Stargate 1889 16 August 2012
w/ Lady Cecile Featheringstonehaugh (“Fanshaw”), Adelaide “Addy” Edison, Capt Edouard “Ed” Roche, “Martha” Mbali (Zulu), Major Alexander Lycoll Marquisse of Waterford (& his Indian batman), Seamus O’Rourke & Emmeline Kelly O’Rourke (& her dog, Rowan)
Cecile learned that all the nice things the caravan has been doing for us has been to ‘pay’ for the tribe members we freed as they are considered our slaves. No way to refuse without insulting them; they also gave us money. The money is common metal with precious metal bonded, in platonic solids with a hole in the center. I took apart a corner and found a bit of orichalc involved in its creation. Some of the coins were a stick of metal. The quality of the metal and the size is what determined the value of the coin. Coins were from Calla Moralin. Sticks were from the other big nation.
Interestingly, the orichalc is slightly different here than it is at home. It seems more plentiful, too. While the others are busy trying new cuisine, listening to stories and whatever else they’re doing to amuse themselves, I am studying the metal.
Mrs.O’Rourke found a new pet; a lemur-like lizard. And she bought a new antelope to go with the one she captured earlier. The lizard eats plants, and Scotch. He goes quite flat to flee. She called the lizard, ‘Pancakes’. One of the locals gave her a mating pair of gashants, too. The locals seem quite impressed by the horses and Rowan; nothing local has nearly the much fur. Oddly, considering how much cooler it is here.
We took advantage of the market to see the local trade goods. The weapons are primitive; spears, bows, swords, with the occasional crossbow, etc. There was even a bow using pulleys. I have seen them theorized, but had never seen one. Some of the art and some of the items, while primitive, appear to be copies of more advanced technology. Mrs. O’Rourke bought samples from the herbalists and took lessons from one of them on a bit of the local herblore; something analogous to laudanum.
Interestingly, their wagons have leaf shock absorbers. They have forges to work the metal and only do major metal working in the cities. The Major and I both bought one of those pulley bows. How intriguing. I bought a local blanket; it gets quite cold at night.
The market ran four days and we stayed the entire time. Our original hosts, the Barrex left before it ended.
We followed the canal. Where it hasn’t been filled by sand, the canal is made of a porous, glass-like material that is very difficult to sample. I finally had to shoot it to get a chip. It has no signs of tool marks.
We were two days into the three day journey to Meepsoor and we found damp sand in the canal. Not much farther, we found plants; patches of brambles. It’s a major canal and, unless my tools deceive me, a mile wide. There are smaller canals that branch off of it. In places, we spotted the remnants of broken bridges and the in other places the canal narrowed to a mere few hundred feet. We finally found one mostly intact bridge to use to cross the canal. By all appearances, it was constructed to permit passage of some vehicle under it.
One of the soldiers saw movement in one of the brambles. It was not a very big bramble patch, only a few feet high. Mrs. O’Rourke went to investigate with the Major covering her. She spotted three beasts, partially concealed by the foliage. From her description, they appeared to resemble, 6-legged unicorns. They were half-heartedly nibbling on the brambles. She stated her intention of trying to tame them. She said their mouths appear almost atrophied; like their diet is mush, rather than brambles. The trio of soldiers behind her kept their rifles ready, just in case.
Mrs. O’Rourke offered the beasts varied foods, they seemed most interested in the mushy fruit she found. Mr. O’Rourke spotted some flattened grass, with a dead gashant. Suddenly, one of the unicorns, for lack of a better description, pointed at one of the soldiers. It charged a soldier, soon followed by the other two. The first soldier was gored quite thoroughly. Mrs. O’Rourke yelled, “Don’t kill it!”
Mrs. O’Rourke managed to get the one with a bloody horn to back off. The remaining pair of soldiers fired into the air to scare off the beasts, successfully.
The physician rushed over at the sound of gunfire. Mrs. O’Rourke noticed that the unicorn’s horn was no longer bloody; apparently the blood was sucked into it. Dr. Medino managed to patch up the soldier. He’ll have to be carried for a couple days. He’s also anemic.
According to Mrs. O’Rourke, the unicorn, a female, has a horn with tiny perforations and it sucks blood and other liquids through. It also secretes an anticoagulant. The Martian name is glashgar. The trio of gashant corpses all had one hole each and were exsanguinated. The animal mashed up plants with her teeth and sucked the liquid with her horn.
