The Loathly Lady

What do all women desire?

Young squire Brandywine believes he knows the answer to this riddle. He has always been a favorite with the damsels, excelling in jousting, drinking, and romance. But when an ancient and powerful force threatens his kingdom, and this riddle becomes the means of defeating the enemy, he learns just how wrong he is. There are many women in his life, each with her own desire, but only the Loathly Lady holds the riddle’s true answer. To save his kingdom and become the hero, dare he pay her price?

John Lawson’s Witch Ember cycle continues with this stunning prequel!

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John Lawson's The Loathly Lady

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Thoroughly entertaining, it had me hooked from start to finish. Recommended. Read MoreStuart Clark, author of Project U.L.F. – Outbreak

Attention to detail along with well fleshed out characters make this a very well written book and worth the read. Read MoreJenn S, BooksBooksBooks

…perfect for mature YA readers and adults who have a tolerance for sexual situations and language. A true descendant of the fantasy heritage and eminently readable, this novel author builds an immersive world. Read MoreLeia Menlove, ForeWord Reviews

Lawson often manages to put a surprising twist on familiar folk tales and Arthuriana… Read MorePublishers Weekly

I had a hard time putting The Loathly Lady aside and the last hundred pages disappeared in a blur. Read MoreKelly Jensen, SF Crowsnest

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Prologue: Creation

Âkapirmas is strong
And in all things, I must defer to Him.
Âkapirmas is my judge and my teacher and my father
And in all things, I must defer to Him.
Âkapirmas allows His enemies to exist and prosper beyond my reach
But in all things, I must defer to Him.
Âkapirmas gave us victory over the demons
But He suffers our shores to be shattered and broken
And in all things, I must defer to Him.
Âkapirmas allows infidels to invade the Brotherhood
He suffers them to spread the word of their false gods
He suffers the low races to rape our soil with their seed
He suffers the witches, deviants, and whores
He suffers the exaltation of the knights of Gokh.
Âkapirmas permitted the rise of a false Prophet
Whose words poison the lands of the divnali-êtqra and all who revere Pennenc
But in all things, I must defer to Him.
For I have heard the divine song of Âkapirmas
I have seen His true Prophet
I have kissed the soil cleansed by his footfall
I have answered his call
And I keep the steel of my sword’s blade bright.
For Âkapirmas comes not as a whisper but as a shout
And His vengeance will stain the world with blood
And in all things, I must defer to Him.

Prayer of Bredbeddle, 1027 PA
Doctrine of Hoël the Prophet

***

In the thick High Summer night, God’s pale eye shone upon the small party picking its way across the wasteland. Gyneth looked around as she marched. Little grew here other than the most hardy of plants. Such a difference from the lands of Dagâ Dainâ, a scant day’s foot travel away. Everything here was dead—or nearly so—though signs indicated that things were slowly changing.

Risking a swift kick from her companions behind, Gyneth bent down and scooped up a handful of the crusty soil. Her fingers crushed and sifted the small clots with practiced care until they found a piece they could not crumble. As she held it up to her eyes, the curved shard glowed white in the moonlight. It was difficult to see clearly, as for reasons he refused to divulge, Banw had forbidden any torch or taper. What was it, a shell? She slid it between her lips and could still taste the salt.

They said all this used to be under water—that Dagâ Dainâ was once a seafaring nation. Then the Shake came. A war. And the ground rose up to become the great mountains of the south.

And everything changed.

Or something to that effect.

Gyneth wondered, if the sea retreated so easily once, might it just as quickly return? Might the earth suddenly drop away from under her feet? Might she at any second look up to see a wall of water rushing forward to reclaim this land?

Rokeby shoved her irritably from behind and muttered for her to pick up the pace. She glared, but did as he said. She wasn’t at all certain she belonged with this group, but she certainly wasn’t going to cross them. The number of gold teeth in the man’s mouth implied affluence in replacing them…and a proclivity for losing them. They paid her dat good copper for her services, and she wasn’t about to disappoint him.

She flicked the shell aside and drove the thoughts from her mind. The Shake happened long before her young life, though she had heard that her grandmother’s great-grandmother witnessed it. An eternity ago. Chances were the sea wouldn’t be reclaiming this stretch anytime soon.

Gyneth kept an eye on the horizon nevertheless.

***

The group huddled together, watching Banw from a distance. The ifrlis Gyneth accompanied appeared strong, skilled, and dangerous, yet she still felt unsafe in the presence of the sorcerer’s unspoken frustration. Evidently, the men did as well.

They sat silently as they watched him pace the lake’s shore, as if he were counting and recounting his steps. No birds or insects flew through the warm night air, the only noises their anxious breathing and the whickering of their two fists of pack mules.

Beneath it all, she could barely hear Banw’s angry muttering.

This lake used to be a moving river before it all backed up. Gyneth crouched on her haunches and examined the rocks and soil around them. Being a farmer’s shebari, she often had little else to occupy her mind. She has no children, she was too young to marry, and the mules have already been tended to.

Soil was scant here—barely enough for the hardiest of weeds to take hold, never mind crops. A simple swipe of her index finger revealed solid bedrock below. There were no rounded stones in this river bed—instead, the rocks here were jagged and uneven and raw. Perhaps the river didn’t run here long enough to wear them down.

“Welcome to the Azeran River, uh?”

Everyone startled at the sorcerer’s loud words. His eyes seemed to shine in the scant light. Flat card-like stones in his hands shuddered and shifted as if frightened by his touch.

“Then, this is it?” Rokeby asked.

Banw shook his head. “Nage, not exactly. This river used tä run north toward Chur, then west toward the Skudd. But now it’s gone. One year it just stopped runnin’. Gone. And this lake formed.” Banw chuckled without humor. “Much tä the relief of the citizens of Chur. Damned place used tä flood each spring from the snowmelt…”

“If this isn’t the place,” Rokeby sputtered, “then—”

“Tewi!” Banw snapped. “The river hid its head, yä sees?” He gestured toward the dark profiles of the Warband to the south, “It winds its way through these mountains, but where does the water flow, uh? The lake has grown, but it must go somewhere!” He sighed deeply at the confused silence. “Soon after the Azeran River turned into this lake, the Mi’zak River sprang tä life down in Dagâ Dainâ. Its wild waters were untamed until King Bebrus dammed it. The Mi’zak was born when the Azeran went underground.”

“Underground?” Gyneth pondered aloud.

Banw looked at her as if for the first time and smiled toothily. The stony wafers in his hands shuffled and slid against one another. “Yäh. It is a complicated matter tä explain in detail, pektus. Suffice tä say, when these lands rose up from under the sea, great sheets of rock broke apart and settled against each other, leavin’ many gaps and crevices and…holes. Many things were uncovered…and buried.”

As if in illustration, the stones in his hands rose into a peak, like a precariously balanced deck of cards, before collapsing again.

“Somethin’ underground changed. Perhaps somethin’ shifted or slipped or broke. Where was once a river, now is a lake. And somewheres beneath it, the water has found a new path…down tä the Mi’zak.”

“So what do you want?” Rokeby barked with more courage than Gyneth expected. “You expecting us to walk all the way around this thing? To find this drain? We looking for where Azeran feeds Mi’zak? This is a big lake, caragus! We don’t have time for that! We didn’t bring enough food for that, never mind grain for the mules!”

Banw’s hands slid together, calming and stacking his wafers in a single fluid motion. “Yä might thinks that, wouldn’t yä? But, nage. Me guide says we are at the correct place. Our destination is here.” The sorcerer turned away. “Make camp and start lookin’. Circle the lake, but go na farther than a mile in either direction. Wherever it is, it is close by.”

