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The Mimer's Well

being a Source of News and Opinion concerning the Diverse Pursuits of all known Peoples throughout the Wheel

Edited by Master Yoffy Tektos and Mistress Nelly Chirk, Freedom House, Sahela


A Message from the Editors

We bring you this journal with pleasure and pride, from Freedom House in the ancient city-state of Sahela. Sahela: once a junior member of the Sibutani Federation, now acknowledged leader of the world in commerce, banking and insurance. And though the textile trade with Pangaturan may have laid the foundations of the city's success, let it not be said that Sahelans are woolly-minded! For Sahela boasts more news-sheets than any other city and is a centre of intellectual and artistic excellence.

Take a brief stroll down The Highway. The soaring gilded spires of the Carlyon Museum, the University with its Library and golden statue of Stevinus, the marble columns of the House of Trimble on the corner of Deddington Square: all may be found within a span of half a mile. Art, scholarship, and commerce: three cornerstones of Sahelan society.

And the fourth? Free speech, of which Sahelans are justifiably proud. Too long have the rulers of other nations sought to suppress that which might cast doubt upon their fitness to rule, whilst promoting favourable news. For this reason do we publish this journal, to serve as an example to the peoples of the world. Herein will the reader find diverse news and opinions, some of which he or she may consider shocking, although for this we make no apologies. It is our avowed aim to represent all views.

So whether you be a citizen of Sibutan or Pangaturan, or subject to the Empire, be not of faint heart: read on - and strike a blow for Freedom!


The Hierarch of Galena Warns of Heresy

(Excerpts from a Soliloquy delivered in Galena Auditorium by His Grace the Lord Hierarch Pablo Grazio)

'... These are faithless times, and those of us who would be worthy follow a Way beset with danger. Fear not for the mortal robes within which we play our Parts, for they are by their nature impermanent. Have fear instead for your very Roles!

'... The perils which threaten Lapang are many. First, the old enemy, Pangaturan - where the King sits alone in his Legacy Palace, a hunger to conquer the world in his heart and the whisperings of the Hierarch Prime in his ear. 'Your Lines are written not within The Script', claim Geraint and his minions, seeking to snare the simple folks of Bernhaven and Tobolsk. 'Men and women may Direct their own Roles. So Improvise - cast out those who would follow the Dramatic Way!' 'Tis heresy! Yet Yapen is already fallen under Prime's sway and the seeds of dissent are sown among the noble Houses of Tobolsk. Geraint strikes at the heart of our Empire! Surely 'twas an act of The Dramaturge when the 'Morning Rose' went down…

'... and there is no respect for the Way in Sibutan. The rich and powerful seek higher truths in fine words and fancy paintings. Worse still, the common folk spew blasphemy: they bow to the image of a man they call Ixion yet claim to love The Dramaturge! And as for the spawn of the Maray Princes... they are Critic-worshippers all.

'People of Galena, I therefore charge you: be true to the Dramatic Way. For though your Roles may be hard, the purpose of the Supreme Author of all that was, and is, and is to come shines bright within you. The futures of Church and Empire rest together in your hands.


The Sibutani Federation

The organization today known as the Sibutani Federation was founded in the year 898: an age which found Lapang newly reunited with Salemi, and Tobolsk and Pangaturan daily growing stronger. Yet at this time the city-states of Sibutan were divided amongst themselves and weakened by disputes over trade and land until the coming of the Peace negotiated by Cyril, Hierarch of Lalgola who, alone in a time of petty rivalries and fierce fighting, recognised the common interests shared by Lalgola and Kabiri, Samarinda, Sahela and Port Levaca.

The basic principles of the Treaty which he drafted were simple: from that day forth the signatories pledged, firstly to recognise the borders and holdings of each member state as they stood at that time, and secondly to protect each other against outside aggression. It is a testimony to the vision and commitment of the Hierarch that, a century on, the Federation stands yet, unbroken.


The Ancient Kingdom of Tobolsk

Founded in the year 672 by the Union of Trabisk, which united under a single crown the Kingdoms of Telanan, Rast and Swalehaven. The first monarch was Queen Matilda, founder of the Ragnhild Dynasty which ruled Tobolsk for more than three centuries.

On the death of the Dynasty with King Gustav the Old in 991 the crown passed, by a consensus of the Noble Houses, to his great niece Juliana d'Oloroso of Lapang, thus discounting the claims of Gustav's eight-year-old grandson Adolphus, who has not been seen in public since his birth.

The wealth of Tobolsk is based upon exports of gutted and dried cod known as stock fish, which is produced mainly on the northern coast of Telanan.


An Extract from 'The Life of St Monksilver'

In the First Year came Saint Monksilver out of the West. His raiment was of the rudest sackcloth and he carried a knurled staff in his hand. Alighting first at Holy Head, six years delivered he The Lines throughout the lands, preaching faith in the Dramatic Inevitable and hope alike for the peasant in his field and the Emperor upon his Leonine Throne: 'Harken ye to the words of Monksilver! These are The Lines within which is the Divine Script revealed, as spaken unto me by The Dramaturge, Supreme Author of all that was, and is, and is to come.'

And thus the people learned the Monologues, and on the Hills of Thar and in the Sacred Glade of Adderbury they flocked to hear him speak, and Miracles were performed. And once they brought to him a man accused of Sorcery, and the Saint did say: 'Erect a set of scales upon the hill were all may see. Place The Lines in one pan, the accused man in the other, and thereby shall he be judged.' So this they did, and lo! the accused man weighed heavier than The Lines. 'His heart is heavy with the works of the Critic!' cried the judges. 'His Role has been perverted. Let him be tied about the hands and feet with heavy stones and cast into the sea!' Whereupon the Sorcerer did turn himself into a snake and attempt to hide in a hole in the ground, but the Saint, in the likeness of a great eagle, did pluck him from this spot.

Then was the sentence carried out as the judges had decreed, and it is said that even the eyeless fishes would not touch the Sorcerer's body, and those that did grew canker and died. Thus perish all those who would spurn the Roles that their Author wrote, for they are become tools of Criticism.


Correspondence

After witnessing such revolting goings on as would surely turn the sternest man's stomach, I feel it is my duty, as a subject of the Empress and a Follower of the Way, to object in no uncertain terms to the shameful way in which our young nobles of Galena have in recent years observed the Holy Days of Saint Monksilver.

