Locusani...

Lost Souls...


Inside The Lair and Behind the Scenes

This page tells you all that you need to know about the creation of my story. I have all the information about the etymology of the story's name, the ideas behind it, and much, much more. So, whether you're a stickler for trivia or are just curious, this page has all that you'd ever want to know about Locusani.

The Tale of the Title

My old English teacher always used to tell me that the title was half of the meaning of a story, and the title for Locusani is no exception. In order to understand the title, however, we must look at the background information of a certain age from Myst III: Exile...

Narayan is Saavedro's home age and where the pre-exile events of Locusani occur. The age is basically a water world, with trees as the only available standing surfaces. The people of Narayan live on these trees, which are actually made up of two symbiotic plants - a type of rigid vine called a lattice vine and a large, hollow pod-plant known as a puffer spore. The Narayani weave the vines to make their homes, with the rooms being created from the spores. I won't go into how they capture the spores and stuff, but if you're willing to dig a little, it's an interesting subject.

The language of Narayan is called Narani, and it was created by Jack Wall - AKA, that awesome guy who composed the Myst III: Exile Theme. As a matter of fact, the lyrics to the main theme (and a few other songs as well) are in Narani.

And now we get to the point of all this: the etymology of the title of my story. The phrase 'locusani degrasa soule' means 'Place of Lost Souls'. Rather fitting for J'nanin and Saavedro in general, wouldn't you agree? It comes from the final stanza of the Myst III Theme's lyrics, which go a little something like this:

"Tomahna, Edanna, Amateria, Voltaic, Narayan!  J'nanin, locusani degrasa soule de yamani..."

Which translates to:

"Tomahna, Edanna, Amateria, Voltaic, Narayan! J'nanin, breeding ground of lost souls..."

The tag "Saavedro's Tale" was added because 'Locusani' would never be able to stand out on its own. There is a sad, sad lack of serious Narayan lovers out there, and few would understand the title.

Now for a nifty trivia bit: I was originally going to call the story "Myst: The Book of Saavedro", after the Myst novels. It was going to be a pun on all the "Myst: The Book of X" titles, but it instead became my working title after I realized that 'Locusani' just sounded better.

A Rose By Any Other Name...

There are several characters in Locusani that are of my own creation. As many writers or RPG fans know and love (to hate), making up a name for a new character is not easy, especially when you just can't call them by an Earthen name like Anna or Joey. That's why I strove to come up with creative names for them, names that reflect their personality.

Most if not all of the original characters in Locusani are Narayani citizens. Therefore, it would be unfeasible to give them an un-Narayani-sounding name. But in order to understand how the names are pronounced, we have to take a look at the language of Narayan, Narani.

Narani was originally made up by composer Jack Wall, as I have already said in a previous paragraph, and he originally called it a D'ni dialect. This is impossible - the Narayani have never had any contact with any of the D'ni save for Atrus, and Narani doesn't sound a thing like spoken D'ni does. Where D'ni is more hard-sounding, like rock is hard; Narani is smoother, like lattice vines are. In fact (interesting tidbit), J'nanin is a Narayani word meaning "Place of Learning." The only D'ni found in the game is in the name of Atrus' home age, Tomahna, and in the name of his new beginning for the D'ni, Releeshahn (The names of the other learning ages are spin-offs of Latin and English verbs or nouns, but that's another story entirely).

In Narani, the vowels have the following sounds: ay/ah, eh/ay, ee, ih, oh, oo. Please note that there are two versions of the letter i in Narani - 'ih' and 'ee'. the proper use for one depends on the consonant sounds before it. For instance, 'ri' would be 'ree' and 'shi' would be 'shee', but 'si' would be 'sih'. The 'ee' pronunciation is usually used more often.

Some vowels in Narani double, hence the 'aa' in 'Saavedro'. The letter I also doubles, turning the usual 'ih' sound into the softer 'ee'. Most of the consonants have a softer sound than they do in English, and some ones that are often used include s, v, y, n, m, l, and surprisingly, z.

Now, on to the etymology of the character names...

 

CASE ONE: Sírla and Telaa 

Sírla and Telaa are Saavedro's daughters - well, my names for them, anyway. While not my characters originally, I did create the names (they were originally left nameless). In my story, the two daughters are twins, and though that's not canon, it does make sense. Originally, my RP character, Trivaa, was going to be one of the two daughters, but I decided that this was too Mary-Sueish and dropped it like a hot potato.

Thank God I did, because it freed me up to be a lot more creative. Sírla and Telaa's names actually came from the first letters of their parents' names - Sírla = Saavedro, Telaa = Tamra. By the way, í is not a Narayani letter. The only reason Sírla has the letter í in her name is for easier reading - 'Sírla' looks a lot nicer than 'Seerla'.

