The Tékumel Foundation

News about the World of Tékumel® – the creation of Prof. M.A.R. Barker

Archive for the month “September, 2013”

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

14 Pardán 2371

The past two days were uneventful. We continued down the coast with little change in the landscape. Tonight was very dark with no moons. I am glad to have the faint light of the ships lights and the coast to navigate by.

I decided to retire early and as I was arranging my blankets, I found something sharp in my mat. It was a knife fixed with the point up. I backed away without touching anything relevant and did my best to calm myself. Then I called up a spell of elicitation to see who put the knife there. In the vision, I saw the knife float into place by itself. I recalled the story of the invisible stowaway and in my mind I apologised for any malformed thoughts I had regarding our commander, and hurried to his cabin.

I asked him to come and see what I had found and explained the story to him. We questioned my servants. They had not seen anyone come or go from the cabin. No one we asked could identify the knife. Fromm that point on I decided to keep one of my servants with me at all times.

I went back to my room and fixed my mat as well as I could and was nearly asleep when I heard a scream. I raced out to find that Arogái had been bitten by a “crunchie”. The Shén had bought a barrel of crustaceans that they ate as snacks. Apparently one of the crunchies chewed its way out of the barrel and now the things were loose on the ship. I performed a heal spell on Arogái. Afterwards I was too agitated to sleep, so I calmed myself by watching the glowing green phosphorescent sea for a while. Eventually I returned to my sleeping mat.

It felt like I was barely asleep when Chatán, the first mate came to fetch me. Another body, or part of one, was found. The story was rushed and unclear as we headed for the deck. Still no moons, so I created a small light spell. There was an obvious attempt to wash away a quantity of blood off the deck. An elicitation spell revealed only that the cabin boy had been there. After a search, he was nowhere to be found, and was most likely to be the source of all the blood. The whole time we were at this we were annoyed by the little crabs with which the Shén had cursed our ship.

A call went up saying that something was pacing our ship off the port. We could all easily see the phosphorescent wake, but nothing that created it. Chatán got out his longbow. As he was about to fire, one of the accursed crabs bit him and he lost the shot. Zagár managed to stomp the thing. The missing cabin boy was forgotten in the excitement as the crew now concentrated on the phosphorescent trail. One sailor speculated that it was a Tsó gú, the swimming undead. If one got aboard it would attack and suck out the brains of its victims. Other crew members thought that it was another form of sea life, or maybe the ghosts of sailors. Tékuna was summoned and asked if he could identify it. He’d never seen this before, but one of his servants said it might be a vé fish.

Mridék and I decided to talk to the Shén. One of them confessed that they had found a part of a torso or a leg. At that point our commander lost his temper, something I never thought I would see. The shouting match centred on the previous promise not to eat any crew members and it was uncertain as to whether a cabin boy constituted a true crew member. The argument continued until the commander extracted a promise from the Shén that they would not eat anyone, or part of anyone, without getting prior permission from the commander. The Shén swore that they did not kill the cabin boy, but only found a couple parts. I dreaded that tomorrow morning we would be greeted by more stench coming from the canvas shanty that they have rigged up on the forecastle.

While all that was happening Chatán had been trying to get another shot off at whatever it was off the port side. Now that Mridék was done with the Shén, he tried to get Chatán to stop. Some confusion ensued and Chatán was struck. By whom, it’s uncertain, but I was left to heal the first mate’s head while the commander went below to meditate on the situation.

After a while the commander returned with a woman I hadn’t seen before. There were rumours that he had his own private companion, but I assumed they were only rumours since no one had seen her.

She immediately pointed at Chatán and yelled that the invisible being was behind him. Chatán slashed and lunged, but it was too quick for him. Something grabbed his wrist and whipped him overboard. Poor Chatán managed to grab the rudder and climb up the ropes that the sailors threw down to him.

I felt I knew what needed to be done and told Mridék that I was going below to get supplies. In my cabin, I pulled out my old notes from when I was a student. I’d practised the spell of the Gate of the Grey Pentacle, but never actually used the spell. At temple school we carefully prepared and warded the rooms to practise the creation and casting of spells. There we had all the proper supplies, plenty of time, and a calm atmosphere to prepare our minds and effectively cast the spells. I was a competent student then, but I never thought I’d have to duplicate my efforts on a rocking ship surrounded by panicking sailors and an invisible target.

I pulled out another box and began to choose bottles of powders, inks, and chalks. A piece of grey chalk flew out of my hand! I retrieved it and bundled up the supplies, and then hurried to the commander’s cabin. Neither he nor his companion was there. I found them up on the deck and we quickly put together a plan. I would ready the spell while Mridék’s companion, Saíb would walk alongside me until she could point out the creature. As we began to search the deck we heard a moan from the crow’s nest. One of the marines went up and found Arogái. He had been badly injured. A couple more sailors went up with ropes and lowered him down while the Keténgku priest was summoned. Arogái said that he had been struck by something unseen and that he managed to hit it. Even though he couldn’t see it, he felt his fist connect. Davé did his best to cast a healing spell, but was unsuccessful. Arogái, our senior navigator died on the deck.

Tékuna said that he had the means to preserve Arogái’s body until we reached Tsámra, a few days from now. He and the sailors carried the body below. I thought about how I would miss Arogái. Although we shared a cabin, we didn’t see much of each other since I often took the night watch, learning to navigate by the moons and planets, while he worked during the day. Most of our time together was spent at our dawn meetings with Vakúlaz, learning as much as we could about the waters we were sailing and the lands toward which we were headed. Arogái always had a quick wit and a bright smile. He was clever without being mean and had a generous soul. I prayed that he had an easy voyage to the Isles of Taratané.

