Issue Two | Winter 2001
From: Su’umélkoi Hágesh hiTkétl, Flat Peak Clan, Temple of Chiténg, Attached to the Legion of Kétl, Gánga Isle Imperial Prison
To: Dlántukoi Gáyan hiTkétl, Flat Peak Clan, Fasiltúm
Subject: Monthly Report on the Environs Near the Ruins of Gánga
Ngángmuru brujutlé dlántukoi,
I have arrived safely and look forward to my duties.
The clan here in Petrís Layóda sends their greetings. Dlántukoi Harésh hiKalakán has been most kind to me. He enjoys the stories of life in Fasiltúm. He once visited our fair city when he was young and remembers it fondly. He asks about a clan aunt by the name of Alána. Forgive my ignorance, but I am too young to remember all of the elders. I promised to ask of her when I wrote you.
The clan has assigned me fine quarters when I am in the area supervising the repair of the Imperial prison. I am pleased that I can offer my healing skills to our cousins in return for their generosity. Many of the men working on the construction site are the same faces that surround me at evening mealtime in the eating hall. They do our clan proud by setting such a fine example in their skillful labor. The Prefect has noticed their attention to detail and has mentioned other work that will be needed in the near future. I have relayed this information to the dlántukoi and he is quite pleased.
The temple has set up a temporary camp near the quarries for my use when I am there to choose the stones. It is near a large village called Saléng. These visits give me an excellent opportunity to explore the ancient éngsvan Hlá Gánga ruins nearby.
I have noticed that this ancient land has been reduced to a vague shape. The hills have softened with time with the help of the stonecutter’s tools. The dales remain swampy so as to be easily flooded during storms. It is difficult to picture the olden capital during its time of glory when the gentle slopes that surround my position were once mighty cliffs.
The geological formations are of great interest. They greatly influenced how the islands cities were constructed. The limestone is mined just south of the urban areas from a great hill named Zaúl, which seems to be a local aspect of Lord Vimúhla, probably due to the appearance of the mount as a flame arising out of the ground. The rock is red near its base and slowly turns to yellow near the top with many imbedded creatures forever frozen in the stone. The locals refer to these as the “minions of the flame” that await release during the Final Conflagration. This ominous moniker does not seem to stop the Glass Spear Clan from gathering the material and making lime, which is crushed and mixed with powdered volcanic rock to make mortar in a process that is held secret by their clan.
The volcanic rock is cut from a valley that slowly rises to the west of the ruined city. The colors range from a dark red to gray to black. The active quarry presently covers a space of approximately two tsán long by one tsán wide. The quarrymen of the Black Hand Clan cut one dháiba to two dháiba cubes of the stone from galleries that are three dháiba to six dháiba in size. When a quarry gives out the previous galleries are filled with the refuse of the new one. Some of these abandoned quarries have been converted into great tombs with carved steps that lead down into underground passageways. I have not yet visited these places of the dead.
Bricks are manufactured near the clay hills downriver from the village. The Glass Spear Clan has a kiln working here that has been lighted for many centuries, according to local tales. The operation is quite impressive. As I have examined the old ruins I have noted their clan’s local seals imprinted in the bricks of collapsed walls from before the fall of the nearby city. Their clan works closely with our own. The clan cousins here buy many wagons full of brick and tile from the kiln master. The pieces come in many shapes, square, triangular, round and a unique crescent shape. At this time many of the pieces are being used in repairing the damage the Temple of Chiténg in Petrís Layóda suffered in the last mild quake. I have also been put in charge of this operation since my arrival from the builder’s school in Béy Sü. Fortunately, the prison and temple are near each other.
I feel honored to serve The Emperor by helping to repair His Prison.
The village has some interesting sites. In times of peace the village drinks from the springs that rush up out of the ground near the foot of the hill. During times of war, there are large cisterns under the shelter of the local fortification. Upon further investigation, one of the wells that are still in use is 40 dháiba deep and the cistern it feeds is covered by a triangular roof and holds 200 nmécha of water.
Near the northern shore is an altar to an unknown god. This deity is famous for alerting the local guardsmen, in a mysterious voice of the night, of impending Hlutrgú attacks. This has saved the local population numerous times. The priests in this region do not know which god to attribute this to (a subject of much debate), so they have erected an altar with no mention of which divinity it is to honor.
There also exists a famous relic of the Temple of Vimúhla. It is a small stone of lava-like texture, brown in color and conical in shape. It is said to have fallen from the sky in a great bath of flames. So great is the worship of this object that a shrine was raised for its veneration. It is now set in a silver frame as the representation of the aspect Methqázh, the ruler of the moon Káshi, from which it is told the stone came from. Children of the follower’s of that temple are often brought here for their khatunjálim to be doused in sacrificial blood and paraded around the village in a special silver palanquin. Many of our cousins have participated in this particularly gory ceremony.
Many of the nobility have small palaces here near the ruins. It gives them a sense of attachment with their glorious past. I was honored when the local precept of the temple of Vimúhla invited all the local priesthoods of the God and his Cohort to his personal temple residence for a theological discussion on “The Sacrifice of the Stone Flame”. Even from my lowly post I witnessed many fabulous scenes. Entering the building we first came into the atrium. This space was surrounded by a colonnade of 12 columns of red lava having bases and capitals exquisitely cut in orange marble. These gave access to apartments of elaborate shape and design. As I continued along the marked pathway I came into the courtyard of honor. This space then opened up onto other apartments. The one that I could see into had six vaults supported by finely carved supports.
The courtyard itself was paved with marble inlayed with semiprecious stone. Even the basins were made from marble with the water pipes lined with lead. Here, from the lowest dais, I listened to the some of the finest minds debate the intricacies of ancient postulates. It was more interesting to my scholarly brothers, but still fascinating to me.
During breaks we were allowed out into the verdant gardens. They were laid out in the ancient Engsvanyáli fashion. The largest section was dedicated to plant life with huge pots of clay, brass and even silver holding varieties of flowers and herbs that I have never seen. One of the junior priests of Vimúhla explained to me the significance of each plant and how it is used in the various rites of The Burning Foretold. It was a very enlightening day.
Petrís Layóda is a place of wonders. The custom has always been to place small shrines at the intersections of the main streets. This has resulted in a total of 526 shrines placed about the city. Although most of them carry inscriptions, many cannot not be read because of the passage of time. Many are not even recognizable as to what temple they belong. I shall make a pilgrimage to map out those belonging to Vimúhla and Chiténg.
I am learning much here and hope to see my beloved home clan soon after this assignment is complete.
Your loving son,