The Watcher's Heir
Each Watcher has their own set of stars which reach the highest point in the sky on their own feast day. The constellations of the Watchers never fully leave the sky, but others do. Hepica is regarded as having the sun, so has no stars. All the constellations maintain their patterns except Bodarian's which can set on any horizon.
According to some scholars, a star glistening red denotes the shedding of blood and a movement in the night sky is thought to be a beacon. Dredican learnt to read the stars and together with Magio, who had the gift of prophecy, to predict the future. It is thought that no one else has ever successfully read the stars.
These are the followers of Dredican. They are feared and hated by many in The West. Magic is no longer viewed as the Art, but as witchcraft.
However, disciples often use their birthright to help people, always in the shadows for fear of capture and execution.
Many in the West go through their lives without meeting a disciple, although they are often much closer than people would like to believe.
Disciples live in hidden communities, each of which has a collection of Elders, with s leader who is given the title of Master.
When Saldoni made a pact with the serpent, she was able to create a hybrid of elements, crossing fire with earth, air and water to create the dragons.
These beasts were designed to conquer the humans, who Saldoni resented beyond measure for taking Hepica's love.
For over 3000 years there have been no sightings of dragons and many believed that these terrible creatures had been confined to legends and history.
Emblems and Heirlooms
Amongst the cultures of The West there are certain family items that have been passed down from generation to generation. Amongst these are:
The Snake and Dagger Pendant - Wat carries this at all times. It is an amulet that was crafted 3000 years ago after the deaths of Ithiberus and Rose. Containing the blood of the two Watchers, it has a power forged into it which both helps and binds its wearer. The pendant's full power is not understood by Wat.
The Heir's Circlet - (see image) Prince Domeaniel wears this at all state occasions. The swan gliding under a bridge has been the emblem of the future king of Maladan since Seth's son.
A Feldune - Feldunes were crafted for an elite group of fighters. They resemble little wooden figures, no more than 3 inches in size. Though their existence is acknowledged, their purpose is not understood.
The West has five seasons. These are:
Spring: 1st April - 13th June
Summer: 14th June - 31st August
Autumn: 1st September - 31st October
Winter: 1st November - 31st March EXCLUDING
Midwinter: 14th December - 19th January
Each Watcher has their own feast day at a time that best represents their character, and there are also three additional days that the church treats in the same manner. On feast days, violence is not permitted and military organisations must observe this as well as individuals. These dates are:
New Life's Day - 1st April
Lilac's Day - 25th April
Rose's Day - 13th June
Ithiberus' Day - 3rd July
Midsummer - 19th July
Foltereen's Day - 30th August
Rodarn's Day - 18th September
Watchers' Day - 1st October
Bodarian's Day - 9th December
Dredican's Day - 2nd January
Magio's Day - 21st March
The West observes a monotheistic relgion in that its only god is Hepica. There is no question of authority, although some individuals prefer to come to Hepica through one or more of the Watchers.
Hepica is responsible for the creation of all things: from his two angels, to the Watchers and every person who has been born since.
Hepica does not have a feast day although some mark New Life's Day or Midsummer as His celebration. All the cathedrals through the West are dedicated to Hepica, although they do have shrines to the individual Watchers.
Very few people are granted the gift of foresight by the Watcher, Magio, but his followers who wish to help other people are often granted the ability to unlock his writings and the lore of prophecies.
Sages see it as their duty not only to decipher the writings but also to assist those who are to fulfill them, so it is not unusual to find a sage who is also a hospitaler or a warrior.
Magio's followers are often skilled herbalists too and work as physicians in remote areas.
Hepica created two angels to oversee the world but, overcome with jealousy at Hepica's love of his new creation, Saldoni made a pact with the serpent to create a beast that would destroy humankind: the Dragons.
Although Saldoni is usually depicted as a snake, she actually appears in many forms to different people, but most often as a beautiful woman. Apart from the Watchers, only one human can see her for who she really is and she uses this to corrupt the hearts of good people.
During the reign of the Gamaic Empire in The West, the following of Hepica and the Watchers was illegal. Despite this, there were still people who lived in that belief. Jelk was a Sage from Fi Cana, who was also blessed with the Art. He continued to worship Hepica despite the threat from Gamay.
He opposed Seth's army and argued that The West was protected by Gamay. Because of this controversial stance, he was falsely accused of being a Gamaic spy and executed. Knowing that his death was impending and that his work would be needed in a future war, Jelk concealed it in an indestructable box which could only be opened with the key.
All Maladan children are required to make a pilgrimage at the age of eight to St Jelk's shrine in Fi Cana.
Magic is transmitted through music and, to those who wield it, it is known as the Art.
It is chanelled through the elements, so that each follower of Dredican accesses the Art through either Earth, Air, Water, Fire or Spirit, although some can use more than one.
The Pack (Halita'arenda)
Followers of Bodarian are outlawed across the West (with the exception of Tarl) and often risk their lives to carry out the tasks that their counsels lay before them.
As well as trusting in and praying to Bodarian, they are protected by the superstition that bad luck will follow any who turn them away.
They follow a structure of hierarchy so that:
The Archer protects the Thief
The Thief protects the Scout
The Scout protects the Herbmaster
The Ranger is the bodyguard for them all.
Each role is bound by the seal, which protects the secret of their duties.
Three thousand years before The Watcher's Heir takes place, there were eight humans who opposed Saldoni and were granted immortality as a result.
They collectively became known as The Watchers and were given the role of protecting humans against Saldoni, who always tries to claim people for her own.
The Watchers are: