A little over three years ago, rumors of an advanced civilization in the south began circulating. Before this time, no one had ever actually been beyond the harsh plains below South Sadir, the sun’s rays simply being too harsh. Agriculture was unfeasible even with the Sadiri’s advanced irrigation techniques. Nothing could be seen beyond an apparently never-ending plain and so it was never explored (plus the Sadiri have never had much luck with expansion).
With the discovery (made through the use of the newly invented telescope) of life and vegetation beyond the plains the interest suddenly became rather intense. The Empire was a buzz with anticipation, some fearful, some eager, some simply curious. Several high-ranking members of the royal court, led by Arral Ramiri, son of Tabiss Ramiri, gathered an entourage of magicians and guards and ventured south. After several weeks of travel (they had to travel by night to avoid the sun) they saw a thin green line appear across the horizon. Using the telescope again, they saw evidence of a primitive civilization and approached unarmed, anxious to make friends before enemies. Here are the entries in Arral’s journal concerning their encounter.
3 ¥ 474
Today, four weeks since we left, we have finally come across what Neri showed me in the telescope; at least that’s what I think it is. Something is tampering with the magicians’ adaptation and so we will have to get closer before confirming. However, I am very hopeful.
My party wants to leave before the sun sets, but I and Miras have advised against it. Two days ago, one of his hounds left his side to chase after one of the strange lizards we have been seeing for the last two days. Although he was called back into the shield before too long he is now exhibiting signs of heat stroke. Under no circumstance is anyone to leave the party without one of the magicians’ shields up.
We’ve confirmed it, and it’s better than we had hoped. Not only is there ample vegetation, there is also evidence of a civilization. From this distance, we can only see some stone buildings and crops but have yet to see the inhabitants. Miras has suggested that they might be nocturnal, moving only at night like us. It might still be the distance, but there is no evidence of aqueducts or other signs of an advanced culture. Nevertheless, Miras assures me that the drastically different climate will produce different plants and animals than those we are used
to which still means trading might be feasible. He and the young Garron caution me against being too optimistic though, a fact that has being noticeably apparent since approaching this land. I’m trying but it is so hard, I mean, a new civilization. How could I not be?
Today we reached the edge of the farmlands and found them to be empty. The strange bluish vegetation does appear to be a crop of some sort but the farmers are nowhere to be found. We came across a large stone structure towards the center of the fields that appears to be, despite its enormous size, a tool shed. After examining the items inside extensively, Miras believes I am correct. Yiri, the young Garron who spoke to me yesterday, agrees, although maintains that we should be cautious for these instruments could be weapons. Surely we can clarify that when we meet the illustrious owners.
For the first time since we left, the magicians have had a chance to break during the day, this building providing ample protection from the heat. In fact, it seems to be caused by the stones it is built from. They appear to be deflecting the heat. Miras has found the source for the coolness by prying loose a large, circular slab of stone that covered a well.
Just a few minutes ago, the hounds went wild, something really riled them up. When we went to investigate, all we saw were several enormous, bipedal shapes fleeing towards the hills and the makings of a settlement. So as not to hurt our chances at friendship with these new people, I have decided to leave the dogs and one of the guards behind to look after them. We will leave for the hills now.
I have neglected my journal for the last few days but if you had seen what I had so would you. Shortly after my last entry, we made it to the village we had seen from the shed. It is predominantly occupied by the Ukari, the large creatures we saw that first night. But despite their superior numbers and size, they do not appear to be the leaders. It is our new friends, the much smaller ones, who call themselves the Zath that say they are in charge. Amazingly intelligent, it is a wonder that they are not more advanced. Their keen wits have allowed the three we’ve been talking to, to pick up our language in the short few days we have been with them. Incredibly hospitable, they have lavished upon us many luxurious gifts of food and shelter. Although they themselves appear to be day dwellers, their Ukari charges are definitely nocturnal and so we have been granted their quarters during the day while they roam around outside in silence.
They are a most unusual species that hold many similarities with us despite many strong differences. Unlike the Ukari, who definitely are divided into male and female genders (they take no shame in their bodies and do not appear to be bright enough to grasp the concept of ornamentation or hygiene), the Zath’s genders are not readily apparent. The main one we have been speaking to, Iz’i’cra (their true names are far more difficult to pronounce so they have phonetically simplified them for us), is a male but we cannot tell the difference between him or the females. Surprisingly, they say they do not have mates, what this means exactly we cannot discern.
Their bodies are extremely unusual, covered from head to two in hard, cartilaginous, scales. From what they have told us and what Miras also proposed, is that they are naturally at home in far harsher conditions. They call their homeland Kis’tir’i, a large expanse of desert far to the south of here. For comparison, they claim it to be almost twice as hot as the plains through which we just passed. This is the reason for them being out during the day. Iz’i’cra says that this climate is too cold for them, amazing, considering we are stripped down to our breeches with our magicians doing all they can and are still boiling. From the information we’ve gathered both from our own eyes and from speaking with the Zath we have discerned that they must be some type of advanced reptile. The Ukari on the other hand are clearly mammalian. In fact, both females and males bear fully functional mammary glands. While they are clearly warm- blooded, from what the Zath have told us, they cannot control their own body heat. Every night, while we and the Ukari are awake, the Zath enter into what appears to be a form of hibernation. Even with this ability, the Ukari are still required to lay beside them to warm them with their own heat. We were mistaken when we first saw it, believing it to be some form of inter-special intimacy. Iz’i’cra was most quick to correct us, clearly illustrating their relation with the Ukari.
