The Tékumel Foundation

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

Archive for the category “Adventures”

Running a Tékumel campaign? We want to know!

Are you running a Tékumel campaign right now?  The Tékumel Foundation wants to know!  We’re interested in doing a better job connecting Tékumel fans with Tékumel games – and that’s where you come in.  We would like to know about your current Tékumel campaigns, so we can share it with the rest of the gaming community – and provide some rewards for people who are running games.  Just send us the following information:

  • How often do you meet (e.g. every Thursday night)?
  • Where do you meet?
  • The number of gamers in your Tékumel campaign
  • What’s currently going on in your Tékumel campaign
  • Contact information for you, including name, address, phone and email
  • Anything else you would like to share about your branch on the Tree of Time!

We’ll review the submissions we get and then share the info with other Tékumel fans after the turn of the year  – we’re working right now on the best way to do that (if you have ideas, let us know that, as well).  Thanks!

News from Sokátis – Part Two

TETV-01

[The Foundation has invited James Maliszewski to describe his on-going Empire of the Petal Throne campaign, set in the city of Sokátis.  This is the second part of a two-part entry.]

Over the course of months of weekly sessions, the player characters ventured beyond Sokátis, following in the footsteps of a revered clan elder who had been something of a ne’er-do-well in his youth. Their travels took them to Rü on the Salarvyáni border (and beneath it), where they became entangled in local politics, and to the Salarvyáni city of Khúm, where they tangled with a group of Yán Koryáni exiles seemingly in the employ of a Thirreqúmmu prince. More recently, an ill-timed use of an untested Eye of Departing in Safety obtained earlier in the campaign has transported the characters somewhere cold and even farther from home than Salarvyá. Such are the hazards of adventure!

What I have found most delightful to watch is the way in which the players, including those with little previous experience of Tékumel, have quickly become acclimated to the setting. In one notable example, the characters had been invited to dinner with a former high priestess of Avánthe in Rü. The players spent some time thinking about how their characters would dress for the occasions. What impressed me about this was the players considered this topic worthy of discussion at all. This was proof to me that, for all of Tékumel’s oft-mentioned complexity, newcomers could indeed get into the spirit of the setting.

I think it worth noting that, as the referee, I have not found my duties unduly onerous – certainly no moreso than when I refereed other roleplaying game campaigns. Now, it is true that, after more than two decades as a Tékumel fan, I am no neophyte. At the same time, it is worth noting that, for several months, the characters were based in Salarvyá, about which Professor Barker wrote very little. For that reason, I often had to come up with answers to some of the questions that arose through play, e.g. What are the Salarvyáni names of Pavár’s gods?

Rather than fret about how little I knew about Salarvyá, I decided early in the campaign to answer questions only as they arose. My initial mantra of “start small” evolved into “think small,” which is to say, “think only about matters at hand.” There was no need to know everything about Salarvyá in advance. Instead, I drew on what I already knew to come up with answers to questions that emerged through play. I felt no pressure, no stress, to “do it right.” Moreover, it is my firm belief that, so long as the players and referee are enjoying themselves in Tékumel, they are doing “right.”

My campaign will soon reach seven months of weekly sessions, which is admittedly not long in the annals of Tékumel campaigns. Nevertheless, I am greatly satisfied to have found six players who have not only turned up week after week to play at my virtual table but who have entered into the world of Tékumel and found it very much their liking.

[What’s going on in your Tékumel campaign?  Share your stories with the Foundation – we’re always interested in finding out what people have discovered playing in the world of the Empire of the Petal Throne.]

News from Sokátis

TETV-04_cover

[The Foundation has invited James Maliszewski to describe his on-going Empire of the Petal Throne campaign, set in the city of Sokátis.  This is the first part of a two-part entry.]

By the time I started roleplaying in late 1979, M.A.R. Barker’s world of Tékumel was already legendary. I regularly heard tales of its “depth” and, more often than not, its “complexity” from the older and more experienced gamers I ran into at the hobby shops and games gatherings of suburban Baltimore.