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

12 Pardán 2371

We continued to sail down the coast. Small Livyáni craft came alongside our ship to sell us fresh fish. One of the Shén bought a gigantic crab, apparently for another stew. Rumours have been circulating about an invisible stowaway or a ghostly woman seen on the quarterdeck. Mridék was very serious when he told me about this. He seemed to believe the stories. I began to doubt his sobriety.

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

11 Pardán 2371

Foshaá at last! In the distance we could see the tall, white pyramidal towers that are dedicated to the gods of the Livyáni. When we got closer we could see the small, neat houses with flat-topped roofs. It looked peaceful and a little crowded. There were many red hulled ships in the harbour. We were met by two harbourmasters, one Livyáni and one Mu’ugalavyáni. In their interview with our commander they tried to hire the Shén off our ship. They need Shén as labourers. The commander stood firm and said that the Shén stayed with us.

Arrangements were made for re-provisioning and we were told that if we wanted to buy anything that we must obtain certificates that we must present when we leave.

It was a perfect day with a light breeze. I accompanied Zagár in to town along with my servants. As we walked he pointed out that some of the temples were shut and locked. Other buildings have been razed and ploughed under. But despite the changes, he had no problem finding his way around. There were Mu’ugalavyáni everywhere, but they were relaxed and casual. Most of the Livyáni we saw kept to the background.

Zagár ran into a Livyáni he knew and was warned against going into some of the older neighbourhoods. There are Livyáni partisans in the city led by a woman called Fireface. Trading was difficult here. The Mu’ugalavyáni confiscate anything they want. If Zagár was interested, his friend could connect him with some black market dealers who could provide him with antiquities looted from the Opal Palace and the Obsidian Palace. It was clear to me that Zagár had no interest in this, but politely explained that he may consider obtaining such items when we returned on our way back to Tsolyánu.

As we walked back to the ship Zagár and I speculated as to whether our Naqsái passenger would leave us here or continue on with us until we reached his country. Moróch had been sullen and withdrawn, no doubt feeling out of place among so many foreign people.

Once back at the ship we spoke to Vakuláz. We were to head to Tsámra, then Yrá and then a long trip around the twin points of Alhjjár and Sarír. From there we will make port at Ssorvá on the extreme south of the continent.

In the afternoon we had all noticed a horrid stench. Prohibitions or no, I was compelled to cast a “control self” spell on myself to keep from retching. It turned out to be the Shén cooking their miserable stew that they enjoy so much. Demons of the nether planes only know what noxious bottom feeding creatures they pulled out of the harbour to put in their stew pot. Later the reptiles all left for the marketplace.

A little later the commander took the ships papers and sufficient money (40 shidóc equals 80 káitars) so that we may officially leave. We left port in the late afternoon. Once in the open water we took out the oars to turn the ship around. In the evening I watched the coast. It was so pretty in the late sunset with the lights on the shore and the small craft passing us. It was hard to believe that there was so much misery and destruction here.

There has been a problem with the Shén. Apparently their noxious stew was not some carrion fish, but human flesh. They admitted that they found a human body and ate it. They said they couldn’t identify it because it was headless. Our commander made the reptiles agree that they will not eat any crew members. Mridék later told me that a skull had been found in the bilge along with a clay pipe similar to the ones used for sipping drugs in Haída Pakála. He had no idea if the Shén had anything to do with it. In spite of all that the night passed peacefully.

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

10 Pardán 2371

We saw beaches with white sands and streams that empty out into the sea.

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

4-9 Pardán 2371

Mu’ugalavyáni must navigate differently than Tsolyáni. We have yet to catch sight of Foshaá.

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

3 Pardán 2371

We turned into a bay and find that we were still some distance from Foshaá. What was that captain thinking?

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

2 Pardán 2371

A ship with red sails headed toward us. Mu’ugalavyáni. The marines are called up. An officer called out to us that we were to prepare for boarding from customs officials. A grappling hook was thrown over and padded logs were lowered to protect the ships as they were drawn together. We threw a rope ladder down to their ship. The Mu’ugalavyáni captain and his guard came aboard. He interviewed our captain and commander and then briefly talked to the rest of us. We learned that we were 100 Tsán north of Foshaá and could be there tomorrow. We were warned not to use magic of any sort in Livyánu. Zagár arranged for a small gift to go with the captain and after he left, the ships disengaged. We continued west and saw a range of low hills to the north. They marched straight down to the sea. As we continued, we saw small houses and lush green lands.

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

28 Fésru to 1 Pardán 2371

The days passed slowly. I continued my navigation lessons and practised my drawing skills so that if I ever see anything outside this ship, I may accurately record it for my temple.

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

27 Fésru 2371

The day passed without incident.

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

26 Fésru 2371

In all the confusion yesterday I realised that I hadn’t seen Tikhá. I looked for Zagár since he knew their language. When I found him later he told me that Moróch told him that she’d thrown herself overboard rather than travel with people who kept slaves. Curious.

I took the watch for midmorning while Arogái went below to rest. There was a strong tailwind today. We spotted heavy grey seabirds. The captain said that these birds range far out to sea and are not an indicator that we were near land. In the afternoon I went below to get some sleep. It seems as if all the excitement happens at night, so I figured I had better get some rest before my watch.

I rose at about sunset. There was still a good breeze from behind the beam. The captain told me that we were bearing for the Livyánu coast and that we could find our port once we sighted land.

The captain pointed out a huge grey ball of seaweed. Tékuna recognised it as a type of seaweed that is covered with spiders. Ships become mired in the seaweed and the spiders overrun the ship. When we looked closer we could see masses of movement scuttling all over the seaweed. He said that it was more common on the other side of Livyánu.

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