The Fifth Path (8/30)

Nabua’s Journal Entry for Nisan 28th

Bad at being depressed. Still angry at Baal child but now too excited to care. Crossed Green Sea. Trapped in Green Sea. Storm saves us from Green Sea. Picked up by tornado. Thrown to random part of the world. Land next to mysterious island. Research suggests island is home of Xexan kingdom. Row boat around island. Land in Xexan kingdom. Xexan is real. Get to explore it. First time any from homeland arrive here since the first traveler. Journal of first explorers gives some words. Had to make way to write down in Hishtu. Sounds are not quite right. Hishtu does not have right sounds. Close enough.

First traveler allowed to explore port town only. Never allowed to leave to explore rest of island. We get to go to capital to meet with leader. Likely not allowed to explore much though. Will need guide to leave port town. Strange restrictions to enter kingdom of Xexan. No foreign money. Few foreign goods allowed. Must wear local clothes. Can only enter once. Have to check belongings. Have to convert to local currency before entering.

Ask about guides. Say that maybe someone speaks a foreign tongue. Hope we find someone. Using Himkalc is tiring. Too many errors. Will try to learn Xexan. Seems hard though. Uses strange sounds and cares about parts of sounds we do not. Example. Neru means a shirt if the end of the word goes up in sound. Different meaning if it goes down. Means type of bird then. Can not write difference down in Hishtu. Journal of first traveler will help though. Guide who can translate will help more. Hope I can learn enough to add to knowledge.

Have to decide what to bring along on journey. Seems unwise to bring more than can carry. Sturdy backpack and a few books. Should be sufficient. Make sure we have enough cash. Setup seems dangerous if we run out. Might not be able to leave. Maybe our boat stolen if we fail to return quickly. New clothes are nice. Made from some fabric that is very soft. Incredibly thin. Feels impossible. Will need to ask about how its made. Nice that men can wear bright colors here. Many cultures seem to restrict to women.

People look kinda like homelanders. Black hair instead of brown. Paler skin. Clothing more colorful. Clothing shows more skin. More so for women then men. Interesting hats. Long strips of cloth seem to be popular style. Tied in very extreme ways sometimes. Can almost give people tails or bows. Woman sometimes use them in seductive way.

Seems there is trouble for Eric. Wants to sell goods. Port authority not have enough money to buy. Can not leave on boat and get buyers because boat is outside of country. Lots of frustration. Try to find a good solution. Difficult with language barrier. Lots of arguing. Misunderstandings are many. Solution is difficult. Eric converts some of goods into local currency. Uses currency to buy large cart from member of port authority. Will take goods from ship into country on cart and sell there. Slow process. All goods have to be checked for illegal smuggling. Will need to stay in town to sell goods. Will have to leave Eric behind. Our goods are checked. We leave. Promise to meet up with Eric in ten days.

After leaving port we must enter gate to country. Have paper to explain purpose of visit written in Xexan. Officials seem suspicious but allow it. Use strange device. Device gives officials numbers which they write down. Ask about it in very broken Xexan. Only reply I understand is money. Something to do with money. Numbers written down are close to total money when added together. Off by a bit though. Very curious how device works. Try and ask but do not understand explanation at all. Maybe word for push and pull. Something to do with rocks and metal. Much to learn. After short talk that means nothing to us we go in. Have to put ink fingerprint on paper.

Town is incredible. Smells great. Lots of food available on the street. Even food is colorful. Everyone hungry so we stop to eat before going on. Try some meat and some colorful balls. Meat has a sweet flavor. Never had sweet meat before. Very good. Balls are made from beans. Stick in mouth. Xexan people eat using sticks held in complicated way. Try. Fail. Will have to learn. Anatu looks like she did not like her food. Baal child seems as happy as can be. We finish and pay. Seem to get way too much change. Many coins look different then ones we got at the port. Green colored instead of bronze. Even found some of the coins in between my bean balls. Very strange. Will need to have guide explain money to us.

Needed to find guide. Hope we will attract someone who speaks our language. Searching will be hard with no language skills. Decide to explore town in hopes of getting approached. Many things to see. Counting devices. Bright vibrant cloth. Musicians playing in houses. Paper lanterns. Small statues of people wearing lots of clothes. Statues of snakes with legs. Many soldiers with very long spears. Many men and women with long scrolls of paper looking over things and marking them down. Whole town almost felt like a festival. One time thought we were attacked. Loud banging noise. Thought of cannons Eric talked about. Heard again and ducked for cover. Many children laugh. Look out at source of noise. Small tubes. Lit with fire then explode. Go get others. Bodygaurd lady doing job very literally. Had Baal child on ground. Covered his body with hers. Explained about tubes. Woman suspicious. Baal child curious. