Paul Nabil Matthis
ORKSONG is the completed first installment of an adult epic fantasy series traversing bitter rivalries between powerful mages, vengeful duels, and embattled gods against the backdrop of an expansive, multicultural world on the brink of a resource war. As a half-Syrian writer, I love using the scope of fantasy to examine the interplay of race and identity, particularly for individuals of mixed ethnicities. It's ultimately envisioned as a multimedia project involving music and video inspired by the novel, along with a role-playing game currently being workshopped around Los Angeles.
About the Author
A brief bio
I'm a writer and musician living in Los Angeles. I've had one short story publication in an indie fantasy anthology called Champions. I have an MFA in music from California Institute of the Arts, where I composed for several award-winning dance and film works, and also wrote and performed in an original urban fantasy rock musical. My compositions have been in over 30 festivals around the world, and I’ve written, consulted, and performed for several grant-funded projects in California and New York. I also front a band and run a live-looping music channel on YouTube that’s nearing 100,000 views.
Get in touch
Definition of terms
One of the five sentient races. They average 4 to 5.5 feet tall, have dark or ashy grey skin with white or silver hair and light eyes, usually red, orange, or yellow. They ask the flame.
The kell goddess of wood and nature in general.
Also called the Aghevorran Basin. A hidden urokh city in an enormous valley at the peak of Mount Dhumakot. It is surrounded by the Rim.
The manipulation of the element associated with one’s species. There are five aspects of the asking: the hadi ability and its cost, the body, the proximity effect, and the emotion tied to it.
The duarven goddess of stone.
A long, meandering river running east-west across the northern duarven territories.
The highest order of Faeric Master, a title few possess. Attaining it involves mastery of fighting forms, musical performance, and the Resonic language, as well as memorizing a large canon of noted works. They are agents of Mother Rin, with abilities of pure vibration not tied to a single element, though the poets have often named the wind as Rin’s element. Some say this is simply because it's an easy rhyme.
The eastern half of Aghevorra City. Its residents are considered lower class.
Monsters that infest Mount Dhumakot, theorized to be corrupted beasts from living too long in the Deeps. They grow larger with age and are white or grey in color where not covered in red boils. They are generally venomous, hard-skinned or carapaced, extremely aggressive, and very hard to kill.
A region densely populated by bogynn, directly south of the Southern Ward of Aghevorra.
Chamber of Hob
The deepest chamber of the Temple of Hob, sealed behind an ancient, heavily warded door. It houses the Aghevorran Greatward and a shrine to Doraz Mottlecloak, which includes her fully black faerstone armor.
Also called The Citadel-upon-Dhumakot or the The Ælven Citadel. It was the fortress of the Ælf-King Ulenor, a huge complex whose main purpose was mining the faerstone of Dhumakot to fuel the ælven Faeric Masters during the Faerstone War.
A duarven city to Dhumakot’s southeast. It contains a prominent university and urban stoneshot network.
Also called whitehair or runtling (offensive). An individual with the tusks and claws of an ork or half-ork, but with skin ashy green instead of brown green, white hair, and bright red eyes. Usually smaller in stature compared to a half-ork.
Large black birds, one of the few who freely venture to the elevation of Aghevorra.
Also called The Mottlecloak. Originally a Tier 6 slave in The Citadel mines of Dhumakot, she rose to the rank of Tier 5 overseer and fell in love with with a Tier 4 liason named Ainwo, a midderling ælf. She is an entirely self-taught Faeric Master, and is viewed as a god by the orks she liberated from the Citadel's slave mines.
One of the five sentient races. They average 3 to 4.5 feet in stature, but can sometimes be as wide as they are tall. They are pale-skinned, often with freckles, often blond or red-haired, and have pale eyes, usually blue, green, or hazel. All duarves can grow facial hair, though it’s usually lighter for females. They ask the stone.
A region of Dhumakot between Cobhail and the Rim. Formerly the Citadel and its grounds.
A major ælven city on the border of the duarven territories. Castle Eterna dominates its skyline.
The study and use of faerstone.
An individual who has devoted their life to the study and use of faerstone. There are many classifications of a Faeric Master, such as Bard, wardsmith, gaoler, and blood warrior.
The product of smelting fully black faerstone with iron. It still receives weak wards, and can “conduct” the abilities of the asking or drawing through faerstone, functioning as a focal point. Most Faeric Masters have a faeron implement to aid in their practice.
A mystical red mineral that magnifies the asking tenfold, as well as providing myriad purposes for the Faeric Masters. It streaks with black the more it’s used, and when a piece is fully black, it loses its power.
A duarven city due west of Dhumakot. It contains one of the last functioning Greatwards.
Ganry Quarter, The
Collection of large estates in the northwest corner of the Aghevorran Basin, home to wealthy merchants.
A useful flowering bush. Its leaves produce an expensive blue dye, and its roots can be used in various foods and beverages, including alcohol and tea. The scent of its root is used by the urokhs to help stave off the rage.
A large and powerful ward. All are ancient, as there is no longer enough faerstone to build new ones, and many have been broken, dismantled, or destroyed.
Groves of Hathir, The
The sacred groves of the kell, full of Hathir trees from which new kell are birthed.
The ork god, twin to Promæthan, who defied Rin and did not create a race out of jealousy. For his defiance Promæthan struck him with his flaming sword, and Gromm fled. From his blood sprang the orks, which spread all across the world.
The trance-like state required for any asking above a rudimentary level. In Resonic, it loosely translates as “to pass through.”
The human deity of water. Hob is genderless and can take many forms.
