The Tékumel Foundation

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

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.

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