Thursday, 9 June 2016

Traderoutes across Pent

The Great Amber Path

Despite the name, this route involves the trade of a great many northern goods into the heart of Pent, and then to the edge of Prax.  When the weather allows, trade is frequent.

Gathering points within Lentasia muster caravans carrying sealskin, whale ivory, dried fish and amber.  They then proceed along the Elyu-Ene to the foothills of the Rockwoods, from whence they head to the Hellcrack.  In these travels they will trade for Hazia, Date Wine and items of Teshnan craft.  At the Hellcrack they will trade for anything with an Otherworld origin.  Finally, the hardiest will cross into Prax, trading with the Oasis People at Eggs On Rocks Oasis.  Returning northwards they will carry spices, slaves, strange feathers and leathers, and the horrendously priced Hundred Season Eggs prepared by the Oasis People.  They will trade for foodstuffs, fabrics and hazia to take into the north.
  An unusual piece of blue amber, sacred to the White River

The Iron Road

Seldom travelled more than once a year due to the costs involved, this is the route by which iron might normally enter Pent. 

From Palaspar the route passes north of the Von Mountains (to avoid the Red Hair Tribe) and thence through the Hurran Bor.  Passing along the West King's Highway and past Thunder Butte it reaches the Sirdaryo, and thence to the Hot Lake.  Iron may be traded all along this route, but the price is generally astronomical, given that the best trade will be at the Hot Lake.  From the Hot Lake the caravan carries smoked shellfish, elephant ivory, sugar beet, metal ores and gemstones.

The Demons' Track

This is a high value route, accompanied by dangers and only used by the strongest caravans.  Magical items pass along it, accompanied by other goods.

From Zangshi Kinool the route leads to the Hot Lake, carrying items relating to the faiths of Chern Durel.  Trading will be done for decorative wares, slaves and hazia. From there the track proceeds down the Sirdaryo to the Hellcrack. Here there is a lively trade for Otherworldly goods.  Finally the caravans pass on to the Tower of Orathorn. This is the end spot for any slaves, and remaining magical goods.  Heading back they will carry bizarre magics from Orathorn, picking up more from the Hellcrack, and hazia and slaves from the Hot Lake.

玉合貛 照片 042.jpg  Charm containing a great Sandfox spirit from Orathorn


This is a source of strange spices and unusual spirits.  It is only undertaken during the warmest summer weeks.

Caravans gather at the Hot Lake, bearing sugar beet, Teshnan crafts (except worked wood!), rice and such seeds as have been gathered from the Steppe.
From the Hot Lake the Woodway travels down the Sirdaryo, and thence to the West King's Highway.  From here it passes to the Sky King Mountain, where the rice is traded to the nearby clans.  Avoiding Gork's Hills as far as possible, it then proceeds to a point south of Griffin Mountain to trade with the Aldryami.  There the beet, seeds and crafted items are traded for the seeds and stamens which are used for many spices, and for such captive spirits as the Aldryami cannot utilise.

  Er'oring peppercorns

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Trade goods of Pent

The Lunar caravan is well known, and is reliably led by the Red Hair Tribe on routes that do not reveal the strength and semi-settled population that is building around the Hot Lake.  It carries the wealth of Peloria eastwards, and bring that of the east homewards. However, it is not the only trade route, nor are these the only trade goods that cross the steppes.

Most trade is done on the small scale between clans and settled communities.  There are many goods that can be found throughout Pent, provided you know where to go or are willing to search.  These include the herded and domesticated beasts of Pent and their products, including horn and antlers, wool and hide, felt and leather, meat and milk products, hoof and bone.

The relevant creatures include horse, pony, dog, cattle, pig, goat, donkey, reindeer.

However, some areas have herds others do not.
Zebu and sheep may be found in all areas apart from the north, while the few elephants the Teshnans have are only to be found near the Hot Lake.
Zeravshan District. City of Samarkand. A Man with a Horse WDL11137.png A local trader in the Hot Lake area

Similarly the vegetables grown in the small farms of the settled and semi-settled communities can also be found in many parts of the steppe.

