Being a glossary of places, languages, and terms used in the World of Shandor stories, arranged alphabetically. Spoilers beyond the cut!
Amryn: Historically the leader of the K’shay tanna peoples, chosen by gift since the fall of the Ancients. The Amryn feels a heartbeat within the Land, and can sometimes access its memories and its will by laying hand to stone. Amryns vary in individual power. Some have caused or prevented earthquakes, been able to predict, influence, or control weather patterns, empathically converse with animals, traverse difficult terrain easily, or find paths to places within the Land that have been hidden or forgotten. The Amryn now watches over Shandor alongside the King, with a focus on matters of ecology, preservation, and land use. Amryns are often viewed as semi-religious figures, speaking with “the voice of the Land”. Past Amryns have varied greatly, including men of peace and woman warriors. When they are growers, their crops spring forth abundantly. When they are warriors, the Land itself makes misery for their enemies. An Amryn’s powers are restricted to matter formed in, or of Shandor.
The Ancients: The Ancients are the non-human people who lived in Shandor in its pre-history. They built much of the castle of Shandor, and many other cities and buildings long since toppled. Their true name is lost, and their language is called simply Ancient by modern scholars. The last of the Ancients, known only as “Truth,” left Shandor along with the last remnants of his people in the days of the second Amryn.
The Ascendant: In the lore of the Ancients, the worthiest among them, having completed their earthly tasks, were gathered up again into the realm from which they had been sent, leaving no trace of their bodies, living or slain, behind.
Alarna: A province that was once the center of a great civilization, ruled by a god-king.
Arien: Shandor’s neighboring nation to the east. Its cities include Logansburg (once the site of the royal palaces) and Cambriol. Arien was once the seat of the old Arienish Empire, which has since fragmented into many nations.
The Children People: The Ancients’ term for humans.
Cormurada: Cormurada, unlike its northern and southern neighbors, has a monotheistic religion with one God and numerous saints. It has in past warred with the old Arienish empire, but its current rivalries are in racing its neighbors to found trading ports around the world. Cormuradan art and architecture is looming, rich, and dour, full of color, passion, and reminders of a violent past.
Copper’s Dawn: A very old K’shay tanna clan, known for its female copper smiths. Copper’s Dawn is traditionally governed by its women, who are reputed to have supernatural skill in crafts and music. Hellin Blackfeather was born in this clan, as was the famous former Justice Seltha, who was rumored to have lived for 500 years.
Corestemar: A huge nation south of Shandor with five provinces. Its language is called Corestemarian. Corestemar once held a vast empire that covered most of the continent but, over-reaching, it has since fractured, and receded back to earlier borders. Corestemar’s empire was the richest and grandest in the world, and remnants of its ivory-carved glory can still be found in its old temples and palaces. Today Corestemar is a place where wealth and poverty live close to one another. Kara grew up on the streets of one of Corestemar’s larger cities. Corestemar has a different religion and pantheon of deities than Arien. There are fewer of them, but each has several aspects, with different names and roles. Other religions as well, indigenous to Corestemar’s southern provinces, are beginning to gain popularity among the nation’s many people groups.
Dashmadi: One of the people groups of Alarna.
Delcia: A coastal nation near Cormurada, Delcia is known for its traders and merchants, and has a long history of seafaring. They are known for their distinctive, complex tile mosaics and textiles, as well as for Delcian-style pottery. They have a reputation for changing sides in international conflicts, depending on what they see as the best outcome for Delcia monetarily.
The Dynasties: Also called far-siders, these people keep mainly to their half of the world, and allow no intruders. Little is therefore known about them. They have ships with fan-shaped sails and are highly selective in what they choose to import.
Elders: Modeled on an older council held by the Ancients, the Elders are a select few particularly gifted Shandorians who serve as an advisory council to the rulers of Shandor. Positions on the council are not always filled, as people with the appropriate gifts are not always to be found in one generation. The names of seats are as follows: the Keeper, the Watcher, the Healer, the Grower, the Song, the Seer, the Binder, and the Justice. Corin Blackfeather is the first Shaper on the council since the time of the Ancients and the Winged Ones.
