Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms for Incendium

Every world needs a glossary. This one is a work in progress and will be updated with each addition to the series.

Advocia—a planet of many universities, courts and libraries of intergalactic law codes. Their high court often resolves disputes between dominions with conflicting laws, particularly in matters of international trade, borders and throughways for transit. Venero trained as a lawyer on Advocia, and his brother Celo knew that Venero’s father was from there.

Astrologers—the dragons of Incendium believe astrology to be a science, particularly in the exercise of identifying destined mates for members of the royal family. This began a fashion for all of the elite of Incendium to order such horoscopes and ensured a demand for astrologers. King Ardeo, the fourth of the kings of Incendium in the current line of succession, established a Royal University of Astrology in Incendium to ensure that astrologers were properly trained and available in sufficient numbers. The highest post for an astrologer in Incendium is that of senior astrologer in the royal household, a position currently held by Astrum.

Sapior, the tutor of Nero, discovered a novel method of divining the location in which the subject of the horoscope would meet his or her destined mate. This was deemed to be so unorthodox that Sapior was expelled from the university and made his home on the periphery of Incendium society, in the mill town of Mola. Nero is the only one to have mastered this technique.

Cervus—a game animal hunted on Sylvawyld, quite similar to deer.

Carrier of the Seed—the individual who can conceive a child with a dragon shape shifter of Incendium. The dragon shifters of Incendium believe that both female and male participants in a conception bring a seed to the union, although others would describe their respective contributions as egg and sperm. In all cases, the female bears the child until the dragon egg is fully formed. The egg is delivered and tended in a nursery, where its temperature and vital signs are constantly monitored. The vitality of the egg is proven within moments of delivery when the quickening of the unhatched dragon is detected. Only once this has been observed are the astrologers permitted to examine the shell of the egg for any indications about the child’s nature, gender and day of birth. The child of a dragon shifter will always be a dragon shifter, regardless of the nature of the other parent.

Dragons—the species Draconis is a large and varied group said to be one of the few creatures surviving from ancient times. Each subdivision has their own characteristics, from those associated with the elements—Firedrakes, Waterdrakes, Airdrakes, Earthdrakes—to those whose forms echo their favored environment—Frostdrakes, Mistdrakes, Emberdrakes etc. One folk tale declares that the fire breathed by all dragons was lit in the first of their kind by the light commanded to illuminate the dark chaos of the forming universe. Dragons are inclined to live a very long time and to breed very seldom—as a result, they tend to be comparatively rare amongst the life forms of the universe, and also broadly scattered. It is not unusual for a group of dragons to populate a specific area of the universe, assuming it as their territory, and over the eons to forget that others of their kind exist. They do have long memories but are inclined to discard details believed to be irrelevant to their survival in a process called ‘sifting and sorting’. There has been speculation amongst biologists that sifting and sorting is an information management technique refined by dragons as even their capacity for memories is limited. A long-lived dragon may sift and sort more than once, or even do so routinely.

The dragons of Incendium are a particular sub-species of Draconis called Mutatus, i.e. dragon shape shifters. The Draconis Mutatus has the ability to change from a dragon form to a humanoid form and back again. In rare cases, a specific dragon shifter may have the ability to assume additional forms. The abilities of one form do not necessarily transmit from one form to the other—in human form, the dragon shifter can seldom breathe fire, for example—but physical traits and injuries do carry between forms. Generally, the dragon shifter has more abilities and more powerful abilities in his or her dragon form, but this is not necessarily the case.

The shape shifter dragons of Incendium usually mate with a human of the opposite gender. The offspring of such mixed unions are always dragon shifters. Rarely—as in the example of Queen Ignita and King Ouros—a pair of shape shifting dragons are both attracted to each other, destined mates, and able to conceive offspring. This situation is always considered to be one of very good fortune and the astrologers of Incendium spend considerable time computing possibilities from this rare union. On other planets (like Excandesco), it is believed that the mate of a dragon shifter should always be a human who can’t shift, in order to control the dragon in the resulting child or children. The marriage of Ignita and Ouros is an abomination to her sister Pennata, both because Ouros survived his seduction and because their twelve daughters are dragon shifters on both sides. Dragon shifters are not mature adults until they are eighty-one years of age, and this is considered to be a lucky number both among their kind and (usually) among those who live in their company.

DreamCaster—the ability given to Venero by his mother. A Dreamcaster can provoke dreams in another person, while that person sleeps, and, if sufficiently skilled, can also read the thoughts of another person or even plant a thought in another mind. Although Venero was cursed by Urbanus and lost his DreamCasting abilities, Gemma’s kiss returned those powers to him. The difference between DreamCasting and MindBending is that Dreamcasting is a power given by a sorceror and not an innate ability. As such, it has limitations or a blind spot.