Far from engaging in the Monologues and quiet Introspection, as the good Saint recommends, these empty-headed puppies treat the sacred day as an excuse for behaviour of the most lewd and debauched kind. Last year, for example, a certain young Earl {family loyalties forbid me to name him here}, in the guise of a sailor {and a Pangaturese sailor, at that!}, did visit with his retinue diverse houses of ill repute throughout the poor quarter, mingling with the common folk and turning the heads of wanton floozies with his licentious tales of 'far away adventure.'

After which, returning to the Palace in a state of drunken revelry, his associates {which included the sons and daughters of many prominent Government ministers} placed a brawny stud of lowest birth upon the Imperial Throne and, draping the Standard about him, bowed down and hailed him 'Saint Monksilver of the Grape!' And I, unfortunate witness to this blasphemous and treasonable drama, was unable to intervene for reasons of expediency - why, my blood was boiling! In my opinion, it's time their mothers and fathers gave them all a good thrashing. These heinous youngsters should not escape unpunished, however high their rank!

A decent citizen of Galena

Funeral Rites Among the Rangar Nobility

I was amazed to discover on a recent trip to Rangar that, in this 'Age of Enlightenment' {as the Sahelans call it}, certain Noble Families of Pangaturan still follow ancient - nay primitive - customs, which should have no place in our modern world.

The event of which I speak occurred on the night of the full moon when I came across a throng of people at Sammy's Point, gathered for the funeral of a certain Nobleman. They did not bury the poor man's body, such that his flesh might return to the earth from which it came; instead, and to my horror, the corpse was cast out to sea upon a barge for the seagulls to peck the bones clean! And, if this sight were not revolting enough, I saw his betrothed, a girl of no more than twenty summers, go willingly in the barge to meet her own, wasteful death upon the ocean.

Unable to stomach the ensuing 'celebrations', I excused myself and returned to Athricol shaking my head. What I witnessed was doubly astounding, since I have lived all my life in the countryside and had until that night regarded myself as something of a bumpkin, a man behind the times and clinging to outmoded customs and beliefs. But if behaviour such as that which I describe is typical of those rich and powerful city persons who would call themselves our 'betters', then I prefer to remain an ignorant and humble man.

A Physician of Athricol

The Sayings of Karl Kendles

Compiled by Hernan Beltz

'My personal opinion had been able to sway a council of the community - a first step on the road to political authority.' [Preface to the 'Autobiography']

'Only through proper participation in the mechanisms of government can individuals grow to full appreciation of citizenship.' ['Karl Barks', I, 32]

'The heart of the fortress of corruption is the place from which it may be most easily brought down.' [Ibid, III, 114]

'Sex is the tool of the forces of capital in keeping the workers underfed and in danger of unemployment.' [Ibid, IV, 286]

{Editors' note: Since beginning this compilation Master Beltz, the well known Lapangi political activist, has been called away to Wentworth Island in the service of Her Imperial Majesty. To our regret, this article must therefore be discontinued.}

Dead in the Water

It will have not escaped the notice of patriotic Pangaturese that for two years now has the Royal Expeditionary Fleet languished impotent in dock, proudly flying the Snarling Lion over Rangar Port while the Sibs overrun Nevatan to threaten our colonies in Galiche, and even the faint-hearted Lapangis seek to claim a slice of the colonial pie! While any Explorator worthy of the title will have known for months of the huge Federation war fleet waiting off Up Step to ravage our forthcoming expedition. Yet only recently have certain influential Council members who wouldn't know their yardarms from their elbows come to wonder why Commission morale is at an all-time low!

Nevertheless, the Council seems incapable of apprehending the Sib spies which have surely been in on King Geraint's plans since the beginning. Worse still, they have made no attempt to stop the sabotage of our expedition beyond a desultory search for poison in their own weekly banquet! Compare this with the highly-publicized series of lectures given by prominent persons such as Stanton Harcourt, extolling the wonders of the colonies and aimed specifically at wooing back those country Prompters who were frightened away by the rumours.

From this duplicity it should be clear to all that it was withdrawal of Church funding for the expedition which prompted the Council's recent actions - not the safety of our Explorators or even the security of Pangaturan. The time for restraint is over. I urge all members of the Commission to call for the President's immediate resignation!

Howard Zway, Member of the Royal Exploratory Commission Council

A Vote of Thanks to the Heitman Kirkland

Though it's only a year since King Geraint {may his name be followed by a blessing} made the Heitman Kirkland Commander of the City Watch, I'm sure that everyone will agree with me when I say that the streets of Rangar are already safer. Not since I was knee-high to a hedgehopper have decent folk been able to walk abroad at night without fear of molestation, but since the Heitman and our brave boys and girls of the Watch got to work the city has been scrubbed clean of thieves, murderers, dirty foreign spies and the like! And the Heitman is such an inspiration to all humble folk, seeing as how he started his life as a commoner. So I'm sure I'll be just the first of many to congratulate this great man for all that he's done to safeguard our Country and King!

Mistress Glossop of Rangar

The Price Revolution

Prices at present in Pangaturan are ten times greater than they were half a century ago. This phenomenon has been rarely noticed, and then usually ignored, but my own observations prove without doubt that over the last ten years the price of a basket of food, fuel and fabrics {such as would supply a family of six for a week} has steadily risen by two to three pennies per crown per year. Though this increment may seem negligible to the likes of Don Chimbote and the Lady Haverhill {the humble tinker or a Lowgate mother striving to raise her children alone may disagree}, we ignore it at our peril, for it presages a great ill upon our nation.

The cause of this 'inflation' is, I propose, the wealth which we have gained through our colonial expansion. The magnitude of gold and silver flooding Pangaturan from Galiche is increasing every year, and with it grows the size of our population {one has only to visit the Lowgate quarter to ascertain this fact}. Simple folk, bedazzled by the treasure ships they see offloading at Rangar Port and believing times of bounty lie ahead, celebrate in such ways as lead to the inevitable begetting of offspring. Thereby is the number of mouths to feed increased without a proportionate expansion in food production - the obvious cause of the rises in price which I have described. Therefore I beg His Majesty's Treasury: reduce imports of gold from the colonies, before our nation descends upon a nightmare spiral of wanton behaviour, overcrowding and mass starvation!