Sírla got her name from the English verb 'sear', which means 'burn slightly'. If someone has a searing gaze, they have very attentive and harsh-looking eyes. Sírla has ice-colored eyes, like her father, and Saavedro has very intense eyes. Sírla is also rather extroverted and flamboyant, a sharp contrast to her sister's more mellow personality. So, this name could be the Narayani word for 'Bright-Eyed'.

Telaa got her name from the English noun 'teal', which is a lovely blue-green color. Telaa does indeed have deep teal-green eyes, which obviously came from mixing Tamra's green eyes with Saavedro's blue ones (Brilliant example of a gene with multiple alleles). Telaa is also more introverted and shy than her sister, which again somewhat parallels Saavedro and Tamra. By mixing around the letters in the word 'teal', I came up with 'tlea', 'tela', 'atel', 'leta', 'elta', and many others besides. After scrapping all those that didn't make sense or were just plain stupid, I settled on 'tela' - and, just because I liked the Narayani double a so much, I added that for good measure, which is yet another tie to her father.

 

 CASE TWO: Camíl the Healer

As with Saavedro, everyone has a different interpretation of how Narayan works. My theory is that each tree is a separate village, with a central square and everything. These villages are small, and the people at large work on their individual homes (which are already part of the tree) while everything else is kept in shape by a special committee, like those people who take care of city and state-owned parks. The villages may each have their own law enforcement sections, too (especially since there might have been riots or small sparks of violence after the war and most certainly during it), but that's another story.

Camíl is the Healer-Woman of Saavedro's Tree-Village. She acts as a sort of all-purpose doctor and midwife, and if anyone is hurt or needs medical help, she gives it to them. She appears during the birth of Saavedro's daughters, and as Narayani custom (in my story, anyway) requires the male to be kicked out, Camíl is the one who keeps Tamra company and makes sure that she's comfortable.

Camíl's name comes from the name of the camomile plant, which is a flowering herb that is sometimes used as a sleep aid or to cure stomachaches. Camíl herself has a soothing, warm personality, not unlike a cup of camomile tea, so I simply dropped the 'mo' and the 'e' from 'camomile', leaving me with 'camil'. After a few changes to the lettering, I had a perfect name for a Narayani healer.

By the way, her name is pronounced 'kah-MEEL' ('kɑː mil', if you speak IPA), but I won't get mad if you pronounce it 'kah-MIHL' ('kɑː mIl' in IPA).

 

                                    CASE THREE: The Elders

The Elders are basically both the mayors and the judges of Narayan, keeping everything in balance and generally being the people that everyone looks up to. Their title is deceiving, however, because it leads us to believe that they're all older men. There are three Elder characters in Locusani, one of whom is an older woman and one of whom is in his late middle ages.

The first of my three is Elder Daari, and she is a woman who is about seventy. She is a bit strict, and her policy is "Firm, Fair, Consistant". A level-headed, strong woman, Daari's kind of the Judge Judy of Narayan, except not as flamboyant. She's actually a homage to my next-door neighbors, Cindy and Dory. Daari has Cindy's personality, but her name is actually a corruption of Dory's name - I simply replaced the 'y' with an 'i' and added 'aa' in place of 'o'.

The second Elder's name is Tiran (pronounced TIE-rahn and never TIHR-ahn), and he's the youngest of my three Elders at about 58 years old. He's far more laid back than the others, and he understands the younger Narayani better than the other Elders because of this. He's not a lazy guy, but he is a lot more lenient, and his name is derived from the English word 'tired', meaning 'to feel drowsy'. He's a relaxed guy, a dreamer, calm and patient, and more willing to take time to stop and smell the roses than most of the Elders. I played around with the word 'tired', and I eventually wound up dropping the 'ed'. I added the 'an' in its place, and soon I had a very feasible-sounding Narayani name.

The third Elder's name is Cielan, and he's very traditional. He has a hard time keeping up with the younger Narayani, kind of like the old guy across the street who listens to Frank Sinatra and doesn't have a clue about computers. He's tough, but not as outgoing as Daari is, and he's almost 85. His name - and I can't believe I named him for this - is actually a mega-corruption of the name of a certain drug called Cialis. For those not in the know, it's kind of like Viagra...

Um... Yeah.

I know you're all probably wondering how I could name an Elder of Narayan after an ED pill... Well, I had in-house suspension at school one day, and I was writing Locusani. I was looking for a name, and all of the sudden, 'Cialas' pops up in my head. It sounded familiar, and I liked it, so I wrote it down. Later that same day, I was sitting on the couch and finishing that chapter. The TV had been on, and all of the sudden an ad for Cialis comes on. You can imagine my mortification when I realized why my character's name had sounded so familiar... I quickly changed the name from 'Cialas' to 'Cielan', blushing pink enough to put Narayan's sky to shame. The name just stuck, and while I look back at it and laugh now, it was really embarrassing at the time.