Dreamweed—a plant native to the temperate regions of Incendium. Smoking dried dreamweed is a popular recreational pleasure, particularly in that region. It is said to improve one’s clarity of insight and even provide visions of the future. King Ouros, like many, disapproves of the substance and has declared it a capital offense to possess or burn it in the royal palace. Outside the palace, its popularity is such that he only warns against the peril of addiction and somnolence. Since the ascent of Ouros to the throne, the cultivation of dreamweed has become more furtive. It is often secretly planted between rows of grain in Medior and harvested before the grain to avoid detection and confiscation.

Excandesco—the planet where Queen Ignita was raised and where her blood relatives continue to reign. On Excandesco, the dragon shifters tend not to make enduring relationships. It is in fact customary amongst the female cousins of Queen Ignita to consume the Carrier of the Seed once fertilization of the egg has taken place. Her male cousins prefer to roast their destined mates once the egg has been delivered and secured. Ignita’s sister, Pennata, is currently reigning monarch and holds the throne alone. Although the family of the sacrificed mate is showered with gifts and privilege, there is a tendency to hide if one is realized to be the Carrier of the Seed. Queen Pennata is reputed to be ruthless in uncovering the truth, and is suitably feared by the occupants of her kingdom. Needless to say, the Excandescans don’t believe in true love or HeartKeepers—a notable exception is Ignita and she frequently argues with her sister over this. In moments of marital strife, Ignita has been known to remind Ouros that he survives on her sufferance. In reality, she couldn’t live without him and they both know it.

Fiero-Four—a planetary system in the Phygis B quadrant of the galaxy with three habitable planets circling a dying sun. The planets of Incendium and Regalia are inhabited, while the third planet, Sylvawyld, is kept as a boreal game reserve. Incendium and Regalia have difficult relations and diplomatic crises have not been uncommon between the two governments. It is said that they are always a whisper away from war, and in eons past, they have declared war on each other. Currently, they are uneasy allies, drawn together by the crisis of their dying sun.

Gloria Furora—an intergalactic crime confederation, which operates under strictest secrecy. The Gloria Furora values only payment in hard currency and will undertake the most treacherous and illegal of operations, at a price. They are known for delivering on any bargain and for refusing to surrender any details of their business to anyone. Troy was sold to the Gloria Furora and used by them as an assassin. Typically, there is only his assertion of who employed him. The Gloria Furora disavowed any knowledge of him.

HeartKeeper—the title assigned by dragon shifters on Incendium to their true love. Astrologers are in demand on Incendium, both at court and in private society, to cast horoscopes and seek such HeartKeepers. Such a partner may or may not be able to conceive a child of the union, which creates complicated personal relationships. The dragon shifters have few opportunities to breed and will never forgo such a chance if it is foretold. (See Carrier of the Seed.) The dragons of Incendium may offer a potion to a HeartKeeper, so that the lifeline of the pair will be matched: ideally, the human lives longer and ages more slowly, giving the couple more time together. If either dies, the other will die soon afterward.

Hive—the computer deep within the planet of Cumae, which designs, dispatches and monitors cyborgs as well as managing the manufacture of memoria. The Hive concluded that the love Arista felt for Venero was a mutation, and that it was necessary to test for repeatability. The cyborg Acion was therefore given the same software update and given an assignment to Incendium.

Incendium—one of two inhabited planets in the Fiero-Four system. (The other is Regalia.) The name is also used to designate the kingdom that dominates that planet and the imperial city that is its capital. The planet has a temperate climate not unlike that of Earth, with colder poles and a hotter equatorial region. The planet’s surface is roughly fifty percent water, and its population is primarily humanoid. Incendium city is located in the southern hemisphere. The ruling class and royal family of Incendium are dragon shifters, and the current monarch is King Ouros. Incendium is a constitutional monarchy. Incendium is comparatively wealthy and technologically advanced: their primary export is either scientists or technology. The Fractal Interstellar Drive, for example, was developed on Incendium and has since been licensed throughout the galaxy.

Interpretor—a thin film computer popular on Incendium. It can be folded or adhered to the skin, which makes it both portable and powerful. These devices can be loaded with language and cultural dictionaries, which make them indispensable guides for those traveling outside of their habitual environments.

