Witch Ember

–OUT OF PRINT–

John Lawson's Witch Ember

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Not for the faint of heart. Witch Ember is the stuff of high adventure. John Lawson spins an intricate tale of disturbing brutality, exotic sensuality, and dark magic. Read More
Jeff Edwards, American Author’s Association

Author John Lawson is a rare word craftsman who takes relentless pride in his work. His characters are rich and full, and their dialogue flows as fresh and seamlessly as the unpredictable waters down a Colorado mountainside… Read More
D.J. Herda, American Society Of Authors And Writers

To me, this book was borderline smut, and not the good kind. Read More
Kate Sanders, Book Nymph

Witch Ember is a rich and fulfilling fantasy novel which takes place in an alternate universe. Read More
Cherie Barstow, CheriePie’s Book Reviews

The details were great, the characters were very life like… Read More
Crystal Adkins, Book Reviews by Crystal

John Lawson’s Publish On Demand title is dark, and very, very nasty to it’s characters. Read More
Chris Hyland, The Book Swede

Witch Ember is written for the adult audience and is a darker fantasy fiction than the works of Tolkien or Robert Jordan, but this is a story that should not be missed. Read More
Jennifer Andrew, BookPleasures.com

The final scene switches from recalled heartache to current bliss… Witch Ember has this reader anxious to see more from John Lawson… Read More
Camden Alexander, Curled Up With A Good Book

While I am impressed by Lawson’s world building skills, I would have to say that his most impressive feat is the creation of extremely engaging characters. Read More
Jeremy Brown, The Fantasy Review

Prepare to be jolted. Read More
Sabrina Williams, Front Street Reviews

Witch Ember is a gritty novel, perhaps the grittiest fantasy novel I’ve ever read. Read More
Graeme Flory, Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review

All-in-all, this is a well developed story that fans of fantasy will highly enjoy. I heartily recommend it!… Read More
Detra Fitch, Huntress Book Reviews

…the journey that Esmeree experiences in the book is engaging. This girl is put through a lot of trials, and attacks each as best she can. She could succumb to the evils of this world and become like those who want to destroy her, but instead she embraces the challenge of being true to herself and the ones she loves… Read More
Kathy Martin, In The Library Reviews

This book reminded me very much of the Rocky movies. Read More
J. Kaye and Steve, J. Kaye’s Book Blog

John Lawson has created a magical world with its own language, not for the faint of heart. If you love fantasy, you’ll most likely enjoy Witch Ember, as John tells this tale with imaginative flare and consummate writing skills… Read More
Kaye Trout’s Book Reviews

Especially enjoyable is Lawson’s ability to load his narrative with highly graphic — and sometimes disturbing — images… Read More
Kevin Apgar, Kapgar.com

…this complex telling is a worthy first effort… Read More
Sandy Amazeen, Monsters and Critics

Witch Ember is engrossing, generally well written, and often a joy to follow… Read More
Chris Hoare, The Muse Book Reviews

Congratulations are due to Mr Lawson on such a well thought out and executed development of the narrative… Read More
Stuart Carter, (not to be confused with) The Truth

I have to give Witch Ember five medallions… Read More
Odyssey Reviews

This story is fantasy at its darkest. Read More
Amber Chalmers, Paranormal Romance

I like that Lawson’s world is deeply flawed and needs some unifying force to swoop in and spark change. Esmeree does have the potential not only to be that person, but to also be a liberating force in the Witch Ember-verse… Read More
Lisa Fary, Pink Raygun

WITCH EMBER makes for an enjoyable read, a nice addition to a fantasy collection… Read More
James Lynch, Rant ‘N Rave

Reminiscent in many ways to Tolkien’s THE LORD OF THE RINGS, John Lawson’s WITCH EMBER is equally unique and complex, with a huge dose of “weirdness” mixed in… Read More
Angela Etheridge, The Romance Reader Connection

It’s a book about standing up for what you believe in, fighting for those less fortunate, overcoming injustice, and it’s all set in one of the most intricate dark fantasy worlds that I’ve read. Read More
Chris Howard, Stuff As Dreams Are Made On

It creates a sense of realism (albeit somewhat dark and pessimistic) to the action that perhaps gets a little candy coated in other works… Read More
Dr. Tami Brady, TCM Reviews

Witch Ember grabs from the start and never lets go. Apart from the action that never seems to stop, the novel occupies our minds with the masterfully created world with its countless religions, theories about gods and magic, types of warriors, lore, military strategies, politics and rich history. In my short experience with literature I have yet to encounter world building, which could rival Tolkien in originality and tone. The world of the Seven Kingdoms might sound a bit cliché, but it has more flare and wonder than most worlds ever created. Read More
Harry, Markov, Temple Library Reviews

I would have to give this author high kudos for such an impressive masterpiece. Read More
Terry Studer, Terra’s Book Blog

In many ways, Witch Ember is a coming of age story. A great deal of it is about Esmeree figuring out what kind of person she wants to be. It’s a story with an epic feel that manages to remain very personal at the same time. And on top of that, it’s expertly written. John Lawson knows when to be subtle – his tone is always tasteful, even when what’s being described, or hinted at, is very disturbing. Read More
Ana Silva, Things Mean a Lot

Absolutely wonderful reading. I was completely captivated from start to finish… Read More
Publish America

Thank you for not writing about elves…
Anonymous Reviewer

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Prologue: Betrayal

“Once, Trickster Man snuck into the Circle of Wejwej and stole one of his Stones of Power. He did not love the Stone–he did not even know which one he stole–he did it only for the joys of theft. When the gods of the Circle saw the Stone was missing, there was a great uproar and old Trickster knew he could not keep it for long.

“So he quickly ground it up as fine as he could and baked it into bread for his friend, First Ancestor. But Trickster Man was in a hurry and did not grind the Stone very carefully. While most was turned to flour, there was still much grit, like grains of sand. There were even a few pebbles.

“First Ancestor ate the bread and even broke a tooth on one of the pebbles, but Trickster Man just laughed and said it was a wheat grain that missed the millstone.

“With the Stone gone, Trickster Man made a copy out of mud and straw and decorated it to look like his stolen prize. This, he slipped back into place among the other Stones of Power, and with his crime concealed, Trickster went on to other adventures and mischief. And now, no one–not even old Trickster Man–knows which Stone he stole, although many people and gods have tried to guess…

“What was that, my sweets? Well, you know what happened to First Ancestor. When it came time, Wejwej hit him on the head and chopped him up into many, many pieces. From these pieces, Wejwej made the first people. From his feet came the great wandering tribes like us and the Niag Dancers. From his bones came the Mountain People. From the rest came the others, even the soulless people of the Lands of Rust to the south.