One of the five sentient races. They average 4.5 to 6 feet with brown or copper skin and dark hair, usually curled or frizzy, with eyes of brown, black, or hazel. Their kind have grown scarce since the ælven atrocities, hunted down for their ability to mate with other races, producing midderlings. They ask the water.
A close member of the ælven royal lineage who has been put in charge of a stronghold.
Literally, “finders, keepers” in Resonic. The unofficial motto of the Aghevorran Basin.
One of the five sentient races. Most kell range from 2 to 3.5 feet, but can be larger or smaller depending on age and circumstances. Like the plants from which they gain their asking, their appearance varies wildly. But once they age, they will generally develop a carapace on their back and shoulders.
An Auger-class duarven tanker built by the Saugus family. It’s a carrier sea vessel with a hidden compartment for smuggling freed slaves and refugees to the north.
A single-bladed axe with a haft anywhere from 4 to 6 feet long.
An annual warrior’s tournament in Aghevorra, comprising of two days: the Day of Firsts and the Day of Champions. Those who win the Day of Firsts may compete in the Day of Champions the following year. Both Champions receive the Five Boons: the honor, the feast, the song, the title, and the blessing. The blessing is performed in the sealed Chamber of Hob far beneath the Aghevorran Temple.
A non-human sentient individual with at least one human ancestor. Some consider the term offensive.
The godhead deity that gave birth to the universe with her song, and the Five, her children, who created each of the five sentient races.
One of the five sentient races. Their average height ranges from 6 to 8 feet. Their skin is green, with dark eyes and straight, dark hair. Most cannot grow facial hair, and what body hair they have grows in well-defined patches. They ask the blood.
Ælven plantations situated between Eterna and the border of the northern duarven territories.
Four black ward towers, one for each cardinal direction, that sit on the very edge of the Rim facing outward. These have several mysterious properties, all toward keeping bogynn and outsiders away from the Aghevorran basin.
Terrifying hunter hounds controlled by the ælves used to seek out prey, usually escaped slaves, refugees, or criminals.
The ælven god of fire, twin to Gromm.
Also called the veil, the crimson veil, or Gromm’s curse. This indicates the orkish ability to go into a berserker’s rage when they experience physical pain.
Kell who die may be reborn in a rebirth tree. If the tree is destroyed before this happens, the kell dies forever.
Wavy, often symmetrical or fractal patterns that visually repesent tones, rhythm, and sound. They can grow extremely complex very quickly, and commonly involve arithmetic for true accuracy. They are highly individualized, and Faeric Masters can often sense them when around others using the hadi. They also occur naturally in the wake of the asking.
Traditional faeron implements of the Faeric Masters, always used in pairs. They have no sharp edges, but are highly acoustically tuned.
The complex language of music and the faeric arts, consisting of three forms: linear, graphic, and kantori (melodic). There are 129 common runes and thousands of graphemes. Kantori takes years of study to learn and a lifetime to master.
A ring of peaks and cliffs that surrounds the Aghevorran Basin. It is broken only by a narrow ridge to the south through which the Saimhee River flows.
An enormous creature of living ice and snow that can take various forms. Resides in Elivagar.
The common language spoken by most cultures in Midan, although there are many different dialects.
The river that bisects the Aghevorran Basin, a collection of many streams from around the Rim. It ends in the Saimhee Falls by the Souther Ward, and continues to spiral down the mountain, spilling into the sea at Thornwaithe.
A blanket term for the city and isles near Sanctuary Harbor. It’s controlled by duarves, but as a major trading hub sees all types of individuals pass through.
Ælven corps who handle phirir for the purpose of recapturing escaped slaves, mostly kell. Can be used for any tracking, such as criminals or even anyone of a particular race.
Slave Tiers (ælven, antiquity)
Tier 1 - apprentice (ælf)
Tier 2 - indentured (usually debt, can be occupation) (ælf)
Tier 3 - criminal (as a punishment/sentence) (ælf)
Tier 4 - liason (midderling ælf)
Tier 5 - overseer (any non-ælf excluding full ork)
Tier 6 - slave (any non-ælf, all full orks)
Western half of Aghevorra City, considered middle class or well-to-do.
A mode of railed transportation resembling a mining cart with seats and emergency breaks, powered by duarven stone asking. They come in many sizes, from private luxury to freighter, the latter of which can transport a several hundred individuals plus cargo.
Temple of Hob
Also called the Aghevorran Temple. A large temple to the human deity in Aghevorra. Its single entrance is flanked by twin waterfalls, and all of it resides underground. Near the surface it is a series of ornate rooms for various ceremonies, meals, study, and training, and descends into cavernous chambers further down. It also contains the major infirmary of Aghevorra.
A hundred or so islands east of Sanctuary, each with its own unique culture and commerce.
Usually bluish white with black patterns along the spine and forehead. They live in the northern tundras and tend to hunt nocturnally.
A human city to Dhumakot’s northeast where the mountain meets the sea. It is the only city with which Aghevorra trades, thus by proxy the only major source of faerstone to the eastern cities.
How the midderling orks of Aghevorra refer to themelves.
Faerstone or Faeron inscribed with Resonic and reson patterns, which stores complex combinations of runes, chants, songs, prayers, etc. for a wide variety of purposes.
A Faeric Master who uses faerstone to create and maintain wards.
Less urbanized duarves of the western ranges, particularly the Gamela Mountains and plains to the south. They are aggressive and proud, and still have a king.
A four-legged dog-like animal that can vary greatly in size and coloration.
A wandering monk of antiquity, assumed human or midderling.