Rokeby swallowed and nodded. At some level, Gyneth suspected he was prepared for a violent reaction to his outburst. Now he almost seemed disappointed that he didn’t get it. Throwing a wild punch at the nearest of his ifrlis, he gruffly ordered them into motion.

Gyneth backed away, her eyes alternating between the busy group of toughs and the solitary stone-summoner. Her gaze met Rokeby’s, and he sneered, “Keep out of the way,” even though it was evident that she already was.

No fires were being lit. Despite the daylong hike, no one prepared to rest or break bread. The men began to unpack and assemble the identical burdens carried by the mules. Quickly, frames of wood and leather took shape; bags of heavy burlap reinforced by wood and bronze; backpacks likewise toughened and strengthened; rope and pulleys; picks and shovels. Weapons. Swords and short blades and compact, deadly devices Gyneth has heard to be called arbalests. Each was carefully prepared and set aside.

The moon had begun to set by the time they set off to search the lakeshore, and Banw grudgingly allowed them to light torches.

Gyneth silently sidled up to Rokeby. “What is this?” she hissed quietly. “Who are you? I’m næ killer! I don’t know what my dat told you about me, but—”

“Shut up!” Rokeby growled, the torchlight flashing bloody red off the gold in his mouth. “We didn’t pay for you to kill! And we didn’t pay for you to complain or ask questions either! You’re small, and your dat says you can climb. That’s what we need you for!”

“But the swords—”

“We ain’t going to kill anyone that doesn’t get in our way,” he assured her, but the way his hand rested on the pommel of his sword gave her reason to step back. “Do as you’re told, stay out of our way, and keep your mouth shut. Do this, and your dat will be well rewarded. Understand?”

Gyneth bit her lip and backed off. Stay out of their way? Easily done.

A little ways back toward the camp, she found a large wash, a place where the Azeran River used to flow in earnest. Formed by a boulder nearly twice as large as her dat’s cottage, the water here used to collect into a deep eddy. Standing in what must have been the deepest part of the pool, she looked up at the boulder and tried to imagine what this place was like when the Azeran River was alive. Chavvies and shebaris like her might have found shelter here from the heat, diving into the water from the top of the rock. Chasing fish. Hiding from their elders. Making sport with one another.

She shivered and smiled when a sudden gust of cool air rushed across her legs, stimulating images of diving into shockingly cold water on a hot day.

What fun that must have been!

Halfway enthralled by her own fantasy, she began to search the edges of the pool and then the top of the boulder for signs of those bygone youths—carvings in the stone, lost trinkets—but to no avail. They were either long gone or had never existed.

Unsure of why this disappointed her so much, she sat on a boulder and sulked. With the moon gone, the stars of Heaven gleamed across the night sky. Below them, right where the line of the horizon cut into the sky, she could see the distant lights of Tûlas Turmas. The black shadow of the Sentinel loomed to the south, the first of the Warband, upon whose foothills they had been traveling all night. She has heard that this great lake wound between the Warband, connecting them. Or separating them. It sort of depended on how you wanted to look at it.

The lights of Tûlas Turmas shimmered, and she imagined she could hear the festivities. The smells of food, the music and dancing, the costumes and shows. She craved the sweetmeats her mother made. Lankinâ Kyot would begin tomorrow. Perhaps she would be back in time to enjoy them.

She could hear Rokeby and Banw yelling at each other. Evidently, their search was not going well. She wondered who she had more reason to fear: the sorcerer or the bandit. In the story “Alfritha and Dyvyr,” the jel’enedra was killed once her usefulness was over. Was she anything more to these men than a simple jel’enedra?

She watched the torches gathering as the men met and discussed their situation.

Did they intend to kill her too? How much did they offer her dat for her? What could he possibly do to these men if she never came home?

Very well, perhaps the jel’endra from “Alfritha and Dyvyr” wasn’t the best character for her to think about right now. Better think about the happy ending. Gyneth smiled. The two lovers from the story were wed upon the shores of a pool like this. She glanced down. And to seal their wedding pact, they threw the rings of their betrothed into the water!

Grinning broadly, she snatched up her torch and scrambled back down into the dried pool. Perhaps her friends from the past had left hints of their presence in this pool as well?

Holding her torch close to the ground, she began to search carefully. Parts of the smooth rock basin were covered in old dried algae. Seasons of debris and dead and dried weeds choked the bottom. Seasonal rains must fill this basin for a time before the heat dried it out, but with the amount of rain these mountains got, she expected this pool would become much deeper. Perhaps there was sandy soil beneath? She dug about briefly but found only more clay and bedrock.

She shrugged. The water must run off somewhere.

It was an insignificant puzzle, and she quickly lost interest in it, just as she lost interest in searching for lost treasures—there were none to find here. She considered heading back to the mules and trying to find some food.

Another gust of cool air tickled her skin. With it came the subtle scent of water.

Gyneth stopped. Cool breeze on such a hot summer night? She waited and shortly felt it again. In fact, the longer she waited, the more she realized that the coolness was always there, pulsing softly like breaths.

Holding her torch lower, she watched its flame as it gently swayed. She slowly moved closer. The dark grayness of the stone faded to a natural dull brown as she neared, but beneath at its base was a slash of darkness that remained solid as night.

Resting her hand on the boulder, Gyneth crouched down and extended her torch.

***

Gyneth felt alone, isolated, surrounded. The heavy darkness crushed her, the roar of water filling her ears. The air was thick with the scent and feel of it.

She stood upon the rocky, uneven surface, waist-deep in old, slimy water, legs splayed, body thrown back to keep the tension upon the rope. Her small torch had extinguished the moment she landed in this pool. Evidently, this was where all the rainwater ended up. She shivered. All around her was hungry darkness.

The rope jerked and jostled. Dirt, mud, and curses cascaded down upon her. She looked away and blinked, not daring to shift her weight or move her feet. The darkness above her slowly gave way. More jerking, more curses, and quickly the stone ceiling acquired definition as light spilled in. It illuminated her dirty body rising from a pool of stagnant water, about twenty or thirty feet wide.

The cave wasn’t quite as big as her passage downward had implied. The rope above her wrapped around the edge of an outcropping and disappeared.

“Curse you, bitch!” someone shouted down at her. “Are you sure this is the best way down?”

She didn’t answer, unsure of what a response would gain, except perhaps a beating.

The moment they tied that rope around her waist and sent her down, she knew why they had hired her from her dat. Climbing—her dat had always bragged about it and cursed her skills—but never had she had to do anything like this.

The cave beneath the boulder was large—big enough even for all the men of the group to stand in—but farther down…For nearly an hour, she crawled and twisted and pulled, struggling to navigate the treacherous honeycomb of gaps and passages to gain access to the main cavern deep below that Banw assured her she would find.

In actuality, finding this large cavern was easy. Finding a way into it that the men could traverse…aye, that was difficult.

A head, a hand, and a torch appeared over the outcropping. Rokeby nodded down at her and then disappeared again. She could barely make out him calling back up to the others. When he reappeared, he was smiling, his earlier curses apparently forgotten.

Moments later, he replaced her as the anchor to the rope, and she was forgotten.

The process of bringing down men and equipment began.

***

“Did you have to find so much water to stand in?” Rokeby snarled.

“Will I still be needed?” she asked in a small voice. “May I go back up and take care of the mules?”

“Næ, we still need you. We’ll be bringing all these bags back up soon…but filled and heavy. We’ll need your help in coaxing them through the tight spots.”

“Filled with what?”

“Shut up, and get out of the way!”

***

The cavern was wide and low, its walls smooth and relatively clean. Banw swore this was once a main artery of the Azeran River, or that it was like the main artery, or some such. It was obvious that water used to surge through here. The roar of it was ever-present. Cold, moist air gusted and howled through the tunnels. If what Banw said was true, then somewhere nearby, the great lake above them was slowly pouring into the caverns and flowing the many miles down to the Mi’zak.

