Hu-Hov: “What’s the best way to describe hyarmi to humans who know nothing about us?”
Hened: “We have a lot of fur.”
Hu-Hov: “Seriously. Anybody who meets us or sees a picture can figure that out. Like…we really hate getting wet.”
Hened: “Of course, since it takes forever to dry out afterward.”
Hu-Hov: “And we all hate heights.”
Hened: “Except Hileko Heruvael-son. Some might argue that Judge Harai is an exception as well.”
Hu-Hov: “And we don’t kill any animal life.”
Hened: “Except parasites, infestations, and diseases. Or in regards to Hu-Harek’s treaties with—”
Hu-Hov: “You are supposed to be helping me. This is not helping!”
Hened: “Give them stories, dear Warder. The best way to get to know somebody, if a personal meeting is not an option, is through stories. Or show them that assignment you greatly enjoyed a few years back. You know the one I mean.”
Hu-Hov: “Very well, then, all-knowing Master Historian.”
Thirty-four years before the start of the first Geren novel, young Hu-Hov gets a homework question.
Imagine you received a visitor from the days of Hu-Harek. Explain, in brief, the most significant adjustments this visitor would need to make to adapt to our time period.
Who comes up with these ridiculous questions?
My first thought is climate. The glaciers have receded even more since Hu-Harek’s death. The forests have come north, the grasslands have grown lusher. This hypothetical visitor might be shocked when she or he tries to locate a former home or birthplace.
I mentioned Hu-Harek’s death. We all learn that she died at 1065 years, but a visitor might find this startling. A world without Hu-Harek, her matchless genius and Healing power, alongside the realization that even mage-seers have limits to their longevity. My time also has no Healing pairs. Because while a few hyarmi are still born with Seeing power, we no longer have any hyarmi mages, and one of each is needed for a Healing pair.
Healing dangles over a chasm in my day. Mage-seer Heruvael was murdered fourteen years ago, and we feared we had lost Healing with him. So another shock for this hypothetical visitor is one we all still share. Just this spring, the Defender of Life somehow changed Heruvael’s son, Hileko, from a seer into a hyarmi Healer like his father, though less powerful than a true mage-seer. Even Hu-Harek could not do that!
So in my day, only the Defender and Hileko can Heal, since the Defender is an avarii mage-seer and can Heal when he takes the hyarmi form.
Which brings me to the other change that would greatly shock anyone from the past: the destruction of the avarii race. I would not expect any hypothetical visitor to believe me or even readily endure such news, yet we all grow up with this as a piece of history that does not affect our daily lives: first, the fall of Triune, with hyarmi, avarii, and human survivors fleeing to the other nations under the scourge of the Subverted; then, the slow disappearance of the avarii in Avarome; finally, the shocking destruction of Oversea, with the Defender of Life as the only survivor. Though of course he did not have that name yet, still being a fledgling.
(Nobody has seen any Subverted in 423 years, and we all pray that reprieve never ends. I envy this hypothetical visitor’s ignorance of what Subverted are, but I would not shadow their thoughts by explaining it.)
I doubt my hypothetical visitor would be able to handle much more. Some blessings remain: our language has not shifted much, so this visitor could still read, write, and speak to us without much adjustment; our sacred Law remains unchanged, along with our government and our rules for electing elders; and the Council of the Races still handles disputes between the races. In your time each race had three judges, but now the humans have five, the hyarmi have five, and the avarii have only one—the Defender. (He used to be Chief Judge, but this answer is supposed to be brief.)
It would also surprise this visitor to learn about the human nations. Eastshield collapsed nearly one hundred and forty years ago, but just twenty years ago the Dominion conquered Nestondom. Every year we wonder where the Emperor’s armies will march next. Avarome or Sutherule? The Dominion sprawls across the entire east, controlled by the dark mage servants of the Goddess with their horrible sacrifices on the Goddess’s mountain. Judge Hadin was the first hyarmi to die there, fifty years ago at Midsummer. Now we die by the dozens, despite all that the Defender, our own border watchers, and the Council mages do to guard us. The number of humans sacrificed to that vile, white stone is a far bigger number that I do not want to try to imagine.
The servants of the Goddess want to defeat all the nations and they want all the hyarmi killed. I think any hypothetical visitor should turn around and go right back to her or his own time and, preferably, take me too. I’m sure Hu-Harek would be delighted to meet a visitor from the future. Like everyone else studying or living here in the Caverns of History, I would give my fur, my eyes, and all I possess to meet Hu-Harek!
Second-year student Hu-Hovingen Hu-Hana-daughter
Meet the Defender and the Hyarmi Through Stories
Length: 1,250 words
Timeline: 197 AK
A widely-known hyarmi cautionary tale about a mischievous cub. Hu-Hov undoubtedly heard this story at least a few times around the age of ten…
Length: 6,680 words
Timeline: 276 AK
Tensions between humans and hyarmi rise as Tilnon, a poor human farmer, goes to trial for heinous crimes against his hyarmi neighbor Hu-Hanik. But is Tilnon the monster that Hu-Hanik’s brother would have everyone believe he is?
Length: 8,130 words
Timeline: 296 AK
Hu-Hure loses her eight-year-old son Hovenn as a massive wildfire menaces hundreds of hyarmi in the district. Can the Defender help all of them, including a lost cub in the path of the fire?
Length: 7,050 words
Timeline: 401 AK
Twelve-year-old Tarlah has always yearned for freedom. Yet even after she’s rescued from prostitution and brought to Delarun, her past still haunts her. Can she find true freedom by fleeing it…or through facing it down with the Defender’s help? [Content Warning for non-graphic sexual abuse of a minor]
About The Novels
While a total of nine novels (so far) describe events in the world of the Defender and the hyarmi, the five Geren novels stand at the center of everything written.
For Geren, life centers around his wheat fields, home, and family. He never imagined losing them all.
His grandfather, a former soldier with a penchant for tall tales, had taught Geren to wield a sword and made him dream of brave deeds. Stories about the hyarmi of the northern forests also delight him. Yet Geren’s favorite tales involve the Defender of Life, an avarii shapechanger giving aid to those in need, farmers included.
In his small town on the fringes of the Dominion, the far-off conquests of the Emperor’s army or even the human and hyarmi sacrifices perpetrated by the Goddess’s fanatical servants mean little. Crops need tending, while bandits must be fought off and tax collectors paid. Blight in the fields or the threat of untimely frost raise greater menace than dark mages and monsters Geren has never seen.
Then disaster strikes. Bereft, Geren heads west. With no plans and few skills beyond farming and swordfighting, his future appears aimless and lonely. Then a strange nightmare of a murder, a round rock that might be a valuable magestone, and a stranger’s life in peril sweep Geren into the world of those childhood tales.
But what will he do when he learns that the plague that took his family was no accident?
So begins A Cry Before the Council…coming someday, somehow. But please don’t hold your breath!