the prairie suite: an old world…a new beginning

Many years ago when I roamed the remnant native grasslands of the Flint Hills, stories of The Prairie Suite came to me as startlingly powerful imagery. These tales inexplicably seemed to echo back from a future time, told from the perspective of a people for whom they had already happened – not withstanding that those events had not yet come to pass for us. As a novel, The Prairie Suite came about as a literary response to the institutionalized destruction of wild nature.

The Prairie Suite is the first in a series of novels about the Anaphorans and the ollin bearers. Because names of places (cities and geography), things (weapons, etc.), and persons (actually quite a few) will not be familiar to a contemporary audience, I felt it expedient to provide a way into the story. Words from Anaphoran that have no equivalent in our language I have “Latinized.” This is purely a convention of convenience; nothing more should be read into it. Anaphoran history and relationships of families will be more extensively presented in a different forum. The more modest goal here is simply to provide the reader with an alphabetized list which for the most part does not give away specifics of the story.

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guide to the prairie suite

Of or pertaining to the Anaphoran people. Also used as the name of their ancestral home on the prairie southwest of Polis Luminus. They followed the ancient Hebraic model of Peace through Justice. Believers in benevolent anarchy, i.e. a pure form of communism, something akin to the equalitarian early Christian communities, utterly opposed to all forms of authoritarianism. Leadership of this community arose from ability and charisma, something like the ideal (realized or not) of traditional American Indian tribal life. Both the Sairda and Contrel families were Anaphoran.

Anaphoran Dreamers
Anaphorans who experienced prophetic visions.

A Shadow encountered both by Cara and Addicus Sairda at Chessem Creek.

An ancient, great walled city west of Suradel occupied by military forces of Valence; it became the headquarters of the Shadow Beilal.

A Shadow, who contrary to standard practice, did not wield a malculatum. A survivor from the time of Brahdu; in the time of Antony Contrel, he became master of Arthusa and human representative of Zyanus.

A term from Buddhism, but used in The Prairie Suite as a non-religious generic term referring to person who, achieving enlightenment (oneness with the divine) chooses to remain in this world to help humanity by sharing knowledge and wisdom. As a generic term, it is not capitalized. The Christian form of “saint” is roughly equivalent.

Ollin bearer and Section Director of the East Watchers who orchestrated the long term strategy of the Watchers against Shadows. Protector of Meristem and ally to Antony Contrel.

Cara, Colima
Adopted daughter of Byssus Cara, East Watcher, ollin bearer, and protector of Polis Luminus.

North Watcher and ollin bearer, nemesis of Tristen de Maris Cygnes in service to Beilal.

Charcel, Aud
South Watcher at Suradel and rival of Sitanion Scoparius.

Charcel, Ciasca
Daughter of Aud Charcel. South Watcher and lover to Tristen de Maris Cygnes.

Descriptive term for the inner glow or luster of certain gyms. Used in The Prairie Suite as the name of a particular ollin.

Chessem Creek
A watershed of unknown origin in the Desolation of the Wild Lands, flowing eastward out onto the prairie.

In fine art, the depiction of forms through a balancing of light and dark shading. Used in The Prairie Suite as a term describing the contrast of dark and light forces.

City of Light
See Polis Luminus.

The area on either side of the Flint River where it enters the Plains River. On the east side of the Flint River were the ruins of Mataan; on the west an abandoned settlement inhabited in the early days of Polis Luminus by Watchers and merchants. Once inhabited by a few pale orbs.

Countervailing Wind
A static wind. The presence of wind without movement, a false stillness when actually all is in extreme tension, providing an entry point into another dimension.

Contrelus, Antony
Son of Meristem and Addicus Sairda, grandson of Brahdu Sairda (paternal) and Contrelus (maternal). Named “the Contrel” by the Anaphoran Dreamers.

To inlay one metal with a more precious metal making a designed pattern. Refers to the ollin of Typhacean Scoparius.

Desolation of the Wild Lands
Called the “Desolation” by the Polisians and the “Wild Lands” by the South Watchers. Starting west of the tallgrass prairie and continuing to the high plains or foothills of the mountains. Created by environmental abuse nearly two millennia earlier.

