Selections from The Merchant’s Polylex, 15th Edition
Irlsbaad Printers’ Cooperative Society, Etherhorde
SPOILER ALERT! The following glossary is intended as a reference tool for readers who may have forgotten certain terms important to this long and complex tale. It does reveal plot points, and will of necessity dilute some of the of the joy of discovery if read in its entirety.
Agaroth. The Border-Kingdom, a twilit land between life and death, where souls reluctant to pass on sometimes manage to pause, contemplating their unfinished deeds.
Alpurbehn. Nemmocian honorific, literally “elder brother.”
Amber Kings. Ancient, civilized lords of Alifros, early law-givers, builders of the Fortress-Cities of the North. The Amber Kings fought the Fell Princes in the War of Fire and Spells.
Athymar. Eight-fanged Bali Adro war-hounds, generally considered the most dangerous and aggressive dogs ever bred in any land of Alifros.
Augrong. Gigantic, rough-hided, enormously strong humanoids of the Northern world. Long-lived but near extinction, the surviving augrongs occasionally take work on Arquali ships as anchor-lifters.
Auru. The so-called “First People of Alifros,” the Auru are believed to have descended from the stars, although in truth very little is known of them. What legends exist describe an intensely noble and magically adept society. The Auru broke the reign of the maukslars in the Dawn War.
Bakru. God of the winds in the Rinfaith, to whom sailors pray. The winds Bakru tends usually take the form of lions, ready to devour the unlucky.
Bali Adro. Vast empire in Southern Alifros, ruled by dlömu but composed of many races. Also, the Imperial royal family, and the capital city from which they rule.
Battle-Dancer. An ixchel fighter of exceptionally advanced training.
Black Castket. Holiest artifact of the Old Faith, built as a crematory device wherein devils and maukslar were burned to ashes. The Casket was shattered by Droth the Demon-Prince, and a shard of it placed in Sathek’s Scepter.
Black Rags. Mzithrinis. An Arquali slur.
Black Tongue. Great lava field on the Efaroc Peninsula, infested with flame-trolls.
Blanë. Ixchel sleeping-drug, often applied to weapons. So potent its affects are often mistaken for death.
Blodmel. A class of Mzithrini warship, large and heavily armed.
Burnscove Boys. Powerful waterfront gang in Etherhorde. Arch-enemies of the Plapp’s Pier Gang.
Castle Maag. Private palace of the Magads, ruling family of Arqual, atop Mol Etheg in central Etherhorde.
Cayer. Mzithrini religious elder or instructor.
Chathrand, Imperial Merchant Ship. a.k.a. The Great Ship, “Wind Palace.” Last of the giant, five-masted segral-class ships to survive in the Northern World. Owned and operated by the Chathrand Trading Family; commissioned by Emperor Magad to transport Thasha Isiq to Simja for Treaty Day, and the Shaggat Ness to Gurishal by way of the Ruling Sea.
Citadel of Hing. Holy shrine above Babqri City in the Mzithrin Empire, where many sacred rites of the Old Faith were practiced, and relics (including the Nilstone, secreted within the Red Wolf) guarded.
Cora. Goddess of the Earth in the Rinfaith.
Credek. Vulgar Ormali epithet.
Dawn War. Earliest conflict in the lore of Alifros, when the Auru ended the reign of the maukslar. The Nilstone was first used in battle (by Droth the Demon-Prince) in the Dawn War.
Death’s Head. a.k.a. Kirisang. A segral-class warship built in Bali Adro and commandeered by Macadra the sorceress.
Deathsmoke. Highly addictive drug extracted from the bhagri vine. Deathsmoke creates an almost irresistible euphoria, followed by delirium and panic once the drug is removed. Addicts lose appetite, muscle and the ability to sleep; in time they simply waste away.
Dlömu. The most numerous and powerful race in the Southern world, the rulers of Bali Adro, Karysk, Thudryl and other lands. Midnight black save for their silver hair and eyes, dlömu are also a post-aquatic people, with webbing between their toes and as high as the first knuckle on their fingers. Exceptional swimmers, they are particularly susceptible to burns.
Droth. A great prince of the maukslar, cast from his throne at the end of the Dawn War.
Duirmalc. Lowest and most accursed of the Nine Pits of the Underworld. Literally, “Place of Last Curses.”