King Ouros—King Ouros is the thirteenth male dragon shifter to reign in Incendium in linear succession. He is secretly concerned about the future of the kingdom, given that he has only daughters, as he is much concerned with maintaining tradition. He hasn’t admitted this concern even to his immediate family, for fear of the repercussions of riling his wife and/or his daughters.

Memoria—a one-time recording device used by the Warrior Maidens of Cumae as a secure means of passing intelligence to those who followed. The manufacture of the device was a closely guarded secret, requiring no less than twenty-seven separate steps, each of which was understood by only a single individual on Cumae at any given time. The identities of the Twenty-Seven were so secret that each of them knew the identity of only one other, the one to whom he or she delivered the device after completing the assigned phase. The coordination of the manufacture of each memoria was managed by the computer known as the Hive, built in the depths of the Vaults of Cumae. Individual memoria are indistinguishable from each other. Although the surface of the memoria appears to have no sensors or seams, it responds to an oral command, set by the owner. The device recognizes only the code word uttered by the owner, and the same word uttered aloud by the owner’s Sword Sister.

MindBender—an individual with the ability to turn the thoughts of any gathering of sentient beings in a particular direction or to encourage their support for a particular cause. While the ability is rare, it is a mutation that is known in every culture of the galaxy. MindBenders are either believed to be dangerous, valuable or both, depending upon the particular society. That said, the most expensive commodity traded in the sentient slave markets of Naruhm is MindBenders. MindBending is a natural talent that can be strengthened with training. For contrast, see Dreamcasting and Spellcasting.

Mola—a small mill town in the province of Medior in the temperate regions of Incendium, far from the capital city. Grain is grown in Medior and milled in Mola. In between the rows of grain, dreamweed, which is native to the area, is cultivated secretly.

Nimue—a planet best known for its famed traveler the High Priestess of Nimue, who has a particular taste for the gambling hells of Xanto and a talent for casting spells. Because of her fearsome powers, and the potential price of her ill favor, she is frequently invited to offer a blessing to a newly born child.

Orb—a sphere generated by dragon shifters for protection during a transport. It is not clear how dragon shifters create an orb as the process is a tightly-kept secret and an operation managed quickly. The orb also shatters and dissolves upon re-entry to atmosphere. A well-spun orb has limits of durability—it can protect the dragon and possibly one human for about the same duration of journey as a Starpod. An orb that has not been well spun will naturally provide less protection.

Pavofel—a species of domestic pet raised on Cumae. Pavofels are feline, with blue and green fur that resembles the feathers of the peacocks known on other worlds. Legend holds that pavofels choose their companions and caregivers. Gemma’s pavofel, Felice, was a gift from Arista, and has a secret which is revealed in Wyvern’s Prince.

Pirates of Manganus Five—opportunists who rove the galaxy in search of any commodity they can sell. They are known to disregard laws in pursuit of their goals, and were the ones to abduct Troy from Earth because of his MindBending abilities. They subsequently sold him on the shadow market to the Gloria Furora. The pirates of Manganus Five are also suspected to use undocumented wormholes.

Queen Arcana—the monarch of Regalia, Queen Arcana has eleven sons, although their fathers’ names are not recorded. It is rumored that she has magical powers including (but not limited to) power to cast spells, to glean the future, to enchant others against their will into doing her desire, to inflict different forms upon others, to read thoughts, to kill with a glance and more. It is said that she has given individual magical talents to her sons, allowing only one per offspring in order that they would have to band together to defeat her. She has borne twelve sons and did so in rapid succession, twenty-five and forty Regalian years before the beginning of this series. It is also said that her sons were conceived during night episodes which the men in question believed to be dreams and that she deliberately fosters dissent between her sons. Arcana despises and distrusts dragon shifters, particularly those of Incendium, and the loss of Canto, her oldest son and the crown prince has not improved her opinion. In Wyvern’s Prince, we learn that she had a pet pavofel and that she keeps its corpse stuffed and on display in her palace.

Queen’s Grotto in the Citadel—a natural formation on Regalia augmented by Arcana over many years. An underground cave beneath the citadel, it is filled with stalagmites and stalactites. Not all of these are crystal: those added by Arcana are repositories for spells, each marked with a symbol to indicate its purpose. The one that constrains Gemma’s shape shifting abilities, for example, is marked with a red flame. Gemma breaks a crystal with the insignia of Incendium on it, which releases a puff of mist that dissipates. Gemma uses it as a weapon, but any other result remains unclear by the end of Wyvern’s Prince.