Flint River
The river flowed from north to south along west edge of Polis Luminus on its way to the Plains River.

Monstrous bear-like creatures which killed many Watchers and Anaphorans, including members of the Sitanion family and all of Tristen’s family; possibly associated with the return of the demon Zyanus.

Gates of Anaphora
These twin hills rose immediately to the north of Anaphora and were informally known as the Breasts of Anaphora.

Gayta, Seren
Section Director of the Coast Watchers at Montor; accompanied Cara during Sairda’s battle against the Shadows; denied the importance of the Contrel.

Heart of the World
A mysterious concept, maybe a place, but more likely a state of being located in the Void or other realm. Control of it, whatever it is, could give its possessor unlimited power. Something like the Holy Grail. Apparently bodhisattva’s such as Meristem were in contact with it. Possession of it sought by Shadows including Zyanus.

A guard of Morithidon.

A Shadow belonging to the same Order as Addicus Sairda.

Weapon of unknown origin first discovered or invented by Brahdu Sairda to project will in such a way that it had physical manifestation. It was carried by Shadows, usually taking the form of a “stave” or staff. Each malculatum may have been an independent entity, a kind of demon, drawing power from the earth It “could make thought physically manifest…a weapon capable of enhancing and violently projecting will.”

An ancient ruined city, a remnant from the Older World was located on the east side at the confluence of the Flint River where it flows into the Plains River. Starting from Polis Luminus, the abandoned road to Mataan stayed mostly on the west side of the Flint River before crossing east over the river by way of a ford just above the old site. West of Mataan, on the far side of the river, was a beach on which Watchers and merchants maintained a short term settlement in the early days of Polis Luminus. A few orbs were said to have been there. Later, a second settlement was built along the Plains River east of Mataan as a center of commerce.

Her given name was not recorded, but her surname was Contrelus (also rendered as Contrel). Her father (known only as Contrelus) was a leader of the Anaphorans. Credited as the bringer of the Newer World, she was the first teacher of the Prairie Suite. She was also lover to Addicus Sairda and mother of Antony Sairda-Contrelus. “Transformation of Meristem” refers to the event of her becoming a bodhisattva (prophet or saint). Meristem was worshiped as a kind of goddess by rustic people.

The walled fortress and Anaphoran city was located on the west ocean coast, an important headquarters of the Coast Watchers. It was the most recent of several settlements on that site.

A Coast Watcher, ally of Tristen.

A city of Valence located west of Polis Luminus and south of the tall grass prairie. The inhabitants were a Cimmerian people, mostly communicating by means other than speech. It was called “Polis Stygian” by Sirenidae and was known for its sensual ponds of addictive water.

Newer World
This was the era following the fall of Shadows when Meristem brought knowledge of the Prairie Suite to the Anaphorans. The term also refers to the time following the Transformation of Meristem. The Older World concluded with the fall of the earlier civilization from war and environmental devastation. In between was a period not named (a kind of Dark Ages) but lasting close to two thousand years.

This is an ancient (and pan-cultural) symbol of motion and time passage representing the constancy of change as being inherent to nature. The only systems that don’t change are extinct. Even the universe itself, for all its vastness, changes in configuration of its components and in its available energy resources over eons. Change, which we can see through patterns, exists in all physical, biological and social systems. Through this symbol we can understand basic patterns such as: All actions have consequences and Addition of energy to a system forces that system to a new level of order (or disorder). This is the opposite of systems (theoretically at least) restrict (or try to restrict) movement of energy including its social forms of knowledge and progress. The ollin represents as well an acknowledgement of our oneness with nature, opposing the idea that we are separate from or other than the natural world.

In the Anaphoran cosmology, the forces of motion and stasis were present—and in opposition—at the beginning of existence. These forces have been at war with one another for eternity. This is seen as the battle between light (energetic) and dark (static). Both forces must exist, but the ascendancy of one over the other alters from one age to another.

