Glossary for Satorias-deles: General Concepts and Terms
ANGELS: The indigenous beings of the world, in their first attempts to communicate with the human beings who had appeared through the World Gate and were spreading so rapidly, assumed illusory human forms in order to facilitate communication.
The forms they took were intended to be the most appealing human forms; they did not at first comprehend myth or its power, and were perceived as angels. Subsequently beings have appeared in the world from elsewhere who are not easily categorized, and some of these, too, have passed into history as angelic visitors. Therefore this particular item from the humans’ earth backgrounds persists in popular culture, though otherwise there is no organized religion that would be recognized as such.
That is not to say that the religious impulse is gone—far from it. But but on a world where magic works, where souls (identities) are recognized as discrete, it has taken a different form. Some see a logical connection from there to creative forces behind the universe, and others don’t; for those who do there is no call to propitiate such much less define them or it. There are also no concepts such as luck, or destiny in the sense of foreordained actions outside of choice; the word fate is interchangeable with consequence.
ANIMALS: Most were brought deliberately when humans came to the world, and a few (like rats and mice, along with their various parasites) were not but came along secreted in various vessels; numerous birds were either brought or flew through on their own, and all proliferated here. The indigenous life forms of the world first gave the early mages to understand the connections between disease and parasites, so when life forms recognized as parasites they were eradicated.
This is not the place to go into detail about the relations between humans and animals, as effected by the changes wrought by the early mages [see BIRTH SPELL and MAGIC]; suffice it for now to say that as humans gradually began to evolve both because of their contact with the indigenous races and the subsequent magic spells to improve life, so too did animals. The immediate result was that humans abandoned the consumption of mammal flesh as well as the use of animals’ fur and other parts. Hunting for sport evolved into wreathing, i.e., riding close enough to the target animal to toss with one’s own hands a wreath of ivy or flowers over the creature’s head. (This sport has persisted for centuries, and animals were bred for speed and cleverness.) Animals that litter were limited through magical interference to one litter; animals that bear a single offspring were not interfered with. Blood hunts were confined to human against human.
BIRTH SPELL: Probably the strangest of the spells but the most far reaching in effect granted by indigenous beings to the early mages, who were women. (It was women who made first contact, and kept to themselves what they learned first as a defensive measure, subsequently as a rule that took a long time to rescind.) When humans first arrived, they brought their appalling birth rates and reproductive habits, producing unwanted children that had to be dealt with one way or another, as the price of relations, which included forcing a woman’s or child’s, will. Only the Mage Council now knows just how close humans came to being perceived as vermin and eradicated from the world; the early mages strove desperately to rectify the ills they were aware of.
Magic therefore was used specifically to improve life [see WASTE SPELL, WANDING] and almost the first thing these mages achieved, with the willing cooperation of the indigenous beings (whose motives are nearly impossible to comprehend for certain but who were probably dismayed at the rapid proliferation of humans) was universal birth control. The egg dissolved as soon as it was released, unless the woman’s blood chemistry was altered by her having partaken of root called gerda, gedi, gi, bitterroot, etc.
The effect on human culture was stunning. To keep this brief, one of the most obvious results was an unbalance in societal power, as females could totally control birth, especially as the women mages were also embarked on a desperate and at first secret quest to avoid eradication by the killing of all Ehrotic predators. First those who preyed on children, then those who used intimacy violently without the consent of the partner, until the urge was nearly completely bred out of the human population. But as female control increased, so did male reaction, especially when the next goal was the male drive to violence. A confrontation and then negotiation and cooperation between the rising schools of male mages and the old female Mage Council led to the joining of these organizations and the emendation, and finally the eradication of the selective genocide. That part of history is no longer generally known and is seldom talked about except at the very highest mage circles.
The first cooperative effort was a second change to the Birth Spell, which enabled men, or anyone, actually, to give birth to a child by using a specific form of the Spell. Again, this was only achieved with the aid of the indigenous beings, and their contribution is still debated in contemporary times, for with their added magic anyone could have a child if they “heard” the Spell.
A healer or mage could only give them the beginning; the rest would come or not, and no one has ever successfully determined why the spell either completes or doesn’t. (For the curious, the DNA derives from a single parent’s past, or from a blending of both partners if two people handfast and complete the spell.) The child appears at proper term, which argues for the magic including manipulation of time and space of which only the indigenous life forms have mastery, long debates have taken place about the origins of said children, if they are from a parallel timeline or world, etc.
