Note: This glossary changes constantly, receiving new entries all
the time. Most of these words will not crop up in all stories. I have
not written down all of the unusual words and terms that I have buried
in my notes, but have concentrated mainly on those most pertinent to
finished novels (which is why you will at first see more notes on Til
Territories and the Charadoc than any other cultures) though I am
trying to include as much as I can on missions, cultures and lands not
yet formally written about--hundreds of cultures exist in my notes, and
they all have their peculiar terminology. Please notify me if you find
anything unfamiliar in my tales that I haven't yet catalogued for this
letter. Thank you.
A stew popular in Vanikke, made of equal parts finely chopped red meat,
pickled with sweet spices and berries; and onions, sauteed in butter
and made into a roux.
Halleluia, Mt.: A mountain just above the west end of the Great
Gulf Road, just south of Resthaven and across from the Three Angels
rock formation. Named for the sense of relief that travelers feel when
it comes into sight, signaling the end of the Great Gulf Road on the
Til Peninsula side.
The Happiness Shark: A boogieman of childhood folklore in Til Territories. Believed to originate in a misguided effort in the early days of comorrans, to urge an unhappy child to picture a smiling, pink shark swimming through the air, gobbling up anything negative in the atmosphere. Unfortunately, far from cheering the children up, they started to have nightmares about the Happiness Shark, who would not only eat negativity, but them as well, if they had bad thoughts. This caused all manner of repressive neurosis, and quickly ceased to be common practice.
However, legends of the Happiness
Shark continue to the present, whispered among children, often as a way
to bully those whose whining annoys others. The usual response
from adults is to assure the subject that in fact there is no such
thing. Whenever they respond that maybe magentine could make the
Happiness Shark real, it is best to also remind the child that
magentine could also create an invisible bubble around one that such a
creature cannot penetrate.
Happy syndrome: A parasitic infection marked by hemorrhaging mucous membranes, found in the rainforests of the Southeastern Continent. Named for Dr. Joseph Happy, who first isolated the organism.
An open-air market that springs up spontaneously around a harbor, to
buy and sell imports and exports. After years some become
entrenched enough to build stalls and even shops, yet still retain the
A vegetarian animal, about the size of a spaniel, with cloven hooves,
long ears, and a slender, doglike tail. The fur comes in gray,
beige, cream, or taupe, but turns white with temperatures at freezing
or below. One of the swiftest animals on Novatierre.
Harvest Home: A holiday observed in various rural parts of the
world honoring the gathering of the final harvest before winter,
usually with much feasting, drinking, and dancing in or near the barns,
silos, or freshly harvested fields. The custom often falls to the
wayside when practitioners migrate to more urban settings.
hasvin: A vine common to higher altitudes in the eastern end of the Northeastern Continent. Gray-green with long, lacy leaves, and a very coarse, hairy, fibrous body, it has evolved a high tensile strength in order to survive high winds while clinging to rocks. In summer it grows long yellow-orange blossoms under its leaves, which offer refuge to pollinating insects.
Commercially valuable mainly for the fiber in its vines, useful for ropemaking, basketry, paper-making, backing for rubber materials, and a coarse cloth used chiefly for erosion-prevention and sandbags. In some regions also valued for its fruit, the dinyee, which some candy, pickle, or make into juice.
Hauser, Wolfgang Arnold:
Marine biologist/geneticist. Known for discovering the mechanism
behind the unique yellow bioluminescence of tomopteris plankton, and
later for the invention of clonevory, making lucrative use of his
Heart of the City: Somewhere in the miles of parkland, gardens, and nature preserves underlying Istislan Capitol is a simple sandstone fountain where water bubbles up into a natural dish that it has been eroding there since the founding of the city, and spills from thence into gravel, or possibly a stream. No map will disclose its location, by law. The normally pragmatic Istislani believe that it is good luck to find the fountain, especially if one stumbles across it all by oneself, and that one can bless oneself and others with its water. Legend has it that the city will stand so long as the fountain flows, but Istislan Capital (and indeed the entire nation) will fall should the fountain crack, breaking its heart. If it should ever dry up, then mercy itself is drying up and the residents must amend their ways.
