Amiyalli: An ethnic group once dominant in both the North and South hemispheres; it is widely believed that they started the Demon Wars, which decimated their once proud civilization and reduced them to vassal states of the emergent Solerne and Zergune empires. Characterized by their deep dark brown skins and almond-shaped eyes.
Azken, The: The force and/or being that danced the universe into being, birthed the four Powers and then vanished.
Beastfolk: Animals who learned skinwalking and became the dominant race during the Fourth Age. Now locked into bipedal half-beasts who remember little of their former glory.
Beldatz: Sole city of the small Belaritzan province in the Empire of Solerne. Former imperial capital and birthplace of the empire's patron goddess, Zuze'en.
Citadel, The: Enclosed city within the Solerne capital city of Jasokari. Home to Solerne's top academies, fighting schools and guildhalls, including the Imperial Wizard Guild.
Death Guide: A spirit in the Region of the Dead, whose only function is to guide souls to their destination in the afterlife. Often obssessively so.
Deathspeaker: An individual gifted (or cursed) with the ability to see and interact with the spirits of the dead and other denizens of the Region of the Dead. Related to shamans but differing in the origin of the spirits with which they associate.
Demon: A spirit corrupted by eons of exile from the universe. Imprisoned in the Nine Hells, demons are doomed into an eternal, but never-changing existence.
Demon Wars, the: Worldwide conflict where demons escaped their prison in the Nine Hells and scoured across most of the world. Doomed the Amiyalli kingdoms and precipitated many changes across the whole of Nahast.
Demonshard: The crystalized essence of a demon's power inside a demonspawn host.
Demonspawn: Creatures twisted by the forceful invasion of a demon or by demonic essence. Offspring of demonspawn become demonspawn themselves.
Dragon: Mythic beings that were the caretakers of the world during the Second Age, but had to slumber to escape being hunted by their rebellious charges, the spirits. Most dragons known are now wild, mindless beasts, or cunning and corrupt monsters, but few true Celestial Dragons remain, hidden from the world at large.
Dragon Scourge, the: A time of upheaval when a series of earthquakes awakened hundreds of slumbering dragons, driven mindless and, luckily, diminished, by their millenia of torpor.
Dreamlands: The Spirit World, a plane of existence overlapping the physical world that reflects its vital and creative energy. It is the source of all magic, and where mortals' souls wander when they dream.
Dwarves: A race of short, stocky humanoids attuned to the earth and the forces of Death. They call themselves Zhong in their own language, and have founded several large underground kingdoms
Elves: A race of slender humanoids attuned to nature and the forces of Life. They call themselves Prahja in their own language, and are split between the xenophobic marshstrider Maehvindra and the amiable seafaring Viryuni.
Guild, the: Used exclusively in Beldatz as an abbreviation for the Merchant's Guild, an association of the most important traders, legal and, behind the authorities' back, illegal as well. Led by Diru Azpikeri.
Hawk Maidens: A warrior order composed exclusively of female warriors trained from youth. Legend says that the goddess Zuze'en is escorted by Hawk Maidens who became worthy of ascending to such high station.
Hawk Talon School: A sword-based martial arts school founded by House Tzelan, but which spread and branched out rapidly across the Empire. It focuses on speed and quick, overwhelming attacks.
Inner Strength: A measure of an individual's ability to channel his personal power. A mystic force that is undefinable by any sort of magic system, but which is nonetheless real and within the reach of anyone with the discipline to foster and harness it. The source of the higher martial arts.
Jasokari: Capital city of the Empire of Solerne, it is actually composed of three cities that grew together into a single metropolis.
Lighthouse Fort: Built atop the Southern cliffs enclosing Beldatz, this fort has a long history in the city's defense. Currently serves as the headquarters of Beldatz's Hawk Maidens, as well as the home of an eccentric wizard manning the lighthouse, and lair to a tribe of xolotzins.
Maehvindra: One of the two elven tribes as well as the vast woodlands north of Solerne where these elves make their home.
Martial Arts: 'Institutionalized Dirty Fighting' as a Swordmaster once described them, martial arts codify certain practices of weapon mastery into distinctive styles with their own strengths and weaknesses. Although the mortals of the 5th Age believe martial arts were born amongst them, the most ancient martial arts date back to the reptilian empires of the 3rd Age.
Maze of Entry, the: Name given to the complex collection of reefs and rocks that stretch about a mile out of the shores of Beldatz into the Bay of Dawn. Ships must be guided by expert local pilots or towed along the safe passages, for any ship that attempts to approach Beldatz uninvited will invariably crash into one of the many rocks conforming the maze's "walls". Created by Zuze'en herself, it is believed that the Maze extends into the Dreamlands and the Region of the Dead, to protect the city from spiritual threats as the rocks do against the more physical ones.
