A vengeful, wild-eyed warrior, he’s the most sinister figure in Scottish legend. For three centuries, the Tercentennial Baron has fought his way through famous battles—then vanished without a trace. Now he’s reappeared in the quiet town of Bonnybield, where he’s about to be discovered by thirteen-year-old Percival Dunbar…
Armed with a secret stash of books on the supernatural, Percival is the only one to recognize the ghostly signs emerging around his town. When he tries to decipher them, he’s terrified to suddenly find himself face to face with the murderous Tercentennial Baron. However, the Baron reveals he’s come not to attack Bonnybield, but to save it from an ancient, demonic evil.
Through an epic journey from the battlefields of 17th-century Scotland to the underworld of Victorian London and beyond, Percival races to uncover the truth of the Baron’s past—and what it means for his own destiny.
At that moment, something in the earth around them shifted. The trees ceased their rustling, the clouds encircling the moon grew still… and Percival realized the breeze had stopped. Not died down, just stopped. Everything felt too calm, too hidden, as though the night were holding its breath. Percival rose to his feet. Abi shifted, as if from a prickle on her skin.
“I don’t know, Perce,” she said, closing the book and hugging her warm thermos. “Let’s call it a night, yeah?
Maybe tomorrow we can—”
“Abi.” Percival was staring past her, his body as rigid as the standing stone.
“Somethin’ just moved behind you.”
“…What? Perce, if you’re kiddin’ me on ’cause of this Baron thing—” And then she turned and saw it, too.
A tall, lanky man was standing out on the slope by a patch of heather. He hadn’t approached from nearby, but had just materialized, like an image on the TV. He was motionless, outlined against the purple horizon, gazing down toward Bonnybield.
“Oh my God…” Abi’s words barely passed her throat. “Who is—”
“Shh.” Percival pulled her to her feet. No sooner had he done so than the man turned his head, and disappeared. It took less than a second: his entire body simply blinked away. He might as well have been a mirage.
“Perce…” Abi began haltingly.
Suddenly, the man appeared again—this time less than twenty feet away.
Abi jumped, and Percival’s heart lurched in his chest. Neither of them could make a sound. The man, however, couldn’t be less concerned with them. He continued staring down into Bonnybield, as if waiting for something to happen. Even his attire was strange: he wore a dark greatcoat and tall hat like somebody from a Dickens novel, and his face was unnaturally smooth and delicate, like porcelain. He looked as if he’d stepped out of a nineteenth-century photograph.
Yet his eyes were not green, Percival noticed. Nor was there a scar—not even a mark—upon his skin. This was not the Tercentennial Baron. But it was, finally, the first supernatural being Percival had seen. His mouth quivered in a thrilled smile, and his limbs thrummed with adrenaline.
Abi’s hand inched toward her coat pocket.
“A… photo,” she breathed. “Otherwise nobody will believe—”
“No. No, we must leave him be.” Percival didn’t know why, but he felt that the hillside, for that moment, was not quite part of his and Abi’s world. He became drawn to how focused the ghostly man’s stare was on the town. Somehow, Percival was sure this was no spirit come to revisit a scene from life, as Grimm said many ghosts did. This man was searching Bonnybield for something very particular.
“I want to see what he’s lookin’ at,” Percival whispered. He set the book in Abi’s trembling hands and crept down the slope, trying to place himself near the man’s sightline.
“Perce!” Abi hissed as she clutched the book.
Percival raised his hand to quiet her. He reached a point directly beneath the man and was scouring his eyes for some sign of intent when, without warning, the man’s head flicked down—fast as a raven’s—and fixed his gaze on Percival.
Percival jumped so violently he fell back on the grass. Everything inside him turned to ice: he saw now that the man’s eyes burned bright yellow, like a panther about to pounce. Those eyes pinned him to the hillside, and the man’s face took on a look of wonder as he stared at Percival. Almost imperceptibly, his lips parted, and two whispered syllables escaped:
The air exploded. A brutal wind burst from atop the hill and swept down the slope, knocking Abi to her knees. Percival clung to the grass and felt his gut tighten when he heard, even louder than before, a tormented moan pierce the wind. The man’s yellow eyes went out like a pair of lights, and he turned and vanished, not even leaving a footprint in his wake.
*Minor spoilers ahead. Proceeding without having read the book will result in an unpleasant case of Knowing What Happens Before It Has Happened, and may lead to terrifying premonition dreams such as those experienced by men of the Dunbar clan. Be a good lass or lad and take a gander at THE TERCENTENNIAL BARON first.
A poem, originally set to music, that chronicles the deeds of Nimarius and prophesies the arrival of the Ninth Sorcerer: the only being capable of destroying the bellirolts for good. It is not known when precisely the full Augury was created, but most historians of the Order of Nimarius place it in the early 700’s, as the oldest written version is titled “The Augury, as recorded by Dúngal of Arran.” Dúngal was the well-known bard of Nimarius himself, so he may well have been present when the First Sorcerer announced the prophecy that became the second half of the poem. This prophecy lists the criteria for identifying the Ninth Sorcerer, and ends with the enigmatic and oft-debated lines: “Beware the Ninth of Eralan, Born of the flesh of Man.”
