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.
A comic-book company based in Novo Durango, whose comic serials
and graphic novels have attained popularity in seventeen countries at
this writing, though geared primarily to the tastes of the Tili�n.
The stories follow the adventures of various characters in roaming
around the world, encountering various cultures along the way, solving
or surviving various crises, or occasionally taking a vacation in some
nice location (especially if the nation in question pays WC to promote
tourism.) with comic-relief drama from their interactions with each
The different characters, alone or in pairs (and in one case a
threesome) each have their own series and story-arc, but often run into
each other for an intertwining history together. Although they
often function like romanticized versions of Agents of the Tili�n,
they are instead perpetual tourists. Three are independently
wealthy; most of the rest find odd jobs in local economies wherever
they roam. Two are thieves and cause endless problems for the
rest. One is an oracle who simply stumbles into the wherewithal
to support himself, one way or another, wherever he goes.
More than half of the cultures they visit actually exist. The
writers regularly pay retired agents for information and advice, and
has an office in Rhallunn expressly for interviews. The
remainder, though fictional, follow sound anthropological theory; the
company have several anthropologists on staff.
The collective nest of the bee finch. Bee finches roost or nest
in close proximity to each other within dense shrubbery or brambles,
preferably in finchbrush when they can find it. Together they will
weave a dome over and around their individual nests and roosts, of
weeds, twigs, and grasses, much like a gigantic upside-down nest
itself, to increase insulation and protection, with holes included at
various points for ventilation, light, entry and exit. With the
combined body-heat of the flock, the warren can stay surprisingly
Each flock will maintain a whole
series of such warren-domes on a migratory circuit that is more
latitudinal than longitudinal. Intermittently during their stay
at each they will repair and improve it.
Some flocks have been known to
share a circuit, one following behind the other with enough space in
between to allow the insect population to rebound. These tend to
consist of birds driven out of other flocks and forming their own flock
of outcasts; they must get by on somewhat less food, but they enjoy
somewhat better shelter. Any bird driven from one of the
secondary flocks doesn't stand a chance of survival alone.
Wasting Disease: A venereal disease common to the tropics,
characterized by an initial fever and slight abdominal/pelvic cramping,
followed often by sterility and a period of dormancy that might last
for years. Eventually, however, the virus migrates to the digestive
tract (sooner in women than in men) where it impairs nutritional
uptake, causing severe weight loss, malnutrition, and eventual death. A
cure has not yet been discovered.
watching-hour: An appointed time when everybody in a household
is required to watch the same program together. Observed only in
disciplinary settings where the inmates’ laudable individuality and
independence has gone overboard.
water-buffalo: A large, semi-aquatic and swamp-dwelling
vegetarian beast, more closely related to pachyderms than ungulates,
equipped with broad, upward-scooping tusks rather than horns, useful
for scooping up vegetation for feeding, or for creating its enormous
nests along river-banks. Can be domesticated; often employed in
rice-paddies and for clearing channels through marshes or dragging
river-barges. Bred also for meat, lard and leather, especially in
watergrain: Sometimes mislabeled “rice”, it is in fact a
ricelike aquatic grain native to Novatierre. Its grains come in white,
reddish-brown, pale olive green, bluish green, or reddish-black. It has
a delicately nutty flavor, with a hint of butter, though some wild
forms have an unpleasant fishy quality. Some varieties are naturally
Weary Hiker’s Reef: A natural feature of the Coral Gulf
bordering the Great Gulf Road roughly at the midpoint. The reef,
exposed at low tide to reveal many jagged and dangerous-looking teeth,
is regarded as a warning as to the fate of anybody who gives in to
weariness and falls off the road.
Weather-People: Pantheon frequently worshiped by the nine tribes
of Gueymaial, more literally and simply in the hills and more
symbolically and poetically in the cities, where it has inspired a
complex philosophy and ethic of working in harmony with the flow of
life. The Weather-People consist of nine gods and goddesses of weather
and natural forces, although some seem to be the same deities in
different manifestations, such as Snow also being Rain. The
Gueymaialans see the changes of weather and seasons as the results of
shifts in relationships between these nine.