“But what Wejwej didn’t know was that First Ancestor had eaten the Stone of Power and all its grains were mixed throughout all parts of him. And so there was a little bit of Stone in each person Wejwej made. And now we all carry this power. Most have just a little–just a tiniest speck of flour–but some have one of the bigger grains–or even a pebble–and they are our most powerful shamans.”

Ul-Leilie, djeli storyteller of the Ghali’MwanaMungu tribe

***

“Poor little witch girl,” Esmeree’s accomplice sneers. His Brackish burr rattles through the darkness of the mine. She crouches lower, pressing her back hard against the unfinished stone. Coal dust sifts through her hair, invading eyes, nose, and mouth. She resists the increasing urge to cough or brush it away and hugs her small Palpi scimitar closer to her belly. She can hear him shuffle through the dirt as he feels his way towards her in the darkness.

The ember within her breast hums in sympathy to her fear, and she rubs the skin in hopes of calming it.

She risks another look. Peering up from her hiding place, she sees the big Brackish cing mercenary still crouched near the mine entrance, his huge spatha broadsword held easily in one hand. His eyes drill into the sticky blackness as he meticulously examines each shadow, each shape, in hopes of recognizing her familiar form. One step at a time, he works his way deeper into the darkness.

Esmeree eases back into cover and stares forlornly down at her scimitar. Even covered with coal dust, it still catches the occasional glint of light from the entrance. Thin, elegant, it was the perfect fashion statement for a young sellâria eager to climb the social ladders of the Seven Kingdoms. In its silk and dyed leather sheathe, it drew envious looks from men and women alike, just as the jeweler said it would.

If only it worked as well in her hands as it looked on her hip. Esmeree sighs quietly. If only she was a better fencer. The gashes on her arm and knees, her ignominious retreat to this mine, and her perfectly healthy opponent attest to her weak swordsmanship. With his first swing, the bastard cut her to the bone right across both legs. One swipe with that spatha of his. She grimaces. He was probably trying to hobble her.

She should have bought the pistol.

“C’mon now, inigena, let’s just put this ugliness behind us. Make nice like we used , uh? Hiisi ain’t mad na more.” She hears him pause, listening for a reaction or movement. He shuffles forward a few feet, his blade kicking up blue sparks as it hisses along the rusting I-bars of the coal shuttle’s railway. “Figure we’re even, uh?”

Her hand silently closes around fist-sized block of coal at her feet. “Hiisi…” she whispers.

His eyes snap in her direction, and his sword follows her throat as she slowly rises from her hiding place. The tip of his blade wavers ever so slightly but enough for Esmeree to notice.

“Easy…” He pauses, “Esmeree…” She can almost see him smiling.

“You want to make up, Hiisi? Then how about a KISS!” She throws. Hiisi ducks at the sudden suggestion of movement, but his silhouetted figure is too easy of a target. The block of coal hits him somewhere in the vicinity of his head with a loud crack and clatters away into the darkness. A small cloud of dust rings him as he howls in pain and stumbles to his knees.

whorish BITCH!”

Esmeree tries to bolt for the sunlight, but Hiisi’s blade cuts upward to block her. She bats at it with her scimitar, but the only effect is an impressive noise and a small spark. Slowly, she backs off in the en-guarde position he taught her. Her legs are injured, and her stance is weak. “You ard-vitchoor son-of-a-bitch!” she spits.

Distantly, the mine behind her repeats their curses over and over.

“Esmeree… Esmeree…” Carefully, Hiisi rises to his feet. The vain buffoon even tries to dust himself off. A halo of coal dust surrounds him now as the sunlight behind him streams through. She imagines he looks like a dark angel from the Fire Hell.

If only he was as merciful.

Hiisi used to brag that all her tricks would be useless against him. Unfortunately, it seems he was right. Her best efforts have only brought her here.

Her ember seems to squirm with anticipation as an idea comes to her. Slowly she massages it as she begins the summoning.

“What’s the matter there, witch girl, uh? Had a taste of me other blade and now fears it?” He waves the point of his sword. She backs deeper into the darkness. “’Tis a kinder death I’m offerin’ than ’ll get back home. They’ll know about yä by now, Easy! Go home and the Inquisition’ll find a nice warm spot on a spit… or perhaps a tight necklace on a stockade, uh? Maybe gets live with yer old man, yäh?”

He giggles at his own jokes and then coughs harshly. He hacks and spits. “Damn this mine. Damn this dust.”

Esmeree feels the heat building within her, focussing within the ember beneath her fingers. Silently, she casts the power to a spot just in front of the warrior. It starts small and grows. It is an old game, and she and her ember play it well.

“Hiisi…” she whispers.

“Ah, now c’mere darlin’. I promise be quick… at least quicker than a bonfire, yäh?”

“You like fire, Hiisi?” The spot has grown to a tiny pinprick of light.

“Wha?” Hiisi’s head reels backwards as he tries to focus on the glowing ember of light in front of him. She can see his soot-covered face well in that light. Realization dawns in his eyes. “Esmeree, nage…”

The spark ignites the coal dust hanging in the air. A blossom of fire erupts and expands to fill the mineshaft. It surges towards the cing, lifting him and throwing him backwards. Esmeree turns and ducks behind her cover, but the fire rushes over her with a thunderclap, sucking the air from her lungs and bludgeoning her body. She tumbles over the sharp stones and lays stunned in a heap of coke rock.

***

“God’s work can be seen in all things, my child. In the minor miracles of the world around us–in the sun and the moon above us, the windows into the Two Hells–in the glory of the Certu and the humility of the Dulia–in the sorcery of His priests who guide us.”

Old Myrdd smiles sweetly at the little girl. She comes to him in lieu of her chores at the Mill, and he teaches her in defiance of the laws of the Medianist Church. But in those eager gray eyes, he finds a student in a city who has long since lost interest in anything an old man can teach.

Never mind that teaching a girl to read and write is a crime punishable by death. How far can he already be from that fate now?

“But I hear sailors,” the girl asserts stubbornly, “They say our lands are weak with magic! I hear about the bad gods the Bracks pray and all the magic their sacardds can use and…”

Hush, Esmeree! Don’t say such things so loudly! It’s–”

“And I heard about the Naked Lands even further away…”

“Esmeree!”

“…where just about everybody can use magic, and–”

“SILENCE child!” he snaps and then immediately regrets it. Esmeree frowns in a hurt way and glares at the stains on her dirty pauper’s smock. He looks around him, but no one in the street outside their alleyway appears to have heard her outburst.