A shrub or woody herb, with small round leaves of a yellowish graygreen
color, which blossoms in spring with clusters of fragrant gray-violet
or dusty rose flowers. In autumn it bears clusters of tiny
blue-violet berries, mostly seed, much coveted by birds and small
mammals, but sometimes also dried and ground to make a sweet and
nutritious pastry. Sometimes herbalists make a tea of the leaves
as a folk-remedy for cancer, but studies of its efficacy so far have
It thrives on rocky alpine slopes
where little else can grow, especially when sheltered between
boulders. Sometimes these slopes are also called heaths.
One must not confuse a Novatierran heath, however, with an Earthian
heath, as found in ancient literature. Although Novatierran heath
and Earthian heather bear some resemblance to each other, the latter
used to grow typically in flat or rolling lowlands, under wide-open
Forgiveness, especially associated with deathbed forgiveness. Its roots
lead back to pre-migration Islamic custom. Based on a belief that
God will forgive a sin if the one harmed by it also forgives, yet hold
as punishable anyone not forgiven by the victim.
Helix Islands: Islands in the Sea of Byssinia. In the Vision of
Nikolai Borisanov, he perceived himself as suspended above the Sea of
Byssinia higher than his balloon had ever risen, and saw these islands
suspended above the waters, spiraling in a double helix formation, and
he intuited that he saw this as a manifestation of the DNA of Novatierre
hellbind: A parasitic plant common to the upper latitude forests of the Northwestern Continent, without chlorophyl of its own. In color it varies from yellow to a deep rust red, mostly in the orange range. It has no leaves, but many branching stems, twigs, and tendrils. It has thin, specialized roots that sink into other plants to feed off of their sap, and can send out more roots at every juncture of its twigs. It is toxic to humankind and cattle, but most indigenous life forms instinctively avoid its bitter-almond smell.
helly-melly: A slang expression used in Toulin for chaos, sometimes used as a noun, sometimes as an adjective or adverb, as, "The goods landed at the bottom of the cliff, helly-melly." The earliest settlers used it as an expression of fear of a curse, but modern-day Toulinians have, for the most part, forgotten that superstition.
Hendersnaad, Layne: Pseudoscientist of Gueymaial. Claimed to have proven that Mountainfolk had genetically jettisoned some degree of brain capacity in order to adapt to the thinner air of high altitudes. She was not, however, a geneticist, but a psychologist specializing in education. At first her statistics, nevertheless, looked compelling, her statistical sample generous, and her testing of intelligence flawless. As often happens within academia, her control subjects were students. However, as she could not find many Mountainfolk at her university, she took her sampling from a local prison.
This meant that the control group pre-selected for intelligence, as nobody gained entry into that institution without passing some rather challenging tests. In contrast, the test-group preselected for stupidity; not only were these people who had turned to crime rather than achievement to get by in the world (which discrimination in Gueymaial made hard for that populace to avoid) but prison further narrowed the sampling only the ones who got caught. To make matters worse, they were "Hill-bandits" an ethnically diverse community, only ~30% of whom are actual Mountainfolk.
After initial acclaim for her
"groundbreaking" research, peer reviews increasingly excoriated
Hendersnaad for the flaws in her methods that made her results
worthless. Instead of testing her premise on a more reasonable
sampling (which admittedly would have posed challenges in Gueymaial)
she became increasingly and unscientifically defensive of her original
stance. As she became an embarrassment, her university fired
her. Finding no employment elsewhere, not so much as a tutorial
position, she walked, in despair, into a snowstorm in her negligee, and
was never seen again in the flesh, though rumors persist about her
Herbs of Death: A ritual category of unrelated
Novatierran-indigenous herbs that are 1) strongly and pleasantly
scented and 2) highly toxic to human life. Some are hallucinogenic in
minute doses. Used by the Alroyan cult, but not discovered by Alroy.
holy snake: A rare variety of "flying snake" (though not actually a snake, having vestigeal limbs and gliding-wings) indigenous to the continental coat of the Mabhrathan Sea, chararized by its pattern of rose spots on white. It derives its name from the use of its venom-spray in religious ceremonies of the snake-cults of Mabhrathan, with some spillover into neigbhoring Pakashk. No one has found any discernible difference between its venom and that of any other variety of flying snake.
