With the arrival of our own new year, it seemed appropriate to discuss the cataloguing of time in the World of Isfalinis. The four races (Bergrist, Human, Aestari, and Ie’dhae) all track the passage of days and years using similar techniques to our own world including the passage of seasons, the phases of its moon, and the movement of the stars.
But during the Cataclysm, all peoples neglected the counting of years. Even the unaging Aestari were too preoccupied with the basic necessities of survival to pay much attention. With the founding of the Kayrstaran Empire approximately a century before the events of “Tears from Iron,” they were finally stable enough to record time again.
Before I describe the Aestarin Calendar, I’ll note that the oldest known human calendar of the post-Cataclysm era was created less than a hundred years after “Tears from Iron” in the kingdom of Rynaeca. Called the Jhoachian Calendar, it was named for Jhoacen Imraphel, their first king to advocate scholarly pursuits. This calendar’s year began with the winter solstice and had twelve months of thirty days each. The year began with a feast day before the first month and ended with a feast day after the last month, the two together being called “Heart of Winter”. Between the sixth and seventh month there were three feast days called “High Summer.” Over time, scholars observed the calendar was drifting from the solstice, so an additional winter feast day was added every fourth year.
The calendar used by the Syraestari of the Kayrstaran Empire predates the Cataclysm to the early years of the Lost Age. It was developed by Parys, the first child born to the Aestari. Named the Ehsalian Calendar in honor of his mother, Ehsali’a, it was built on a lunar cycle unlike the solar Jhoachian Calendar. The Ehsalian Calendar has a cycle of twenty-four years. Twenty-four of these cycles, likewise, are called an epoch (576 years). Like the Jhoachian Calendar, the first day of the first year of the first cycle begins on the winter solstice. Each year has twelve or thirteen months of twenty-nine or thirty days. The twelve core months are each named for the eleven Etyni as well as Lady Ainii, the Shaper of the Aestari. The tenth month, named for Oltos, the Lord of Balance, can be of either 29 or 30 days while the other months are fixed. The thirteenth month, with one exception, is 29 days long and is named for Diotra, the creator of the stars. During the fifteenth year of the cycle, the thirteenth month is 30 days long. This month is named for Vaenna, the creator of the moon, and is considered lucky. After the betrayal of Cydion and the Schism of the Aestari, the month named for Cydion was renamed. The Hiraestari called it Aveona in tribute to their first city while the Syraestari named it Kayrkiras in honor of their first emperor.
However, as was noted above, neither of the Aestari peoples tracked the passage of time through the Cataclysm. It was the scholar Tae’irfynon among the Syraestari and Dirtarnys among the Hiraestari who led efforts to reconcile those lost years. Debates were intense among the scholars of both peoples. Arguments regarding the length of the Cataclysm ranged from as little as 1,200 years to as many as 2,500. In the end, the Syraestari settled on approximately 2,000 while the Hiraestari agreed to 1,700 years. This is not to say that debate doesn’t still continue. Likewise, there is perhaps some irony that the two Aestarin peoples reached different conclusions which have set their calendars in permanent disharmony. It is yet one more symbol of the schism that divides them.
The events recounted in “Tears from Iron” occurred during the 8th Year of the 23rd Cycle of the 6th Epoch of the Syraestari Calendar.