Anna Dale, Philosopher of Rangar

The State of the King's Highways

There was once a time when the people of this land could be rightly proud of the King's Highways. In the days of my youth, noble and merchant, townsman and farmer might journey in safety and comfort betwixt Rangar and Pell Enna or Rangar and Athricol. Sad to say, those times are past: on an errand of business it was my misfortune recently to take the Athricol Way as far as the market town of Barrowdale. Imagine my dismay to find the surface of the road pitted and broken, with craters at every turn. Worse still, at Carnivi the offside track has all but disappeared into a ditch! And watchful eyes in the undergrowth were testimony to the sorry fact that bandits, wildmen and worse have returned to Bodger's Forest. I am sure that it was only by the mercy of The Dramaturge {and the sword I carried by my side} that my servant and I completed our journey alive! Like the sewers of Rangar, the King's Highways are a jewel in the crown of this fair land, a boon to all her subjects. In my opinion something must be done at once to restore them to their former glory!

Cranston Clent, Merchant of Rangar

A Slave Raid on Yapen

My heart grew heavy when I heard the recent rumours of yet another Sibutani slaving raid on the northern coast of Yapen.

The news stirred my memories of the last such outrage, when the small hamlet of Fotham of the Green Roofs was sacked, its houses burned and the entirety of the populace either killed or carried away. I came across the sole survivor, a shepherd boy, outside the gates of Yapen Town a few days after the raid. His little face all stained with dirt and tears he told me of his last memories of his home, ablaze and pillaged, of the nightmare moments as he ran blindly from house to house shrieking the names of his friends and family, colliding with the smouldering turf walls. Dazed and bereft he had wandered alone into the mountains, and after three days in the wilderness without food or shelter finally stumbled upon the Capital of his nation. Where, to my disgust, the city guards would not admit him, for he did not carry the trader's permit!

The feeling in Yapen Town now is that enough is enough, and many prominent townsfolk are calling for the Domna's resignation in the light of her continued inactivity. But it is my belief that the real fault lies with King Geraint in Rangar. Though to him we Yapenis may seem far-flung, backward subjects, as Overlord of Yapen it is his responsibility to protect us. We will not much longer let ourselves be treated as second-class citizens.

A concerned citizen of Yapen Town

Invention, Its Value to Us All

Men and women of Sibutan, of the Empire, and of Pangaturan; we stand here at a turning point in history. Behind us lurks the Past, a time of dark barbarities and ancient terrors. Before us the Future beckons: a place where the peoples of the world shall live as one in peace, and no peasant shall go hungry. Which path shall we take? It is my conviction that the latter offers greater rewards, though the journey may be harder. But to reach that destination we must cast aside the baggage of our old superstitions and embrace instead the new Science, with which we shall save our race.

I speak not without cause, for I have seen with my own eyes the work of gifted men and women, 'Inventioneers' they call themselves, who have devoted their lives, often at personal risk, to the betterment of our world. In a Sahelan laboratory I watched live kittens raised to heights in excess of fifteen feet in a basket strung beneath a pig's bladder, the force being provided by heated air delivered through a bellows. Elsewhere an old woman labours to the end of her days on the design of a Machine that shall one day take brave explorers to the heavens, even as today we venture forth from our homelands to seek new Colonies. And even now the discoveries of Chula Vista advance our Sahelan metallurgical industry. These are but a few of the boons to come; I have not space enough to describe such marvels as a false Arm, its fingers moved by tiny cogs; an Instrument for the measurement of temperature; and a Mechanical Additor, which shall surely revolutionize trade and business throughout the world!

It is to my dismay that there are at this time people who would turn their backs on the Future and lead us all on the road to darkness. They claim that discoveries such as those I have listed are naught but works of the Critic, and seek to curb such endeavour. Folly indeed! for it is plain for all to see that the admirable Inventioneers toil for the benefit of mankind and to the glory of The Dramaturge, and are thus deserving of nothing less than our gratitude and respect.

Joshua Chirk, Merchant of Sahela

Matriculation Day at RADA

The Rangar Academy of Dramatic Arts reveals its essential nature in the Matriculation Ceremony performed each autumn, a function so involved that the visitor is given a printed guide as to what is going on. It takes place in the hall of the Fly Tower, a room designed like an ancient amphitheatre, its ceiling painted with a curtain rolled back to reveal the Wheel of Fate turning in the heavens. Beneath this disconcertingly paganistic image gather ranks of Prompters, black-robed Medarchs with their silver wands, scurrying Understudies in scarlet gowns, and the Hierarchs on a platform at the east side of the hall. Elevated above all others is the Hierarch Prime Himself, glaring beneficently down at the assembled throng from his enormous golden throne.

The ceremony goes at a cracking pace. In come rows of nervous new Understudies, and a Dialogue is performed at breakneck speed, and sometimes they bow, and suddenly the Medarchs leap from their seats and march up and down the hall while the Hierarch Prime, in stentorian tones, delivers his Annual Address on what is expected of those who would devote their lives to the service of the Dramatic Way. Then a Medarch marshals the Understudies, now full members of the Academy, and out they troop into the yard outside. The Prompters, the Medarchs and even the Hierarchs fade away, and the Understudies are left standing in the chilly autumn air, looking forward with pride and excitement to the five years of Rehearsal before them.


Town and Gown at the University of Galena

Each year on the Fifteenth of Parmuthi our College holds the Boar's Head Dinner, to commemorate an event which occurred over two centuries ago. On that day in 782, a member of College by the name of Jonkyn, while hunting boar on Craddock's Hill, was unseated from his mount, but bravely killed a giant pig by thrusting down its throat a copy of 'On Changes in Names of Fish' by the ancient philosopher Stevinus.

As is with all College celebrations, the Dinner is preceded by a call on a bronzen trumpet, after which a boiled boar's head is carried on a platter into the Hall, to the accompaniment of a litany sung by the Choral Scholars. This procession is followed by a special reading, delivered by the Lines Scholar, who is traditionally a child of poor parents but pious nature whose duty it is, in return for a weekly emolument, to read The Lines in the Playhouse each day.

This year's Dinner was rudely interrupted, however, by a crowd of students who, having overindulged on Lord Baring's Benefaction to the University, came swarming into the quadrangle, beating the porters with cudgels as they gathered. Professor Dawnay, whose work on the music of the celestial spheres is revered throughout the land, flung down his fork and cried 'Open the door and let me outside!' But the servants hesitated; it was dangerous out there, they said. 'Give me my academicals!' insisted the Professor, 'And open the door!' With which he stepped bravely onto the doorstep, but had time only to shout 'Control yourselves! You bring disgrace upon the College!' before a tomato hit him square in the chest and he fell back into the arms of the servants. 'Shut the door!' he ordered, this time rather hastily. Closing our ears to the noise we resumed our meal, while the rabble outside surged through the quad and into Auditorium Square.


