The Curiosities of Tsomgats for Merchants and Travellers. Part 2: On Living When You Might Otherwise Die

  • Baron

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    Do not be fooled by the name we have given this land, for although it certainly is a “Beautiful Desert”[1], you will be mistaken to think the land is in any way as soft as its name would suggest. Even accompanied by armed guides and following only the established travel routes, travelling up country still poses a variety of dangers that you, my reader, would do well to heed.

    The most common threat that you will encounter during your travels is something that I have already previously touched upon. Although such threats are unlikely to pose much danger so long as you and your caravan do not stray from established trade routes[2], you may find them to be quite the hindrance to your trip should you encounter them regardless.

    Ultimately these common nomads want nothing more than to negotiate a ransom between them and your guides. It is my advice that you do not complain so much should this happen if you do not wish to be left behind by your own guides. Let your guides do the negotiations and never allow your merchants or your goods to ever be seen by your captors should you want to pay them off at the lowest possible price. Reject any demands that your captors send someone to assess your goods and the people travelling with you for the same reason.

    An acceptable ransom for a respectable trading caravan should amount to no more than the equivalence of three ¼ tuns of wine, 1/14 tuns of honey, 2 yard-lengths of plain cotton-wool, or 1 yard-lengths of modestly-coloured cloth. If you find yourself travelling in a more modest company, give no more than the equivalence of one ⅛ tuns of wine and half a yard-lengths of plain cloth. It is with guarantee that you would still be able to make an agreeable profit in the markets afterwards with the ransom-price I have outlined.

    Some intrepid Sovdagar[3] think it wise to skimp on provisions in order to maximise their profits in the market. Pay your respects at their graves and thank them for their foolishness so that you may not do the same. Foraging and hunting your food in favour of buying them is not an option that you will find readily available in many parts of this country, and it is best that you do not drive your caravan to such a state that they are forced to slaughter the pack animals. If you fear that you may run out of water before you are able to reach another source, or if by some reason you are unable to carry enough during your journey, send a scout halfway ahead between you and your destination. This way, your party will be replenished by the scout just as you begin to run out of water.

    As for the rest that you may experience in your journey: Ignore them as your guides ignore you whenever you ask of the strange happenings that you may encounter during your travels[4]. There will be times when such demons appear to goad and possess the minds of those who travel in this country that they perish by their own hand, whether they are conscious of it or not. There will be other times when it appears you have entered the half-world and the world around you cease to function as you may have grown use to knowing.

    To this, entertain the idea of prayers and your favourite verses as such entities seem less attracted to the busy mind than they are to the idle one.

    It is by this way that I, Kero Ish Gesei, remained alive in my travels in Tsomgats and returned to write this.

    1 - Literal translation of Tsomgats.
    2 - Kero seems to discourage straying from the official routes, but the fact that he continues to detail how a fair ransom is to be conducted implies that he is not above from skimping on occasion.
    3 - The Sogad word for Merchant. Kero seems to be showing off some knowledge of the language of the Tsomgats - a notoriously difficult language amongst the Kohese to learn - in order to further his credibility as a primary source.
    4 - Kero seems very dismissive and glossed over such an important detail and obstacle in his chapter on survival. Perhaps it is because Kero himself has not experience such encounters and the scant details offered are merely those that he had overheard during his travels. In any case, Kero generally does not seem to be interested in such matters as he is with commerce.

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