The physical symbol of the ollin itself has taken many forms over time, but generally on a theme representing motion such as a wheel with an accompaniment suggesting its movement.

In its form as a pendant, the ollin is a circle surrounding a double-S shape, suggesting that it is in motion, e.g. rolling or flying past, unstoppable. While the Buddhists believe that desire is a cause of suffering, in the Anaphoran world, unattainable desire is but aspect of the larger problem of resisting the inevitability of change.

The “ollin bearers” of the Anaphorans are in the service of Light against the Dark forces. Ollins pass to new owners by intention or by unknown mysterious design. Their origin goes back to the first civilizations, if not earlier, so some of them could be thousands of years old. The Anaphorans knew it by this short quote: “This is the ancient symbol of change, the ollin. It reflects the nature of the prairie. All its parts are interconnected. It is ageless.”

The ollin pendants themselves convey no special powers of any kind, but obligate the “bearer” to take part in the eternal struggle of motion vs. stasis. The struggle itself takes place on many levels from philosophy to warfare, but once entered entails considerable spiritual risk to the soul. It is not defined by any one dogma or spiritual practice or political belief for these things change over time. Each ollin bearer must find for herself or himself the right way forward in this conflict of Light and Dark. The question is and remains: which is which?

The orbs, transparent and unseen in daylight (although nonetheless present) became mysterious glowing, floating lights of undetermined size and property at night. They illuminated but did not compromise the majesty of night. In this they symbolized the Light – Dark dichotomy: Light and Dark being separate and inseparable. They most often glowed with a golden color, but sometimes in other colors as well.

The orbs of Polis Luminus came to exist following the Transformation, a reminder of the light Meristem brought back into the world, a beacon of the ollin (light) spirit; and, in their absence, a warning of the return of Shadow.

Two other occurrences of the orbs were noted outside the City of Light.

Military associations of Shadows and Watchers, devolved from one original founded by Brahdu Sairda. In the time of his grandson Addicus, each of the Prairie Walker Shadows was aligned to one of three Orders, all of which were in opposition to the Watchers.

Pala, Katrine
Ollin bearer, protector of Polis Luminus, and lover of Antony Contrelus.

Pax Meristemia
The period of general world peace following the Transformation of Meristem until the return of Shadow in the form of Zyanus.

Plains River
The largest river on the prairie flowed west to east with origins as far west as the Desolation of the Wild Lands.

Shadow who survived the War of Watchers and Shadows to return to Polis Luminus to confront Antony Contrelus.

Polis Luminus
Also called “Polis” or “the City of Light” or “the City,” it was located on the eastern prairie along the Flint River (a tributary of the Plains River), including the neighborhood built around the ruins of ancient stone houses along Monihan Creek above where it flowed into the Flint River. Most of the City was in the riverine forest along the east side of the Flint River and along river tributaries on that side, continuing out onto the prairie. The area west of the Flint River remained undeveloped. The City was built around the site of the Transformation of Meristem and named for the glowing orbs appearing there at night. Residents were called Polisians.

Polis Stygian
Another name for Morithidon.

Prairie Suite
This is the philosophy of integration and oneness with nature, including expression through music. First written by Meristem, it was continued by Antony Sairda-Contrelus (“the Contrel”). As musical expression, it translated the rhythmic sounds of nature to specific meaningful expressions. The Suite cannot be described exactly: it is a manifestation of the tao and a representation of the ollin.

Prairie Walker
A term used to describe the first Shadow warriors, attributed to the founder of the warrior Orders, Brahdu Sairda.

River Diwn
An area far north of Suradel, home to the North Watchers.

River Road
A road heading west along the Plains River from Polis connecting to a pass south of the Desolation to the Anaphorans in the desert south.

Sairda, Addicus
The most powerful of the Shadows. Lover of Meristem, father of Antony Contrelus.

Sairda, Brahdu
Originator of what became the Shadow Orders, and grandfather of Addicus Sairda. He introduced, discovered, or otherwise brought about the use of the malculatum weapons.

A Shadow who led the destruction of an Anaphoran settlement, and who intended the destruction of the city of Anaphora.

