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Weaponry


Falchion (a broad, slightly-curved sword with a cutting edge on the convex side)
Broad-bladed sword
Night-sword (used in cities where open weapons banned)
Keen-edged
Notched sword
Shortsword
“The sword he’d been given by the Guild rattled in its scabbard, rust flaking off the metalwork”
Haft (handle of axes usually)
-tipped (iron-tipped spears)
-studded
Thicket of spears
Cudgel
Carving knife
“Crossguard flamed gold”
“Shields bore some strange device”
“Points of red fire winked from ruby eyes on the pommel, a chunk of dragonglass carved in the shape of a grinning skull”
“Elric fingered the raised runes on the hilt of his black broadsword”
Broadsword
“Leaf-shaped spearhead”
“Anguy had arrows tipped with bodkins as well as broadheads. A bodkin could pierce even heavy plate.”
Longaxes
“Its grip was white leather, its pommel a rose in alabaster”
“His arrows were fletched with grey goose feathers”
“Unicorn-headed mace”
Longbow
“It looked as if it had been forged for a giant – Malador was virtually that himself – with its wide crosspiece and heavy, stone-encrusted hilt.”
“Lion-pommeled dagger”
Singlestick (fighting or fencing with a wooden stick or sword held in one hand; also the weapon used)
“bronze-tipped spears”
Dagger with a chipped blade
Black-feathered arrow
“A wicked little wide-bladed, curved-bladed shoemaker’s knife”
Spears wreathed in cypress (ceremony/WB uniform)
“He wore an elaborately crafted belt decorated with gold and gems from which hung a curved dagger”
“Short swords and daggers belted at their sides”
“One of those flimsy Egyptian pieces of a real Phrygian bow of horn wood and leather?”
“Sentries making his rounds, his wooden club on his shoulder”
Nail-studded club
Swords wrapped in oilcloth (to keep them sharp)
“Light shivering down the sword in his hand”
L
eaf-shaped short sword
Curved shield
Figure-of-eight shield
“He bore a tower shield of black and white cowhide edged with bronze”
Oblong shields
Warboard
Tower shield
Buckler
Onagers
Wide-bladed sword
Arbalest (a crossbow with a special mechanism for drawing back and releasing the string)
Crossbow slung at his saddle
“The short bow of Wales, drawn to the breast, not to the arm”
Crosspiece (“watching how light moved on the crosspiece”)
“Quiver of arrows fletched with hawk feathers”
Black-bladed dagger
The business end
Rust-splotched
Cartridge belts
Fishing spear
_ at his side (“I rode out with Cadal at my side”)
“It was a mining ax, with a pick point on one side, in order to go prospecting, and a real ax blade on the other, in case anyone tried to stop you.”
Sidearm (weapon such as sword, revolver, bayonet worn at side)
“feathered lance”
Stiletto
Truncheon
“jewel-hilted swords”
“greatsword brown with rust”
Swordless
“long, straight edge, glinting in the many nicks and notches”
Poleaxe (another term for battle-ax; or a short-handled ax with a spike at the back

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Feast of the Embalmer (Poe-Esque High Fantasy)

 

Much can change in a single night. In my case, what began as a dinner party lapsed into the bloodiest hours of my life.

It all unraveled a few weeks ago, not long after our Most Revered Khazal defeated the Reaver Chieftess of the upper coast. Whereas the capital celebrated the she-pirate’s death that night, I rejoiced in the corpse itself. An embalmer’s work is based on contracts, you see. And up til then most of mine had come from merchant clans and a magistrate every once in a while. So when it fell to me to preserve the Reaver’s head for display at the Ruby Gate, you can imagine my excitement. To celebrate the contract I played host to a banquet of princely proportions. The beat of drums, skirl of flutes, and tinkle of tambourines filled my halls for most of that night.

Toward the end of the eve, after the tightrope walkers and hydromancers had packed up and gone home, I led the remainder of my guests to my rooftop terrace. Nobody likes an overstaying houseguest, least of all myself. Which was why I hoped the last two stragglers would take a hint from the wind’s icy reception.

By no means the grandest in the district, my manor was situated halfway up one of the many stone spires that made up the city. From here we could see a few other spires, with towers and balconies clinging to them like sandstone barnacles. From there, shelves of stilt-house shantytowns plunged down to the desert coast.   

“To the Reaver Queen’s demise!” slurred my kath-brother, Rhimar. Dark splotches of wine were bleeding through the pale green of his robes.“May she prowl our waters nevermore!”  His fat frame nearly tumbled over the rails when he swung his chalice overhead. Even though the ocean lay below, we were up so high that the water would’ve broken his spine before it broke his fall.