The four gods
are Wind, Lightning, Snow and Rain (the latter two might be the same
deity.) The five goddesses are Sun, Fire, Ashfall, Lava (these last two
might be the same, or all four might be sisters) and Fertile Earth
Fertile Earth might have a brother named Rock, a tenth deity, but few
mention him. The higher elevation hill-tribes seem distressed that the
urbanites regularly build with rock or rocklike materials, when they
themselves dwell in structures of hide or wood. One informant did
whisper something about Rock, son of Lava and Snow, being “The First
Murderer”, but refused to say more. Fertile Earth might also be a
feminine manifestation of Rock; current beliefs hold her to be the
daughter of Sun and Snow/Rain, but in the older tales their passions
did not give birth to her, but in combination impregnated her with all
life as we know it. Some urban poetry also hints at this, and at a
softening, feminizing transformation, through love, of what seems most
hard and intractable.
This religion seems to have no roots at all in Old Earth, but
apparently sprang up entirely after the loss of pre-migration
theologies in the scrabble for survival. No one is quite sure in which
of the nine tribes it first emerged, but it soon spread rapidly. Some
of this faith has also spread to parts of neighboring Duerlongh and
Novostopol, and the official religion of Neyth reflects its influence.
weaver’s wool: Wool, usually of llama or related camelidae, that
has been cleaned, carded, and dyed, but not yet spun into yarn, for the
use by the highest grade of hand-weavers, who prefer to spin their own
yarn to varying specific widths according to the artistic project at
Weissel, Bay of: A bay or inland sea within the Northwestern
Continent, named for Nene Weissel, leader of a colony that crash-landed
in that body of water and barely made it to the large Island of the
Weisselmen in its center, after a long and difficult raft journey
during which they had to jettison everything unessential and a few
things that they could barely do without. Rumors that they turned
cannibal along the way are entirely unfounded and hotly denied by their
descendants, as they did have access to fish, although they did suffer
acutely from scurvy.
The Weisselmen: A warlike tribe in a desert island bordered by
an inland sea, in the Northwestern Continent, ferociously protective of
non-brackish wells and oases wherever they may find them (whether in
their own land or someone else's.) Despite the rumors and the
exigencies of their lives, none of them are cannibals.
Weisselmen, Island of the: A large island in the midst of the
Bay of Weissel, a low, brackish place of poor soil, where one grows
food only with great difficulty. For generations the Weisselmen did not
know if any other land existed in Novatierre. By the time they found
out otherwise, they took too much pride in the struggles of their
forebears in making the land liveable for most of them to leave.
what'n'earth: A colloquialism for "What" with extra emphasis.
Archaic in origin, it has as much to do with "earth" as a
glove-compartment with gloves.
whipcord grass: A high altitude grass, resistant to drought and
frost, singularly tough. It is unsuitable for grazing, as the stems
contain too much silica.
whitebough tree: A peculiar kind of hollow tree with white bark
and wood, straight habitus, and large, glossy leaves, native to the
deserts of the western continents. It caches rainwater in its
hollowness through a series of grooves and holes, and absorbs the
liquid at need through its inner cavity lining. Once nearly eradicated
as a vector for breeding mosquitos, subsequent generations has seen its
importance to the desert ecology and allowed it to enjoy a comeback.
Quite beautiful though it might be, many cities have ordinances against
using it for landscaping.
why'n'earth: A colloquialism for "Why" with extra emphasis. See "What'n'earth", above.
wild rice: A delicious grain that grows wild in swampy regions,
varying in color from blue-green to black. No one knows for sure
whether it originates in Novatierre or came transplanted from Earth,
and if so whether deliberately or accidentally. If not, no one can
verify whether or not it resembles the wild rice of Earth in flavor or
appearance. Most people do, however, agree that it’s delicious.