An unseen spirit with a distinctive, screeching cry that warns a family of impending death within its household. Only members of the family in question can hear the banshee, and the spirit itself is thought to be the remnant of a soul who betrayed the family in life.
A human inhabited by the bellirolt demon, which grants him or her a range of supernatural abilities—though he or she must survive by killing other humans and consuming their souls. The demon can only enter a new host through physical touch at the exact moment of death of the previous host. Once inside its new body, the demon endows the host with superhuman strength, physical invulnerability, heightened senses, talon-like claws hidden in each finger to aid in hunting, telekinesis that strengthens with time, and the gift of aging very slowly. (In the case of the Tercentennial Baron, who was turned into a bellirolt at age 24, he only appeared to be in his late 40’s over 320 years later.) A bellirolt cannot ingest food or drink; it must feed by touching humans as they die, thereby devouring their souls. It may only be killed by attacking the one weak spot on its body: the Black Swell, a dark knot on the nape of its neck. The bellirolt is considered one of the darkest and most powerful supernatural beings, for it is the one entity that entwines an Otherworldly demon with a living human, producing a creature that harnesses the violence of one realm to feed the evil of all realms. Bellirolts are therefore often linked to scenes of human battle (which they also work to inspire), as such occasions are feasts to them. Although it is believed that the First Bellirolt appeared in Scotland in the 1st century AD, no one is certain where he came from, how he attained his powers, or how he was able to turn thousands of other bellirolts while remaining alive himself.
Being made of metals of the earth, certain bells—especially those found in churches—cause dire pain to bellirolts and other dark creatures and spirits who hear them. The impact of the clapper on the bell releases the principia metallica, the “essence” of the metal, which is carried outward in waves of sound. Because a true connection to the elements of nature has always been anathema to evil, bells rattle the inner structure of darker beings. Therefore, large bells are an excellent way to ward off evil forces of the Otherworld. David Dunbar experienced this phenomenon on the night he was turned into a bellirolt, when the bell of St. Mary’s Church in Haddington rang to alert the town to his burning castle, and he was driven to flee. As a side note, glass bells and wind chimes are technically ineffective, though they can scare off spirits who mistake them for metal bells.
The only weak spot on a bellirolt’s body, taking the form of a thick black knot on the nape of the neck, about the size of half a golf ball. As with the origins of the bellirolts themselves, the evolution of the Black Swell is shrouded in mystery, but it is known to contain the lifeblood of the demon. If the Swell is punctured in any way, it creates the one wound a bellirolt cannot immediately heal on its own, and the human host’s body begins to die. If he or she expires without touching another living human at the moment of death, the bellirolt within dies, as well.
The symbol of Nimarius, the “Unicorn King” and founder of the Order of Nimarius. The unicorn is revered in Celtic mythology as an animal of fierce, unshakable spirit, and is said to be the only creature that can challenge the mighty lion. Nimarius chose the color black to represent the hidden nature of his magic brotherhood. The unicorn remains a symbol of the Scottish crown to this day.
The hometown of Percival Dunbar, located in a secluded glen about 20 miles from the North Sea in the county of Angus, Scotland. Bonnybield is one of the oldest villages in the region, with ruins dating from the 1100’s, though human habitation in the glen extends well before then. Bonnybield is known for the abundance and quality of its berry farms—and is particularly known for the industrious (and insular) character of the locals. While other farms in this fertile corner of Scotland have become more commercial and focus only on one or two crops, Bonnybielders pride themselves on the variety of berries each farm grows, and—especially—on their annual Berry Festival. Occurring in late summer at the end of harvest season, the Berry Festival is nearly 400 years old, and draws tourists from across the United Kingdom to sample the fresh produce and baked desserts that only Bonnybielders can offer.
The last great victory of the Order of Nimarius over the Bellirolt Legion, on 12 September 1645. The Order’s battalions, commanded by Doneval Graven, intercepted the Legion near Selkirk. The Legion was at this time led by Alastair Galach, who was vying for control of the bellirolt army with Claudius Orgeron. Galach had been trying to join the melee at the Battle of Philiphaugh, part of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, which ended up occurring the very next day a mere three miles away. The turning point of the action at Selkirk was when Graven, his army pinned against the river north of the town, ordered a wedge-shaped charge straight through the front line of the Legion—a move characterized by one of his Paladins as “akin tae watchin’ a Highland bull’s heid break thro’ the foe.” The bellirolt forces were routed, and lost over half their army. In a somewhat ironic twist, Galach then lost his head at the hands of Orgeron after the battle, and Orgeron used the event to solidify his control over the Dark Legion. To the bellirolts, the day is therefore remembered as the Battle of Galach’s Head.
