By Dolores J. Nurss


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.
Oanh Thuy: An accomplished child psychologist and researcher into the learning process, and the foremost architect of post-revolt educational policy in Til Territories.

oasis shade:  A frozen confection popular in every port in Novatierre, of unknown origin.  The name seems to belong to one of the anglic languages with possible Arabic influence.  It consists of cocoa, warm-climate fruits, spices, and animal or nut milk, ground and liquified together, then mixed with bits of nuts and dried fruit and stirred while freezing until solid or semisolid in consistency.  Chefs and bartenders use a variation without the chunky additions to cool coffee, laren, sarsasparilla, rum, brandy, or any combination thereof, for a number of popular hot-weather drinks such as Black Camel or Irish Pirate.

Oceana Equitorus: The ocean equivalent to Earth’s Indian Ocean.
ocelot: A small to mid-sized predator of the western continents, spotted in tones of ochre, cream and black. It bears a striking resemblance to the ocelot of Earth (especially with its black-rimmed eyes) only with pointier ears and a slightly longer, slimmer muzzle. However, it is, in fact, a marsupial and close kin to the pouch-cat.

Odin:  A Heathen deity, imported from Old Earth.  According to the contemporary myth, Odin pretended to believe in fate in order to lull his enemies, but in fact used the forewarning of prophecy to escape death by a protective spell wherein he could allow Fenrir to swallow him whole, and then fight his way back out, giving Fenrir's upper jaw to his elder son and the lower jaw to the younger.  "Fenrir-Slayer" has become one of the titles by which his followers know him.  After which he led a retreat of the surviving deities to Novatierre, leaving his sons, V��arr and V�li, in charge of the dead planet, to nurse it back to life while he gathers brave souls to a New Valhalla, to someday lead them in the retaking of Earth and his joyful reunion with his sons.

Odinist:  A sect of Heathenism which worships Odin as its primary deity.  Contrary to slander, they do not teach racism as doctrine, nor do they plan the massacre of unbelievers, and most of them do not practice literal human sacrifice, while the one small branch that does saves this for great crises, perhaps once in a decade, and only sacrifices consenting adults.  Instead, at the birth of their first child, most Odinists will fashion a life-sized child of ground meat and bread, and roast it with a wreath of rosemary or some similar herb, and hold a feast "sacrificing" their firstborn to Odin.  After this that child will be raised as a candidate for their priesthood, though only the best and most willing pass the tests upon adulthood, the remainder going on to other careers.

Odinists have largely imported from Earth the same myths as prevailed with their ancestors on the original planet, but with some variations, such as Odin's survival by trickery of his prophecied death, and with some additional tales set in Novatierre.  Their ethics prize honor, courage, integrity, strength of character, and the ability to trick without actually lying.  They tend to approach life as a battle, but it is not true that they produce only warriors.  They believe that all "bladed" professions serve Odin, such as butcher, woodcutter, machinist, surgeon, or even those professions which wield metaphorical blades, such as the judge cutting truth from falsehood, or the scientist piercing the secrets of reality.  An odinist, in fact, can make an argument for practically any profession as falling under the aegis of the "Lord of the Sword."

Although they can act superior, even arrogant, to those of other sects of Heathenism, they also recognize the importance of a full spectrum of practices within their larger faith.

Office of Cultural Agency: That organization which plans the missions and activities of the Agents of the Tili�n, regulates their professional behavior and determines their renumeration. References to its main office as the Central Office of Cultural Agency do not actually reflect its real name, but rather an inside joke about the compulsive personality of the typical agent and/or the addictive quality of the adrenaline rush associated with the profession.
Old Artist’s Road: A wandering dirt road following the cliff-side of Storm Garden Peninsula, leading from Fyvel Pier to the Nissenwaters. Named because artists often made supply-runs on it, and also because they painted many of the views seen from it.
Old Creation: A theological term that can mean Earth, any life-form or natural object from Earth, or (most commonly) humankind.
Old Earth: A common name for the planet of human origin, though simply referring to it as “Earth” will suffice. A holdover from the days when human beings dwelt on both planets.
Old Opera House: A national monument of the Charadoc, in Alcazar. It is four stories high and over four hundred years old, the oldest surviving public structure in that country that is still in use. Well-known for its Verdi murals by an unknown artist. It is, however, undistinguished in its acoustics.

