Keldar

Cursed by a Trinity of dragon gods, Keldar is a land of poisoned sands and endless drought. Rain ceased to fall over a thousand years ago, and rivers and lakes are nothing but a memory. Keldar is a hard land, a hard life; a land of suffering, bloodshed, and death; a land of dragons.

Dictionary

azharana: bright eyes

azi: supreme tal of all tribes, to be declared only when Agni Comes (the end of the world).

baka:  fool, idiot

bhakti:  surrender, yield

devalki: a terrible sin committed long ago for which the Keldari are still punished.

dra’gwar: dragon warrior. Literally, a Keldari carrying dragon blood, directly descended from the gods, who is cursed to shapeshift into a dragon.

dyali: mine, possession

ishtay: shhh, be quiet, be at ease

iyeh: yes

la: no

munakura: a female foreigner, not of Keldar; munakur, masculine; munakuri, plural

pista:  a foul rodent, edible if one is desperate enough.

rashida: wise woman

rav: master of horse for the tribe, typically the tal’s second. This rank is inherited, father to son.

saif: enforcer of the tribe. Does the “dirty deeds” for the tal.

sepah: a collection of tents, typically a family unit. A tribe is made up of many sepahs, who may or may not camp together.

Shaddad: priest. Shaddad’Yama, a priest of Yama.

taamid: long flowing cloth worn as headdress and cloak to protect the skin from desert sun.

tal: chief of the tribe. This rank is won through battle.

tellan: neverending hope that one day their devalki may be met and the curse lifted from their people.

wadis: a ravine in the desert floor. According to legend, such ravines were once rivers. Plural: wadi

za’hira: lovely one

Mythology

Agni, He Who Burns: The Red Dragon associated with the sun and fire. He blasts the land of Keldar with endless heat to purify the tribes for their devalki. When He Comes again, the world will Burn and only a remnant of the Keldari will be saved.

Somma, She Who Hung the Moon: The White Dragon associated with the moon and water. She dried the rivers and lakes of Keldar to harden Her children and drive them to repentance.

Yama, He Who Breathes Despair: The Black Dragon associated with darkness and shadow. He poisons the sands and His Despair destroys Keldar from within.

The Tribes

My brother is my enemy unless my cousin threatens. The tribes are my tribe’s enemy, unless one not Keldari threatens. The individual tribes of Keldar are named after desert serpents–Kraits, Mambas, Cobras, Asps–until a new tribe, Tellan, is founded. A tribe as different from the others as night from day, Tellan is a tribe not of blood and family, but of honor, peace, and love. However, as the Last Days approach, turmoil among the tribes increases and bloodshed is worse than ever. In fact, no one descended from the White Dragon’s holy blood is safe from sacrifice.

Map

Keldar is one of three major cultures in the Blood and Shadows world. I’m no cartographer, but here’s a rough hand-drawn map showing the relationship of Keldar, the Green Lands, and the Plains of the Sha’Kae al’Dan.

Mythomorphoses

The cultures in this series are based on Ancient Macedonia, Thrace, Greece, and Rome, mixed with a healthy dose of both mythology and technology, and then warped just a little by yours truly. This page contains all the historical facts, legends, and myths that I used to create this world.

Post-Apocalyptic New Olympia

After a pandemic outbreak decimated the visiting aliens and spread to the human population, New Olympia rose from the chaos as a gleaming haven of technology and science. The City-States are: Argos, Athens, Calydon, Corinth, Delphi, Mycenae, Olympus, Sparta, and Thebes. Of course, MedCorp, the founding medical research corporation, is housed in Olympus. These City-States are the brightest and the best, proudly dedicated to the golden age of Earth’s ancient civilization. Upon acceptance of application (which included thorough medical and financial screening) to enter New Olympia, Citizens chose appropriate new Greek names to signify their commitment to the new world.

Each City has a biodome to protect its Citizens from the mutating virus. Beneath the biodome, circular skyways connect residential towers, shopping areas, entertainment facilities, and of course, the local MedCorp offices. Each City is connected to the others by the Odyssey, the super-fast sleek trains that whisk from City to City in a matter of minutes.

The Pantheon Council rules New Olympia in name only. Each City sits a member on the Council, but as president of the Council and CEO of MedCorp, Zeus is the ultimate authority in New Olympia. Rarely seen outside Olympus, he communicates his orders to the Council via Oracle, the super-computer powering the Cities’ technologies.

Marshals keep the peace in the Cities, but their main duty is extermination. Anyone infected with the mutating virus is called a contaminant and is terminated on sight. Only in recent days have the gates of New Olympia been opened to the Outside world, but few monsters have made an appearance. That might have something to do with the outstanding termination order still in place…

Argos and Delphi were exiled in recent years, and their Councilors, Hera and Apollo respectively, were also kicked off the Pantheon. No one knows why, exactly, although some disagreement with Zeus was obviously the culprit. Since the Odyssey no longer connects them to the rest of the City-States, Argos and Delphi are known as the “Lost Cities.”

