Book 1:  When Dragons Wake

Premise: An apprentice mage destined for martyrdom and a boy born to save a dying race, fall in love with one another, and defy their destinies.

Theme: The small can overcome the large, with enough courage and great sacrifice.

The World of Dark Totem

The Races:

Redlani – Silvery hair, green eyes, dark skin.  A patriarchal, agrarian race once enslaved by the Ard-Hiarn.  They are the majority race, but lack the resources to completely dominate the Ard-Hiarn and claim their mineral-rich mountains.  AKA “Silverheads” by the Ard-Hiarn.

They own the majority of land in the Northern Redlans (see “Redlans”).  Their state religion is that of the Ursig Temple (see “Ursig”).  They believe in an afterlife, and females are chattel subject to the rule of fathers and husbands.  They follow the other customs of the Ursig and Temple, which includes female circumcision.

Some Redlani women become healers, a few become wisewomen, knowledgeable in advanced healing arts, fortunetelling, and minor spells, although, since the Temple forbids magic, they must practice all in secret.

Ard-Hiarn – Black hair, black eyes, very dark skin.  A matriarchal race, which was once the dominant race, and patriarchal.  Their numbers are diminishing, but with superior metallurgical skills, weaponry and a monopoly on coal (blackrock) and ores, they have managed to stop the Redlani and Ursig annexation of their mountains.  AKA “Blackeyes” by the Redlani.

Their priestess cult, powerful sorceresses called Bensaggerts, worship dragons, although the last dragon in their world died millennia ago, after sharing its dragon-lore with an Ard-Hiarn shaman, the first Bensaggert.  Their goal is to bring about a return of dragons, and make the Ard-Hiarn once more dominant.  However, most Ard-Hiarn, including their lead clan, Clan Kionsag, have long abandoned the worship of dragons, in favor of the benign Ursig and Redlani god, the Maker.

For several decades, they have maintained a balance of power with the Redlani, on whom they rely for grain and other agrarian commodities in exchange for manufactured goods.

Bensaggerts’ powers include:  the ability to create and wield conjure crystals that can heal and destroy, make steel that is virtually indestructible, and wield the “Fire of Creation”–a force so powerful, it can melt rock.

Ursig – features vary – Descendants of a powerful, magical race, the Forebears, who came to the world of the Ard-Hiarn and Redlani, and interbred with Redlani wisewomen (healers and minor witches).  The Forebears and their Ursig offspring disrupted Ard-Hiarn rule.  This led to the freeing of the Redlani, who consider the Ursig akin to demi-gods.  With the Redlani, the Ursig co-rule, hold the highest offices in the state religion, and are the majority of the clerics.

At first matriarchal and led by a council of women, patriarchy was forced upon them when a cult, led by a man who claimed divine knowledge, rose to challenge their rule.  After much strife and bloodshed, his became the dominant religion (the Temple), the basic beliefs of which are:  1) Men are born to dominate.  2) Magic is evil and its practice, forbidden, especially since Ursig females are the more gifted in it.  3) One can join the Forebears in the heavens, physically, not just spiritually, and attain immortal life.  4) The “door” to the heavens and physical immortality lies within Benn Correy, a glacier-locked volcano where the Forebears first descended.

Since Benn Correy lies in the Stailinn Sleytyn Mountains of the Ard-Hiarn, and is the stronghold of the Bensaggert priestesses, the only way to access “Heaven’s Door” is to defeat both Ard-Hiarn, and the Bensaggerts.  To this end, for centuries the Temple has fostered crusades with Redlani rulers against the Ard-Hiarn.  The Redlani, eager to access the minerals and technology of the Ard-Hiarn, are willing partners in these campaigns.

High-ranking Redlani men prize Ursig women whom they acquire as wives, concubines and mistresses, for status symbols.  However, the men secretly/subconsciously fear them, which adds to their allure.  To curb their strongest powers, which can include the Fire of Creation, all Ursig females are circumcised as children.

