ma'aleca'andra

Only remaining visual rendering of Folk-god, Ou'ros, who is not recognized by any City-state as a God; Fhe'gnai, perhaps the most liberal of the city-states with a still working famiscle of government, considers Ou'ros to be, at most, a Spirit. Etching on Hide; circa CW1. Burn Damage; Scrape Damage.

“Black Ou'ros, God of the Lost, is different from the other gods- for it is the World the Gods create, and it is the World the Gods see to- for we are the stuff of their dreaming, and always has this been so;

But Ou'ros is not that kind of God. Ou'ros does not o'erwatch the great design- for that is not his job, and that is not who he is.

Ou'ros Speaks with but one Voice, and always Quietly- because Reddest Mur'vai loves the sound of her own voice, and will speak to speak, and never think of’t, but Ou'ros does not Speak unless Spoken to, and only with purpose.

Ou'ros only Fights to Kill, never for Pride or Honor or Respect- because Green-Green Ja'zzen is Proud and Honorable and Respectful, and will Fight to Fight sometimes because he is also Crazy, but Ou'ros is none of these things, and so will not.

Ou'ros Wears but one face, and one form, and never ever lies- because Yellow-Yellow Dra'neen will smile and smile and lie and lie and she will do this always, but Ou'ros sees no purpose in Lying.

Ou'ros Works for Himself, for he is selfish- because White-White Gal'noi is selfless, and forgets himself and his own Reasons and in this forgetting becomes Cruel, but Ou'ros never forgets who he Is, and so is never Knowingly Cruel.

Black-Black Ou'ros, God of the Lost, is alone in his wanderings- for he ever searches for the Ones Who Were Lost, so long ago. For he is their god- and They were the ones who cared for Ma'aleca'andra’s sleeping form, so long ago. But they are Lost, and so he searches for them.

But they are Gone, and so he will ever search for them.”

Transcription of Folktale describing Ou'ros, God of the Lost.

Who we are, and why we do what we Do:

In light of recent events, allow me to make plain our cause:

The term philosophy of history refers to the theoretical aspect of history, in two senses. It is customary to distinguish critical philosophy of history fromspeculative philosophy of history. Critical philosophy of history is the “theory” aspect of the discipline of academic history, and deals with questions such as the nature of historical evidence, the degree to which objectivity is possible, etc. Speculative philosophy of history is an area of philosophy concerning the eventual significance, if any, of history. Furthermore, it speculates as to a possible teleological end to its development—that is, it asks if there is a design, purpose, directive principle, or finality in the processes of history. Part of Marxism, for example, is speculative philosophy of history. Though there is some overlap between the two aspects, they can usually be distinguished; modern professional historians tend to be skeptical about speculative philosophy of history.

Due to our position- as Historians to a society, a civilization, that considers History a mere fabrication of the Mind, as something to be twisted, warped, and changed as the Mind is- we cannot be fanatical in our work. We are not here to… find meaning in what is, or disregard what was as mere “conjecture”.

We are here to Remember.

Therefore, as Sto'ra Ma'aleca'andra, we ask these three basic questions of ourselves, always:

  • What is the proper unit for the study of the past — the individual subject? The familypolis (“city”) or sovereign territory? The civilization or culture? Or the whole of the species?
  • Are there any broad patterns that we can discern through the study of the human past? Are there, for example, patterns of progress? Or cycles? Is history deterministic? Or are there no patterns or cycles, and is history a series of random happenings?

Related to this is the study of individual agency and its impact in history, functioning within, or opposed to, larger trends and patterns- of which an entire department within our ranks is devoted.

It is to them the duty of Watching and Waiting and Seeing falls- for it is they who will tell us where and when the Danger will come. For always have there been and always will there be those who would Destroy what was, Forget the Traditions- nevermind that Traditions are born of bitter won Experience, nevermind that Forgetting does not mean that someone will not remember. Killing all who know a Secret does not make a Secret- for, as all the Sto'ra know, There are no such things as Secrets. Only Lies.

Finally, we ask ourselves-

  • If history can indeed be said to progress, what is its ultimate direction? What (if any) is the driving force of that progress?

 

For, indeed, there has been a progression- our world, our lives, were not endless chaos once; we actually worked together, and beheld each other as people, not monsters.