Consequently, it would take me more than a decade to investigate Tékumel for myself, which I did by subscribing to the Blue Room mailing list and by purchasing the then-new Gardásiyal rules. I also began an email correspondence with Professor Barker – or “Phil,” as he insisted I call him. That correspondence, while irregular, instilled in me an abiding affection for Tékumel that is a driving force behind my launching my fanzine, The Excellent Travelling Volume.

My love of Tékumel is not academic. Though I enjoy lengthy conversations about Tékumel’s mysteries as much as the next fan, I also feel very strongly that Professor Barker’s world is best enjoyed through the medium of roleplaying. This is why I have refereed several different Tékumel campaigns since the 1990s, the most recent of which began in March of this year. This campaign uses the Empire of the Petal Throne rules, as have the last couple of campaigns I have run. I have come to appreciate the elegant simplicity of the original 1975 rules and have found them especially accessible to newcomers to Tékumel, of whom I often have several in any campaign I referee, including my current one.

This campaign is nominally based in the city of Sokátis, with all the characters being members of the local House of Worms clan. As its name suggests, the clan is devoted to Sárku and his Cohort Durritlámish. In terms of their direct experience with Tékumel (or Empire of the Petal Throne), the players are a mixed group. Some of them were complete neophytes, some knew something of Tékumel, and some were old hands, with a sophisticated understanding of the setting. Because I chose to run this campaign via the Hangouts feature of Google Plus, the players were as diverse geographically as they were in experience. I have players located across North America, as well as in the United Kingdom and continental Europe.

Because of their differences in experience with Tékumel, I decided early on that I would “start small” with the campaign. Initially, the player characters acted as agents of their clanmaster, undertaking errands and investigations on his behalf within Sokátis. This allowed me to introduce the neophytes to foundational elements of Tsolyáni society – the clans and the temples, for example – in a straightforward, easy to understand way. They learned by doing and, after only a few sessions, were familiar enough with the workings of their clan, temples, and city that they were ready for more.

[Part Two will appear next week.]

 

Adventures on Tekumel at GaryCon VI

TFound-GaryConVI-game

There were three Empire of the Petal Throne games at GaryCon VI this past weekend:

  • The Jakallan Underworld: a party of adventurers dedicated to Karakan and Thumis questing for gold and glory were led astray by a disembodied brain of a priestess of Dlamelish.  Drawn into the inner sanctums of the Temple of the Green Eyed Lady of Sins, only one of the party escaped the wrath of the Goddess and her minions.
  • Hard Times in Pijnar: this was a pick-up game, in which four Tinaliya charged with protecting a large device of the Ancients found that their Livyani master had been assassinated and the Mu’ugalavyani were invading the city.  They discerned how to operate the large, slow moving vehicle and began to escape the city.  All seemed to go well until the Lightning Bringer outside the city walls was brought to bear.  If they had only tried to use their Eye of Retaining All Things….
  • Fishing in Lake Parunal: agents of Baron Ald were sent to Lake Parunal to seek aid from the Nyagga – or so they were told.  Intrigue and danger awaited them in the fishing town on the shores of the lake.  But they were surprised to discover that they just might be some truth to the rumors which led them there originally.  After a terrible combat in a domed chamber under the lake, the party defeated their onetime source of information and were returned to the surface.  They may not have secured any help from the mysterious aquatic race, but they did capture two Eyes.

In addition, there were lots of discussions of Tekumel with fans, including Bill Hoyt, Mark Siefert, Mark Eggert, Adam Thornton, and many others!

(photo courtesy of Mark CMG; visit the www.creativemountaingames.com blog)

Postscript for the Naqsái Adventure

Clarification and closure from Joe Zottola

I have been asked to clarify a couple of things. This is a write-up of an event from the game last night. Kherókh was a Shén played by me (Joe Zottola), Hékpa was an NPC Shén that Joe later also played. The Tlakotáni, Davé was a character belonging to Keith D.

