Want to know more about the Spectra world? Every month we will release a new article explaining more about some part of the Spectra world or its inhabitants.
|Posted by Christie V Powell on September 30, 2015 at 2:05 AM|
The Spectra have lived in separate kingdoms, based on their abilities, since before written history. The relationships between the various clans changed frequently, but for the most part, they kept to themselves. The Sprites were last to choose a king and unite the various settlements in their kingdom, only a few years after humans first entered the Sprite kingdom.
Everything changed in the year 111 after human discovery. Before then, Stygians, which are Spectra that have taken oaths which give additional abilities, attacked small settlements, but never on a wide scale. In the year 111, a Stygian managed to conquer first Castalia, and then Merlandia and the Cole Kingdom. A few survivors escaped to the other clans, which banded together in the face of this great threat. Once the Stygian was defeated, the Spectra leaders began meeting together yearly. In the year 126, they built a hidden retreat at the center of the continent. The walls of the hidden place were created with Spectrite, a substance manufactured by all six abilities combined, and which repels Stygians. The location and the yearly meeting were both called the Summit, and the meetings continue to this day, with each leader bringing an heir, a custom begun in the year 157.
|Posted by Christie V Powell on July 22, 2015 at 11:15 PM|
I sure wish I brought this journal to the summit, because so much happened and I’m not sure I can remember everything. I was so excited last year, even though I was sad too because that was right after the accident and I felt like I was taking Cass’s place. This year I was just excited to see G again, but he didn’t even come! At least I got to meet his sister. She’s nice, but she was quieter than I thought she would be, from G’s description. I guess she was just worried about the matching, and I can’t say I blame her! I can’t describe how scary it was, just sitting there waiting for the rulers to get to the point. But they did. And now for the best news of all… Momma chose Glen, and his dad said yes! I couldn’t believe it! I mean, Momma knows I like him, and she said she’d try, so I wasn’t super surprised, but I did worry. Keita—that’s G’s sister—said I couldn’t be matched with Lectrans or Nomes or Coles. I didn’t get how she knew but I was relieved. That Nome was really creepy, and the Lectran seemed awfully stuck up. The Muse prince was okay. Keita’s dad picked him, and I think she’s glad but she won’t admit it. The Cole princess Carli was nice, once we got to know each other. Her dad picked a guy who wasn’t even there, Brian (the Muse prince)’s brother Griffin. She was kinda nervous about that but we ganged up on Brian after and made him tell us all about him (Griffin), and he didn’t sound so bad. I get to go visit the Sprite kingdom in a few weeks and I’m really excited! I’ll remember to bring my journal this time.
|Posted by Christie V Powell on July 22, 2015 at 11:15 PM|
I hope someday I can see you and give you this letter. When you left, you told me you were going to fix things so I didn’t have to go through with the same things you did. Well, you’re too late. I would have run away like you if Dad didn’t have me watched so closely. The summit wasn’t so bad, just boring. The other heirs were okay. At least the girls. I didn’t hang out with the boys much. It turns out that Dad wants to match me up with some guy I haven’t even met. He’s a Cole like us, but his parents are the Muse rulers. I didn’t even know that was possible. I haven’t heard anything bad about him, at least. I don’t know if you’ve heard about it, but the kings came up with a nasty way of making sure we do what they say. They fixed these chains to our wrists so that everybody knows we’re “claimed” (ugh!). I’ve tried everything I could think of, but I can’t get mine off. The marriages aren’t supposed to happen for a couple years though. When you left you said I wasn’t old enough to come with you. Well, I’m older now. Will you come back for me?
Love, your sister, Carli
|Posted by Christie V Powell on July 22, 2015 at 11:10 PM|
Hundreds of years ago, the first year according to our calendar, human explorers landed on the gentle beaches of our land, in the region of Lectranis known as Hunan, or Human Landing. They found good farmland backed by the Shield Mountains, with the rich prairies of central Lectranis to the south and the great deserts of Nomelands north and west over the Shields. Those first explorers called the land Vesspucia, though even now they argue over whether it is a large island or small continent.