Carefully, painfully, he sits on the ground next to her and brushes away the garbage to clear a space for drawing. “Listen, child. These are dangerous questions. To even ask them places your soul in jeopardy… at least so says the Prophets of God, blessed-be-their-names…” He sighs. “It is true, in the lands to the north and south of the Seven Kingdoms, the magic is different… ah… more vulgar. Dirtier. And the further away you travel from the bosom of the Medianist church, the more this is the case. It is as if everyone can use it, almost as if they can pluck it from the air itself.”

With the end of his walking stick, he draws a crude diagram of the world in the dirt.

“What have I told you?” he asks, “What happens should you travel up, past the Brackish lands, to the ends of the world?”

“Jungles and deserts.”

“And then what?”

“Demons and the Fire Hell.”

He embellishes his drawing. “And in the south?”

“Demons and the Ice Hell.”

“That is right, child,” he says, finishing the picture.

“But…” She concentrates with thought. “If that’s where the Hells are, why’re the sun and moon called the Windows Hell? And if Hell is where the magic is strongest… Where does God live?”

The old man smiles and marks the center of his drawing. “God lives at the center of creation, at the Source. The center. The Median.”

Esmeree struggles with the concepts laid before her. Her mind swims. It is at times like this when a familiar tingling occurs in that hard lump beneath her throat. Her hand slaps up to her chest, but it is too late to stop what has already started. She looks around, trying not to look worried, but so far nothing seems to have happened.

Myrdd watches the girl with sadness and wonders what kind of chest problem the poor child can have. Never has he seen a child with this kind of breathing distress.

“Do you realize, child,” he says, chuckling in an attempt to lighten her suddenly dark mood, “That the peoples at the furthest extremes–denizens of the so-called Naked Lands–have almost no culture? No understandable language? No true art or music? They have no metal but use sticks and sharp stones and wear crude skins or nothing at all?” He smiles even broader and nudges her, “I hear some even have bones through their noses…”

This doesn’t seem to have any affect on the girl. Slightly miffed, he straightens. “What would you rather have? Magic at your fingertips, but nothing on your back? Look at the great cities of the Seven Kingdoms. Look at the mighty navies of Palpin, at the great Medianist cathedrals, and tell me which peoples are more blessed by God?”

“But why…” Esmeree’s eyes dart to and fro, searching for movement in the garbage, “Why do the Bracks and the others have many gods?”

“You mean the devils like Bàs and Johlpa the Ax and Suptra?” The girl nods silently. “They are merely aspects of the true God. The foolish barbarians are just too drunk with the magic that soaks their lands to realize it.”

“But… I hear that Johlpa can cast lightnin’ down from the sky and…”

“Aspects. Aspects of a greater whole. Listen, if a palace Templar points his musket at you, do you talk to the man or do you talk to the gun?”

Esmeree smiles. “The gun, of course.” She giggles and then too late realizes her mistake. The loss of concentration was all it took, and now, it’s loose. Her ember has summoned again.

Myrdd shakes his head. “Barbarian folk like the Bracks talk to the gun. God Himself is a much larger being and hence harder to comprehend.”

“How…” she asks, suddenly grim and distracted, “do really find God, then?”

“Ah,” he smiles, “That’s easy. Through the teachings of the holy mages of the church and the lessons of the Prophets. We are united with God when we die.”

“What if want meet God before die?”

She sees it now. A clot of hair and twine, forgotten among the trash of the alley, begins to stir. Before her horrified eyes, it rises and takes form. First a head, then arms and legs. It jumps from one leg to another and then spins in a neat pirouette. She tries to focus on what Myrdd is saying. Carefully, deliberately, she massages the lump under her skin, but the tingling persists.

The puppet prances, trying to get and hold her attention.

“To pass from this world to the next, and stand before the face of God, you must travel through one of the Hells and accept God’s judgement…” He leans forward to catch the girl’s eye. “Are you listening to me? It is not a decision made lightly, nor often. Only the greatest of our wizards have attempted it, and none save the third Prophet, Guiot, has ever returned… Although there is some debate on that matter.”

Her head snaps up, “Why?”

Myrdd shakes his head, “No, that can be a subject for another time. Now,” he says, clearing away his drawing of the world, “Let us move on to mathematics…”

Esmeree’s eyes drift from her teacher to the dancing tangle nearby. It seems to almost dare the near-sighted sage to notice it.

“Myrdd,” she asks quietly, “Why aren’t there any girl wizards?”

The sage freezes in his drawing of the day’s lessons. After a long pause and a sigh, he answers, “It is a simple case. To be a wizard, you must be chosen to carry the sacred embers of God. Only men have the… mental faculties to perform God’s sorcery. Women are too fragile, suggestible. Hence, God chooses only men to carry the embers… They are remnants of God’s Covenant with His people.”

Esmeree increases the pressure on the knot in her chest. The string marionette freezes in its dance and begins to shudder. “Girls aren’t born with these embers?”

Myrdd shrugs. “Some are born with some kind of magical focus, but they aren’t the sacred embers. These poor unfortunates frequently go mad or turn to a life of evil and witchcraft. Only the… ordeals of the Inquisition can cleanse their souls for absolution. Be grateful, Esmeree, that you are spared that fate.”

He sniffs and coughs. “What is that smell?”

p>Looking around, he sees a small mound of smoldering hair. As Esmeree sulks, he brushes it away with disgust, “Now, on to mathematics…”

***

Esmeree staggers into the blinding sunlight, deafened and half-mad from the explosion. A black sludge of blood and coal dust runs down her face and legs. She stumbles over a forgotten piece of timber and falls amongst the mining equipment left to rust out in the open. She lays there, senseless, alternating between agonized fits of terrified weeping and blissful unconsciousness.

It is nightfall when she first wakes and realizes she can hear more than just a dull roar. Beneath the buzz in her ears are the muted songs of crickets and other sounds of the forest at night. Carefully, she tries to rise, only to find the muscles in most of her limbs in rebellion to her wishes. Her back cramps, and she retreats back into a ball, shuddering from the pain.

“Is this it, Esmeree?” The voice is her ember’s, but it startles her nevertheless. “Is this where you finally surrender? It would certainly be easier, wouldn’t it?”

In disgust, she spits. The black mud of blood, snot, and coal slowly rolls down the side of a rusted ore cart. She knows, just a few hundred yards away, is their camp. Food, water, bandages, horses to take her wherever she wants. All she has to do is get there. “But it is easier just to lay here in the dirt, isn’t it?”