Gyneth quietly wound her way through the smooth wet stone towers and rounded curves of this place. The water flowing through here had given everything a strange, organic shape. Down slope of the rainwater pool, she found other, smaller pools. Fed by tiny springs and the ever-present mist, small rivers of water ran across the floor, disappearing into the darkness. There were many places to hide but few things to find. Everything smaller than an ox seemed to have been swept away long ago. She stayed out of the way while the others worked.

“Gather the men,” Banw’s voice echoed from nearby. “We moves upstream when ready.”

“Wait,” Rokeby interrupted with sudden tension. “All of them? I thought we had agreed to leave some up top with the mules…”

All of them,” Banw answered with finality. “The inigena can stay behind. We has na more real use fer her…at least until we begins bringin’ the goods up.”

“Leaving an inigena behind with a team of mules? I don’t think Virbius would approve—”

“Virbius won’t approve of us bein’ late, which we are, due tä the laziness of yer men and the sluggishness of that inigena!”

“Ain’t nothing to do with my men!” Rokeby snapped. “If you had known where the fuck you were going…”

The silence between them seemed to burn the air. At last, Banw said, “If yä feels yer men are sä…energetic, here is their opportunity tä prove it. Gather all of them together. We heads upstream. We must finds the treasure quickly. The mules must be loaded, and we must be underway before sunrise. If we fails tä do sä, then Virbius will be displeased. Am I understood, uh?”

There was a pause before Rokeby snapped, “Aye.”

Gyneth slowly released her breath as she heard the men separate. Perhaps it would be best for her to head up now. Better to keep herself far from this gang. Perhaps when she got to the top, she should run, run far, far away and never stop until she got home.

But treasure? They were in search of treasure here?

In the distance, she heard Rokeby bellow for her, ordering his men to send her up to the mules on the surface. His harsh voice echoed and boomed through the rounded walls, until they were eventually swallowed by the mist and hiss of tumbling water.

Flee? Risk them chasing her? Where else would she go but back to her dat? Where else would they look for her?

Stay? Perhaps get some of this treasure for herself? Would that be possible? What would they do if they caught her? What would they do if they found out she knew?

Stay hidden then, she resolved. Follow them, perhaps. See what this treasure was. Take what she could, and then slip back out before they were the wiser. Aye, she nodded as she silently extinguished her torch in a nearby puddle. That’s what she’d do.

As the group began to move, she remained in the shadows, hidden behind the torches of the men. The very light they used to see blinded them to her nearby presence. After gathering up their packs and tools, they lined up and, led by Rokeby, marched upstream into the darkness.

Banw lagged behind, carefully scanning their rough camp with his eyes and then glancing up at the hanging rope. “Where is the inigena?” he asked the last man in the line.

The ifrli shrugged—he was little more than a farmer’s chavvie—and gestured toward the rope. “I heard Rokeby ordered her back up. I suppose that’s where she is.”

Banw nodded, and the two followed the others.

***

The mist was thicker here, the water sounding more imminent. Gyneth was not sure, but she suspected the floor on her right had fallen away, replacing solid stone with a sharp drop and a roaring, swift underground river. Without a torch, she could not see it, but she could hear and feel its presence.

She followed close behind the group. The ifrlis’ torches glowed like Fée orbs ahead of her, illuminating the swirling mist in nearly perfect spheres of light. Unfortunately, they did not provide much visibility in the fog, and the bodies of the men themselves were only suggestions of movement and shadow.

It came, thus, as quite a surprise when Gyneth’s eyes caught a flash of light in that pitchy-black chasm on her right.

There was some discussion ahead of her. The men had stopped and circled around. She could hear Banw’s voice but could not make out the words over the roar of the water. Rokeby’s voice fired back, fatigue and frustration adding an edge to his words. The ifrlis began to shuffle around uncomfortably as their leaders bickered yet again.

Were they turning back? Were they staying? Gyneth groped around for a place to hide. If they came back, they’d surely find her. Short of retreating the way she came, the only possible hiding place was in the darkness of the river chasm.

One of the men waved his torch, and there was that flash of light again.

Curiosity got the better of her.

On hands and knees, she carefully edged closer into the darkness. She could feel the slick ground gradually turn downward. She splayed her hands and knees farther apart to improve traction, her fingers and toes gripping at whatever purchase they could find in this stone.

“Wait here!” Banw’s voice reached her with sudden clarity.

“Næ,” Rokeby answered. “You’ve been hiding something from us, caragus! You’ve hired plenty of men and mules for this treasure, but we’ve yet to see—” The roar of the caverns swallowed his words again as they moved away.

Gyneth slowly worked her way toward where she remembered seeing the flash of light, and her hand fell upon something unexpected. It was flat and roundish, rough and mossy on one side, smoother on the other. Tree bark? Gingerly, her fingers explored the strange object. What could tree bark be doing down here? Washed into this crevasse when the river was swollen by rainwater, she supposed. But judging by what her hands were telling her, this bark belonged to no tree she had ever seen.

Could this be the source of the flashing light? It seemed unlikely that such a rough thing could reflect the torchlight so well, but anything was possible. She carefully tucked the bark under her shirt and kept moving.

The men’s voices rose into sudden shouting, much closer than she expected. Startled, she lost her traction and, with a small cry, slid into the darkness. Blinded by fear, she reached around with her hands, seeking anything to slow or stop her fall. The noise of the water below her rushed up from the darkness like a solid wall. Rough stone barked her knees and elbows. She plummeted for what felt like an eternity before her hand found purchase. Her feet swung into something solid, jerking her to a stop.

Water roared around her, spray soaking her legs, and its buffeting pounded through her body. Carefully, she found the security of handholds and crouched on her little ledge. The cave above her abruptly filled with light, as the ifrlis rushed to where she was hiding.

Standing on tiptoe, she peeked over the ledge, hoping that they couldn’t see her with their torches held high.

“Was it the inigena?” Banw muttered angrily.

“I don’t know, but I heard something.”

“Bats?”

“I’ve seen næ bats in this cave, have you?”

“I ain’t seen næ thing in this cave. Næ bats, næ treasure.”

The men searched about halfheartedly, the argument still heavy in the air around them.

Abruptly, Banw spoke. “Very well. I’ve little interest in arguin’ with yä. Me orders were fer yer protection only. Yä does not know what we’re dealin’ with here…and I knows little more than yä. We goes in as a group, but yä touches nothin’ until I have said it is safe, understood?”

“What’re you saying, stone-summoner?” Rokeby growled. “There’s magic up beyond? Guardians? Spirits?”

“I just told yä I knows little more than yä. But Virbius gave me very specific instructions on how the goods are tä be handled. Fer our safety, we does it his way, yäh?” he turned and strode away up the passage.

With a snort and sneer, Rokeby swept his torch about, giving the darkness a cursory examination. Despite winning the battle with the sorcerer, he didn’t seem happy.

“Well, you heard the man!” he bellowed. “We’re all going in, but you touch nothing until he’s done what he has to do! Understand?”

The ifrlis muttered and nodded, giving their leader a wide berth as he stalked after Banw. They fell in behind him quickly, and nearly fell over themselves when he abruptly turned around again. He eyed the darkness over Gyneth’s head one more time. “One of you stay here,” he muttered. “Let us know if you hear anything more.”

The ifrlis looked at each other uneasily and silently agreed that the job would go to the youngest and smallest of their number. It was the boy with whom Banw spoke earlier, and as the others moved upward, he was left behind with only his torch—and the hidden Gyneth—for company. Looking miserable and terrified by his lot, he backed away from the sounds of the river and pressed himself against the far wall. Holding his torch, he slid down to the floor, his eyes darting as they searched the darkness.