To set this up, Davé used magic to move our ship, which had been happily sailing along the northern edge of the southern continent and off the western edge of the published maps. Davé had in his possession a plate[i] of Inter-planar travel that allowed the owner to move large objects through nexus points. At the instruction of his slave, Mridóbu, Davé used the plate and after a number of stops brought the ship to rest in a desert. He and his slave attempted to leave the ship, but Kherókh tried to stop them. The slave cast a spell immobilizing the Shén and they made their escape. After a number of adventures, Kherókh and the rest of the party found themselves in Béy Sü. The crew eventually made it back to civilization. This is what Hékpa and Kherókh did.
13th Fesru 2373- Béy Sü

Kherókh and I made our way from the clan house of Golden Bough and proceeded to the Tlakotáni clan house. Once there Kherókh asked if Davé hiTlakotáni was in residence. The Gate Guard went inside to check. The guard found Davé and informed him that two person’s wished to see him. Davé asked who they were and the door guard responded that they were Shén.
Da’ve thought for a moment, and realized that these may be the same Shén he left in the desert six months ago during that wasted time they spent traveling. He told the guard to tell them he had gone to Usenánu.

The guard returned to the gate to find the Shén still there. He informed them that Davé had instructed him to tell them that Davé was in Usenánu. You could almost see the brain of Kherókh strain to process the words. Finally Kherókh reached into his pouch and handed the guard 20 assorted gems, telling him that perhaps these would allow him to direct them to Davé.

The guard thought for a moment and said, “Davé is a busy man. Perhaps I can deliver your message for him.”

Kherókh and I laughed and then Kherókh explained that they were friends of Davé and he would want to see us.
The guard explained that the Tlakotáni were a proud and noble people who did not have time for trivial matters. Kherókh thought for a moment and offered the guard 1 ingot of a silvery grey metal. The guard, upon seeing the ingot, told Kherókh that he was seriously tempted. Kherókh then produced another bar of the metal. The guard’s eyes grew large realizing he could finally retire from this job and move his family to Usenánu.

The guard told Kherókh that he was going to go down the passage to the left, and if Kherókh wished, he and his companion could go down the other hall, take the stairs up to the next hallway and what they sought was behind the third door on the left.

With that, the guard left down the other passageway. Kherókh and I proceeded as directed by the guard. We growled at couple of servants in the hallways as we passed, causing them to scurry away.

We reached the door and. Kherókh knocked. A servant asked who it was. Kherókh told him he had a message for Davé hiTlakotáni. The servant opened the door and we pushed our way in as the servant protested.
Kherókh told me to silence the servant I reached out with my claws and crushed his neck. Funny thing about humans; when you do that they make a satisfying popping noise. After removing the servant I secured the door. Kherókh made his way into the chamber to find his target on resting on a couch.

Davé looked up to see a seven foot Shén looking at him with its teeth bared. Kherókh asked Davé if he remembered him. Davé in a flash realized that this indeed was the Shén from the ship. Davé rolled off the couch and screamed as Kherókh advanced towards him. Davé quivered in fear as Kherókh reached forward with his claw. As Kherókh’s claws grasped Davé’s neck, he screamed. With that Kherókh squeezed his claws tightly around Davé’s neck which made a satisfying popping sound as it was crushed, killing him instantly. With the job done and vengeance achieved, I asked Kherókh, “What we do now?”

The door was being pushed on from the outside by guards trying to gain entrance. Kherókh went and looked out onto the balcony. He came back and moved a couch in front of the door. Kherókh then informed me we would be climbing down the outside of the clanhouse.

We made our way out off the balcony and onto the ledges. I was in the lead and Kherókh followed. As I proceeded down the side of the clanhouse, I heard a breaking sound above me and saw Kherókh fall to the ground.  I made my way down to find him injured but still alive.
Unfortunately clan guards had filled the courtyard.

I looked at  Kherókh and told him, “Vengeance not all it cracked up to be.”

Kherókh  responded today a good day to die.

As we stood waiting for the humans to attack I asked him what would happen to my crab? He responded, “Don’t know.”

The guards rushed us and we killed many but soon they overpowered us. Kherókh went down under a pile of 10 humans and did not get up. I, Hékpa, too succumbed finally to the rush of guards.
In the end we had sent 30 guards with us to the Isles.

