) Small province of the EroBernd Empire, within the Ordohorht province. (2) Capitol of the Vestiga Gæsi province and suburb of Aquilaleon.

villein: (1) Medianist member of the peasant class. (2) Free citizen of the Seven Kingdoms.

viscount: Noble ranking below a count and above a baron.

water: One of the 15 known elements. Associated with the metal of copper, the symbol of Harmony, and the Tribe of Fée.

wätk: (Chroani) Exclamatory prefix, indicating a command.

weihs: (Low Muttese) Town, village.

witch: (Drungi/EroBernac) (1) One who possesses a stone and practices sorcery. Also known as a sorcerer or wizard. (2) Anyone who illegally practices magic, proselytizes non-Medianist beliefs, or otherwise exhibits heretical behavior in the Seven Kingdoms.

wizard: (Drungi/EroBernac) (1) One who possesses a stone and practices sorcery. Also known as a sorcerer or witch. (2) A Medianist priest.

world: One of the 15 known elements. Associated with the symbol of the Wheel. Also known as infinity.

Yiko!: (Aitvara) Give me!

Ymyl Gwland Baronies: Largest of the Seven Kingdoms and territory of the EroBernd Empire.

: The World.

zanni: (EroBernac) Clown. Often plays role of madcap servant or villein, performing various acrobatics and tricks.

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