Gyneth wanted to suggest he stop staring into that torch, lest he never see anything coming, but she chose to hold her peace.

The boy’s location was fortuitous. Glancing to her right, Gyneth saw the glimmer of light again, something shiny in the darkness between her and the rushing water, a nearly perfect circle. She eased closer to it, listening to the men’s distant voices rising in excitement. There were cheers and even some laughter.

The circle of light was just out of her reach, and she cursed quietly as the boy stirred in reaction to the cries of joy. The circle disappeared and reappeared erratically, and her eyes had difficulty remembering where it was in the darkness.

Pressing herself flat against the steep stone slope, she stretched her arm. It grew quiet again up the passage—broken occasionally by what sounded like chanting—and the boy sighed and returned to his seat.

The piece of bark bit into the skin of her belly as she stood on the toes of one foot and carefully leaned farther and farther out. She was not sure what was beneath her—safe stone or a raging, sucking rapid—but chill spray tickled her legs, so she took no chances. Slowly reaching across the darkness, she finally touched the light and found it cool, hard, and solid. Crawling their way across it, her fingertips could feel its smooth, irregular surface.

Grunting quietly with effort, she finally closed her fingers around it. She clutched it tightly in her fist, shocked by the weight of its small size. She eased back until her weight was back over her feet and collapsed with relief and excitement to explore her new prize.

Her fingers told her it was a coin, rough serrations around its edge, some sort of picture on either side. It was heavy, so very heavy. Heavier than the coppers her dat so carefully counted at their dinner table.

She slyly raised it above the lip of the cave floor until it caught the firelight of the chavvie’s torch. It glowed, like blood. When she turned it in her fingers, she saw the suggestion of a regal profile on one side, something sinuous on the other.

A scream echoed through the cave.

The rock beneath her trembled, almost imperceptibly at first. Then it shuddered again. She clutched the coin to her breast and peeked over the ledge. The boy’s attention was drawn down the passage toward where the ifrlis had gone. After that scream, it grew strangely quiet up there.

The earth shook. A split second later, a howl crashed through the tunnel. It chilled and terrified her beyond her ability to reason. With the last echoes fading in her ears, her every instinct demanded flight, but her feet remained firmly planted in place. She could hear the screams of the men—hopeless, animal cries, mindless, as if they were unable to comprehend what was happening to them.

The cave was shaking as if something huge was throwing its weight against the walls. Another roar and more screams, followed by deafening crashes. The end of the hall blazed into clear visibility as waves of orange light spilled around a bend. A gust of fetid, searingly hot air struck Gyneth in the face.

Blinking past the light, she got a vague sense of the size and shape of this cave passage. It appeared much larger than she first had thought, larger perhaps than even the chamber where they had entered. In the direction the men had traveled, it continued nearly forty more yards upstream before it turned out of sight, and every surface was rounded and smooth from the ancient passage of water. The floor sloped unevenly down, back toward their camp, and on the side it dropped dramatically into the deep trench that ran the length of the cave where she was hiding, and where river still lived. She was standing on a shallow ledge of that gully, near its lowest point. Below her, a frothing stream of enraged water coiled and churned its way through the cave with insane speed.

Gyneth made eye contact with the boy. Her fear was reflected in his eyes. “Run,” he whispered.

“Run!” she answered.

All became quiet ahead of them. The air of the cavern echoed with a regular suggestion of breathing that rose above the roar of the river. The cave grew dark again.

“Run,” the chavvie whispered, offering her his torch.

Run,” she urged back.

“Li’ sa’ eer!!!” Rokeby’s voice howled from ahead of them, his terror sending new chills down her spine. “Run! Run!”

Gyneth and the chavvie stood transfixed as sudden commotion filled the tunnel ahead of them. She could hear the men scrambling, heading her way. Something huge launched itself into pursuit. Whatever it was, they were bringing it to her.

The darkness moved up ahead. And then the tunnel flooded with blazing light, three fleeing forms silhouetted before it. The fire moved like an animal, filling the cavern, banking off the turn, chasing down and enveloping the men. Heat blasted and blistered Gyneth’s face. Her breath was sucked from her lungs, and she was thrown forward against the lip of her ledge as if the fire hungered for her as well. The cool mist in the air and the dewed water on her skin turned to steam.

Then, just as suddenly darkness returned, a pummeling and battering of her body and ears, cool water spraying her face. Staggering to her feet, she peeked out from her hiding place.

Three burning skeletons lay where the men once were, flesh and fat spitting and melting onto the cave floor. Rokeby’s golden teeth trembled in the heat and then collapsed into molten puddles.

Gyneth glanced over to see the boy lying on the ground in front of her. His face was blackened and bleeding, his hair and clothes smoking.

Her free hand found his fallen torch, and she scooped it up as she scrambled off the ledge.

“Run!” she urged, pulling at his arm. His skin crackled. In the guttering light of the fires, she saw the shadows of something huge slinking toward them, sliding around the bend upstream. The boy lay transfixed. “Run!” she urged.

She heard a deep, low growl. Two great saucers, suspended high in the darkness, reflected the light of her small torch.

With a howl of madness, the chavvie scrambled to his feet and charged. “Banw!” he screamed mindlessly. “He will help us!”

Gyneth moaned in terror and surprise as he shoved past her toward the creature. The light of her fire suggested a wall of endless coils, muscle, and power. Without warning, a great talon dropped out the darkness. The chavvie shrieked as his body was crushed.

As if curious by its work, the beast lifted its paw to inspect the damage.

Gyneth’s courage failed, and she fled.

She ran through the darkness, her small torch and her memory her only guides. Great rounded shapes of stone loomed unexpectedly out at her as she tumbled downward. She tripped and fell, leaving skin and blood on the rock before she found her feet again and continued running.

As if playing with its prey, the creature behind her was slow to react. She imagined it casually sucking up the boy’s dying body, crushing it in its jaws, savoring the taste before finally swallowing.

Gyneth was surprised by how quickly she reached the camp. Their torches were still lit—the fetid pond shining in their light—the remains of their equipment strewn about in orderly piles. At the very center of the pond was the rope.

She didn’t break her stride as she plunged into the water. Throwing her torch aside, she leaped and caught the rope, then pulled herself up hand over hand with practiced ease. She reached the first ledge and rolled herself over just as the cavern filled with the thunder of the beast. The pool exploded as it surged through, scattering the torches and equipment. It paused for a brief inspection of the camp before charging downstream.

Gyneth didn’t hesitate. Leaping to her feet, she scurried up the tunnel, following the winding path of the rope back to the surface.

A roar of rage echoed below her, the rope violently torn from her grasp. Gyneth had to make a hasty grab for the walls to keep from being pulled down with it. The cave shook violently as a huge claw reached in to snag her. Rock and dirt fell all around her as she felt the creature digging upward, boulders crashing into the water below.

Gyneth climbed as fast as she could. She reached the topmost cave as she heard the great inhalation. With a desperate scream, she scrambled to the surface and rolled into the dried pool. Seconds later, the night was lit by fire from below.

She crawled away as quickly as her wounded body allowed. She began to shake. Exhaustion and fear and injury threatened to overwhelm her.

The crashes from underground continued as the beast vented its fury, struggling upward to find her. Was she safe here? The quakes grew stronger. The great boulder above the wash shifted and then sank. Could it actually be digging its way out?

A thin trickle of water caught her eye, streaming out from behind the boulder. With the next tremor, the boulder moved again, and it became a torrent. And then, a great wall of water plunged toward her as Lake Azeran spilled into the wash.

Gyneth tried to run, but she was far too slow. The water struck her, lifting her and bowling her over and over. Then, just as violently, it sucked her backward. She flailed about, trying to find some sort of purchase with her hands and feet, and finally caught herself on a rock. The waters pulled at her viciously, and it was several seconds before she dared lift her head.

