MELFAR do not think linearly, but rather conceptualize all time in terms of cycles. They utilize a lunar calendar overlaid on a solar one, measuring time in tides, returns, and meeds. A tide is a full lunar cycle. The only consistently named tides are Darktide, Brightening Symmetide, Suntide, and Darkening Symmetide (corresponding to periods encompassing winter solstice, vernal equinox, summer solstice, and autumnal equinox, respectively). Other tides receive descriptive labels, which can vary from one return to the next (e.g., Fogtide, Fruittide). A return is a cycle of all the solar seasons, with a new return always beginning on the full moon closest to the start of Brightening Symmetide. There are twelve named returns corresponding to the twelve types of stone from which a Benison is crafted to mark the start of each return (see below). A full cycle of returns comprises a meed, and meeds are named in the same sequence as returns. The completion of a full cycle of meeds is known as a Great Turning. Returns of the current cycle are called New, with previous cycles referred to as Old, Ancient, and Preterit, in that order. To the Melfar, “Preterit” means both “before” and “after.” To “date” a particular event, one might say that it happened during the Darktide of the Amber Return of the Old Turquoise Meed.
The most important Benison Songs mentioned in these texts are the following:
Preterit Meeds: Marble Song of Flowers, Lapis Canopy of Protection, Turquoise Song of the Sun (Gathering of Clouds in Túl), Amethyst Song of the Migrant (Song of the Forest in Túl), Granite Song of Regret, Amber Song of Raising the Waters.
Ancient Meeds: Marble Song of Seeds, Mica Song of Calling the Rains, Lapis Song of the Floods, Turquoise Song of Refuge, Granite Song of Solitude, Obsidian Overwhelm With Splendor, Jade Song of Pacification, Jasper Song of the Sea, Quartz Song of Reconciliation, Carnelian Song of the Wide Path, Amber Song of Turning.
Old Meeds: Marble Song of Falling Leaves, Mica Song of Reflection, Lapis Song of Liberation, Turquoise Canopy of Time, Amethyst Song of Hope, Granite Song of Firm Resolve, Obsidian Song of Embracing Death, Jade Song of the Calumet. The Jasper Meed had its Song of Burning, but no Benison. In the Quartz Meed, waifs were crafted containing maps. In the Carnelian Meed, beads were crafted from the Ancient Carnelian and given as talismans to Mundani Chanters. There was no Benison and no waifs for the Amber Meed.
New Meeds: As described in the first book of this series, the start of the New Marble at the Great Turning was marked by raising a Benison containing the Song of All Songs.
MUNDANI utilize a rigidly linear solar calendar. Their equivalent of a Melfar return (our year) is a passage. Passages are sequentially numbered, beginning with the birth year of Razak Caloyer, a revered prophet. Each passage is divided into twelve stints, each with exactly thirty days, comprised of five sixes. These stints are not named, only numbered. To regularize their calendar, they observe a period of five (sometimes six) days at the conclusion of Twelfth Stint. These days are called the Binder. The new passage begins on the longest day (our summer solstice), which they call Full Sun.
ELOSSA people have preserved the Gregorian calendar system and count time in weeks and months and years and centuries just as we do in the Twenty-First Century. According to this calendar, the Mundani Prophet Razak Caloyer (see above) was born in the year 3836 and the apocalypse (Tantum) occurred in 2087.
THE MAP on the following page represents the world as known to Mundani and Melfar. Melfar don’t use maps as such, relying for guidance on the old Melfar Ways recorded within waifs of the Old Quartz. For the benefit of readers, the map shows the approximate locations of the following places that are important only to Melfar:
- Gorshfen (on the lake of Glasllyn)
- New Beniford
- New Túl
Archaeozón: Among the Elossa, a museum dedicated to the display of relic life forms.
aurynx: The Melfar organ that sonically verberates biophotonic patterns. It is located in the throat near the larynx.
Benison: A stone monument crafted by Melfar to commemorate the end of one meed and the start of the next. Each Benison contains the imagery of a song.
billbug: A biting insect similar to a mosquito or horsefly.
cabra: A goat-like mammal sometimes kept for milk.
Calumet: A “peace-bringer” who serves as a respected social and cultural leader among the Melfar.
Chanter: Among the Mundani, a student of Melfar song and poetry.
clauster: A sacred space often associated with a Mundani temple.
dioristimator: Among the Elossa, an instrument for detecting the chemical composition of materials.
Elossa: Term used by Mundani and Melfar to refer to an invasive people from the north. Also called “empty people.”
equid: A horse-like mammal kept as a draft animal.
fahm: Coal. Deposits of fahm are found mainly in the remains of ancient storage facilities.
fellspan: The distance to the horizon on relatively flat ground. Approximately 4.2 miles.
fireblock: A fabricated fuel made from waste material soaked in some oily substance.
gnosic orb: The Melfar sensory organ that pertanges photonic and sonic patterns. It is located in the center of the brow just above the eyes.
kinren: Any of the employees, servants, clients, apprentices, and women attached to a particular Sidayen.
lamin: An alpaca-like animal kept as a beast of burden and draft animal.
Melfar: A “race” of people native to the forests who communicate without spoken or written language. They are generally short in stature, stoutly built, with curly light or reddish hair, skin tawny to ochre, and eyes generally yellow or green.
Migrant: The ineffable presence that, according to Melfar belief, motivates and empowers everything.
Mundani: A “race” of people living primarily in towns and farms with written codes and formal religion. They are generally tall and slender, with wavy dark hair and dark skin and eyes.
nacreous fever: A potentially fatal illness marked by iridescent blisters.
Palinjian: Among Mundani, a devotee of Zibal Palinj.
patkány: A very large and vicious species of predatory rodent.
pertange: To sense in a tangible way the photonic and sonic verberations of people and natural things.
pointing-stone: A mineral with magnetic properties, perhaps magnetite or hematite.
Protocols: Among Elossa, the rules and commentaries on rules that specify what can be done.
pudu: A type of small deer found in the mountains.
Revelant: An individual who has died and come back to life in the same body.
Shoon: A derogatory term Mundani use to refer to Melfar.
Sidaya: A code of moral conduct among the Mundani.
Sidayen: One who adheres to the Sidaya. Alternatively, a high status exclusive to Mundani men.
Tantum: Among Elossa, the apocalypse that destroyed all human civilizations and most of life on Earth in the year 2087.
verberate: To emanate biophotonic images and sound.
vital nexus: Among Mundani, the energetic network centered around an individual’s heart.
waif: Among Melfar, a stone associated with a Benison and sharing some of its properties.
weftred: Among Mundani, a clandestine network of women and other kinrens.