Macedon and Thrace

Loosely based on ancient Macedonia and Thrace, these two planets have been at war for centuries. Only in the last ten Macedonian years has a ragged treaty been accepted between the two species. The Macedonians are known as skyrs (Greek for lords), or as Masters on Earth, and are both vampiric, feeding on lifeforce energy, and noctural. The Earth’s sun is so powerful and damaging to their delicate skin that they can actually burst into flame. Their leader, the Megaskyr, (great lord) rules from the capital of Vergina. (Ironic, isn’t it, that their Megaskyr is known as the Sun of Vergina?)

Vergina is a lush jungle of massive choka trees, the largest of which the Megaskyr molds into the Sun Palace. The greater the Megaskyr’s power, the greater the Palace must be as a symbol to the other Houses of the land. It takes constant power to sculpt the tree and power the palace, so only the strongest skyr dare attempt to rule.

To increase their power, skyrs form bonds with weaker skyrs and call them sarissas (a famous Macedonian spear). Always of the opposite sex, a sarissa compounds the controlling skyr’s power. However, this joining can be a deadly mating of powers when two equally matched skyrs fight for dominance. A spear can turn and skewer the hand attempting to wield it. The current Megaskyr, Kleopatra, took the Sun Throne of Macedon with five sarissas. However, all of them were killed in the war of succession, and only Xerxes still lives.

There are sixteen Houses of Macedon, based on the Vergina Sun which is also a symbol of the Megaskyr’s power. The most powerful House is likely Aegae (Philip’s house), but the current Megaskyr’s House is Attalus.

History tidbits: the historical Kleopatra was from Macedonia, but she had a brother named Attalus who mouthed off in front of Prince Alexander (insulting him and his mother, the Queen) and almost caused a war. So appropriately, Attalus became Kleopatra’s original House. Aegae was the ancient capital of Macedonia, and the site of Philip’s assassination.

Other Houses of Macedon include: Persia, Larissa, Rhodes, Pydna, Caria, Molossis, Illyria, Chios, Phocis, Strymon, Thessaly, Olynthus, Methone, and Pherae, all ancient cities of (or regions defeated by) Macedonia except Persia, which is a big cheat (see Xerxes below), and Strymon, which is actually a river.

Characters

Isabella Thanatos: As the First Marshal of Athens, she’s called Beautiful Death. She’s the most famous Marshal in all of New Olympia with nearly one thousand kills in her effort to keep Athens safe. She’s obviously based on Thanatos, the Greek god of Death.

Hades: An alien from Macedon, his name before he was exiled to Earth was Philip of House Aegae. Hades is loosely based on Philip II of Macedonia, the father of Alexander the Great. Why did he choose Hades, Lord of the Underworld, as his New Olympian name? Not for whiny Persephone, oh no. He wants to be Death’s Master. Of course, he named his ship Erebus and the village of contaminants and exiles who came to him for protection is named Asphodel.

Zeus: The great enigma of New Olympia, he’s a renowned hematologist who single-handedly developed the initial vaccines to counteract the pandemic. As the founding father of New Olympia, he obviously has a bit of a god complex.

Charon: Definitely not an old man in a loin cloth as this reference implies, he’s an alien from Thrace, Hades’ Enforcer, a shapeshifter known as a drakon. Although drakon means dragon in ancient Greek, he doesn’t resemble any of our Earth dragons, not with his feathered wings. He mirrors the ferryman mythology as Isabella’s guide to the Underworld. Her gift of books to him in payment mirrors the Sybillean Leaves.

Herakles: (Perhaps better known as Hercules) He’s a Marshal of Athens and Isabella’s second in command. Atalanta and Jason (from the Argonauts legend) are also members of Isabella’s squad.

Icarus: Isabella’s best friend, he owns an exclusive clothing shop On Death’s Wings in Athens and designs fabulous clothes that helped cement Isabella’s formidable reputation in the City. As his and the shop’s names imply, Icarus has a bit of an obsession with wings, specifically Butterfly wings.

Kleopatra: The Megaskyr of Macedon, she exiled Philip to Earth when he was too powerful for her to leash as sarissa. She’s loosely based on Philip II’s wife, not to be confused with Cleopatra of Egypt. Here’s an interesting link about Philip’s tomb that gave me the idea to spell her name with a K.

Xerxes: Yes, Xerxes was from Persia, not Macedonia, but I couldn’t resist. His name is too cool, and he was a great historical figure of the general time period (about 100 years earlier). Although Persia was defeated by Macedonia, it was under Alexander the Great, rather than Philip, who was assassinated before the war. Xerxes’ Macedon House is Persia. In Beautiful Death, we learn that Xerxes is the Megaskyr’s last surviving sarissa.

Apollo: Delphi’s Councilor now exiled from New Olympia, he was one of Zeus’s closest and most instrumental researchers at MedCorp. Now, Apollo has dedicated himself and his City to preserving the great artifacts of our world before they’re utterly lost.