14th Thesru 2373
Clanmasters office Tlakotáni clanhouse.

The clanmaster was deep in thought trying to figure out why two Shén would attack a member of his clan. Luckily the guards had responded quickly dispatching the Shén at the cost of 30 dead and 10 wounded. He just wished it had happened somewhere else. Now he was going to spend the next couple of days listening to the OAL ask questions to which he had no answers
To Tiríku hiTlakotáni, Clanmaster, Béy Sü.

From Davé hiTlakotáni

Dearest Father,

I Wish to thank you for your hospitality and the quick use of the priests of Keténgku. My neck still makes a cracking noise when I turn it quickly to the left, but I am otherwise well.

I have asked the servant who gave you this message to wait until I had been on the road for several days before he delivered it to you. I am afraid this missive will bring up more questions than it buries but I will do my best.

The two Shén who attacked me are two of the Shén that were on the ship I was recently sailing. I will begin at the beginning.

I was requested by the clan master in Jakálla to travel to Ssamrís Isle. There I was met by an agent from Avanthár. He gave me a box and arranged passage on a ship. I was to take the box to Tsámra and deliver it to a woman named Fireface. It was a secret gift from the Petal Throne to help with the Livyáni resistance. This was easily accomplished. It was then that I was told that the ship I was travelling was not returning to the Empire but was in fact continuing on to the southern continent. I tried several times to reason with the captain, even going as far to demand that he take me, a Tlakotáni, back immediately. I was met by a wall of disinterest to my plight.

We traveled for days and days. At one point we pulled in to a small harbor for supplies. Some of the party went forth and came back with two slaves that were said to know the coast ahead and help guide the ship. One of the slaves looked oddly familiar to me. I spent some time racking my brain and it came to me. I had seen this man, though
younger then, in the clan house in Jakalla. This was a Clan cousin.
I arranged to purchase the slave and immediately freed him. I set him up with what comfort I could in my cabin. We talked for hours at a time on how he came to be in that city. A trust grew. A friendship grew.

Several days later we came into another place. I disembarked from the ship this time and was taken to a warehouse where I was given a large plate with many strange designs. I took it back to the ship and was told by my new friend to keep it close. We traveled for several weeks and arrived at a strange town. The people of this place came on board the ship and felt inclined to take whatever they wanted of ours and leave in its place their ragged goods. This was unacceptable to me so I locked myself in my room. After several days I was told that the captain had been taken by the villagers and killed. As we tried to leave the harbor the villagers stood on the shore and chanted some strange words. The wood of our ship began to rot at a rapid rate. We would sink quickly if something was not done. My new friend and advisor told me to return to the cabin. When we got back to the cabin, I took out the plate and the Tlakotáni gave me instructions in its use. I did as he told and the ship was magically transported to the harbor near Vrá. The captain decided we should sail to Jakálla. It was on the second day of our trip to Jakálla that the Tlakotáni confided in me that he could not return to the empire as he was in exile and that the OAL would seek him out and kill him if he were found out. I decided to help him and again activated the plate. We were transported to an inhospitable place. I activated it again, again someplace bad. On the third try we ended up in the middle of a desert. Before I could again activate the device there was a group of ship’s marines breaking down the door to our cabin. They attacked us. I killed one and the Tlakotáni killed several others.

 

We decided to flee the ship. We dashed up to the main deck and were confronted by the Shén warriors. One of the Shén, the one I believe attacked me at the clanhouse, grabbed me by the neck. Before any damage could be done the Tlakotáni touched the Shén and he collapsed. We dropped to the sand and dashed into the desert. We activated the plate and arrived at a place called the Isle of Eyes. We were met by one Mengán. I traded the plate to Mengán for safe passage for the Tlakotáni and me. The Tlakotáni and I gave each other our goodbyes and separated. I took a passage and ended up in Béy Sü. I have no idea where the Tlakotáni went.

The day of the attack I was told that a Shén wanted to see me. I had no idea it was the Shén from the ship until he attacked. I remember nothing after that.

