The City of ónchash Cháiran: Area, Geography and Climate
by Alan Musielewicz
This article was supplied to tekumel.com by Professor Barker and can thus be considered ‘official’ Tékumel.
ónchash Cháiran is a city located in the middle of a trackless desert or wasteland in the Southern Continent. (1) In ancient times long before modern recorded history, ónchash Cháiran was a port city located on what was either a wide navigable river or the end of a long inlet from the ocean. Presently, after the desertification process of the Southern Continent caused most surface water to disappear, only a trace of the ancient port facilities are still visible. The city dominates a raised area upon the eastern half of a plateau of ancient basaltic bedrock. The colour of the rock is sombre red with black lava floes. The sand of the surrounding desert is also sombre red and basaltic black. The city is surrounded in the distance by black jagged peaks. (2) Far to the north is the Black City or known to the ónchash Chairáni as the City of the Imperfect. (3) Somewhat closer to ónchash Cháiran is the Village of Sff’t. (4) Between these two is located the Valley of the Tombs. (5) The closest point of interest to the north is the Valley of the Perfume of Death. (6) To the southwest is an area known as the Petrified Forest. (7) Located towards the other side of the forest is an ancient haunted tower that is so weather beaten that looks much like the Devil’s Tower on Earth Prime. (8)
There are several land routes that are open to the city although they lead through areas where there is little or no water and even sparser vegetation. Most of these trails wind through ancient valleys and arroyos that are similar in appearance to the badlands located in Montana on Earth Prime. Unless the route is well known a traveller will most likely become lost, die of exposure, possessed by the numerous desert spirits or be consumed by some larger monster. Located in some of these valleys are simple tribal clans. These are small groups of individuals who reside near sources of water that are well hidden. Occasionally stones can be found sticking up at angles out of the ground, these are used to warn would be visitors away from the wells. Usually these wells are robotically controlled ancient wells which were part of an ancient irrigation system throughout this area. The tribal people worship these wells and robots as a god who gives them the source of life. Several parties have made the journey, although more have failed then succeeded. Many of the areas through which the traveller must take are magical dead zones, which means that all supplies must be carried along.
The actual location of the city is not known to many people, most of those that know are Persons of Sand, Aqueously Challenged or more commonly referred to as tribal people with a new stone age culture. There are few nexus points which allow ingress to areas inside or even near the city. The few that exist are guarded by devices, sentry robots and traps.
It is always hot and dry. It rarely rains and clouds are also rare, the few that are seen are mere whiffs of white against the sky. (9)
ónchash Cháiran was a beautiful city during the "Times of the Lords of the Later Times". It was a pleasure city and the colourful domes of the original pleasure palaces are still visible from a distance away. There are rumours of centres within the city that allow the full pleasure of the senses, but these have not been used in a millennia. (10) Today, ónchash Cháiran as described above is a lost city in various stages of disrepair.
The city is oval shaped with the eastern end being fully functional and the western end going into ruins. A major east-west avenue splits the city into two halves. There is a city wall that still exists and is in various stages of dysfunction and ruin. The Acropolis is roughly triangular in shape and points almost due north. The sides are steep and the east side slopes sharply to the walls. There is a large dome within the city that contains the Labyrinth. (11) The dome is surrounded by out buildings that are dormitories, halls and sitting rooms that are no longer in use. Near the dome is the Hall of Remembrances. Located here is also the Hall of Nacreous Beauty where the master sigils are located. (12) Close by are outer domes used for ceremonies and festivals. (13) To the northeast of the dome is the Citadel where all dangerous weapons are stored. (14) There is also a large food processor in the centre of the city.
Buildings are indirectly lit by natural light filtered through holes in the ceiling then reflected off of movable dazzling white walls. The subterranean levels are lit by use of translucent stones that project light down. There are wind and fan systems for cooling. Some chambers are filled with water to cool desert winds that are drawn through them. Most walls are painted with pastel red, pastel brown, cream-yellow or white. Sometimes there are painted decorations that are floral or arabesque. The only other wall decorations are painted plaster reliefs of garden like things. The goal of these decorations is to represent and reproduce the old time of when this entire region was fertile.
In the past each branch of the family would have its own inner and outer hall. A central courtyard or a second floor would be used for the entire assembly of the family and for cooking and eating. Stairwells are located in square corner attachments to the buildings. Steps would lead up to bedrooms and shared areas. Toilets consist of water closets with chamber pots. A type of shower is used for hygiene that consists of continually flowing water that is regulated through the use of porous rocks. Furniture consists of portable daises of stackable wood covered with cloth, carpets or fur. In the bedrooms are wall cupboards in which to store personal effects.
Sometimes, inside these buildings are stairs that lead to nowhere. There are labyrinths within buildings that enter and exit curiously shaped rooms. These are innovations on traditional architecture. Some buildings are dedicated to memories, where accumulations are unravelled. In these buildings are well liked chambers of carved seats going down to a stage like centre, where the past is unravelled. Often a chemical made from a chalky bark like substance is smoked to help with the illusion.
Much of the city is unoccupied and treasures lie about everywhere within the city. Buildings are sometimes abandoned because a type of claustrophobia sets on the ónchash Chairáni that enter the building. This is caused by too much accumulation of memory within the structure, which if allowed to build up without a chance to unravel, it can bend the ónchash Chairáni. It is horrible and frightening to the ónchash Chairáni. Sometimes houses are abandoned because an imperfection occurred in the accumulation of memories within the house. No one touches them because it is considered an imperfection. Contrasting this disregard of structural integrity, there are banners of the glorious days of the city that are kept everywhere and in complete repair.