“Careful, Kath Rhimar,” I told him. “We wouldn’t want to make my sister a widow, now would we?” I pulled him to the other end of the terrace, where I pried the chalice from his fingers and set it on a lotus-shaped table.
In a chair by the table sat my distant cousin, Darelli. “Drunk as he is, I’ll second that toast.” He, or rather she spoke in an affectedly feminine voice. Three decades had passed since she crossed the divide and yet I still thought of her as the boy from my childhood. Over the years she earned her place as a wigmaker for the khazal’s concubines. That night she wore her latest creation, a crown of night-black braids woven with the periwinkle tulips of the Ukarite Dynasty. The locks flew in the wind as she tilted her chalice aloft. “To the Reaver’s undoing!”

“To her undoing,” came a voice as deep as the seafloor. All heads turned to the horseshoe archway that opened onto the terrace. Out strode a square-built man decked in purple silks. Except for his clothes, there was nothing soft about him: sharp nose, pointed moustache, and a scar on his cheek besides.

“Captain Kelhan,” I said as casually as possible. “I thought you’d left.”

“So I did. But I’d just reached the Soarer’s Esplanade when I began to feel a little chilly. Must’ve forgotten my cloak up here during the fireworks. No slaves were at the door, so I let myself in.”

Neither Kan Darelli’s lavender perfume nor Kath Rhimar’s wine breath could match whatever product Captain Kelhan had applied tonight. Probably some pricey musk from the Crownless States. A trader from the Seafarer’s Guild such as himself could afford it.

Such a trader could also afford a bountiful bride-price for my daughter. Which was why I hurried to the chair opposite from Darelli, snatched the raptor feather cloak from the backrest, and offered it with a low bow.
“Pardon that no one was to receive you,” I said. “I let the slaves spend the rest of the holiday as they wished.”

“No matter.” He pinned the cloak around his neck with a broach shaped like the same beast whose feathers enfolded him. Its fangs glinted by one of the pole lanterns as the captain took Rhimar’s chalice from the table and clinked it against Darelli’s.

“I would’ve killed that tribal scum after our shipboard duel had I known she’d persist in raiding my dhows. May she rot.” In one gulp he drank half his wine.

After taking a sip, Darelli tapped her painted nails on the base of her chalice. “I don’t think she’ll be rotting anytime soon, thanks to our host.” Looking to me, she asked, “You have her here, don’t you? The corpse I mean.”

I didn’t like where this was going. Yet I couldn’t disappoint Captain Kelhan, who gazed at me over the rim of his cup.

“That I do.” Rubbing my bald scalp, I went on, “Father and Grandfather had their workshops in the Lower City, but I prefer to live close to my work. So I chose this property partly for its undervault.” With such little surface area available, manors on the spires of Faral-Khazal often had two to ten levels quarried into the rock.

 

Darelli clapped her hands together. “Oh, you must let us see her!”

“Absolutely not.” I chopped my hand in the air. “People talk. If the khazal’s minister learned that I let guests come poking around my workshop, I’d never receive a royal commission again.”

“You’re mistaken in one matter,” said Kelhan. “We’re not just any guests. We’re family.” The last word warmed my chest with hope. We’d discussed the possibility of marriage at dinner, but this was nothing short of a guarantee.

Between then and now I’ve come up with hundreds of excuses I should’ve used: that it would befoul the process, that I didn’t have the key, that to do so was illegal. Anything, anything at all.

But all I could think about was what I would do with Kelhan’s bride-price. I’d buy a manor closer to the Hundred Palaces, afford the newest fashions, mingle with the highest of society. I’d become the best-connected embalmer in the city if I just said:

“Yes.” I swung an arm toward the archway. “Right this way.”

Thus the four of us walked back inside and down the spiral staircase. Down we went, step upon polished step, heedless of the consequences in store.

 

 

My workshop was a cross between a morgue and an apothecarium. Neatly-labeled vials lined one wall, stacks of crates and coffins along another. In the center sat a bronze casket, featureless save for the clockwork mechanism with three numbered discs on its face.

Kath Rhimar and Captain Kelhan needed to duck beneath the balls of pomander that hung from the ceiling. The little brass orbs were supposed to cast off the sickly-sweet stench of death. And yet the odor still lingered like an unwanted guest, making four of them in all.

I sat on the stool beside the casket and shifted the table of saws in the way of the others.

“Some space, please.” My weary eyes locked with Rhimar’s bloodshot ones. “You especially. The khazal’s minister visits at daybreak and I’d be hard pressed to explain any vomit on the Reaver’s cheeks.”

He took a swaying step behind the other two.

One by one, I clicked the wheels into place. 1-2-8. It was that many years into the Ukarite Dynasty when my father died and the family trade passed into my hands. My capable hands – or so I thought back then. To this day I think his spirit haunts me for the choice I made that night.

“Plug your nostrils.” I lifted the lid and there she was. The Reaver Chieftain. Garbed in a breechcloth and breastband, she lay as still as the casket that contained her.

“Feh, that’s her?” Darelli crossed her arms, clinking her bracelets against each other. “She looks like some Lower City fishwife.”

That she did. With her pouched eyes and wrinkled skin, she’d aged well into elderhood by the time the khazal caught up to her.

“Even in her middle years, she never imposed fear through looks alone,” said Kelhan. Eyes downcast, he began pacing a semicircle behind my stool. “It was her charisma, the way she could unite the northern tribes under her sails, her sheer… But what’s this?”