Many Ursig women clandestinely maintain the old ways, and pass their lore to female Ursig children whom they determine have some magical aptitude (the Gift).  Most, as young women or middle-aged women who are widowed or shunned by their husbands, eventually join the Sisterhood of the Temple, where, in cloisters scattered across the Redlans, they can maintain their own society in secret.  Some serve as Wanderhealers who roam the Redlans, healing and midwifing.  The most devout adherents of the old ways await the fulfillment of the Prophecy of the One, which foretells the coming of the daughter of god (the Deo-Inneen) who will reunite them with the Forebears, when the Blood Star, Rennag Cro-derg turns the nights red.

The skills and powers of the most powerful Ursig women, which can take a physical toll on the most powerful, include telepathy, telekinesis, advanced healing arts, aura reading, sleepspells, illusions, nonbeing (invisibility), and whitefire, which can illuminate and levitate.

Caur-bithir Mooar – an advanced race of dragons trapped on a dying planet in the corona of the red star, Rennag Cro-derg, to where they escaped when their home, the world of the Ard-Hiarn and Redlani, could no longer support them.  Only when Rennag Cro-derg moves closest to their home world in its orbit, will they be able to return.  However, to achieve this, one dragon must bond psychically with someone on his/her home world.  This person must act in concert with an Alt-Bensaggert, keeper and wielder of the Rey-clag (Dragon Heart) crystals, to open a portal between their worlds.

Dragons’ powers include space travel (limited), telepathy, advanced metallurgy, vitrification, and the ability to make/create and wield crystals that create, heal or destroy.

Recurring characters thus far, in alphabetical order:

Asdeach – Great Lord Ceannard’s second advisor.

Beolach – Only child and heir of Clan Kionsag’s matriarch.

Beo’lan – Beolach’s aunt, and an elder of Clan Kionsag.

Calag – Healer and Nikko’s first mistress/guardian.

Ceannard – The Great Lord, ruler of Northern Redlans.

Chandrax – The young dragon destined to bond with Beolach.

Creeney, Eldest – The blind leader of the Sisterhood, keeper of the Old Ways of the Forebears.

Cuelean – A male child of Clan Kionsag.

Donal – Great Lord Ceannard’s chief advisor.

Dro’cree, Alt-Bensaggert – High priestess of the Bensaggerts.

Falsayer – Zealot priest.

Gri’lach – Beolach’s paternal uncle, and an elder of Clan Kionsag.

Gromag – Meretrix’s aunt, member of the Sisterhood.

Kiaul – Great Lord Ceannard’s bard/minstrel.

Kiuney – Meretrix’s older blood sister, member of the Sisterhood.

Lesbeeagh – High priest of the Priesthood.

Meretrix – Great Lord Ceannard’s Favorite.

Meru’feral – An Uath-Amas mercenary in the service of Great Lord Ceannard.

Nikko – An orphan girl of unknown lineage, with unusual features and abilities, adopted by the Healer Calag.

Old One – The blind eldest of the dragons.

Rogennal – Meretrix’s younger blood sister, member of the Sisterhood.

Smarach – Meretrix’s mute lackey.

Togri – One of Beolach’s cousins and best friends.

To’lach – One of Beolach’s cousins, and an elder of Clan Kionsag.

Torule – To’lach’s daughter.

Yirick – One of Beolach’s cousins and best friends.

Places and Terms:

Alt-Bensaggert – High priestess of the Bensaggerts, keeper of Dragon lore.  See also “Alt-Bensaggert”, “Dark Totem”, “Golem”, “Indala”, “Manitu”, “Rey-clag”, “Scanfen-ar”, “Seeker”, “Uath-amas”.

Ard-Caigeann – The northernmost monastery of the Temple, at the edge of the Northern Frontier.

Baateyr-Baile – A barge town at the northern end of the Teo-awin River.  See also “Teo-awin”.

Benn Correy – Glacier-locked volcano; stronghold of the Bensaggert priestesses.

Bensaggert – Ancient cult of Ard-Hiarn priestesses who worship dragons, dedicated to their return and re-domination of their world.

