Journey to the Naqsái Lands
16 Pardán 2371
We were approaching Tsámra. The commander was concerned about hiding our remaining Shén. There was also talk of adjusting our manifests. When we neared the harbour our Mu’ugalavyáni “navigators” went ashore and the Shén disappeared. The harbourmasters boarded, searched the ship, but found no sign of the Shén. I had no idea where they went to, but they were nowhere to be found.
We entered Kápranoi Bay. Originally Tsámra was known as Tsámra Larís. In ancient times huge storms nearly destroyed the city, sinking the half of the city known as Larís. It is said that if the waters of the bay are clear, one can look down and see the ancient streets and rooftops of Larís. It was a beautiful day with a good breeze. I leaned on the railings and watched as the ship was towed into the crowded harbour, but could not see fabled Larís.
Most of us were glad of the opportunity to get off the ship. On shore we didn’t see many people. The Livyáni probably preferred to keep out of sight. There were groups of Mu’ugalavyáni standing around drinking the reddish dná grain beer.
Chatán decided that he wanted to buy a new pleasure slave to replace the one who was most probably murdered by the Naqsái girl and finished off by the Shén. First Chatán, Tékuna, and I had to go and change our Tsolyáni káitars for Livyáni shídoz. Chatán asked where he might find a good pleasure slave. The money changers indicated that the slaves would be more expensive than Chatán thought. They told him to avoid the shops where slaves were chained to poles, since those were usually of the poorest quality. The owner of the exchange recommended that we go to the shop of Morkúnuz. He also suggested that it would be better if Chatán paid for a slave with a clan writ. This was especially valued since the Mu’ugalavyáni did not recognise or tax writ transactions Chatán tipped him well.
We walked along to the markets where we saw long lines of poles set in cement with slaves chained to them. They were of all ages and obviously mostly labourers. Merchants came out, eager to sell, but we moved on. Further on we saw slaves in penned areas with sheds with overseers keeping an eye on them. Chatán asked one about Morkúnuz. The slaver came out and began to talk to Chatán. I was a little surprised. After all Chatán was well-born and shouldn’t have to talk to one so low as this. When I mentioned this Chatán explained that it would take too long to haggle while speaking by way of a servant. I said nothing but hoped that he wouldn’t take such a casual an attitude when we got back in the civilised world.
The slaver told a huge Nlúss overseer to haul out a filthy girl of about 13 years. Chatán said he preferred to see another; it would not be good to select the first slave offered – no matter how hurried one was. The next slave was a younger one, maybe 11 years, bound in a wooden rack. That one would obviously cause too much trouble, although she was better looking and had long glossy hair. Chatán asked for another one. The third slave was an adult, tall with a fair complexion and a well-shaped triangular face. Obviously she was Livyáni; her back was covered in tattoos. Chatán looked her over, checked her teeth and asked the price. The slaver replied 700 shíduk. Chatán countered with 300 allótish and the haggling began in earnest. Eventually the slaver turned to Tékuna and offered the girl to him for 600 shíduk. Tékuna answered 600 for that one and the dirty one. They finally settled on 550 for both. The transaction was completed. Chatán’s new pleasure slave announced that she was high born and a priestess of Quyá, and that she would run away as soon as possible. Apparently Morkúnuz uses her as bait. He sells her and then has her recaptured and sells her repeatedly. Her name is Otenéb. Tékuna’s slave is Me’eléth. She was Naqsái and said that she was here on a mission. She was supposed to go to Tsámra to meet the Livyáni rebellion leaders. Tékuna originally had her thrown into the bargain just to give her to the Shén, but being Naqsái, she would be more valuable alive. I was happy that we would be spared the smell of the Shén’s miserable cooking.
Soon after we returned to the ship there was a commotion. Apparently our commander offended one of the Mu’ugalavyáni guards and ended up having some of them chase him back to the docks. There was much shouting and gesturing, but they finally allowed him to return to the ship.