Ammonite Galaxy planets

Planets and people in the binary system

FAQs on facts

Valhai is tidally locked, which means that there is one sunny side, and one dark side.  Sell is built just close to the dividing line, in the twilight zone.  Valhai has winds of 5 metres per second on the sunny side, and Ice on the dark side, especially near the pole. It has a bluish purplish moonlight all day, and the stars can be seen all the time too.  When Sacras is visible there are longer shadows and the light is yellower.  There is only a very thin atmosphere, not enough to be breathable, which sometimes creates thin clouds that can barely be detected.  When Sacras is in conjuction it is nearly as big and bright as the full moon on earth.
The two binary stars approach each other closely every forty years.

The Sells aren’t really a race at all. They used to live on Cesis, one of the planets in orbit around Almagest, so they were originally Cesans. There, they were workers in the Sellite Corporation. The Sellite Corportation gradually began to be very successful, ploughed all of the money it made into research, made some fortunate discoveries and inventions, and little by little found themselves as the technological leaders of their system.

It took them some time, but then the heads of the Sellite Corporation realized that they were the virtual leaders. They began to implement very restrictive policies to make sure that their hard-won technology would stay a secret to the rest of the system, and grew steadily richer and richer.

The above picture is the first ever formulation of Valhai!  You can see the Orthogel liquid to the right and the skyrises at the back.  The very first step!

After some hundreds of years, they decided that they would be even safer if they could move to a different planet entirely. They came to an agreement for the rental of Valhai with the rest of the binary system, and moved their entire corporation to Valhai. They pay each year in minerals, which they mine mainly from the asteroids in orbit with Valhai around Almagest. They also developed several lucrative sidelines, of which the donor program is one.

That was 50 generations ago, at the time of the First Valhai Votation. Nothing much has changed since then: The Sellites have continued to get richer and richer, and the rest of the system has let them. They have no competitors, and have really evolved into a different race. They speak a language completely limited to Sell, and no Non-Sellite is allowed to speak it, on pain of death.

The rough sketch above represents the base of a Sellite skyrise. The Sellites have become the merchants of the system: they own the only spaceships, they are the only traders between the planets in the system. Little by little they have separated from the other inhabitants, living as they do in walled-in luxury on Valhai. The other inhabitants of the system have begun to look upon them as some sort of superior being, especially on the Almagest planets, where flares from the red dwarf star have caused havoc. Unfortunately the Sellites believe themselves superior too!

A layout of the skyrises on Valhai, in the binary system of the Ammonite Galaxy

The above quick sketch is the layout of each of the floors of a Sellite skyrise. As far as the economics of the Sellites are concerned one example will show just how rich they have become. When they signed the rental agreement for Valhai payment was in platinum. They had to deliver to each of the other planets in the binary system a certain amount of platinum per year. When Grace was trying to find out more about the donor program she discovered just how lucrative it is.

The sale of one donor´s genetic material could be offset against two whole years of platinum quota, which in effect meant that the Sellites had the use of Valhai free for the cost of half a donor per year. Since the payment to the Sacran worlds, much more backward, was in the region of an eighth of a year’s quota per donor, the profit was enormous. No wonder the 256th house was one of the most highly considered amongst the operating houses! The donor program had saved Sell over 250 years of platinum quota . . . approximately an eighth of the total payable. In addition, all the genetic material was analysed and a certain amount was retained on Valhai for research purposes. A spin-off of the donor program run by the 256th house was the off-world genetic manipulation program run by the 45th hourse, which based all of its profit on the same genetic program and generated a quota saving of another tenth. In conjuntion they saved the Sells a quarter of the cost of the planet! And they freed up the mining families so they could concentrate on the higher metals instead of platinum, the agreed currency all those centuries ago.