The most obvious overall effects were to slow the population growth, and to alter the attitudes toward the production of children since it now took specific efforts to produce them. These changes established the more firmly when the Mage Council subsequently managed the third emendation, which was magic that prevented pregnancy in anyone who could not deliver normally. Thus, a woman who has a preexisting condition that would preclude a safe birth could not get pregnant, even if she chewed or drank steeped gerda root.
Because the records from this time were mostly destroyed, no one really knows how long it all took, but the guesses are at least a thousand years. A less obvious effect would be the change rung on the matter of intimacy as it is regarded in cultures; trying here to be brief, there is no shame attached to it, but there is a deep sense of privacy, arising out of that early conditioning by ancestors to “hide” intimate congress from those all-seeing indigenous beings. The unexplained workings of the Birth Spell serves as a reminder of those beings still there—somewhere—resulting in mating, whether for sport or for procreation, being universally preferred as a private act—even a group will generally want no windows and closed doors, even if they cannot define why. Another result is coverage, not just of privates, but of nipples—male or female—which are rather ambiguous symbolically. (And everyone likes the corresponding charge when the person chooses to unrobe.)
MAGIC: The easiest definition is “energy.” The indigenous life forms of this world do not have a physical presence, though in the early days they attempted various illusory forms in order to comprehend the humans who were first propelled through a universal gateway to their world. Humans were eventually taught to shape magic mentally, an ability they lost when they nearly destroyed themselves and the world what is generally regarded as four thousand years ago. (Time is not always reliable on this world, any more than is physical distance.) Since then, humans have recovered, painfully reconstructing magical knowledge, with the idea of improving life and maintaining such improvements, among other motives. Mind-shaped magic was nearly eradicated, and mages required safe ways to access magic and use it. The worlds and gestures that are now regarded as “magical language” are remnants of the earliest form of Old Sartoran that is now all but lost, except to scholars. These words and gestures form imagination units of finite utility, but most mages at lower levels of learning think them inherently magical in themselves.
HEALERS: A subset of mages trained mostly by the Mage Council, adept in doctoring skills as well as herbal knowledge and also what we would call psychology. They earn their pay by differing methods in most lands, but the Healer Oath established by the Mage Council requires them to never deny service. The Mage Council-trained healers are the highest in demand the world over.
As for their magic, there are no universal fix-it spells. Physical repair of any kind is extremely exacting, just as is surgery. However, the repair is mostly for damage. Very early in the history of humans’ discovery of magic, one of the first goals was the eradication of disease. Because microbes and harmful insects, etc, came over from earth and were not a part of the environment of this world, the eventual eradication of fleas, for example, did nothing to the biosphere, which was still adjusting to the influx of life forms through the universal gateway. Specific diseases were isolated one by one and eradicated, thus there are, for example, no plagues, no STDs whatsoever on the world. People can and do get sick, though almost always through depressing their immune systems, a syndrome understood by healers, whose approach is holistic. Virus-transmitted disease hasn’t been entirely eradicated, as viri mutate too fast to be isolated, but their effect has been considerably reduced from the devastation of the early days.
MAGE COUNCIL: Its history is long and varied. Its earliest days belong exclusively to women, who were the first to recognize that the world humans had come to included other sentient life forms, and to discover access to magic. Some of the early Council’s decisions are briefly touched on elsewhere, the most deeply guarded secret being the systematic purge of sexual predators, impelled not just by collective anger (though that played a significant role) but by the drive to keep humanity from being expunged altogether by said sentient beings, whose first introduction to the concept of evil came into the world with the humans.
By the time men joined the Council its main purpose was already the betterment of human life. After the Fall of Old Sartor, the Council was as dead as its members, but reformed again by surviving minor mages who embarked on the centuries-long quest to recover what had been lost. For most of those early centuries just maintaining the basic Spells was about all that could be done. As the potential of magic slowly regenerated and old knowledge was painfully reconstructed, eventually magic could accomplish more. For the most part mages were regarded as builders and makers, and as such seldom came to the notice of kings outside of the need to provide for the hire of mages to maintain bridge, fire, road spells, etc. This persisted until a few centuries after Inda’s time, when the rapid proliferation of magical knowledge gave rise to the empires of the sorcerer kings.
MORVENDE: Humans from Old Sartor who withdrew to caves beneath the mountains to escape the terrible war. (mor (removed, outcast) fen (group of people) de (plural). They did not emerge for centuries; they preserved the most of the old knowledge, strictly kept to themselves for the most part. Melanin is all but gone from their hair and skin due to the many centuries underground. Their fingers and toes were altered by magic early on to enable them to cope with underground life, thus they have talons instead of nails. They emerged into surface history for a relatively brief and disastrous time roughly around the first rise and spread of the Sartoran and Venn empires, after which the remainder withdrew for another long stretch of centuries.