A several-hundred-page volume listing every Scottish family known to be descended from the bloodline of Eralan—and thus, able to produce the Ninth Sorcerer. The first version of the book was begun in the 11th century at the castle of Calmorran on Loch Ness, which was a medieval stronghold of the Order of Nimarius. Though the castle has long since been destroyed, the book was continuously updated until 1644, when it had to be hidden during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. It has been in the possession of Doneval Graven since the Battle of Glamandale in 1680—the last pitched battle between the Order of Nimarius and the Bellirolt Legion until Hounslow Heath in 1841.
The final battle of the Jacobite Wars in Scotland, fought on 16 April 1746. On one side was the government army of Great Britain, commanded by the Duke of Cumberland. On the other was the Jacobite army, consisting mostly of Scottish Highlanders, led by Prince Charles Edward Stuart—later known as “Bonnie Prince Charlie.” Charles was fighting to reclaim the throne for his family, who had been living in exile since his grandfather, King James II, had been deposed in 1688 (see “Battle of Killiecrankie”). Claudius Orgeron and his Legion infiltrated the ranks of the government army and fought with them in the battle; the Order of Nimarius attempted to meet them on the field, but without David Dunbar’s leadership, they were largely ineffective. (David and William Cardross had deviated from their mission the night before and set out to find the Jacobite army on their own, but were hampered by the same foul weather that thwarted the Jacobites’ initial plan of attack.) The battle was a decisive victory for the government forces, resulting in the end of the Jacobite cause and the beginning of a horrific retribution against the Scottish Highlands for their part in the war. David and Cardross were witnesses to this horror at a farm outside Inverness, where government redcoats attempted to slaughter a civilian family following the battle. In the ensuing years, weapons, bagpipes, and kilts were outlawed, as the government attempted to destroy the spirit of Highland culture. As it was now too dangerous for the Order of Nimarius to build and train their army in Scotland, they departed for Ireland.
The process by which a bellirolt, during the first years of its new life, adjusts to the fact that it is aging at a greatly reduced rate. Demortisation is felt as a gradual slowing of the physical systems, causing the body to temporarily lose track of normal human time. Entire days and weeks may pass with the bellirolt hardly aware of them; this tends to be a very confusing and frustrating period for the bellirolt, and he or she normally prefers to spend the time alone or with others of his or her kind. It may take as long as ten years for the process to run its course, at which point the bellirolt reemerges, once more connected to human time but with a clearer sense of itself, and steps fully into its violent existence.
A rocky crag in Argyll, Scotland, featuring the ruins of an early medieval hillfort that was once the capital of the Gaelic kingdom of Dalriada. Dunadd was a fearsome fortress in its day, with commanding views of the surrounding terrain and rings of tiered walls that were over 30 feet thick. It was here that King Ferchar mac Feredaig, in the year 688, renamed himself “Nimarius” after summoning the First Sorcerer, and founded the Order of Nimarius. Unbeknownst to those outside his kingdom, he and the First Sorcerer used magic to carve a second fortress beneath the surface of the crag, using the landform of Dunadd to conceal the Order’s most important stronghold. Dunadd was sealed and abandoned for 20 years following the disastrous Battle of Glamandale, but was reopened after Graven identified David Dunbar as the Ninth Sorcerer.
A tiny island off the west coast of Scotland that became the portal to the realm of the Sorcerers. Eralan is considered a “thin place,” where the veil between the realms is especially delicate and easily lifted—much like the Isle of Iona nearby, which has been a Christian holy site for hundreds of years. The Sorcerers entered our world from their own realm many millennia ago, and lived in what is today Scotland and Ireland for thousands of years, before the Pictish civilization began to spread in the 500’s BC. Around this time, the Sorcerers decided to withdraw to their home realm, and used the richly magical Isle of Eralan as a departure point. In the year 678, Gaelic King Ferchar mac Feredaig sought out Druid mystics (who had studied and perfected their own version of the Sorcerers’ magic) to help defend his people from the growing bellirolt army. The Druids told the King of a legendary place called Eralan, which no one had visited in over a thousand years, and from which he might be able to summon the powerful Sorcerers back to this realm. With the Druids’ help, the King found Eralan and constructed the magical Ring of Pillars—nine freestanding stone columns in the middle of the isle, made from rock only found on Eralan—to serve as a portal for the Sorcerers’ arrival. This construction, and the magic involved, took 10 full years to complete. Once it was finished, and the proper incantation was spoken, the First Sorcerer, Aelendor, arrived through the portal. He agreed to help King Ferchar, who renamed himself Nimarius and founded the Order of Nimarius to train humans in the ways of magic. As is written in the Augury, Eralan and the Ring of Pillars continued to serve as the gateway for the arrival of subsequent Sorcerers—except the Ninth.
A catch-all term for any humanoid creature of the Otherworld that passes through our Land of Seasons. Unlike popular legend, “fairy” never denotes a tiny person with pointed ears and wings, but rather anything from the long-legged, stick-like Ghillie Dhu (see below) to the shriveled, deformed Bodach; to the mischievous, two-foot-tall Faelich-fortír of Invergarry.
