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

Archive for the category “Adventures”

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

Ikáner

An island was sighted off the starboard. Actually it was more of a rock than an island. Tékuna was worried and warned us that these rocks often turn out to be gigantic beasts. Vakúlaz took us closer and we saw that his was not only an island, but that it had shipwrecked survivors. We lowered a dinghy and brought them aboard. Our new members were three Mu’ugalavyáni officers, two men and one woman. They were bound for Dalái to set up an outpost when their ship was destroyed in the night by the ákho.  The survivors spoke Tsolyáni well and are obviously people of quality. The woman’s name is Ardána. We also had Utúnish Qáran, a priest of Hrsh, and the captain Mshkúmish. The said that they had been to Dalái before. Ardána seemed to be their leader and often spoke for the others. Mridóbu said that he could tell that she was a high member of a secret clan. It was arranged that she bunk with me.

Toward evening we saw lights on the shore, and a village set in among the rocks. The water was deep and clear here and so we decided to anchor for the night. We made plans to trade for fresh water in the morning.

Two villagers came paddling out to us in a boat made out of bundled reeds. The older man spoke in strange language that Tékuna explained was a dialect of Naqsái. The man told us that theirs was a small village, but that the great Naqsái are farther on. While the villager negotiated with Mridék for water, the boy, who we learned was the man’s son, jumped off the boat and swam to shore as quickly as any fish. He returned swimming and holding a box over his head. Once on board he showed us that the box contained a feast of local delicacies. There were long, fleshy grass-like vegetables, rice, and fish. I was more fascinated by the box which was made of a translucent white, light-weight material that was both vitreous and slightly flexible. It also had a close-fitting lid that seemed to lock into place without any catches. The man noticed my interest and said that the box came from an ancient cave back in the mountains. He said that there were many rare and unusual things there. He expressed interest in trading the box for my tunic and sandals. I quickly concluded my bargain and was quite happy with the transaction.

More of the reed boats arrived. Fortunately the captain prevented more people from boarding. He called out to them saying that we’d be glad to visit their village tomorrow for trade and feasting. The villagers continued to try and climb on to the ship, insisting that our sailors and crew must come to their party tonight, and that their women would welcome our crew members with open arms. Saíb quietly informed us that these were dangerous creatures – not even human. In Livyánu these creatures live in caves and are called Sithéb. In Tsolyánu they are known as Srámuthu.

Vakulaz managed to remove the few creatures that managed to clamber aboard and we made ready to sail. The villagers shouted protests, but the marines took their places on deck, ready to fire a volley of arrows. I worried about navigating around shoals and traps, but we made it out into the channel. As we left, the marines let off one volley that held off the villagers. Ardána told us that she had had encountered these Sithéb before. The Mu’ugalavyáni put an entire village to the torch, but even more of the creatures poured out of the desert to attack them.

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Journey to the Naqsái Lands

30 Dohála 2371

Just as dawn was breaking we saw a low dome-shape floating in the sea. It appeared to be a little over two dháiba at the highest point and was a glittering brown colour. Even from this distance we could see the immense thing was rolling over. It stopped when it looked at us with one huge eye. The sailors were terrified, but to their credit they kept working. I admit it was an unnerving experience. Fortunately the ákho showed no interest in us and it slipped below the water with barely a ripple.

We skirted the area and left it behind. Soon we began to pass debris from a shipwreck. This was most likely to be the work of the ákho and the reason that the Mu’ugalavyáni ship fled past us so quickly.

Bodies floated by. We didn’t see any with tattoos, so we assumed they must be Mu’ugalavyáni rather than Livyáni.  We sailed on as quickly as we could and as the day wore on the stench from the sea became nauseating.

Ahko

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

29 Dohála 2371

Mridék asked me to look at a box of medicines and herbs that one of the marines bought. The box was made of leather sewn at the sides with a close-fitting lid. I didn’t recognise many of the herbs and medicinals since some were dried, some were ground to a powder, and none was labelled. Tékuna recognised about half of them. One bundle had a salve to cure the bite of the “foot ants”. These ants live in the sand along shorelines and impart numerous bites to people’s feet and ankles. The bites sting and can cause swelling, but are not toxic or debilitating. There were also sticks of a particular wood that was effective for staunching blood.  I took the box to my cabin in order to label those items we could identify.