Grace found out that a quarter of the mining efforts were now aimed at the very rare metals, such as Rhodium and Palladium. One weight of Rhodium was equivalent to twenty-five of Platinum. Since platinum was still available on the Cian planets themselves, both Xiantha and Cesis were more than happy to exchange quotas. Adding all this together, she discovered that the Sellites had a whole planet for themselves for a total output of only about two-hundred tons mined per year. Since mining the two moons of Valhai was relatively easy that took them only two months per year. Everything else was profit, and as such divided equally between the five hundred families, after expenses were deducted and investment programs funded.

No wonder the Sellites felt superior to the rest of the inhabitants of the binary system!


Wheras Coriolis is lush and green and warm and filled with abundant plant and animal life, Kwaide is just that much further away from its sun to make it cold, inhospitable, barren and uncomfortable. It is renowned for its icy cold winds, which they say can kill a person.

The Elders live in the flatlands, around the centre and south of the planet, and they banish the untouchables they have no use for to the uninhabitable zone, to the north of the planet. This is an area dominated by jagged mountains always capped in ice, peaks where blizzards are so common that even the endemic warthogs cannot venture up them. Some of the waterfalls are so rich in deposits that they petrify anything left hanging in them for a long time.

The main Elder city is Benefice, where millions of people live on top of each other, and in generally squalid conditions, which has resulted in the effluent conduits, no-go areas where many no-names work and die.

Although water is plentiful in the north, not much else is. Eking out a living there is a gruelling task, taking all day every day. Six should know. It is what he had to do for years as he tried to protect his sisters.

The only assets that Kwaide has is its abundant deposits of rexelene, which is used all over the system. It is mined mainly around the city of Rexel, although there are other deposits on the planet. The Elders had imported huge juggernauts to move the rexelene to the space port, where the Sellites took charge of it for exportation.

The very northern part of Kwaide is where the characters in this book set up camp. They have no materials to build any complicated dwellings so the main cabins are made of wooden slats which don’t do a very good job at keeping the chilling wind out!



The Xianthes

The planet name comes from two geographical features situated almost exactly at the North Pole. Collision with some other body many aeons ago created a huge crater here.  The Xiantha were formed by the up-throwing of molten metals at the point of impact.  Traces of instellite were left along Lost Valley.

There are two Xianthes – the Light Xianthe and the Dark Xianthe.  These are so called because the Light Xianthe is perpetually in the sun, even though the North Pole does tip slightly with the seasons.  The Dark Xianthe is very close to the boundary, and is in full sunlight during the summer, full darkness during the winter, and a variation between the two in spring and autumn.

The view from the Xianthes might be something like this, but MUCH, MUCH more:

There is very strong magnetism around the two Xianthes, even more than the strong dipole on the whole of the planet.  The metallic Xianthes have contributed to this, and the whole of the Lost Valley (between the two Xianthes).

Because of the metallic nature of the Xianthes, and the difference in temperature always applicable in the area, there are always tremendous electrical storms around both Xianthes.  The Light Xianthe, being always in daylight, makes these difficult to see, but the Dark Xianthe, especially in winter, is ideal for visitors.  A complex system has been built for the few tourists who come to the planet, and for local visitors.  It consists in a series of cages which travel right over the top of the Dark Xianthe, each taking up to ten people at a time.  There are six cages, and five stops of ten minutes, plus the entry/exit stop.  The time between stops is just half an hour, so the whole journey takes four hours.  The stops are called, in order of arrival; the Long View, Blue Ray Alley, the Summit, Lightning Corner, and the Lost Valley, plus the Ticket office, at the base of the rides. 

This is the image I used for the special edition.

The cages are made of metal, so as to act as Faraday cages, but are lined with transparent rexelene, and each stop is built like a large travelling cage, except that they are about twice the size, and equipped with a small rest room and kitchen.  Xiantha is not a particularly technologically advanced planet, and the failsafe devices are crude at best, and non-existent at worst.  The most impressive sights to see from the cages on the Dark Xianthe are the blue rays, the hanging elves, the sprites and the lightning, which starts just before Blue Ray Alley, but is very much stronger on the Lost Valley side, where the rays of lightning can reach 2 billion volts, and could fry a person instantly.  The static you can feel when you are at Lightning Corner makes your hair stand on end, and your skin tingles so much that some people require medication.