Her ember’s voice is mocking, reminiscent of Hiisi’s tone, and that hurts even more. “Go ahead and give up. What does it matter now? Your friends have more important things to worry about than you. The fishers and sticks won’t have you. The boy is gone. Hiisi is… gone. And if what he said was true, the Inquisition knows about you now. That means all deals with Jacobus are off. You can’t even go home anymore…”

Esmeree carefully reaches out and grabs the side of the overturned ore cart. Slowly, she shifts her weight, willing each complaining muscle to relax and do its job. Ignore the knots; ignore the bruises and the cracking scabs. “And look at yourself. All busted up. You think those knees will hold you? It was a good shot Hiisi gave you. Think you’ll ever hear right again? Let’s lay odds on how that face of yours looks now. I’d say even money is you couldn’t rate as a half copper oainjyr in the Heap. My guess is you’ll be offering the Skudd fishermen blows and hand jobs in return for their fish heads and other goodies… Have to fight off the seagulls and lepers for your dinners from now on, eh?”

One muscle at a time, she lifts herself onto her elbows and looks around. In the darkness, the mine entrance looks like an inky gash in the side of the mountain. To one side are the foreman’s and maintenance shacks. She knows these to be locked from her panicked flight from Hiisi earlier. Metal and wood debris lay scattered across the ground. Though she cannot see them in the brush and tall grass, she knows two rusting rails run from the ore elevator, into the forest, and away through the mountains towards Cliffs Reach; it’s still a good day’s ride away, but she could follow those tracks home if she wanted.

Downhill are the overgrown wagon tracks. Through that gap in the trees are the small creek and her campsite. Slowly, she begins to crawl.

It feels like hours before she’s finally rewarded with the welcome presence of her marka pony. She must have forgotten to tether the beast again. Through her deadened ears, she hears it whicker a nervous greeting and nuzzle her hair. Damn animal. She’s had it less than a year, and it’s already grown attached to her.

The camp and their packs are just beyond, scattered across the clearing in disarray.

Slowly, deliberately, she makes her way to the heap of gear by the cold fire pit. Equipment lays strewn across the ground. She was in the middle of unpacking when Hiisi went rraakk with her. She had only a few seconds to realize this time his intent was not amorous but lethal.

As a fry, she learned to beware of men with killer’s eyes. Somehow, she’d dropped her guard with Hiisi.

Esmeree shakes her head slowly as she picks through their packs. When Hiisi’s hands closed around her throat, it was only through a quick summoning from her ember that let her break free and kick him away. Then she just stood there like a stupid idiot, staring at him in shock as he quickly found his feet and drew that huge sword. The slash across the knees sent her sprawling backwards, scrabbling for her own weapon. The cuts across her forearms saved her from a slit throat. And then she fled.

And then she found the mine. And now Hiisi’s dead.

She stares at his huge epos warhorse. It still wears its distinctive Brackish tack and saddle. The colors and cut of the leather indicate the owner’s homeland and clan standings. Esmeree wonders, for an outcast mercenary cing, he was certainly proud of his heritage.

Not that it matters now.

She looks down at the small pile of equipment she’s accumulated. Bandages, soap, fresh water, gin. Carefully, she wraps it all in a horse blanket.

Why is she feeling like this? Why is she feeling guilty? She looks back at the horse. The luct-marvos bastard had tried to kill her.

So why does she miss him?

She shakes her head and violently wipes the new tears from her face. Blood and dirt sting her eyes. What’s one more betrayal in her life? She should be used to it by now.

With her goods wrapped in the horse blanket, she works her way down to the creek to clean and dress her physical wounds.

***

Halos surround the gaslights and bonfires of Cliffs Reach as a fog creeps in from the Skudd Sea. In the high ground to the north, the merchants and nobles’ mansions of Marble Town glow all the brighter, like fine Fée castles spun from sugar. She can almost pick out Jacobus’s palace from here (the decadent pervert is probably hosting a party filled with young sellâria like her). At the top of it all, overseeing the land in all directions, is the walled Citadel. To the south, festering like a canker sore in the gums of the city, the Heap nestles between the city’s ports and the Brack River. The pathetic individuals living in those swamps can afford no candles or torches for light, and so the Heap lays dark across the nighttime cityscape like a black bruise. She can’t see it, but she knows it’s there nevertheless. She can smell it.

It’s probably the only safe place in the city for her now. Not even the Inquisition is brave enough to look for her in there for very long. Nor would they want to. A lifetime in the Heap would be worse than any Inquisition ordeal.

A departing steamer brays a greeting to a returning sister ship. Her hearing has only just begun to return, and she feels the air horn more than hears it as it bangs through the trees.

Myrdd once told her that the Skudd Sea was the life-blood of the 12 city-states of the Palpi peninsula. If that’s the case, then the ports of Cliffs Reach are its heart.

With her legs and arms stiff and tightly bandaged, she carefully urges her marka pony down the overgrown path towards Cliffs Reach’s main road, Hiisi’s larger epos war-horse in tow. All the ore mined in these hills used to flow down this artery and into the city, at least until the mines dried up and Cliffs Reach had to look to new industries. Up from the ports come grain, livestock, missionaries, and other goods grown elsewhere in the Seven Kingdoms, lands with better soil and stronger faith. These goods are either consumed by the citizens of Cliffs Reach or shipped north to inland city-states like Nacnæ, Ducci, and beyond. Esmeree isn’t sure just what is beyond, but she knows sooner or later you leave the Palpi peninsula and enter Brackish lands. Beyond that, the Chroani Kingdoms, the Naked Lands, and the unknown realms of demons.

As Esmeree nears the main road, the stench of rotting flesh raises bile in her throat, and she shudders as the stakes lining the road loom out of the darkness. The Inquisition is efficient in its rooting out of heretics, foreigners, and demons. The results of their ordeals line the roads to all Seven Kingdoms cities, either impaled or crucified. They are terrible testaments to the dangers of this world and the sacrifices some are forced to make to protect the souls of others.

She joins the road and slowly rides beneath the judging gazes of those purified sentinels, cleansed by the holy ordeals of the Medianist Inquisition. She remembers an old priest telling her that to join their ranks is the highest honor an infidel can achieve.

She catches some movement out of the corner of her eye. Some are not quite dead, and they still twitch and writhe in a hopeless, animal kind of way. She is grateful her wounded ears cannot hear their groans.

Sunrise is near. A blush has formed on the horizon as God slowly opens His other eye to Hell. Already, cavalry and Templars are drilling on the parade grounds east of the city. Black cloaked Ravens bark orders to their troops.

She is in a hurry. She has no idea how honest Hiisi’s threat was, but if it was true, she needs to get inside the city proper and into her own territory before it gets too light. The gate or city watch might recognize her and turn her over to the church. Worse, sticks or fishers from her guild might spot her and turn her over to the Lady.