The western section of the city contains the lower class sections and the more ruined parts of the city. The most famous building in the western section of the city is the House of the Round Arch. The outcasts, deserting accelerators and imperfect foreigners live there. There are also vampires, Jájgi and undead in this section of the city. Other creatures that can be found are dogs, cats, Hmélu, Chlén, birds, snakes, scorpions and Epéng (bead insects). No one knows what these beasts live on, although there may be an old food processor from a zoo located somewhere in that section that still produces food automatically at intervals. Mihálli wander through the city now and then. There is even an Ahoggyá hermit who wandered in some time ago. There are several Pé Chói in the city who dwell in this desert land because within some of the structures are plants which they claim can be traced back to the Garden. (15)
The eastern section of the city have Hokún in the parts unoccupied by the humans. They are the remnants of a mightier group. They believe that they once ruled the area just outside the city. The Hokún have riding beasts. The Hokún and the humans live in complete harmony, mainly because they do not deal with each other. There is civil discourse between them. Even though an imperfection, foreigners are occasionally allowed within the city after due consideration and only for a trial period. If they do not disturb the citizens and do not behave to imperfectly they are allowed to stay.
Living mainly in the southern section are the underpeople of the city. They are called Khéri by the ónchash Chairáni. They call themselves Akhá. They due the clean up work and live under the city in large numbers. They are mottled dark brown, four feet tall, have tails, with a lighter brown belly, and look vaguely froglike. They have large ears that fall on their backs, their eyes slightly bulge. They are excellent climbers and live in the sewers beneath the city.
There is no economy in the city. Beneath the city is the machinery that supply food and drink and manufacture goods for the use of the city. Favourite foods include a sweet square candy and edible ‘gems’ that are absolute taste sensations. Even so, most persons within the city engage in some sort of art or craft form as a hobby. Because they have so much time to devote to leisure activities, their work is exquisite and sought after throughout Tékumel where it is known. The weather is not controlled, or those systems have broken. Robots work the machines and also are sentries to protect the points of entry to the city. These machines are also capable of creating complex and vase illusions that are manipulated by the initiated. These illusions call upon the memory banks of the computer under the city and also from the Hall of Remembrances. (16)
The People, Customs and Language
There are about two thousand beings who live in ónchash Cháiran. There are 1100-1200 human women and children, 600-700 human males and about 200 non-humans. A greater detailed list of these individuals, there relationship to one another and their location within the city is provided below.
The people of ónchash Cháiran are generally tall, slender and graceful with wavy hair. The hair is black with reddish tints. They have long triangular faces. Their eye colours vary from light yellow brown to black. Their complexion is lighter then the Tsolyáni and are golden tan in colour. The life span averages 70 years, mainly because of the automation of the food source and the medicines and computerized enforcement of dietary restrictions. Due to this factor, the women are slender and children tend to mature early.
The counsel wear dazzling white togas and kilts. Males wear leather leggings, a plain kilt and a small vest laced shut. Female costume is an open coat that hangs above the ankle. Underneath they have a single coloured garments with a tabard and a belt at the waist. They use a silky semi-transparent cloth. On state occasions, there are also pink, yellow and green togas worn. They are beautifully decorated. The colours have no known significance. Tunics and pants are worn underneath.
The city is ruled by the chief of the temple. His memories extend back the farthest and are the most detailed. He is in power by consensus and when he is old, he will go to a niche in the Hall of Remembrances and be placed in stasis and near death so that he can dream of his life. There are no clans but families. There are also no slaves. There is an elderly counsel of twenty members which determines what needs to be made. A larger counsel of three hundred members meet occasionally to determine the general course of the city. The twenty members are chosen from this number by consensus. None of the counsel are accelerators.
Marriage is accepted at the age of thirteen. Marriage is not a religious matter but simply viewed as a contract. Polygamy is allowed but is considered to be a little less than perfect. Roles are never intermingles. It is an anti-gay culture.
People in the city worship the desert wind and the sun god. Tan-Re is the deity of the oneness and the many faces. Men see it as male and women see it as female. Temples are semi-taboo to the other sex. There used to be five gods worshiped. Little if nothing is known of them.
The people of ónchash Cháiran are very deliberate. Privacy is not considered to be an important thing. Outsiders seem brash and overly anxious. Insiders are seen as good and effete. They are courteous and pleasant. Quarrels are rare, because all of the precepts and points were established a long time ago. Oral tradition is reinforced by the illusions of the past that are re-enacted to educate those in the present. The person who is wrong will see this and stand corrected. It they persist the others turn away from him. Laid back is considered good. The key to the culture is "say nothing, stand aside and see nothing."
The ónchash Chairáni cherish memories and illusions that they conjure to bring the days of the cities greatness once again to light. The aesthetic and aristocratic festival of High Mínka occurs on the 5th month, 18th day. The base plebeian festival of Low Mínka occurs on the 9th month, 17th day. The families with greater accumulation and perfected paths ,(i.e. "nobles"), spend a great amount of energy bringing others to parties that embellish and elaborate the cities greatness. These parties are usually along some ancient theme that involves the cities history. The use of displays and illusions maintain these parties. It is socially impolite to invite anyone to a party before the illusions starts.