A 13th-century castle just outside the town of Haddington, Scotland, and one of the great ancestral homes of the Dunbar clan. The Dunbars have long been a prominent family in southeastern Scotland, from their commanding of the early medieval fortress called Dunbar (now a ruin), to the naming of the lands of Dunbar and town of Dunbar on the North Sea. A lesser branch of the family built the keep of Galanforde in the mid-1200’s to defend the road from England to Edinburgh, and over time the castle grew into a stately fortress made of local red sandstone: an imposing presence on the gently rolling countryside. The castle became a baronial caput in 1640, when King Charles I appointed Colonel Edward Dunbar 1st Baron of Haddington, as thanks for his service to the crown in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. Edward resigned control of the barony and conveyed the title to his son David in 1665, when he began to see ghostly visions in the castle and his family convinced him he was too unwell to run the estate. In 1680, David died of internal bleeding following a riding accident, and the barony was passed to his son, also David. This younger David spent lavishly (and went deeply into debt) to make Galanforde one of the most fashionable estates in southern Scotland—all the while keeping his grandfather Edward locked away in the castle’s Northeast Tower. Tortured by his horrific visions, and considered by many to be bewitched, Edward finally died on 15 July 1689. This was the same day his grandson was turned into a bellirolt… and subsequently burnt Galanforde to the ground, legally destroying the Barony of Haddington.
A spirit guide of the forest who helps lost travelers find their way. Though seen extremely rarely, he is most often described as seven or eight feet tall, wrapped in a green cloak, with long jet-black hair and a mouth with a hundred tiny teeth—all of which are visible when he smiles. According to D. H. Grimm, he has only been sighted around Gairloch, Ross-shire, but there is reason to believe he lurks in other secluded locales in Scotland. He is mentioned in Elliot Dunbar’s notes in Spirits of the Night and Twilight.
“Ghost” has become a catch-all term for any non-corporeal being sighted in our world, but the true definition is closer to that found in Fifty-One Wraiths, Phantoms, and Creatures, by D. H. Grimm: “the shade of a soul who has departed this life, and whose presence remains due to a torturous desire for atonement or completion remaining from their time on Earth.” Grimm also mentions that sunlight washes out their forms, which is why ghosts are best visible in the shadows and at night. Over the centuries, scholars of the Otherworld have expended reams of paper trying to define how a ghost is created, but the truth continues to elude human description. Perhaps the best explanation comes from legendary magian Doneval Graven: “They are restless shadows of our world, forced to wander to and fro between the realms, seeking an impossible solace.”
A decisive victory for Claudius Orgeron’s Bellirolt Legion over the Order of Nimarius on 3 September 1680, resulting in the loss of the Order’s last aboveground fortress in the Highlands. Glamandale was a 14th-century castle on Loch Linnhe, built to guard the entrance to the Great Glen from the west, and had been an Order stronghold for hundreds of years. Following the heavy losses sustained by the Order during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, the Knights of Nimarius consolidated their forces at Glamandale. On 3 September, Orgeron’s Legion attacked the castle in the early dawn hours, and easily rebuffed an Order counter-attack. The bellirolts kept up such a furious barrage that the Order commanders realized they would have to abandon the fortress and, under the leadership of Doneval Graven and Cecil Wambold, were able to safely evacuate all of their remaining knights and families. The bellirolts seized the castle, but Graven, Wambold, and a company of knights returned the following evening and used their magic to crumble the fortress’s walls. The Legion was forced to move on, and the Order decided to scatter throughout Scotland for their own safety. Glamandale was never rebuilt.
An exclamation of surprise or vexation among magia, in reference to the specter hounds of mythology who presage misfortune. Some believe the hounds’ cry is heard in that of wild geese.
A magically enhanced alloy forged in Dunadd, and one of the few metals that can resist a bellirolt’s strength. Helmonite has existed since at least the time of the Third Sorcerer (early 800’s), though versions of it were most likely created before then. It is most often made into chains and cuffs to restrain bellirolt prisoners, though in some Order outposts entire doors and gates are built of it. Bellirolt legions began stealing helmonite chains in the late 1300’s to punish their own soldiers for insubordination, and the chains were used to capture bellirolts who had joined the Order at the Battle of Hounslow Heath.
A tiny, white flower with a red center that only grows on the grave of those who carry the blood of Eralan. The flower sprouts in clusters of six to eight, and gives off a particularly subtle, sweet scent that can have a profound mellowing effect if inhaled deeply. The Ilsinora was first spotted by Nimarius on the Isle of Eralan, and then appeared above the resting place of the First Sorcerer. Years after the death of the Eighth Sorcerer, the Knights of Nimarius noticed the flower sprouting above human graves, indicating men and women who bore the blood of Eralan. It is commonly believed that the Eighth Sorcerer was the father of this bloodline, but no one has yet established a credible link.
