Nations and Places
The Calendar of Gushémal
Section I: Nations
Section II: Places of Renown
In the olden and barbarous days at the beginning of our age, there was scant need for a true calendar. Were not the cycles of the moon sufficient to dictate the course of life? A new moon came regularly, the full moon shone regularly, its full disk bringing the respite of a brightened night. To these early people, counting the cycles of the moon was enough, to measure, say, fertility. They decided on the number of four to separate them, that every two weeks, there would be either a full or a new moon, and in-between a half-moon would fill up the time.
A week was set to number seven days, to honor each of the life-giving primal gods: Haguen, Darawk, Alyssa, Dicerius, Mannannan, Maidoyú, and Olmawi.
That was enough for the simple peasant folks of the early years granted to us mortals of Gushémal, yet it soon proved that for the matters of orderly record-keeping, and the mere remembrance of correct dates, of the times of ancient kings and such luminances, counting the cycles of the moon would not do.
One can surmise that the early people had only a spurious knowledge of numbers, that they found it hard to count beyond ten, that being the number of their fingers, or their toes. It must have been awful, trying to tell a youngster how long ago it had been that a certain chief of the tribe, or a village’s headman had lived. “Four times ten times ten times full moons ago it was,” or some explanation of that order would have been required, an uncomfortable way of measuring time, for sure.
At some point the ancients must have begun counting the seasons, the winters and the summers. From that the idea of a year developed, a yearly cycle in which all would return – measured by the sun’s revolution around our world. The solstices were discovered, those times in which both day and night had the same length. (A note here is fitting: There are places on our world where the solstices do not manifest themselves as well as in the properly civilized areas. On the furthest southern tip of Robhovard, and in the icy regions beyond, there are times when the sun shines nearly all day for several months, and then recedes to only a dim near-night for the same time.)
Yet Moon and Sun do not quite agree on what a year is – one of the many riddles the gods have thrown on us mortals -, and thus counting the twelve cycles of the moon did not make up a full year. Forty-eight weeks, yet an entire month was added each year, to the peasants’ sorrow, their xyrell. (The word comes from Elventongue, strangely enough. One translation means sorrow, but a xyrell is also a spirit, much like a fairy, which carries trouble and disorder.)
Amends had to be made. There are historical records – engravings in stone, wood markings, antique buildings – which make it seem likely that our distant ancestors spent the final weeks of the year in sorrow, asking the Moon to agree with the Sun. Barbarous times, obviously, yet the gods had hardly deigned to inform the mortals of their foolishness.
Then, at about the time of the Elven Flood, our ancestors were blessed by the gods’ attention, and a monk was sent to right the measure of time. Telher, his name was, and he would institute the calendar (the first to rightfully bear that name) by which we abide to this day.
said that, since the moon raced twelve times to match the sun’s
revolution, her honor should be respected. Therefore, the month
must still remain an order to reckon with, and he named the twelve
ordinary months of the year, giving honor to the great and divine spirits
Yet the Moon always lost its race, and the time of troubles, of xyrell, remained. Therefore Telher decreed that a thirteenth month, named for that sorrow would be added.
This month would be the time when the year would end, when the Winter Solstice would occur, and the gods should be honored properly. They would send their messengers, Yelof and Egap, to reward and punish those who deserved either, and thus the month of Xyrell would bring sorrow to the ones, and gladness to the others.
Telher also knew that measuring the months in weeks, each seven days long, and made up of four weeks each, did not match the sun’s course well. There were still more sorrows, and more irregularities. The day of the solstice, which was originally believed to take place on the twenty-eighth and last day of Xyrell, would the following year occur on the twenty-seventh, and the year after on the twenty-sixth.
The monk measured the passage of time closely, and so he decreed in his final calendar the following:
Every seven years, the month of Xyrell numbers not four but five weeks. That gives the Moon time to catch up to the Sun’s hare-like speed, and for another measure of seven years it would be close. (The new week is called the Rabbit’s Week, because of the leap ahead.)
Still, there was a mar to this calendar, for over the course of the years, the Moon would still lag behind, and thus the time of sorrows would have to be expanded again.
Every twenty-eight years – a time that also includes the Rabbit’s Week -, Xyrell needs to have a second week added. Now, the time of sorrows measures six weeks, altogether, but at the end of its turn, the winter solstice comes, and the Moon has once more matched the Sun’s speed. (This additional week is known as the Greyhound’s Week.)
Thus was established the calendar named for the Monk of Months, the Telherian Calendar.