Bridgeland: Small belt of land that leads to Sordem then Tekari; see below.
High Road: Main, well-worn path across Jaan and Tarra.
Jaan: Thelni kingdom where Sasha Varov was born.
Merchant Circle: Large outdoor mall near the castle, and the place where Somel works.
Semsat region: Part of Tarra where the Sherba most often roam, past Tekari. No permanent structures.
The Sordem Outpost: Marketplace at the end of Bridgeland where Tarrans can trade with merchants from Jaan and other kingdoms. Too dangerous at night. Seaports border this mountainous region.
Tarra (also known as the Tarran Isles or Tarran Islands): In truth, several islands, plus the peninsula that includes Bridgeland, Sordem, and Tekari. A place with many native inhabitants and dwellers, but also the place where King Traedon sends exiles. Jaan’s castle dungeon only houses people on trial. Few Thelni kingdoms use capital punishment, though they aren’t opposed to killing during battle. Life in Tarra can be much worse than a swift death.
Tekari (also known as the Tekari region): Part of Tarra where Sasha and her family live.
Theln: The known world, the Earth of an alternate reality. (Theln also parallels Valchondria, a world from the novels Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure and Sons of Taldra: A Science Fiction Adventure.)
People: House of Varov.
Hinter: Sasha’s father. Insol of Tekari and former general of King Traedon’s elite soldiers, the Hassekorps. A powerfully built man with green eyes and long orange braids. Usually clean shaven. It’s too hot in Tekari for beards, and most of the other men there don’t keep them either.
Raysha: Sasha’s little sister, the only member of their family born in Tekari. She’s never been to Jaan and can’t understand why they were sent away or would want to go back. Tekari is home to her, despite the harsh weather and the animal attacks. Brown, curly hair.
Rutula: Sasha’s mother. Born to the maternal lineage of Varov, a title she now shares with her spouse and her children. Her parents died when she was a child, and she’s protective of her own family. She married Hinter, who was then general of the Hassekorps. Gray haired, green eyes, with a slight build but proud walk.
Sasha (Innocence): Braided, chestnut-colored hair. Apprentice Insol of Tekari. She wants to reclaim her family’s position as nobles of Jaan. Loves sword-fighting and the theater. In Tekari, she and her brother act out the scenes they remember and the scenes their father teaches them. Her marriage will carry on the maternal Varov lineage. Weapons of choice: long sword or broadsword and dagger.
Stefent: Sasha’s brother. An avid storyteller and actor. His linguistic skills have made him an obvious representative for trading at the Sordem Outpost. Orange-haired, like his father. Stefent’s height and personality are closer to his mother than his father.
People: The Rest of the Cast.
A’lyn: Beshia’s seventy-nine-year-old spouse, who went away for cooking school in Laan. It had always been a dream of hers, but it left Beshia without a cook. Beshia’s been trying to run the inn’s kitchen, while also running the rest of the inn, and is glad for Sasha’s help. A’lyn settled down from a life of adventure after meeting Beshia. She stayed at the inn one night then never left… until the cooking school. Just under six feet tall, with short white hair and dark blue eyes.
Beshia: The innkeeper, spouse to A’lyn for the past twenty-eight years. A big, imposing woman in her early seventies. Full of advice, maxims, and concern. She believes in the rebellion against the Alera system but feels she’s too old to help. Despite her fear of getting involved, she’s unable to refuse Burshmeed or Sasha when they need refuge. Her big frame is somewhat stooped from age and a hard life, but she is happy.
Burshmeed: Soldier who becomes a mutant for opposing Tay-lii. He blames Somel for that curse. Though he never considered himself handsome before, he was a rather likable fellow, and a loving spouse to Zola. He had joined Tay-lii’s army for acceptance but turned against Tay-lii after seeing his brutality too many times. The curse turned his dark brown skin and his green eyes yellow, his black hair red and gray. It also caused a small horn to protrude just above his left eye. Weapons of choice: broadsword and crossbow.
Captain Ferik: An Easterner, captain of the ship that takes Sasha back to Jaan, a year after her battle with Wuhrlock. Brown eyes, long black hair, and light brown skin.
Captain Geeja: Sherba sea captain and former slave. She veils her long black hair, but never her face. Dark complexion, large frame. In her early thirties.
General Duhnahl: The younger of Tay-lii’s two generals. He’s blindly loyal to and fearful of Tay-lii. Still, like Koto’Ri, he feeds the Innocence legends with his tavern talk. A ruthless, powerful fighter, but also a drunkard.
General Keln: Tay-lii’s other general, but older and with his own ambitions. He trained Burshmeed. Scarred face, muscular body, and rugged voice. His presence frightens most people.
Hedra Dyel: An elderly theater owner, and a tenuous friend to General Keln. Once a friend to Rutula Varov. Loud voice.
King Traedon: Ruler of Jaan. Gray hair and long, gray beard. Frail body, often draped in ornate robes. The nobles of a Thelni kingdom elect someone as king or queen for life and can’t remove or vote out that elected official. The other members of that person’s immediate family hold royal titles during that person’s life, but then lose those titles and all privileges that go with them.
Koto’Ri: A rather smelly, obnoxious, and loud-mouthed soldier who served with Somel and Burshmeed in Tay-lii’s army and has served with both of Tay-lii’s generals.
Nalthen: An actor and director at Jaan’s most popular theater, which Noble Dyel owns.