Family name of a large clan of South Watchers. This form also sometimes used when referring to two or more members of the family, “the Scoparius.”

Scoparius, Lycurus
Ollin bearer and South Watcher. Youngest of three brothers.

Scoparius, Melica
Wife of Sitanion and an Anaphoran Dreamer.

Scoparius, Sitanion
Section Director of the South Watchers and ollin bearer. Middle of three brothers.

Scoparius, Typhacean
Ollin bearer and South Watcher. Oldest of three brothers.

Section Director
Title of the leader of a geographic division of the Watcher Order.

Shadow or Shadows
In the time of Brahdu Sairda, continuing into the time of Addicus Sairda, the Shadows (an Anaphoran term) consisted of three separate Orders. The Orders supported Valence, but also fought among themselves on a regular basis. Brahdu Sairda called them Prairie Walkers. They were once part of the Watchers before betraying their people in pursuit of personal power. The term is generally capitalized (as is true for Watcher, Watchers) referring to individual warriors, to all the warriors of the three Orders, and, in the time of Antony Contrelus, to Zyanus specifically.

A woman leader of Morithidon, killed by Colima.

South Fork of the Plains River
A tributary of the Plains River near Morithidon.

A term used primarily in the time after the fall of Shadows to refer to the malculatum weapons.

Sur Mountains
Southern end of intercontinental mountain range.

Desert city of Anaphorans and a main gathering place of the South Watchers, closer to Arthusa than any other named Anaphoran city. Located in a desert and mountainous area south of the main mountain range.

A child abuser and murder of Morithidon.

A city of stone located half way between Montor and Arthusa.

Used as a proper noun, this refers to the moment of Meristem’s enlightenment when she changed from woman to bodhisattva.

Tristen de Marais Cygnes
North Watcher, ollin bearer, and lover of Ciasca Charcel. The greatest warrior of his time was a fearless killer of foulers and supporters of Valence. His love of Meristem made him the most ardent follower of Antony Contrelus.

A government threatening the freedom of the Anaphorans. Shadows were in service to Valence. Valence followed the Roman Empire model of Peace through Victory. Its supporters argued for a return use of advanced technologies feared by the Anaphorans.

Golden finish on a base metal. Refers to an ollin worn by Tristen who had it covered in gold leaf.

(the) Wall
The massive black stone structure separating Arthusa from the outside world.

These were Anaphoran warriors who defended their people against Valence and Shadows. They first Order of warriors to use thought as a weapon. The projection of thought could incapacitate or kill an enemy, although it could not manifest directly in the physical world. The malculatum weapons made thought projection physically manifest. Watchers were distinguished from Shadows by choosing not to use the malculatum weapon. The reason for this is not given, but apparently arose from their perceived association of those weapons with evil. Otherwise, in thought projection used as weapon, they were much alike. It is not clear how many of the early Watchers or Shadows engaged in thought projection. In the time of the Contrel, thought projection among the Watchers other than Cara, seems to have been less common with the warriors of that later time mostly using more conventional weapons such as wrenths and swords.

Watchers fought Shadows of Valence in the time Addicus Sairda, and later gathered to oppose Beilal’s version of Valence. Four geographic division of Watchers are named: East (Cara), South (Typhacean, later Sitanion), North (Carpohis, Tristen), Coast (Gayta).

Wind Spirit
A term used to describe Meristem.

Learned elders of the Anaphorans including scholars and philosophers.

A bladed weapon also capable of throwing short sections of razor sharp chains, used both for flinging projectiles and as a sword. Primarily associated with the Watchers of Antony’s time.

Tightly woven shawl used by travelers to protect themselves from extreme weather.

Shadow representative of the dark force in opposition to force of light represented by the ollin. Also used to refer to this Shadow in its earlier human form (according to Pogonius). As demon, it apparently came into the world at the moment when Sairda destroyed the Shadow army (taking up residence in human form for a while); in its incarnation in the Desolation of the Wild Lands, it could not take a shape other than as a gray fog, although Antony imagined it as the Grim Reaper.

Copyright 2014 David L. Witt

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