Omalia:  One of the oldest settlements in Darvinia, and the first Darvinian railroad station reached by travelers from the east.  Notable for a world-class casino, allegedly built on the birthplace of Daio, God of Chance--containing the only temple to Daio not built on the spot of a chance-spill of building materials, where priests will predict your future by the spinning of a wheel of fortune, rolls of complex multi-sided dice, or by the random lay of cards.
onion wine: An alcoholic beverage produced only in the Alonzo Valley region of Til territories, derived from fermented onions. The vinter uses a chemical, whose ingredients and manufacture are a closely guarded secret, to bind ammonia and other undesirable substances in the wine into a precipitate that filters out; a fair amount of water also gets bound into this viscous compound, leaving the wine with a proof the equivalent of sherry. Although all agree that the flavor is quite strong, no two people describe onion wine as tasting the same way; most people who taste it either love or hate it, but few feel neutral about it.
Oolang-Gyorny: A nation occupying the undesired marshlands bordered to the north by United Tribes, to the southeast by the Gulf of Istislan, and to the Southwest by Xarthikae.  Her main protection from invasion lies her neighbor’s fear of pestilence, for this country rests squarely in the middle of the Plague Belt.  Indeed, legend and some historic evidence indicate that the people of Oolang-Gyorny originated in a colony of what is now Firenja, but fled to the marshes to elude Xarthikante slave-traders.

            The nation produces several kinds of rice, some good dyes, peat-tar, and ornamental feathers from various wading-birds bred for the purpose. Local artists are known for their basketry and some remarkable carvings of the challenging wood from the convoluted local trees.  Although the mud of the marshes have, in places, shown rich magentine content, these have no commercial value, being decayed down to silt.
oracle: One with the psychic Gift of oraclism.
oracle-trainer: An experienced oracle with a particular gift for training select, traumatized children in oraclism. Unlike the trainers of other gifts, an oracle-trainer does not choose hir profession, but is “called” by means known only among oracles themselves.
oraclism: The ability to intuit an unlikely or rationally unforeseeable outcome or way to deal with circumstances. Composed of a fusion of all other Gifts, it is not and probably never can be fully understood. It seems to be an adaptation to early childhood trauma; under the influence of magentine effect, a child who might otherwise fission into multiple personalities instead fissions hir psychic Gifts into many, then later braids this multiplicity of Gifts together into a second sense that can protect hir from a dangerously unpredictable world.
Oracle's Guild: The union to which all oracles (meaning full oracles who have passed through the Cave of Changes) belong.

Oracular Crisis Center:  Established in 2706, after the Alroy Incident convinced the Oracle's Guild and the Council of Lobbies of its necessity.  A facility for helping both active and broken oracles through psychiatric and other emergencies caused or triggered by their unique circumstances, usually on an outpatient basis.

Orthodox Patriarchy: One of the three main branches of Catholicism in Novatierre. It consists primarily of those rites which already existed on Earth from antiquity as separate from Roman Catholicism and yet equally sacramental, such as the Assyrian, Byzantine, Greek, and Russian congregations. It differs from the other two primarily in placing the Father above the Son in authority, and in maintaining that the Holy Spirit descends from the Father alone. In some ways the strictest of the three, it nevertheless also allows for the most privacy and personal decision. The Orthodox Patriarchy differs from the religion of Earth in maintaining one patriarch above all others within its rite, but he is not accounted infallible, merely a wise leader.
Oscar Wilde Society: A homosexual or bisexual fraternity, known for setting high standards for those hoping to attain membership and low standards for those who already possess it. A society infamous, in other words, for its rowdy parties.
Our Home: A small town at the mouth of the Mirabecca River in Til Territories, unprepossessing, but beloved to its residents. Does a nice trade in wild rice, fishing, and tourist bait shops. Its colors are beige and chocolate.
Outlaw Cave: A cave alleged to lie somewhere between Mt. Eagleswoop and Mt. Blackrock in the Altraus range, where large numbers of bandits supposedly hole up. However, no cartographer has ever been able to find any cave up there large enough to shelter anything bigger than a dog.
Outlaw Island: An island off the coast of Rhallunn Marsh, allegedly frequented by nefarious sorts in the dead of night, although nobody has every actually known anyone who’s actually seen them at it.