The standard musical instrument is a keyboard that plucks strings. A sharp zither like sound is made. Through the use of illusions, a single player can be accompanied by other instruments and percussion.
The language is ónchash Cháiran and is not spoken anywhere else. There are no related languages on this plane. ónchash means "dome" with a possessive vibration attached. ónch is "the cosmic life force". There is no past tense in the language, but there is an accumulated sense instead. The future tense is expressed as an uncertain tense, more looked as branches of possibilities, future unravelling. Time is expressed in halves and accumulations. The ónchash Chairáni use communication balls that must be set to the language where you are going.
You take your father’s personal name as a last name. When you come to a closed door you clap your hands to announce yourself. If the door is open you announce yourself using your voice.
Education, Philosophy and Thought Process
The educational system mainly consists of learning the major paths of perfection. The major trend of the citizens is to follow these major paths of perfection. A citizens status depends on your ability to recite past precedence and law for your actions. Good is a person who knows the antiquities and acts on them. Bad is knowing the precedence and trying to change it. People know what is perfect and are judgmental. Innovation is something that is not fully eventuated yet. Time is an accumulation of past events. A simple accumulation of time is possible, but without major paths of perfection, it is not preferred because of the fear of unravelling. The whole city is inward looking and concerns themselves mainly with the city.
The unravelling involves the skein of destiny. The personal skein is your individual ganglia of four dimensional time-space. The ideological-harmonic patterns underlay and involve all skeins and planes. The beings that exists on many planes have perfected this, although the ónchash Chairáni consider this multi planer existence to be less than perfect. Sigils can work for anything. You can regard these skeins as musical notes which play the harmonic patterns of the Universe. ónchash Cháiran is the master sigil, the sounding box, the amplification devise that allows the dance to occur. That is why one must dance the patterns to the other planes. (17)
The history of the accelerators closely models that of the later years of ónchash Cháiran. Therefore a brief explanation is required. About fifteen hundred years ago a generation of shamans migrated to the temples of Ksárul, Belkhánu and Avánthe in the greater population centres of Tsolyánu from the uncivilized portions of western and central Salarvyá and also from the then primitive areas of Tsolyánu. Although this movement represented a major migration of shamans, a few years after their arrival a smaller group of shamans disgruntled at the temples of Ksárul, Belkhánu and Avánthe detached themselves and went to the Temple of Thúmis. Within twenty years most of the shaman left the temples where they were learning and returned to their native villages.
Each of the temples that the shamans studied at helped contributed to the shamans knowledge. Avánthe was similar to the totemistic principles of the magico-religious obligations and helped to sharpen their perception of the real world. Belkhánu gave them the ability to explore in detail the spirit world. Thúmis allowed them to record and pass on information accurately. And last, the Ksárul protégés learned a system of magical squares and numerology to set tablets of common understanding.
Upon their return it was generally discovered that an imperfect transfer of knowledge had taken place from the four temples and the shamans. Avánthe worship was close enough to their own tribal knowledge that it was absorbed. Belkhánu was used as secret knowledge for the spirit traveller and became a hidden ritual of the shamans. Information from the temple of Thúmis was maintained at a higher level than the other because it was brought back written on the tablets. Ksárul worship provided the foundation of magic squares and numerology that would prove useful later in the formation of sigils for the use in accelerator magic.
When the shamans returned to their tribes they found that they were no longer able to integrate. They were not truly part of that culture and yet they were not truly Tsolyáni either. Because of the changes in themselves and their perspective, for the most part they chose to live outside of their villages as hermits. They lives solitary lives and were usually fixed to one location. Through the use of the spirit souls they would then explore these areas and determine the exact makeup of the component pieces of that area.
It was after this stage in the evolution of these shamans that the great schism started. The shamans began to polarize into two groups that had conflicting views of how the knowledge that they had learned was to be used. The larger group was called the escorts of germination and they were fundamentally against interference and intervention in natural processes and also held to the tenet of simply standing aside, watching, observing and guarding against unnatural intervention their surroundings. Non-intervention was their strict policy. They were formally called the Escorts of Germination. The other, smaller group was called the accelerators and they were striving for the use of the powers they had learned which could accelerate the natural processes. To this end they felt intervention was necessary in the natural process.
With such a disparate conflict of fundamental goals, the two groups split and the accelerators were driven from the community. The accelerators went to the cities and hired out as mercenary wizards. Due to the different nature of their magic, they were highly successful. At this point germinators began a campaign of discredit against the accelerators. Due to their efforts and with the aide of the temples who also feared the accelerators, the general populace began to fear the accelerators. The accelerators were termed blasphemous. Nobles who hired them found they would have unrest on their hands, the temples would shun them and they would face sanctions, so subsequently they stopped hiring accelerators.
This persecution soon turned into open war between the accelerators and the germinators. Soon the conflict became more of a ‘witch hunt’ with the germinators searching for the accelerators and the accelerators running and hiding. The accelerators before they were totally exterminated were contacted by a certain wizard named Metállja. He required their services to help straighten our the Unstraightened City.
The Unstraightened City is apparently laid out in orderly blocks. Once within the city, the blocks lead in every direction. Beneath the block are large sigils. These sigils are Unstraightened, hence the disorder. The sigils are larger versions of the sigils on the ónchash Chairáni. If straightened the sigils could provide unlimited power.