Holy Symbol: The concept that symbols have as much or more power
as tangible reality. Perverted by the Alroy cult into the premise that
the reasoning inspired by tangible reality must be subordinated to
symbolic ideation. Since this is unsustainable for long periods of time
by persons dwelling principally in tangible reality, the struggle to
attempt such a sustained state produces a person incapable of reasoning
competently for hirself and therefore highly manipulable by other
persons skilled in using symbols but not subjugated to them.
Holy Thursday: The date upon which many Christian communities
celebrate the Last Supper. Charadocians observe it as a major holiday,
an important precursor to Easter. Old feuds are laid aside on this day
and courts close down; legally no lawsuit or prosecution may be heard
on Holy Thursday. Anyone incapable of at least concealing a grudge on
this date will thereafter suffer fearful ostracism as for someone
obviously damned. The evening's ritual begins when the leader or most
powerful person in a community, neighborhood, extended family, or
collective washes the feet of the rest of the assemblage, starting with
the person of least social status. He or she generally does this nude
except for a towel wrapped around the loins, using the end of the towel
to dry the feet. Feasting and merrymaking follows.
Homestead Village Banyan: An
enormous banyan tree in the center of homestead village, transported
with considerable difficulty from Earth by one of the earliest known
colonial expeditions. Allegedly old even then, the banyan has
already lived centuries here on Novatierre. The fertile soil
apparently agrees with it. On two occasions the Homesteaders have
had to tear down buildings to widen the village square to accommodate
honey-bear: A stocky, arboreal mammal, about the size of a sheepdog, resembling a miniature version of Earth's bear. Its short, velvety fur varies from ruddy brown to black, with variable cream markings. It has sharp, charcoal claws, for climbing, defense, and digging roots. Vegetarian in diet, it also raids hives for honey when it gets the chance. Found in the rainforests of both western continents.
fruit indigenous to Novatierre, found in the temperate zone of the
Northwestern Continent. The low-growing tree has large, palmate
leaves, and thick and gnarly trunks resembling the oak except for the
height and shaggy red bark, providing a ruddy burlwood prized for
furniture carpentry. It bears golden-yellow blossoms, and a fruit
which visually resembles the Earth plum, in color green-tinged amber
with an auburn blush on the sun-exposed side. However, instead of
a stone it has a double-row of six small, black seeds (toxic,
containing small amounts of botanical cyanide.) The flavor
resembles honey with an undertone of tarragon.
hoof-mite: A parasitic insect that infests the soft area within
the hoofs of ungulates, caprids, equines, and other hooved animals, or
the crevices between pads in the feet of camelids and pachyderms. The
mites breed in damp grassy areas, then lay their eggs in nests of flesh
that they scrape out for their young which, in the larval stage,
require animal protein to reach full size.
The Darvinian God of Time, eldest of the Upovae and chief mate of
Timora, yet who fathered Ario on the human woman Melle. Portrayed
as having half of his hair and beard white, and the other half
black. His priests garb his naked statue in colors and clothing
suitable for the season, and in paintings artists portray him as
attired according to whatever season the picture displays. He
usually has his shrines in business districts, always with a clock,
sundial, calendar, or hourglass on the premises somewhere.
Businessmen particularly show him devotion, imploring him for stability
and regularity. Darvinians show him particular honor on every
solstice, equinox and quarter-point. They give him, as offerings,
seeds set up to sprout on his altar; the priests then eat the sprouts.