(But that was long ago, and the Cyclists among us will say to that, “Those times will come once again; have Patience and Faith.” And I will say to them “I have no time for Patience, and Faith will not reliably stop a Bomb.”)

 

Given that we currently believe ourselves to be the only Ma'aleca'andran creatures capable of abstract thought, a perception of time, and a manipulation of thought concerning the past, the future and the present, an inquiry into the nature of history is based in part on some working understanding of time in the Ma'alecan experience.

History (as contemporarily understood by a Majority of thought), tends to follow an assumption of linear progression: “this happened, and then that happened; that happened because this happened first.” This is in part a reflection of the foundation of cause and effect, which as anyone can tell you, is an inviolate Law of Reality.

However, Ma'aleca'andrans also hold a semi-mythical conception of history and time that is not linear. It is believed that history was cyclical with alternating Dark and Light Ages. P'tou G'enn called this the Great Year, and others of the  G'enn House called it an aeon or eon. Examples are the ancient doctrine of eternal return, which is evidenced in the known arrangement of the Lands of the Dead.

In The Work of Days, H'soid, Yellow beholden of Green D'mar, described Five Great Ages: the Lost Age- or the Age of Demons; the Green Age- or the Age of War; the White Age- or the Age of Slavery; the Yellow Age- or the Age of Artistry; and the Red Age- or the Age of Law, which began with the D'rr'an Dynasty, and some among the Sto'ra will say continues to this day. Other scholars suggest there were just Four ages, corresponding to the Four Colors, and the Lost age a description of our pre-history.

A four age count would be in line with the current Color Span; the G'enn believed that just as we went through four stages of growth and change, so too did our culture and society and government- as what are these things but extensions of ourselves?

(But this did not save them from the Fury of the Red- and they have been Forgotten by all, excepting us.)

The legend of the Creation of Mars from the Union of H'ronmeer and Gu'yario can be seen in a similar light, as it would give the basis for theodicies: a view of history which attempts to reconcile the existence of evil in the world with the existence of Gods, thusly creating a global explanation of history with the belief in a Messianic Age. Theodicists claim that history has a progressive direction leading to an eschatological end, such as the Apocalypse, given by a superior power. L’bn'iz, Green beholden to Red M'rgain, who coined the term, was the most famous philosopher who created a theodicy. L'bn'iz based his explanation on the principle of sufficient reason, which states that anything that happens, does happen for a specific reason. Thus, what was seen as evil, such as wars, epidemics, and natural disasters, was in fact only an effect of perception; if one adopted the view of the Gods, this evil event in fact only took place in the larger divine plan. Hence, theodicies explained the necessity of evil as a relative element that forms part of a larger plan of history. L'bn'iz’s principle of sufficient reason was not, however, a gesture of fatalism. Confronted with the antique problem of future contingents, Leibniz invented the theory of “compossible worlds”, distinguishing two types of necessity, to cope with the problem of determinism.

(As a reminder-  a complete individual thing (for example a person) is characterized by all its properties, and these determine its relations with other individuals. The existence of one individual may contradict the existence of another. A possible world is made up of individuals that are compossible — that is, individuals that can exist together. Possible worlds exist as possibilities in the minds of the Gods. One world among them is realized as the actual world, and this is the most perfect one.

But, as we all know- this is far from the best and most perfect of all possible worlds; and mutually contradictory individuals exist in every possible permutation.)

We, however, are concerned with none of this… compossibilty, this rationalization of events.

We care only for What Is, and What Was. Meaning has no place here.


It is not our job to pass judgement- for we are not Judges. It is not our job to support, or neglect, or praise, or condemn- for we are not Priests, or Politicians. We do not fight for any cause; indeed, ours is the lives of the Causeless, excepting only in the Rememberance of History, for that is what we do, and that is what we are, and that is our cause and course and claim.

For we are the Sto'ra Ma'aleca'andra.

And Sto'ra means To Remember.

“In general, it is agreed that there are three broad genres of sound used for communication- soft, low intensity Murmurs, communicative, medium intensity Vowels, and abrasive, high intensity Calls. It has been shown that even the youngest of Spritchlings can differentiate between the Murmur of their Splintch, and the Murmur of another member of their family; it has also been shown that Spritchlings communicate almost exclusively in Vowels; the subtleties of Murmur does not come until after Rounding, and the abrasiveness required to Call usually only happens after a true life-and-death battle, or in the Unstable.

