Elementals

As you read the Mysterion series, you’ll meet a number of non-human races. Who are they and how do they relate to one another?

Aside from the animals and mythical creatures, the non-human races are called Elementals. Originally, there was only one race of Elementals, and they could take the form of any of the four elements. It wasn’t too long, though, before they stopped changing forms and limited themselves to only one element.

This was how the four races of Elementals came to be. More importantly, this is also why the human race came to be. Since the Elementals were divided, conflict was more or less inevitable. So, the Wind created human beings with only one form but containing and balancing all the elements within them. Human beings were given the task of ruling over the Elementals to ensure peace and unity in their diversity.

Here’s a little more about each of the Elemental races.

Angeli are devoted to the element of air. They are flying creatures whose bodies are made of many wings. They appear as human (and gendered) for the purpose of interacting with human beings. Angeli live ‘above the heavens,’ on the surface of the stream of Okean that separates Mysterion from Chaos. Their purpose is to observe and bear witness to all the events in Mysterion. They only assist in human affairs when the Wind calls them to do so. However, they are forbidden to take sides in human conflicts.

Mermaids are devoted to water. Their lower bodies take the form of every kind of sea creature, with the upper bodies of women. Their primary purpose is to keep the dead of Mysterion until they are wakened at the beginning of the Higher Mysterion. They live on a submerged island, under which is the cavern of the dead.

The Blind Watchmen are Elementals devoted to earth. They are a race of giants, similar to the Golem of Jewish folklore and the Cyclops of Greek mythology. Like the Golem, they are made from sun-baked clay. Like the Cyclops, they are blind, or to be more precise, they were never created with eyes, though they have an excellent sense of hearing and smell. Their purpose is to guard all the human realms, though they dwell mainly in the mountains of the north. They often take sides in human conflicts.

Djinn are devoted to fire. They are flying creatures with horned skeletal heads. However, they may also take the form of flies or mosquitoes. In the lower world of the Lethes, they can also take human form, though if they are touched, the disguise immediately disappears.

The Djinn are hostile to the wind and its purposes. After the first Battle of Mysterion, they were confined to the so-called ‘hidden island,’ outside of which they could not take their normal form. However, they still are committed to conquering Mysterion, blotting out the light and subjecting everything to the element of fire.

As you read and enjoy the Mysterion series, keep an eye open for the Elementals. If you want to know more about them, feel free to contact me!

Fire-Roasted Fish and Tomato Sauce

Imagine your favourite place in the world. Now, if you could sum up that place in a dish, what would it be? For me, the taste of Mysterion is the simplicity and freshness of roasted fish and tomato sauce. I thought I might share it with you today.

Here’s the recipe as the People of the Wind would prepare it. Adjustments for your reality will follow.

Ingredients

  • 10 freshly-caught mackerel
  • 2 medium white onions, chopped.
  • 5 or 6 ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of juice from lemons
  • 2 Tbsp of honey or cane sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Palm oil
  • Bamboo skewers, soaked in water.

Directions

  1. Build a fire and reduce to coals.
  2. Rub fish oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Cook onions until clear but not brown.
  4. Add lemon juice, diced tomatoes and sugar or honey. Taste and adjust sugar-to-lemon juice ratio until desired sweet-and-sour balance is achieved. Turn down heat to medium and cover with lid. Cook for 15 minutes, until tomatoes are reduced. Uncover and boil off excess liquid. Tomato sauce should be a thick, liquid consistency.
  5. While reducing the tomato sauce, skewer the fish through the mouth. Lean skewers over the fire and roast until crispy.
  6. Serve roasted fish with rice, tomato sauce, steamed vegetables, and palm wine.

You probably won’t be able to make the recipe as stated, due to the limitations of our world. So, adjustments need to be made…

Instead of fresh mackerel, try frozen mackerel, or any fillets of white fish (Basa works, for example). Canned tomatoes, bottled lemon juice, white sugar, and canola oil will serve as substitutes too.

Instead of roasting over an open fire, you can skewer the fish and cook on the barbecue, or simply pan sear the fish fillets in a hot skillet. And instead, of palm wine, you’ll probably have to make do with your own favourite beverage. Either way, you’ll have a little taste of Mysterion. Bon appetit!

The Seychelles Islands: A Glimpse of Mysterion

I was born and spent the first few years of my life in the Seychelles. It’s easy to say those words, but the reality behind them is far more than I can hope to capture in syllables and sentences. All I can do is share a few images, and hope they convey something of the land of my birth.

Lush, abundant vegetation—fruit trees laden with fruit. The world of my childhood was full of growing things. I remember forests so green that many years later, the words of the Spanish poet Frederico Garcia—“Green, oh how I love you, Green!”—immediately reminded me of what I felt seeing those forests.