Further explorations revealed the rich variety of climates across our land. They sent colonists, who built a new town at the first landing place, a home base from whence other parties could set out to explore. They soon ran into their first Spectra. The Lectrans treated them well, interested in their culture and new materials they had brought with them, but other clans were less friendly. The humans were wary with every clan, and rumors flew, with strange words like ‘magic’ and ‘witches’. Violent conflict began, and after many years, the Spectra went into hiding and all but disappeared from human awareness.
Spectra written history begins from this point. While the Spectra did have a system of runes, painted onto rocks or carved into trees, the humans introduced a more comprehensive written language, and paper for portable records. Within two hundred years the Spectra language had all but died out, and only a few scholars could read our runes. The Spectra also adopted the human calendar and began counting years, starting from the year humans landed on our land. Thus, when we say the Spectra went into hiding in the year 22, we mean that it took place twenty two years after human discovery.
|Posted by Christie V Powell on|
I remember, before my oldest was born, people telling me how motherhood would feel. “It’s amazing,” they said. “You’ll want to give the baby anything. You’d be willing to die for him.”
I’m sitting now on a dusty floor of a cave deep in the mountains. The sun is just rising but the air is still chilled. The small blanket across my shoulders is barely anything, yet I can’t seem to force myself to get up and put it down. I will have to, soon. My son will awaken and we both need to eat. Better to gather the wild plants we need now, before the sun gets too high and the desert air becomes so hot your soul seems to melt through your pores.
At home, I had a comfortable bed. Thick brick walls that reflected the worst of the heat. Staples in the cupboards that I could combine into a million different dishes. Friends. Children. Halvard.
By my side, Dale stirs. His elbow brushes my side. The cave was uncomfortably small when he was eight. Now, two years later, we barely fit. His shaggy dark hair falls into his eyes. He has his father’s features, though I am told his dark eyes resemble mine. Easier to see is his resemblance to his siblings’: all five are dark haired, but Dale and Nedra are lighter than the others. I compare them often, when he’s asleep. He was once paler than the others but our years in the desert have darkened his skin. He was always the lightest, fast on his feet, slim and trim. Scrawny, Halvard said, and insisted the boy exercise and eat more, to get him to the solid build of the others. I blamed it on his being the baby: the other four are much older. He was a happy surprise, and what did it matter to me if he were a bit small?
We waited eagerly for Dale’s debut day, when his abilities would surface. Halvard was already suspicious. I was eager to prove him wrong. He even brought up the options, if our son were a crossover. Abandonment. Petrification. With our climate so inhospitable, which would be most merciful? I was angry at the talk. Dale is small. That meant nothing. No freckles, no unusual hair. Just small. Just a baby.
I remember the look on his face. Pure joy. He held a wire sculpture in his hands, a mass of little wires that buzzed when I touched it. “Very nice,” I said, “but don’t show Daddy.”
I could not answer. How could I tell him that his special talent made him guilty? My silence proved our undoing, for he showed Halvard when my back was turned. I won’t recount the arguments. The tears. The hate where love had been. My older children had their own families. Halvard had friends, yes, friends who would have disdained his different boy. But Dale had no one. No one but me.
His eyes open. His face is too thin, his skin course from the sun, but he is alive. “Morning, Momma,” he says, bouncing to his feet. Where does that energy come from? Did he somehow siphon off all of mine? I remove the blanket from my shoulders, straighten my ragged dress, and stand. Out on the desert we will find food. We have a rusty pump—once a spring, but Dale had assembled garbage to create the pump that brought us water all year. All two years. He’s got a gift, my boy.
My friends were wrong. I am not willing to die for my boy. I give him not a single act but an eternity of choices, day by day, moment by moment. I live for my boy.
|Posted by Christie V Powell on|
Look up. Do you see the stars? Did you know they are people? They talk to each other, and work and play and live together just as we do. In the darkness of the beginning, long before any of our kind existed, the stars still lived.
This is a tale of a star’s daughter, Earth, child of Sun and Moon. Her parents had settled far from others and she longed for companionship. Her father, Sun, surprised her one day with a gift. He called it plant. Earth’s new plants spread and multiplied, and for a time she was happy.
The plants grew numerous, but after a time they forgot about Earth and she became lonely again. This time she talked to her mother, Moon. Moon too gave her a gift, called Animal. The animals too spread, and they kept the plants in check. But they multiplied, ate too many of the plants, or each other. Earth had to monitor them constantly. And they too forgot her.