As I said earlier, I think this will bring up more questions than it answers, but I felt you were at least owed some explanation. Should you ever journey to Sokátis I will be pleased to offer you hospitality.

Signed this day, 19th Fésru, 2373, Davé hiTlakotáni

 


[i] I had it in my notes as a mirror. GF.

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

6 Hasanpór 2372

At breakfast I met Mridék and Chatán, who looked a bit haggard. Chatán said that he heard that that the land to the south is desolate and filled with Hokún. I told him my concern for Vakúlaz and that he was still missing. I also mentioned that in all the time we’ve been here, we’ve never seen any Mu’ugalavyáni or any foreigners for that matter, even though the Mu’ugalavyáni have supposedly been in this city. Mridék was also concerned with finding out more about the demon creature, the Gemél, and more about their goddess. We approached Ardána, but she had no interest in the city at all and maintained that there was nothing of value there. She told us that the tower is a temple to their goddess and that of anybody here, Davé would know something.

So we went to Davé’s cabin. Through the door he told us that we would all be destroyed, that there was great danger, not only here, but also from many other planes. Once again he urged us to leave. He told us of how he had a plate that he obtained at the last port that showed him things. He refused to show us the plate. Mridóbu assured us that he was telling the truth and that we should believe him, but he claimed to know little about the situation himself.

With nothing left to do we asked some of the Shén to accompany us into the city to retrieve Vakúlaz. Mridék, Oténeb, and I, accompanied by two Shén attracted a little attention, but no one seemed frightened. We went back to the entrance of the old city that we remembered from yesterday, but once inside the gate, nothing seemed familiar. We stopped some urchins and asked them to guide us to Vakúlaz, and described his appearance. The fearless boys seemed more intent on playing with the Shén, which annoyed the Shén greatly.

Eventually they led us to a square tower. One boy went inside, but the rest of us stayed on the threshold. One of the boys tried to persuade us to go in, but I had no intent on traipsing through someone’s temple without permission, even if it looked abandoned. The first boy came back and told us that it looked as if the building was empty, but that Vakúlaz might be inside. He said that we probably wouldn’t understand, but that Vakúlaz could be in there, but would not want to leave.

We peered up at the temple. It looked to be five storeys high, but with no windows. One of the Shén poked his head inside. It was a great empty hall lit by high candelabras and a central staircase that led up to a great stone block. An altar perhaps?  With a feeling of dread we turned and found that our guides had run off. We tried to find our way back to the marketplace, but we quickly became lost and could find no one from whom to ask directions. All the buildings were closed and some gateways barred.

Eventually we found a building where some young men were hammering copper and bronze into bowls. They told us that one of them could guide us back to the city and asked us if there was anything we would like to buy. They told us that they mostly traded directly with other people, but also traded with other creatures across the desert. Mridék traded some cloth for two goblets. The metalsmith said that only one goblet contained his essence and the other did not. The metalsmith  explained that they created goblets that matched one’s soul. Some of the items they created had their own “spirit soul”; that they contained the essences that were attuned to the soul of a living being. Mridék asked them about the wax figures we’d seen. The smith explained that wax, metal, or other media could be used to make an object to contain a spirit soul for anyone and that by injuring or destroying the object, the act could cause pain or death to the person attuned to it. Mridék also asked about the Gemél demon. We were told that they came from the desert and that some people go with the Gemél voluntarily. The Gemél are not part of their religion, but are individual spirits. The goddess protects her worshippers from those demons. The smiths themselves often made copper bowls while looking at a Gemél, and by so doing, would incorporate its spirit soul into the bowl. By that means the Gemél could be controlled or destroyed. He pointed outside where we could see various copper and bronze pots outside doorways. He explained that those were wards set out to protect the residents from a Gemél and other hostile spirits. He explained that it was foolhardy to stay in the old city without wards like those. Foreigners like Vakúlaz are not harmed here, but they may harm themselves by coming here.

