Journey to the Naqsái Lands
4 Hasanpór 2372
The shore was nothing but desert sand and rocks. Up in the crow’s nest, the crew can see that the land is flat, extending many tsán back from the shore. Occasionally people come to the beach to see us. They were dressed the same as desert-folk in long dun-coloured robes. The weather has become unbearably hot and awnings have been spread over the deck to provide shade for the crew. No one felt much like moving.
Later in the day a ship was sighted. It was not Mu’ugalavyáni and as it approached we saw that it was a Naqsái merchantman. We slowed our ship as we came near to a cove where a tower stood at the entrance to a bay. Tékuna, Zagár, and Mridék took a dinghy to the shore, and the Naqsái captain did the same. The rest of us stayed on deck under the shade of the tarps. We watched long, pale grey, slender fish-like snakes that were about a dháiba long. One of the sailors said that they are called m’bór and that they have pod-like “hands” with little hooks on them. The mouth on the creatures goes all the way down the side with hundreds of hooked teeth. I could see that they had great black splotches where the eyes should be.
The commander and the rest returned. The local trade goods consisted of oil, cloth, wine, and bars of metal of the ancients, but they didn’t do any trading. They did however, obtain some useful information. As far as news of Dalái, the Mu’ugalavyáni raided the city and left. The Mu’ugalavyáni wanted to set up a base there, but the Dalái weren’t interested. As far as local information, the Dalái are fond of chewing a grey root called horóch. It’s very chewy with a sweet and fresh, but astringent flavour.
The Dalái have never heard of chlén and know nothing of modern metalworking. For weapons they carry swords and knives of a special hardened ceramic. They use throwing sticks to launch arrows and spears, but have no bows. Gold is considered a useless soft metal, and they don’t differentiate between glass and true gems. Since the region is mostly desert, wood is extremely precious. Livyáni have been known to strip their ships of wood for trade.
The conversation was interrupted by an explosion. One of the m’bór tried to climb through the portal to Davé’s room and he killed it using a rather loud spell called the Missles of Metallgia. The portal is now a little larger. More of the m’bór hung on to the ship’s hull. We started to move out into deeper water where we wouldn’t be bothered by them when a small craft came out to meet us filled with 15-20 people. The craft rode low in the water and the crew rowed it with paddles made from the same clay as was used to make their swords. The people wore their hair long and curly, much like Salarvyáni. The men wore large shell earrings. They warned us that the m’bór would chew up the wooden sides of our ship.
We pulled the ship in towards the dock where we were given a warm greeting by the locals. Everyone here seems very open and inviting and many of the men offered their wives for the pleasure of our crewmen. The women here dress in short tunics with an open bodice and a knee length kilt of wrapped fabric. Their teeth are either plated or replaced with glass, making them look like diamonds. The men also wear wrapped kilts and wear many bone and shell ornaments. Older men wore sleeveless tunics. Some men chose to forgo kilts and instead displayed large shell ornaments on their penises.
Tékuna generously loaned me the small golden ball that he uses to understand people. It is a wonderful device of the ancients that provides immediate understanding and translation of languages. It has to be held in the mouth and is a bit awkward at first, but I managed to tuck it between my cheek and gum so that I didn’t accidentally swallow it.
The city of Dalái is complicated. The streets seem to go in any direction. The buildings are rounded with round windows, and built of the same white coral stone that we had seen before. Large brown dogs seem to be everywhere.
We came to a long open building with a courtyard covered in cloth awnings. We were offered a choice of cool water, fruit juice, and a juice made of local crustaceans. All the locals were curious about everything we had and expressed interest. Apparently everything is communally owned and shared. The concept of private ownership seems somewhat foreign to them.
In the late afternoon the local people brought out clay flutes and drums. Others spontaneously got up and danced. I noticed now that the liquor I was drinking was stronger than I originally though it was. A few local men expressed interest in me, but they felt I would be far more beautiful with glass inserts on my teeth and bone implants on various parts of my body. The descriptions of the processes sounded painful, but the men insisted that all of that was necessary in order to be beautiful.
Food was served. There was no meat, but many types of fish. The spices tasted very nice. I don’t know what they were, but they would fetch a high price in Tsolyánu, if only for the novelty of a new flavour. The locals were also fond of a fishy flavoured oil that was poured on top of everything. They had no bread or anything like it, except for some cakes made from rice flour. For fruit, they had sea cherries. These were round soft grey fruits about 2-3 chóptse in diameter with no stone or seeds.
The party continued late into the evening and I opted to stay in the city with Mridék, Tékuna, and the rest rather than try to find my way back to the ship.