A supporter of the Stuart family’s claim to the throne of Great Britain. “Jacobite” is derived from the Latin “Jacobus”, meaning “James”, as the first Jacobites arose after King James II Stuart was deposed in 1688. James was driven from the throne by the English Parliament because he was Catholic and had produced a Catholic heir, but many people supported the Jacobite cause not simply because of their religion. The Stuarts had ruled in Scotland for hundreds of years before ascending the throne of Great Britain (James was technically “James II of England and VII of Scotland”), so Scottish loyalty to the Stuart family ran deep, and any clan chieftain who supported them demanded the rest of his clan do the same. To refuse could mean the loss of a clan member’s lands. Other Jacobites, like David Dunbar, supported the Stuarts because of their belief in the Divine Right of Kings: kings derived their power to rule from God alone, and no parliament should choose a king. The Jacobite cause continued from 1688 well into the 1700’s, as James II lived in exile in France and his son attempted to invade Britain and retake the throne. However, it was James’s grandson, Charles—known to history as Bonnie Prince Charlie—who made the most successful attempt. In 1745, Charles landed at Glenfinnan and raised a Highland army, which, supported by other Scottish and even English, Irish, and French Jacobites, won impressive victories and nearly marched into London. However, they were beaten back to Scotland and made their final, disastrous stand at Culloden in 1746. Charles was forced to flee the country, and though he schemed for the rest of his life to raise support for another attempt at the throne, he never returned to his family’s homeland.
The first battle of the Jacobite Wars in Scotland, fought on 27 July 1689. After King James II, a Catholic, produced an heir in 1688, the English Parliament was fearful of a new Catholic dynasty in a kingdom with a long, bloody history of religious struggles. Parliament therefore invited James’s nephew William, Prince of Orange in the Netherlands (and married to James’s daughter Mary), to invade and take the throne of Great Britain. James then fled London and began raising an army to challenge William and retake his kingdom. In spring 1689, Viscount Dundee—a powerful Scottish lord who had been James’s military commander in Scotland—gathered his own force of Highlanders to support James. William’s government army, led by General Hugh MacKay, marched north from Edinburgh to crush Dundee, so Dundee positioned his men on a hillside above Killiecrankie Pass: a vital route north into the Highlands. Dundee’s Jacobites waited there throughout the day of 27 July, as MacKay’s redcoats entered the valley below. Dundee was facing west, so he held back until the sun had begun to set, then ordered his men to charge down the hill. The ensuing battle was quick and violent: in less than 30 minutes, the Jacobites had slaughtered nearly 2,000 redcoats and sent them in full retreat down the pass. The battle was the first use by British troops of the new plug bayonet: unlike the later socket bayonet, the plug literally ‘plugged’ the barrel of a musket, so once it was attached the gun couldn’t fire any more. This meant the redcoats couldn’t fix bayonets until the last possible moment of the Highland charge, whereupon the Highlanders’ swords and axes were already cutting them down. Though it is not known if the Bellirolt Legion was present at Killiecrankie, David Dunbar fought with the Jacobites that day, and surely contributed to their stunning victory. The battle is the earliest recorded mention of him as the terrifying “Baron”, who later became known as the Tercentennial Baron.
The term used by those with knowledge of the Otherworld to refer to our earthly, human-inhabited realm. Unlike the myriad realms that comprise the Otherworld, our domain is governed by the cycles of nature. Indeed, the very concept of a cyclical, changing land is alien to creatures born in foreign realms. As all Knights of Nimarius are taught, the source of our realm’s unique magical properties is the fact that its natural world moves in seasons, and connection to this eternal cycle is crucial to mastering magic.
A Knight of Nimarius; an inducted member of the Order of Nimarius. The plural version is “magia.” The word is taken from the Sorcerer’s Tongue “magían,” or “one who is skilled in the discipline of magic.” To the Sorcerers, magic was a common and vital field of study, just like astronomy, botany, music, or poetry. For more, see “Order of Nimarius.”
Commonly referred to as “Moora-Juice”, this strange substance was developed quite by accident by 16th-century magical engineer Alexander Mooradian. Magia of the time were desperate for a way to pacify bellirolts while they interrogated them, and Mooradian thought he’d almost developed a substance that would essentially make a bellirolt feel drunk—enough to weaken its body and loosen its tongue. Instead, he himself was becoming intoxicated from inhaling his brew, so he accidentally mixed the wrong ingredients and produced the first dram of the famous elixir. This not-quite-gas, not-quite-liquid material can be ingested by bellirolts (who aren’t supposed to be able to ingest anything) and will satiate their appetite for human souls for one week to as long as a few months. Crates of Moora-Juice have since been stolen by the bellirolts and used for their own purposes: a few bottles were left to each of Orgeron’s prisoners following the Battle of Hounslow Heath.