The cloak swirled at his heels as he clenched the coffin’s rim with both hands.

Clearing my throat, I uttered, “All due respect, could you step aw-”

“By the stars!” Kelhan’s shout rang all along the mudbrick walls

I stiffened in my seat. Darelli reeled back a step. Kath Rhimar blinked blearily. None of us dared speak. None except the captain.

“It’s not her.”

Rhimar burst into deep raspy hoots. I almost laughed with him. Almost.

“Of course it’s her!” I said in a tone of strained humor. “It’s been years on years since you last saw the Reaver. People change.”

“People change,” Kelhan said through gritted teeth. “But tattoos are forever.”

A glimpse showed no trace of ink on the woman’s body. The whole room may as well have caved in by the weight on my chest. I cut a glance to Darelli. “Is he right?”

She bit her lips so forcefully that white showed through the teal paint. “Every so often a concubine might seek an alchemist or Star-Touched to help remove her slave’s brand, but never with any success.”

“Then this is an imposter!” Each of Kelhan’s words hammered at my heart.. “Either the khazal has been tricked, or the khazal is tricking us. (deceiver/deceived) Another one of the khazal’s deceptions! He wants us to think we’re safe thanks to him, but now we’re more vulnerable than ever!”That, or the khazal intends to deceive the masses.

“Keep your voice down!” I cried. “The walls have ears. Especially for talk of treason!” Though I was more worried about the two other guests than the four walls around us. Darelli often gossiped with the highest of circles whereas Kith Rhimar had a habit of talking too much in his cups. Neither could keep a secret. And then there was Kelhan.

“Treason?” He drew himself up to full height, hair scraping against the ceiling. “I speak of the truth. Truth I shall tell to Seafarer’s Union right away. If the khazal cannot protect us, then we must do it ourselves!”

Just as he turned his shoulder I seized him by the wrist. He scowled at my hand as if it belonged to a beggar. Slowly, he lifted his gaze. “You think you can stop me?”

“No.” I released him and smoothed out the fold in his sleeve. “I only ask that you think things through. What would this mean for me?  For the rest of us? After word gets out, the khazal will follow the leak to its source. His eyes will turn here, and so will his fury. While you and the Union are off waging war with pirates, the three of us will suffer torture deep in the bowels of the Hundred Palaces.”
“I cannot worry about the few when the lives of so many are at stake,” said Kelhan. “Now if you’ll excuse me.”

“Wait.” I sidestepped him. “Wait!”

“Move, or I will run you through this very second.” Kelhan’s hand dropped to the tasseled handle of his ornamental cutlass. “Much as I dislike the idea, nothing will sway me. Nothing, and no one.”

“Then take me with you!” I said. “The Seafarer’s Guild will heed you more closely with my testimony.”

He pursed his lips sideways. “And the khazal?”

“To the gods with the khazal! We’ll leave the city before he can get his hands on us! Then you can wed my daughter, and we’ll set on our hunt as Starsworn kath.”

“You sound ridiculous!” For the first time in recent memory, Darelli spoke in a man’s voice. “Do you expect me to drop everything and leave with you? My life is here!”

“As is mine!” shouted Rhimar, who finally seemed to snap out of his stupor. “And what of your sister!”

“Details, details!” I dismissed them with a wave of the hand. “We’ll sort all that out later. But for now” – I turned to Kelhan – “let us seal our pact.” I threw my arms wide, inviting him to the ancient ritual between kath-father-and-son.

It took a moment’s hesitation before Kelhan stepped into my embrace. I wrapped my arms around his neck, so far round that I unclipped the brooch from his cloak. The raptor feathers fell to our feet the moment I drove the metal fangs deep into his throat.

Blood spurted from his neck. His eyes twitched wide as copper shiksils, staring back with accusation. Try as I might, I couldn’t look away. All I could do was stare into that gaze until it rolled white and fluttered its lids shut forever. The stiff corpse slumped into my hands, and it took all my strength to stay on my feet. With utmost care, I lowered it away from the casket so that not a drop of blood spilled on the Reaver.

To keep the blood from spreading, I took a roll of linen from the table of saws and knotted off a bandage round the captain’s neck. That done, I collapsed onto my stool and ran a hand over my scalp. After a few deep breaths, I lifted my gaze to the bewildered faces of kath and kan. Tilting my chin at the captain’s body, I asked, “So what’ll it be?”

My Writing, The Deadliest Dish [High Fantasy Novella]

The Deadliest Dish (Sneak-Peek)

 

 

Faral

Finalist for the Baen Fantasy Adventure Award, 2018

Honorable Mention from Writers of the Future Winter Quarter 2018

The Deadliest Dish

 

Whatever became of the khazal’s former chef remained a mystery to Kaira. She hadn’t cared to ask when accepting the post and now she didn’t dare. One month in the Hundred Palaces had taught her more about the dangers of court intrigue than her forty-five years spent under minor princes. Here a brash question might be answered with a venomous snake bite or a shove off the cliffside gardens. And according to rumor, the woman sitting across from Kaira had a hand in it all.