Xiantha is divided into two parts; the lowlands and the highlands.  The lowlands comprise most of the south of the planet, where the people are rougher, and travel between outposts is much more difficult.  The residents here are famous for their rough but vibrant paintings, mostly of the landscape, which are for sale in quantity at the village of Gennai in the south, but also  the spaceport in the north.  The lowlands are series upon series of low hills, with large areas covered by sea, the best known of which is known as the Black Sea.

The northern part is known as the highlands, where the terrain is much drier, a steppe of red particulate sand.  This is known as the Great Plain on Xiantha.  It is a semi-desert area with small shrubs and bushes but no large trees.  The Xianthes themselves tower above this section of the planet, reaching over 40 kilometres up in the sky, and the Lost Valley plunges another 120 kilometres down, making an unforgettable sight in the sky.

As all the Cian planets, Xiantha is subjected to intense flares from Almagest, which has left nearly all the population infertile.  For this reason, they are one of the two main clients for the donor program on Valhai.  The safest place on the whole planet is considered to be Eletheia, about 100 km to the south of the Dark Xianthe, where the canth farm is situated.  This part of the country is particularly sheltered, due to the higher magnetic fields in the whole area and the shelter of the Xianthes.

Magsleds and Canths

Most travel on the planet is by vaniven cart, but there are two other methods.   Those who have government authority may use what is locally known as the magsleds.  These do use the strong magnetic field, but the name is misleading for the main use of the magnetism is for steering rather than for levitation.  The magnetic dipole on Xiantha is many, many times stronger than on Earth, but still is insufficient to produce levitation in any large animal or machine.  However, the direction of the field lines, and the increase in the field due to the Xianthes does mean that magnetic levitation can be harnessed to these magsleds, making them lighter, and very maneuverable.  These sleds contain helium chambers which make them even lighter, and also sport a hover skirt which can be switched on when necessary.  Any travel away from the Xianthe area will need the hover capabilities.

The canths are equines, rather larger than the Earth horses, which have one particularity.  They are very highly considered, and have the peculiarity that when they adopt a rider their lifetime becomes entangled with their riders, which means that each canth will die exactly at the same time as his rider, wherever that rider may be. 

The black canths have never adopted anybody – to date.  Riders must pay a large sum of money to open themselves to possible canth adoption, so canths are really rather elitist.  The canths must always be returned to the canth farm, where they can breed safely, since they are still a rare species. 

Legend has it that they are the descendents of the lost animas of Xiantha, semi-ethereal beings which local legend has as existing after the collision of the planets.  Some of the locals think that the reason that they are such a comfortable ride is that they use a mythical substance, called excanthite, to help them achieve some degree of partial levitation, to some extent ‘surfing’ the strong magnetic lines around the Xianthes.  There is no scientific evidence for this, but it is commonly accepted amongst the Xianthans.

The colour system

The Xianthans have a complex system of colour, which is sacred to their way of life.  They aim to achieve the most colour possible in their lifetime, moving from monochrome at birth to the most number of colours possible for them.

The Xianthans believe that everybody is born colourless, and that you develop colour as you experience life. Some things will give you more colour, and others will take it away from you. It is a personal thing; each person must assess their own progress. The rulers of the planet must be Panchromes – they are the people who have progressed most.

  • Monochrome
  • Bichrome
  • Trichrome
  • Quadrichrome
  • Pentachrome
  • Sexachrome
  • Septachrome
  • Octochrome
  • Nonachrome
  • Decachrome
  • Multichrome
  • Plurichrome
  • Panchrome
  • Exachrome*

*The man who speaks to canths has a theory that there are one or more higher classes, which the visitor and Arcan belong to.  He calls these postulated colours Exachromes.

Those who attain panchromatic status become the rulers of the planet.  Since about 1 in 10,000 people achieve panchrome status, at any one time there can be around 500 panchromes all over the planet, in contact by tridiscreens supplied by the Sellites.