The bellirolt with the ability to unite a massive army under his control, march them to a secret lair in the Highlands known as Tor Bellorum, and thereby warrant the opening of the lair. Inside Tor Bellorum lies the darkly magical Crown of the Mortairian, left behind by the First Bellirolt. It is not known precisely what powers the Crown imparts to its bearer, but as it belonged to the First Bellirolt, it is rumored to bestow the same abilities he is recalled as having: dominion over dark spirits from other realms, the power to reach into the minds of other bellirolts, and extraordinary enhancement of his bellirolt strength and telekinesis. Naturally, the specific conditions required for the Mortairian to open Tor Bellorum and claim his crown have been a matter of debate for centuries. The Augury states only that: “there shall rise a Beast with such might / As to all the forces of Darkness unite, / And march on the lair where the White Phantoms sing, To crown himself Lord: the Mortairian King.” The most common interpretation is that the true Mortairian’s army will have to be the mightiest bellirolt legion ever assembled, and the Mortairian will have to be the most cunning in how he wins their loyalty—proving himself a leader before the lair will open for him. Also according to the Augury, the only person with the power to defeat the Mortairian is the Ninth Sorcerer of Eralan, and only in destroying the Dark Commander can the bellirolt army be defeated.
One of the first battles of the United Irishmen Rebellion, fought in the early hours of 24 May 1798. The Society of United Irishmen was a separatist group that wanted to liberate Ireland from English rule, and by 1797 they had formed a 200,000-member secret army. They orchestrated an uprising to occur in Dublin and its surrounding counties on the evening of 23 May 1798, for taking Dublin was the key to winning back Ireland from the English. Meanwhile, Orgeron’s Bellirolt Legion had infiltrated both the government military force and the United Irishmen, and were pushing both sides toward a violent clash. The Order of Nimarius was headquartered in the Irish countryside at this time, having fled Scotland after the Battle of Culloden, and they stationed the vast majority of their knights in Dublin to catch the Legion in the act. At the last minute, the Legion allowed the rebels’ plans to fall into government hands, and the Dublin uprising was stopped before it could even begin. However, rebels in the surrounding counties gathered and attacked as planned, including the town of Naas in County Kildare. At about 2:30 am on 24 May, over 1,000 United Irishmen stormed the government garrison in Naas—right as Doneval Graven, David Dunbar, William Cardross, and a squadron of knights were interrogating a bellirolt soldier at the edge of town. This squadron succeeded in killing a handful of bellirolts at the battle, but not before more bellirolts on horseback lured Dunbar out of town and 20 miles down the road to Dublin, where he met Claudius Orgeron for the first time. In Naas, the rebels were beaten back from the garrison, and the United Irishmen Rebellion was defeated later that year.
The name adopted by King Ferchar mac Feredaig, ruler of the Gaelic kingdom of Dalriada from 676 to 697, after he summoned the First Sorcerer to the Isle of Eralan (see “Isle of Eralan”). “Nimarius” means “guardian of man” in Sorcerer’s Tongue. Very little is known of Nimarius aside from his deeds in the early bellirolt wars: seeking the aid of Druid mystics, building the Ring of Pillars and summoning the First Sorcerer, and establishing his order of knights. Described as a tall, fearsome warrior, he was a seventh-generation descendant of Loarn, one of the first kings of Dalriada, and so was of the Cenél Loairn dynasty. Though his birthdate is unknown, he died in 697, of wounds sustained battling bellirolts. He is also remembered as the “Unicorn King”, as he chose a black unicorn for the symbol of his cause (see “Black Unicorn”).
The elite army of knights founded by Nimarius in 688, with the purpose of studying magic to fight and destroy the bellirolts. The First Sorcerer imparted the ways of his people directly to the first legion of knights, and this philosophy became the bedrock of Order society. All squires studying to be knights are given intense mental and physical training to put them in touch with their inner selves first, as this will define their unique energy through which they access the magic of their environment. As legendary magian Doneval Graven taught David Dunbar, “A spell is drawn from the inmost soul, the spark of a person, and will behave differently depending on where it is conjured, and the knight conjuring it.” Squires are also discouraged from assuming any knowledge they cannot verify for themselves: they learn through experience, and their spells and lessons are never written. Because this training requires approaching the world in an entirely unique way, most squires need 10 years—or more—before they’re ready to test for their knighthood. Until the mid-1800’s, all Knights of Nimarius were male, just like the traditional knights of the feudal system, with women working as cooks, seamstresses, nurses, armorers, blacksmiths, and virtually every other position within the Order. However, after the Battle of Hounslow Heath in 1841, very few men were left, and women finally felt they could assert themselves and train as knights. The first female magian, Eileen MacCrossan, was knighted in 1847. She completed her training in less than six years.
Chevalier Superior – Chief Administrator and Military Commander of the Order. Elected by the Court of Paladins. The name is an English version of Le chevalier supérieur, harkening back to French knight Sir Gérard de Montfort, who codified the Order’s structure in the mid-1000’s.
Paladin – Can command a full national army (formally called a “legion”) of knights. Only 12 can exist at a time, all of whom constitute the Court of Paladins, advising the Chevalier Superior and voting on key resolutions. In the present day, generally each Paladin represents a different country that has at least a battalion of knights.