Lounging on a wicker chair in the corner of her garden, the khazal’s favorite concubine puffed up grey plumes from her seashell pipe. By the sunbeams that slipped past the treetops, she resembled a red-lipped, black-lidded dryad in her own little jungle of palms and creeper.

A pair of bare-chested slaves fanned her from behind the backrest. Their peacock feathers sent ripples up her gown to make the satin seem more liquid than solid. The fabric flowed around her ankle as she nudged a coral-pink lotus across the fishpond.

A charming sight to be sure. But Kaira knew rotten things could fill piquant crusts – not so different from how man-sized eels lurked in the fishpond. Their bejeweled fins guzzled the sunlight and winked for Kaira’s attention as she crossed the courtyard.

Halting at the customary three pace distance, she balanced her violet-glazed tray in one hand and pinched her smock in a deep curtsy.

“Your Radiance Rhameli,” said Kaira, striving to smoothen her scratchy voice. “I’ve brought the samples for tonight.”

If Rhameli heard, she showed no sign. Silently, she kept her long-lashed eyes on the fishpond while the fountains burbled on her behalf.

Kaira’s patience began to dwindle. She didn’t want to breach etiquette, but the banquet wasn’t going to cook itself. Drawing a deep breath, she went so far as to clear her throat.

“You’d do well to kneel when addressing me.” Rhameli’s deep voice snapped off each syllable, chopping “kneel” into “knee-all.”

It took every ounce of Kaira’s willpower to stop her jaw from unhinging. Only the khazal could enforce proskynesis. Anyone else who demanded as much was subject to have his – or in this case her – feet cut off. Kaira took a little pleasure in picturing those pretty toes dangle from the Ruby Gate.  

“Who do you think you are?” she wanted to say. But on seeing one of the flytraps snatch up a sucklebug, she decided to be sweet instead of sour. Her arthritic knees ached as she bent them to the grass. Even still, Kaira refused to let this stuck-up harpy peck at her own sense of  self-worth. How could she, when she was the best damn chef in the Glorious Oases?

From the moment she lifted the lid from her tray, the air turned rich with the scents of spiced meats and aged cheeses. One of the slaves paused his fanning just to gawk at the fare. His eyes twitched even wider when his mistress’s voice boomed throughout the courtyard:

“Who told you to stop? Keep your eyes where they belong or I’ll give them to the eels!”

The slave fixed his gaze on a tulip-filled urn as he carried on with his task.

Rhameli looked back at Kaira’s tray, where eight porcelain bowls showcased samples of viands for that night. She inspected the crayfish basted in garlic, the fried gourd-chips and goat cheese, and all of the other dainties but betrayed no hint of her pleasure. In fact her face remained motionless until she lifted her green eyes to Kaira’s brown ones. “And what of the thunder trout?”

Every sculpture in the garden seemed to crush on Kaira’s chest. “The… the thunder-what, Your Radiance?”

Rhameli sat up straight to better look down her nose at Kaira.  “The thunder trout.” A crease formed between her well-groomed brows. “A Flaurian delicacy.” She ashed her pipe in the bowl of goat cheese. “Since they’re tonight’s guests of honor, I requested it a month in advance.”

Impossible! This was their first audience! But then Kaira thought back three weeks ago, when the Keeper of Ceremonies listed so many of her responsibilities that she couldn’t possibly remember them all. She would’ve have tried her damned hardest if she’d known her life depended on it. Kaira digested all of these thoughts just in time to make a recovery.   

“But of course,” she forced herself to say. “It’s only that the thunder trout needs awhile to marinate. It’ll be ready by tonight. Of that I guarantee.” Each word made her loathe herself that much more.

“Good.” Rhameli pinched a crayfish from the tray and observed it closely. “I’d hate to be disappointed by a chef so full of promise… yet again.”

Then she flicked the morsel into the fishpond where it sank to the bottom. Within seconds, the eels flashed their fangs to tear the shellfish apart. Once they slithered out of sight, Kaira noticed a white fragment lying at the pool’s base.

A bone-white fragment.

“Begone,” said Rhameli.

Kaira clinked the lid over the tray louder than she’d intended. Climbing to her feet, she jerked another curtsey before backtracking out of the garden. Not until passing the horseshoe archway did she remember to breathe. Without the thunder trout, the same passion that lifted her up would also tear her down.

#

(Due to publishing rights, only the first chapter is posted here. Message me directly if you’d like to read the full version.)