Nine Hells: The nine otherworldly prisons of demonkind, where they rule in a strict and immutable caste system and plot their return to the world to twist it in their own image. Inaccessible except through very particular and hidden cracks, and only with powerful magic.
Moonshades: An order of spies, assassins and saboteurs who channel the power of the night to accomplish their ends. Although they are thought to be a myth, their reality is far more complex than the legends that speak of a female-only group of shadow sorcerers.
Noonshades: A group of renegades that splintered from the Moonshades. They have kept themselves out of folktales and hearsay, but available to the highest bidder for their expert services.
Ollin, the: A concept used by witches and shamans to explain the nature of the world. It literally means "movement", and refers to how everything that lives, must move, and everything that survives, must change.
Powers, The: Embodiments of the Four Directions of the universe and the firstborn of The Azken, these entities are forces above the gods themselves, overlooking the proper turning of the Wheel of Ages.
Region of the Dead: The dark counterpart of the Dreamlands, this plane of existence overlaps the physical world as a shadow. Also called the Underworld and the Unlands, it's the home of ghosts, ancestor spirits and the undead. All souls must cross it before reaching their final destination in the afterlife.
Shade: A spirit of the Region of the Dead, it's not a ghost but an echo of a soul, reflecting all of a person's memories, personality and power. The stronger the soul that created it, the more solid and individualistic the shade becomes. No one is sure what makes some souls leave shades behind and not others of equal worth, but the workings of fate are thought to be involved.
Shaman: An individual with the power to see and interact with spirits, as well as channel their power into the physical world. Although their abilities are the same, shamans and deathspeakers separate themselves by the origin of the spirits with which they associate: the Dreamlands or the Region of the Dead.
Snaking Steps: The stairway carved from the rock of Beldatz's Southern cliff which connects the city in the valley below with the narrow strip of land between the cliff and the mountains, where the Lighthouse Fort is built. It also leads to South Gate, the least transited entrance into Beldatz.
Solerne: One of the two dominant nations in the current period of the 5th Age, spreading in the Northern hemisphere. The Empire of Solerne is divided into fiefs ruled by its Noble Houses, who are kept in a manageable state of conflict under the belief that this low-level strife will help the Empire grow and prosper. The goddess Zuze'en is the Empire's main patron and protector, having formed the first pantheon among deities. It is the direct heir of the Ametzi League, a loose coallition of city-states that grew closer during the Demon Wars.
Swift Sunrise School: A fighting style based on halberds and other long-hafted weapons, practiced exclusively by the Hawk Maidens. Created during the Demon Wars, it stresses teamwork and defense, and a much less publicized close-combat element that is quick and brutal, using short blades.
Swordmaster: A title conferred in the Empire of Solerne to martial artists who attain the highest levels of mastery in their schools and are held against strict standards of honor and chivalry. It sarted being given only to sword-based schools, but later expanded to all other official fighting schools, although the title remained as is.
Turning, the: A term used to refer to the passage of time, as in "the turning of the Wheel of Ages", with the actual scale given by the context where it is used. Sometimes also used to refer to reincarnation and the cycle of life.
Viryuni: One of the two tribes of elves, although sailors use the term "Viryuni route" for any sea route deemed safe and reliable, whether it was discovered by these elves or not.
Wheel of Ages, the: A mystic concept to represent the cyclical nature of nature, time, and fate. Also used to refer to the calendars sculpted by the Amiyalli at the apex of their culture, which are said to foretell the general nature of certain spans of time.
Xolotzin: Small reptilian humanoids, once an artisan caste during the 3rd Age, but now barbaric scavengers. Some xolotzin tribes nurtured by a Celestial Dragon are on the path of regaining their ancient technological mastery.
Zergune: One of the two dominant nations in the current period of the 5th Age, growing along the Southern hemisphere. The Zergune Empire is a strict theocracy with very strict ways of life, which allowed its people to conquer and tame the harsh lands within its borders. An absolute monarch rules all the territories, relying on an aristocratic class that is denied the rights of nobility, but also their duties to bind themselves mystically to the land and thus ensure its health. Individual responsibility towards a greater goal is the core of the Zergunese ethos, which extends to the way they keep their gods happy: by blood sacrifice on holidays devoted to different deities.
Zuze'en: Patron goddess of Solerne. Once a humble goddess of wisdom and learning, she was forced during the Demon Wars to eat the heart of her beloved, the Lambent Falcon, and assume his attributes as a god of war. She emerged as an implacable and overwhelming force that rallied the gods of the old Ametzi League into a single pantheon to drive the demons back to the Nine Hells.