The accelerators wish to protect the Crater of the Unstraightened City because it is through the city that the interplanar power gets through to Tékumel. With control of the Unstraightened City the accelerators hope to build up power to bring about changes on Tékumel. This will be affected by the guiding of the universe of Tékumel through to planes of vast power. Although this is really Metállja's goal, the accelerators have also taken up the cause. Arrayed against them are powerful enemies. Due to the nature of the Unstraightened City, the germinators wish to have it removed from this plane. The deities of Pavár do not look kindly upon their actions. The silver suits wish to stop them, along with every creature that exists on multiple planes as they could not longer exist if Metállja is successful. The college is neutral except for Metállja.
With the help of Metállja the accelerators became the secret ruling elite of the City of the Clanless. Outside of a few major strongholds, such as the City of the Clanless, ónchash Cháiran and the Unstraightened City, the Accelerators function only in small groups or singly. The germinators have several important enclaves of which Bayársha is one. There is also a hidden base of the germinators somewhere in the northern hemisphere. The germinators have come to ónchash Cháiran several times and have been defeated. The struggle is still very active.
In ónchash Cháiran there are only twenty accelerators. Every one else in the city knows who they are but leave them alone. Being an accelerator is only a minor imperfection and would not necessarily result in being ostracized. The accelerator training is further adapted by ónchash Chairáni in order to accommodate their unusual culture. Initiates are taught the coordinates for the City of the Clanless. Senior initiates know the points for the Unstraightened City. Basic screening, indoctrination and training is conducted at the City of the Clanless. Further training is conducted at ónchash Cháiran because it is a safe haven. You are finally accepted when a master gives you your secret name. People other than Chairáni are trained here and take on the disguise as simply being foreigners who wish to live here. Even though first looked at as an oddity and curiosity, the use of sigils and interest outside the city are accepted because of the accumulation, although causes imperfections is of interest.
There is also a rumour of the Mighty Fortress, a legend that states that there is a fortress out of space and time that is occupied by accelerators. There is no bridge to get there.
1) Theories of Magic
There are two systems of magic in ónchash Cháiran. The most ancient form is the common type of magic used on Tékumel. It is similar for scholars to believe that there may have been a single source of magical inspiration on the planet. Other scholars have the simultaneous development theory involving a synchronicity and a variation on the ‘wormhole’ theory of magico-spatial relationships. In any event, due to the computerization of the cities’ defence, food and supply systems many of the common spells are not necessary. Being unnecessary, they are classified as an imperfection. Most ónchash Chairáni would not wish to engage in imperfect activities. The spells learned are very minor and utilitarian in nature.
The other form of magic of ónchash Cháiran is fundamentally different than the magic elsewhere on Tékumel. (18) The ónchash Chairáni magic involved the use of sigils tattooed all over the body. These represent various shapes in the form of designs that are repeated over different spots of the body. These designs are similar in function to the universal truth function of the runes of Norse mythology, however they are much more complicated in design and purpose. These tattooes increase in elaborateness as the skill of the user increases. There are 25 basic symbols used to construct these patterns. Each of these symbols has a master located in a Hall of Nacreous Beauty in the centre of the city. The exact type and substance used in making the tattoo is found in a book located in the library. Each symbol represents a cosmic principle which can be manipulated by the sigil user in order to cause an effect on this plane. Magic is caused by the caster touching various sigils and using sympathetic sound vibrations to draw on ónch, or the cosmic energy source, the energy runs along the sigils and shoots to other sigils much like lines in the earth cause energy to move in certain directions. (19) The way the energy moves causes an effect on this plane. In this way it is like psychic magic without the tie to interplanar power that is usual with other forms of magic. It is more like the use of a large psychic reservoir by means of channels and canals. The exact control and results of the sigils vary with the skill of the castor. Several different types of results can be melded to perform complex magical function. There are secret sigils for 60,000, 70,000, 80,000, 90,000 and 100,000 that have no sounds and are unpronounceable. The 100,000 is the master secret glyph sigil which is known only to Ksárul and is sung by Thúmis.
2) Type of Sigilists
There are five basic types of ónchash Cháiran sigilists. These are the Quest or, Eventuator, Knower, Defender and Harmoniser. Sometimes a sixth is added from persons who are foreign to ónchash Cháiran, they are known as the random elements. The various persons have rigid tasks to perform within the party.
The Quest or sets the path, determines courses of action and is the strategic leader of the party. His sigils lead the party, determine the location of that which is sought, and determines obstacles and enemies. His number is 1 which signifies the oneness of purpose. His element is Water.
The Eventuator is the person who runs the day to day elements of the party. He opens the portals. He is the tactical leader, the scout, who is more practical in knowledge and makes the quick decisions need to adventure. He has the offensive sigils in the party. He pushes the Quest or to complete tasks. His number is 2 symbolizes the two courses of action or paths of decision. His element is Fire.
The Knower is the person who has the skills to provide background information, language and cultural expertise, and knowledge of the history and customs of the area. The Knower can find these things out by use of sigils to read the area, books, pylons, and other items. The number of the knower is 3, symbolizing the past, present and future. His element is Air.
The Defender is the person who provides defence and security for the party. The Defender has the task of providing shelter and protection for the party. The Defender has the ability to accelerate or decelerate objects, time and the like. The Defender has the further task of being the combat engineer and construction person. He gives advise of caution to the Quest or and usually gives arguments counter to the Eventuator. His task is to keep members of the party true to ónchash Cháiran beliefs. His number is 4 symbolizing the four corner of defence, the four basic elements. His element is Earth.
