The Tékumel Foundation

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

Archive for the tag “Mu’ugalavyani”

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

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.

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

15 Pardán 2371

Near dawn a red-sailed cutter crossed our bow, and the Mu’ugalavyáni sailors told us to heave to. After they boarded they asked if we were carrying Livyáni agents or contraband. When they saw our Shén, the Mu’ugalavyáni checked them carefully. Mu’ugalavyá was having problems with Shényu and the told us that our Shén will be interred when we reached Tsámra. We had heard rumours in Foshaá that a new Mu’ugalavyá was being built on the southern continent and that Linyaró was impressing Shén to work as road labourers. The Mu’ugalavyáni put two of their sailors on board to “help” us navigate into Tsámra. We could see the mountains that are north of Kápranoi Bay. The little Mu’ugalavyáni ship left to the south.

Later Mridék called a meeting. I attended along with one of the Shén, Chatán, and Vakúlaz. The commander believed that the invisible being was the Naqsái girl that we assumed had jumped off the ship. Our plan was first to enlist the help of Moróch, the Naqsái man to see if he could help flush out the girl. Marines were sent to bring him.

Having had little sleep for the past couple days, I went to my cabin to get some rest. Near dinner time one of my servants woke me and told me that I was wanted by the commander. Mridék had set extra guards on the food stores on the chance that invisible creatures might need food. One of the guards heard a disturbance in the chamber with the water casks. He found Moróch tied up and nearly drowned. Moróch said that he’d been struck and carried down there. After he’d recovered for a bit he told us that Tikhá was a powerful sorceress in his land. He knew that the murders were not done by Tikhá, but by her evil shade. In life she was a follower of the goddess, and while her goddess would have more power in their land, he still didn’t know how to stop her. Moróch believed that the evil shade possessed Tikhá’s body when they were captured and escaped on the dinghy. The transformation took place slowly and she was still new to this state of being. This could be to our advantage. Unfortunately she might soon be done with murdering our crew and may try to take over a new body. I wondered if she wasn’t murdering to kill, but was just unsuccessful at incorporating herself into a new body. Moróch had no idea how we could stop her. Mridék sent one of the Shén down to guard Davé. It was going to be another long night.

I went up on deck to see if the captain needed some help. One of the Mu’ugalavyáni was in the mood to proposition me. Even if our countries were on friendly terms, I would have still rebuffed the ugly thing. I could not wait to be rid of them. As I turned away there was a loud splintering crash. One of the Shén had buried his axe in the boards of the deck.  He said that he saw a “rippely” thing and took a chop at it. He said that the rippely thing went over the side. Chatán looked where the Shén pointed, but saw nothing. As the Shén started to leave, he yelled. He swore that he’d just seen Arogái in the companionway and then Arogái dissolved. Just then the Shén and Chatán both saw the rippely thing; it looked almost like a disturbance in the air, or like looking through a clear, shallow stream. There was no time to consider what we saw because explosions were coming from the cabin below. Chatán and I both ran down. The atmosphere was cloying with magical energy. I readied myself for the Gate of the Grey Pentacle. When we reached Davé’s cabin the Shén guarding the door would not let us in under any circumstances. Chatán had to run and fetch the commander, the only person the stubborn Shén would listen to. Once Mridék arrived, the door was opened. Inside the room was a tall grey cylinder and scorch marks on the wall. I attempted an elicitation spell, but couldn’t concentrate in the confusion. Suddenly the cylinder opened and Davé stepped out. He told us that something crawled through the window. Tékuna examined the window and found a slick, dry membrane on the wall just below it. He pried the substance loose and we took it to Moróch, since none of us could identify it. Moróch said that it was a piece of the body of the servant of the goddess. He said that it was useless and that she will have mutated. Tikhá could take whatever form she wishes to imitate now. I asked Saíb if she would be able to tell if a person was true or a semblance made by this demoness. Before she could answer we heard screams from Davé’s cabin. We ran to find a Shén fighting with a gooey sleeping mat. He bashed it into the wall, but it rebounded and attempted to wrap itself around the Shén. Chatán grabbed a lamp from its holder and threw it at the gooey mass. I pulled myself together, reached out to the power available in the planes beyond while making the gestures I’d practiced day and night. For a moment my senses were overwhelmed by roiling pearly grey mists. When I could focus my vision on this plane again, the room was normal. The fire was out, the entity was gone and so was the Shén. I asked Saíb if I was successful. I was. The thing was gone.

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

12 Pardán 2371

We continued to sail down the coast. Small Livyáni craft came alongside our ship to sell us fresh fish. One of the Shén bought a gigantic crab, apparently for another stew. Rumours have been circulating about an invisible stowaway or a ghostly woman seen on the quarterdeck. Mridék was very serious when he told me about this. He seemed to believe the stories. I began to doubt his sobriety.

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

11 Pardán 2371

Foshaá at last! In the distance we could see the tall, white pyramidal towers that are dedicated to the gods of the Livyáni. When we got closer we could see the small, neat houses with flat-topped roofs. It looked peaceful and a little crowded. There were many red hulled ships in the harbour. We were met by two harbourmasters, one Livyáni and one Mu’ugalavyáni. In their interview with our commander they tried to hire the Shén off our ship. They need Shén as labourers. The commander stood firm and said that the Shén stayed with us.

Arrangements were made for re-provisioning and we were told that if we wanted to buy anything that we must obtain certificates that we must present when we leave.

It was a perfect day with a light breeze. I accompanied Zagár in to town along with my servants. As we walked he pointed out that some of the temples were shut and locked. Other buildings have been razed and ploughed under. But despite the changes, he had no problem finding his way around. There were Mu’ugalavyáni everywhere, but they were relaxed and casual. Most of the Livyáni we saw kept to the background.