Despite her urgency, however, she pauses and bows in her saddle, performing the Morning Prayer to the rising sun. Her ember tingles.

Finishing seems to restore some of her strength. She feels more at peace and better prepared to meet whatever comes. Is this some gift from God, she muses, or is it one more blasphemous sin from the lips of a condemned witch? Absentmindedly, she caresses her ember and looks up. And freezes.

For some reason, she has stopped beneath the stake of the painted man. His naked body was strung up days ago, and yet it is still untouched by ravens or the elements. Dark blue tattoos swirl across every inch of his perfect skin. His chin rests against his breastbone, and his long hair obscures his face. She recalls, however, his fine features and sympathetic eyes.

She remembers the day the painted man arrived at her city. Naked except for his tattoos, he rode to the main gates of Cliffs Reach’s Citadel, carrying only a bag of modest possessions and a ludicrously long fighting sword. The blade was only two fingers in width but nearly as tall as a man. The haft alone was as long as her Palpi scimitar, and the pommel terminated in a large knob, almost perfectly mirrored. Hiisi suggested the extra weight was needed to counter-balance the impossibly long blade, though he scoffed at the idea of anyone actually being able to fight with such a weapon. At the time, Esmeree held her tongue, far from certain that this naked man was defenseless.

There he sat on his horse, beautiful and silent, his sword cradled in one arm–as though in challenge of the entire city–and there he stayed until the militia escorted him inside. Esmeree was in the crowds watching when they hustled him towards the Inquisition’s chambers. She saw his face and met his eyes and was filled with a great sadness.

Three days later, his body was crucified on the road, the Inquisition’s ordeal finished, and yet for someone who had died by their hands, his body was remarkably free of injury. She visited the body as soon as she could but waited until she returned home before her cried. To be seen weeping at the feet of an executed infidel welcomes unwanted attention from the authorities.

Now Esmeree finds herself at his feet again.

She notices something thrusting out from between his legs. Riding a little closer, she sees with disgust that someone has run him through the ass with his own sword. The long blade must be running right up his spine. The tip grotesquely distends, but doesn’t seem able to pierce, the skin at the nape of his neck. The blade buried deep in his body, his feet dangle on the hand guards like it is the seat of some child’s tree swing. This desecration must have been done after the painted man was dead and crucified, the Medianists’ last attempt to humiliate the infidel. Probably by a vengeful acolyte.

She wonders what he did, or what he represented, to cause the Inquisition to do such things.

She experiences a strange sense of pride as she realizes that despite the church’s best efforts, they were still unable to defile his beauty.

Esmeree slips through the wattle and thatch huts that make up the eastern rim of Cliffs Reach and heads for the Market Square inside the Guilders. Once inside the city, the main road becomes the Doge’s Promenade, and it stretches all the way up to the Citadel. Today is not an official market day; nevertheless, the square is still full of poorer Brack and Chroani farmers and craftsmen, all looking to line their pockets with any color of metal. With these people come the scent of desperation, and that scent tends to draw its predators. It is through these waters that Esmeree cruises like a river gator.

Moments later, Esmeree is counting her coins and limping towards the walls of the Citadel. The slovenly Ducci farmer in the market naturally assumed Hiisi’s horse was stolen, and Esmeree was in no mood to haggle (she has no idea where Hiisi got it, but she hopes it was taken from Jacobus’s stables). She was happy to accept the pittance in copper Guilders the peasant offered, and in the process, she helped herself to nearly twice that value of his expensive produce.

Her own pony tethered at the public stables, she works her way deeper into the heart of the city, enjoying a large yam in the process. The great walled Citadel stands on the highest point of the city, and the walk uphill is long and difficult for Esmeree’s injured legs. The rugged cliffs overlook the Skudd on one side, the Brack River on the other, and the Citadel’s cannon can hold off an armada.

First, she must pass the doors of the finest mansions and palaces in Marble Town. Security here is tightest, and Esmeree tries to look casual as she slips by the bored mercenary guards. Her bandages help–the guards probably assume she is a leper heading for the cathedral for alms or blessings–and the Lady’s minions would never expect to see her in such a state.

These Marble Town homes are close enough for the finest families to find shelter within the Citadel gates, should hordes of unwashed Brackish warriors come spilling over the border. Esmeree wonders if Cliffs Reach has ever been invaded. Should it ever happen, she wonders what would happen to the less wealthy people trapped outside the keep’s walls.

Today, the great gates of the Citadel stand open, and even at this hour, the traffic in and out is heavy and unsupervised. She enters the gates and tries to avoid looking at the oppressive edifices of the city militia’s keep and prison. She keeps her eyes on her feet. The white marble flagstones of Ascension Square portray the rise to Heaven of the prophet Guiot the Virgin. As a matter of habit–her own private religious ceremony–Esmeree makes sure to grind her sandal into his eye as she heads for the plaza center and its the white stone fountain.

She takes two pots from a nearby pile, the least filthy she can find, and does her best to wash them in the fountain’s waters. The fountain provides the cleanest water in the city for citizens willing to make the trip. The only other option is the foul-smelling Brack River down by the docks. Feces is caked onto one of the pots, and she has to use her nails to scratch it out from the deepest gouges.

Huddled against the white stone, an old woman weeps and babbles, obviously overwhelmed by whatever life-misery God has chosen to dole out. Esmeree doesn’t give her another glance.

When both pots present a semblance of cleanliness, she fills one with water and the other with her stolen vegetables and heads for a special section of the Citadel wall. Moans echo from small holes in the stone. Occasionally, a thin hand reaches out to claw the air as she passes.

A woman and two children press against one, calling for someone inside to come take the food and water they had brought. There is no reply from the darkness, and their pleas become more desperate.

Not every criminal is executed by the church. Many prisoners’ crimes seem merely to have offended the sensibilities of the Doge or his noble peers. For such crimes, the suggested punishment is simple, being buried alive within the walls of the Citadel. The lucky ones with no friends or family die of thirst within a few days. The ones who are fed and watered can last for years.

Esmeree stops at one cell and taps the stone gently with her vegetable pot. “Old man? I’ve brought you your food and water.” One at a time, she slips her stolen produce through the tiny hole in the wall. The black air inside is thick with foul odors, and she tries to keep her face away.

After a long pause, she hears something shift inside, and a wrinkled face with a watery eye appears in the hole. The Inquisition stole the other one with a red-hot poker. “Unh? Esmeree, my dear? That you, my child?” The face trembles as the eye focuses on her. “Dear god, what happened to you?”

