In fantasy there is no real history, of course, but in order to give things some background to how they came to be the way they are, it is important to create some history. This was important, especially for my second book, as all of Mirrortac’s other lives were as individuals from ancestral races, going back to the original tribal ancestor that he meets in Three Stones of Destiny — the Roznogh. The planet in which all of the first book takes place is Mareos, which has nine orbits of its moon, Mogog, in a single Mareos year. Let us now explore the ancestral history that finally leads to the erfins living in their valley of Eol, effectively isolating them from all their remaining ancestors.
The ROZNOGH we already know in Three Stones of Destiny, live in clans in the tundra lands of Yidrogh in the far north of Mareos. The clans consist of clan elders, maja-taks, who are sacred spell makers, and the hefty hyfnuks who are responsible for collecting the hyfnu weed and killing animals for food. There are also the regular roznogh people.
In the 9000th moon of their history, there is an extremely cold period when the Great Viyu (numbness) brings heavy snow falls. The roznogh survive by living near an area of hot springs.
The Stone Wall of Viyu (Glacier) comes in the 9010th moon, dividing the land of Yidrogh. Some tribes are caught on the southern side of Yidrogh, fleeing to warmer lands to the south.
The glacier retreats on the 11,800th moon, but by this time the southern tribes have formed into the UZDREE.
12,007th moon: The maja-tak seek more freedom to exercise their spellcraft, challenging clan elders. The maja-tak seize power from the clan elders who are exiled along with a group of loyal followers. The power play continues between the maja-tak spell casters, forcing the division into two factions — the URDAN and the MADREE clans. Skirmishes break out between the Urdin and Madree but the Madree gain control, forming a powerful ruling clan that reigns for many moons.
13,851st moon: The Monsters-of-the-Deep-Earth (earthquakes) create great destruction in the land, swallowing villages and spitting fire out of the volcanic mountains. The Madree flee the great under-gods of fire, and escape south across a narrow neck of land which is swallowed up by the angry gods of the Great Waters. Plumer-Ra and the other Islands of the Meretees are formed at this time.
13,860th moon: The Madree have been scattered into groups all over the southern lands and each settles to form new clans — RADREE, HUGHWA, URTAK, MADIN and ERFIN.
13,900th moon: Under the maja-tak spell casters, the clans thrive and expand their territories, exploring lands until clans encounter each other.
14,000th moon: Border skirmishes erupt as the power game begins anew between the five clans. Warriors are trained and their short swords bound by various spells to enhance their power over their enemies. Wooden swords give way to ones of metal with hilts adorned in precious stones.
14,005—16,154th moon: Battles rage between the five clans as each pits its might against each other. Finally, only two clans remain — the Madin and Erfins. The Madin are forced into the mountains where they maintain guerrilla style raids on outlying erfin villages.
16,155—17,000th moon: The Erfin empire reigns with battles continuing against the Madin mountain clans.
17,008: The hero warrior Merftac is born to the erfins of Fot. He grows up to lead a major offensive in the 17,146th moon against Madin mountain clans, forcing them to flee to the end of the earth where they are slaughtered on a precipitous mountain ridge and cast below into oblivion. The valley below the Mountain at the End of the Earth (Mateote) is so beautiful and richly endowed with nif-grass and fote fowl that Merftac convinces his maja-tak ruler to shift the people there in the place they name Eol. Merftac is dubbed Thane of Fotwood at the 17,164th moon for his service as a great warrior chief.
17,170: The erfin warriors grow restless, and many brawls break out. They start to challenge the authority of the maja-tak. Merftac realises that he must find a solution to their idleness.
17,180: Nite-wolves, attracted by the potential prey in the previously empty valley of Eol, grow in numbers in the woods east of Eol. Lorcs predate in the stream and lake to the west and south, resulting in the deaths of erfins. Merftac sets his warriors to work hunting nite-wolves and protecting villagers.
17,188: Alien demi-gods appear from beyond Mateote. They work powerful magic and tell of the wondrous worlds beyond the mountains thought to be the end of the earth. Nite-wolves retreat to deep within the woods while the demi-gods convince Merftac of the benefit of exploring these new worlds. Under their charm, Merftac and his warriors follow them over the mountain, promising to return once these new worlds are scouted. These same aliens also visit the Meretees people during this time period.