Uncategorized

Ships & Sailing

Besides this cheat sheet, I recommend picking up a sailor’s dictionary. Here’s one you can get on Kindle for free:

SHIP TYPES
Pontoon (flat-bottomed boat used in building a temporary bridge)Barque – sailing vessel with three or more masts

Windjammer (collective name for ship built to carry cargo (first use 1880)

Whaling ship

Dhow (a lateen-rigged ship with one or two masts, used in the Indian Ocean)

Skiff (a shallow, flat-bottomed open boat with a sharp bow and square stern)

Sloop (boat with one mast)

Sailboat

Galley

Warship

Flagship

Flotilla (fleet of ships or boats)

Armada

NAVAL IDENTITIES
seafarers Passenger

Boarding party/boarders

Shipmates (good for sailors referencing amongst themselves)

Barge / bargemen

Shipwright (person who constructs ships)

Steersman
INTERACTING WITH SHIP
Boarded (“John boarded the ship”)

Take ship for _

Debark /Embark

Crewed (“A barge, crewed by shouting Wrannaman, was being poled awkwardly into a canal.”)

All hands hit the decks

sat near the prow

“Person appeared on the port rail”

“Heraklios joined him at the prow.”

SAILS
Buckle – a mast buckles when it suffers compression, so that the fiber takes a sinuous formSmack of the sail

“slap of sail in the wind”

Hoist sails

PREPOSITIONS /ADVERBS
Seaward /landward Broadside (longer side of the ship [versus back and front])

Overboard (“swept overboard”)

Aboard (“There was plenty of room aboard Leonov.” | “There was much confusion aboard the Spanish ship” | “Welcome aboard.”)

Offshore

Shipboard (“shipboard duel”)

Topside (“Misfortune’s brewing topside!”)

Aftward(in the direction of the stern)/aftmost

Aft (stern “he flung himself aft”)

Amidships (in or toward the middle)

SHIP DOCKING/MOVEMENT
“The black hulls of ships pulled up on the sand”“Galley’s hull scraped the sand”

Beached

Berthed (docked; berth = ship’s allotted place at dock)

Weighed anchor

Moored (some boats moored by the harbor)

Cast off (set sail; cast off the hawsers)

Ship moved off

Put to sea (heading out)

Set sail   

Make full sail
“Trojan fleet sped forward”

Drifted

Plowed (“we plowed through the tide”)

Cut through the water

PARTS OF SHIP
Porthole rowing ports

Gunport (“bronze mouths protruding from our gunports offered a loud response (to cannonades)

Anchor-ball: a pyrotechnical combustible attached to a grapnel for adhering to and setting fire to ships

Cutwater: the forward-edge of a ship’s brow, which divides the water (extension of the keel)

Gunwale: the upper edge of the side of a boat or ship

Ramp/gangplank/gangway

Hatchway

Ballast (weight in ship that balances the vessel)

Hold (interior of a ship)

Front deck/forward deck

Hawser (a thick rope or cable for mooring or towing a ship)

Towline/towrope (a rope or chain used for towing vehicles)

Tiller (directional device in rowboat)

Forecastle: forward part of a ship belowdeck typically used for living quarters

“Cabin forward of the mast”

MISC
League = three milesFathom = six feet
SHIP OUT OF CONTROL
“ship lurched under him”

Pitched (“Also, with the ship pitching so strongly, there was a great chance she might wound herself on accident.”)

Tilted/canted deck

Careening (moving swiftly and uncontrollable way in a specified direction)

MANEUVERING SHIP
Changed courseHold the course (“Hold course, Master Caldris.”)

Stayed the course/stay the course

Steer a course

Get it under control (“getting the ship under control”)

Rowed

“shipped her own paddle”

Ferried themselves across

SHIP DESCRIPTIONS
Barnacled (barnacled hulls of warships hauled onto beach sand)Algae

Wood has wormholes

Salt-rotted (“salt-rotted wooden sign”)

Disabled

Seaworthy

Sea-crafty

Seagoing

Fully equipped

Stoutly-built

Armed at all points (covered with armor)

 

Uncategorized

Hair

 

LENGTH/DENSITY
Bald pate (bald spot)Baldheaded

“Bill had a bald dome with a fringe of black hair, a natural version of the monkish tonsure.”

Half-bald (“half-bald man with grey hair round his ears…”)

“loose hairs of his wig jiggled about”

“fine white hair”

Wisps of hair

Thinning/thin hair

“Hair receding sharply at the temples.”
Close-cropped hair

“black wigs were cut sharply to the chin”

“he wore his hair longer than any Roman”

“hair arranged in long oiled ringlets”

_-length (“shoulder-length”)
Thick hair

Waves of hair

“The captain’s long hair fell to his shoulders in red-gold waves and was kept back from his brow by a circlet of blue jade.

“forest of hair”

EYEBROWS
“plucked brows” Groomed brow

Scar-nicked brow

Arched brows/pointed brows

Bushy eyebrows

Shaggy brows

“brows were as fine and dark as penstrokes with a curious flourish at the end”

“peaked black brow”

Brows darker/lighter than hair

 “two little stubby eyebrows like very small fish swimming bravely in a great sea of face.”

BEARDS

Beardless

Clean-shaven

Whiskery (whiskery red face)

Ill-shaven

Scruffy

Stubbled

Patchy beard

“hair was shaved to stubble, dusted with grey at the ears and close to bald on top.”