In all but the north may be found sources of barley, flax, fruit, and hazia.
The west provides opium, central Pent produces nuts and dates, with the nut oil and date wine that result, while the east has rice paddies and sugar beet fields.
If you are willing to trade with the Uz, they gather many plants from their marshlands.

Hunting and Fishing
Fish abound in the rivers and lakes of Pent, and the listing of animals for each area will indicate what may be hunted, and the materials to be gained from these can form a local resource.
For example, mammoth ivory from the north is much prized, as are seal-skin coats from the White Sea littoral.  Whale fat is a valuable source of oil, and what may be harvested from a giant arthropod can be both rare and valuable.  The Hot Lake is a ready source of shellfish.

File:Seal mask, Eskimo, early 20th century, carved wood, red and white pigments, whale ivory.JPG A whale ivory shield

Minerals etc.
The Teshnan settlements in the southern regions produce worked metal, wood, shell and beads.
Hyaloring metalwork comes from the western and central steppes.  Lentasian amber comes in a variety of colours, the colour determining who will buy and for how much.  Occasional mines in the east produce metal ores and precious gems.  Ivory comes from the north - Mammoth  and Whale - and the Hot Lake - Elephant.  The Chern Durelites of the east produce carved stone of all dimensions in their ancient native - and often horrible - style.

This is common practice, and may be found in all areas.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Bo Shan and the Hot Lake States

It must be remembered that Bo Shan's journeys belong to history, and what is to be found at the Hot Lake in the post-Seleran Empire period will be profoundly different.

Entering the Concealed Region

My guides finally condescended to take me to the region that they named 'Hidden Riches', which is a land of many minor settled peoples, and some who roam during the warmer times and huddle around the sources of warmth during the impossibly cold winters of this land.  If only they would embrace Solf, their inner flames would keep them hot, but their servitude to the Kargzant spirit or the Ignorant demon suns of Karn Torail keep them in poverty.

After crossing the sand-river we came to a place rugged and barren, before the land became even more broken yet wooded, which put me in mind of our own northern foothills, although the trees are quite different.  I was informed that we were now in the land of the KenKen, a people who followed the faith of Karn Torail.

The people of this land are much divided, with most showing little refinement while the king and the priestly caste wear clothing of Dragon Empire origin and are -for the most part - literate.  I was advised to avoid any appearance of missionary work, since they do not even tolerate Pentan shamans here.  We experienced little welcome, although there was trading to be done.  After twenty days we moved on, and upon cresting a rise of the borders of the Hli-Ul I had my first sight of the Hot Lake itself, a wonder in the midst of this parched land.

From the rise I could see cultivated fields stretching towards us, petering out and turning to pasture as the land ascended.  The Hli-Ul are relatively prosperous and happy, and without exception follow the religion of Basko, the Black Sun of which I wrote in my volume concerning Karn Torail.
Food is gathered and stored in common, and all the people receive a ration as decided by the High Priest.  Remarkably, he eats no more than does the lowliest free member of the kingdom.  By contrast they treat their slaves with great cruelty, and they are half-starved at all times.
The Great Keep of Hli-Ul is a poor thing of mud-brick, and although the High Priest rules from here, it is not military might but religious power that keeps the land independent safe.

While we were there, the Rekindling Festival took place.  A rough-hewn wooden statue of Basko was placed within a four-wheeled image car, in appearance like a hollow step-pyramid, and wheeled throughout the whole country before coming to rest outside the Great Keep.  The car was set alight with much pagan singing and blood-letting, and when the smoke cleared and the embers cooled, a black jade statue of Basko was revealed, transformed by the prayers and dire magics of the priests.

I was told that there was a plan to build a mighty stone pyramid to replace the Great Keep, and the work would be a full eighty years in the doing.  Neither on this journey nor my subsequent return did I see any sign that any foundations had been laid.