However, historically, there have been two other categories- Singing, and Spoken.

Singing is odd, in that it is only ever used to describe the speech patterns of Demons, and only in Pre-CW1 works. In the most well known of these, Ma'ra, beholden of Kurul, writes that

for thye did Sing to me, and i could not unstop my mouthe to reply

for thyre Songs were beautiful and profound

but i had Forgotten how to Sing, and I could not reply-

suggesting that Singing was an ability once possesed by many, as Ma'ra was a lowborn White slave, often sent on the errands for the House, which was and remains, the lowest of jobs in the House. It has since fallen out of the common vernacular.

Spoken is odder still, in that it is only ever referenced as a method of communication with the Divine- and sees centennial resurgence in use. It is currently out of the common vernacular.

Excerpt from the legal, but highly contreversial and soon to be illegal, Sounds of Ma'aleca'andran interaction.

“There are four Recognized Colors of people on Ma'aleca'andra; they are, in order, Red, Green, Yellow, and White.

Traditionally speaking, Red has been the Priest caste, and has served as spiritual guide to the other Colors, Green has been the Warrior caste, and has served as protector and gaurdian to the other Colors, Yellow has been the Artisan caste, and has served as entertainer to the other Colors, and White has been the Builder caste, and has served as laborer to the other Colors.

This tradition is reflected in the coloration and patterns seen throughout Ma'aleca'andran architecture, and culture. Therefore, Red is the primary color of the priests of many Temples- regardless of their own, personal Color. Red has also become prominent in the Courts of Ma'aleca'andra, even though the Courts were traditionally under the purview of Yellow and Green.

Green is the color primarily found on weapons, and carriers of war; it is traditional to paint some manner of sygil or sign or symbol in Green on every Warship’s first journey into battle. Green has also become the color of Teachers, Attorneys, and Farmers.

Yellow is an interesting Color, in that it is usually found on disposable goods, like clothing. Referring to table 7.6, the chart shows that a majority of Colors polled considered Yellow an auspicious color, but too expensive to have all the time. However, Yellow is also found on the robes of the Judges of Court; traditionally, Yellow is the color of honesty.

White is almost never seen in the public spaces of Ma'aleca'andra; it is most often seen inside servant quarters, or in areas of work, i.e. factories, mills, ect. However, it is considered fashionable to use White as an accent color.

Of note are the four Other Colors, Purple, Blue, Orange, and Black.

Purple is the only truly neutral color in Ma'aleca'andran culture; it is everywhere, and can be worn by anyone.

Blue is the color of Life; it is considered sacred. The majority of Nave’s have Blue somewhere in the artwork, including inside the Temple’s dedicated to H'ronmeer.

Orange is the color of Death; it is considered profane, unless it is being used to depict H'ronmeer. It is never used.

Black is the color of utility- it is the color of every road. Oddly, the lintel of the back door of every Ma'aleca'andran home is always painted black; no one knows why this is so.”

Only surviving piece of text from the highly illegal Color Theory: A study of Light and Darkness; Circa CW3. All copies have been destroyed.

Part of Mural from Temple Nave, depicting H'ronmeer and Kuru'l; circa post CW1.

This is the only depiction of H'ronmeer ever given to the Sto'ra completely unchanged.

“H'ronmeer, God of Death, is not kind. He has no mercy in him, and will not abide ‘neath any flicker dark lies. He will not o'er look your tresspasses, or ye, for he is God of Death.

H'ronmeer, God of Death, is equal in his unfairness- he takes all those who live, in their time, to the Palace of Flame in the Depths, which is also named The Burning; They are sat upon the Bench of Waiting, and bade to rest and remember who and what and why they are, bereft of all mind smearing trappings of life, clear eyed and clear focused.

Refreshments are provided.

They are left, for a time, in Reflection and Recollection; then they are called in their turn, to stand before the God and plead their worthiness to enter the Gardens of Gu'yario, and further continue in the Great Cycle.

