We-ell, okay, so these haven't been frequently asked. In fact, most of these questions come from friends & family. But who cares? They were fun to answer. ;-P
Q. Where did the dragons come from? Were they part of the original scheme of things when the SKAN went to Wiztliow?
A. Yes and no. When the SKAN decided to leave the Outside world and to create a safer haven which became known as Wiztliow, or 'refuge', they found themselves constantly attacked by Outsiders who found the way in and were committed to wiping the SKAN out completely. In desperation, the rasur Kalira attempted to create a race of beings to aid the SKAN and get the Outsiders away for good. The end result, stolen from an Outside mind, was the dragons. The bonding wasn't intentional-the first sign anyone got that it even occurred was when the vasari Acheron bonded with Hrovl, the first black dragon, towards the end of what was later known as the holocaust of the worlds. However, this all occurred 120 years ago and most SKAN, particularly the ones born in Wiztliow, accepted the dragons and bonding as if it had always been a part of life.
Q. What is Wiztliow? Is this really some kind of sci-fi page and Wiztliow is another planet?
A. Not at all. The SKAN used to have extremely limited psychokinetic powers-and I mean limited! It would take two or three to just create a plum out of thin air. However, at the time of the creating, the SKAN numbered close on five hundred thousand. The combined power was enough to create another world parallel to this one. Unfortunately, the effort this took alone was enough to kill at least twenty thousand SKAN. However, the others survived and a select group was chosen to go into the new world and start working on it. Once in, they immediately improved on it, creating the islands such as Ezir, Daoret and Kandor (an island that was unfortunately destroyed during the Holocaust.)
Q. You've mentioned this Holocaust a few times now, and Narpen refers to it in 'Return of the Dark One'. What exactly happened?
A. The Holocaust of the Worlds was the final battle with Outsiders. The plan was to move all SKAN into Wiztliow, away from Outside, and for a while, this was believed to have succeeded. Then, one Outsider found the way in and brought others, intent on wiping the SKAN out. They almost succeeded. It was only Acheron and Rylaio that stopped them-but this is pretty long and too long to go into fully here. Suffice it to say that the Holocaust was the most violent, bloodthirsty war between SKAN and Outsiders and the SKAN left Outside erected the thorns and nettles around the DragonRing to prevent such an incident occurring again.
Q. This is getting kind of off the beaten track here, but I couldn't help noticing that your email address is 'Acheron' and the webrings you've joined say 'Acheron'. Why did you take the name of a cold, unpleasant and malicious person as your screen name?
A. Yeah…that is getting kinda 'off the beaten track'. I didn't choose her because she's closest to my personality. I guess I just chose her because I like her best of all the characters I've created, as she's the most fun and interesting to write about. It doesn't mean I'm like her; I just needed a name in a hurry, that's all. ;-)
Q. Why does it take so long for this page to be updated?
A. Hah, well, the only answer to that is, it doesn't. I'm always editing and adding new things, like the background on my main index page, for example, and my dragon Impression page. But if you're asking about stories, it's simply because they take so long to write.
Q. What does SKAN stand for?
A. No one really knows. It's like asking why is England called England? There probably is a reason for it-but it's long been forgotten. As far as people can make out, SKAN is an acronym of the name of their society-but nobody has been able to work out exactly what that is.
Q. In Book Three of 'Return of the Dark One', what did Narpen mean when he said Kalira 'should be good for another nine hundred years yet'?? What the hell is their life expectancy!?!
A. It's pretty simple to work out, multiply or divide by ten. SKAN mature at the same rate as Outsiders. The terms 'adult' and 'child' are only used in proportion. For example, comparatively, a SKAN who is 190 is said to be 'just becoming a full adult'. This isn't biological; it simply refers to how much time they've been alive. SKAN have five terms for age-child, adolescent, young adult, full adult and old adult. SKAN spend most of their lives as a full adult. It's a little like us being 18 or 21 forever.
To work out how old a SKAN would be in our years, divide their age by ten. To find out how old you would be in SKAN terms, multiply your age by ten. Thus; someone who's sixteen in our years would be 160 in SKAN, and vice versa. (Note, this is only for the biological equivalent. Their years are as long as ours...it's just a way of working out how far through life they are)
Q. Who are the Outsiders? And why do the SKAN hate them so much?
A. Outsiders were-and still are-a rival group that hunt SKAN simply for sport and those they don't kill, they abduct. As for hating them, well, wouldn't you?
Q. So what are the SKAN, then, if they're not human?
A. They look exactly like humans, except for the identifying tatoo and rankscar. Apart from the psychokinetic powers (most of which were lost in Wiztliow) and their completely different culture, they're identical to us. Despite that, however, they don't think of themselves as human and this is probably where misleading can occur.
Q. What's a rankscar?
A. A rankscar is a scar running from the cheekbone on one side of the face to the lower jaw and is made when a SKAN attains certain rank in their society. The more prominent the scar, the higher the rank.
Q. Getting off the beaten track again, would you be open to new story ideas?
A. As I mentioned on my main index page, yes please! I am always open to suggestions and questions like these as they're not only fun to answer but they help me understand what I'm writing about a little more!
Q. What's the big deal about touching someone else in the SKAN society?
A. It's seen as a serious invasion of personal space and a threat. Close enough to touch is close enough to kill, from the SKAN point of view. Touching someone is a little like going up to someone and kissing them hard on the mouth in our society--you only do it when you really know someone well.
Q. There don't seem to be many male vasarin around. Is this because the SKAN society is female dominated, or do males just not have what it takes to reach the top?
A. The SKAN society is fairly equal in terms of how males and females are treated. In some jobs, such as lure, it's usually only females who become vasarin, and in some such as taker, it's usually the males. This isn't because of any rules-it's because there are very, very few males who work as a lure and the high level of violence involved in the job of taker means that it's usually just the males who get that profession.
Q. You say that about the males, but some of the characters, like Acheron for example, don't exactly lend themselves to the idea of females being peaceful. So how come they're not takers?
A. There have been instances of SKAN females working as takers, but if they're in any profession involving violence, it's usually as fighters. And no, female SKAN aren't what you'd call peaceful. If anything, they're more aggressive and violent than the males.
Q. So just what is the difference between a fighter and a taker?
A. A taker goes out with one or two others to attack Outsiders and take anything of value or use that could benefit the lonil, hence the name. A fighter spends the majority of their time-about ten or twelve hours a day-training and only gets violent when the lonil or any SKAN is attacked.
Q. Going back to the question about society, what exactly is a lure?
A. In our terms, quite simply, a prostitute.
Q. Is there a class structure in SKAN?
A. Not really. SKAN aren't too happy with the idea of staying with people from different professions, but nobody's really looked down upon for being a taker or a lure.
Q. If there are no Outsiders in Wiztliow (apart from Alirtha) then what does Narpen mean when he refers to training fights? If there is no threat, then why do the SKAN still have fighters?
A. There is no threat now, but if Alirtha could enter Wiztliow, then other Outsiders could as well. The training that fighters undergo is a lot less rigorous than it used to be, but nobody who survived the holocaust has forgotten the merits of having your own fighting force.
Any questions you want to ask about the stories, the characters in the stories or just SKAN in general? Please email me and I'll put them up together with the answer and a link to your site.