The Wild Sands: A region of much sand and and hardship, and very
little that one can eat or drink, occupying the equivalent of Earth's
Arabian Penninsula. Although rumor reports some scattering of
inhabitants, it has no organized government that anyone has yet
discovered. On the other hand, no one from outside has so far developed
any great hankering to explore its deadly wastes.
A common name given to any tree that grows long, thin, wands that arch
up and then drape back to the ground, especially if it has long, thin
leaves. Not necessarily related to Earth's genus salix, or even
to each other.
will-O-watt: a small psychic energy-converter which can take any
psychic emanation directed towards it and convert it to crude energy in
the form of a glow of light. One clips or pins it onto clothing or
otherwise uses it as a portable lamp. It contains a tiny grain of
magentine, usually a cheap chip off a larger red magentine crystal, or
sometimes even a larger chunk of green magentine.
Winnait Point: A small finger of land extending from the tip of
Til Peninsula, a bit to the west. Legend says that a woman named
Winnait (her first name; no record mentions her last name) leaped from
a precipice there, clutching to her breast an unopened present from a
lover, which had arrived slower than the letter that told her of his
death. She did not know that among other gifts it contained a red
magentine crystal carved into the shape of a heart. Repenting her
suicide mid-air, she discovered that she could fly right before hitting
the rocks, clutching the package tightly to herself, and so she lived.
Legend names this as the origin of the flit.
Winterwash: A river of eastern Alonzo Valley, which springs from Mt Rain. Its name derives from its flooding after the annual winter thaw.
A legendary rock of Corriebhai. According to prophecy, the new
age of democratic brotherhood, and the recession of the Royal
Family to a ceremonial role, will take place with vows made by laying
hands on the Wisdomstone.
Legend has it that Baba Mudaliar,
son of a founder of Corriebhai, had a vision of a blue gazelle, sent to
him by Parvati, which led him to the Wisdomstone. He worked magic
upon it, according to his skills, and, following the instructions of
the goddess, placed it atop her sacred mountain, where she promised to
keep it safe for him until the time arrived when common men had become
worthy to govern themselves.
In 2703 two unnamed explorers
found, on the peak of Wisdomstone Mountain, a gigantic composite
crystal of blue magentine, roughly shaped like a sleeping gazelle,
wired for use as an information storage device.
A peak regarded as sacred in Corriebhai, on the uppermost edge of the
cirque valley that sheltered the original colony. Said to be the
home of the goddess Parvati, and the center of the world. Also
said to shelter her gift to the people of Corriebhai: the Wisdomstone.
Wish Cove: The unnavigable cove of Rhallunn, Til Territories.
The name originates from everyone wishing it were a functional cove,
but never bothering to dredge it.
A confection invented in Skarfingers but spread to other countries in
the region. It consists, in its original form, of a rum-infused
fig, dipped in chocolate (usually dark) and then rolled in crushed
black walnut bits. Some have substituted chaummin or brandy for
rum, or made a nonalcoholic version infused with molasses mixed with
the juice of prunes or grapes. Some add spices to the
chocolate. And a variety of nuts or seeds have been used, as
black walnuts are hard to come by in other continents, although greatly
preferred when available.
wolf: An inaccurate term used on every continent for large
predators with a canine appearance. The most common varieties, per
continent, are the sheep wolf (altraus) the lurk wolf (Southeastern
Continent) the great mottled wolf (Northeastern Continent) the snake or
black wolf (Southwestern Continent) and the rainbow wolf (Northwestern
working-greens: Tough twill or denim clothing, usually a shirt
and a pair of pants that can convert to shorts, sometimes a jump suit,
usually garment-dyed a muted green. Originally the uniform designed for
dock-workers of the Tasper Trading Company in Novo Durango, which has a
logo of three tasper-leaves in the same shade of green. Now widely
popularized, and sometimes coming in other colors.
wormwood tree: A short, twisted desert tree, native to Altraus,
of white bark and small, graygreen leaves, whose twigs and branches
grow into incredibly complex curls and corkscrews. It produces a bitter
narcotic sap that dries into sinthe gum.