Zagár ran into a Livyáni he knew and was warned against going into some of the older neighbourhoods. There are Livyáni partisans in the city led by a woman called Fireface. Trading was difficult here. The Mu’ugalavyáni confiscate anything they want. If Zagár was interested, his friend could connect him with some black market dealers who could provide him with antiquities looted from the Opal Palace and the Obsidian Palace. It was clear to me that Zagár had no interest in this, but politely explained that he may consider obtaining such items when we returned on our way back to Tsolyánu.

As we walked back to the ship Zagár and I speculated as to whether our Naqsái passenger would leave us here or continue on with us until we reached his country. Moróch had been sullen and withdrawn, no doubt feeling out of place among so many foreign people.

Once back at the ship we spoke to Vakuláz. We were to head to Tsámra, then Yrá and then a long trip around the twin points of Alhjjár and Sarír. From there we will make port at Ssorvá on the extreme south of the continent.

In the afternoon we had all noticed a horrid stench. Prohibitions or no, I was compelled to cast a “control self” spell on myself to keep from retching. It turned out to be the Shén cooking their miserable stew that they enjoy so much. Demons of the nether planes only know what noxious bottom feeding creatures they pulled out of the harbour to put in their stew pot. Later the reptiles all left for the marketplace.

A little later the commander took the ships papers and sufficient money (40 shidóc equals 80 káitars) so that we may officially leave. We left port in the late afternoon. Once in the open water we took out the oars to turn the ship around. In the evening I watched the coast. It was so pretty in the late sunset with the lights on the shore and the small craft passing us. It was hard to believe that there was so much misery and destruction here.

There has been a problem with the Shén. Apparently their noxious stew was not some carrion fish, but human flesh. They admitted that they found a human body and ate it. They said they couldn’t identify it because it was headless. Our commander made the reptiles agree that they will not eat any crew members. Mridék later told me that a skull had been found in the bilge along with a clay pipe similar to the ones used for sipping drugs in Haída Pakála. He had no idea if the Shén had anything to do with it. In spite of all that the night passed peacefully.

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

4-9 Pardán 2371

Mu’ugalavyáni must navigate differently than Tsolyáni. We have yet to catch sight of Foshaá.

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

2 Pardán 2371

A ship with red sails headed toward us. Mu’ugalavyáni. The marines are called up. An officer called out to us that we were to prepare for boarding from customs officials. A grappling hook was thrown over and padded logs were lowered to protect the ships as they were drawn together. We threw a rope ladder down to their ship. The Mu’ugalavyáni captain and his guard came aboard. He interviewed our captain and commander and then briefly talked to the rest of us. We learned that we were 100 Tsán north of Foshaá and could be there tomorrow. We were warned not to use magic of any sort in Livyánu. Zagár arranged for a small gift to go with the captain and after he left, the ships disengaged. We continued west and saw a range of low hills to the north. They marched straight down to the sea. As we continued, we saw small houses and lush green lands.

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

21 Fésru 2371

I’d heard there was a temple of Thúmis on this island, so I rose early and took my servants into the town. The weather was damp and cloudy. It was quite a hike since the temple was located at the top of the peak. When we got there we found that it was a simple pavilion, covered in vines and surrounded by fragrant tetél flowers. We sat on a garden bench, grateful for a rest. Presently we were met by an old woman who said she was the caretaker. I complemented her on how she maintained such a beautiful garden. It must not be easy at her age, especially since it looked as though there are few to help her in her work here. After resting and chatting for a bit, I gave her 5 káitars as a donation to the temple. She was very grateful and considered it a generous sum, although back in Jakálla it would be almost an insult.

We both heard voices and she ushered us into her little hut just beyond the pavillion. I didn’t understand the language, but I assumed that it was Mu’ugalavyáni. The men looked in the window and spoke to the old woman. The old woman understood them and said that I was a worshipper at the temple. It turned out that they were scouts watching for a ship that was supposed to arrive soon. They were on patrol and would return every kíren until the ship arrived. I was afraid of what they might do to us or the temple, but fortunately they were not as bad as I have heard the Mu’ugalavyáni can be. They tossed some of their coins in the window and left.

I needed to meet the ship’s officers back in town at the Tsolyáni commandant’s office, but I was afraid for the old woman and her beautiful little temple. She assured me that the Mu’ugalavyáni have no interest in her or vandalism. She did warn me that they do have agents in the marketplace and that even the harbourmaster is suspect.

When we got back to the town I realised that reaching the Tsolyáni commandant’s building would take far too long. Instead I headed straight to the ship and told the captain what I’d learned. He sent people off to assemble all the officers and I was sent down to the refectory to gather anyone I can find there. We had a brief meeting in the captain’s quarters where I repeated my story about the Mu’ugalavyáni and how they expected a ship any moment. The last of the fresh water had just been loaded. We made plans to sail immediately. The plan was to head south of Ssámris in order to avoid any Mu’ugalavyáni that might come from the north.

We set sail without incident.

Arogái told me that there was nothing worthwhile in the marketplace. Even the fruit was bad. So, I missed nothing.

Three kíren before sunset ships were sighted north of us. We were headed west now. Everything was tense and quiet. A couple more ships were sighted, so we turned the ship farther south to avoid any ships from Ssámris. The cook and his hands brought food up to the deck so that everyone could be on watch. It was a spiced mush, actually quite good.

Everything was intense and rather exciting. The night was clear and we were able to navigate easily by watching the planets. I took the first watch as navigator so Arogái could go below decks and get some rest. Soon we heard a peculiar hooting noise. The captain looked very worried. He spotted a Hlúss ship to the north-west. We bore to the south-west and were told not to stray from out course.

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