Germhacht: The name of both a nation and its language. Germhacht is an industrialized nation that has grown greatly in technology and power since its days as part of the Arienish empire. Germhacht is known for its industry, scholasticism, engineering, and research.
Guardian: Lore suggests that the Ancients had a ruler, or more properly a guardian whose duties entailed watching over a great power, and using the strength of their own gifts to hold it in its place. Long ago, the Guardian was murdered by other Ancients seeking to grasp that untapped power for themselves. This act resulted in the Breaking, a cataclysm that destroyed the Ancients’ civilization, and reshaped the world in outward-rippling natural and supernatural disasters. Today the term guardian is used for honored Shandorians who live lives in service to watching over a sacred place, or some great national secret.
Helianth: The Arienish Empire was once united in its shared faith in the Helianth pantheon. Diverse though the old nations of the empire were, all honored the same group of deities. These supernaturally powerful and wise, but often-times flawed, gods and goddesses held individual domain over sets of virtues, objects, and creatures. Modern urban theological thought has made the Helianth religion more into an intellectual philosophy in recent years, with the deities and their antics regarded more as allegories to be analyzed for philosophic truths than literal stories. Rustic Helianthism, however, is little changed from its roots, though with fewer sacrifices of livestock, and more of produce and wildflowers.
The Justice: One of the council of Elders, the Justice has the duty of personally dealing with those Shandorians who misuse their supernatural gifts, or prey upon their fellows. Additionally, Justices aid in defending Shandor against any supernaturally powerful enemies. Appointed by the council and by the King (or Queen) and Amryn, the Justice holds a lifelong post, and may deputize younger, stronger folk to assist them in their duty when necessary. There may be more than one Justice at once.
Kardu: An old language still spoken in several provinces of Corestemar.
Kaunatoa: The Kaunatoans are a people group who populate many of the islands in the area of Tembelaka. They fight with carved war clubs, wear tattoos, and have a complex social system. The have both an hereditary king, and a religious leader known as the Breath who is always female. The Breath seems to have a similar role to Shandor’s Amryn. She speaks for the Island and the sacred mountain, in the Tembelakan archipelago.
K’shay tanna: One of the four people groups of Shandor, and its first people (after the Ancients). The K’shay tanna are divided by clan, and united by the authority of the Amryn. They do not build permanent structures, or stay in any one place longer than half a year. They live as their people always have, in close relationship to the Land, which they refer to as a sentient source of all life, and all gifted power, created by One whose creation continues in the life of the Land and stories of its people. The Land, they believe, does not love cities, and people who turn from living rawly upon the Land lose their way and are corrupted. There are more strict and more relaxed clans, and two clans (Stone Guardians and New Starfire) are entirely exempt from the mandate to be nomadic, as they both serve as Guardians. The K’shay tanna share a native language, in only mildy differing dialects, and a council of clan chieftains, held every five years or so.
The Keeper: The Keeper is the head of the council of Elders, and is traditionally female, as the first Keeper was. The Keeper acts as Guardian and seneschal of Clan Stone Guardians, guarding its many paths and secrets, and shepherding the often eccentric council into sharing their skills to meet the nation’s needs, or if necessary, concealing their secrets from the nation and the world at large.
The Land: Shandor’s Land is viewed by the K’shay tanna, and most Shandorians, as sacred and sentient. When the Land is unwell, everyone upon it becomes so. When the Land is loved, and people are in harmony with one another, all thrive. This belief is easy to hold in Shandor, where Amryns can tell accurate tales of past battles as remembered by the stone, and redirect the results of lively tectonic activity away from settled areas. Among the K’shay tanna, the most revered gifts are often those granted to growers, who look after the Land.
Levour: Levour is the name of both the language and the nation. Once a very powerful and influential part of the old Arienish Empire, Levour now flourishes, after a few wars, revolutions, and power turnovers, as a center for the arts and sciences. The Levour pride themselves on marrying industry to beauty. They are known for their food, their painting, and their splendid architecture. Also for their air of superiority.
Merigvon: A spired city in Vellinos famous for its grand terminal, Merigvon is, and has been for centuries, the lively crossroads of a continent.
Nguy Yan: One of the Dynasties.