They also change their names throughout their lives, and are generally known by the thing which most defines them at that particular moment. So a Xianthan may introduce himself first by his job title, and then by his current name.  This may or may not be linked to his job, but will always reflect things that he is most proud of.

Population and details

The whole population of the planet is down to 5 million people now, so Xiantha is a sparsely populated planet, where most of the dwellings are wooden-built bungalows, each set in a small area that their owners tend exclusively.  There is no private land on the planet, but residents are very respectful of their neighbours’ areas and would never dream of arguing about boundaries because this would lose colour. 

The most heavily populated area is around Eletheia, where the donor headquarters is situated.  Eletheia has a population of over 5000, which on Xianthan terms is huge.  It boasts an auditorium, which is where all of the major meetings on the planet are held.  Although all panchromes are equal, by tradition those closest to Eletheia are the ones who deal with other planets. The donor HQ, with its small adjacent hospital, is only 30 kilometres to the south of the town, and the canth farm about 10 kilometres to the north. 

The spaceport which services all of Xiantha is close too – around 15 miles to the east.  There are no roads on all Xiantha. For this reason there are only vaniven carts at the spaceport, although the government sends magsleds for the most important visitors, and there is a mag-sled inclusive package for those visiting the Dark Xianthe.

There are no peace-keeping forces on Xiantha, and no prison system.  Thieves are punished by no longer ‘seeing’ them. 
Xiantha is the only place in the system where ‘shops’ have flourished.  These provide the colourful Xianthan robes which indicate the level of colour their owners have reached.  Others purvey the famous paintings of the southern highlanders.  These shops are mostly to be found around the spaceport area, although all major towns will boast one or two.  There are also things called ‘restaurants’ on the planet.  These are very few and far between, the most famous being that of the Emerald Lake, which is considered to be one of the eight magnificents.

The Eight Magnificents

One of the eight things all Xianthans should try to visit before they die. 

One is the Restaurant on the Emerald Lake.

The others are: 

the dark Xianthe,

the bottomless pool in the lost valley,

the light Xianthe,

the Black Sea (home of the legendary ten-legged decipus) in the lowlands,

the Village of Gennaia, also in the South – famous for its painters,

Mount Kalatheia,

and the lost animas. 

Of course, no-one has seen an anima for generations, which is why they are classified as lost, so it became impossible to complete the eight magnificent many generations ago.  No loss in colour is involved now if the devout successfully visit seven of these, and any sighting of a canth, being a highly protected species, is accepted.  

The lowlanders, who live in the southern continent, are expected to make at least one pilgrimage in their lifetimes to give themselves the chance of seeing the magnificents in the north, and the northern Xianthans make the journey south to visit the Black Sea, and try to spot a ten-legged decipus.  Just as the canths are considered an acceptable substitute for the lost animas, the Black Sea is considered to be acceptable instead of the ten-legged decipus, which can still be spotted, but is very hard to see. 

The largest Southern city is known as Kalathelassa, and many of the lowlanders sell their paintings or their garments in small shops there.  Others offer special trips onto the Black Sea in search of the decipus. 

  Some low colour Xianthans may try to convince visitors to the south that they can take them to see the famous sabre-toothed tiger, but in reality these have been extinct for many centuries.


The Xianthes themselves are taken originally from Miranda, which has smaller, but similar “mountains” reaching up into the sky. The sprites and elves exist here on earth, as you can see here:

I try to make all of my settings possible, and as soon as I saw the photo of Miranda (courtesy wikipedia):

knew that I would have to use the idea of a gigantic swathe of land carved upwards and outwards. As soon as that idea fitted into the books, the story of the trip around one of the Xianthes pushed its way into the storyline too. I didn’t really have much say in the matter!


The scenery on Pictoria is based loosely on some of the North American landscape, especially Arizona. I used Antelope Canyon for the original idea, although the ridges of Pictoria are north to south, and have much better defined steps cut into them by the wind. I would love to visit Arizona and the Navajo territory to see the landscape for myself, but that seems unlikely, since I live in Europe. It takes me all my time to fly back to England a couple of times a year, and that is only 2 hours by plane! The buttes on Pictoria are also based on US terrain, basically the sandstone buttes in Monument valley in Utah. These I have seen personally, if only from the windows of a Greyhound bus!