If found worthy, they are led to the Caverns of Wave, where Real and Unreal mix, and sent on boats across the Nothing Sea to the farthest shore of the Gardens of Gu'yario. They are met at the shore by the City of Mists, and must pass through that place on their own; they must then walk the Path of Many Days; they must then cross the Moon Bridge which is also the Bridge of Broken Glass and Knives, and if they are able to do all these things, they are able to enter the Courtyard of the Gardens, and there they may live for a time, and forget the trials and tribulations of their past life, ever gaurded by the watchful servants of Gu'yario’s Palace, for the Gardens of Gu'yario are also named the Palace of Water; when they have truly forgotten, Gu'yario makes for them a new body and place in the Living World, and sends them On.

Some, rare lucky few, are given leave to enter the Nave of Gu'yario’s Palace- and it is there that they are Transformed from Mortal to Divine.

This is Rare.

If found unworthy, they are given to Kuru'l, H'ronmeer’s servant, to be used and abused as she sees fit- and when she has well and truly broken her toys, she gives them back to H'ronmeer, who takes all that they are, and weaves it into a cloak of many Colors.

This is Common.

 

This Cloak of Colors he wears, always- for there is no waste in the exchange of Death and Life, only… Bargaining.

And when the Moons do not shine in the Sky- when neither Fen'ioras or Dem'ikal will share the sky with cruel-kind Gre'tea, H'ronmeer will cross the Sea of Nothing, and  pass through the City of Mists, and walk the Path of Many Days and cross the Moon Bridge which is also the Bridge of Broken Glass and Knives, and enter the Courtyard of the Gardens of Gu'yario, and once there she will greet him as the Night greets the Dawn. He will cast off his Cloak of Colors, grown heavy and rank- and she will wash it clean and new, and all those broken by Kuru'l will be made whole and be allowed their turn in the Courtyard of Water, and Gu'yario will take H'ronmeer to her bed once more.

And for a time, there will be nothing but peace between the two; but all things have their time.

And H'ronmeer will distrust his lover once again, and leave her Palace; sail back across the sea, to The Burning.

Thusly are the Lands of the Dead arrayed.”

 

- Excerpt from official theo-history of Ma'aleca'andra.

Depiction of Gu'yario, Goddess of Life, from mural on wall of Mur'dean Temple; circa CW1. The inscription in the bottom right corner is graffiti, and  reads “heaven for us will never come”.

“of note is the undulation and movement in the hair- depiction of quality found in goddess?

No hands- powerless to change fate? gentle expression, luminous eyes- in keeping with theme?

Small axial prongs in a cranial orientation- symbolic?

Is the goddess of Life really so wonderful?”

- Excerpt of transcript of student notes; student has been charged with sedition and heresy, and is on trial. For the sake of expediency, the student is assumed dead.

Resinous Stained Glass Panel from Temple Courtyard; reconstruction; circa Present Day. Retrieved by Apprentice Sto'ra Riefras.

The History of Stained Glass is actually the History of Textiles, as it is only a recent development of Technology that allows the creation of the Resinous Panels so common to Temples today.

Originally, a sheet of transparent fabric was dyed a color- generally the color Guarded or Loved by the God/ess of the Temple. It was then tied or twisted around a stone or bone, and dipped into a vat of dye; in some water poor places, the fabric would be laid flat on a smooth piece of coldstone, and a dye paste would be beaten into the fabric. The excess dye would then be removed, and the fabric gently cleaned. For some of the more impressive patterns, this process would be repeated multiple times. A peculiarity of the dyes used created some form of solarized lumescence, as each blank sheet was held under the full Light of Day, and judged by the Head Priest for worthiness- there are written records of the colors “blazing as the Fires of Justice”, or “awash with light as the River Gu'yario’”. It is worth remembering that everything that Enters a Temple- every person, every object- falls under the View of the God/ess that Lives there; it is the Duty of the Priests to ensure that what comes into that View is Worth Seeing.

If the demarcated fabric is deemed worthy, it was taken to the Cloister, where the Nuns would embroider it with translucent threads and panels of fabric, creating fantastic shapes and scenes.

The finished piece, now called a Permeable Panel, would then be reviewed by the Priest, and installed into the Temple.

Resinous Panels came into being on the tail end of CW2, or just after; they are a mixture of pigments, stone flakes, resins, waxes, and yor'ika threads.

The process for creating Resinous Panels is just as labor intensive as for creating Permeable Panels.