Eguar. Huge, enchanted reptilian creature, ancestors of dragons. The eguar’s body heat approaches that of a furnace. Adult eguar are perpetually surrounded by vapor clouds toxic to most other creatures. The remains of deceased eguars are both intensely magical and intensely lethal (see Grave-Pits).
Fell Princes. Corrupt lords of Alifros who gradually seized power after the departure of the Auru, and used the Nilstone in the War of Fire and Spells.
Flame-Trolls. Terrible, flame-wreathed creatures inhabiting magma chambers beneath the earth, and sometimes emerging to prey on surface-dwellers.
Flikkerman. Humanoid creatures with transparent skin and the ability to deliver shocks akin to those inflicted by electric eels. Flikkermen coexist uneasily with human beings, often working as smugglers and slave traders.
Forecastle. Raised, partial deck at the forward end of the topdeck, reached by ladders and giving access to the bowsprit.
Freebooter. A slang term for smugglers, particularly those in the Crownless Lands and Gulf of Thól.
Glass Spider (medet). A large, perfectly transparent spider native to the Efaroc Peninsula and integral to the predictions of Spider-Tellers. Some consider glass spiders manifestations of spirits, the dead or beings from another plane of existence.
Gorgonoths. a.k.a. the Doomsday Worms. Horrifically large creatures said to live beneath the ice of the uttermost north, and to guard the entrance to the Nine Pits. It is said that the Gorgonoths will feast upon the carcass of the world when it dies.
Grave-Pits. Deep vertical shafts formed by the carcasses of eguars as they decompose. Eguars, mindful of the harm their remains can cause, journey to known Pits before their deaths. The Grave-Pits of Bali Adro were plundered to make the Plazic Blades and other arms.
Great Peace. An initiative, reputedly, to end the centuries-old conflict between Arqual and the Mzithrin, culminating in Treaty Day and the wedding of Thasha Isiq to Prince Falmurqat Adin of the Mzithrin. In actual fact the Great Peace was a diversionary tactic, designed to shield Arqual from suspicion after the planned eruption of a new uprising by the Shaggat Ness within the Mzithrin Empire.
Hatch Coaming. A knee- to waist-high raised lip around the hatches in the Chathrand’s topdeck, providing shelter during rough weather and limiting the wash of seawater into the lower decks.
Hoéled, Mountains of. Fabled home of the Unseen (the Nameless Ones) in the Old Faith.
Holy Stair. A forward ladderway on the I.M.S. Chathrand. The nickname emerged from repeated incidents of religious revelation occurring on or about the stair.
Ilvaspar. Great icy lake in the Mountains of Masalym. Source of the River Maî.
Inner Dominion. Large territory of farms and wildlands governed by the city of Masalym.
Ixchel. A race of very small (6-9 inch tall) humanoid creatures with an intensely communal, clan-based social structure. Lacking any homeland in Northern Alifros, ixchel have taken to a secret life in human cities, and to traveling as stowaways on human boats. They are often hated by humans, who consider ixchel expert ship-sinkers.
Ixphir House. The ixchel clan led by Lord Talag and Lady Diadrelu (and later, Talag’s son Taliktrum).
Karysk. A powerful country on the eastern border of Bali Adro.
Ladderways. Staircases (usually steep and equipped with hand-holds) on the Chathrand and other ships.
Licherog. An Arquali prison island in the Nelu Peren, where the Shaggat Ness and his two sons were held in secret for forty years.
Lorg School. a.k.a. the Lorg Academy of Obedient Daughters, the Accateo Lorgut. Oldest and most exclusive girls’ boarding school in Etherhorde. Thasha Isiq was a student at the Lorg.
Lost Age. A four-century (-1405 to -1108) period of global decadence and misery following the Worldstorm.
Merchant’s Polylex. A one-volume encyclopedia, gazetteer and collection of lore published in Etherhorde for the benefit of business and other travelers. The thirteenth edition of the book, however, is a magical and forbidden history of the Northern world and exposes many of the crimes of its rulers. The general editor of the thirteenth Polylex was Pazel Doldur.
Maj Hill. Exclusive neighborhood in Etherhorde; location of the Isiq family mansion.
Master-Words. Crude, unshaped magical words, the raw stuff of spells. Master-words can be exceptionally powerful but are prone to side-effects and unintended consequences.
Maukslar. Arch-demons, especially those created before or during the Dawn War. medet
Mind-Plague. The disease that ended human civilization in the Southern world, by reducing human intelligence to that of animals.
Mizrald. Humanoid creatures present in small numbers in the Empire of Bali Adro. Often described as froglike by human beings, mizralds traditionally work as town criers and musicians.
