Monday, November 03, 2014

The Law of the Plains: Prologue and Chapter 1.

Technical note: I don't know how to create footnotes, so I left them in italics next to the text. Hopefully I will find a better way next time.
Also, you will encouter the letter ʉ. It is pronounced like "a" in about, or like "euh" in french, but it is almost silent.

All who have died are equal.
Unknown Nʉmʉ Chief


This story is the story of a crisis.

Every crisis starts in the same way. It's a normal, routine day.  People are busy doing whatever they usually do in their very normal lives... And suddenly something out of the ordinary happens. Something that, in the blink of an eye,  changes their destinies forever.

A sad fact is that most of the time, this little something would be of little significance if only it had been given the attention it deserved. Worse, most of the time its effects are compounded by a chain of mistakes that people make out of ignorance or worse, out of carelessness. And on Yaghan, a planet where humans live in fortified cities and monsters roam the land, ignorance or carelessness are often the mothers of tragedy.

Chapter I

It was a nice and warn night of early autumn, somewhere in the vast plains that composed much of the biggest continent of Yaghan. Yahneequena [Happy Eagle] was sleeping soundly, wrapped in the heavy furs of a young Kʉtsʉtoya, not far from one of the small fire pits dug by his tribe, the Quenashano [War Eagles]. He was blissfully snoring and dreaming of all the strange stories their shaman Tabbaquena [Sun Eagle] told them to try and educate them about their past.

A long time ago, more than several hundred revolutions had said Tabbaquena, the last members of the Nʉmʉ had decided to emigrate to Yaghan. They had hoped that this virgin planet, the first habitable one discovered by Earth's inhabitants, would enable them to live a life closer to their ancestral ways. With that objective in mind, they had settled in the Great Plains, a huge continent  that was somewhat similar to where they had lived on Earth. Much to everybody else's surprise, they had striven there, thanks to the providential discovery of the Kʉtsʉtoya, a huge animal at least twice as high and large than a horse. Tabbaquena said that they looked like huge carnivorous bisons, but Yahnee had never been to Gond so he had no idea what those were. The towering beasts were herbivores but like most creatures on Yaghan, they could turn carnivorous when food was scarce. With a thick hide and a thicker fur, it was a dangerous animal to hunt, but it provided everything the tribes needed, from food to clothes to weapons.

When the First War against the morlocks had brought humanity to the brink of extinction, the Nʉmʉ were the only ones who had a modicum of knowledge on how to survive in the wild without the constant help of machines (Tabbaquena had said machines were things like the Wind Trains of Gond). It had forced them to fully embrace the ancient way of life of the tribes. As a result, during the dark days that had followed the war, the Nʉmʉ had been instrumental in defending the fledgling communities of survivors. They had also been the only ones courageous enough to try to live in the open instead of burrowing themselves in impregnable fortified cities.  +

All those legends seemed really strange and wonderful to the young warrior, especially those talking about this another planet somewhere in the sky from which his ancestors supposedly had come. He sometimes dreamed that he was riding among the stars with his horse Wakaree [Turtle], discovering new hunting grounds free of insane monsters.

He was deep in such a dream when his mother put her cold hands on his cheeks, waking him. She was a strong woman and still quite young, but her skin was prematurely aged by the scorching rays of the twin suns that warmed the planet. He kissed her parched hands then said sleepily: "Hello mother. Thanks for waking me. How are you?"
"Tsaata, tsaata [I'm doing fine], son", she said in a soft voice, so as to not wake the other members of the band. "It's time for you to take your shift."
"Haa Haa [Oui]. Thanks mother" he whispered. "It's a nice night to ride!" he added happily.
"It is indeed", she said. "Yahnee, Pahiitʉ-Saari [Three Dogs] is sick. Ask somebody else to come with you."
He looked surprised. She had been fine at noon when they had eaten together.
"Her stomach hurts. Tabbaquena gave her herbs, she vomited, with some rest, she'll be fine. Don't worry. Find somebody else."
"Haa, Haa. I understand. I will. Don't worry mother. I'll be careful."

While he extracted himself out of his makeshift sleeping bag, she opened a woven wicker basket and took a packet wrapped in the long red leaves of the ekapita plant. He knew that it was food for his trip, most likely a small morsel of bread, berries and some dried kʉtsʉtoya jerky. She gave it to him with a leather water pouch and watched him prepare.The Nʉmʉ believed that it was important to look good when going to war because if you died you met the Great Spirit. Scouting the plains was a very dangerous task so Yahnee-quena always took great care when he dressed himself. He donned fringed buckskin trousers and a nice and light leather shirt decorated with ivory bone pearls. He then wrapped both his braids in soft furs.

"The spirits be with you, son." she said simply when he was finished. "Go find somebody to accompany you".
"Thanks Mother. I will." he said. "Can you mark a stone for me?".
 She acquiesced, then watched him walk towards the other side of camp where his friend Kʉtsʉteka [Bison eater] laid. Then she took her knife and carved a sign into the soft white stone next to the main fire pit. That way, everybody would know that the scouts had left camp for that shift. She then headed back to Yahneequenah's furs and slid in them, taking advantage of the remaining heat.

Little did she know that her son had no intention of respecting the Law of the Plains.

(see you in 3 days for the next par in the adventures of Yahnee and his horse Wakaree!)

1 comment:

  1. Superbe ! Moi qui n'aime vraiment pas la science-fiction d'habitude ... j'avoue que ce premier chapitre me donne envie de connaitre la suite ! (pour info, je me suis réveillée à 3h du mat cette nuit et me suis dit "tiens allons voir un peu ce que raconte Carnets de Seattle"... et hop! une amorce qui m'accroche jusqu'au bout ! C'est drôle que tu aies eu envie d'écrire in English !? Nathalie


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