Owl:  A large, mysterious bird found in temperate regions and the midrange plateaus of the Southwestern Continent, with variegated brown feathers on wings and back, with a white front and a round white face rimmed in dark brown.  The wound, flattish face acts as a sound amplifier, as was common to owls on Earth.  It fact, it closely resembles the American Barn Owl of the old planet.

Scientists debate whether this bird is indigenous to Novatierre or an invasive species.  A Stovaki legend (which might have originated in Byssinia) calls it invasive, but the story has serious holes in its logic. 

According to the story, a woman named Sarah Wynan murdered her mother and then used the woman's assets to buy her way aboard a transfer device before the authorities could catch her.  Only after they landed did the colony discover that an owl had nested in the device's housing.  Sarah Wynan became convinced that the bird was her mother returned to haunt her.  It would fly over her right before every disaster that befell the colony--and the disasters came often.  It also somehow managed to breed, although no one can explain how that could possibly happen, and soon young owls filled the woods all around, and their troubles grew worse.  Finally the colony executed Sarah Wynan for murder, stripped her and left her body out for the owls to feed on, and their luck took a turn for the better.  The legend continues that every so often that Sarah's ghost can be seen riding a giant owl, naked, bloody and pecked, screeching like an owl herself with the most horrified expression on her eyeless face.  Some say she comes to warn people not to commit murder as she did, and some that she seeks out wicked souls about to die to feed her owls.

Some have argued that it was possible for more than one barn owl to have arrived on various transfer devices, but while one fluke might happen, enough owls to create a viable breeding population seems unlikely in the extreme.  Others have proposed that the fears of the colony, in the presence of magentine, might have mutated the owl's DNA enough to enable it to breed with local birds, also a far-fetched explanation but not as impossible as some might think.  A striking parallel evolution seems most likely, however, with the legend arising from the fears of the colonists, perhaps around some unpopular scapegoat sacrificed to superstition.

Oxhead Inn:  A surprisingly comfortable and pleasant hotel in Sanalvarronu�ez, constructed of several older buildings and gardens restored, expanded and connected.  [This section is classified and will not come up for people without clearance:  It has become popular with agents on vacation, as well as international celebrities and politicians anxious to get away from their fans or detractors, in a locale where nobody will recognize them.]  It has a reputation for the utmost discretion; excellent cooking; breeze-cooled bougainvillea bowers on terraces; a ribbon of swimming/soaking/lap pool that meanders about the grounds, through gardens, between buildings and under bridges; and a fabulous hillside view of the Bay of Weissel.  Although priced beyond the reach of most locals, it makes up for this by supplying its needs through local trade and hiring, and by its generosity to the community at large.  The establishment patronizes the arts, runs a soup kitchen and shelter, and always opens its doors to refugees in times of natural disasters.

oxstager:  A daisy-like wildflower, with white petals and blue stamens, and multi-lobed leaves, having a milky, hallucinogenic sap.  Native to the plains and meadows of the Northwestern Continent, particularly in the northernmost regions where its resistance to cold gives it an edge.  Can cause grazing animals to behave in an unpredictable, somtimes dangerous manner.  Some predators, such as the changing-tiger and the rainbow wolf, will smell its pleasant perfume from miles away and follow the scent, there to lie low in the high grasses that usually accompany it, waiting for prey to eat it and become disoriented, vulnerable to attack.  Older grazers quickly learn to recognize the smell and avoid it, but immature animals, or those aged animals who have lost their sense of smell, can fall victim to it.

Perfumers distill its scent from the  unripe seed pods, and ranchers are more than happy to let them gather as much as they wish from their pastures, wearing protective gloves to prevent accidental absorption of its latex.  Commercial growth of oxstager, however, meets with careful regulation in most countries, requiring wide margins and windbreaks to prevent the spread of its windborne seeds.  Most perfumers will not willingly disclose its presence in their product, due to its reputation, though it constitutes a key ingredient in popular scents, such as  "Prairie Escapade" and "Inno Sense".

The recreational drug trade markets various preparations of a gum made from the sap, under names such as "Meadow Dream", "Dancing Cow", or "The Farmer's Blue-Eyed Daughter".  (Names change continually to avoid law enforcement.)  Many countries ban it or regulate it.  Others allow it in religious rites.  Most of the counties of Til Institute allow its use, if not sold to minors, but Alonzo Valley has banned its cultivation except in a few mountain valleys.

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