In the blackness of the night, the river swirled around the great boulder and disappeared into the caverns below. The earth shook. Slowly, slowly, the boulder shifted and rolled and sunk. There was another tremor, and then it disappeared beneath the water. Gyneth watched a great whirlpool form where the rock once stood. Slowly, the water disappeared.

Limping into their camp, Gyneth found the mules frightened but otherwise unhurt. Clutching a guttering torch, she found some protected shelter and resolved to hide until daybreak.

In the light of the fire, she inspected the coin. It was gold and beautiful. On the obverse, a stern-looking king glared back at her. Turning it over, she saw a dragon coiled in a figure eight, consuming its own tail.

Tired of the bark biting into her skin, she pulled it from under her shirt. Before she could toss it aside, something about its features in the torchlight drew her eye, and she stayed her hand to inspect it closely.

This was no bark. It was a great, leathery scale, covered in ancient moss and lichen.

Far beneath her, the earth shook.

hide

Glossary show/hide

World of The Loathly Lady

200 Day War: First Ulbandi/Synesi war. The pashas of Ulbandus were defeated, allowing the spread of Synesi and Brackish tribes.

aballo (pl. aballi): Fruit commonly found in the Bracklands.

Absum, Kingdom of: Land of the Absumech. One of the Kingdoms of Ehre.

ahrounoi: Largely subterranean member of the Tribe of Fée. Waged war with the Drungi humans of Háimóþli during the Wars of Empty Horror nearly 900 years previous.

aitvara: Member of the Tribe of Fée. Renown for their speed and agility.

Aka-Srayanaca: Medianist xshathra in southern Ulbandus. Eastern-most member of the Brotherhood.

Âkapirmas: (Drungi) Medianist God.

alf: Plant-like member of the Tribe of Fée.

allude: (Drungi) Saloon.

altarê: (Drungi) Medianist altar.

alu: (Mynyddi) Mead.

anghredadun: (Brackish) Heretic, infidel, atheist.

angin: Variety of oats that are impossible to cultivate within the Brotherhood, characterized by a panicle with four florets. Said to impart great strength, speed, and stamina upon horses that eat it.

animus: Magical essence of a living thing. Soul.

Apara Gairi: Non-Medianist xshathra in Ulbandus.

appellant: (Drungi) Guests of a tournament. The appellant nation and its allies would take the offensive position in any games that occur. This nation would become the defendants for the tournament the following year.

arbalest: (Drungi) Crossbow.

Aristides: Medianist saint and disciple of Pennenc. Renowned Synesi philosopher. Used logical arguments to explore the Medianist world. Although not the earliest saint, he was the first to be recognized by the Medianist church.

armed-at-all-points: (Drungi) Armed, equipped, and ready for tourney.

armed-to-all-rights: (Drungi) Armed, equipped, and ready for battle.

arming cap: (Drungi) Quilted cap worn under a mail coif or helm.

arming points: (Drungi) Locations where leather straps secure the armor to the padded gambeson beneath.

As’êmi Kofu: Former capital of Dagâ Dainâ. Destroyed when the Shake drained the Gaist Sea and raised the Nolgsahm Mountains.

as’tarhosav: (Drungi) To protect the good. Infibulation imposed upon certain segments of the male population (poor, foreigners, elderly, mentally unsound, and clergy). Is removed through circumcision at a proscribed time (such as the wedding ceremony).

ashtraya: (Ulbandi) Dagger.

Aslat Forest: Forest on the borders of Dagâ Dainâ, Goort, and Liz.

Asp: Sacred warrior monk of the Dragon Goddess. Considered mystics, seers, and oracles, Asps possess great skills, prophetic insight, and near-complete invulnerability through their Dragon’s coils tattoos. Also known as Sky-Clad Templars.

astalch (pl. astalchi): (Brackish) Shield.

ater (pl. atum): (Brackish) Father.

aurauchs: Species of gigantic cattle, native to the regions around the Southern Cythths. Standing at more than six feet at the shoulder, they are known for their strength and ferocity. Travel in groups called droves.

automata: (Ahrounoi) Ahrounoi constructs rumored to be fashioned from body parts.

Autumn Sorrows: Nearly prehistoric war between Drungi and Fée for precedence.

aventail: (Drungi) Skirt of mail attached to the back of a helm to protect the neck.

aye: (Drungi) Yes.

Azeran, Lake: Lake formed at the base of the Warband when the Azeran River ceased to flow.

Azeran River: River that once flowed out of the Nolgsahm Mountains and into southern Dagâ Dainâ, regularly flooding the town of Chur.

bailey: (Drungi) Courtyard within the enceintes.

bambizâ: (Drungi) Unshapely woman.

barbacana: (Drungi) Towered gatehouse.

barbute: (Drungi) Full helm with a rounded skull and a T-shaped opening for the face.

barnaunos (pl. barnaunu): (Brackish) Judge.

Bàs: Brackish God of the underworld, ruler of the luct-marvos tribe. Guardian of forests.

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

Bebrus the Coward, King: King of Dagâ Dainâ from 953 to 1010 PA and great-uncle to King Ceolwulph. Surrendered Dagâ Dainâ to Rixueramos Heru in 993 PA and to Hoël in 1006 PA. Dammed the Mi’zak River in 1008 PA, creating Lake Mi’zak.

besâtê: (Drungi) Whore.

blazons: (Drungi) Knight’s coat-of-arms, worn on standards, shields, and armor.

bna (pl. bnor): (Brackish) Woman.

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

Bolgg: Village in central Dagâ Dainâ.

braca: (Brackish) Leather pants.

Brack: Native of the Bracklands.

Brackish: Language of the Bracks.

Bracklands: Homeland of the Brack Tribes. Across the sea and far to the north of the Brotherhood.

bragget: (Brackish) Drink of honey and ale fermented together.

brattices: Castle wall defenses. Battlements, parapets.

Bredbeddle of Tavs’a: Medianist saint and disciple of Hoël. Considered the pinnacle of Medianist knighthood.

brigandine: (Drungi) Armor made of metal plates riveted to either cloth or leather.

broadsword: (Drungi) Double-edged straight sword, measuring thirty to forty two inches in length and weighing three to four pounds.

Brotherhood, the: Confederation of thirteen Medianist kingdoms in central Katsarloki. Includes the Kingdoms of Aka-Srayanaca, Dagâ Dainâ, Din Guayrdi, Goort, Kelliwic, Liz, Ordohorht, Stolest, Tavs’a, Tergalo, and Winniwci.

buachar: (Brackish) Bullshit.

Buge: Land of the Buges. One of the Kingdoms of Ehre. Destroyed by Hoël in 1017 PA.

Buges: Drungi tribe from the Kingdom of Buge. Defeated in 1017 PA by Gadraúhts Hoël’s outnumbered army.

butter-and-egg business: Rural economy based on the collection and sale of goods produced by women and children.

bwyell (pl. bwyellu): (Brackish) War ax.

bygthir: (Söderkarl) Large community of Söderkarl steads. Roughly equivalent to a barony. Ruled by a thane.

cantref: (Brackish) Collection of commotum, ruled by a rixueramos or rix.

capala: (Ulbandi) Whore.

capalus: Breed of great cat common in the Bracklands. Travel in groups called prides.

caragus: (Brackish) One who possesses a stone and practices sorcery. Also known as a stone-summoner, sorcerer, witch, or wizard.

Cassibodua: Brackish goddess of ravens and evil. Brackish Devil.