A Pilgrim's Progress

They say that Spring is the season when a man's thoughts turn to that which is greater than himself. And so it was that early Khoiak found me on the road to Adderbury, where lies the Saint in eternal Rest, in the company of a dozen pilgrims of similar intent. A bejewelled Medarch of Galena there was; and a Rangar sailor just returned from the colonies; and a Professor who wore two small circles of glass in his eyes: 'All the better to read The Lines,' said he. Completing our number was a mighty nobleman and his servants, and a peasant woman driven off her land by a rackrenting landlord of Pangaturan. She had saved twenty years to make this pilgrimage and her husband had died on the way. Thirteen strangers unlike in all ways, we chartered a boat out of Galena together, united in our love of The Dramaturge.

From Adder Bay, as is the custom, we walked the last miles backwards. In this way may the pilgrim contemplate that which was, whilst entrusting that which is to come to the all knowing hands of the Dramatic Inevitable. And at noon we came to Monksilver's Tomb, where a great throng pressed forwards to touch the Saint's hands, and be healed in body and mind. There were some who drank of the water which ran like tears from the stone of the sarcophagus: of these, a blind man regained his sight and a woman near dead with the swine was cured, to the wonder of her assembled family. And amongst all there was much weeping, and praising of the Saint, who though long since gone to that Stage in the sky to take part in the Heavenly Drama, in his mercy still brings joy to the Earth.


The Land of the Midnight Sun

Ceme Vissos, Eel Trader of Samarinda

Last summer I sailed through the Chilaw Passage, aboard a salt carrier out of Samarinda. Though the Passage be mostly thirty miles wide and largely free from ice in this season, at times the channel narrowed to a mile or two or less, and then it was a lonely feeling, to brave those chilly waters with naught but the forested fjords of northern Sibutan to the south and the empty wastes of Eiderland in the north. But marvels there were, too. On the fourth day a Mermaid kept apace with the ship for half a league or more; and oft-times we glimpsed Leviathans in the distance. These monsters inhale water as we partake of the air, and I reason that they survive the freezing seas by way of great heats generated within their bodies, for the inhaled water they expel as steam through vents set in their heads. Furthermore, they are gregarious beasts, and their speech kept me awake at night. Though it should be said that throughout the voyage there was little evidence of 'night' as we would call it, for the Wheel turns slowly in the Chilaw Passage and day and night are each six of our months long. It seemed to me that such a stately flow of time befits those majestic giants who make this place their home.


Davril Trimble Throws a Party

Mousa Broach

The current debates over Etta Severin's engagement and the relative merits of Tumelo and Butte, heard so often these days in Sahelan Society, were little in evidence at a party held recently at the Trimble country mansion. Negative forwardation and the price of herrings were more important topics of conversation and pleasure was not the only, or even the main, purpose of the evening's entertainment. For this was no ordinary soirée, and our host no ordinary man: Davril Trimble, reputedly the richest man in the world, the banker who made his name, and his fortune, in financing the election of an impecunious noblewoman to the throne of the Lapangi Empire.

The doors were thrown open onto the gardens to take advantage of the balmy summer evening and the strains of a consort of lutenists on the lawn drifted into the ballroom, while footmen in bright red livery passed among the guests bearing trays of Salemi wine {excellent vintage, of course}. Many faces well known in Sahelan business were to be seen: including Joshua Chirk, owner of a printing press on Bean Street; Inver Gordon the grain merchant {who made a frightful gaffe later in the evening when, after over indulging on the Goldenfire, he performed the Dance of the Rampant Thurbo on the dining table}; rising Samarindan star Jayef MacEnedee; and Kristine Hamm, one of the few merchants to have successfully traded with the reclusive Seoni Kuchindans. She is said to be doing a roaring trade in exquisite glass and porcelain whimsies imported from the far southern provinces.

Throughout the evening Davril Trimble held court beneath a massive portrait of his father, and was frequently seen in the company of Her Excellency the Ambassador of Lapang. This may not be without significance, for it is rumoured that the House of Trimble's latest venture is to finance a Lapangi expedition to uncharted seas north east of Samarinda.


Stanton Harcourt Describes Some Curios Collected in Distant Isles

(Editors' Note: Master Harcourt's extensive botanical, zoological and geological collections may be viewed on personal application; interested parties should contact him at the Royal Exploratory Commission, Rangar.)

A major part of my collection is from a series of expeditions I made during my youth to the western part of Galiche {known as Nevatan since the Sibutani conquest of 986}, serving as junior Scientific Officer and assistant to the great Pressman, who sailed with Wittenham Clumps to Tulean. In an area of forest chosen by the colonists for clearance I found a great number of curious vegetable formations, roots and stems of plants shaped almost like horses' heads. The Pangaturese settlers had a queer superstition about these plants, which they called 'mareskulls', whereby each example corresponds to the soul of a particular horse, and digging up the plant gives you power over that horse, should you ever meet it in the flesh. Damaging the plant will cause the horse to sicken and eventually die. From the whence the settlers, once robust and sensible country men and women, appropriated these beliefs is a mystery; even their Prompters appeared to accept, if not condone, the superstition.

More mysterious still are a set of objects I found on the uninhabited isle of Maceros, south west of Pangaturan, when four years ago I accompanied the famous and ill-fated Mainwaring expedition. Here I found a number of very curious rocks, shaped like bowls and dishes, thin, polished, and perfect. They were lying on the beach near the spot were our ship first hove anchor. I have made an extensive study of these objects: produced drawings and calculations and classified them according to size and proportion; sacrificed a number for testing with the salt of lemon as described by Sieur Ruiz; even visited the University of Galena and at length gained access to their library. But my studies have been fruitless; these rocks bear no resemblance to any known geological formation, and I am convinced they be of intelligent design, though it is as yet only fifty years since Eimarl first set foot upon Maceros. It is, therefore, my belief {though certain members of Church and Commission would oppose me} that a race of men thrived on that isle in ancient times, even as the old Lapangi Empire rose to its height. From whence these peoples came, and why they disappeared, remains a mystery - but I have determined that one day I shall return to Maceros, and gather such evidence as to solve it.