NORSUNDER: from ‘norss-en-dar’, (‘enemies, of the norss,’ the latter being a group of mages from one of the other planets in their system) a creation by a specific set of extremely powerful mages as a retreat when their attempt to take control of the world failed in what was subsequently termed the Fall of Old Sartor. Removed in space and time from the world, its geography is created and destroyed at their whim, and one can withdraw into its central force while centuries pass on the world. More about the mages is dealt with elsewhere, but let it here be noted that they have all their old abilities, that they lie in wait for the world to recover and be worthy of a second effort. Known as the Host of Lords, their chief maintains their powerbase by the consumption of the particular energies of identity and spirit, preferably against the wills of the victims, thus the term “souleater,” one of the worst terms of invective in any language. People who choose Norsunder as an alternative to death are said to be damned; they may have plans for the accrual of power, but when they do make it to Norsunder they are left in no doubt whose will prevails.
SARTOR: Oldest political polity on the world, formed after human women made first contact with indigenous beings there. “Sar” connotes lordship or leadership (devolved to king and queen), “tor” people. Located at the opposite end of the continent from Iasca Leror, its influence on life in the southern hemisphere and the southern portions of the northern has been pervasive, despite its long, sometimes spectacularly broken history.
TIME: This world completes a revolution around its sun, commonly called Erhal, in 441 days; the largest satellite, called “the moon” by humans who were used to seeing moons, completes twelve cycles in that time. [there are actually several satellites, but only one large enough to be recognized in the early days as a moon; the smaller ones were regarded as stars]. The Sartoran Calendar, universally used in the south and in many places in the north, is divided into 73 seven-day weeks, as the concept of the seven day week was brought by humans to the world.
There are eight days comprising New Year’s Week at the darkest time of the year in the south, and the longest day of the year is called Midsummer’s Day and added to the calendar as a discrete day. The calendar otherwise is twelve monthsâ€”the lunar cycle is just short of 37 days—of 36 days each. (Northern hemisphere lands that use the Sartoran calendar thus have a single New Year’s Day, and eight days of Midsummer, or else mirror the count of days, which makes dating difficult if dealing with the south.)
Thus every year begins on Firstday. The day is divided by most people into six segments. These time units are broken into units of four in some places, making a 24 hour day. (the numbers three, four, and twelve carrying symbolic significance, some of which was brought to the world even if the originating reasons have long been forgotten.) Thus the Sartoran-influenced lands also use a base twelve counting system for magical purposes, though base tenâ€”corresponding to the number of fingersâ€”is common for trade and measure.
WANDING: Wands have spells on them to break down and transfer animal waste underground. (For the curious, the spell removes the waste as far as the noses and eyes of humans are able to detect, but leaves enough residue for dogs, cats, etc to detect territorial markings, because the mages who cast the spells did not know the extent of the animal olfactory sense.) This Guild is universal, and is most often joined by young people who don’t have any skills for other work, or who just don’t want to do other work, whether for life or for a short time.
A Wander never goes hungry, has a place to sleep, and can wander about all day. Young people who cannot figure out a job, or wanderers, or those without any particular calling will often become wanders, as there is no real skill involved. In some cultures Wanders are drawn from those who’ve committed minor crimes, and are ordered to perform public service in this manner. In some areas, pigs are kept to eat scraps, and their leavings are used in truck gardens as fertilizer.
WASTE SPELL: The simple definition is that these few syllables, whispered when a human being lets go of waste, gets rid of it. Waste includes vomit, and with a syllable attached, menses. The Spell dates back to the earliest days after humans first found themselves on this world, and the indigenous beings, discovering that not only were humans fast befouling the environment they were making themselves sick, communicated the connection to the early mages, who, when they comprehended the connection, not only arranged for this magic (for the curious, the waste is broken down chemically and transported deep underground), they arranged for spells that could be performed over specific items, such as buckets, that not just cleaned the water of bacteria, but cleaned items dipped into the buckets.
This concept was then extended to baths; the spell on the baths included the cleaning of teeth, so tooth cleaners were generally used on the road, unless one stuck one’s entire head into a bespelled bucket. The spells also extend to industry, for example to catch wood chips from floating downstream from a carpenter’s workplace, chaff from a miller, etc. Guild dues cover the maintenance of such spells in cities.