Blackeye – Derogatory term for Ard-Hiarn.

Blackrock – Coal.

Blackpowder – Explosive material similar to gunpowder.

Blood Star (See “Rennag Cro-derg”).

Conjure crystals – Naturally or artificially formed crystals used by Bensaggerts to heal, create or destroy.

Caur-bithir – Ard-Hiarn for the deadliest of predators.

Caur-bithir Mooar – Ard-Hiarn for “dragons”.

Commaid – An Ard-Hiarn death rite where the body of the deceased is ceremoniously consumed to allow he/she to live on in others.  The spirits of those who are denied Commaid are doomed to wander Glion ny Aisling forever.  See also “Shared/Sharing” and “Glion ny Aisling”.

Dark Totem – The Alt-Bensaggert’s warriors, whom she can “lend out” as contract mercenaries to those who can afford them.  They are the elite fighters of the Ard-Hiarn.  See also “Alt-Bensaggert”, “Golem”, “Indala”, “Manitu”, “Scanfen-ar”, “Seeker”, “Uath-amas”.

Deo-Inneen – The One the Forebears promised their Ursig offspring who would come and reunite them with their ancestors, the Forebears.

Deo-Mache – The priests’ savior, who believed “Heaven’s Door”, the portal to the Forebears, lies in Benn Correy, the mountain stronghold of the Ard-Hiarn Bensaggert priestesses.

Dewil – Great Lord Ceannard’s oldest son and heir.

Dragon Hearts (See “Rey-clag”)

Dragon Warrior (See “Golem”)

Feyon Uar – Ard-Hiarn for “Sweet Spring” and an abandoned Ard-Hiarn outpost along an old trade route through the Mooar Folmid.  See also “Mooar Folmid”.

Fire of Creation – A force within the most Gifted, uncircumcised females, generated by powerful emotions, which, if properly controlled, they can weaponize.

Forebears – Off-world ancestors of the Ursig race.

Gift, the – Ursig – Magical aptitude.

Glion ny Aisling – Ard-Hiarn for “Valley of Death”, where the spirits of those of them who die without the rite of Commaid, are doomed to wander for eternity.  It is also the world on which the dragons are trapped, in the corona of the red star, Rennag Cro-derg.

Golem (Dragon Warrior) – An Alt-Bensaggert’s warrior who successfully bonds psychically with a dragon, during his/her rite of Scanfen-ar.  They are the elite of her elite fighters.  See also “Alt-Bensaggert”, “Dark Totem”, “Indala”, “Manitu”, “Scanfen-ar”, “Seeker”, “Uath-amas”.

Heaven’s Door – A legendary portal where one can pass through, attain physical immortality, and reunite or join the Ursig Forebears.

Healers – Redlani healers and midwives with very limited magical ability. Healers and their Wisewomen counterparts are also sought to perform female circumcisions, which they do much more humanely than priests, and with better outcomes for the “patients”/recipients.  See also “Wisewomen”.

Indala – Ard-Hiarn for “two in one”.  When one successfully passes the rite of Scanfen-ar, they are paired spiritually with an animal spirit or guide. See also “Alt-Bensaggert”, “Dark Totem”, “Golem”, “Manitu”, “Scanfen-ar”, “Seeker”, “Uath-amas”.

Jeeaght – Spirits of nature worshiped by the Redlani, before the Temple forced them to convert.

Kionbeist – A fierce predator in the frozen far north of the Ard-Hiarn lands.

Kionsag, Clan – Dominant clan of the Ard-Hiarn.

Lossan – An ore akin to uranium or thorium, mined exclusively by the Ard-Hiarn.

Lossancoin – Valuable coins with small amounts of lossan in them, to give them a slight glow.

Lossangleam – Glowing inks made from lossan.  Very expensive, used in illuminated books and important documents.

Lossanstral – A highly sought-after brocade or tapestry made with thread spun from/with lossan.

Maker, the – God.

