June 27, 2020

Hills of Silver Ruins (1/8)

Kaikyaku (海客) are people from this world who are transported by shoku across the Kyokai (虚海), the Sea of Nothingness, from Japan. Sankyaku (山客) come across the Adamantine Mountains from China, known in the Twelve Kingdoms as Kunlun (崑崙), the name of a mountain range in central China. Analogous to Hourai, Kunlun is also a mythical mountain said to be a Taoist paradise.

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June 20, 2020

Hills of Silver Ruins (1/7)

The White Pheasant or Hakuchi (白稚) sings once when the emperor is enthroned and once when the emperor dies, after which it also dies. The White Pheasant is thus known as Ni-sei (二声) or "the two cries." A Phoenix bird in each kingdom repeats the song of the White Pheasant.

The Minister of the Two Cries or Nisei-shi (二声氏) is the government official who tends to the White Pheasant. The incident Risai describes in this chapter is recounted in chapter 21 (book 1) in The Shore in Twilight. Asen tried to kill the White Pheasant but had to fake its death with an ordinary pheasant instead.

The discovery of Gyousou's belt or sash in a shipment of gemstones is covered in greater detail in chapter 32 (book 2) in The Shore in Twilight.

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June 13, 2020

Hills of Silver Ruins (1/6)

Shirei (使令) are youma subjugated by the kirin. They serve as the kirin's servants, messengers, and bodyguards. Older kirin may have dozens or hundreds of shirei at their command. Taiki had only two shirei, and the injury to his horn and being stranded in Hourai (Japan) resulted in him losing them.

According to the kirin's quid pro quo with the shirei, in exchange for the shirei's service during the kirin's lifetime, the shirei get to eat him when he dies.

A taika (胎果) is a person born in China or Japan because of a shoku event that transplanted the ranka (卵果) into the body of a pregnant woman. A child like Youko who is born as a result will genetically resemble her parents until she returns to the Twelve Kingdoms, at which point she "sheds" her outer skin.

A rike or rika (里家) is a foster home and school for orphans and the aged that also serves as a community center. The rike is run by the superintendent (閭胥).

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June 06, 2020

Hills of Silver Ruins (1/5)

Wagen (和元) is the gengou (era name) of the late Emperor Kyou, which continued after his death until Gyousou was formally enthroned. Koushi (弘始) is the nengou chosen by Gyousou.

The gengou (元号) or nengou (年号) dating system begins with an era name created specifically for the reign of that emperor. The year of the enthronement counts as year one. The era name of Youko's dynasty is Sekiraku (赤楽). The kanji refer to the color red and the first character of Rakushun's name.

In Japan, the current era name is Reiwa (令和), and its announcement last year was a major public event. Emperor Naruhito was enthroned in 2019 so 2020 is Reiwa 2.

The Ministry of Winter (冬官) is in charge of public works.

A shoku (蝕) is a wormhole between two universes. Or as Rakushun explains in Shadow of the Moon, "[A] shoku is when here and there get tangled up together." Shoku can be engineered on purpose by a wizard or kirin, as with Youko, but also occur at random, as with Suzu in A Thousand Leagues of Wind.

The Divine Decrees (太綱) are a fusion of constitutional and natural law. Laws promulgated by the emperor must align with the Divine Decrees. Violations have drastic consequences. The most common manifestations of imperial wrongdoing are that youma proliferate and the kirin falls ill (the shitsudou).

If the kirin dies from the shitsudou, the emperor will die too.

Hourai (蓬莱) is a mythical paradise derived from the Chinese legend of Penglai. It is also a classical geographical name for Taiwan, which in the Twelve Kingdoms has come to mean Japan.

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