The idea of the wind which arrives each day as the sun goes down is mine, though they are loosely based on the katabarics of the Antarctic.

The avifauna were based on a find in China of fossils which showed a similar type of morphology, although much smaller. More about that from “An Archaeopteryx-like theropod from China and the origin of Avialae” by Xing Xu, Hailu You, Kai Du and Fenglu Han. Also from here

Of course, the avifauna are much much bigger and very much more impressive. Their gliding capacities are good, and they are more on the noble side. All the same, they still would make you wonder if they were birds or dinosaurs.

Pictoria is a rocky, red planet in the Pictoris system. Pictoria is in orbit around an orange dwarf star, together with a purple gas giant. It has a breathable atmosphere. It suffers from hurricane winds each night, and these only run from pole to pole. There is no warning when they arrive; they simply hit with great force when the sun is setting. Centuries of these winds have sculpted the terrain, until it is now made of a series of ridges running from north to south, with occasional moles of rock, known as buttes, which rise out of the surface. Around the buttes, the surface of the planet is honeycombed with potholes, which lead down into subterranean caverns.

These caverns are home to the ortholiquid, a quantum substance which needs sunlight. It can travel instantaneously to any place it becomes aware of, and in order to maintain its status quo in a changing landscape, has developed a symbiosis with the avians which live on the planet. When the avians die, they are absorbed by the ortholiquid, and become amorphs: small creatures which retain the memory of the avians, but can travel by quantum decoherence. This enables the ortholiquid to find the sunlight, and so regenerate. The amorphs can live for thousands, indeed, millions of years. It is not known how old the ortholiquid is.

The avians, or avifauna, are the principal lifeforms on the planet. They are dinosaurs, with some characteristics of birds. They have four wings, two large ones at the front, and two smaller ones from the back legs, which act as ailerons and stabilizers. Even so, they have not yet learnt, or are unable, to fly properly. They use their wings to glide for large distances, but need a small rise to be able to take off.

At night the avifauna shelter at the top of the buttes, which have developed domed roofs with many columned windows due to wind sculpting and help from the avifauna themselves. They are safe here, and there is water too, which condenses from the domed roofs.The avifauna eat small mammals and insects, and hunt down in the caverns and the potholes surrounding the buttes. The potholes are home to many species of huge spiders, scorpions, and particularly savage bats which can grow to a substantial size.

Pictoria is a retrograde planet: it spins counterclockwise. This means that the sun rises in the west and sets in the east. Because of the ridges which run from north to south it looks strange from the sky; long lines which represent the ridges, interspersed with clumps around the buttes where the surface of the planet is pockmarked with the entrances to the caverns. From above, it looks like a print of temaris trees. Between the ridges are small valleys, just big enough to land a shuttle.

The Dessites appear in Kwaide, although they are not really explained properly until Pictoria. The idea of distilling only a few cells, and then sending them, and not a complete entity on a space exploration, makes a lot of sense. The cells are left dormant, almost needing no maintenance, until they are needed when the small spaceship reaches its destination. Because the cells need so little maintenance, the ships can be much smaller and lighter. And because of that, they can travel faster, which means that time passes that much quicker for the visitor cells.

They are a mainly aquatic species, which has natural floating islands formed by an abundance of carbon nanographite in the rock, which is in any case very light and porous.  Because of this, the islands float.  Although most of the Dessites remain in the water, they use some of the islands to build and control their very advanced space program, as central government headquarters, as a base fro their cryolization process, and to synthesize nutrients.  The islands are joined by loose tubes of flowing water.  The most important Dessites use these to get quickly from one to the other. 

They can exist out of the water for long periods on Dessia, because of its extremely humid, wet climate.  They breathe through their skin, which is layered out of their bodies in over 50 membranes which ripple all the time.