She smiles, more relieved that she cares to show. Her hand flutters up to bandages on her face, and she looks away. “He betrayed me, Myrdd. He tried to kill me. He… he hurt me…”

Her friends are gone, the Lady will certainly have nothing to do with her, and Myrdd is trapped within this horrible wall. Hiisi and Jacobus have betrayed her, and the Inquisition is probably searching for her. Even the boy is long gone. She is no longer safe in her home. Tears well up again against her will, but she cannot stop them. She balls herself up on the ground beneath the cell and shudders with pain and grief.

A long moment later, a thin arm wrapped in parchment skin reaches out and caresses her hair.

hide

Glossary show/hide

World of the Seven Kingdoms

Abaisd Territories: Smallest of the Seven Kingdoms, and consists of the 12 Palpi city-states. Sometimes considered a territory of the EroBernd Empire.

aballo: Fruit commonly found in the Bracklands.

adgarios: (Brackish) Invoker. Usually refers to a sorcerer.

Afron: (Synesi) Trickster god.

afron: (Palpi) Fool, foolish.

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

ahrounoi: Member of the Tribe of Fée.

Alf: Seven of dusios card in a maru-catu deck.

alf: Member of the Tribe of Fée.

anatlon: (Brackish) Soul.

Anerin’s Fort: Northwestern most of the 12 Palpi city-states.

ango: (Brackish) Rraakk barbed throwing spear.

anima: Spirit within all things, living or not.

animus: Beginning of sentience within the anima of an inanimate object.

Aquilaleon: Capital of the EroBernd Empire. Seat of the current Superbus Tyrannus.

ard-vitchoor: (Brackish) Ultimate bastard.

asp: (EroBernac) Knight piece in a castles game. (Ulbandi) Sacred knight of the Dragon Goddess.

Aššu-Cìoch: Large dunum on the Brackish coast.

astalch: (Brackish) Shield.

ater: (Brackish) Father.

aulos: (Brackish) Reed pipe.

auspex: One who performs divinations by observing the flights of birds.

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

baala: (Ulbandi) Baby.

bagaudas: (Brackish) Bandit, brigand.

banderoles: Scroll or ribbon, bearing an inscription or illustration.

barnaunos: (Brackish) Judge.

Bàs: (Brackish) God of the underworld, ruler of the luct-marvos tribe.

bâsium: (Synesi) Chaste kiss.

Black Ember guild: Most powerful street gang in Cliffs Reach, occupying the Foreman Neighborhoods. Ruled by the Lady Andelliza.

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

bna: (Brackish) Woman.

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.

brattices: Castle defenses with alternating crenellations and merlons. Battlements, parapets. Also known as cai’on.

Bredbeddle of EroBernd: Medianist saint, and disciple of Hoël. Drove the asps from the Seven Kingdoms.

Bredbeddle’s Crusade: In 24 HA, the warior saint Bredbeddle drove the asps from the Medianist lands.

bri’ua: (Brackish) (1) Bridge. (2) Form of magic derived from the worship of gods, also known as indirect magic. (3) One of the six suits in the maru-catu deck.

buachar: (Brackish) Bullshit.

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.

bwyell: (Brackish) War ax.

caballos: (Brackish) Workhorse.

caddos: (Brackish) Saint.

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

cai’on: (Brackish) Castle defenses with alternating crenellations and merlons. Battlements, parapets. Also known as brattices.

calliacus: (Brackish) Testicles.

Camboglanna: City in northern Ehre.

capala: (Ulbandi) Whore.

capalus: Breed of great catcommon in the Bracklands, related to lions. Travel in groups called prides.

Capt: Brackish clan. Vassals of Rixueramos Naw.

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

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

CastitasDecus: Capital of the Duchy of Ehre.

Cathubodua: (Brackish) Honorific for Medianist knights, specifically Ravens.

catu: (Brackish) Battle.

cauaros: Species of giant, and member of the Tribe of Fée. Travel in family units known as crashes.

Ceilbyrig: Largest city and primary port of Ymyl Gwland.

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

châtelain: Governor or warden of a castle or dunum.

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) Brackish knight.

Cintubyrig: Brackish dunum near Ymyl Gwland.

circle magic: Form of magic derived from the invocation and control of spirits and demons, also known as dusios magic.

Citadel: Inner keep at the center of Cliffs Reach. Its walls enclose the Doge’s palace, the Medianist cathedral, the offices of the Inquisition, the prison, and the barracks of the city guard.

Cliffs Reach: Southernmost of the 12 Palpi city-states. An active trade-center.

coept-inigena: (Brackish) Prizebride.

coite: Ring and peg game.

columbor: (Synesi) Kiss like doves, peck.

Connus: (Synesi) Goddess of love.

connus: (Palpi) Dirty, unclean.

cortegiania: (EroBernac) Art of EroBernac courtiership.

cortesia: (Mynyddi) Art of Mynyddi courtly behavior.

cottar: Rural peasant.

courmi: Brackish beer.

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

crèabag: (Brackish) Ball.

crenellations: Gaps made between merlons for the firing of bows or firearms.

Crimson Rraakks: Largest street gang in Cliffs Reach. Occupying the Homestead Neighborhoods, it consists largely of Brack and Chroani boys.

cuall: (Brackish) Fool, foolish.

cuall of man: Pure Fool card in a maru-catu deck.

cucullus: (Brackish) Cloak.

Darkblood: Member of the Tribe of Night.

Dedication: Turning over of the responsibilities of raising a child to the Medianist church. Essentially the adoption of a child by the church. Held on the Harvest Festival.

Demon’s Horde: In a maru-catu game, the seven, eight, nine, and ten of dusios cards.

deuos: (Brackish) God.

Deuos Durnus: (Brackish) Fists of God.

dervâ: (Mynyddi) Woods.

Devil: Rix of dusios card in a maru-catu deck. Also known as the Dragon.

dewines: (Brackish) Enchantress. Usually refers to a sorcerer.

Dikastis: (Synesi) A god.

dona: (Brackish) Wife.

donios: (Brackish) Husband.

Dragon: Rix of dusios card in a maru-catu deck. Also known as the Devil.

draucus: (Brackish) Pervert.

Drungi: (1) Native from the lands currently occupied by the EroBernd Empire. Now very rare. (2) Language of the Drungi.

Ducci: One of the 12 Palpi city-states.

Dulia: Veneration and worship of Medianist saints.

dunum: (Brackish) Village, castle, keep.

durnus: (Brackish) Fist.

dusios: (Brackish) (1) Demon. (2) Form of magic derived from the invocation and control of spirits and demons, also known as circle magic. (3) Any non-human race, such as Fée, rraakk, and cauaros. (4) One of the six suits in the maru-catu deck.