Castle of Love: (Drungi) Wooden platform and scaffold erected at the center of a tournament’s battlefield, where ladies can be held and displayed.

castles: Pyramid-shaped board game played with pieces, each with its own rules for movement and strengths. The object is the capture the defender’s flag at the top of the pyramid.

catu: (Brackish) Battle.

cawl: (Brackish) Stew.

chaghter: (Brackish) Herald.

Charge of the Veil: War that unified Háimóþli under Drungi rule, approximately a hundred years before the birth of Pennenc.

chavvie: (Drungi) Boy, son.

châtelain: Governor or warden of a castle or dunum.

chevauchée: (Ehrech) Scorched earth form of invasion, designed to force an enemy to commit its armies by attacking their economic resources.

Chur: Town on the shores of the Azeran River in Dagâ Dainâ.

chuti-alkahâlis: Destor’erde distilled milk.

Chus: Drungi tribe from the Kingdom of Chuy.

Chuy: Land of the Chus. One of the Kingdoms of Ehre.

cing (pl. cingu): (Brackish) Brackish knight.

circle magic: (Drungi) Form of magic derived from the invocation and control of spirits and demons. Not one of the forms of magic condoned by Pennenc.

coept-inigena: (Brackish) Prize bride.

coif: Flexible cloth or armor hood protecting the head.

collops: Thin slices of meat.

commote (pl. commotum): (Brackish) Community of dunums, ruled by a rix or gwledig.

coronal: Broad, many pointed head used on lances during jousts of peace. Used to prevent penetration through the armor and unnecessary injury.

Cortegiania: (Drungi) Art of courtiership, chivalry, and gender roles, as defined by Hoël.

Cortesia: (Drungi) Art of courtly behavior and chivalry, as defined by Pennenc.

cottar: (Drungi) Rural peasant.

Council of Green Shores: In 893 PA, the Drungi Kingdoms of Vis’I Qira unify into a loose confederation known as the Brotherhood.

courmi: Brackish beer.

crest: (Drungi) A symbol of a knight’s family and heritage, worn upon the top of his helm. It can be an object attached by cloth, a coronet, or a cloth cap.

crutc’h (pl crutc’hi): (Brackish) Mule native to the Bracklands, capable of subsisting on native grasses, grains, weeds, and woody growth.

cuall: (Brackish) Fool, foolish.

cuirass: Body armor, consisting of a breastplate, back plate, and hip protectors.

cuirbolle: (Drungi) Leather that has been boiled in beeswax, shaped, and then allowed to harden. Used with other armors to provide rigidity. It is also often worn alone.

cythth: (Söderkarl) Kingdom. Ruled by an yngvi.

Dagâ Dainâ: Small Drungi monarchy in central Katsarloki and member of the Brotherhood. An early observer of Hoëlist Medianism.

Dagâ Lankinâ: The Harvest Festival. Holy day celebrating the harvest and the end of the growing season, occurring on the Autumnal Equinox.

daj: (Drungi) Mother.

daji: (Drungi) Mommy.

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

Dasnâ: Village in northern Dagâ Dainâ.

dat: (Drungi) Father.

dati: (Drungi) Daddy.

Dedication: (Drungi) Turning over of the responsibilities of raising a child to the Medianist church. Essentially the adoption of a child by the church and indoctrinating them into the cloistered clergy. Held on the Harvest Festival.

defendant: (Drungi) Sponsor of a tournament. The defendant nation and its allies would take the defensive position in any games that occur.

Deivas: (Drungi) Great Spirit, god.

deivasbutan: (Drungi) House of worship.

Dëstör: Lands occupied by the tribes of Dëstör’erde, located east of the Cythth of Mynydd.

Dëstör’erde: Peoples occupying the lands of Dëstör.

Deua!: (Brackish) Come!

Din Guayrdi: Large Drungi monarchy in eastern Katsarloki and member of the Brotherhood.

dinas: (Brackish) City.

divnali-êtqra: (Drungi) Divine completion. Holy symbol of the Drungi and early Medianists, representing the duality of Âkapirmas and Gokh the Dragon. Precursor to the median. Banned by Hoël.

do a wet bottom: Enter a lover from behind. Primarily a Synesi practice.

dona (pl. donar): (Brackish) Wife.

donios: (Brackish) Husband.

donjon: (Drungi) Primary tower of a castle. Used as a last defense when the shell wall has been breached. A castle within a castle.

dræk: (Drungi) Dragon.

dragon: One of the oldest of the great races. Also known as dræk or wyrm.

Dragon Goddess: Gokh. Patroness of the Sky-Clad Templars (Asps).

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

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

Dubisgòrr: Capital of the Stolest Commote.

dunum (pl. dunumi): (Brackish) Village, castle, keep, or caravansary. Ruled by a cing or rix.

dwarf: Racial epithet referring to ahrounoi.

Ehre, Kingdoms of: Drungi kingdoms occupying northern Háimóþli. Primarily Medianist and strict followers of Pennenc’s Cortesia. Includes the Kingdoms of Absum, Buge, Chuy, Lièns, Robais, and Toeil. Ruled by kings.

Ehrech: Language of the Kingdoms of Ehre.

elemental magic: (Drungi) Form of magic derived from the worship and control of the elements. Not one of the forms of magic condoned by Pennenc.

embers: (Drungi) 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.

enarmes: (Drungi) Straps on the back of a knight’s shield.

enceintes: Fortifications enclosing a castle, town, or dunum.

eporetocing (pl. eporetocingu): (Brackish) Charioteer.

epos (pl. eposor): (Brackish) Warhorse.

Ešhar, Tribe of: One of the Great Tribes, consisting of all races considered “undead”. Also known as the Tribe of Night.

êtqra: (Drungi) To complete.

Eulalian Medianism: Worship of Eulalius as the second Prophet of God.

Eulalius: Second of God’s Prophets. First heard the Voice of Âkapirmas in 1000 PA and apotheosized shortly thereafter, thus fulfilling several prophesies. Began the unification of the Medianist religion across the Drungi tribes. Is considered the Anti-Prophet by the followers of Hoël.

eycharistisi leaves: Large, bay-shaped leaves consumed for their narcotic effects. Normally dried. Highly addictive.

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

Faírguni: Southern land east of the Skudd Sea. Joined with Vis’I Qira during The Shake to form Katsarloki.

fairing: (Drungi) Sweet cake.

falchion: (Ulbandi) Heavy, one- or two-handed sword with a single-edged curved blade.

faldstool: Folding stool used by royalty.

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

Fée Tales: Stories told by Medianist laity to convey a moralistic lesson and to frighten children. Frequently portrays Fée, Darkbloods, or other non-humans as antagonists.

fênanisav: (Drungi) To complete the good. Infibulation imposed upon certain segments of the female population (poor, foreigners, elderly, mentally unsound, and clergy). Is removed through circumcision at a proscribed time (such as the wedding ceremony).

Fire Hell: Sun. Place of punishment for demons, heretics, and violators of the body. Also known as Pànupikulas.

fist: (Drungi) Five. Term usually applied to teams of horses or livestock.

flaring: (Drungi) (1) Concave lips on the edges of armor pieces that improve protection and durability. (2) Art of applying flaring to armor. One of the most difficult skills for an armorsmith to master.

frumenty: (Drungi) Dish of wheat boiled in milk and usually sweetened and spiced.

Fulgins Wlits, Kingdom of: One of the central Muttese Kingdoms. Ruled by the Fulhsni clan.

gadraúhts: (Muttese) Warlord.

gæsi (pl. gæsum): (Brackish) Spear.

Gaist Sea: Body of water separating the continents of Faírguni and Vis’I Qira. Destroyed during the Shake.

galbenêjas: (Mynyddi) Slave, serf.

gambeson: (Drungi) Quilted padding worn beneath armor, consisting of the arming cap, arming coat, and sleeves.