They only communicate with each other by quantum non-locality, and have developed no ears or mouth.  They feed through their skin, by filtering out tiny plankton-like organisms from the sea.

They have large eyes, with many creases around them.  The age of the Dessite can be estimated by the number of creases around the eyes.  They have no hands or feet, although there is a small bump in the membranes about half-way up, and another at the base of the animal.  They use these as hands and feet, respectively, when on land.  In the sea, the membranes are also used for propulsion. When they are attacked, their membranes stick out at right angles from their bodies, and a fine spray of toxin is diffused into the water.  This is one of their natural defense mechanisms.  They breed by detaching a bud and anchoring it to the sea floor.

They cannot see in the lower wavelengths, having developed their eyesight for underwater sight.  In fact, they can’t really see anything if it is red.  If altered Titanium Oxide is released into the water near them, they are effectively blinded to anyone behind it.

They are very large, from almost half as tall again as Grace to well over twice her height, and much stronger than, say, the Kwaidians.

There are 552 billion Dessites living on Dessia when they attack Pictoria. They are horribly overpopulated, because they have nearly reached an unsustainable population.  This is not immediately obvious, because they are ocean dwellers, can exist down to quite some depth comfortably, and move in large groups, so there is still quite a lot of empty ocean.  However, the plankton situation is desperate.  They have reached a population explosion of around 4% per year, which means that their population is increasing by around 25 billion per year, augmenting, This is why they are searching desperately for other planets.  There is currently no system of control of budding in place, although Exemphendiss tried to legislate for it many centuries ago.

The areas around the floating islands are no-go areas for the vast majority of the Dessite population.  They are not allowed to swim within 200 cubits of the landmasses, under penalty of no reproduction.  This is one of the most severe penalties on Dessia, for their own species.  However, they are relentless as far as other species go, having exterminated systematically any natural enemies, and therefore caused the extinction of practically all other species.  They have to seed the ocean now, to have enough plankton-like organisms to survive, and there are many islands dedicated to this.  These are called the islands of repletion, and this is the main reason why Dessites must not go within 200 cubits of the islands, since otherwise the extra nutrients would not dissipate around the planet.

They have been space explorers for over 10,000 years.  They send sent small spaceships on long journeys to try to find higher life forms.  Their real aim has always been to appropriate quantum decoherence so that they can repopulate in other worlds.  In order to receive accurate data back they have developed the travelers, small wisps of brain matter – neurons – which are Dessite in nature, but artificially grown.  These neurons are sent with the ships in stasis in a nutrient tank, which is activated when the ships reach a few light years of their destination.  If the travelers do anything wrong they are punished – which usually consists of being blown up with their ships.  The Dessites do not consider the travelers as living beings with rights.

They cryolize their most famous leaders, which means to keep them in storage.  The twelve members of the council of guardians are entitled to this, although only the prime – the tallest of the tall – will automatically get it.  When cryolized, they are kept in crovats on the Island of the Enjoined.  The best situation is north-south orientation. Originally prisoners were cryolized as a way to get rid of them, but now they are destroyed and their remnant proteins returned to the sea.  Some of the original travelers were taken from these prisoners, which explains the origin of the visitor from Exemphendiss.

There is a nice article in the Guardian about the methane bubbles in Abraham Lake:

which gave me the idea for Alakisa, where deposits have built up on the ‘bubbles’ and then the water has evaporated, leaving only columns of lozenge-shaped stones.

Alakisa is a young planet, formed not so long ago (in astrophysics terms) in the Luzon Great Void.

Voids are huge areas of the universe where there are hardly any galaxies and stars … 

where you can clearly see that there are large scale filaments of clusters of galaxies, with void areas clearly visible.

Alakisa was originally under water, where methane bubbles formed in ice, just like in Abraham lake.

However, here, the methane bubbles remained for centuries, becoming covered by deposits, and gradually solidifying into small vertical mountains of lozenge-like pastilles, one on top of the other.