Wittenham Clumps Sets Foot on Tulean

Lal Pressman, Royal Exploratory Commission Scientific Officer {retired}

It is now forty years since Wittenham Clumps, leading an REC expedition to the Southern Seas, became the first man to set foot on the New World of Cabrena. On the day of that momentous event the 'Queen Marta' and her sister ship 'Northern Star' had been at sea for more than two months since we last weighed anchor at Maceros, where we took on board our final fill of fresh food and water. Though land had been sighted six weeks earlier, a rowboat sent out to search for a harbour had found the coastline choked with impenetrable forest, a great swathe of knotted scale-trunked trees whose dark recesses echoed with the chatter of unknown creatures. And so with no other choice than to return home defeated, we followed that blighted coast south-eastward.

Our commitment to this decision increased with every passing day, for by now our stores of food and water were running low. The great heat and the darkling forest ever to starboard soon became oppressive. Clumps would take no more than a half pint of water and a pound of salt beef and biscuit each day, and no rum, saying that as our leader he must set a good example to the sailors. Then, on the First of Mekhir, eighty-three days out of Rangar, a break in the forest was sighted: a great delta, fully five miles wide, with a prodigious watercourse beyond and, in the far distance, a glimpse of mountains higher than any previously known to humankind. Weak with relief and joy, as one we fell to our knees and gave thanks to The Dramaturge.

An island of date palms and sandy beaches lay half a mile from the shore, and here we made our landing. Tulean, Wittenham named it, in honour of the late King's mother, and the colony now founded there serves as a gateway to the mainland, though the exploration of Cabrena will surely take many generations. For the New World is vast beyond measure: we sailed for six weeks but spied no limits to the land, and I can hazard no guess as to the nature and magnitude of the mysteries and wonders which shall therein be discovered. But, whatever the dangers may be, I am certain that the brave Explorators of Pangaturan will be equal to the task.


Up Step, Pleasure Capital of the Maray Princes

Kristine Hamm, Trader of Sahela

Though the Maray Princes be long gone, the splendour of their capital lingers on, a glistening jewel at the southernmost tip of the civilized world. Approachable only through a vast natural harbour, wherein all manner of sea beasts frolic, Up Step is surrounded on every side by steep cliffs of whitest limestone, from which arises a single peak: Mount Kurrup. And two centuries since its construction, the pleasuredome of Demavend still dominates the island, a fitting monument to the man who once ruled Sibutan but valued joy above all things.

I visited Up Step in Winter, though the air was warmer than high Summer in Kabiri and a multitude of butterflies still thronged the fields of scarlet flowers, which bloom throughout the year and do not wither. In late afternoon I made an ascent from the white rimed beach to the verdant lowland and thence to the path which spirals upwards through lush valleys, crashing falls and cool green forests - Scenery such as surely existed when the world was yet young! Indeed I fancied that, with every pace, I moved one step closer to The Dramaturge.

Then, at last - the summit, and Demavend's palace in its glory before me: a golden dome washed red in the sunset, marbled halls and diamond fountains; and four silver dragons, each bigger than a house, watching ever to the four corners of the earth. I felt myself truly on top of the world as I stood there gazing north to Sibutan. How mighty were those Princes of old, and how inevitable their downfall. The world, being but a mundane place, could not for long nourish such splendour.


His Majesty King Geraint's Ambassador Meets the Suzerain of Kufra

Lord Ederick of Wels

Journeying through the Lalgolan Heights to what is oft-times called the 'mysterious south', Seoni Kuchinda, home of the once all-powerful Maray Princes, I found a very different world from that to which I had been accustomed in Galena or Sahela or fair Pangaturan. There were no wide streets or open squares, but noisy, narrow alleys full of tiny shops and tall buildings which blocked out the rays of the sun {mercifully, I must admit, since it is said that one may fry an egg in the noonday heat at the Serpent's Head}. I saw very few wheeled vehicles: all burdens are carried on the backs of humans, as may be seen sometimes in Sahela, or strapped to the flanks of six-legged beasts. And the visitor from the north may be surprised to find no town hall or guild council anywhere on the peninsula, for here all power resides in the palaces of the Suzerains.

The Suzerain of Kufra gave me audience on the third day of my stay. About one hour after noon a brightly-painted man came to my apartments, to announce that His Magnificence demanded my presence immediately. I was escorted to the Palace and led past the guards in their jewelled livery to the Presence Chamber, as they call it, a hall filled with golden lampstands and the drowsy smell of incense, where the Suzerain himself reclined upon a silken bier, a flask of wine by his side.

As I had been instructed by my master back at Rangar, I did not meet his gaze, but knelt and kissed the pointy toe of his emerald slipper. Then a smile lit the Suzerain's dark face and he bid me sit at his feet, where I might more easily impart the news with which King Geraint had charged me. And to proud subjects of the King who would rise up in indignation at these words, I should say that in his way did the Suzerain accord the highest honour both to myself and to the King's message. This much a Vizier later told me: the Suzerain, being a peaceful man, would oftimes behead those who dare disturb his rest; indeed, his own uncle met that very fate not a week before my visit!


The Sinking of the 'Morning Rose'

Prompter Richard Lutyens of Barrowdale

The 'Morning Rose' having come, with a good speedy wind and weather, from Rangar Port to the Telanan Sea, had passed, as we thought, all dangers. As one we raised our voices in praise of The Dramaturge as we rounded the Cape of Yapen, our sights set upon Bernhaven and our mission, which was to spread The Lines as the Hierarch Prime decreed; whereupon the pilot ordered the sails hoisted and we sailed until it was midnight. But the moon was not shining, and we fell full upon a bank of rock so sharp that it cut the ship in two as if it had been sawn, so that the keel lay still upon the rock stuck fast, the mast being also broken.

Then a great cry went up, for in that ship there were two hundred persons: among them thirty sailors in the employ of the Royal Exploratory Commission, together with seven score Prompters, numerous Medarchs, and the Hierarch of Athricol. There was nothing else to be done but for every one to bid each other farewell, with weeping and crying, and begging forgiveness of The Dramaturge. But at the last, the upper part of the ship, where the lifeboat lay, burst out, and the boat began to come forth. 'Let us seek to save ourselves!' cried a Prompter of Rangar named Cypria; so saying, she leaped into the boat and began to bail out the water. In the end there were at the least twoscore and ten persons in the boat, and many hung by the hands upon the side swimming after it but had not the strength to keep pace and one by one, exhausted, slipped into the sea, where the sharks made short and bloody work of them.