Ganieret, King: In 110 PA, united the Drungi tribes of Háimóþli against proto-Brack invasions in the north and proto-Söderkarl invasions in the south.

Gaudin of Vis’I Qira: Medianist saint and disciple of Pennenc. Waged war with the ahrounoi during the Wars of Empty Horror. A proclaimed dragon slayer.

Gjithnjë-Hije: The only aitvara city known to Men.

Gock: The Devil.

Gokh: Dragon Goddess. Patroness of the Sky-Clad Templars (Asps).

Goort: Large Brackish commote and member of the Brotherhood, north of Dagâ Dainâ in central Katsarloki.

gorsedd: (Brackish) Throne.

greatsword: (Drungi) Two-handed sword.

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

griffin: Rare animal consisting of the hindquarters of a lion and the forequarters of an eagle.

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

gwledig (pl. gwlediges): (Brackish) Noble, landowner.

Hai’ she’ li!: (Drungi) Yes, I swear!

Háimóþli: Western continent largely destroyed during the Wars of Empty Horror.

hackney: (Drungi) A horse suitable for riding.

halki: Grain common in the Bracklands.

halogrwydd: (Brackish) (1) Defilement. (2) Leprosy.

harness: (Drungi) Soldier’s complete set of battle gear, including gambeson, metal armor, weapons, and other accessories.

heater: (Drungi) Triangular shield wielded by knights.

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.

Helm Show: (Drungi) Public display of all the helms and crests of the knights prior to a tournament. Ladies are invited to review the helms and mark for expulsion those knights who have behaved dishonorably towards them.

herath: (Söderkarl) Homeland of the Söderkarl. Larger than a bygthir, smaller than a cythth. Ruled by a hersir.

Heresy Wars: Drungi holy war between the Medianists and the Hoëlists. Began approximately forty years ago, when Hoël first declared hearing the voice of God.

Heru, Rixueramos: Brackish warlord who captured and ruled large portions of Ulbandus and Synes in 25 PA.

Hlútrsblóþ, Kingdom of: One of the northern Muttese Kingdoms. Ruled by the Hente clan.

Hoël the Traveled: A gadraúhts from the Kingdoms of Mut. A brilliant tactician and fearsome knight, he conquered and unified much of Háimóþli. Hearing the Voice of Âkapirmas in 1001 PA, he claimed to be the true Prophet of God, sparking the Heresy Wars. His refined laws of chivalry and courtly behavior are called Cortegiania.

Hoëlism: Growing Medianist belief that Hoël of Mut is the second Prophet of Âkapirmas. Considered heresy in most Drungi lands.

houpelande: (Drungi) Long sleeved robe worn as court attire.

houri: (Ulbandi) Harem slave, dancer.

Howler: Brackish goddess of nature and the Brackland moors. Goddess of hunting and mystery.

hydromel: (Söderkarl, Synesi) Mead.

Ice Hell: Moon. Place of punishment for failed Medianists and criminals of the mind and spirit. Also known as Pikulas.

ifrli: (Drungi) Robber, thug.

indirect magic: (Drungi) Form of magic derived from the worship of gods. Not one of the forms of magic condoned by Pennenc.

inigena: (Brackish) Daughter, girl.

isean (pl. iseanu): (Brackish) Game fowl, often domesticated.

išha: (Ulbandi) Slaver, owner, master.

Istamin Vanã: City in western Dagâ Dainâ. Built around a single family’s burial vault.

jel’enedra: (Drungi) Servant girl.

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

kaimas: (Drungi) Village.

kale: (Drungi) End.

kan: (Drungi) Dog. Traditional name of a fool or villain in a folk tale.

Karón, Kingdom of: One of the northeastern Muttese Kingdoms. Ruled by the Karóa clan.

Katsarloki: Unified lands of Faírguni and Vis’I Qira, created during The Shake when the Gaist Sea was destroyed. The eastern shores of the Skudd Sea. Occupied by the Brotherhood in the north and the Cythth of Mynydd in the south.

kave: (Drungi) Priest.

keeq: Paqa beer, served hot.

kektseñe: (Ahrounoi) Ahrounoi working collective.

Kelliwic: Small Drungi monarchy and member of the Brotherhood, in northern Katsarloki.

king-at-arms: Ranking or senior knight of a tournament, often in charge of proclamations, scheduling, and other administrative duties.

kint: (Drungi) Beginning.

kjennink: (Muttese) King.

kobolde: Small, semi-intelligent, bipedal creatures found nearly everywhere and prone to eating nearly everything. Considered vermin.

kûmâteris: (Drungi) Godparent.

Kyot: Prophet of Deivas, the Drungi god. Often said to be a pagan demigod from pre-Medianist times. Patron of farmers and lovers. Through the observance of his teachings, the population of Katsarloki was able to recover after the devastation of the Wars of Empty Horror. Adopted into Medianism through Pennenc.

lankinâ: (Drungi) Festival, feast.

Lankinâ Kyot: Feast of Kyot, Prophet of Deivas. Three days of feasts, contests, and parties. Celebrated at the summer equinox, it is a time of pleasure, marriages, and the deflowering of virgins.

Laqrisa Êtos: Capital of the Tavs’a Kingdom. Renowned for its fine weapon craftsmanship.

Latria: Veneration and worship of the Medianist God.

Li’ sa’ eer!: (Drungi) By the highest gods!

Liène: Peoples occupying the Kingdome of Lièns.

Lièns, Kingdom of: Land of the Liène. One of the Kingdoms of Ehre.

Liz: Small Drungi monarchy and member of the Brotherhood, north of Dagâ Dainâ in central Katsarloki. Staunchly Eulalian Medianist.

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

maggots: Worm-like parasites infesting the southern Skudd and Maggot Seas. A hazard to shipping and occasionally used as methods of torture. Members of the Tribe of Merfolk.

Maisisis Lankinâ: The Great Feast. The celebration held on the last night of Lankinâ Kyot.

Manifest: Physical display of a Darkblood’s Shade. Each is unique to an individual Darkblood. Manifest is the time when a Darkblood is at its most powerful and its most vulnerable.

manishie: (Drungi) Woman.

mantle: Loose, sleeveless garment worn over clothes and armor.

martî: (Drungi) Bride, wife.

martî-maldenîkas: (Drungi) The practice of marrying a girl immediately upon sign of sexual maturity. Established by Kyot.

maru: (Brackish) Great, mighty.

maruspatha: (Brackish) Two-handed variety of the spatha.

Masks, Tribe of: One of the Great Tribes. Shape shifters, deceivers, enemies.

median: Holy symbol of the Medianist church. A modified divnali-êtqra.

Medianism: Dominant Drungi religious belief based on the worship of the god Âkapirmas and His Prophets, Pennenc and Eulalius.

military belt: Leather belt plated with metal, awarded to a knight when he is dubbed.

Mi’zak, Lake: Lake formed when King Bebrus in 1008 PA dammed the Mi’zak River.

Mi’zak River: River in Dagâ Dainâ, known for its violent and unpredictable currents.

Mol!: (Brackish) (1) Praise. (2) Exclamation conveying praise.

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

mosac: (Brackish) Son, boy.

mosaius: (Brackish) Son-of.

mulo: (Drungi) Darkblood.

munitions armor: Mass-produced armor provided to the rank-and-file soldier. Often unpolished and still bearing hammer marks.

Mut, Kingdoms of: Mixed Drungi and Söderkarl tribes occupying southern Háimóþli. Considered warlike and extremely dangerous. Includes the Kingdoms of Fulgins Wlits, Hlútrsblóþ, and Karón. Ruled by kjenninks.

Muttese: (1) Native of the Kingdoms of Mut. (2) Language of the Kingdoms of Mut.

Mynydd, Cythth of: Söderkarl cythth occupying the western coast of Faírguni. One of the Southern Cythths.