 

                                                                   CASE FOUR: Lashiiva

Lashiiva is a cocky, hot-headed, and exceedingly smart-mouthed young woman of about seventeen. She is one of the youths who has been swayed by Sirrus and Achenar, and she's tired of having to weave, like an Earthen teen might get tired of taking the trash out. She gets very argumentative with Cielan in the chapter where the village meets to discuss Sirrus and Achenar's proposals, and Daari has to take over. Her name is derived from the name of the Hindu god of Destruction, Shiva.

There's a bit more to Shiva than destruction, though. Hindus believe that Shiva has a whole bunch of different forms, called avatars, and that some of these represent good aspects while others represent bad ones. He isn't an entirely good god or an entirely bad god, which kind of makes him the god of ambiguity.

Like Shiva, Lashiiva isn't obviously good or obviously bad - for all her passion and hot temper, she doesn't understand the repercussions. She doesn't want people to get hurt - she's just passionate about her beliefs and thinks that Sirrus and Achenar's ideas are truly for Narayan's benefit.

For her name, I changed the 'i' in 'Shiva' into 'ii', to preserve the 'ee' pronunciation, and I added 'La' in front of it to make the name itself sound sort of conceited. Go ahead - say 'Lashiiva' in your most sneering, whiny, cocky, and contemptuous voice. You should feel a sense of annoyment and disdain at her.

 

                                                                    CASE FIVE: Trivaa

Trivaa is my RP character from a Narayan forum I frequent. While she is in her mid-thirties in Locusani, she's about sixteen in the RP. Trivaa is sweet and very kindly, has a very random sense of humor, and has a strong sense of adventure; which makes her a lot like me. She loves to paint and can get a little creative while weaving. She unfortunately suffers from terrible nightmares due to witnessing the loss of her parents during the Narayani civil war, something that we on earth would call 'Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome'. Trivaa also has a very interesting birth mark: her eyes are two different colors. Her right eye is a deep ocean blue, and her left eye is teal green. This kind of makes her a bit intimidating to those who haven't seen it before, but most of the people in her village accept her strange eye-coloring as an odd anomaly and nothing more.

Trivaa's name derives itself from the words 'trivia', 'trivial', and 'trivium', which are all just different ways of saying 'a silly or unimportant thing'. Trivaa tends to be a little lax with her chores, preferring to dream and create, and has a silly sense of humor, which makes this name very fitting for her. In her case, I simply knocked off the second 'i' in 'trivia' and changed 'a' to 'aa'.

Big Ideas

The big ideas behind Locusani are also very interesting to contemplate. So, I've listed some of the themes and stuff found in the story.

  • Personal sacrifice: Locusani deals a lot with losing that which you have in order to try and help yourself or someone else survive. It happens not only on the level with Saavedro trying to stop Sirrus and Achenar from hurting Narayan, but also with Saav's mental state - he's literally 'sacrificing' his memory and sanity in order to keep himself able enough to survive on J'nanin... if you could call mere existence surviving...
  • Loneliness: Loneliness is a key topic in Locusani. We've all felt lonesome or homesick before, right? Now imagine twenty years - two decades - alone. I can't even begin to imagine it. There are moments in Locusani where this loneliness really gets to Saavedro - he starts talking to a dead squee, for pity's sake, and I can't say that I blame him. After twenty years of that, I'd probably start talking to my clothing, too.
  • Betrayal: Betrayal is another huge issue in the story. Sirrus and Achenar not only deliberately use the Narayani, they also go behind Saavedro's back with their plans and ultimately try to off him when he follows them. Nice guys... and some fangirls actually want to bear Sirrus' offspring... :P Saavedro also starts thinking that Atrus has betrayed him, eventually coming to the maddened delusion that Atrus was in cahoots with the brothers the whole time.
  • Revenge and Justice: The Narayani base their whole lives on balance - they see it every day, after all. They all probably believe in karma - what goes around, comes around - if someone treats you badly, it's only fair to treat them badly in return. Saavedro, as a Narayani, probably would subscribe to this belief as well; and, in his deluded state, he would probably be willing to do anything it took to see that justice is served - even if it means his untimely demise. Revenge is, therefore, a huge part of Locusani, and it also calls the issue of morality into question - when is it, if ever, okay to get back at someone? Is it only natural for people to think of revenge as a solution, even if they don't act on it? Are we all naturally good... or naturally evil?
  • Insanity: A person can only take so much pain before they lose it completely, and Saavedro is no exception. First, we have the loneliness - basically large scale solitary confinement. That would get to anybody: people need interaction with other people to stay healthy. Then we have the fact that Saavedro has a lot of pain in his past, and because he is so focused on surviving each new day, his mind tries to push these painful memories away - hence Saavedro's mind-eating Fog. He is homesick and beginning to get desperate, and so when he finds the Narayan book in the central tusk's golden cage, he begins to build up his hope - a hope that is ultimately shattered when he comes to the (false) conclusion that Narayan is dead. This is what finally makes him snap - he not only has to deal with his loneliness and steadily rising anger at Sirrus and Achenar, but now he has to deal with the shock of having his hopes dashed, the sheer torment of knowing that he can never go home again, and the horrible anguish of knowing that his family, along with everyone else that he knew and loved, is gone. He can't deal with all of this - no sane person could - and in this way, he falls into a deep madness.
  • Love and Friendship: On a lighter note, Locusani also deals with love. Saavedro's relationship with Tamra is an obvious example of this, and as for friendship, Saavedro's relationship with Atrus is a perfect example. His love for his daughters is also an example of love - a father's love for his children. All of this love makes the pain of betrayal and loss harder for Saavedro to handle later on.

