Nov 13, 2019 8:55 PM
A Nick invents early celestial navigation and goes out and meets Azan
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Anik now has a reliable way to get home again from distant lands. Observing the arc of the stars the world-god Sokal spread across the sky, as with all the other things that are fixed and unchanging like the mountains and moon, Anik realized that he could see it in the stars when he moved north or south on the ships. Sokal's design truly is a wonder. There is so much hidden meaning, hidden usefulness. It would be impossible for something this grand and perfect to be natural, surely.

He could not convince anyone to sail to the far north with him at first, even as he demonstrated the idea, so he traded much of his accumulated wealth, half his herd of pigs, for a small catamaran. Trade with Gova, on the coasts, is always good - they have curious foods, strange kinds of wood, and beautiful stone, and happily exchange those for pigs, cowrie shells, weaving and clothes, and spices.

He set out, alone, straight north, carrying all those things that the Gova like and hoping to return with stories and goods of other people. He found ocean sailing surprisingly difficult - perhaps the most difficult task of his life. He thought he could sail forever and never find more people - perhaps the sea was unending emptiness to the north, like so many claimed?

But then he found land. A place called Tunnas. He proved a quick study with their strange way of speaking, and they were fascinated by the woven goods - baskets, furniture, and hats - and the spices. Sailing back was equally difficult. He was blessed that the one storm that threatened him passed quickly, and only cost him some goods, not his life. So, he came back a month later, with several baskets full of silphium, with cleverly made sandals, with curious kinds of food, with a few strong timbers of wood the like of which does not grow in his home.

His wife, despondent and anxious about his first trip, welcomed him back very enthusiastically. So enthusiastically, he joked, that he'd probably be getting another kid soon, since she didn't like the taste of silphium. He rested some more, he spoke excitedly with everyone about the strange land he'd found and how he got home. He was a big man, a hero. Suddenly, everyone wanted to learn how to find the way home by the stars - to sail south or north until they align, and east until you return to the home islands. They wrote songs about him and held feasts. He could probably have gotten another wife, cemented the burst of fame into real importance, maybe even become a contender to be the next king, if he wanted to, but he didn't bother.

Instead, he built a larger, better boat, using those strong lengths of wood purchased from Tunnas. He designed it to tolerate the rolling swell of the ocean, to be tolerable to live on for weeks at a time with fresh water in sealed leather bags and clay-lined compartments keeping trade-things dry. He practiced sailing it with the help of a few other men, mostly the youngest who were strong enough for it, wife-less and eager to join him in his next adventure, and he practiced finding his way by the stars.

He went back to Tunnas twice more. Other men started sailing other boats from Kisla to Tunnas, sailing the known route that Anik had charted and bringing more trade back and forth. So Anik took the name 'Sovan', making it up from nowhere and declaring that it meant 'explorer', and set out again with his small crew of young adventurers, bringing his wife Salas and their son with him. He stocked well with more food and water at Tunnas, and went further and further north.

Sonas and Lia and Niazon were all interesting. He does relatively little trading, yet, planning to come back to these places once he is satisfied with his northerly progress and trade knowing more about what everyone has to offer, and thus get as much wealth as possible from this venture. They gave him strange warnings about this next place: Azan.

He sails slowly after passing the mouth of the river, looking for a likely place to put ashore.

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That’s not any kind of boat she’s ever seen before. Could be anyone or anything on it.

She asks Mila to watch from a distance and warn their people if anything bad happens, and runs closer to the shore, waving to whoever’s watching.

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He has the boys bring the sails in and make for shore. He can't really tell whether there are rocks underwater but the catamaran's draft is shallow. It's perhaps twenty feet across and thirty five long, and has a small house built on top of the platform spanning the two hulls, four men in strange, light clothes - young, except for one, they don't look like warriors - and an unfamiliar sail design. The bearded man waves back and shouts a polite greeting in Gova-speak, Tunnas-speak, and finally what little he learned in Lia and Niazon, as the boat approaches the beach.

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That last one is close enough; she cups her hands around her mouth and yells it back.

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"Hello! I speak not much! Boat far away! I trade of far away things!"

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Yeah, good enough. “Can I get a closer look at your boat!”

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Well, they're already making for shore.

"Boat here? Trade here?"

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It takes a few minutes to get close, break out oars for the last bit, and drag the boat up onto the sand. The three other men, plus a woman and a little boy from inside the boat-house, stretch their legs on the beach and chatter unintelligibly.

 

"I am Anik. I have things you have not seen from far away. I want to speak this way of speaking more and learn and trade."

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“I’ve never seen a boat like yours before. What else do you have?”

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"I have woven things. Hat, furniture, basket. I have spices from home, Lia did not have. I have baby pigs, meat animal, eats most things, good meat. I have salt meat and dry fruit. I have fish."

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None of that is weapons and the boat doesn’t look big enough to fit...anyone else, probably, especially if they’re from as far away as they say they are.

“Can you show me? I want to see the inside of the boat, too.”

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"No, no, boat is mine. Not trade boat. Go home in boat."

There is some kind of fishing spear on the deck, on a closer look.

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“Oh, no, definitely not trade boat. Just look at boat.”

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"Look at boat here. Boat has my things on it."

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“Okay, I’m lost. What?”

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She’s not even sure what he’s objecting to or if it’s anything she actually meant.

”Why not?”

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"The boat is mine. You can't go on it. They can go on it," he gestures at the group hanging out behind him, "They are from Kisla, I am from Kisla. This is Azan?"

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“This is Azan,” she confirms. “Only Kislai can go on your boat?”

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"Only Kislai today. Maybe my friends tomorrow."

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“Understood. Thank you.”

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"Do you want to trade? Do you have to talk to Azani and say that we are not mohgahi? Mohgah is, come in, kill and take things, then leave. We are not mohgahi."

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“Yeah, I’ll let people know you don’t seem like a danger. Should I bring people here or do you want me to show you the town?”

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"Bring people here, I think. Until we learn more speaking. Better to be in one place."

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“Okay!”

She can go update Mila on the situation and see who wants to go talk to or trade with some really foreign foreigners, no really, they’re from past Lia.

That ends up taking a while.

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