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

na: (Brackish) No.

: (Drungi) No.

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

Night, Tribe of: One of the Great Tribes, consisting of all races considered “undead”. Also known as the Tribe of Ešhar.

Nolgsahm Mountains: Mountain range running through the center of Katsarloki, formed when the Faírguni and Vis’I Qira continents merged during the Shake.

Novio Linnuis: Capital of the Goort Commote.

Norriss: Village in southwestern Dagâ Dainâ.

novena: Period of prayer lasting nine days.

oainjyr: (Brackish) Whore.

occularia: (Drungi) Eye slot of a helm.

Ordohorht: Large Drungi monarchy and member of the Brotherhood, in northwestern Katsarloki.

orgetos (pl. orgetum): (Brackish) Slayer.

Pànupikulas: Fire Hell. The sun.

paoi: Thick, syrupy Synesi liqueur with pink foam.

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

paqa egglikker: Paqa egg alcohol distilled within its own shell.

Parô-Asna: Capital of the Xshathra of Aka-Srayanaca, known for its lavish and decadent customs.

pasha: (Ulbandi) Ruler of an xshathra.

pavis: (Drungi) Large shield used by infantry and archers, often during sieges.

pektus (pl. pekti): (Brackish) Child.

pell: Post used for practicing swordwork.

Penefrec: Town in northern Dagâ Dainâ.

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.

pignose: (Drungi) Pointed bascinet visor.

Pikulas: Ice Hell. The moon.

pottage: (Drungi) Thick soup of vegetables and meat.

pral (pl. prala): (Drungi) Brother.

Pure Fool: (1) Personification of the idealized balance between the energies of life and death, light and darkness, law and chaos. One who has surrendered to the whims of the universe, embraced completely humanity’s Stone nature, and mastered the teachings of Gokh, the Dragon Goddess. (2) An Asp.

pursuivant: (Drungi) Neophyte herald.

raki: (Ulbandi) Alcoholic drink.

reeve: (Drungi) Village headman.

rerebraces: (Drungi) Armor worn on the upper arms.

rhyswr: (Brackish) Champion.

rix: (Brackish) King.

rixa: (Brackish) Queen.

rixueramos: (Brackish) High king.

Robais: (1) Drungi tribe from the Kingdom of Robais. (2) Land of the Robais. One of the Kingdoms of Ehre.

seax: (Brackish) Brackish machete.

sext, hour of: Sixth hour of the day, noon.

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

Sentinel, the: Northernmost mountain of the Warband, on the border of Dagâ Dainâ.

setras: (Ulbandi) Houri fetters.

Shade, the: Process of becoming a Darkblood. The destruction of one’s animus.

Shake, the: Great upheaval in 940 PA, resulting in the destruction of the Gaist Sea, the raising the Nolgsahm Mountains, and the joining of Vis’I Qira and Faírguni continents into Katsarloki. Believed to be part of the ahrounoi’s revenge for their defeat during the Wars of Empty Horror.

shebari: (Drungi) Girl, daughter.

shell wall: Outer wall defenses of a castle, enclosing the bailey.

shield for peace: (Drungi) Square shield with notch to rest a lance. Used only in tournament jousting.

shield for war: (Drungi) Standard knight’s heater shield.

sign of the fig: (Drungi) Obscene hand gesture, made by thrusting the thumb between the ring and index fingers. Intended to represent female genitalia.

Silavad Panegyrics: (Drungi) 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).

Skudd Sea: Body of water separating the lands of Háimóþli, Katsarloki, the Bracklands, and the Southern Cythths.

skull: (Drungi) Crown of a helmet.

slug (pl. slugi): (Brackish) Slave.

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

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

sorcery: (Drungi) Form of magic derived from the manipulation of a sorcerer’s stone. One of the three forms of magic condoned by Pennenc.

Southern Cythths: Lands of the deep south, consisting of the Cythths of Fornjotnr, Frostthing, Ledus, and Mynydd. Homeland of the Söderkarl.

spangen: (Drungi) Helmet design favored by Brackish cingu. Can be open or close helmed.

spatha (pl. spathum): (Brackish) Broadsword, measuring forty five to fifty inches in length. Designed with a small handle, allowing only one handed use.

splinted armor: (Drungi) Leather armor reinforced with iron or steel strips. Most often worn on the arms and legs. Favored by the Bracks.

Stolest: Large Brackish monarchy and member of the Brotherhood, west of Dagâ Dainâ in central Katsarloki.

stone-summoner: (Brackish) One who possesses a stone and practices sorcery. Also known as a caragus, sorcerer, witch, or wizard.

stones: (Brackish) Sources of sorcerers’ power. Also known as embers.

sullabub: Drink/dessert consisting of milk or cream curdled with wine or cider.

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

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

Synes: Non-Drungi, non-Medianist nation east of the Brotherhood.

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

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

Tavs’a: Drungi monarchy and member of the Brotherhood, in western Katsarloki.

Telman: Southern coastal city of Ulbandus, capital of the Xshathra of Apara Gairi.

Tergalo: Small Drungi monarchy and member of the Brotherhood, in northern Katsarloki.

terce, hour of: Third hour of the day, midway between dawn and noon.

Tewi!: (Brackish) Shut up!

themoch: Member of the Tribe of Masks. Shape-shifting enemy of Man.

Toeil, Kingdom of: Kingdom of the Toeilish. One of the Kingdoms of Ehre.

Toeilish: Drungi tribe from the Kingdom of Toeil.

Tog deth: (Brackish) Leave off.

tourc’h (pl. tourc’um): (Brackish) Hog, torc.

traellern: Flesh-eating member of the Tribe of Fée.

triad: (Brackish) Bardic poem relating Brackish history, following themes of three.

Tûlas Turmas: Capital of the Kingdom of Dagâ Dainâ.

uinom: Brackish wine.

Ulbandi: (1) Native of the Ulbandi Xshathras. (2) Language of the Ulbandi Xshathras.

Ulbandus, Xshathras of: Largely non-Medianist, non-Drungi nations north of the Brotherhood. Ruled by pashas.

vambraces: (Drungi) Armor worn on the forearms.

vavasour: Noble ranking below a baron.

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

Veil of Mercy: Also known as the Mercy of the Ladies. Jeweled veil carried by a knight whose honor is beyond question. Used to cover and excuse those knights in a tournament who have fought bravely but were at risk of serious and imminent injury.

ves’êna: (Drungi) Grandmother.

villein: (Drungi) Medianist member of the peasant class.

Vis’I Qira: Northern land east of the Skudd Sea. Joined with Faírguni to form Katsarloki. Occupied by the Brotherhood.

vitchoor: (Brackish) Bastard.

Warband, the: Range of six mountains in central Katsarloki, linked by Lake Azeran: the Knight, the King, the Queen, the Fool, the Sentinel, and the Hermit. The Sentinel is the northernmost of the mountains, on the border of Dagâ Dainâ. The headwaters of many Nolgsahm Range rivers.

Wars of Empty Horror: War nearly 900 years ago, between the early Medianist Drungi tribes and other races, particularly the paqa and the ahrounoi. The humans proved victorious though the continent of Háimóþli was shattered and the Gaist Sea was destroyed. Saint Gaudin played a pivotal role as military general and spiritual visionary.

Winniwci: Small Drungi monarchy in central Katsarloki and member of the Brotherhood.

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

wyrm: (Söderkarl) Dragon.

xshathra: (Ulbandi) Kingdom, ruled by a pasha.

Z’eyes!: (Drungi) Exclamation referring to God’s Eyes.

Z’ice and ire!: (Drungi) Exclamation referring to God’s Fire and Ice Hells.

: (Drungi) (1) Pre-Medianist goddess of existence. (2) The world.

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