As we pulled out of the harbour a Mu’ugalavyáni man of war came sailing at a quick pace from the northwest. We were unable to turn around as we were hemmed in by sandbanks and the odd submerged buildings. The oars were quickly put to use and the marines assumed their positions on deck. The Mu’ugalavyáni ship passed the mouth of the bay without a pause, and apparently without noticing us. After waiting to see if there were more ships coming, we pulled out into the main channel and continued on sailing northwest. We decided to sail on during the night in spite of the shoals, but also posted extra guards.

During the night we could hear drumming and could see fires and figures leaping on the shore. The sounds of flutes and other noisy instruments drifted to us from the shore. Large animals were being roasted on spits.

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

29 Dohála 2371

We were told that the villages continued along the beaches, interrupted by occasional ruins. The villages are located near rivers that run down to the sea, so fresh water shouldn’t be a problem for quite some time. The weather was fine with a light wind. The sailors spent the day working the deck with holey stones. Small boats pulled alongside us with trade goods. I bought some unusual fruit that grew on trees in the interior lands. They were yellow and green striped with a rind that resembled a melon. Inside the fruit was divided into many small sections.

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

28 Dohála 2371

Finally there are signs of civilisation. We put in at a neat city of white roofed buildings that run right down to the shore and some into the sea. The Shén moored the ship to rings set in the roofs of some of the buildings that are half submerged. Oténeb told us that the buildings are made from bricks carved from densely packed shells. We were still some way out, so we took a dinghy to the shore. The villagers came out to trade walking along both roads and gangways. They were clothed in flowing robes that covered their bodies and spoke in at least a half dozen unknown languages.  I noticed that some of them carried stone weapons. They offered us oils, liquors, incense, glassware, and perfumes. Mridék traded for a pot that resembled Davé’s dagger. The design that looked like the seven lights we saw in the night sky seemed to be popular here. We learned that the pot was a replica of a much older one, and Mridék was invited to the workshop where it was made. There he saw a much older pot that had similar decorations and an inscription that ran in a spiral down the inside.

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

26 Dohála 2371

We continued along the coast, noting the ruins that sailors use for landmarks.

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

25 Dohála 2371

We sighted a bay with a shallow stream. Tékuna and a Shén went ashore. The water there was safe and plentiful. We refilled the barrels as the Shén basked in the sun.

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

24 Dohála 2371

Along the shore we saw ruined farms, and in the distance we could see groups of vaguely humanoid creatures that appeared to shine and glitter. They rode on six-legged beasts. I was told that these were Hokún riding on mutated versions of their own race. We kept well away from the shore.

Earlier we saw a long, flat, black creature that made for the ship. It looked like a large sheet of glossy black fabric. A sailor told me it was a nró and that it was actually composed of hundreds of tiny creatures. We did our best to avoid it.

Today we reached a rather large river. The slave Aramísh said that the Hokún avoid the area because of the Ssú that live there. Needless to say, we did not put in there. We continued on past dunes and scrubby palms. At night we anchored and kept a special watch for anything unusual. There was no sign of the seven lights from the night before.

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

23 Dohála 2371

Our water retrieval operation was nearly complete when a column of dust was seen in the desert. We decided to pack up in a hurry and continue up the coast.

Davé had found a dagger in the water up at the tower that he now felt was inhabited or cursed. When he went to his cabin he found his slave Mridóbu changed to a dripping, pulsing mass, almost as if he had been turned inside out. Davé attempted to leave the ship in one of dinghies, but Mridék persuaded him to stay. Davé reluctantly agreed, but he moved his quarters onto the deck and said that he would only drink water that was older, or that he had magically produced himself.

That evening Mridék called a meeting. We learned from Chatán’s slave Oténeb that the dagger wasn’t cursed, but instead would protect Davé. Mridék asked to see the dagger, and when he touched it the symbols on the blade glowed blue. Mridék then went to Mridóbu’s body and touched it with the dagger. Mridóbu was immediately restored and whole.

That night we saw seven unusual lights in the sky. Towards the shore we saw translucent green glowing rocks.

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

22 Dohála 2371

We continued to fill our water barrels. Chatán spent his time fishing and pulled out some great, flat fish that tasted very good. The landscape here had little to offer. Up near the tower one could see a desert stretching inland. Looking along the shore in both directions there are beaches that receded into scrubby forest that went on until it reached the base of low hills. Beyond the hills was desert.

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