“fine thistle of beard fringed his face”

Thin beard

Square-cut beard

Close-cropped beard

“His short, defiant beard pointed at the sky.”

Goatee

‘Thick black beard”

“beard like a grey waterfall”

POOR CONDITION
Mussed/shaggy/grizzled hairUnkempt (beard/hair)

Dirty hair

Oily/greasy hair

Unruly/wild beards/hair

Uncombed hair

Scraggly/straggly hair

UNIT REFERENCES

 

Plait/pleat (a braid of material such as hair or straw; specifically pigtail)

Braids

Locks

twists

Tufts/crops

Strands

lanks

Mane (“of thick locks”)

MUSTACHES
Long black moustache“dark moustache that drooped around a grim, set mouth.”

“Von Ottenfeld put on a melancholy expression which was much enhanced by his long, drooping moustaches.

Downturned moustache

“That moustache, like a pair of yellow slugs on his fat top lip.”
Sideburns
TACTILE CONDITIONS

Frizzy hair

Kinked hair

Wavy dark hair

Slicked-back hair (“hair slicked straight back”)

Silky hair (“beard”)

WOMEN’S HAIR
“her hair secured into a wide band woven with fake flowers”Bouffant (hair arranged in puffed circular shape)

Chignon (a knot or bun in the back of a lady’s hair)

“She tapped her silver hair, which was drawn into a tight bun that could crack rocks.”

VERBAL USAGES
CrownedFramed

Fringed

Curtained

Barbered (“The long mane of black curls had been barbered neatly into a manly cap.”)

Topped

Tumbled

Trailed

straggled

cascaded

STYLES
“His hair swept to one side of his face/head”Parted/unparted

Topknot (a knot of hair arranged at the top of the head)

ponytail

Widow’s peak

Hair greased back

“what little hair he had slicked back in greasy knots over his ears”

hairline

“tangled black hair half-hiding his face”

COLORS
“iron-gray hair”Grayshot (beard)

“grey streaks in his hair”

silver-haired

Sandy-haired

Flaxen

Sunflecked

Towheaded (a head of two-colored or very blond hair)

Auburn (reddish-brown)

Raven-haired

Snowy

 

Uncategorized

Titles and Identities

 

HIGH RULERS
“My husband the king”
“My king”
“His queen-to-be”

Rightful heir
Heir presumptive
Deposed
Disgraced _ (“I am the son of a disgraced noble family”)

Pretender

Self-styled

“High Fist Dujek Onearm”
Valley lord

“Earl Palatine of Westria”
Elector-Prince
Great One (emperor)
Sultana

RULERS
Potentates

Personage (person of rank/note/distinction | impression of famous individual)

Lordling

Ladyship

Messire

Maestro (Italian addressing a master)Magnates (wealthy, influential person)
Statesman (skilled, experienced, and respected political leader)

Dignitary (person considered to be important because of high rank or office)e

Scion (heir to a wealthy/powerful family)

Bannermen

Householders

Landholders

Liege lords
My liege

FOLLOWERS (RELIGIOUS)
Devotee

Parishioners (“priests and parishioners”)

Tithe-dodgers

Worshippers

Congregation

Laity

FOOD/MEDICINE
Bonesetter
Medical acolytes

Surgeon-Commander

Physician
Scullions

FANTASY
Gorgon

Hyperboreans ([ancient Greek mythology] mythical race of giants who lived “beyond the North Wind.”)

Pixies
elfin (small and delicate, typically with an attractively mischevious charm| N an elf)
Demiurge (n. Being responsible for creation of the universe)

NOBLE HOUSEHOLD
Retainers (a person attached to or owing service to a wing of the household)

Attendant

Courtiers

Majordomo (head steward of a large household)

High Chamberlain

Porter
Equerry (an officer of the British royal household who attends or assists members of the royal family/an officer of the household of a prince or noble who had charge over the stables)
Duenna (an elderly woman serving as governess and companion to the younger ladies in a Spanish or Portuguese family)
Cupbearer

Handmaiden

Maidservant

Chambermaid

Valet (man’s male servant who performs personal services such as taking care of clothing)

Houseguest

Chatelaine (wife of a castellan; mistress of a chateau; mistress of a household or large establishment)

Caretaker/steward

Housekeeper

Custodian

Head of the household

Master of the house

CHILDREN
Little one (child title)

Tot

Orphan

Youngster

Shaveling (youth/stripling)

Playmate (also as insult)
Schoolboy

Moppet (child)  

Foundling (an infant that has been abandoned and cared for by others)

BUREAUCRATIC/KNOWLEDGE
Census clerks

Undersecretary

Copyist (scribe)

Notary

Bookkeeper (person whose job is to keep records of finances)
Archivist

Antiquarians

Scholars

Logothete (one of various functionaries [as administrators] of a Byzantine emperor)

Publican (Jewish tax collector for ancient Romans; collector of taxes or tribute)

Supernumeraries
Functionaries (person who has to perform official functions)