Money Gate. The lockable gate on the lower gun deck of the Chathrand, behind which were located the most luxurious cabins and pleasure-chambers of the ship. In earlier times a valet sat day and night within the Money Gate; on later voyages every wealthy individual was provided a key. The Money Gate stood unlocked for much of the Chathrand’s final voyage.
Muketch. Literally, “mud-crab.” A small blue crustacean from Ormael, and the pejorative nickname for Pazel Pathkendle.
Mül. A black, chewy, gelatinous food of unknown composition, invented and much prized by the dlömu. Mül neither melts nor rots, and is a staple among dlömic soldiers, sailors and other travelers.
Murth. Half-spirits. A broad class of beings only partly belonging to the daylight world. Of the many kinds of murths, sea-murths are the closest in appearance to human beings, despite limbs that bend with the freedom of tentacles and razor-sharp teeth.
Nelluroq Vortex. A whirlpool the size of a city, churning forever in the heart of the Nelluroq, and created when the Nilstone arrived in Alifros, puncturing of the fabric of creation.
Nessarim. Fanatic worshippers of the Shaggat Ness, in Gurishal and elsewhere.
Night Gods. The supreme authors of evil in the Rinfaith, the architects of the Nine Pits and the source of damnation. For the Night Gods, destruction serves ends beyond human understanding or explanation.
Nilstone. A splinter of rock from the world of the dead. Inert and harmless in death’s kingdom, once brought to Alifros it became most powerful and ruinous object the world had ever seen, killing all save the truly fearless at a touch, and giving fantastic powers to those few who could hold it. The Nilstone was entombed for centuries in the Red Wolf. All the power of the Swarm of Night passed through the Nilstone; it was, effectively, a hole in the fabric of creation.
Nine Pits. The underworld of torment, scattered across the sunless Plain of Sorrows and guarded by the Gorgonoths and roofed by ice.
Ninety Rules. A set of commandments encapsulating the philosophy and strictures of the Rinfaith. The devout commit all ninety to memory.
Nuhzat. An ecstatic, half-waking dream state, experienced only by dlömu or those with dlömic loved ones or family connections. Occurring in moments of great emotion (positive or negative), the nuhzat clouds reason, but occasionally imparts strange abilities, from uncanny strength to accelerated healing. Dlömu often sing or keen when in nuhzat, and their silver eyes turn jet black.
Oppo. Arquali sailors’ slang: “Aye-aye”, “I hear and obey.”
Old Faith. The dominant, and nearly universal, religion of the Mzithrin.
Orfuin Club. A lively tavern in the River of Shadows, famous for its political neutrality and openness to all customers, provided they leave their hostilities at the door.
Pachet. An ixchel title given to elders of great learning or artistic mastery.
Plapp’s Pier Gang. A vicious Arquali gang, permanently at war with the Burnscove Boys for control of the Etherhorde docks.
Platazcra. Literally, “Infinite Conquest.” The Bali Adro campaign of military expansion and aggression, spurred by the creation of the Plazic Arsenal and marked by an ideology of dlömic supremacy and the merciless use of force.
Plazic Arsenal. Bladed weapons, and later far more sophisticated and lethal arms, created from the processed remains of eguar bones, hide and flesh. The Plazic Arsenal made the armies of Bali Adro briefly invincible, but drove both greater and lesser officers mad, and burned or poisoned whole regions of the Empire. Fortunately the weapons themselves naturally decayed, but few who bore such arms survived the experience.
Polar Candle. The small blue moon of Alifros, never visible in the Northern Hemisphere.
Quarterdeck. Raised, partial deck at the stern of the ship, reached by a ladder from the topdeck. The command center of the ship. The ship’s wheel is located on the quarterdeck.
Ravens, Raven Society. An alliance of warlords, mages and dlömu of great wealth in Bali Adro, determined to seize control of the Empire from within. Arunis Wytterscorm and Macadra Hyndrascorm were founding members.
Red Storm. Great band of scarlet light in the Ruling Sea, created by Erithusmé with the aid of the Nilstone. The Red Storm prevented the spread of the mind-plague into the Northern world, but also cast any northbound travelers passing through it into the future.
Ripestry. Murth-magic, and murth language. In the world of murths the two concepts are inseparable; to speak is to enchant.