The next time, Earth did not go to her father or to her mother. She looked into her own heart, and she created one more being. She gave it the green cast of the plants and the form of the animals. She taught it to balance upright. She taught it to care for the other creatures. Most of all she taught it to never forget her. That was the first Sprite. We have also spread, but we have never forgotten Earth.
|Posted by Christie V Powell on|
This is a scene from "Unearthed" where Keita learns to trust her friend Carli even when confronting her greatest fear.
A whiff of smoke stung Keita’s nose. She clenched her fists, trying to stop her hands from shaking. It didn’t work. “They’re going to burn us out, aren’t they?”
Carli nodded. “But don’t worry. They can’t burn us while I’m here.”
“They’d see you stop it!” Her voice was higher than she intended.
“Not so loud.”
Keita buried her face in her hands. Images were parading through her mind. Old trees devoured by flames. A hedge of maples turned to black ash. People running, screaming, carrying friends and family, their exposed skin changing to red and black and streaks of struggling green.
Heat licked the air. Keita could see flickering orange light through the gaps in the crates. They would have to move. Fight the guards. Never mind how many. Petrifying couldn’t be worse than this.
“Keita, just calm down! I can help. Trust me.”
“I can’t!” The words escaped before she could stop them.
“Of course you can. You’re a tough never-show-fear Sprite, remember?”
“We all hate fire.”
“Not like this.”
Carli looked concerned but not at all afraid. Keita forced herself to sit straight, but she couldn’t stop the shaking. “I’m sorry. I’m being weak.”
Something crashed behind them, and Keita barely stopped a shriek. “That wasn’t close,” Carli said.
Keita straightened again. “Sorry. It’s just... during the takeover… the Stygian started a wildfire in the Vale. It shouldn’t have burned, not with the trees covered by the first winter snow, but… it did. Fast. I got Avie, Glen got Zuri—she was visiting—and we went straight for the Summit. I left Avie in the mountains, when we were far enough away, and came back. I found Father. He had made it up the canyon. He tried to talk to me, but the pain…and his skin…and... and… he didn’t make it.”
Carli’s face had turned pale under her freckles. “I’m sorry. I knew you were pretty bad off when you got to the Summit.”
“I was alone. They didn’t let me leave again. And Avie didn’t show up… It was half a season, sitting in the Summit with nothing to do but worry, and I didn’t even know if she was alive.”
Carli took her hand. “Keita, I’m sorry. Really. But you’re not alone anymore. I can get us out of this, but I need to you trust me.”
Keita could see her reflection in her friend’s eyes. I’m glad there are no other Sprites here, she thought. I look pathetic. Carli was calm, in control. Keita had seen her do amazing things. She’d put her life in her friends’ hands before, time after time. She could do it again. She took a deep breath. Then, slowly, she nodded.
Carli smiled. “We’ll be fine,” she promised.
A sudden crack told her that the roaring fire had reached their hiding place. Keita flinched.
“It’s okay,” Carli said. “Look.”
Slowly Keita turned. The crate behind her was ablaze. She scurried back, but even as she moved she noticed that the heat wasn’t hurting, not even when her toes and skirt brushed the flames. She looked back at Carli. “How are you doing that?”
“I’m not. We’re doing it together.”
“Look.” Carli held out her hand. The fingernails were cracked and discolored, but even as the girls watched the injuries blurred and faded away. “You should have seen it a few minutes ago. I got stepped on in the mob. We’re sharing our defenses, see? Zuri calls it unifying.”
An orange flicker played on Keita’s sleeve, part of the flames dancing all around them. They were sort of pretty, she thought. If you could get past the fact that they wanted to kill you. She took a deep breath. They were safe. At least for now.
|Posted by Christie V Powell on|
While the Spectra adopted the human language relatively quickly after humans first arrived on their isle, given names and place names were slower to change. Many regions retain their pre-human names today, most notably the Mer capital city Jaladi. Others, such as the kingdom of Castalia and the Cole city Shillave, began as Spectra words but changed pronunciation to sound more human.