By now it was the heat of the day and they offered to let us stay there until the day was cooler. I was anxious and all the talk about demons and the manufacture of spirit soul bowls made me nervous. The commander felt assured that no harm would come to us, so we were led to a cool inner room and were given cool water and wine to drink. Mridék amused himself by trying to bang the Shén with a goblet hard enough to get a reaction, but the stoic Shén never flinched. I wondered if we were being watched from some secret place while our spirit souls were quickly being hammered into bowls and pots.

After a while we were led back to the city and returned to the ship. There was no sign of Vakúlaz.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is the end of the story as I have written it down. As I recall, in the game we all entered a nexus point either that day, or the day after. It was Phil’s way of ending an adventure without killing off the characters but it did leave the story open ended. For me it was often frustrating because I wanted more of Tékumel Prime, and often we would wander the planes rather aimlessly until Phil put us where he felt we should be, or just started another adventure.

As for Tékumel, Phil was always cagey about giving us too much information. He wanted the mystery to be there for us, and wanted to hold on to secrets to use for later adventures. Over the many years we gamed with him, Phil was amazingly consistent in the details of Tékumel.  He never had notes except for a couple of small tattered pieces of paper with calendars that were obscured by decades of pencil marks all over them. He would mark significant events on these and could somehow decipher the various pencil scratchings. When I looked at them I couldn’t make head or tail of what was written on them, but every evening he would make a note of the date we started and any significant events during the game. The only other notes were contained in a few boxes of 3×5 index cards. Each card had the name and details of a character, either a player, or an NPC. We all had cards for our characters that went back into the box at the end of each game. No cards were allowed to leave the basement. That way he could keep an archive of every known person on Tékumel.

But, as I said, the story ends here. I enjoyed recalling those evenings in the basement. I hope that you all have enjoyed it and that you found some useful bits for your own games. If there are any details I left out, then perhaps one of the other Thursday Night players will be able to fill in gaps or provide more information about what came after this.

I will continue to hunt around through my notes and see what other adventures I can put up here.

Giovanna

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

5 Hasanpór 2372

We woke around noon. There were plenty of aching heads, but soon the musicians began gathering again. Mridék spent the day trying, unsuccessfully, to find the local harbourmaster’s office. I decided that I wanted to trade for some of the local clothes, a couple of their clay pots and one of their remarkable clay knives.

At the ship, Davé woke to find that all his clothes were gone and native clothes were put in their place. He was not amused.

Chatán and I returned to the marketplace. It was mostly raggedy tents and lean-tos. The produce was such poor quality that even the Shén turned it down. Eventually I found a stall with an old woman who had some knives.  I was curious about the use of the clay material that they used for knives and weapons. Most of the knives the Naqsái make are plain, double-edged and almost two hói long. I picked up one and asked if I could trade it for the spare kilt I brought along. The woman indicated that the kilt was far too valuable and that it was worth the whole of her shop. I produced a small scarf and I was able to buy several knives, hammers, and tools. I also got one of their “writing shells”. Since there is no parchment or paper, all documents are written on thin slabs of clay or on large, flat, oval shells. The writing is curious and unintelligible. I have no idea if I bought a piece of a famous poem or the list of the woman’s inventory.

Another vendor we saw sold wax statues. These were supposed to represent one’s enemies and could be melted down to cause them harm.

Chatán decided that he wanted to trade for some perfume for his slave. We found a dealer who specialised in scents and oils for skin protection. It smells of fish oil and is applied to exposed areas of the skin to keep it from burning. Since the sun is so hot here, during the day most people wear clothes that cover their body for protection and coat any exposed skin with the oil. The merchant also carried jars of scent similar to those used at the Temple of Dlamélish back in Tsolyánu. He only had perfumes used by men to attract women, but there were none for attracting men. We were told that we could buy a scent like that in the Old City. We sent one of my servants back to the ship with our purchases and the merchant provided us with a boy who could be a guide for us in the Old City.

On the way to the Old City we passed a caravan. Since they know nothing of chlén, carts, or palanquins, everything must be carried by hand. Caravans here consist of many men who have a thin plaited fabric that cross their foreheads and go back over their shoulders to support a sack that hangs at the middle of their backs. They dress in long robes and trek into the desert to trade with the nomadic tribes there. Occasionally we saw people who were plainly more official, or of a higher status. They wore much newer clothes that were often dyed in different colours. All of the local people also wore cosmetics of red clay mixed with oil. It gave their skin a more even-looking colour and texture.