The Seer: A member of the Council of Elders, the Seer is known for speaking truth, if not with perfect clarity, about the future. The current Seer is very old and very peculiar. Her age seems to shift, along with her steps, far distances in a footfall.
Southfolk: Of the four people groups of Shandor, the southfolk are one of the two newest. Their Corestemarian heritage gives them skin similarly dark and darker than the K’shay tanna, and their cultural traditions of clothing, colors, food, and music have greatly influenced Shandor in the time since they joined the nation.
New Starfire: A far northern K’shay tanna clan of Shandor, and home to many Elders. Starfire is one of only two permanently settled clans, inhabiting a site over some ruins of the Ancients.
Narmos: A country on the southern continent once ruled by the Invincible Kings.
Pao’ulu: A native people group of the Tembalakan Islands, and many islands throughout the Western Rim, the Pao’ulu have an often contentious relationship with the Kaunatoans and the eastern settlers. Pao’ulu are, and praise in their stories, clever survivors, able to thrive in places with few resources and the odds against them. They have many stories about the wonders, gods, and buildings of their ancestors, but they lost most of those in fighting with the Kaunatoan people.
Pre-Drassic First Tongue: A linguists’ term for a dead language from the time of the Ancients.
Shandor: A country in the northwest corner of the world, known for having savages, sheep, and little else. They have never been a part of any empire, though two have tried, throughout history, and then thought better of the whole thing. Shandor currently has four people groups, including the K’shay tanna who have lived in the Land for thousands of years, and the townfolk who emigrated from the lands across the eastern mountains that later became part of Arien. In the past two centuries the southfolk and northfolk have also become part of Shandor.
Shaper: The role of the Shaper is one that has been left empty on the Council of Elders until reluctantly accepted by Corin Blackfeather. He is the first Shaper Shandor has known since the last of the shapeshifting Winged Ones of legend died out in long ages past.
Sharnish: A dead language, local to Alarna.
Speaker: Someone who can communicate to other special minds over great distances.
Standing Rocks: A northern K’shay tanna clan of Shandor, known for standing against the Honorless in the days of war. Standing Rocks is a large clan who often train as warriors, and have done so for generations. Many long dead heroes and battle chieftains were people of Standing Rocks. Anna Darvin and her parents are part of this clan.
Stone Wolf: Another large clan of the K’shay tanna, Stone Wolf is known for sending its best warriors to serve the King and the Amryn. Several notable legendary King’s guards have been from Stone Wolf.
Tembelaka Islands: A group of small islands on the Western Rim, home to the Pao’ulu and Kaunatoa.
Trade Common: A language commonly used across the northern continent. Trade Common united the Arienish empire and spread trade deep into the south.
Vellinos: A nation just south of Arien, known for taking a neutral stance in most conflicts, and keeping its shipping lanes open, and taxed. Vellinos was never part of either the Corestemarian or Arienish Empires, using the threat of each against the other, and acting as the only point through which both could trade with one another. Savvy in business, transportation and trade, Vellinos is a cultural melting pot, and a thriving country of ports, rail stations, and political conferences and summits.
Winged Ones: In the time of the Ancients, in Shandor, powerful shapeshifting beings were tasked with shaping the world to its completion. They could take the form of lava, and work from within the Land to wake or calm new mountains; be water that wore away and carved and rushed and mingled with the sea; be the air itself, in mists and gusts; and take the shape of any kind of being. They are described as having had grand and powerful presences in any form, and Ancient poetry describes feathered wings, glittering scales and powerful coils. They may have often chosen forms not unlike the dragons found in the mythology of other cultures. After the Breaking, it seems all the Winged Ones broke along with the Land, went mad, or were forced to take lesser shapes in order to dull their minds to the senses of the convulsing Land, and the raw unchecked power that ran newly through it. Some became monsters, in their madness, and the last of these were slain by early Shandorian heroes like Curogan the Twisted Beast, companion of Redlock Rivenheart. Other Winged Ones changed themselves into humanoid form and kept their minds. These left descendants among the early K’shay tanna, but the gift of shaping has been lost since the last echoes of the Breaking.
White Gull: A far northern K’shay tanna clan of Shandor, known for its odd looking and oddly talented but reclusive people.