Regalia—one of two inhabited planets in the Fiero-Four system. (The other is Incendium.) As with Incendium, the name designates the planet, the kingdom that rules the planet and the imperial stronghold. Unlike Incendium, the axis of Regalia is at a considerable angle, resulting in one very hot pole (the Fire Pole) and one very cold pole (the Frost Pole). The surface of Regalia is seventy per cent land, much of which is forested. Their population is considerably lower than that of Incendium, yet less prosperous. Regalia’s system of government is a repressive dictatorship, although declaring as much in Regalia is justification for imprisonment if not execution. The ruling family is humanoid, and the current monarch is Queen Arcana. Regalia’s primary export is botanical products, including medicinal herbs. With only one small star station and no starport, they are reliant upon Incendium’s resources to practice any trade. Regalians believe their advantage to be magical skills.

ShadowCaster—an ancient sentient life form with the ability to reveal the future, if to do so whimsically and unpredictably. They’re believed to be extinct, but Venero helped Arista steal one from his mother, Arcana. Trapped in a clear vessel, the ShadowCaster looks like a dark worm while it slumbers. Once active and released, the ShadowCaster has the ability to divide and multiply, then create moving images of the future. In Arista’s Legacy, the Hive witnesses the ShadowCaster’s forecast that it be delivered to Ouros, King of Incendium, by the cyborg, Acion.

Sirens—the name used for the whores in Incendium’s marketplace. In Incendium, it is considered socially acceptable for a woman to show her breasts but not her legs. The sight of a woman’s thighs is considered to be the most intimate view, acceptable among the aristocracy only between wedded partners. The sirens wear sheer skirts that blow as they walk and provide glimpses of their legs.

SpellCaster—the magical ability given to Urbanus by his mother. A SpellCaster can beguile others with his words and his voice, as well as with other tools like spelldust. It should be noted that many spells must be removed by the original caster of that spell—when a SpellCaster dies abruptly, his or her spells might sustain or they might break in unpredictable ways.

Spelldust—one of many magical tools used by Urbanus (and probably his mother Arcana), spelldust will immobilize anything or anyone it touches. That might last forever or until the spellcaster releases the victim. Spelldust can be cast over a large area from a high point, like a tower, and will spread with the wind. It glitters slightly if you know to look for it.

Sword Sister—a relationship common between Warrior Maidens on Cumae and one indicative of great trust. The idea is that the two woman will defend each other’s back, but there is more to the bonding tradition than that. One Sword Sister can be trusted to keep the secrets of the other, including the password to that sister’s memoria, and well as expected to paint the ritual markings on her sister’s back. A Sword Sister is also obligated to complete any assignments left unfinished at the death of her Sword Sister. Gemma and Arista were Sword Sisters and Arista had taken an assignment on Regalia to assassinate Prince Venero.

Sylvawyld—the third habitable planet in the Fiero-Four system, Sylvawyld is heavily forested and kept as a game preserve for the royal families and aristocrats of Regalia and Incendium. It was here that verran, a kind of wild boar, was herded and hunted, until the Regalians hunted them to extinction. This caused (yet another) diplomatic incident between the two governments, which was not readily resolved.

Transport—a method of moving great distances through space in a comparatively short period of time. The Fractal Interstellar Drive developed on Incendium is considered to be one of the most efficient drives.

Warrior Maidens of Cumae—a colony of fearsome women warriors, whose society is matriarchal. They keep men as slaves, primarily for sexual pleasure and breeding. Arista, the friend of Gemma and the target of Troy’s assassination assignment, was one of these maidens.

Wormholes—tunnels in space which allow for reasonably safe transporting. Wormholes are naturally occurring phenomenon and bend to avoid meteors or other bodies that might otherwise collide with a vessel in motion. Known wormholes are mapped, numbered and monitored for traffic to minimize potential collisions. It is particularly dangerous for a vessel to enter a wormhole soon after another vessel, as the turbulence may either damage the ship or make the transport too uncomfortable for passengers to endure.

Xanto—the planet of Xanto hosts the most harsh penal colony in all the galaxy. Inmates there have been consigned to hard labor in the mines, and/or death. They are tattooed at the base of the spine—or their closest equivalent—with a circle of spinning triangles. There is no reprieve and no escape from the penal colony of Xanto, unless one of the gamblers in its casinos offers a bet to the inmate and the inmate chooses to accept the wager, of his or her free will. These wagers seldom end well for the inmate, but are usually accepted even so.

Zarcota—a small pink and orange fish that swims upstream annually to spawn in the shallows of the river beyond Mola. The sight of the leaping fish is said to be one of the twelve great sights of Incendium that should be seen by every citizen at least once.