We passed through a decrepit brick gateway that marked the entrance to the Old City. From there we passed through many series of gates and alleys. The Old City is composed of short, squarish buildings about two storeys high, constructed either of clay or stones made up of compressed shell. The roofs are flat and many have tents or awnings so the residents might enjoy the cooler breezes from the ocean. The town goes inland and eventually up into the feet of the low hills that border the desert. Occasionally we saw old neglected gardens with the dried stalks of dead plants. Our guide told us that it had been twenty or maybe thirty years since anything bloomed there.

Eventually we stopped at a dark doorway. A pleasant looking middle aged woman greeted us, but I still felt wary and uncomfortable. I came to understand that this place was a kind of safehouse and brothel. One could come here and hide out for a while. We all went in except for my servant, who opted to wait outdoors. The woman began busying herself with bottles and jars of cosmetics. She told us that inside she had a room where people could worship the goddess. When pressed, she explained that the goddess tells people how to behave and foretells people’s futures.

She offered us cosmetics with scents. Every scent has an effect that is tailored to the individual. For me she offered a scent that indicated that I was shy and virginal, but willing to experiment. For Oténeb she chose a scent that would create the illusion that she was veiled and mysterious. We were told to keep at least a dhába away from Chatán, since he might not be able to control himself.

A woman entered from the back room and wanted to take Chatán back with her. The older woman laughed and indicated that Chatán was not well equipped enough for her, and handed him a salve that would increase his endowment. Chatán was immediately hauled away. After being assured he would come to no harm, Oténeb and I decided to return to the ship, asking the boy to guide us back. When we stepped outside, there was no sign of my servant, and after a brief search we walked back to the ship to see if he was there.

When we reached the dock, I tipped the boy with a piece of cloth. He was very pleased.

On the ship there were a number of local merchants and girls. Mridék was trying to find out some information about the demon woman we encountered months ago on board the ship. He was told that we would have to seek out the information in the Old City. When he asked about how one would defend oneself from such a creature, they told him that there were no defences, and continued to tell him that he needed to seek the answers in the tall building in the centre of the Old City. I turned to Oténeb and asked about the goddess they worship here. She told me that she had no name.

A quick look around the ship revealed that my servant hadn’t returned and that Vakúlaz was also missing. I was concerned because Vakúlaz was so reluctant to leave the ship.  Trying not to worry, I took my shell plaque with the Naqsái writing on it to see if Mridóbu could interpret it. I went down to Davé’s cabin, but he wouldn’t let me in. He sounded terrified, and after some convincing, he allowed me to slip the plaque under the door. It was quickly slid out again and I was told that Mridóbu was unable to read it. I continued to look for Vakúlaz. A couple of sailors told me that he went into the Old City looking for some fun. Things seem to be getting more and more out of hand. Vakúlaz and my servant are missing, Davé is hiding…

Chatán had returned to the ship and immediately went to sleep. Mridék was also indisposed. Having no one else to talk to, I visited Tékuna in his cabin. He was studying a plaque similar to mine that he also brought back from the city, although his was made from local clay. He was also concerned about Vakúlaz.

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.

mbor2

m’bór

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

2 Hasanpór 2372

The New Year begins.

There was little celebration over the Intercalary Days, certainly nothing like the celebrations in Tsolyánu. I am a little disappointed, but will make up for it when we reach land.

Today the coast turned towards the south after following a rocky headland. Mridék called a meeting to decide what our goals will be when we reach Dalái. The consensus was that some of us will continue to observe and note natural phenomena, while others will scout out what the Mu’ugalavyáni are up to and try to ascertain the best course for Tsolyánu to take in stopping them. As usual Davé requested that we stop now and return to Tsolyánu.

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

 Turúgdashe

The shore is rocky and sandy. Sometimes the sand is as black as a moonless night.

 

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