Paranoia...

Okay, to give you a little background, I have an anxiety disorder. It runs in my family, and I do have therapy to keep it under control. It does not mean I am insane in any way, it just means that I get very worried, very easily. Because I have this disorder, I am prone to panic attacks when I get too upset. They can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, depending on the person and the level of shock - some people have even gone for days in a panicked state, and that period of time is naught but sheer terror. They're rare for me, fortunately, and I've never had one last more than three hours at the most, but they still suck. Trust me - you do not want to have one.

For those who have never had one (lucky...), I'll describe a typical panic attack to you:

First, you begin to feel paranoid, like everyone is going to hurt you. If someone touches you, you flip out. You are filled with this horrible, inexplicable terror; you feel like you're either going to die or like you're going crazy. You can't control it in any way, and you never know how long it will last. Your breathing speeds up, every synapse in your body goes into overdrive, you feel like you're trapped and you must get out, must run, must hide...

... It's awful. Words can't describe it. Thankfully, they're rare for me.

This great terror is perfect fodder for a story like Locusani, where intense paranoia and fear and outbursts like this are needed. Because I have had the experience, I can relate to Saavedro in that respect. His breaking point finally leaves him in such great pain and terror that it drives him mad - far different than merely feeling like one is going mad. By combining a panic attack with intense sorrow, pain, and rage, I came up with a great description of how it must really feel to lose your mind...

By the way, just as a little note here, if you do ever have to deal with someone who is having a panic attack, DO NOT yell at them or grab them roughly. That will only freak them out even more. Speak softly and gently to them; help them get to a safe location, like a bedroom; and keep an eye on them. Be patient with them - panic attacks don't always go away right away. If they ask you to leave, do it - they need to be alone during the attack until they come out of it on their own - but keep an eye on them (notice that I did not say 'watch their every move like a hawk' - believe me, you sitting there is NOT going to help things). Trust me when I say that there is nothing worse for a panicking person than someone who is harsh and constantly yelling at them to 'calm down'. And above all else, DO NOT start fussing, worrying, and freaking out - your adrenaline and insecurity will only feed their fear.

Mr. HammerWhack, or, How I Went Mad and Learned to Love It

With Locusani, it was very difficult for me at first to write even the first chapter. The story is entirely in first person; and, as I am obviously not Saavedro, I had no idea of how he would really think. All I had was an idea and a dream...

Eventually, I got Saavedro to speak to me. I got to know him quite well, and I found out that he had quite a mild personality in general - he was more sensitive and gentle prior to the exile, which makes sense. I got to know how he survived on J'nanin and how he felt about certain issues, such as rebellion and dealing with 'Fog attacks', and eventually I knew enough about him that I could have been him myself. I did indeed begin to adopt this persona while writing, and it made my story very interesting and detailed. It became very easy for me to slip between Sugary Snicket and Saavedro - so easy that it probably would have looked like I had some split-personality disorder to anyone who had no idea of what I was doing.

This had some very interesting results later on, when I began to write the parts where Saav's not all there. For instance, I became testier when I wrote, yelling at people when they entered without knocking. My handwriting became sloppier; it got more rushed and often fell out of the lines on the paper - oftentimes, parts of it were stream-of-consciousness-based, where the words on the paper were exactly what I was thinking. I would get so wrapped up in writing a chapter that I would forget where I was and really begin to think that I was Saavedro, sitting all alone in J'nanin somewhere and writing down everything in my journal. In that way, Locusani was a deeply personal journey for me as a writer, and it's one that I'll always count as one of my wildest and most influential ones.

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