It starts with a thin sheet of unbroken Mica; this sheet is laid flat onto a larger piece of coldstone in a special indentation carved specifically for this purpose, and the layer that is meant to be Seen is laid first, in reverse. The rest of the image is placed much the same way; once the image has been completed, a layer of pigment is painted, or poured, into the indentation of the coldstone, followed by another sheet of Mica.

The entire piece is then left for approximately four days, and then removed from it’s mould. It is then taken to a pneumatic press, and squeezed into the shape required.

Rumors of the placement of Tracking devices into Resinous Panels by the State during Production are completely wrong.

- Windows to the Past: A history of Art; Circa post- CW3.

Journal of Apprentice to Sto'ra Dra'ven (7/?)
  • ow
  • ow fuck why
  • ow ow ow ow
  • fuck
  • ow
  • i’m getting blood on my page, hang on
  • motherfucker
  • shit
  • ow ow ow fuckdammit ow
  • okay note to self
  • jumping out of a stained glass window is not a good plan
  • ow fuck mother of owwwwwwwwwwwwww
  • further note to self
  • picking glass out the fast way with sticky tape is also a not good plan
  • ooooooooow
  • ow ow ow
  • fuuuck
  • oooooooooooooow
  • who knew that broken glass would cut so much
  • ooooooooooooooow
  • anyway
  • ow fuck Be'anor watch those pinchies
  • owooowowowowwoooooooooooooow
  • shut up
  • ow
  • okay listing time
  1. two jars of skish-grass seeds, untampered
  2. five belei'leo nuts, untampered
  3. two rolls of dried yor'ika, untampered
  4. one Treh Rug, unburnt
  5. Three new Images
  • not bad for a hard day’s night
  • ow shit fuck dammit
  • yeah, no- I don’t think they know it was me, but it would probably be best to
  • no
  • no no no
  • don’t you dare tell Dra'ven, i’ll never hear the end of it
  • WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU’VE ALREADY TOLD HIM FUCK SHIT FUCK
  • NO I DID NOT HAVE PERMISSION WHY DO YOU THINK I ASKED YOU FOR HELP FUCK FUCK FUCK
  • YES, BE'ANOR, THIS IS DEFINITELY A SITUATION IN WHICH THINKING AHEAD WOULD HAVE BEEN USEFUL
  • FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK
  • no it’s okay just stitch it, another scar really isn’t that important
  • fuck
  • ow ow
  • okay, so… no, Mrie'na is really good at that sort of thing, she’s-
  • yeah, she’s pretty nice
  • yeah, she’s integral
  • ow
  • oh
  • yeah, I can run some interference for you
  • no, sure- really, I don’t mind.
  • I wonder if this is what romantic friendship is- because I don’t want to… Connect. With Be'anor. I want him to be happy.
  • I really wish I had someone to share things with that wasn’t an inanimate object.

War zones or former war zones, often called hostile environments, are not the most obvious places for non-essential travel, but with the right preparation and a bit of luck they can provide the intrepid traveler with a unique experience. It is also, of course, the job of many people to travel to war zones.

Keep in mind that it is very unusual for non-combatants to be wandering around war zones. Even if you have no hostile intentions, your very presence may result in heated reactions; among other things, you may be mistaken for a spy. Tourists can be just as much a target of hostility as any military force. Indeed, tourists could be regarded as a soft target since they do not have the backup of a large organization.

A tourist or independent traveler will probably not have the same backup as someone working for an organization. Usually, those people will have a security team to provide advice and support. Without this, there may be limited backup if things go wrong.

A little research into your chosen destination can turn up a lot of useful advice. Some, such as government issued travel advice can be over cautious, but there are often organizations specializing in safety information- Sto'ra Ma'aleca being the most well known. There  will be NGOs (Non Governmental Organizations) operating in most of these places.

Anyone considering a visit to a State that could be considered a war zone should consider some professional training. Such courses are becoming increasingly easy to find. A search of the Internet for ‘Hostile environment course’ will probably provide the address of a local company. A course will normally cover all the issues discussed here in far greater detail, usually with practical experience. They can be a lot of fun too. A course will normally be from 2-5 days and will involve role play, a lot of first aid and sometimes weapons training. Most NGO staff, journalists, diplomats etc. will have taken these courses.

Most places that have seen armed conflict can be affected by mines or unexploded ordnance (UXO).