Having about twelve boxes of marmalade, a flagon of wine and some biscuit, we dealt out rations as need required. In misery and pain we were for ten days at sea before we fetched up on the coast of Sibutan, some five days north of Sahela. Of those that came safe to shore, some of them died before we found help, so that in all there were eighteen persons that saved themselves. All the rest were drowned or smothered in the ship. And we never heard again of the Hierarch of Athricol, or of the thousand copies of The Lines which went down with her.


The Alchymist's Art

Ishmael Smalldrake of Rangar

Another weary day at the alembic, fortifying the Spirituous Salt. Typho Bantacrides, in 'De Conjuratione Spirituo', says that it should take three days, yet I have already been at it for four and there is still no sign of the Salis Fortiter. No doubt my apprentice Persile Bandicoot was not sufficiently careful over the gathering of the horse dung for the fire. Only the Fimus Equinis Virginis will do, says Typho, and to test a young mare's maidenhood with one hand while she voids her bowels onto the beaten silver platter held in the other is tricky to say the least, and liable to get you a severe kicking {not to mention a lash round the ears from the irate carter}...

Later I get out again 'Les Admirables Secrets de Metanis Polyphéme', the only work I have found so far that deals with reanimation by alchymical means. As well as being written in ancient Lapangi, the language is contorted and be symbolled almost to the point of incomprehensibility. One of the twelve plates portrays a wolf riding in a chariot above the sun, while underneath an old man points to his throat, a lamb fawning around his feet. An olive tree grows to either side. This plate seems clear enough, but some of the others contain references about whose meaning I have no idea. What could possibly be symbolized by a green nose? A goat feeding upon the entrails of a maiden? A mole set on fire by a phoenix? The old Lapangi masters knew a thing or two, but many of their best works were ceremonially burned during the Third Karthian Uprising, and most of the others are chained away in the Imperial Library at Galena. That fair city is only a brief trip by sea from Rangar, but as a subject of King Geraint it is doubtful whether I would be admitted to read. Such are the trials of those who would seek to prosper in the Hermetic Art.


Her Imperial Majesty Juliana of Lapang Visits Bernhaven

The Honourable Sarah Golding, Lady in Waiting to Her Imperial Majesty

The Empress Juliana, continuing her tour of Imperial lands, arrived in Bernhaven, the Empire's most northerly outpost, on a dull day in Paopi. Despite a chill wind and the threat of rain, a great crowd - ten thousand strong, it was said - had gathered on the dockside to greet the Imperial Flagship, and though we had been told that these northerners are of inclination dull in dress and behaviour, they made us a joyous and colourful welcome.

Cries of 'We want the Empress! We want the Empress!' mounted long before the ship had docked, and when Her Imperial Majesty appeared on the gangplank, in her favourite robe of purple with a diadem on her brow, there went up a cheer which must have surely been heard across the Chilaw Passage in mainland Sibutan! A sea of Imperial Standards waved before us alongside the blue and gold colours of the Lord Pelagi Viceroy of Bernhaven, and when His Lordship stepped forward to greet the Empress there rose screams of ecstasy from the crowd. Since beholding such sights I am convinced that, though Bernhaven be newly joined with our glorious Empire, Bernhavers must truly be the most loyal of all Her Majesty's subjects.


Remains of the Ancient Lapangi Empire in Western Lapang

The Tagus at the base of the Fonesca Hills is about the breadth of the River Trace at Galena; in this place which we crossed over stood the mighty city of Magna Lirium, many ruins of which may be easily seen by daylight. Here are yet standing the ruins of the old Council House, above a quarter of a mile in compass and almost as high as the tower of Galena Auditorium. The bricks remaining of this ancient monument are half a yard thick and twice that measure long, and lying between every course of bricks is one of cane mats which remain sound as though they had been laid a year or less. And though the ceiling be all caved in, and the heroic carvings all but gone after ten long and empty centuries, I fancy that in those silent pillared halls a visitor might hear yet the words of men who ruled four fifth parts of the world: echoes of Ancient Lapang, the mightiest Empire ever known.


The Poor of Samarinda

{Editors' Note: the author of this article, who wishes to remain anonymous, lived for some time among the homeless of Samarinda, disguised as one of their number}

No matter how poor you are in Samarinda, there's always fish to eat - so the saying goes, and so it was that I found myself gradually drifting down through the city gates towards the docks, sure that I could better help the destitute if I were to know from experience how they lived. Here the fishing fleets come in before dawn, having spent all night at sea trawling with their huge seine nets, and unload the contents of their holds out onto the quayside in the early morning chill. The chandlers wait with their carts to pick out the fullest and freshest crates - the air filled with the stench of offal and the sparks of bargains being struck - then hurry off to the fish market to meet the day's first customers.

The fisherfolk themselves pick out what is left by the chandlers: the small, thin or damaged stock that wouldn't look so good laid out on a stall surrounded with parsley. Then what's left - the deformed fish, the unusual monsters, those which were diseased or dead before catching, and of course all the organs and giblets from the cleaning - is flung down on the cobbles, to be fought over by the starving, filthy horde of beggars for whom these rejects are the only free source of nutriment available. Though horrified at first, I fought my churning stomach and joined in the scrabble...

After eating as much of my piece of shark as could be scraped away from the tough, scratchy skin, I headed back to the beggars' pitch by the Guild Hall. It seemed to be a day of unusual activity: all the Guild Masters and Mistresses were present, together with a number of other wealthy looking folk. The former rarely give anything apart from blows, but occasionally the ordinary Guilders throw down the odd coin or two. After a little while a large gang of foreign looking men and women in chains was led into the Hall, headed by a merchant with a jewelled head dress. Blind Hod, who sat next to me, gestured with his crutch.

'That's Lady Veronica Manick, that is. I saw her around a lot when I was working in Port Levaca. She's a big wheel in the slaving there - picking up those stupid Pangs off of their coast and bringing 'em over here to Sibutan to sell. I tried to get on one of those ships, I did, but they wouldn't take me with this leg, more's the pity. Good money they pay, those slavers.'