17,200: The maja-tak, realising their warriors would never return, seize the opportunity to assume supreme power without fear of challenge by restless warriors and their ‘charmed’ swords. They announce that Mateote is their god and warn erfins never to scale the great peak as oblivion awaits them on the other side. They brand the demi-gods as deceivers from the Netherworld who robbed them of their warriors.
17,210: The maja-tak form the priesthood of Mateote. The spell language of Maja is declared sacred and forbidden among the common erfin folk. In the ensuing years, the High Priests of Mateote establish firm control of Eol which becomes their prison as there are no warriors to kill the nite-wolves and slimy lorcs. The erfins settle into a subsistence lifestyle of harvesting nif-grass and herbs as well as raising the fote fowl for eggs and meat.
Thenigmas is not a planet you would like to visit on a holiday. Everything about the place is violent — earthquakes, volcanoes spewing ash and lava, and fierce tribes that are at war with each other. Mirrortac comes here through the portal connection to his home planet of Mareos, but it is not through his own volition. Nevertheless, he needs to be there as this is where the second Stone of Destiny, Darm, is hidden. This planet is so vast and complex that Mirrortac’s experience of it only touches on a few tribes in the central western sector. Thenigmas thus also features in another novel I am working on, but that is for later. I will discuss all the tribes and their lifestyles here:
NORTHERN TRIBES OF THE FOREST OF TREACHERY
Haks, Futs, Teks and Woks
All the woodland tribes are fiercely territorial but do not indulge in raids of other tribes. They wear animal skins for warmth against the cold seasons, and hunt with the use of bow and arrows. Each tribe has its own identifying arrow design and utilise various poisons to quickly disable the animal or man as the case may be. Food consists primarily of small and medium sized animals up to the size of a deer. Other foods include various herbs, roots and leafy plants; refreshments are from the juices of various plants and include an intoxicating drink made from fermented fruits of the forest. Almost without exception, all intruders are killed and eaten after they have been basted in herbs and roasted in hot ashes underground. Men and women are likewise long haired with hairy bodies and pale tan skin. They are as tall as an erfin (short) and of like build with flat noses. Men exhibit small beards but are the same height as the women. They are agile climbers and build raised huts made of slender tree stems and thatched pine needles. Tribes distinguish themselves by the style of hair which may be tied back in a specific manner.
TRIBES OF THE PLAINS
Zidites, Shrones and Bluves
Zidites: This tribe lives on the edge of the Slosh of Sour (see map above) and the Plain of Scorched Flesh, and ride the plain on a horse-like creature, the Parduk. They wear hide armoury and hunt the large herd animals of the plain with sickle-shaped weapons made of sharpened Mamorf bones which they use to cut the animal’s throat while riding alongside on their parduks. They can also use these as weapons against other tribes they may encounter on the plains. Competition for food animals against other tribes results in constant battles between the tribes. Other tribes-women are also kidnapped and taken as their own and vice-versa. Thatched grass huts are built in the village of Zid. Food is solely meat, including bones and innards, and warriors prize the heart of their victim — animal or man — which is eaten raw fresh after the kill. All Zidites have shaved crowns of their heads. This is a light tan skinned tribe. Fresh blood and water are the only drinks they partake of.
Shrones: This tribe lives farther west and up the coast alongside the plain. They also ride parduks and live in thatched grass huts at their home village of Shron. They wear animal hide armoury marked with the insignia of two parduk shoes crossed at their apexes and also a helm of cranium hide with inward curled horns. Their chief weapon is a wide-bladed bone dagger which they use in a thrusting action while leaping off the backs of parduks to kill their victims. The men are bearded with almost shoulder length hair. They eat the meat of animals but detest the flesh of their enemies, lest they be despoiled by inferior blood. They are also fishing people who build natural fish traps using the tide to advantage. They use reed canoes to cross over to the island of Woin where they invade the people there in an age-old rivalry going back many generations. They drink the milk of domesticated animals and have a liking for an intoxicating beverage made solely by the Woineks.