In some cases, these may remain dangerous for decades after the conflict ends — after a few years heavily populated or heavily visited areas will generally have been cleaned up, but out-of-the-way places may remain dangerous.

Mines fall into two categories: anti-personnel and anti-tank. Anti-personnel mines generally are not designed to kill. Maiming an enemy combatant is more effective than killing since resources are needed to evacuate. Anti-tank mines will not normally be triggered if you stand on one. They are designed to be triggered by a vehicle. One other point, if you step on an anti-personnel mine, it explodes immediately. No click or any other warning like you see in the movies.

The best advice for any of these devices is to stay well clear. There are often warning signs of their presence. This can be as subtle as an untouched field in the midst of heavily farmed area, an abandoned house in a busy district etc. Packing crates for mines or ammunition may be present, where they have been discarded. A convenient path may be disused. Where mines/UXO have been found, the affected area should be marked. Red paint on rocks is a sure sign. Pieces of cloth or cans hanging from a fence is another. Dead livestock or a pattern of craters are also possible. The best source of advice may be from local people.

Even if minefields are marked, in time sand and wind can move devices into other areas.When in an area that is known or suspected to be mined, stay on paved road when possible. If not possible, follow Eo-tracks or well-trod foot paths. Should you, despite your best efforts, find yourself in a mined area, STOP. Stay where you are and call for assistance from someone who knows what they are doing. If this is not possible, retrace your exact steps back to safety (this is very dangerous). If you have a long rod (even a pen might work), you may be able to check for mines and escape the area. Insert the rod into the ground at a very shallow angle. Mines will not normally be triggered when they are hit from the side. You need to check an area just big enough for your foot. Keep doing this for every step. It could take hours, even days to get out of the danger area, but you should be alive.

Road blocks are common, not just in war zones. They will usually be hidden round a corner in the road (especially if they are not official). Road blocks are most commonly an opportunity for the people manning them to extort money from passers by. There are a few useful rules for dealing with road blocks. First, keep your hands in sight. That way, no one will think you may have a weapon ready. Look pleased to see the people who have stopped you, even if you feel contempt for them. Be polite. Try to stay in the vehicle. If this is not possible, try to stay together, especially if you or others in your group are female. Keep all doors locked and if possible windows closed.

Do not photograph any military checkpoints, roadblocks or facilities. Also do not photograph sensitive areas like bridges, border checkpoints, communications facilities and airports. When in doubt, ask for permission beforehand. In many nations it is an offense to photograph these items - the military may suspect you are gathering information for hostile forces to use in an attack.

To avoid the danger of kidnapping it may be wise to look into hiring a professional bodyguard and a camouflage passport, which is a faux passport “issued” by a non-existent State. Camouflage passports are used to throw off terrorists and abductors, who may be looking to single out a person from a specific nation. Camouflage passports cannot be used for official business, because anyone can purchase these passports with minimal identity verification.

In any kidnapping/abduction, the kidnappers have the least control right at the start. As time passes, their control over the situation increases and the opportunity for the victim to act reduces. Many kidnap attempts are foiled because the intended victim reacts to the attempt in a way that the kidnappers did not expect. If driving a vehicle, reversing away from danger or changing direction may help. Specialist courses are available for drivers.

There are numerous measures an individual can take to avoid/minimise the risk of Kidnap/Abduction. Additionally, should the worst occur and despite all your best efforts, you are taken captive - there are things you can and should be doing in order to maximise the chances of safe repatriation and to minimise unnecessary harm befalling you or other captives. Specialist training in Kidnap Avoidance/Hostage Survival is available and should be sought by those intending to operate in high risk areas - or even those personnel whose personal or corporate profile renders them at an increased risk of kidnap.

If you are unfamiliar with firearms and what they can do, get training before you enter a hostile environment. As an unarmed civilian, your best bet is to avoid active conflict areas.

If you are shot at, move and move fast. If you can, move across the line of fire and not directly away from the shooting. If you are part of a group, scatter in different directions. This may confuse the person with the firearm, long enough to find cover.

Do not take cover behind vehicles. Pistol bullets easily pass through both doors of a car; rifle bullets can pass through a vehicle lengthwise; grenades, mortars and cannon shells can destroy most vehicles altogether. Stopped or disabled vehicles are “bullet magnets” that draw fire. The best protection provided by a car or truck is its ability to move away at high speed. If forced to take cover behind a vehicle or inside one, put the engine block between yourself and the shooter - it rarely gets penetrated by small arms fire.