Ministers

Counselors

TIME OF DAY
Off-duty (guards)
Early-risers (“early-rising fishermen”)
TRAVEL
Ferryman

Boatman (for ferries)

Muleteer (one who drives mules)

Ostler (man employed to look after the horses of people staying at an inn)

Postmaster

Courier

Messenger boy

Stableboy

Coachman

AVERSE RELIGIOUS
Sinner

Heathen

Cultists

Doomsayers

Fanatics

Apostate (person who renounces religious or political beliefs”)

 

COMBAT
Master-at-arms

Swordmaster

Second-in-command

“Knights of every stripe”

Knight errant (knight in search of chivalrous adventures)

Foot-soldiers

“The Crimson Guard”

Priam’s Eagles

Honor guard  

Noncombatants

Auxiliaries

Warhost

Battalion (“a battalion of household slaves”)
Tactician
Strategist

Peltast

Standardbearer

Grenadier

gunner
Shield bearer

Defenders

Camp followers

Lord Marshal

High Constable”
Gateman
Bailiff (one who manages an estate or farm; official employed by British sheriff to serve writs and make arrests and executions)

Guardsmen

Gatekeeper

Peacekeepers

Turnkey (jailor)

GEOGRAPHIC
Lowlander

Coldlander

Frenchmen/Dornishmen/_-men

Plainsman (inhabitant of the plains)

Countryfolk

ENTERTAINERS
Troupe (a group of dancers, actors, or other entertainers who tour to different venues)

A marketplace juggler

Acrobat

Court poets

Harpist

Playwright

Tragedian (actor who specializes in tragic roles)

Puppeteer

Tightrope walker
Danseuse (a female ballet dancer)
Troubadour (one of the class of lyric poets and poet-musicians of knightly rank who flourished from the eleventh to the end of the thirteenth century chiefly in the south of France and north of Italy whose major theme was courtly love; singer especially of folk songs)

Prizefighter

Charioteer

GROUPS
Cohort (group of people banded together or treated as a group)

Cadre (small group of people specially trained for certain skill or profession | “cadre of hired assassins”)

freeloaders/freeloading (“scholars”)

Cortege (train of attendants; especially in a funeral procession)
Host

Assembly

Collegium (a group in which each person has approximately equal authority)

Personnel (body of people employed by company or organization)

Deputation (group of people chosen to represent another)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

NAVAL
Oarmaster

“There was work for all hands able to do it.” (naval/identity)
Fisherfolk

Shipmates (his boys)
Longshoreman (person who loads and unloads cargo at a seaport)

Landsman (landlubber ; someone inexperienced with sailing)

Landlubber

Hortator (slave who gave drumbeats to a Roman trireme)

FAMILY
Progeny
Offspring

Firstborn

Next-of-kin

Kinfolk

Grandfolk
Eldest

ECONOMIC
The merchant fathers
Merchant families
Guildsmen

Vendors

Supplier

Purveyor/purveying

Dealer

Shopkeeper

Cheese makers
Vintner (wine merchant or winemaker)

In the dye trade

Weavers
Clothier

Seamstress

Spinster (woman whose occupation is to spin | woman who seems unlikely to marry | unmarried woman of gentle family)

Milliner (a person who makes or sells women’s hats)

Gunrunner

Pawnbrokers

Knackerman (trading animals that have died on farms and unfit for consumption; where term knackered came from)

Hucksters (a person who sells small items, either door-to-door or form a stall or small store)

Ragman (someone who collects or deals in rags, old clothes, or oher items )

Mountebank ( person who deceives others, especially in order to trick them)
Wheelwright
Farrier (a craftsman who trims and shoes horses’ hooves)
Saddler (person who makes saddles)


Bricklayer (bricklayer’s trowel)
Stonecutter
Steelworker
Steeplejack (one whose work is building smokestacks, towers or steeples or climbing up the outside to paint or make repairs)
workmen

Foreman (first or chief person)

Taskmaster


Wholesaler

Moneychanger (person whose business is to exchange one currency for another)

Moneylender

Creditor
Tapster

Tavern wench

Barmaid

Laundress
Wet-nurse

LOVE/MARRIAGE

My lady

My beloved

Lover/beloved

Beauties

Sweetling

Dearest husband
His darling/their darling

My dear

Suitor

Husband-to-be

Well-dowered
Dowerless
Unwed
Newlyweds
With child (pregnant)
Paramour (a lover; esp the illicit lover of a person)
Consort

RANKS
“The chief priest”

Highest ranks
Inner circle (“an honored member of the pope’s inner circle”)

Senior priestess

His superior

His betters/their betters

Minor (lord)

RELIGIOUS
Churchmen

Archimandrite (head of a large monastery in Orthodox Church)
Provost (senior administrative officer in certain colleges and universities | head of a chapter in a cathedral)

Missionaries

Anchorites (religious recluse)

Mystagogue (teacher or propounder of mystical doctrine)

Eremite (religious recluse; eremitical)

Exegets (espouser or textual interpreter, usually of scripture)