The Sherba: Nomads. Sherba is a noun (singular and plural) and adjective. The Sherba discount everyone else as “nonSherba” or as “landowners.” Weapons of choice: long sword, crossbow, or bow and arrow.
Somel: The linen merchant, also a former soldier of Tay-lii. Enamored with Sasha. He tries to grow a beard as a disguise from his younger self. It just makes him look scruffy. He convinced Burshmeed to shoot at Tay-lii with a crossbow. Dark, beady eyes and sandy blond hair. Somewhat muscular, but his height makes him look stronger. Weapon of choice: short sword.
Tay-lii: Wuhrlock’s brother, much more powerfully built. A fierce warlord who makes his home in Jaan after several other kingdoms run him out. His soldiers agreed to help protect Jaan, but he just wanted to overthrow his brother and become Alera. He is a hulking man, with callused hands and emerald eyes. Weapons of choice: two-handed sword and dagger.
Traeda: Traedon’s daughter. He sent her to a nearby kingdom. (Mentioned briefly.)
Triz: Traedon’s son, nineteen-year-old prince of Jaan. Not a fan of the Alera system, but wary of challenging tradition or accepting Innocence. Loyal to his father and to Jaan. His father’s voice in the Senate of Nobles, during his sister’s absence.
Wuhrlock: Alera of Jaan, in the early part of the novel. He overstepped his advisory position by making laws for Jaan, including one that says no one can oppose the Alera. Most Thelni admire Alera for their deep understanding of magic.
Zola: Burshmeed’s spouse. He can’t stand for her to look upon his cursed face, but she still loves him and doesn’t care how he looks. Though she was happy in her own kingdom, her parents said she wasn’t allowed back if she was married to one of Tay-lii’s soldiers. Tay-lii had also caused problems in her kingdom, and many others. Working as a maid in the castle and the fort, she is now a spy for the Jaanian rebels who oppose Tay-lii. Weapon of choice: scimitar.
Terminology, Mythology, and Expressions.
Alera: Magical advisor to the ruler of any Thelni kingdom.
The Battle of Spiked Rim: Struggle which left Tarra desolate and many soldiers dead, in Wuhrlock’s efforts to gain more wealth by annexing Tekari. He convinced King Traedon to go along with the scheme, leading the Hassekorps general to side with the Tarrans against King Traedon.
Elder Women: Representatives from each of Tarra’s regions, they form the governing body of Tarra and work with the Insolee for the well-being of all Tarrans. They meet in Tekari. Rutula is Elder Woman for Tekari, and her spouse is the Insol.
Erran (also called Erran Valchondria): In Thelni mythology, the first Thelni. A goddess who fell to Theln and transformed into a pregnant, mortal woman. After that, several other gods and goddesses fell in the same manner, but none of the others became spontaneously pregnant, and the Thelni of future generations remained mortal. Some gods died upon impact, but their spirits (good or evil) still roam Theln’s surface. Most Thelni love those stories, even if they don’t believe them.
Erran’s fall: A common curse, referring to the pain of losing godhood.
Falon Shin: Old Thelni greeting that translates “Good spirits brought you to me.”
Hassekorps: Traedon’s special military unit, a small but efficient army. Differences between them and the Kemsans are that they’re better paid, given special quarters, and sworn to protect king and castle. After Spiked Rim, Tay-lii has many surviving Hassekorps murdered. Weapon of choice: long sword, though Hinter and the other Insolee adopt the broadsword, from among the dead Kemsans at Spiked Rim. Gold armor.
Haute-piece: Upward curving neck guard, rising from the shoulder. Two separate pieces in Kemsan armor, with the left piece showing rank for officers.
The Insol: Warrior protector of a region in Tarra. Hinter is Insol of the Tekari region. Plural, Insolee. Always uses capital I. Weapon of choice: broadsword.
Kael: Thelni dialect used in most parts of Jaan, Bridgeland, Sordem, and Tarra. However, some sailors and merchants use slight variations of Kael, because interacting with people from all over Theln affects their speech.
The Kemsans: Jaan’s army. Red armor. Black hawk on their breastplate. Tay-lii’s Kemsans have feathers painted or sculpted onto their helmets. The helmets are the only non-uniform part of their armor. Except for generals, most helmets include chin guards. The blue spot on a left haute-piece signals an ensign, orange spots a corporal, pink squares a captain, and black hawk face a general. Named for Kemsan, a legendary Jaanian soldier. Weapons of choice: broadsword and dagger.
Mudwall: Cheap yellow brick that commoners use for homes and businesses.
Nehmer Shin: Old Thelni farewell that translates “May good spirits lead you onward.”
Old Thelni: Early, unwritten language that still influences Thelni names and expressions.
Red-stone: A sturdy material made from lava rock.
Senate of Nobles: In the kingdom of Jaan, each woman who will pass down a maternal lineage title belongs to this governing body. In the past, they settled most disputes within Jaan and helped make laws or maintain traditional holidays and observances. However, King Traedon gave much of their power to the Alera.
Thelni: The only language of Theln. Looks the same when written in any area of Theln, but can sound different, because of five distinct dialects. When someone can’t understand another’s dialect, the tradition is to apologize and blame one’s ears. After all, it is an insult to imply that someone else can’t speak properly or might speak an inferior dialect. Also, adjective or noun for the people of Theln.
Treasure: A term of endearment.
Triple-vexing: When used alone as a noun, it means problems or trouble. Example: “I can’t take much more of this triple-vexing!” When used as an adjective, it means annoying or bothersome.