River of Shadows (Nythrung). An unresolved mystery, the River of Shadows appears to be a raging black channel not of water but of subconscious thought, passing through many worlds but usually hidden from view. In Alifros, the River of Shadows flows deep underground, but surfaces in a dozen places, most dramatically in the heart of the Infernal Forest.
Ruling Sea (Nelluroq). The vast, violent ocean dividing Alifros into North and South, across which no ships but the segrals can hope to pass.
Sathek’s Scepter. A weapon of war created by Sathek the Demon-Mage from a shard of the Black Casket. The scepter was long in the possession of the elder sfvantskors, including Neda Pathkendle’s first master, the Babqri Father.
Scorm. A secret society of corrupt mages, all of whom added “Scorm” to their names. Arunis Wytterscorm and Macadra Hyndrascorm were two pillars of this circle. Even before Macadra gained control over the mind and policies of Emperor Nahundra Bali Adro, the Scorm effectively ruled the Empire, controlling as it did the better-known Raven Society.
Secret Fist. Arqual’s secret service. An immense, diversified and well-financed guild of spies and assassins, for over forty years directed by Sandor Ott.
Segral. A class of gigantic sailing ships, built in Bali Adro by human, dlömic and selk shipwrights, from twelve to six centuries before the time of the current story. The Chathrand, at slightly over six hundred years old, was one of the last segral-class ships to be built.
Speaking Tube. Insulated copper tubes passing through many parts of the Chathrand and other segral-class ships, used for conveying messages in calm-to-moderate weather.
Sfvantskor. A Mzithrini warrior-priest, sworn to defend the Old Faith against all enemies, and to obedience to the religion’s elders and creed. Trained to the highest level of Mzithrini fighting-arts, the sfvantskor takes a vow for life; there is no honorable way to exit the priesthood.
Sicuña. Catlike steeds the size of ponies, used by Bali Adron troops in terrain where horses are impractical.
Silver Stair. The wide central ladderway of the Chathrand, so named because it lead to the cabins and other chambers of the wealthy passengers.
Sizzy. Mzithrini. A racial slur.
Smythídor. A person changed permanently by a curse, charm or other exposure to magic. Pazel Pathkendle was a Smythídor.
Sophister. An ixchel apprenticed to, and sworn to obey, an elder teacher.
Spider Teller. A dlömic priest who practices meditation and divination with the aid of glass spiders.
Swarm of Night (Agaroth Asru). A living cloud created in Agaroth to patrol the wall its border with death’s kingdom, and to attack any of the dead who attempted to pass through gaps in the wall and return to the world of the living. Once set loose in Alifros, however, the Swarm becomes a rapidly-growing malignancy, attacking wherever death is prevalent, and killing whatever it touches. The Swarm draws it power in Alifros entirely from the Nilstone.
Thojmélé. Fighting and spiritual code of Tholjassa, taught to Thasha Isiq by Hercól Stanapeth.
Tol-Chenni. Literally, “sleepwalker”. A human reduced to animal intelligence by the mind-plague.
Tree of Heaven. a.k.a. the Milk Tree. The great celestial tree (or constellation) visible in the Northern night sky. The Rinfaith describes the world of Alifros as one fruit among many ripening on the Tree.
Turach. An Imperial marine; a member of the elite corps of the same name.
Unseen, The. a.k.a. the Nameless Ones. The “Gods” of the Old Faith, although the Mzithrinis reject the term “Gods,” believing that the creators of the universe cannot be named or fully known by human beings.
Vasparhaven. A spider-tellers’ temple, oldest in the Efaroc Peninsula, on the shores of Ilvaspar in the Mountains of Masalym.
Volpeks. Feared and bloody mercenaries of the Narrow Sea (Nelu Rekere).
Waking Spell. An enchantment cast by Erithusmé with the aid of the Nilstone. The Waking Spell lifted animals across the world to human intelligence, but also spawned the mind-plague that destroyed human life in the South.
War Forges. The great furnaces in Orbilesc and Bali Adro city where the Plazic Arsenal was created.
Watchers. Supernatural beings to whom the dlömu attribute the creation of Alifros, and/or its peopling with intelligent life.
Woken Animals. See Waking Spell.
Worldstorm. A storm of almost unthinkable magnitude, lasting 19 years and causing the collapse of all known societies in Alifros, north and south. The Worldstorm’s cause is disputed, but not the fact that it ushered in the Lost Age.
Zithmoloch. The Mzithrini Secret Service, under the control of the sfvantskor priesthood. A bitter rival of the Secret Fist.