Bluves: These are a black-skinned race who inhabit the hot northern part of the plain at the foot of two volcanoes — Grorl and Somok. They wear metal breastplates and short leather skirts, hunting on foot. They use a range of metal weaponry forged at volcano fed furnaces. They have long ponytails stemming from otherwise bald heads, and are tall and lithe, with little body hair. They use spears to kill the animals of the plains but have wicked little daggers which they store in their ponytails, and can draw them swiftly to finish off an enemy. They are often at war with the Clunuks to the north of them who always try to steal their food, women, weapons and whatever they can get their hands on. They live in clay huts and eat the meat of animals as well as a kind of bread made by their women. They drink the blood of their victims as well as milk and a floury gruel like porridge.
Warriors of Ning, Huds and Clunuks
Clunuks: The Clunuks are a dark-skinned tribe who inhabit the hills of the Tor of Clun. They have long waxy black hair and wear headbands and spiked anklets. They armour themselves with sleeveless mail shirts with an undershirt and tailed into a skirt of light leather. They often hunt and raid under the cover of darkness, and are discreet and treacherous in their movements. They are notorious thieves, and will steal the enemy’s metal, including weapons and armour off those they have killed in battle, then smith the metal into their own weapons and armour. Their weapons include crossbows, swords and daggers. They inhabit homes made of layered stones transported from the nearby hills, and their food includes animals of the plain, various wild vegetables and wildfowl. They drink a variety of vegetable juices and a steamed leaf tea with a certain narcotic quality that promises to heighten the warrior rage.
Warriors of Ning: Perhaps the most feared tribe in Thenigmas because of their slave animals — the giant insectoid Gnax which they use to ride the skies from their homeland in the Hills of Ning in the far eastern quarters of the world, to swoop upon their enemy, the Huds, in the Hills of Crush. Generations of tribal hatred stand between the two tribes who battle on without end; their whole purpose bent on war. The women are left to hunt for food while the men go out to battle, returning only to recover from injury and gather more food supplies. Women hunt the giant creatures in the country north of the Hills of Ning and the volcano, Qaja, that provides the furnace fire for forging helms and the solid metal balls slung at the enemy with sling-shots made from bone and animal sinews. Male smiths operate the forges and also teach the young men to be warriors. These are a dark-skinned but hairy tribe who wear helms with slightly curved horns. They are loud and raucous, fight hard and play hard. Women are expected to be mated early, and to give birth to many sons and daughters, as both ensure a constant supply of warriors for battle where losses are great despite their aerial advantage. A number of domesticated animals are kept to provide milk and eggs; and vegetables are grown to save time in searching for food. They value the heavy mineral waters of nearby springs for drinking and also have a variety of juices.
Huds: This tribe lives in the Hills of Crush in the south and must battle on two fronts, but mainly against their most hated enemy, the Warriors of Ning. Their reply to the slung metal balls from their insectoid riding enemy is to use catapults armed with oil soaked stones set alight and shot at the gnax which are often severely burnt in flight, thus forced to ground where their Ning riders can be killed. The Huds also use the huge Mamorfs to pull their platforms constructed on rounded boulders which offer a vantage point for battle and to literally crush any enemies. The Huds use a variety of metal weapons, including sling-shots and spears. They are similar in appearance to the Warriors of Ning but go naked except for leather loin cloths, and instead of armour, use heavily studded metal shields to ward off shot. Their women collect a variety of water plants from Heathens Sunk in the north and will also hunt with spears for herd animals on the plain if there are none to be found in the hills. The women are also fierce warriors and can take care of themselves against men from other tribes wanting to have their own way with them. A particular bulb collected at Heathens Sunk has highly potent properties and is used as a smoke or in a narcotic drink.
TRIBES OF THE DEVOURING ISLES
Shrids, Ashes and Ihaytites
These closely related tribes are perhaps the most beautiful in appearance as their bodies are deeply tanned, slim but strong, and with little hair over their naked skin. They have multi-pronged spears for fishing and wear no clothes bar ornaments such as shell necklaces, metal earrings and circlets around arms and legs. They live on fish and fruits of the islands, and use outrigger canoes made out of carved out tree trunks. The tribes keep an uneasy peace with one another, killing any who cross the boundaries between their home island and the neighbouring ones. There are no raids but frequent skirmishes in the waters between the islands. Island chiefs can start a war if they feel their tribe has been compromised by the actions of individuals in other tribes. Rising populations strain at relations.