You can see how they might have been formed, here:

Now imagine the same structure covered in stone, the water evaporated, and that you are standing at the base of the columns … that is Alakisa!

There are practically no stars visible at night, in the void. Everything is dark, empty and a little scary.

But there is plenty of instellite, and a small pool of ortholiquid. Enough.


The Namuri Village

Quite a long walk from Mesteta: nearly 30 miles by track, and 20 directly through the marsh.  It takes Diva and Tallen all day and well into night (with Raven).  The walk is either along the beaten earth path, as with the coffin of Petra, or through the marshes.

The area of the marshes is about 70 miles by 100 miles  = 7000 square miles.  The Mount Palestron turning is about 6 miles on the way to the Namuri village from Mesteta.

The quickmire is characterized by very few trees, and its typically flat landscape.  Those few trees it has are mainly of the papakura species.  They can grow very tall but most become stunted at around 6 metres high.  These twisted trees which have ‘knees’ – roots which project from the soil to aid in oxygenation.  These trees are rather sombre, since they have few leaves, and give rather a gallows silhouette to the landscape.  The largest papadura  tree – and the oldest – is situated just at the beginning of the sacred marsh, near the Namuri village. It reaches over 40 metres into the sky, and its trunk is as big as one of the Namuri huts. It is so big that its branches are used to hoist coffins across the marsh, and it is still strong, despite the fact that it has been dead for a long time.  The sibyla considers its shade a place for communion with the dead, and spends many hours in meditation there.

The quickmire also has many many small plants which thrive there, some with beautifully coloured flowers, some without.  The whole area is basically scrubland –populated with many endemic species  of shrub …  the most well-known of which is a scraggy leafy bush of about 1 metre in height with olive brown leaves, which grows  irregularly.  Normally you would expect to see one or two papakura trees on the horizon, and a few nearer than that.  The rest of the landscape would be scrubland.

Underfoot, when you cross the marsh, you notice clumps of thick yellowy-leaved grass which has grown up throughout the quickmire, although there are also areas of sand and some few areas of whitish pebbles.  These are taken as signs by the Namuri that there is namura stone close to the surface underneath, since the namura stone is quarried from the quickmire, usually where small cap rocks have resisted erosion to form peaks of hard rock, now underwater. 

The whole area was formed aeons ago when a glacial lake melted in uneven pockets of land.  These pockets were formed by a honeycomb pattern of domed caves, which had collapsed in many places due to erosion and pressure over the centuries.   Only the strongest upsweeps of rock survived – especially that containing namura stone.  These upsweeps are therefore like fingers, needles of rock.  Near to these, the ground is safe.  Away from them, it is mortally dangerous.

In this era, over the top of the pure water, there is centuries of vegetation, and much of this is completely safe.  However, if you do go through the crust of the land, you sink completely and almost immediately (The quickmires on Coriolis are much, much more dangerous than those on Earth).  There is no mud in the marshes of Coriolis; the water under the surface is as pure as any water can be.  Despite the high organic content near the surface, underneath it has remained very untainted.  In Namuri folk lore, this is due to the protective action of the namura stone, and is the reason they believe namura stone should always be returned eventually to the quickmire.  They hate the meritocrats use of it to sharpen arms, considering this a sacrilege.  This is also one of the reasons they bury their people in it, as they consider that the purity of the water will enable their souls to live forever.

The Namuri village is situated almost right in the middle of the quickmire, but in a plateau region which is considered safer.  Geologically, it is now relatively stable.  It is an area of rich deposits of namura stone, rather more papakura trees than in other areas of the marsh, and there is a small area of about 2 kilometres square which is completely stable and contains no marshy areas.  This part of the quickmire is covered with a hard-pressed sand, and the village is built on top of this.  The villagers used branches of papakura to build their huts, which are always raised slightly off the ground to avoid damp – a real problem in this region.

The sacred marshes are on the outskirts of the village, about 1.5 kilometres from the centre.  They are the boundary between the safe, sandy area the village is built on, and the marshes. The marshes are used as a burial place for those who have lived bravely, and for the ceremony to choose the leader of the Namuri people, and for the ceremony of the naming of the new sibyla, which is really a celebration of the life of the previous sibyla.