Dux Bellôrum: Supreme commander of the armies of the Superbus Tyrannus.

dwarf: Racial epithet referring to ahrounoi.

Ehre, Duchy of: One of the Seven Kingdoms. Currently at war with the alfs.

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

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

elemental magic: Form of magic derived from the worship and control of the elements, also known as nertos magic.

elfajzott: (Mynyddi) Idiot, moron.

embers: (EroBernac) Sources of sorcerers’ powers. Also known as stones.

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

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

epos: (Brackish) Warhorse.

EroBernd Empire: One of the Seven Kingdoms. The current seat of the Superbus Tyrannus.

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

esok: (Brackish) Salmon.

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

Faith: Ten of bri’ua card in a maru-catu deck.

faldstool: Folding stool used by royalty.

falx: (Chroani) Two-handed battle scythe.

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

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.

fîgo: (Synesi) Erotic kiss.

Fists of God/Fists of Gock: Straights between the Ymyl Gwland and Ehrech landmasses. On the east is the Skudd Sea, on the west are uncharted waters.

five of man: Largesse card in a maru-catu deck.

flintlock: Firearm using a piece of flint to generate sparks and discharge the weapon. More reliable and safer than matchlocks and wheel-locks.

Foreman Neighborhoods: Southern most portion of Cliffs Reach, just above the docks. The industrial center of the city, and is extremely poor. Includes many factories, warehouses, and tenements.

Fornjotnr County: One of the Southern Territories.

fremder: (Muttese) Stranger.

Frost Season: Last season of winter.

Frostthing County: One of the Southern Territories.

gæsum: (Brackish) (1) Spear. (2) Form of magic derived from the design and creation of tools, also known as tools magic. (3) One of the six suits in the maru-catu deck.

geOl log: (EroBernac) Largest log of the Medianist winter. Burned on the night of the Burning Time.

ginê: (Mynyddi) Friend.

Gock: Devil.

Gokh: Dragon Goddess.

Gold Season: Last season of spring.

Grail: Slug of stones card in a maru-catu deck. Also known as the Krater.

Grandmother Mwarree: Brackish goddess.

graney: (Brackish) Ugly.

Green Bridge: Capital of the Abaisd Territories and the largest of the 12 Palpi city-states. Ruled by a Viceroy appointed by the Superbus Tyrannus.

Green Season: Middle season of spring.

Green Shores: A city in northern EroBernd.

Grefflet of EroBernd: Medianist saint. Disciple of Guiot.

Grey Season: Last season of autumn.

Grey Summer: Last season of summer.

griffette: Miniaturized versions of full griffins. Prized by EroBernac nobles for their colorful plumage.

griffin: Rare animal consisting of the hindquarters of a lion and the forequarters of an eagle. The royal animal of the Superbus Tyrannus, and sacred symbol of the Medianist church.

guilder: (Palpi) Primary currency used within the Abaisd Territories. Divided into three primary denominations (copper, silver, and gold) and many sub-denominations.

Guilders: Merchant quarters of Cliffs Reach.

Guiot the Virgin: Fourth Medianist Prophet, from EroBernd.

gully: (Brackish) Hunting and fighting knife.

Gutus: Brackish clan. Vassals of Rixueramos Naw.

gwledig: (Brackish) Noble, landowner.

Gwrach: Rixa of dusios card in a maru-catu deck. Also known as the Hag.

gwrach: (Brackish) Witch, hag. Often a practicioner of magic other than stone magic.

Gwrach Forest: Woods north of Cliffs Reach.

Hag: Rixa of dusios card in a maru-catu deck. Also known as the Gwrach.

halki: Grain common in the Bracklands.

halogedig: (Brackish) Leper.

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

Hard Winter: Middle season of winter.

Harvest Festival: (1) Holy day celebrating the harvest and the end of the growing season, occurring on the Autumnal Equinox of Harvest Season. (2) Associated celebrations.

Harvest Season: Middle season of autumn.

hauberk: Tunic of flexible armor, such as of chainmail or lamellar.

Heap: Swamps east of Cliffs Reach’s docks, inhabited by lepers, criminals, and the poorest of the homeless.

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

High Summer: Middle season of summer.

Hoël the Traveled: Second Medianist Prophet, from Mut.

Homestead Neighborhoods: Inland region of Cliffs Reach, largely inhabited by immigrant cottars.

homunculus: Stone’s animus that has achieved true sentience and autonomy.

houri: (Ulbandi) Harem slave, dancer.

iall: (Brackish) Sunshine.

Incunabula: Seven of man card in a maru-catu deck.

indirect magic: Form of magic derived from the worship of gods, also known as bri’ua magic.

inigena: (Brackish) Daughter, girl.

inquest: Process of interrogation, ordeal, and judgement of an accused heretic by the Inquisition.

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

isean: (Brackish) Game fowl, often domesticated.

išha: (Ulbandi) Slaver owner, master.

Johlpa the Ax: Ruler of the Brackish gods.

jûrinîkas: (Mynyddi) Sailor.

Kahedin the Pure: Third Medianist Prophet, from EroBernd.

kave: (Drungi) Priest.

kirze: (Brackish) Agreement, deal.

khat?: (Ulbandi) Exclamatory suffix indicating a question.

kobolde: Member of the Tribe of Fée.

Krater: Slug of stones card in a maru-catu deck. Also known as the Grail.

kumaarii: (Ulbandi) Little girl.

laity: Commoners of the Medianist faith.

Largesse: Five of man card in a maru-catu deck.

Last Summer: First season of autumn.

learning magic: Form of magic derived from the accumulation of knowledge, also known as man magic.

Ledus County: One of the Southern Territories.

Logan: Brackish clan, ruled by Rix Gronw. Vassals of Rixueramos Naw.

lovag: (Mynyddi) Mynyddi knight.

Low Summer: First season of summer.

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

Mâ!: (Ulbandi) Exclamatory article.

maia: (Synesi) Doctor.

mam’a: (Brackish) Mommy.

man: (1) Form of magic derived from the accumulation of knowledge, also known as learning magic. (2) One of the six suits in the maru-catu deck.

Man, Tribe of: One of the Great Tribes, consisting of all human races.

mangâ: (Mynyddi) Whore.

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

Marble Town: Wealthiest quarter of Cliffs Reach.

marka: (Brackish) Pony.

maru: (Brackish) Great, mighty.

maru-catu: Card game, with Brackish and EroBernac varieties.

matchlock: Firearm using a burning fuse to discharge the weapon.

matir: (Brackish) Mother.

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.