1st Legionnaire – Can administer a National Court of the Order (for example, the National Court of France, which directs all Order operations in that country)
2nd Legionnaire – Can command a battalion (multiple companies) of knights
1st Banneret – Can administer an Order outpost and command a company of knights
2nd Banneret – Can command a squadron of knights
Man-at-Arms – Can engage in battle and commune with Otherworld unaided, as well as serve on a Tribunal jury
Squire – Has taken the Knight’s Oath and is actively training to be knighted
A collective term for all the realms beyond our human Land of Seasons—of which there may be an infinite number. While these realms are separated by a thin curtain that may be broken from time to time, they do not operate independently of one another. All realms are conjoined, linked across time and space, and so an occurrence in one is felt in echoes or shadows in another. This linkage accounts for the presence of such creatures as Wailers, who cry across the realms when a great rupture is about to occur. The Otherworld’s distinguishing feature is that its realms are never-changing, as opposed to our Land of Seasons; those who journey into the Otherworld often lose any sense of time. In certain places, like the islands of Iona and Eralan, and many locations marked by standing stones, the veil between these worlds is particularly fine and fragile. Countless wanderers have passed in and out of the Otherworld on flights of the soul, and some have become lost in its dimensions.
The innate sense present in all human beings that allows us to detect the presence of the Otherworld. Most humans have grown completely out of touch with their Sight, as centuries of technological advancement have dulled the sensitivity of this ethereal, delicate perception. Some humans are naturally more in touch with their Sight than others, and a human with a developed gift for it may be able to recognize the coming of dark events, or be aware of the many spirits who walk between realms. The Knights of Nimarius are taught to form a keen bond with their Second Sight, for it is through this sense that they are able to practice magic. If a human becomes a bellirolt, his or her Second Sight dramatically increases in power, as the demon endows a greater awareness of the darker forces of the Otherworld.
The offspring of a bellirolt male and a human female. The bellirolt demon renders its females barren: nurturing life is antithetical to a bellirolt’s existence. In a cruel twist of magic, however, bellirolt males are still able to reproduce, and when a human female does bear their child, the babe is often horribly deformed and rarely lives long. The most famous shadeling is Doneval Graven, whose father was a bellirolt soldier and mother was a daughter of Clan MacGregor. Unlike most bellirolt-human relationships, theirs was formed out of love, before the elder Graven was convinced by his Legion to turn on his family and he nearly killed them.
A menacing phantom summoned by the First Bellirolt to guard his lair of Tor Bellorum. The cry of the Snow Wraith will split the skull of any human who hears it, so only a bellirolt may approach the lair. Snow Wraiths have been rumored to cry in remote mountainous regions elsewhere in the world, but these instances have of course never been confirmed.
A race of magical beings that inhabited Scotland, Ireland, and northern England until around 500 BC. The Sorcerers appeared human in every way, but had arrived in the British Isles several thousand years earlier from another realm. (Some Order historians even theorize that the very first Sorcerers were in fact Neolithic humans who Stumbled into the Otherworld through one of the many “thin places” on earth, taught themselves to practice magic, and then returned much later to cultivate it in our realm. They also speculate that Sorcerers existed elsewhere in the world besides Britain and Ireland.) The Sorcerers lived in perfect harmony with the natural forces of this world, in ways impossible to grasp from a modern perspective, and so they left no clue as to when precisely they came to our realm or even what their civilization looked like. In many places, they resided alongside ancient Pictish communities, and once that civilization spread further, the Sorcerers decided their time in this world was at an end. They sailed to the magical Isle of Eralan, and from there departed for their home realm. Before they left, however, they passed on as many of their teachings as they could to the Celts taking their place, and soon these magical lessons evolved into the ways of the Druids. Hundreds of years later, when Nimarius sought the Druids’ aid in fighting bellirolts, they pointed him toward Eralan, where he constructed the Ring of Pillars and summoned the man who became known as the First Sorcerer (though he was one of perhaps millions in his native realm). One Sorcerer at a time continued to arrive in the Land of Seasons to train the Order of Nimarius and lead them against the bellirolts, though at some point—it is not known when—one of them began a relationship with a human female, and fathered a bloodline. The Eighth Sorcerer, the last to arrive from Eralan, appeared in 981. According to the Augury, the Final Sorcerer (in this realm) will be a human who will arise with unparalleled magical ability from the bloodline of Eralan AND of the bellirolts. No image or statue of any Sorcerer exists, not even in the Order’s citadels: the Sorcerers considered such things the height of vanity, and never consented to being memorialized.
The language of the Sorcerers, which the First Sorcerer taught to the Order of Nimarius, and which their knights use to harness magic. As the Sorcerers lived in this realm for untold thousands of years, many of their words filtered into Gaelic, Latin, and other European tongues. Some words, especially those used in incantations, do not have a literal translation in English. When spoken well, the language is more akin to music: its words function like rhythmic notes to elicit a magical response from the surrounding environment.