By the end of the day, we saw open water in the bottom of the canal. The next day, as we approached Meepsor, some damage to the canal spilled water into the neighboring sand. The canal is a hundred feet deep in the center, with shallower edges.
This city is more horizontal than Erebus. There are a few towers and minarets, but mostly low buildings. They are made of a pale yellow stone with stripes of metal. The stone is finely worked but different than that of Erebus. The structural details are similar; door shapes, windows, etc. The outer parts of the city are in poor repair and some debris has been piled into makeshift walls.
The canal runs straight into the city and there are boats in it. They don’t leave the city by much. The locals are paler and stand up straighter. They also have three fingers and the lump on the back; although theirs is less pronounced than that of the Hill Martians.
Suddenly, some of them appeared over a hill. They are holding guns and yelled, “Halt” in trade Martian. The guns are definitely local manufacture. The Major said that they’re bluffing because their guns have no holes. The guns have an odd glowing bulb on the tip. How…intriguing.
They asked where we’re from and Cecile told them, ‘not of any city with which you are familiar.’ They asked anyway and we replied, “Ireland, England, United States of America.” One leaned over to the speaker, “They’re obviously mad, but they’re not High Martians.”
Cecile told them, “We came seeking knowledge, and potentially trade. We’d like to visit the temple.”
They assumed we were spies and were willing to take us into the city, but only if we gave over our weapons. The weapons are quite interesting. I wonder what makes them glow.
We discussed matters in English. We are quite unwilling to disarm and only half of their weapons are glowing. Capt Ed tried to persuade their captain that in our culture, to give up our personal weapons was an affront worse than death.
As he was starting to explain matters, another Canal Martian rode up on a gashant. There’s a compromise, we remain outside the city while he sends words to his commander. The new Martian is wearing robes and looked a little surprised by us. He pulled the Commander aside and they had a short argument.
He approached us and genuflected, “Welcome, Holy Ones, to our city.” He is a priest and ‘recognized’ us as Priests of Set. He arranged for us to have quarters on the edge of the city. It’s a little rundown but at least it’s shelter. They offered food and drink. They avoided the glashgar and poked the High Martian a couple times until Mrs. O’Rourke stopped them. One of them whispered, “They’ve tamed a High Martian.”
Eventually, a higher official arrived. He wanted to make sure our accommodation was acceptable; it’s clean at least. He told us the Tribune will arrive soon, so we won’t have to wait long.
While we waited, Mrs. O’Rourke asked for some food for the glashgar. They bought in a couple small, ill gashants. She was a little reluctant, but they couldn’t afford any younger animals and had no slaves. The leader offered us a guard but Mrs. O’Rourke, after a look at the guard who’d poked the High Martian, declined politely.
More Martians arrived, setting out a table in the courtyard. They decorated and laid place settings. The goblets were of a reddish glass and had a pale yellow wine that smelled faintly of peaches.
Another guardsman, this one obviously a leader as his uniform was more elaborate and quite splendid. He’s a noble of some sort. His silk robe is a deep red with metal wires forming a pattern; much like the High Martian leader but in a better condition.
Welcome to Andar Pul, Tribune of Meepsoor. The soldiers stood at attention at his entrance.
We let the Major take the lead. Mr. O’Rourke did the introduction. He sort of stumbled over “Her Majesty’s army”, which Andar Pul echoed when he welcomed us, the Peace of his Table, etc. The Major echoed and they exchanged swords.
The Priest gave a blessing over the meal and we put the weapons among the packs and soldiers. We are civilized and don’t bring our weapons to the table.
We ate in silence during the first course. It’s a fragrant soup. It’s heavily spiced, just like the food among the Hill Martians. The wine is very nice. It’s very light.
After the first course, conversation opened over the odd course. Somewhat like some soy bean dish that was heavily sauced.
Major was trying to discuss our origins, without giving away our extraplanetary home. When he mentioned the Sea of Dust, he was quickly asked about the Grey Waste. He denied that as our origin, to their relief.
Major revealed our purpose to be diplomatic and possibly for trade. The Tribune said that we’d meet Nomarch the next day and the Priest had offered us lodging in the temple.
The lights on the table look somewhat electric lights, but they appear to be solid, glowing crystal. The light did not flicker or stay the same color, it revolved through the entire light spectrum. The plates stayed warm and the carafes stayed cold. How..interesting.
Meepsoor is an independent city. It was part of the Calla Moralan Empire, until the canal burst. Erebus was deserted and the Empire abandoned Meepsoor. Surprisingly, the city survived just fine without the Empire.