The Harmoniser is the healer of the party and is also responsible for provisions, general welfare and to keep the party in harmony with the surrounding. The Harmoniser is required to gather the elements together and to combine sigils of the four others listed above in order to perform complex tasks. The Harmoniser also stabilizes the party from interplanar confusion. The Harmoniser can hide the party by harmonizing them with the costumes of the area. The Harmoniser can make them even appear as inanimate objects to others. The Harmoniser’s number is 5 symbolizing 5 members of the party, the four elements plus ónch. (Ether)
The Random Element is a foreigner who is called into the service of the Accelerators of ónchash Cháiran. As the positions above are rigid, fixed and cannot be changed, it was determined that a random element was needed to be able to react to unexpected contingencies. The random element cannot combine skills with the ónchash Cháiran members. Its duties are to react to the unexpected and to mess up the orderly arraignment. The Random Element's number is 6, symbolizing the fact that it is not of the five and has no place within the traditional system.
Complex results of sigils are made by combining the specialty sigils of several of the above and having them harmonized to a true result. For instance, in order to make a effort at disguising a party successful , the efforts of the Knower and Harmoniser are needed. In order to successfully accelerate and make a fruit tree blossom and grow fruit, the efforts of the Knower, Defender and Harmoniser are needed. Although an individual can attempt to do this work alone, the chances of success are improved with Harmonization
3. Particulars of the Defender
A Defender has certain skills that are developed. These are levelled with the ability of the Defender. The first listed is the first ability of the Defender. Only one is allowed at a time as the sigils are on the body and only one group can be used.
1) (Hastening of Eventuation) Acceleration / Deceleration: This is the ability to either speed up a process or to slow it down. For example an acceleration may be used to cause a crop to ripen quickly. The results would be determined by several factors. First the amount of moisture in the soil, after all the acceleration would still require nutrients and moisture. Then a roll for success. The perfect roll is 50. That means that it is neither too much or too little. A second roll is for the extent of the success, the perfect roll is an 01.
2) Walls of Defence: The Defender creates 4 - 10'x10' (will conform to smaller spaces) walls that will remain in place. Missiles and Melee Weapons will not penetrate. Can be placed initially only up to 50' from the Defender.
4) Disks of Defence: The Defender creates two round disks that are 4' in diameter. These are impervious to melee and missile attack but cannot stop magic. These can be made various colours at the will of the Defender. The sigil lasts until dropped. It can be projected up to 100' from the Defender in the line of sight.
4) Shield of Protection: The Defender creates one round disk that is 4' in diameter. This is impervious to melee, missile and magic. The sigil will last until dropped. It cannot be projected and is used much like a shield.
5) Disks of Vision: The Defender creates the same two disks above in 4 but is allowed to look through one and through the other to see what is on the other side much like putting two lenses together. What is seen can also see. Nothing may pass through either way. Range is unlimited, but can only move at a human walk pace. It cannot move through walls, barriers and the like but can move over cliffs, pits, water and the like. More experience with its use allows to talk through the portal and can give direction and range.
6) The Blocks of Building: The Defender creates sixteen 3' by 3' blocks which can be attached to one another and other objects to build bridges, steps or other temporary structures that will allow passages to human sized persons.
Note usage limitations on 7 through 9:
7) House of the Defender: The Defender creates a house that is 10' x 10'x 20'. Once inside, the party is safe for a period of 24 hours, when the house must be dropped. There is created with the house enough air for one person to live six days or a larger number of persons to live a smaller period of time. This house is impervious to physical, magical, or extra planer attacks. This capability is available once per day. A second use will overload the sigils circuits for 1 to 6 days.
8) The Maze of the Defender: The Defender creates a maze around the target 50' by 50. There are 4 set patterns. Walls and ceiling. The target will take from 10 to 30 minutes to navigate the maze and exit. This capability is available once per day. A second use will overload the sigils circuits for 1 to 6 days.
9) Superhuman ability: The Defender creates a suite of energy which allows the Defender to do superhuman tasks. He can jump, lift heavy objects, run fast, do everything at ten times his previous capability. He gets 6 minutes of use and then rolls a die. On minute 7 it stops on a 1, on minute 8 a two and so forth. Do not get caught under the boulder you are lifting. This capability is available only once per day. A second use is possible but will overload the sigils circuits for 1 to 6 days.
12) Cataract of Brilliance: Complete defence from the Undead. scratching dirt for the rest of their lives. They do not enter the city upon pain of death but then leave for home. If they return they are considered full adults within the society.
