Map of Dar Orien
Map of the Realm of Dar Orien
(an extract from Songbird)
Near the outer walls of Ilkyrie Irenya tilted her face to the sun. A breeze cooled her damp skin and fanned the muskiness of lavender past her nose. She lifted the hem of her skirt and wiped her face.
‘You’re very spry, Aeryl.’
‘For my age and weight you mean?’ The herbalist chuckled. Her movements deft, she cut long stems and lay the mauve flowers in a flat basket. ‘ I grew up climbing the mountain slopes of Cypria. There is no lavender oil in Dar Orien to match the blooms from those wild highlands.’ She rolled a flower head between her fingers and inhaled, her eyes closed. ‘Remind me later and I will let you smell the honey-sweet sunshine of Cypria.’
Irenya moved into the next row and began to cut stems. After several minutes she stopped to massage her hands and stare across the valley at the citadel. By her reckoning they were at least a kilometre away yet the place still appeared large, more like a collection of circular towers than one complete building. From a distance the overall effect was one of asymmetrical beauty. Pocked with windows, the towers rose like small apartment blocks, each topped with a turret. Coloured banners flicked in the breeze.
‘Nine banners, one for each princedom,’ was Aeryl’s answer to Irenya’s question. ‘Midrash is yellow, Cypria blue, Ilketh gold, and so on. We can’t see their crests from here.’
Irenya counted. ‘Ten. I can see ten.’
The herbalist straightened and her mouth turned downwards. ‘White. For Dael Gaia Curtain.’
Irenya waited, her next question hanging unspoken in the laced air.
‘One day the Curtain will be occupied again.’ Aeryl returned to her work, selecting and snipping.
‘What is the Curtain, exactly?’
‘It was a fortress,’ said Aeryl, ‘home of the MageGate for centuries.’
That word again. MageGate. Ask! But Irenya went back to cutting and the moment passed.
The plants were old, the new growth incongruously tender against gnarled bark. The scent and the smell of sun-warmed earth reminded her of her mother toiling in the garden long ago, fighting a hot Melbourne summer as if it were an enemy returning for the annual war…
The princedoms of Dar Orien
Blue with a lavender sheaf
Ruling prince, Virinel
Pale yellow with a pyramid of precious gems
Ruling prince, Piro
Brown with a branch of the pomegranate tree
Ruling prince, Ivoran
Red with gold-dusted exotic fruits
Ruling prince, Jessemesh
Purple with a tankard of beer above a rush of white water
Ruling prince, Jaros
Orange with a scatter of precious metals
Ruling prince, Riadan
Gold with a sheaf of grain
Ruling prince (also archprince) Elaaron
Green with a rearing horse
Ruling prince, Innes
Aquamarine with a fish wearing a coronet of pearls
Ruling prince, Lucan
Dael Geia Curtain
(not a true princedom)
Once home of successive MageGates, now a ruined fortress
(not a princedom)
Sometimes referred to as Bliss Island.
Prison for dangerous felons. No warders or officials.