Many of the trees were fruit-bearing: mangoes, bananas, coconuts, jack fruit, breadfruit. And their boughs were never bare. They continued to bear month in and month out—there is no harvest season on the equator—and if you didn’t pick the fruit, it just fell off and rotted on the ground.

Clear, pure oceans teeming with countless fish. I went swimming in the ocean almost every day, for hours at a time. I remember once spending the entire day in the water, even when it rained. I never got cold, but water was almost blood-warm and the rain was too.

Inside the reef, the water was shallow, the bottom flat and white sand as far as the eye, with the occasional dark patch of seaweed. When I went out along a headland to look down into the ocean beyond the reef, I could see all the way to the bottom through a thick, shifting curtain of fish—tuna, Red Snapper, mackerel, angelfish, parrotfish.

Granite mountain peaks wreathed in clouds. The island where I grew up—Mahé—is one of three granitic islands in the Seychelles. The mountains that run down its length like a spine rise almost a thousand feet into the air. The three highest peaks are named, “Three Sisters,” and I remember looking up their flat, grey, weather-beaten faces and thinking that they looked as if they were mourning for something.

Clouds and sky. Over my childhood days unfolded a drama of light, wind and water. The great cumulonimbus clouds rushed overhead, and a brief but torrential downpour followed—I played happily in the warm rain. When the clouds broke or cleared, the sky was almost navy blue, so solid you felt you could touch it. Dawns and sunsets were an extravagant display of gold and red, like God showing off.

When I conceived Mysterion as a place where we would see the world clearly, the Seychelles offered themselves to me as inspiration. Above all, clarity and beauty sum up my memories of the place, and that was what I wanted Mysterion to be. The Seychelles represent for me a vision of the world seen clearly. That vision was imperfect now—in The Hidden Island, Jonah sees clearly his father’s failings, and they are ugly to behold—but in the end, it will be a vision of beauty, wiped clean all the filth of lies, division, and hatred that would ruin the childlike joy for which we were made.

How Mysterion was Conceived

When I was about 6 or 7 years old, I was playing in the back yard of our family home in Nairobi, Kenya, when I heard the car start up around the front of the house. My father was at work, so I knew my mother was going somewhere.

I ran around to the front of the house, and sure enough, she was pulling out of the driveway. I ran up to her window. “Where are you going, Mum?”

She didn’t look happy to see me. There was a sadness about her that she covered with irritation. “I am just going to shop,” she said. “I’ll be back soon.” And she kept on backing out, leaving my sister and me in the care of our servants.

(P.S. Hiring servants is not odd in a country where the average wage is $76 a month.)

Later that afternoon, my father returned home. Darkness fell abruptly, as it does in Africa, and still, my mother did not return. My sister discovered that Mum had taken all her clothes out of her closet. She was really gone.

I recall standing at my bedroom window for the rest of the evening, looking out for her. I have returned to that moment often in my memory. It was where Mysterion was conceived.

20 years later, a story idea occurred to me: what if there a was a boy who discovered that his father (whom he loved to the point of idolizing him) had betrayed him? Could he learn to love his father despite knowing the terrible truth about him?

The heart of the story was about coming of age, moving from a love that idealizes to a love that sees the worst in the other, and loves anyway. The hero, who I named ‘Jonah,’ would learn that real love is self-sacrificial–emptying your expectations for the sake of someone else, even if that someone else is definitely not worthy.

To learn this lesson, Jonah had to go on a journey. He had to journey from an ideal view of his father to a real view, from a narrow, inaccurate vision to a clear and true vision.

So, I imagined that there is a world one in which we can see things as they truly are, in all their dimensions, and that what we call ‘the real world’ is just our limited, narrow, and ultimately inaccurate way of conceiving that true world.

Jonah’s journey would take him from his limited way of seeing (which I called Lethes, from the Greek word meaning “forget”) to the world as really is (which I called Mysterion, from the Greek word meaning “that which is hidden”). To redeem his father, Jonah would have to overcome his own expectations, idealizations, and illusions.

In the end, though, the story was not rooted in my interests in philosophy or spirituality. It was rooted in that day around 1980 or 1981, when my mother lied to me, and left, and did not come back. The Hidden Island was about me wanting to understand why she left, and why she lied. More than that, I wanted to learn how to love her despite all of that.

I’m not sure why I made it so that Jonah is searching for his father in The Hidden Island, and not his mother. Perhaps it had to do with my love of Michael Ende’s great book, The Neverending Story, which is about Bastian’s broken relationship with his dad. Whatever the case, it seemed right at the time and still does.

But in the end, the book is about and for my mother, my way of saying that I love her, not just as an ideal, but as a real person in all her dimensions.

Sign up to my email list, and you can read a free e-copy of The Hidden Island. Let me know what you think by email: richard@richardgarciamorgan.com.