(1) The northernmost tip of the landmass commonly known to the Tsolyáni as the "Southern Continent" is directly south of Salarvyá. It is for the most part, a hostile wasteland with sporadic human occupation. Most cities and indeed the largest concentration of humans are located on the northern coast in Haída Pakála and also in groups along the western and north-western coast. The rest of the continent appears to be partially inhabited at most. Along the northwest and western shores, there are some numbers of small coastal tribal groups that intermittently inhabit ruined cities and fortresses along the coast. They live a meagre existence from supplying fresh food to the ships that ply back and forth along the coast between various known and unknown empires. These tribal groups increase in both numbers and fierceness as one travels east and inland towards the mountain ranges located in the centre of the southern continent. Starting slightly inland from the coast are rolling plains that stretch inland towards distant mountain ranges. Many of these mountains are rough, jagged and covered with a carpet of Food of the Ssú. There are several medium sized cities located inland, but there appears to be few cultivated areas and little advanced commerce. What commerce there is consists mainly of small groups plying goods back and forth between cities, always attempting to get their goods somewhere near the coast where they command a high price from passing ships. All along the north-western coast, just south of the swamps and marshes in the Flats of Gyógma, there are ruined watch towers and villages. A cursory exploration of this area will reveal to the traveller extensive underground systems of tunnels and chambers with large numbers of non-functioning ancient machines. These areas have numerous undead inhabiting them. Many are simply ghosts of former inhabitants, although some have proven to be extremely dangerous to travellers. There is an extensive ruined road system on the surface. It is rumoured that one of Thómar’s Towers is located on a promontory on the north-western shore that allows access to the College of Magicians. Farther down along the western coast are ruined cities partially submerged in the ocean. One of these is a pirate base, trading centre or free city that has no standard name where one can for a price purchase anything. It appears to be a hub of commerce between several continents and ships can be found from most known naval powers. There is also a partially buried, eccentric, and only partially occupied City of Glass or City of White Sands / Stones along the coast. Other areas appear to have been melted and levelled to the bed rock. Ancient unoccupied villages, water generator stations for ancient agricultural purposes and other systems or devices of the ancient are apparently everywhere in this area. There are also monuments and stone pillars at regular intervals along most travel routes. The land in most areas is hardened by the sun. Very little rain falls on most of the southern continent.
(2) The only land route which has successfully been traversed is descriptively called the "Northern Route" to ónchash Cháiran. This route was successfully traversed in recent times by Lord Tékunu hiQolyélmu, the celebrated and renowned Tsolyáni explorer, biologist and hunter of the greater and lesser beasts of Tékumel. Lord Tékunu was searching on behalf of Prince Rereshqála for rare flowers rumoured to grow in the trackless wastes of the southern continent, when by chance he met a citizen of ónchash Cháiran by name of Choom Shórqa who was suffering temporarily from a mental lapse attributed to "interplanar interfogulation and acute temporal discombobulation" brought on by a sharp blow to the head with a blunt instrument. Choom eventually recovered and related to Lord Tékunu his own interest in plants including species in his collection at ónchash Cháiran, the clippings of which could be traced by direct succession to plants that existed in the Later Times. This was not only the rarest of finds, but indeed one undeniably suitable for Prince Rereshqála. This discovery greatly excited Lord Tékunu who made the nearly impossible and dangerous trudge to ónchash Cháiran where he successfully obtained clippings of these plants. The details of Lord Tékunu’s discoveries are related in a rather dull, but nonetheless fact filled book entitled Flora and Fauna of the Southern Continent (illustrations by Lord Trínesh hiSaynúna) which can be examined or copied at a modest cost at the Golden Sunburst's clan house located in the southeast section of Jakálla. (Or ask for Matlór Gáishu, the accountant at the clans warehouse facilities nearby). The rest of the trials and tribulations of the expedition are related in the published journal of Lord Trínesh hiSaynúna, military attaché and advisor to Lord Tékunu, entitled A Marine out of Water: Being the Adventures of a Tsolyáni Captain of Marines Serving Prince Rereshqála in the Trackless Wastelands of the Southern Continent. As a result of these books, the geography at least to the north and west of the city is known in some detail.
(3) The Black City or The Dark City is also known as the City of the Imperfect by the ónchash Chairáni, is a city built of black basalt and appears to have a population of about 40,000. It is located in the middle of magically dead zone. There are no stone cairns or other devices present that account for this phenomenon, therefore it must be a natural dead zone. Those sensitive to the Pariah Deities will have their sensitivities "go off" near this city. The city has at least two factions and numerous smaller sub-factions that are attempting to control the various gates to the city. Caught in a frenzy of destructions and irrationality, every day the citizens change factions depending upon the whim or fancy of the hour. Sometimes human bones are rolled in a form of divination to determine the days factions. It is difficult to determine who is on what side at what time. Gates and wall sections change hands frequently which means that the rules allowing egress into and exit from the city also change frequently. Generally speaking, to enter the city one must become a mercenary and fight for one faction or another. Of course the would be mercenary risks the chance that the rules will change, leaving them without support. Being magically dead, only missile and melee weapons work within the city walls. The city appears to be in a constant flux and in civil disorder. Traders making it this far may go to humble dwellings provided on the southern side of the city and wait to be contacted by someone from the city. A somewhat confusing if not accurate account of this area is provided in Flora and Fauna of the Southern Continent and A Marine out of Water: Being the Adventures of a Tsolyáni Marine in the Wastelands of the Southern Continent discussed in footnote 1 above.