Changing of given names began with the Lectran clan, as most humanized changes do. While they did not like human names (Lee, Robin, and Eddy are exceptions), they did adopt human words for their children. The trend spread quickly, and many given names used today originated from the human language. Color names such as Russet and Lilac are especially popular. Other names originate from the ancient Spectra languages, giving us one of our last links to our ancestral languages. Isa, for instance, means iron, while Keita (which can be pronounced either Kay-ta or Kee-tah, depending on the region) means forest. Spectra names are almost always either masculine or feminine—unisex names such as Bay and Ash are rare.
Spectra take the meanings of names seriously. While names are sometimes used to honor family (note the royal Nome family, where seven kings bore the name Clayton), most are chosen for their meaning. These meanings often tie into the child’s clan. This adds an interesting element to the names of crossovers and mixed-clan children: they may carry names from their parents’ clan instead of their own. This phenomenon is less noticeable in Castalia, because Muses can sense the clan of any individual from birth.
|Posted by Christie V Powell on|
The Teslas are the royal family of Lectranis, and in "The Spectra United", Keita Sage and her friends go on a quest to find all of the remaining heirs. Here is a scene from the youngest daughter, Solana Tesla. She likes to play innocent, but she's anything but!
Mother’s mood told me right away something was up. She almost flounced into her chair, and she’s always telling Vivi not to do that—not that it makes a difference. I figured I didn’t have long to wait before it came out, but just this once I was wrong. For twenty minutes she said nothing, and I tried to guess what was exciting her. My run-away oldest sister had been forgiven, Pa bought another vacation home, Vivi didn’t fail her last class… I was still imagining Pa’s stunned face from this announcement when my worst nightmare waddled into the room.
Her name is Mellie, which sounds like Smelly. She’s two years old, and everyone loves her. Even my sister Poppy, who doesn’t like anybody, loves Mellie. They say she looks like me, which is all nonsense. I never had snot dripping off my chin, and my Momma never would have put me in a coarse sack of a dress either. They’ve got a portrait of me at that age, and I’m so drowning in lace I couldn’t walk. You can hardly see my face in it. That was me: perfect little angle, last born, favorite of everybody. It’s not always an easy role to play, but so far they still believe it.
Wyatt’s the only one looking unhappy at Mellie’s presence. He doesn’t mind the little terror, but if Mellie is here, her dad is here. Leon’s our oldest brother. He’s not so mean as the next one, Joule, but he’s not been very nice to Wyatt either. Wyatt’s been told so often how wonderful he’s supposed to be that he thinks he’s nothing of the kind. Anyway, except for Mellie, I don’t mind Leon coming. I’ve been saving up all kinds of tricks to pull on him and Joule, ever since the last family anniversary when I locked him in a closet all night. They all figured it was an accident.
Everyone’s attention stayed on Mellie, but I turned to look at the bowl of porridge a servant had just set in front of me. I stared into it, too irritated to eat, and that’s when I saw the green tint. I brought the bowl to my nose and sniffed. Poison, all right. The gardeners use it on rats. I glanced around the table, but so far no one had taken any. I couldn’t just blurt it out—who’d believe me? And if they did, how would I explain how I knew?
The right answer came to me a second later. I took a big spoonful of the stuff, then dropped it and rocked my chair backward. As everyone else gasped and yelped, I clutched a hand to my stomach. “There’s something wrong with this food,” I whimpered, and proceeded to thrash across the floor.
Father darted around the table. “Get a medic!” he yelled at no one in particular. I couldn’t see much of people, only their feet, but I didn’t hear any spoons clinking or people swallowing—not that I’d be able to over the noise. I wondered if Viv and Wyatt believed me, but I didn’t dare sit up and check.
Gentle hands were on me. The medic had arrived. I let my thrashing die down as he picked up the bowl and held it to his nose. “There’s poison in this,” he said.
Everyone gasped. “Will she be all right?” Father demanded.
The medic gave me a very stern look. “She didn’t eat much. Give her some solitary rest and I’m sure she’ll be back to normal.” The severity in his voice added ‘or else’. That was alarming—hopefully he would keep quiet until I could figure out who’s trying to poison my family. As much as I like playing tricks on my brothers, if some idiot makes war against my family, he’s made war against me. And believe it or not, I am not someone you want to cross.