Sybil: Apollo’s daughter, she’s loosely based on the Sybil or oracle, and serves to indirectly begin Isabella’s inner transformation. She loves antique books and risks running into the formidable First Marshal of Athens to retrieve some for her collection.

Hera: Argos’s Councilor now exiled from New Olympia, she continues to tamper with forbidden research. Specifically, she wants to create the perfect monster.

The Erinyes: Also known as the Furies in mythology, the Erinyes are not all female as in legend, nor do they reside in the Underworld, but they are punishers. These are Zeus’s elite executioners, sent only when all other means of termination have failed…or when a Marshal has been infected. Emotionless, efficient, and acting as one unit without words, the Erinyes are feared throughout all New Olympia.

The Keres: Sometimes called Demons of Death, they are Hera’s latest creation. They feed on fear, pain, and suffering. Mythological reference.

Sha’Kae al’Dan

 

Their name means “With honor on the Sea of Grass”. Roaming the Plains south of the Green Lands, the Sha’Kae al’Dan are a horse culture that worship Vulkar, the Great Wind Stallion.

Dictionary

drakkar: the method of birth control on the Plains. Unmated warriors drink a cup every day to prevent conception. Women do not often drink drakkar because it’s a powerful aphrodisiac.

Had-Mangus: the formal name for the assassins, or Death Riders, that kill in Vulkar’s name. Literally, the “Right Hand” of Vulkar, or the Hand that Wields the Rahke of Sacrifice. Touch the Sky is a free read detailing how the Death Riders were first Called to sacrifice by Vulkar.

kae’al: a token of honor, typically colored beads or rings that are worn in the warrior’s hair or in bracelets about his arms or legs to symbolize the warrior’s entire kae’valda.

kae’don: battle, a chance for a warrior to increase his honor

Kae’Had-Mangus: the most honored Death Rider on the Plains, the assassin who has sacrificed the most blood to Vulkar and leads the others.

Kae’Khul: a special battle to declare the Khul of the Nine Camps

kae’rahke: a rahke challenge between two warriors. Warriors may fight simply for blood and honor, but if formal challenge is given, they fight to the death.

Kae’Shaman: the most holy, honored shaman on the Plains

kae’valda: honor. Warriors live and die by their honor, visibly displayed for all to see by the kae’als in their hair and the color of their memsha. Honor can increase or decrease on a daily basis, for everything is a competition on the Plains.

memsha: a brightly colored cloth worn about a warrior’s hips, usually the only clothing the men wear. The color is significant and unique to each warrior, often called kae’valda, which represents his honor. The color of the memsha is given when a lad becomes a warrior.

memshai: the female equivalent of the memsha, typically worn with a loose comfortable vest. A woman may wear any colors she prefers, but a mated woman typically wears her warrior’s kae’valda to honor him.

na’kindre: horse, literally “my family”

na’kindren: plural, horses

na’lanna: an endearment, literally “my beloved.”

na’lanna bond: a unique, rare bond formed between a warrior and his woman, heightened through shared blood, that ties their hearts and minds together. According to legend, a warrior will be able to find his na’lanna anywhere on the Plains if they’re separated. Few mated couples actually share a na’lanna bond.

rahke: a six-inch knife and the main weapon of honor on the Plains. Although warriors do fight with swords, the honor is less than a battle fought with rahke only.

sangral: holy blood

 

Mythology

Vulkar, the Great Wind Stallion: He sired the Sha’Kae al’Dan with His own blood after He battled the Endless Night and drove the Shadow away from His Plains. Someday, the Endless Night will darken the Sea of Grass once more. When Vulkar Calls His people in the Last Days and leads them to battle, His Coming will burn the world.

The Dark Mare: The Great Wind Stallion’s mate, a white mare with a black mane and tail. She rose from the Silver Lake at the foot of His Mountain and healed Him after the epic battle against the Endless Night.

The Endless Night: An insiduous Shadow from the north that spreads death and corrupts all He touches. If He breaks free of His prison, the sun will never shine again.

 

The Nine Camps of the Sha’Kae al’Dan

Each camp is lead by a khul and roams the Plains as needed to graze the na’kindren. One khul is elected Khul through a special battle, the Kae’Khul, and leads all Nine Camps as much as possible. However, the Sha’Kae al’Dan waged war against the Green Lands generations ago when outlanders stole na’kindren, and since that time of Loss, the Nine Camps are broken. Each Khul hopes he will be the one to reunite all Nine Camps under solid leadership, a task which must be accomplished before the Last Days, or the Endless Night will destroy the Plains forever.

 

Map

The Sha’Kae al’Dan are one of three major peoples in the Blood and Shadows world. I’m no cartographer, but here’s a rough hand-drawn map showing the relationship of Keldar, the Green Lands, and the Plains of the Sha’Kae al’Dan.