(4) This "village" is the largest group of loosely associated hovels more or less located at half distance between the City of the Imperfect and ónchash Cháiran. Other than small groups of wandering "persons of sand" who dwell in the wastes closer to ónchash Cháiran, they are the outsiders that travel to the city most often. Even so, their journeys to ónchash Cháiran are rare because of the hazards involved. When they do journey to ónchash Cháiran, it is usually is part of a tribal rite of passage ceremony. Several of the most significant of these journeys and the process involved to complete these journeys are related in the epic poem The Songs of Passage (author traditional) that is approximately 1288 stanzas long. It is also the only poem of note to be produced by Sff'tites. The poem is chanted by three persons each person reciting a line of the three-line stanza. The recital is accompanied by a fourth person squats next to the three and mutters Mu'atlán or "revealed truth" after each stanza. A fifth person squats next to the other four and shakes a gourd at the end of each stanza filled with pebbles taken from the cardinal directions around ónchash Cháiran. This rattling is believed to break the powerful magic spell created by each stanza. The poem describes the passage to ónchash Cháiran which takes several weeks if not over a month to complete. First, the initiate travel to the Valley of the Perfume of Death and leaves gifts for the Great Metal Ones. This leaving of the gifts symbolizes the two faces of beauty and lushness. To covet such in a stark and dry area means death by invaders or raiders as such lushness merely calls attention to the people of the tribe. Then the initiate next travels through the Mazes of the Pathway to Perfection. During this journey the would be initiate must look at the cliff dwellers who are less fortunate and more primitive than they are. This is to teach the initiate that life is not all that bad for them because others have it far worse. The final journey to ónchash Cháiran, is to allow them to see perfection which is unobtainable to them, thus dashing any childhood dreams of anything other than scratching dirt in the desert and mountains for the rest of their lives. They do not enter the city upon pain of death, but rather leave for home. If they return they are considered full adults within S'fft society.
(5) Between the City of the Imperfect and the Village of Sff't is the Valley of the Tombs. The natives located here wear black over robes. Their legs and arms are wrapped up in guaze. Upon closer investigation it will be determined that these villagers are actually ghosts of prior inhabitants. There are located here Seven Temples. The Temple of the First Moon, etc. up to the Temple of the Seventh Moon. These are bases that prevent egress to the Valley of the Flowers related below. Most persons caught in this area are sacrificed at these temples. The tombs themselves have small columns above them, with small rooms at the top.
(6) This is the garden and one of the smaller pleasure palace of Míngi, the old Galactic Governor of the planet. The governor and all sentient staff are long since dead and reduced to dispersed atoms of dust. Even so the silvery automated robots still tend the gardens at this location. Some of these machines are forty to fifty feet long and twenty feet high. They are capable of watering the plants, and with smaller limb that protrude they can cut and care for the plants. Some of these machines also are capable of transporting persons. Indeed it is the only way to get to the house due to the poisonous plants that abide in this area. Once at the house the persons brought in stay waiting the arrival of the governor. Some people have spent their entire lives waiting for the governor. The poisonous plants with their overpowering sweet smell bring death to most creatures that venture into the valley. It is impossible to get near the house without mechanical transport.
(7) The Petrified Forest is not a true petrified forest, but indeed is more of a freezing or a putting in stasis of the flora. It almost appears to be done by a huge Excellent Ruby Eye, except that the freezing is in the wrong colour. No one knows how this happened. This area is unoccupied except for various large lizards, worms, burrowers and assorted beasts. Located in this petrified forest is a cairn 300 feet high, that is swarming with Epéng. There are also several domed structures in the forest, that may once have been pleasure palaces.
(8) This ancient tower is so ancient and in such a state of ruin that it appear more like a bluff than a tower. There are no entrances useable near the base of the tower as these are covered with fallen debris. Egress can be obtained only through apertures located about 100' to 250' up the sides of the tower or through openings on the roof. Various undead creatures, Sérudla, various flying creatures, unidentified greater beasts and unidentified lesser beasts have protected this tower for a number of millennia. This includes the ghosts of the family of the original occupants of the tower. Although most of the undead within the tower are unfriendly, the ghosts of the family are actually helpful and will engage the traveller in long discourses within the ruins of their private chambers. There is a large pool of water located in the base of the tower, although a huge water beast of some sort defends the pool from those who would use the water. Other forms of creatures of all sorts have made this tower their home as it is not only a source of protection but also of water. For a somewhat confusing if not accurate account of the beasts of this tower see Flora and Fauna of the Southern Continent and the actual encounters and adventures within and without the tower in A Marine out of Water: Being the Adventures of a Tsolyáni Marine in the Wastelands of the Southern Continent discussed in footnote 1 above.
(9) Even less is known of the eastern, southern and south-eastern coasts. There are rumours of cities that are sparsely occupied. One city is rumoured to be perched on mounds or ruins with ramps and bridges between those mounds. The area between these cities have a few tribes that wander back and forth. The Hokún dwell within this area in numbers far greater than the humans.
(10) It has been said that these illusions are the product of an advanced computerized holographic device of such dimension and complexity, that a pocket universe was created to hold it. Through the advanced use of quantum physics and micro-sub-molecular technology it is capable of converting sub-atomic particles into shapes and forms that have the ultimate semblance of reality. Although not dangerous to the ancient users who had devices to protect them from quirks and loops within the computer, persons using these machines now do so at their own risk. For all practical (and gaming) purposes, these illusions are real during the time that the computer is generating them. All manner of adventures can take place by use of these machines, though most of them are geared towards a sensual experience to the user. As they are set for the ages long past, all communication with the program is in long forgotten languages, with customs and mores that are unknown. Because of all of these difficulties, these "holograms" have generally not been used.
(11) The Labyrinth is an acropolis. The Labyrinth is a hollow dome with a round roof. There are many twenty foot tall slender pillars of different substances and colours. The floor has many coloured stones. It is in the Labyrinth that the Dance takes place which will lead persons to other planes and places on Tékumel. The Labyrinth also provides a method to journey to other areas of the accelerators. This is also the major ingress to planes that are controlled by the Ssú. This city and its defences are the plug that prevent the Ssú from attempting to reconquer this plane.