Theologian

Deacon (subordinate officer in the Catholic Church such as cleric ranking below a priest; layman given privilege to serve in worship)
Acolyte (one who assists a member of the clergy in a liturgical service by performing minor duties; one who attends or assists a leader)

Chaplain (clergyman in charge of a chapel; clergyman appointed to assist a bishop as at a iturgical function; clergyman officially attached to a branch of the military, to an institution, or to a family or court)

Suffragan (bishop appointed to help a diocesan bishop)
Prelate (a bishop or other high ecclesiastical officer)

Curate (member of clergy serving as assistant of or leading a parish)

Sexton (a person who looks after a church and churchyard; bell-ringer and formerly a gravedigger)
Almoner (an official distributor of alms)
Precentor (a leader in the singing of a choir or congregation)Nonbelievers

Choirboy

RURAL
Milkmaid

Herdsmen

Cowherds
Goatherd

Swineherd

Cowhands

Fieldhands

Drover (one who drives cattle or sheep)

Beekeeper

Forester Iperson in charge of a forest or skilled in planting or caring for trees)

Trappers

Prospector

Pioneer

Sharecropper (tenant farmer provided with credit for seeds/tools/living quarters/food and gets an agreed amount of profit from the crop minus charges)

BAD MORALITY
Minion

Evildoers | wrongdoers

Outlaw

Outcasts (pariah)

Cretin

Cutpurse

Footpad (highwayman operating on foot rather  than horse)

Looter

Bandit chiefs

Reaver (person who carried out raids in order to plunder)

Renegade (person who deserts and betrays another organization)

Insurgents (person who revolts against civil authority; person who reacts in contrary opinion to one’s own political party)

Pillagers/raiders

Marauder (raider)

Freebooter (a pirate or lawless adventurer)

Libertine (a person who acts without moral responsibility)

Hireling

Street brawler

 

And here’s a little trick of European nobility: Don’t Milk Every Vicious Bull.

  1. Duke
  2. Marquis
  3. Earl
  4. Viscount
  5. Baron
Uncategorized

Combat: Ranged (Archery/Gunpowder Weapons)

 

GUN-BASED COMBAT
Cocked his gun

recocked

“let off a shot”

“squeezed off his shot”

Pistol went off

Gunned down

Opened fire

Sprayed

Fired serially

fusillades (series of shots fired in quick succession)

“Pocked by gunshots”

Riddled with bullet

Destructive blast; volley
Shot from the hip/fired from the hip/shoulder

Point-blank (fired from very close to the target)

Emptied his pistol on (“he turned and opened fire, emptying his pistols”)

“exchanged shots”

Crossfire (caught in the crossfire)
Gunfire (sound of)

Crack of gunshot

Pistol-crack

“several discharges of musquetry in the streets were heard”

“Muffled off-boom of cannonfire”

“a bullet spat gravel just in front of him”

WEAPONS AND LOADING

Sidearm (weapon such as sword, revolver, bayonet worn at side)
Firepower

Firearms

Buckshot (lead bullets)

Cartridges (“fumbled cartridges into his pistol”)

Gunpowder (smells: Sulfurous; Saltpeter)

Handgun

Sixshooter

Set of pistols

“twin muzzles” of a shotgun

“double-barreled handgun”

“Shalako fed shells into his gun”

Reload/priming

Crossbow bolts/quarrels

Cranked (“four cold metal bolts were cranked and ready…” | cranking winches/capstan)

cocked/recocked (crossbow or firearm)
Hempen bowstring treated with beeswax to resist the wet

Quiver (“quiver of Lycian arrows.”)

Feathered bolts/arrows (feather stuck up from his forehead)

Spent arrows (on the ground after a battle)

Fully loaded

AIMING
Found his aim/finding his aim

Found his mark/Arrow found its mark

Took aim (for aimed)

Well-aimed (also of a glance)

“kept his arrow trained in Simon’s general direction…”
RANGE

At close range

Line of fire

Outrange

ARCHERY
pelted by archers”

Volley

“twang of bows as the sky filled with arrows”

Flight of arrows (like volley)

Nocked an arrow (loaded arrow

“let his bowstring go slack”

“let my arrow fly”
“…as arrows hummed past.”

Bow creaked

RECEIVING SHOTS

Ate the shot

Received a ball in his thigh

Shattering “both flesh and bone”
MISSES
Misfire (fail to discharge properly)

Overshoot/undershoot

Fell short (“the shots fell short”)

Rebounded/ricocheted

“Maurevel instantly fired in return, but the bullet glanced off De Muoy’s cuirass”

INTERACTING WITH WEAPONS

Brought his rifle to bear

“rifles slung over their shoulders”

Toted guns

“men with rifles, hip high, ready to fire”

Unslung his harquebus

“sat down, his rifle across his knees”

Grounding his arquebus

Arquebus on his shoulder

RANGED-BASED IDENTITIES
bowmen

Marksman

Best shots (“best shots in town”)

“he was a good shot”

Artillerymen

Gunmen

Gunner

Trigger-happy