I shuddered. In recent months the Guild Council has spent many sessions discussing the growing problem of the poor, and it is rumoured that their latest solution is to forcibly enslave the city's homeless population. It is pathetically clear, as Hod's words suggest, that the news has not yet reached those citizens of Samarinda with most to lose from the scheme.


Ice Castles on the Trace

It was an extraordinary sight in Galena this Mesore when, on the night of the tenth during a spell of unseasonable weather, the River Trace froze solid. Though a cause for concern among Galenan merchants, to the people of the city it was a pardonable excuse for a holiday, and by mid morning a colourful throng of entertainers, vendors' stalls, and even a dancing bear, had gathered on the ice. Nobles with a fondness for winter pursuits, previously obliged to make the long journey north to the Barisan Mountains, were soon skating outside the Imperial Palace, where the well known artist Charmain Butte displayed a twenty-foot high replica of the Palace, complete with Imperial Standard, all carved from a single block of ice.

High spirits reigned for three days before the first complaints about the cold were heard; it was, perhaps, fortunate that a thaw set in on the fourteenth of the month. Though it is said that twenty thousand people attended the carnival, remarkably no serious accidents were reported, although there were some near escapes: most notably by the Prince of Thar, who whilst indulging in a spot of fire juggling fell through ice melted by a dropped torch. Fortunately, His Imperial Highness was rescued before frost bite set in by the actions of a quick thinking palace guard {may The Dramaturge be praised}.


The Rise of the Lapangi Empire

Sieur Drumelzier, Diplomat

Having faithfully served my Nation and Empire for close on thirty years, I count myself fortunate among men and women to have played a part, though be it small, in the momentous events which have shaped our modern world. I speak, of course, of what came to pass following the fire which claimed the life of King Juan {may he Rest in peace} in 991, together with that of the Duchess of Ribero, coming hard as it did on the death of Gustav the Old of Tobolsk.

In the months which followed the tragedy, in order that war might be averted, brave Ambassadors and envoys fought a diplomatic battle. For war there would have been: authorities ancient and modern warn that so many nations, at once bereft of their rulers in a single, tragic turn of the Wheel, are destined for conflict through fear of their rivals and internal instability. The spoils of battle were rich, for by our efforts we found a solution: Lapang and Ribero, Salemi and Tobolsk, these four could be united under a single crown.

There were only two claimants to the throne: Juliana d'Oloroso, niece to the late King of Lapang, and her cousin the Duke of Kabiri. And though war with Sibutan seemed at that point assured, I believe to this day that The Dramatic Inevitable spoke through the Lord Ellesmere, who will surely rank as the greatest peace maker in history. It was he who suggested the patriscite: an election open to all those born of noble line throughout the aforesaid nations.

I have not the space nor the inclination to describe here the sleepless nights; the endless, exhausting debates; the constant voyaging forth from Galena, to Kabiri to Trabisk and back. Suffice to say that Parmuthi the Second saw Juliana crowned Empress of a new Lapangi Empire, and not one drop of blood was there shed in her name. So long live the Empress, glory to The Dramaturge - and praise for the art of the diplomat!


A Description of the Samarindan Salt Market

The Market is built in the style of an ancient forum, with colonnaded walkways on several levels. A raised central podium holds the Overseers of the market, those honest, rich and powerful folk who serve as watchdogs over all the deals concluded here. In recent weeks there has been a lot of action in Crant Light, one of the high volume 'marker' salts; a high calcium, low sand item, trading at around 1.40 a pood. The forecasts for the next three months' production of Crant came out this morning, and arbitrageurs are frantically shortening their positions.

The supercharged atmosphere of the market is an intoxicant: shirtsleeved traders shout, wave their hands and wipe the sweat from their brows as fortunes change hands. The 'physical' traders are very much at the lower end of the market; next comes the forward market, and then the kings of the salt exchange: those who trade in futures. Some even trade the difference between the prices in different markets across Sibutan, and are distinguished by the cages of carrier pigeons they keep beside their desks.


News From Around The World

A Naval Engagement off Filly

News has reached the Editors of a skirmish which occurred recently between Pangaturese and Federation forces off the coast of Sibutani Nevatan. It is said that shortly before noon on Phamenoth the Fourth, six Federation ships, coming out of Samarinda, arrived at Filly on the north-west coast of Nevatan, a Pangaturese colony before it was won for Sibutan in the Colonial War of 986. Here three ships of King Geraint's fleet lay in wait, in good hopes to have taken them, but when they saw the Sibutanis to be strong, Rear-Admiral Velbert commanded his ships not to fall on them.

Ignoring these orders, however, Captain Sagar of the 'Warrior' went into the Federation fleet and shot among them, doing them great damage, apparently believing that the rest of the company would follow him, which they did not, but left him there and sailed away. It is thought that three Sibutani ships attempted to board the 'Warrior', but Sagar withstood them all and sank one of them: the 'Queen Kilda' under the command of Captain Makins, heroine of the Yapeni War. But in the end, by reason of the number that came upon her, the 'Warrior' was taken - and to the Pangaturese's great despair, for they had lost, in fighting and by drowning, above two hundred men and women, while of the Federation fleet only fifty perished.

Fearing that this skirmish might herald a second colonial war, the Guild Council of Samarinda has made a strongly worded protest to King Geraint's Ambassador in the city. In addition, the Federation has issued a general warning to the effect that any foreign power who would seek to challenge Sibutani sovereignty in Nevatan shall be crushed without mercy as was the 'Warrior'.


New Keys Unlock the Treasures of the Earth

Recently developed techniques for the extraction and purification of metals, which have already brought prosperity to north-western Sibutan, look set to tap a still greater source of riches. In the fifteen years since Chula Vista published her treatise on deep mining, the Natuna region, whose shallow mines had been considered near-exhausted, has become the major centre of world copper production. Now the Cuprous Company of Sahela announce the discovery of argentiferous copper ores south of the city, which they plan to extract on a large scale by use of a series of water-powered trip hammers, blast furnaces and bellows, all more massive than any ever before constructed. The installation of such gargantuan equipment will not be cheap, but Cuprous are confident that their new mining and metallurgical industries will make an attractive investment due to the ever-increasing demand for silver throughout the world.