From what I understood, this is what happened to create the present situation. For several months before the Year of Falling Stars, or the Aschii as they call it, the Zath saw from their place deep within Kistiri a flaming sphere low on the northern horizon. Curious for the first time to venture from their familiar terrain, the Zath arrived just as the meteor collided with the largest moon. In the ensuing chaos, the wild Ukari killed many Zath. But the Zath were not angry, owing the Ukari’s behavior to their primitive nature. It took along time, with many more Zath killed along the way, but they managed to soothe the Ukari. Ever grateful to them, the Ukari pledged themselves in servitude, viewing them as gods. Try as they might, the Zath could not dissuade them of this and so they sought to just help the Ukari in any way they could.
Something terrible has happened! That idiot Yiri, despite my strict orders, took one of the magicians and went to spy on the Zath while we slept. He and the mage were killed by an Ukari while skulking about in the shadows. Apparently, the Ukari are not as tame as the Zath would like to believe. Iz’I’cra rushed in and woke us as soon as he was informed. He was most apologetic for the accident, explaining that the Ukari are very wild without the Zath to guide them. Unfortunately for Yiri, that information came too late. Although, much of the blame falls on my shoulders. We’ve seen the Ukari, they are clearly primitive savages, it’s a wonder the Zath haven’t tried to wipe them out, they are simply menacing. Although his emotions are difficult to read within his alien features, I would have sworn Iz’I’cra was sad when I said this to him. Struggling with the difficult concepts he was trying to convey, he eventually told me to have more patience. Apparently, the Zath look upon the Ukari very fondly, almost as children would be looked upon in our culture. Iz’I’cra tells me that to destroy something simply because it is inferior is sad. Obviously a simple emotion, but his dedication to keeping these Ukari moral is almost inspiring. He assures me that this wont happen again; that the Ukari have been told they are not to touch us. For safety, he has advised us not to travel outside without him or another Zath with us. We will surely do as he says, those Ukari are dangerous.
Today, after obtaining permission from Iz’I’cra, we cremated Yiri in a traditional Sadiri funeral. Surprisingly enough, and even more surprising that we did not notice it before, these people had never seen fire before. The Ukari panicked and fled into their dwellings but Iz’I’cra only seemed fascinated. He tells me that there are records of fire but that for ages they have not used it, forgetting how to in the process. The arid quality of Ukar (as I have learned this area to be called) would be a breeding ground for uncontrolled fire. Additionally, Iz’I’cra was incredibly interested in the concept of a funeral. I thought back to my friend Kirash, a young man from House Soreeth about how much he would have been pleased to speak on this subject with a completely alien culture. Oh well, he’ll have to come on the next trip. Try as I might, I cannot convey this concept to the Zath. Additionally, while explaining it, I mentioned those foolish Thannists and Tal which just brought up more questions. Apparently, the Zath have never had a belief in deities or the afterlife. Most fascinating.
I’ll have to clear it with the court first, but I have invited Iz’I’cra to come back to Sadir with us. Regrettably, he has declined, at least until granted permission. He fears that our people may not be tolerant of a culture so radically different at this time. I can’t imagine why anyone would dislike these charming people but have decided not pressed the issue any further until when I return again.
I asked Iz’I’cra how he felt about opening official trade between our two people and he seems quite eager but fears that his people do not have enough surplus to provide for trade. In exchange for their exotic goods, I have offered the aid of the Empire in the areas of advanced technology and farming techniques. Miras has been out nightly with a Zath named Kri’a’lath collecting data on the surrounding region and has suggested many ways in which they could increase their crop yield. Even now, the Ukari are digging wells in the hills where the water evaporation would be lessened. This is turning out to be a most profitable friendship.
My party is beginning to miss the comforts of home and, sadly, I must confess that I am as well. I have assured Iz’I’cra that we return as soon as we restock our supplies and speak with the council. I will miss him, he has become a fast friend, I only hope that the rest of my people will be able to look past their differences.
Miras and one of the mages has volunteered to stay behind with Kri’a’lath and continue research and teaching some of the simpler techniques to the Zath. He has asked me to bring his equipment back with me upon my return. Also he has suggested bringing a contingent of engineers to assist with his work. Personally, I am skeptical as to whether or not the court will allow this. They have always been rather conservative when it comes to important decisions. It may be sometime before I manage to convince them that this is a good idea.
Upon returning to the Empire, Arral caused quite an uproar in the royal court. His allies were few, only Soreeth and Ramiri showing the slightest interest in his proposals. He was forbidden to take any of the Empire’s resources with him when he left again. However, the court was not able to rule out others joining him upon his return. And so, with a few younger members of the court along with a retinue of magicians, he returned to Ukar.
Eventually, after more and more influential royalty joined him, he was able to establish a level of trust between the Sadiri and the Zath. Engineers and scientists were sent to assist the Zath in producing a surplus so trade could begin. Finally, three years later, the Zath have been granted an invitation to attend the New Year feast, which they have shown great interest in.
The problem of their body temperature was solved after Miras Parthan was allowed to work on a theoretical device he had proposed. The Tsa, as it was called, emanates the correct level of heat needed for a Zath to live in the chill of Sadir.