Walls, trees, and structures provide concealment, but may not provide cover. The 7.62mm round used by the AK-47, a common assault rifle in war zones, can pass through a concrete block. The less powerful 9mm pistol round can go through a dozen layers of sheetrock. Both weapons are Darkmarket- if you are being shot at with them, you have more problems than this article can advise for.

The chances of being caught up in an explosion are pretty remote in the Lower. Avoiding high risk locations, such as restaurants or bars frequented by people that could be targets is an option. If you are unlucky enough to be in the area of an explosion, leave as quickly as possible. This is because an increasingly common tactic by terrorists is to trigger a small explosion, followed by a large one to catch crowds and rescuers. If at all possible, Stay out of the Upper.

In some areas, some travelers go armed; for example civilian contractors in Dek'a are sometimes advised to carry weapons. The best response to such advice is, obviously, not to go there! If you must go, traveling with armed guards is generally a better alternative than arming yourself.

For most travelers, carrying a weapon will increase the risks rather than reducing them. If you carry a weapon, you are not a civilian. You will be seen as a spy or soldier, and treated as such by armed groups. Carrying a weapon you are not trained to use is extremely foolish. Even if you are an expert, a pistol will not be much use against people with AK-47s or sniper rifles. This is a case where if you need to ask, then you shouldn’t do it.

 - Excerpt from the highly illegal Ventu'ra’s Guide to The Wide Wide World; circa Present Day.

This is required reading for all Sto'ra. No Exceptions.

3

Kuru Pendants are valuable resources for historians- they can hold the most powerful memories of any individual, and can survive centuries unharmed; they can also hold the Mnemonic Shape of a person, if they are sufficiently practiced in the Psychic skill of Imprintation.

It is a fact of Ma'alecan biology that there are Six crystal matrixes in the skull of the average person. They are located deep to the occipital bone. Each crystal has a specific Resonance Point, and is generally used by the Ma'alecan to fine tune psychic resonances in ways not fully understood.

What is understood, thanks to Doctor D'kay D'razz, and her experimentation on the prisoners of      , is that each crystal serves a specific purpose; the center Cyrstal, which she named the Nex, contains all the information that specifies who a person Is. It is composed of highly compressed, highly conductive silicate, and it’s presence after Joining is evidence of Nexation. It’s color is not dependent on Color, or Gender, but on Person- the integeral structure of the person dictates the Color and Structure of the Nex. Doctor D'kay D'razz observed that Fractured individuals had the most asthetically pleasing Nexes, while unFractured individuals had the most conductive Nexes.

The other Five crystals serve much smaller purposes; Red is used primarily in Psychic Aplifications and Receptions; Green is used in Precognition and Recognition of Patterns; Yellow is used in Abstraction, and Creativity; White is used in Interpersonal Relationships; Black is used for Physical Locality.

It is noted that the “most powerful” of a Color or Generation generally has a particularly intricate Nex, or a slightly above average sized crystal in one of the Colors. Instances of out-sized Red is most “common”, followed by White, Yellow, Green, and Black.

Damage to the Nex results in a complete and irreversible change in the Person. This is called Fracture.

Damage to any of the Five Crystals results in an impairment of senses- consider going colorblind and being unable to smell at the same time. Damage of this sort, however, is self-repairing with regard to the severity of the Damage.

Kuru Pendants are crystalline in structure, and much hardier than the internal Nex or Crystals of the average Ma'alecan.

Sadly, the knowledge of how to create Kuru Pendants has been lost.

Excerpt from the highly restricted History of the Kuru Pendant, circa Present Day.

Picture of Fields Beholden to Ambassadorial Palace Seven, in District Ten of Yun'dras; Circa Present day.

Ambassadorial Palaces (AP) are a phenomenon specific to City-states- in that, it is usually a building the size of an Apartment Block, generally all the way Up and Down. It is almost completely self sufficient; a single AP can produce up to 90% of all it’s required food. There are several White Families that are attached to the AP, and stay with it regardless of the Ambassador’s own movements.

It is a common theme in Romantic Fiction for one of the Servants attached to the Ambassador to become romantically entangled with one of the Servants attached to the AP.