(12) There is a second Hall of the Secret Pattern in the ruined part of the city that contains a secondary pattern and a smaller hall of the labyrinth that touches on planes that the primary one cannot reach.
(13) Off to the North of the Dome are the following square buildings: Hall of Meetings; Hall of Justice and the Hall of Su-ing. These are all empty shells now.
(14) The Citadel has the only ‘modern’ map storage facility known on Tékumel! Also there are records of other planes visited by the Chairáni. The Citadel also contains most larger offensive technological or magical weapons except for personal weapons used to defend oneself in the ruins.
(15) The Garden is a place, plane or pocket universe of such greenery and indescribable lushness and beauty as to be untranslatable from Pé Chói into any of the human tongues. It would be like a human attempting to describe orgasmic ecstasy to a worker ant. The knowledge of the garden is contained within the ancestral memory of the Pé Chói. When the longing to return to the Garden, which for them is near unobtainable perfection becomes strong the Pé Chói either alone or in groups begin a pilgrimage to find the Garden. Pé Chói have attempted for unknown millennia to find the path through the planes and universes to the Garden. It is rumoured that Elóya Tláshte, the renowned magic-user and Hereditary Governor of the Tláshte Heights in Livyánu, along with his protégé the genocidal-paranoid-maniacal wizard Harkúz Chi’úna and his champion the treacherous and vain Lord Achán Tláshte (formerly hiFayán of Jakálla and sometimes Tumíssa) along with the Demons áing and ón-áing and several Pé Chói, after numerous death defying and hair raising adventures had fought their way against Silver Suits and Ru’ún all along the rout to the Garden and actually set up residence in the pocket universe temporarily to help establish the Pé Chói there. This rout and report was logged automatically by Lord Rachán’s Armour. This special armour is an ancient and mostly dysfunctional space marine suit that was 'lost' during the initial conquest of the planet when a non-commissioned officer was dropped several thousand miles away from the main landing zone. After piling up dead Ssú to a height of twenty-five metres for several miles in all directions, he ran out of energy, was finally overrun and slain. After multiple millennia, and during the Later Times, a farmer ploughing the field found the armour and reburied it under the floor it in his barn where it stayed for several more millennia. Eventually it was found again and placed in the armoury at Eloya’s House on the Tláshte Heights where it was presented to Lord Achán.) The data recording contained within the suit can be reviewed by examining Space Marine Communication Tape 57d-147983, Access Code: Tl at 3785.5701 that is located at the Space Marine Monitoring Computer Terminal, Level 137A-West at the Main Planetary Defence Base. Please be advised that your request will invariably be denied followed by non-revivifiable disintegration unless you have a pass from the Galactic Governor, who unfortunately has been dead many millennia and cannot grant your request.
(16) It is thought that the Hall of Remembrance is a form of living computer that takes the essence of a person and allows them to remain in stasis until their thoughts, skills and experience are required. The Hall mummifies the ancestors, although they are not truly dead because their bodies are semi-alive. The persons within the Hall are dreamers. Some remember their dreams truly as memories. Others elaborate on memories in their dreams. Some dreamers live in constant frustration because they know they only dream. This frustrates the Chairáni because they do not know if the dreams are correct in their unravelling or are they elaborations caused by dreams. Dream analysis is an art developed to help with this problem but it is by no means exact. One must talk to the dreamers with "the eyes of the heart" to determine how accurate is the dream. The Hall is on of the central features of ónchash Cháiran and gives them great potential not to lose knowledge as other cultures have. Unfortunately this also means that they are tied in closely to the past. Or as the citizens state "There is much accumulation". On the Holiday of Remembrance within the city, the machines are used by the counsel to bring forth the accumulation of pageantry. This allows the persons within the Hall to come forth in illusionary form and engage in activities with the living. The city is restored temporarily to its magnificence. Usually sand peoples and villagers from Sff't watch this process as part of their ritualistic observances.
(17) Usually nexus points ignore possible world-lines that are very similar to the one from which you travel from. There is too much fine tuning that is involved. Devices can do this work for you. Without an interfogulating device, usually you arrive on a near identical parallel planes only as a result of a miscalculation, a wrong turn. It is easier for the traveller to move to further world lines. All possibilities are present in these world lines, even though some are impossible to get to. In any event the non access of certain planes proves not to be a problem of the same magnitude as meeting yourself on a near parallel plains and problems incumbent of having two selves existing on one plane and none on another. Some worlds are easier to reach because you have an affinity towards them, unfortunately this also means that you can go to near parallel planes without knowing that you have reached the wrong plane. The Chairáni having no real technological support have developed the dance to help them tune in with there situation and plane. The introduction of random elements and others makes the dance difficult and sometimes near impossible.
(18) The Mihálli have a system similar to the ónchash Chairáni in that they draw power from their own sigils. It is different in the sense that the Mihálli exist on several planes at the same time and are aware that they exist on those planes. Their sigils allow them access to their other planer existences in order to draw power. On one of these planes is a central place or object where power is directly available to the Mihálli. These are known as Globes of Eventuation.
(19) There are many different types of energy that each group on Tékumel calls by a different name. Every plane has its own energy that is available on that plane. Some planes have harnessed psycho-kinetic, others have learned to use gravity and yet others use an electro-magnetic basis for their energy source. Dead zones do not affect the sigils but on other planes there may be different types of dead zones for interplanar magic.