An Exhibition of Sculpture at the Bodmin Rooms

Lettice

Tongues have been wagging for months about outrageous sculptor Huntley {no surname - just Huntley, imagine!} and the exhibition he has been working on. Well, today I popped round the corner to the Bodmin Rooms in Chobbington Street, together with about a thousand other people, to the exhibition's opening to see what all the fuss was about. For the display the roof had been opened up - lucky it wasn't raining! - and sunlight poured in to illuminate Huntley's pieces. I would have said 'clothe Huntley's pieces', but the whole of this wild man's notoriety is based upon his using only fully clad models. One shocking piece of marble depicted a man in a thick cloak with a hood pulled well over his face and long boots, apparently striding across the street, with not a single scrap of flesh visible! Huntley calls this style of sculpture 'Realism', claiming that it reflects the true nature of daily life for Galenans, but I for one couldn't help wondering {as startled gasps arose from all around me} whether a shocking effect might not be his primary concern.

A few more traditional artists were present at the opening, and I seized the opportunity to speak to Charmaine Butte, Prix Impérial winner and creator of the 'Blittrude Surprised by her Uncle' which stands outside the Academy of Arts building. 'It will never catch on,' she said, glancing around disparagingly. 'Why on earth should people pay to see sculptures like this, when they can see the same thing for free every day in real life?'


The New Arts

The Duke of Kabiri yet again provided some novel entertainments at his villa this Summer, furthering his reputation as a foremost patron of the Arts.

Highlight of the season was undoubtedly the first public performance of the 'Narration of the Life of Saint Monksilver' by Sieur Jaime Reconcavo, a madrigal of lyric beauty and great rhythmic complexity, written in an original style developed by the composer himself. After the performance, Sieur Reconcavo proudly named his invention the 'ars nova', and showed how the melody, held fixed and now called the 'tenor', could be used as the basis of elaborate and florid upper parts. Another innovation, he explained, is the division of the music into segments of equal time value, or 'bars'.

Less theoretically-minded guests found light relief in Madame Zoraya's 'ballet de cour' held on Midsummer's Eve. This combination of music, dance, poetry and spectacle, which lasted well into the following morning, united performers and audience in lavish set pieces, processions and courtly dances, and made excellent use of a pair of dromedaries which happened by chance to have arrived from Kufra the day before.


Prospecting in Northern Sibutan

Forget the banking houses of Sahela, Kabirian silver mines, and the vineyards of Salemi: the surest place to make your fortune lies far from civilization in the northern reaches of Sibutan - or so the gold prospectors of the Chilaw Hills would tell us. Two years have seen the shanty town of Detrak's Reach quadruple in size, and now over four hundred hardy and determined folk have thrown off the comforts of city life and 'gone back to nature'. But however romantic may sound their tales of fjords and forests, mountains and waterfalls, the prospector's life is a difficult one.

Communications with the outside world are few, and the settlement depends for grain and equipment on a fortnightly caravan from Port Levaca. Meat must be hunted - at the risk of bears, wolves and worse. To scratch a life from the hard soil leaves little time for leisure or relaxation during the short winter days. And to these privations must be added the numbing, interminable cold. But all this the prospectors endure, for the sake of their single enduring hope: that the next stream, the next pan, the next day, may hold riches beyond their wildest imaginings.


Pell Enna Fire

The slums of Pell Enna have been yet again ravaged by fire. This was the tenth disaster of the year, but by far the worse: the fire raged for a whole night and destroyed a large part of the North Bar district before early morning rain and the efforts of surviving inhabitants dampened the flames. Certain Town Councillors are now suggesting that close-packed tenements, modelled on those found in the Lowgate quarter of Rangar, are unsafe in a town with neither major thoroughfares nor an organized fire service.

The number of local fatalities is unknown, but estimates range as high as forty. The flames also claimed Victor Schönheit, co-director of Schönheit Supplies, the well known Pell Enna builders' merchants; his presence in North Bar has yet to be explained. It is believed that the fire was the outcome of a drunken revel: it appears to have started in a boarding house from which unintelligible chants were heard earlier the same evening.


The New Medicinal Science

Doctor Theo Tern, Secretary to the Athenaeum, University of Galena

All Galena is at present talking about recent advances in medicinal science made here at the University. Most eminent of all those persons involved is Doctor Tilla Berio who, though driven ignominiously from Lalgola after her theories failed to find favour with the Duke, has found the ideal home for her researches in Galena. In a recent address to the Athenaeum, the Lady Doctor presented an experimental proof of the theories of the ancient physicians Tallius and Orlando, who believed that the health of mind and body are dependent upon a perfect balance of the four bodily humours.

The subject of Doctor Berio's research was a highly choleric man, lean-faced and hairy, who had been recently sentenced to hang after the murder of a woman in a tavern brawl. To this man was delivered twelve ounces of the arterial blood of a ewe {the sheep being of phlegmatic nature}, transfused through two silver pipes inserted into the carotid artery of the ewe and a forearm vein of the man respectively; these pipes, being of different diameter, were linked by a flexible quill.

Doctor Berio reported that, after one day's rest, the subject's pulse was returned to normal and there were no after-effects of the operation. Furthermore, since the transfusion there has been no evidence of the murderer's former quick-temperedness; his behaviour, having been diverted towards the phlegmatic, is thus more thoroughly in accord with that expected of a normal, decent subject of the Empire. The Lady Doctor concluded her address saying that 'There is surely no need to stress the significance of this research, both in the field of medicine and in that of law enforcement.'

The Athenaeum awaits further results with excitement.


The Hierarch Prime Reads the New Lines

The Hierarch Prime, Head of the Church in Pangaturan and second in authority only to the Dramatarch, moved closer towards a direct conflict with His Holiness this autumn in his annual Matriculation Address at the Rangar Academy of Dramatic Arts. After urging new Understudies to guard against Criticism, Prime claimed that to every Follower of the Way there lie open many possible Roles of which only one corresponds to that which is written in The Script.

Although the Hierarch has denied all accusations of Improvisation in the past, his words are sure to spark new controversy and further damage relations between Rangar and Palawan, which have been strained since the 'Morning Rose' affair. Supporters of the Dramatarch, most prominent amongst them the Hierarch of Galena, have argued that the magnitude of the tragedy {in which almost two hundred Pangaturese Churchmen and women died} should not be allowed to obscure the fact that the Hierarch Prime challenged the authority of Palawan when he sent missionaries carrying his 'own version of the Way' to the Imperial Province of Bernhaven.


Many thanks to the following people for their support during the early years of Ixion's Wheel, and for supplying many of the characters and situations which appear in this journal:

 

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