Mirrortac then experienced memories of three lives as females, each taking them further back into the ancestry of erfins. Strife was ever-present between the clans as they vied against one another, ruled then by powerful maja-taks who reigned through the use of strong spells. The lands were themselves rent with unrest and upheaval; mountains of fire brought terror and the Monsters-of-the-Deep-Earth rampaged and devastated the world. Finally, the moment of confirmation came as Mirrortac looked through the eyes of his second life as an Uzdree maja-tak whose name was Harka. The uzdree had settled in well wooded lands south of Yidrogh where the Great Numbness had divided the world. Harka experimented with new spells as did other maja-taks of the clan-race and there was competition between them. The rivalry, friendly at first, grew more intense as the maja-taks sought more freedom to exercise their newfound spells. The clan elders objected to the use of the new spells and arguments were heated. In a daring show of defiance, the maja-taks overthrew the clan elders and sent them and the clan-master into exile. Arguments broke out between the maja-taks on who should be leader and the Uzdree were split, forming the Urdin and the Madree. Relations between the two clan-races became frayed as the power game continued. The Madree finally gained control and formed into a powerful ruling clan-race which still ruled in Mirrortac’s third life as a female Madree called Loreel.
It was not long after that Mirrortac found himself back in the physical world in a freezing wasteland of bogs and strange moving lights in the sky. He was searching one such bog for any semblance of food when he met the first of this land’s inhabitants. It emerged out of the centre of the bog like some slimy monster, carrying on its back a heap of stinking weed. As the creature materialised out of the pond, Mirrortac was struck by its likeness to the tall seeker-erfins of Eol. The male being was large and covered in a thick coarse black fur, with shorter ears than an erfin. A tuft of dark beard fell down over his face and his large eyes protruded under a bushy brow. He was particularly muscular and thickset. The two stood facing each other for several moments as the being adjusted the weight of the column of weed upon his back, which was half bent over to accommodate it. What happened next was even more startling ― the being spoke in his head!
‘The noise of your thinking is confusing, strange one. Who are you and from what clan do you drag yourself here?’ came the gruff remark.
‘Wha … did you speak in my head? How …? Mirrortac said aloud.
The being grimaced at him as though the question was plain silliness. Then with a sigh he spoke. ‘You must hail from an ancient clan. I have nought seen such as you in all my seasons of the veil.’
‘He speaks the tongue of Eol!’ The erfin observed with surprise.
‘Eol … is that your clan, strange one?’
Another surprise. ‘I said nought yet you knew what I thought. Only the spirits do such things!’
The being shrugged. ‘Why should it be otherwise? All have the same tongue here. You vex me with your talk of spirits. Go back to your clan. I must return to Erga before the White Veil has claimed Yidrogh.’ At that he turned and began to move away.
‘Wait!’ Mirrortac shouted. ‘My clan is too far from here. I wish to meet your clan. My name is Mirrortac. And yours?’
‘I am a hyfnuk and all our people are roznoghs. Follow if you will, but expect no welcome in Erga.’
‘Perhaps I can help you carry some of that weed. You are bent over with the weight of it,’ the erfin suggested.
The hyfnuk halted and swung around, his face suddenly contorted with near rage. ‘Help ME carry the hyfnu!’ boomed the voice in the erfin’s head. ‘You will nought take any of my hyfnu. I will nought be deceived into giving up my task. I would carry more hyfnu for Yidu if there were need. I would crawl upon my belly with the heaviness of it.’
‘You can have your task then, and I mine,’ Mirrortac thought back.
The roznogh snorted and sent his thoughts as he started to walk ahead, rolling under the weight of the hyfnu weed. ‘It is my task under Yidu to collect the hyfnu. This is every hyfnuk’s task. You are not a hyfnuk. What is your task, short one?’
‘My task is sacred. I can say nothing more about it.’
‘Sacred. You are a holy one? I don’t know of such a holy one.’
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