The Ammonites are the oldest inhabitants of the galaxy.  They originally lived on Kintara, in the centre of the Ammonite Galaxy. Since their planet, Kintara, was engulfed by the black hole (See The “Lost Animas”), they have adopted Enara as their own. Those who survived being stopped light are now known as “Enaran Ammonites”, or “Enarans”, or sometimes still “Ammonites”. They feel they have a place as the ancients, the wise ones.  They found a way to become animas, to transcend their flesh, although they cannot transport through space, like Arcan can.  Through a complicated process they separate the soul from the flesh, and then used the ortholiquid to make a special type of amorph which in the series are called ‘animas’.

The Ammonites are not only able to communicate mentally, their diamond-shaped mental animas can fit together to form a new shape. This is a complex geometric shape – rather like a great grand stellated 120 cell polychoron (see image below, courtesy of Wikipedia), but much, much, bigger and only made of rhomboids, where each diamond shape slots into a whole, enormous diamond polyhedron. It is far more complicated than this, but this gives a general idea:

The Ammonites believe that their diamond of diamonds, or as they call it the ‘astrand’, is the forerunner to an absolute form which transcends all corporeal life, the ‘sumand’.  Because of this belief, they have what they call ‘Legil Sumand’.  They believe that if they succeed in luring all the lost animas to Enara, there will be enough animas to form a ‘sumand’, which their scientists postulated would be strong enough to detach from their earthly bodies, and ‘ascend’.

Astrands are both dangerous, because of the power they can channel, and vulnerable, as they leave its components with no protection at all.  Astrands should only be formed in safe places, where possible enemies cannot find them, because the physical bodies have no protection when the minds have formed an astrand.  Once in the astrand, they have more powers and many more possibilities, although the astrands in themselves are not an evolutionary step, merely a ‘joining of forces’. 

The Ammonites are wrong about this.  They consider that the sumand is a means to real enlightenment.  This is why they are determined to keep their culture pure, and also why they need the lost animas, since they believe that the astrand they can form on Enara is incomplete, and needs those animas in order to form a sumand, and therefore ascend to category one status, through Legil Sumand, which is the be-all and end-all of the Ammonite philosophy, ever since they realized that their whole civilization would be lost in the supermassive black hole when Kintara was engulfed.  (In fact, the sumand may be the key to the future, but not just in the way the Ammonites think.)

This is tantamount to a religious more; it is not open to interpretation.  Any Ammonite who does not believe this would be eliminated.  Any of the Ammonites who don’t believe this would be hunted down and killed by their peers.

They can kill their own kind when in the astrand.  All the rest use the transgressor as a focus for the energy, and this burns through the mental meld until the Ammonite which has betrayed his peers is hit by a narrow beam which boils his brain, and then leads to his death.  This technique is used if any of the components of the astrand threaten to leave it, and also used to terminate the travelers when their time is past. 

The biggest sin of an Ammonite is to abandon his peers.  Everything except this can be forgiven.   They have another important law, that of ‘nox precatal’, which forbids them to kill under any circumstances.  Unfortunately, nox precatal is overridden by legil sumand, which is why any dissenter is automatically eliminated from the group mind, and why any danger to the astrand is countered by death.

Apart from this, they would be a reasonable species.  They are interested in other species, would not willingly destroy anything unless it threatens the astrand, and believe in exploration and expansion of their horizons. 

The Ammonites believe Arcan is an enemy, since he was formed from part of their ancestors and therefore has made it more difficult for the sumand to form.  They think he is a mistake of nature, but they are aware of his influence over the canths, and they can’t forgive him for this. They believe that without the canths they will never progress to the sumand.

Their only hope to do this may be to form an alliance with another species which is eager to harness the orthogel’s ability.    One of the travelers is diverted to Enara, and once they transmit their findings back to Dessia, the Dessites find it easier to communicate mentally with them.