Some Tidbits About the Upcoming Cirsova Book

Who?
This going to be the story of a young desert woman, Aeryn, who is a member of one of the tribes of ancient Paelnor. The people of Paelnor are sometimes known as the Children of the Eye or the People of the Eye, because of their myths that they are watched over by a great eye in the deserts.

What
Aeryn has been taken by the Northmen (the Tyuravelinai, though they have not yet come to be called that) along with a number of others from her tribe. They are part of a recurring system of tribute to the great northern kingdom.

Where
While the story takes place in a city called Polaris, it is Old Polaris, a truly Polar city, far to the north of Gatlia and Ungoza, perhaps farther north from Elefloe or Jorgora than those ruins are from Solaris. The Polaris known to the modern Cirsovans is named for this great lost city.

When
This story takes place in the distant, almost mythic past, long before the ice, long before the migration of the Akhirs, and very long before the foundation of the Cirsovan Empire. As such, while some names and places may be familiar, they may also be different from what may be found in the Encyclopedia. For instance, the Sabrio valley is still heavily jungled.
Why
Because I needed to actually write something that has something to do with Cirsova and can be published. Besides, why not?

Shuul

A strange and bitter drink, brewed by the alchemists of Polaris, Shuul is a potent drug used principally by the inhabitants of the DreamingCity for either recreational or religious purposes.

Both the ingredients and the manufacture process of Shuul are unknown to any outside the City, though its effects are known to most, via word of mouth, from travelers along the Long Road in Gatlia.  When imbibed, Shuul induces a comatose state in which the user is said to have fantastical, highly lucid experiences in a dream-state.  Surviving writings of the late Northern Civilization which remain in Polaris also refer to the dream-state itself as “Shuul”, the Land or Kingdom of Shuul.  It is not known whether the dream-state derives its name from the beverage, or if the beverage itself is named for the dreamland of Shuul to which it supposedly transports its users.

Shuul is thought to be fatal if consumed in sufficiently large doses.  The legend of Jorgora, which has been passed down to us through Polaran fragments, is more than likely a simple parable extolling the dangers of excessive use, conveniently utilizing an unusual geographical feature as a prop for the tale.

Of note, the efficacy of Shuul as a portent aid (or any of its psychotropic effects, for that matter) seems to correlate to the proximity of the user to Polaris.  There have been a number of theories on the reasons for this.  A popular belief is that the beverage is a key to the gateway (to the Land of Shuul), which itself is in proximity of the DreamingCity.  However, a more likely explanation is that the active psychotoxins in Shuul break down fairly rapidly after it is brewed.

For example: it has been said by merchants who have had the opportunity to consume Shuul within the dreaming city itself, that they would often sleep for the better part of a day, sometimes more, depending on the amount consumed, and experience every hour of sleep and dream as though they were waking.  However, reports of Shuul being consumed even only as far away as on the road south to Norigon have shown far less significant results; though a potent sleep aid, the dreams of the Shuul-user are said to be only somewhat more vivid than normal.  Usage further south along the Long Road than Syflanis proves to be no more potent than your typical tavern-swill lagers.  Hence, Shuul use is virtually unknown throughout much of the Empire, and this drink, while having both tremendous potential for use as a recreational drug and a reputation for its mystic connections to the lost Northern Civilization, is rarely traded for by merchants or even particularly sought after, except by the odd noble who swears by its acquired bitter taste.