Hospitality Museum: A museum in Til Institute which hosts traveling exhibitions from other countries.
huddle-call: A bird-call used by a dardie in distress from cold. The dardie lingers longer into winter than other birds in the mountains of the Charadoc, searching for the carrion of animals that have died of the cold. They get through the weather by frequently huddling together. But if a dardie should get separated from his flock, and feel in desperate need of warmth, e will cry out in a call similar to the mating song but with a few notes at the end of a higher pitch. If all goes well, hir flock will find hir and warm hir. If, however, they have gone too far away, or if e has shown hir weakness in not keeping up, or if the available food requires triage, e will die alone.
Normally of interest only to
ornithologists, this trait of the Dardie has historical
importance. Some have speculated that the whistle-code of the
Egalitarian Rebels in the Charadoc began with the huddle-call, as the
signal for a soldier separated from hir troop and in need.
Officers of the Charadocian government rarely included Mountainfolk,
and they had no familiarity with this call. They assumed that
they heard the lowland mating-call and thought nothing odd about a
snow-call in the jungle. And many of those bred in cities didn't
know one bird call from another anyway. From this the rebels
might have gotten the idea of varying bird calls slightly for their
human sacrifice: The act of slaying a human being as an offering of worship, placation, or bribery, usually to a deity. Rarely practiced, even among religions that permit or call for it, usually being reserved for extreme situations.
Til Territories enforces strict laws regarding this practice, which satisfies neither those who believe it ought to be banned altogether, nor those who say that any such restrict freedom of religion, but which we believe navigates an ethical tightrope to the best of our ability. The sacrifice must have passed hir adulthood tests. E must additionally pass a rigorous psychiatric examination to guarantee full power of consent. E must not show any motivation stemming from temporary, curable circumstances, such as lost love or feelings of worthlessness.
Often a voluntary sacrifice suffers from a terminal or incurable and agonizing condition. Not all religions, however, accept "flawed" sacrifices such as these. In such cases the sacrifice usually comes from a person in one of the religious orders of that faith, or a person of the local royal line, or a "saint" of the community. It can, however, also come from a felon with a sincere belief that in this way e can make amends.
In cases of child-sacrifice,
throughout the world, a Til agent will try to intervene by offering to
take the child to Til Institute, effectively making that child legally
dead to hir nation of origin. Often infiltrators, too, will
convert and shift the religion from within. Our only failure in
this regard has been right on our doorstep, with the Disciples of the
Hermit. We have found the cult impossible to infiltrate, and
cannot stop their choices short of a full-on assault and dissolution of
their community. Fortunately, they practice deliberate human
sacrifice exceedingly rarely.
Hungry Pass: A high pass in the Charadoc, with no road to or
from it, with rainshadow-desert on one side and inhospitable stone on
the other. Historically used only by outlaws and revolutionaries
whenever more hospitable passes became unavailable.
A freshwater "seagrass" grain native to northwestern marshes of the
Northeastern Continent. In addition to its water purifying properties,
and ready weavability as a soft yet strong fiber for mats and basketry,
it produces a delicious grain, resembling quinoa in appearance, with a
rich, nutty flavor. It grows completely underwater until summer,
when the tops emerge above the surface and ripen in the sun.
However, when plucked while still green and submerged, the grains are
much sweeter and more tender, containing sugars not yet converted into
starch. People like to eat these by pulling the strands through
the teeth and dislodging the seeds into the mouth. However, they
have a poor shelf life at this stage, so most of the harvest waits for
the dry stage, when it can store well for the rest of the year.
hydrostation: A power-station fueled by hydrogen. It usually
starts with a slight initial outlay of power from another source, such
as water, solar, or wind, with which it splits water into oxygen and
hydrogen. Then it burns the hydrogen to create much more electricity.
Because of the volatile nature of the process, these stations are
usually isolated from the communities they serve. This isolation has
favored use of the property for laboratories dealing in other dangerous
materials as well--a controversial policy.