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Reeling in the Years
A Fearful Glance At The Passage of Time
By S. John Ross

Every kingdom reckons time according to its own standards, but the Rinden "church calendar" is familiar: 12 months named March, April, May, June and so on, approximating our own year. The biggest differences are that the New Year begins with March, which begins at the Vernal Equinox (more or less). Most other kingdoms have similar calendars, but name the months differently. It's also common to refer to the months descriptively, according to season (calling January "Midwinter" or August "Summersend," etc). In a few lands (Orgalt, and some Heltish kingdoms) the New Year begins with summer, instead of spring.

The month-oriented method descends from the older moon-oriented method, the "farmer's calendar" (also called the Heltish method) which still dominates rural areas. The moon-calendar has twelve moons in most years, but adds a thirteenth every third year or so to take up the slack. The local name of each moon is usually a reference to some important event it oversees ... for example, the early-summer moon is called the "Scarab Moon" in Temphis, due to the annual plague of Peach Beetles in the southeast. In the Rindenland, the old High Tembrian moon-names were corrupted over time into the current names of months. In regions toward Uresia's middle, where the vernia are sighted most frequently, there are some calendars based on their movements, or which incorporate them into the counting and naming of the moons.

The nearest thing to a universal calendar is the most exact (and arcane) one: the Nonathorian calendar of Sindra, popular across the grave with merchant houses and others concerned with port-to-port precision unadulterated by the local color. Nonathorian Reckoning is also magical reckoning, incorporating the flow of significant forces and predictable omens (including the Sindran zodiac, associated vernia, and runic dominance), making it the preferred calendar of most wizards.

In Nonathor's calendar, the year is divided into seasonal hundreds and 52 named weeks, each with its own fable about a foolish mage. Their names are drawn from the magical folklore (and in many cases true but disputed histories) of every Uresian land of Nonathor's time. One week per year, rotating through the final weeks of each season, is "long week" to maintain precision (8-day weeks, except in "summer years," when the last week of summer is 9 days). Formally speaking, Nonathor's calendar has no "months" at all, but each season is said to pass through three turns that approximate them. Dates in this system are usually by the week ("born on the 5th day of Baracet"), but the merchant houses number by the season ("shipment received on the 89th morning of the Autumn Hundred").

[Calendar Graphic]

The Summer Hundred (click it for more), divided into turns (months) and showing both regular and merchant dates. In Rinden, these turns are June, July, and August. In Temphis, they are Miernoth, Collack, and Soalreth. Their usual descriptive names are "Youngsummer, Midsummer, and Summersend."

Where Does All the Time Go?

There is a mystery nested in Nonathor's calendar. Nonathor Levanter, who lived in Sindra about 900 years ago, was the first scholar to downplay the usual business with sun, vernia and moon to instead extrapolate a calendar's structure from magic numbers representing time, energy, and aesthetic perfection. Many of these numbers had their origins in his own (extensive) work as a sorcerer-historian.

But what modern scholars and merchants call "the Nonathorian calendar" is more properly Nonathor's Perceptual Calendar. The Perceptual is derived from his Precise Calendar, suppressed by his brethren in Ballicazar for many years following his disappearance (or death) in 514.

Nonathor's methods led him to a conclusion his peers didn't care for: that the Uresian year, in its perfect and healthy state, is exactly 400 days, with 100 days passing from equinox to solstice and back again. Nonathor believed Uresia's year had become flawed due to external influences - external attacks, eating away fragments of time. This notion greatly amused the elder sorcerers, humorless as a rule, but positively jovial when it meant a chance to belittle a wizard of lesser rank. They made sport of Nonathor's belief that Uresia's year was being wounded somehow.

Publicly, Nonathor amended his work, producing the Perceptual Calendar. Privately, and with the aid of a few friends (including Mariamne, the young wife of another sorcerer and the source of further scandal in Nonathor's life) he continued refining the original, and investigated the "thieves of days" he believed it revealed. The final drafts of his calendar - baroque diagrams crowded with annotations and silhouettes of sinister figures - tell of a race of demons who walk among us, and of the 8 days, 16 hours, 32 minutes, 48.5 seconds they steal from each season: the "dead festivals" of the year, in which life and matter locks in time and becomes a shadowy playground for creatures who become shadows themselves, going where they please, learning our secrets and plotting to unknown ends.

When Nonathor and his friends vanished on the 4th of Tala, 514, it was amid scandalous accusations regarding the romance between he and Mariamne (which he denied, even to his closest surviving friends), and equally-scandalous accusations regarding the theft of two great ensorcelled hourglasses from the Silver Regent of the Morundath Academy. Several of Nonathor's calendar-drafts were recovered from his chambers, along with volumes of his notes. His brethren sealed all these in the vaults and, after a time, they were simply forgotten.

Recently, several sorcerers, eager to commemorate the achievements of their order, began perusing Nonathor's documents, and found the forgotten "Precise" calendars. They are no longer secret, but they're still unknown outside Ballicazar's scholarly circles. The wizards are pondering setting some Loreseekers to the task of discovering the truth - if there is any - to Nonathor's scribbled warnings that "the thieves of days walk among us, as men."


Notes

The 7 days of the week (Nonathorian) are Abralan, Uajan, Ezaran, Yilian, Igrilan, Ormulan, and Xan. Xan is the "day of rest" and repeats during Long Week. These are their south-Sindran names; elsewhere they're often corrupted or replaced (Temphis, for example, prefers the local names of Bulday, Forunday, Thulday, Prinday, Verinday, Whalday and Xanday, while Rinden uses Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc.).

According to the Temphis dukes, the months are Sendil, Baernoth, Reedwil, Miernoth, Collack, Soalreth, Silvering, Dorinoth, Nandrayle, Fetherel, Silik, and Goragus ... but even the Grand Duke will swap "Dorinoth" and "Midfall" at random in conversation, and wouldn't be confused if someone called it "October." The High Tembrian names for the moons are Mendriar, Adril, Mariar, Jen, Jelian, Audriar, Sembriar, Tendriar, Nolendar, Desandar, Jenuar, and Fabriar, with the 13th (Xanuar) invoked at need.

The 52 Nonathorian weeks are, in Sindran: (1) Gloran, (2) Egan, (3) Dunora, (4) Hant, (5) Eostre, (6) Kalsius, (7) Mieer, (8) Grelt, (9) Snimm, (10) Dhulen, (11) Murt, (12) Holf, (13) Atlia, (14) Yadrim, (15) Iroy, (16) Hamentyle, (17) Quore, (18) Horvath, (19) Loro, (20) Payan, (21) Kantono, (22) Haud, (23) Bold Rute, (24) Kovac, (25) Gose, (26) Reagol, (27) Leisa, (28) Eladar, (29) Scorolet, (30) Baracet, (31) Jhow, (32) Chayor, (33) Tala, (34) Barsha, (35) Whidderet, (36) Bort, (37) Salvia, (38) Sarat, (39) Sora, (40) Hrus, (41) Fogo, (42) Baffin, (43) Lesser ("Low") Alm, (44) Greater ("High") Alm, (45) Efarazar, (46) Sinensis, (47) Yehm, (48) Mirunda, (49) Gelmir, (50) Imbriel, (51) Lod and (52) Homadra. Weeks listed in italic type are the season endings, which become Long Week in turn. The current year, 1380, is a summer year, so Reagol is "Long Reagol."

Version 4.0 - Copyright © 2005, 2007, 2008 by S. John Ross

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