I was pleasantly welcomed by the High Priest, but he showed no interest in the Great Truths.
After thirty seven days we moved on to another lakeside land, Tse-Huo, which is split from Hli-Ul by a stretch of wooded ravines.

Tse-Huo is as different from the preceding lands as may be imagined.  The people are of that Pentan type named Darkusite, a people so fierce they are almost bestial.  They were in the midst of what they name their 'Five Year Assembly', and all of their clans were camped along the water's side.
The clan encampments were very colourful, with silk banners and streamers marking every chieftain's and shaman's tent.  Although they showed off their ferocity in their Assembly Games, they were surprisingly courteous to us, treating our arrival as a good omen for reasons which remained unexplained.
The Great Khan of the people was in possession of a mighty religious relic, the Skull of Darkus, and the people gathered to venerate it while lashing and cutting themselves.  The violence of their Games becoming repulsive, we stayed but eight days before moving on.

Crossing several streams we came into a land inhabited by a people of mixed ancestry, Pentans and Karnites, happily living alongside each other.  Their ruler is of the Eyaloran Pentans, and is named
the Beauteous Horseman.  Their Great Keep is an extensive warren of stone and mud brick, much adorned with statues and masks of the Karnite demons, but topped with Eyaloran prayer flags.
The Karnites tend rice fields and fish in the streams of the land, while fearing to fish or gather at the lakeside.  The Pentans hunt widely over the plains to the south west of the lake.
I had some success interesting some of the Pentans in Solf's Great Truths, but one of their shamans intervened, chastising them with a blazing spirit.
The shamans of this land are many and varied, and have no accepted leaders.
The Beauteous Horseman was actually a pock-faced brute, a drunkard with numerous children.
On my later visit I found the Pentans absent, and was told that there was a contest in progress to determine who would inherit the title now that the old man was dead.

The eastern extremity of the lake is held by the Ochsha, and amongst them I felt truly endangered.
The people are Darkusite and more feral than their Tse-Huon kin to an astonishing degree.
The clan leaders are constantly feuding to see who will hold the title of Jakhan, and skirmishes are a perfectly normal occurrence!  The men are naturally hard and greatly given to falsehood, for which they feel no shame, but rather account it a sign of intellect.  The women are repulsive, and thankfully obscured from normal view by leather hoods.
They are, however, one of the most devout peoples I have ever met in my travels.  Indeed, they sacrificed my horse to Kargzant with great glee, and gave me the roast generative bodies to eat at the subsequent feast.

I did not trouble to revisit them, and gather that their lives remain as they were then.

File:Babur and his army emerge from the Khwaja Didar Fort.jpg
A fanciful rendering of Bandelkun Castle in the Zanozar edition
Bandelkun Castle
Bandelkun is a mixed population, Karnite, Eyaloran and Hayar-Anmador Pentan.  They are a well organised state, and very martial in their attitudes, brought on not least by their proximity to the Ochsha.
The Castle itself is the most impressive of the fortifications around the lake, although that is a simple thing to achieve!  It is built exclusively of stone, faced with white plaster and painted with a variety of curses to ward off attackers.  The people are well provided for, with rice, almonds, a variety of fruit and plentiful hunting.  If one of the states was too unite all the lands of the Hot Lake, I am sure this would be it.  The riders are well armed with lance and bow, their foot with mace and sling, and both are well supplied with heavily quilted armour.
Their Hayar-Anmadoring King is well supplied with counsellors and magicians.
We spent almost sixty days as his guests, talking of all the lands I had visited.  When we left, he gifted me with an astounding steed with many magical powers.

The lands between Bandelkun and KenKen on the north side of the lake are waste at the present, although there are clear evidences of previous inhabitation.  I have heard much concerning a goddess
of the lake, but I saw neither temple nor shrine dedicated to her alone.  However, before we left that region my guides insisted on binding the arms and legs of three of our slaves and throwing them into the waters as a sacrifice.
Such is the savagery of those who I had come to think of with some affection.