Loách-Tà – the Disabling Fire: stuns bellirolts, can kill humans if vital organs are targeted
Ventum-Cerèl – summons the properties of air
Fiesum-Cerèl – summons the properties of fire
Fiuvas-Cerèl – summons the properties of water
Matrisia-Cerèl – summons the properties of earth
Marghensiù – moves solid objects; can also levitate the magian casting the spell
Sydaeus-Mir – allows all magia wearing sydaeon talismans to briefly see what the caster of the spell does
Valyrr deconh! – “Virtue and honor!”
Vaslor Nimarièl! – “Strength of Nimarius!” (the Order’s official motto following the Reestablishment led by David Dunbar after World War II)
Decurren umilonh – “Honored and humbled” (As in, “I am honored and humbled to meet you.”)
Magiel-gaird / Magiel-gairden – Sorcerer(s)
Ayr-henègh / Ayr-henégan – bellirolt(s)
Miell Teynan – trees: the most revered of all natural bodies
Frantanni Magielen – “Brothers in magic” (used when referring to the Order before 1841)
Soroàl Frantanninh Magielen – “Sisters and brothers in magic” (used when referring to the Order after 1841, when women were allowed to be knighted)
The best-known (and most infamous) book by paranormal scholar D. H. Grimm, published in 1972. A quotation from the Introduction best describes Grimm’s work: “Visions of things that disappear, voices without a body, creatures that defy our quotidian system of classification: these constitute my realm of study. My process is one of detailed observation and interview, coupled with extensive reading of previous texts on the paranormal.” The book has been banned for decades in most of the United Kingdom, as Grimm’s accounts of supernatural phenomena are often so detailed that scores of overeager readers have committed terrible crimes (or lost their minds) while following his clues. As Percival Dunbar discovered, this book gives the most complete account of the legendary figure known as the Tercentennial Baron.
A small, arrowhead-shaped stone worn around the neck that allows Knights of Nimarius to communicate with each other in Sorcerer’s Tongue. Sydaeon was the Second Sorcerer, and he taught the Order how to mine and craft the talismans out of earthly minerals. If a magian feels his sydaeon burning against his chest, all he needs to do is grasp it, and he will hear the summoning sent to him in Sorcerer’s Tongue in his head. By using the incantation “Sydaeus-Mir,” a magian can also briefly project whatever he currently sees to all magia within range (40-60 miles, depending on the location). As a general note, a “talisman” is any object imbued with magical powers (real or imaginary), as opposed to an “amulet”, which is specifically meant to protect against evil.
A secret lair in Scotland that holds the Crown of the Mortairian, and which is believed to be the original fortress of the First Bellirolt. The lair is guarded by a host of fearsome Snow Wraiths, whose howling will split the skulls of humans who draw too near. Only the true Mortairian with his army can pass the wraiths and unlock the lair (see “Mortairian”). The exact coordinates of Tor Bellorum were unknown until 1841, when Claudius Orgeron finally discovered it. Until then, one of the prime objectives of the Order of Nimarius was to keep the Bellirolt Legion from finding the lair. This is one reason why almost all the Order’s strongholds have been located in the western Highlands, where they suspected Tor Bellorum was. Order historians believe that when the First Bellirolt sensed his doom was near in the early 690’s, he sealed his crown inside the lair, and since then it’s been very difficult to locate the stronghold for a number of reasons. Human magia searching for it would simply never return because of the Snow Wraiths. Bellirolts searching for it would rarely encounter the Wraiths—the best signal they were close—because Snow Wraiths are more sensitive to the presence of humans. Even then, Snow Wraiths are most active in the coldest months, when uncovering a hidden door in the mountains of Scotland is virtually impossible. So it was that over 1,100 years passed before the location of the dark lair was ever revealed.
An invisible creature of the Otherworld whose long, mournful cry heralds impending death on a large scale: an event like a battle, massacre, disease, or famine. Wailers have sometimes been confused with banshees, but there are a few vital differences between the two. First, the Wailer’s cry is lower in pitch, more drawn out, and generally more powerful than that of a banshee. Second, a banshee portends the death of a specific person, and is only audible to members of that person’s family. A Wailer is generally only able to be heard by those with a strong connection to their Second Sights, or by creatures with natural links to the Otherworld (bellirolts, for example). Attempts to study Wailers have been largely unsuccessful, but some paranormal scholars claim to have calculated a science to their cries, in order to determine the date and place of the terrible event.
Silent, mysterious beings who appear from thin air, stand in some commanding position (often on a hillside, church steeple, or atop a tree), and keenly observe the twilight activities of humans. Watchers look human in form, but are eerily still and leave no mark on our world, so they are often dismissed as ghosts. They almost always appear in garb not suited to their surroundings, such as clothes from another era, as if they skipped straight from that time to their current one. This trend has given rise to the theory that Watchers do not only transcend space but also time, and may just as easily traverse centuries as they do towns and countries. They will allow humans to approach them, but do not acknowledge their presence. If a human attempts to speak to or touch them, they vanish. All told, Watchers are very rarely sighted, and almost always appear just before or during an intense conflict between forces of the Otherworld, as if to witness how such disturbances affect humans. Therefore, their arrival is never seen as good omen.