Melt Season: First season of spring.

mergâ: (Mynyddi) Girl.

merlons: Stone works at the tops of battlements. Separated by crenellations.

miniver: White fur usually worn by EroBernac nobles as a sign of status.

mirain: (Brackish) Beautiful, comely.

misericord: Hinged seat that gives support to a standing worshiper when turned up.

mol: (Brackish) (1) Praise. (2) Exclamation conveying praise.

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

morsiuncula: (Synesi) Passionate bite.

mosac: (Brackish) Son, boy.

mosaius: (Brackish) Son-of.

Mut, Duchy of: One of the Seven Kingdoms.

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

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 EroBernac, Söderkarl, and Muttese.

na: (Brackish) No.

Nacnæ: Northeastern most of the 12 Palpi city-states.

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

Naked Lands: Rumored territory to the extreme north of the Seven Kingdoms.

navât: (Ulbandi) No, not.

nertos: (Brackish) (1) Force, power. (2) Form of magic derived from the worship and control of the elements, also known as elemental magic. (3) One of the six suits in the maru-catu deck.

New Year’s: (1) Beginning of the Medianist calendar year, occurring on the Vernal Equinox of Green Season. (2) Associated celebration of the Superbus Tyrannus’s birthday.

Night, Tribe of: One of the Great Tribes, consisting of all races considered “undead”. Vulnerable to silver.

oainjyr: (Brackish) Whore.

odocos: (Brackish) Elder.

Or-Knit: Northernmost of the 12 Palpi city-states.

ordeal: Application of torture during an inquest.

Ordohorht tribe: Ruling tribe of the EroBernd Empire. One of 12 ancestral Drungi tribes from EroBernd.

orgetos: (Brackish) Slayer.

osculum: (Synesi) Maternal kiss at the corner of the mouth.

paidia: (Synesi) Children.

Paliesin of EroBernd: Medianist saint. Disciple of Pennenc.

Palpi: (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.

pektus: (Brackish) Child, children.

pelisse: Woman’s loose travelling cloak, with wide collar and fur lining.

Pennenc the Wise: First Medianist Prophet, from Ehre.

prælîbâtio: (Synesi) Kiss where the lips are gently brushed against the skin.

Primate: Religious leader of the Medianist church.

Pure Fool: (1) Asp. (2) Cuall of man card in a maru-catu deck.

Raucholle Mountains: Range of volcanic mountains in Ehre. Currently occupied by the alfs.

Raven: Elite knight of the Seven Kingdoms, distinctive by their black cloaks. A Medianist paladin.

Rhiadaf: Johlpa’s usurped father. Creator of all creatures.

rhyswr: (Brackish) Champion.

riddarasögur: (Söderkarl) Chivalric sagas.

riges: (Brackish) Plural of rix or rixa.

rix: (Brackish) King.

rix of dusios: Devil or Dragon card in a maru-catu deck.

rixa: (Brackish) Queen.

rixa of dusios: Gwrach or Hag card in a maru-catu deck.

rixueramos: (Brackish) High king.

rraakk: Hostile species invading the northwestern Bracklands.

rukh: (EroBernac) Siege-tower piece in a castles game.

sacardd: (Brackish) Priest.

sacarddueramos: (Brackish) High priest.

Saint’s Winter: First season of winter.

sangrenel: Cannon shot consisting of jagged scrap iron.

scramasax: (Brackish) Rraakk serrated “wound knife”.

seax: (Brackish) Rraakk machete.

Sego: Brackish clan. Vassals of Rixueramos Naw.

sellâria: (EroBernac) Courtesan.

Selua: Brackish clan. Vassals of Rixueramos Naw.

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

setras: (Ulbandi) Houri fetters.

Seven Circles: City in southern Ehre.

seven of dusios: Alf card in a maru-catu deck.

seven of man: Incunabula card in a maru-catu deck.

sica: (Chroani) One-handed battle scythe.

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

Skudd Sea: Body of water around which the Seven Kingdoms are located.

slug: (Brackish) Slave.

slug of dusios: Tower card in a maru-catu deck.

slug of stones: Grail or Krater card in a maru-catu deck.

smarach: (Brackish) Baby.

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

Söderkarl sword-cults: Original pre-Medianist pagan religion of the Southern Territories.

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

sorcery: Form of magic derived from the manipulation of a sorcerer’s stone, also known as stone magic.

Southern Territories: One of the Seven Kingdoms, and territories of the EroBernd Empire. Consists of Fornjotnr County, Frostthing County, and Ledus County.

spatha: (Brackish) Broadsword.

Speech at the Ash Fields: When the Prophet Hoël pleaded with the Drungi tribes of northern EroBernd to convert to Medianism. Those he converted, he led to victory against an invading Brack army. The formative moment for the future EroBernd Empire and the Medianist Church, it marked the end of the Heresy wars and the beginning of the Endless Empire.

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

stones: (1) Sources of sorcerers’ power. Also known as embers. (2) Form of magic derived from the manipulation of a sorcerer’s stone, also known as sorcery. (3) One of the six suits in the maru-catu deck.

suâvium: (Synesi) Passionate kiss of lovers.

summoning: Invocation of magic through a sorcerer’s stone.

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

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

Suptra: Brackish goddess.

Synes Republic: Nation east of the Seven Kingdoms.

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

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

tata: (Brackish) Daddy.

ten of bri’ua: Faith card in a maru-catu deck.

tools magic: Form of magic derived from the design and creation of tools, also known as gæsum magic.

tourc’h: (Brackish) Hog.

Tower: Slug of dusios card in a maru-catu deck.

traellern: Member of the Tribe of Fée.

Truemmerland: Region of rough terrain and ruins in eastern Palpin. Occupied by traellern.

ueramos: (Brackish) Supreme.

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.

vair: Bluish gray and white squirrel fur, prized for its softness and ornamental use.

vavasour: Noble ranking below a baron.

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

Ve’coDusios: Large Brackish dunum, and seat of Rixueramos Naw.

villein: Free citizen of the Seven Kingdoms.

vîrinâ: (Mynyddi) Lady, woman.

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

vitchoor: (Brackish) Bastard.

War of Ascension: Occuring 30 years ago, the most recent conflict between the EroBernd Empire and the Duchies of Mut and Ehre. After 3 years, ended with EroBernac victory.

Wedding Day: (1) Holy day reserved for the union and consummation of Medianist marriages, occurring on the Summer Equinox of High Summer. (2) Associated celebrations of the wedding ceremonies.

wheel-lock: Firearm using a spring-loaded fly wheel to generate sparks and discharge the weapon. Easier to load and safer than matchlocks, they are less reliable than flintlocks.

wimples: Woman’s cloth covering, worn over the head and around the neck and chin.

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

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

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

ysbryd: (Brackish) Spirit.

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