Manitu – An animal spirit with which the Ard-Hiarn believe all are born.  They either bond with these spirits, or die in the attempt, during the rite of Scanfen-ar.  See also “Alt-Bensaggert”, “Dark Totem”, “Golem”, “Indala”, “Scanfen-ar”, “Seeker”, “Uath-amas”.

Mindspeak – Ursig – Silent communication, telepathy.

Mindtouch – Ursig – Mindreading.

Mooar Folmid – Once an important Ard-Hiarn trade route, now a desert wasteland.

Muilteen – Redlani eunuch harem guard.

Nonbeing – Ursig – Illusion of invisibility.

Northern Frontier – The borderlands between the Redlans and the lands of the Ard-Hiarn.

Plainsmare – Wild mares of the Stailinn Sleytyn domesticated and/or broken by the Ard-Hiarn.

Priesthood, the – Temple brotherhood.

Prophecy of the One – A promise of a female savior made by the Forebears to their Ursig offspring.  See also “Deo-Inneen”.

Raon-Clachan – A village/town in Southern Redlans.

Redlans, Northern – Domain of Great Lord Ceannard.

Redlans, Southern – Free-held lands to the south, where most of the crops, including grain, are produced by small landowners and cooperatives.

Rennag Cro-derg – A red star around which the world of the Ard-Hiarn, Redlani and Ursig are locked in a long, elliptical orbit.  Its corona encompasses the dragons’ world, Glion ny Aisling.

Rey-clag – Ard-Hiarn for “Dragon Hearts”, two crystals created by the dragons and given to the first Alt-Bensaggert by the last living dragon of her world, whom taught her how to use them to open a portal between their worlds, when the two were at their closest proximity.  The predecessor of each Alt-Bensaggert has passed down this knowledge to her successor.

Scanfen-ar – The Ard-Hiarn rite of passage into adulthood, where a seeker must find and claim his/her manitu (spirit animal), and make it a part of them.  Those who fail (lose their way during the rite) either die, or are claimed by the spirit of a Caur-bithir, and become Uath-amas–one of the Alt-Bensaggert’s Dark Totem.  See also “Alt-Bensaggert”, “Dark Totem”, “Golem”, “Indala”, “Manitu”, “Seeker”, “Uath-amas”.

Seeker – He or she who seeks his or her manitu during the rite of Scanfen-ar.  “Alt-Bensaggert”, “Dark Totem”, “Golem”, “Indala”, “Manitu”, “Scanfen-ar”, “Uath-amas”.

Shar Claddag – One of Great Lord Ceannard’s vassalages.

Shared/Sharing – The ceremonial consumption of a deceased’s flesh during the rites of Commaid.  See also “Commaid”, “Glion ny Aisling”.

Silverhead – A derogatory term for Redlani.

Sisterhood, the – Female brethren of the Temple.  See also “Temple”, “Priesthood”, “Forebears”.

Sleepspell – Ursig – siphoning another’s energy to lull them to sleep; used in conjunction with aura-reading.

Stailinn Sleytyn – The mineral-rich mountains of the Ard-Hiarn.

Temple, the – Dominant religion of the Redlans.  See also “Priesthood”, “Sisterhood”, “Forebears”.

Teo-awin – Large, northward-flowing river which splits into into smaller rivers and streams at Baateyr-Baile.  See also “Baateyr-Baile”.

Uath-amas – One of the Alt-Bensaggert’s warriors of the Dark Totem.  See also “Alt-Bensaggert”, “Dark Totem”, “Golem”, “Indala”, “Manitu”, “Scanfen-ar”, “Seeker”.

Unclean – Term used by both Redlani and Ursig to describe an uncircumcised woman.

Wanderhealer – An Ursig woman of the Gift who travels the Redlans, healing and midwifing.

Whitefire – Ursig – A power that can illuminate and levitate.

Wisewomen – Redlani healers, midwives and fortunetellers with some magical abilities.  Wisewomen and Healers are also sought to perform female circumcisions, which they do much more humanely than priests, and with better outcomes for the “patients”/recipients.  See also “Healers”.

Zealot – A fundamentalist priest or monk of the Temple priesthood.

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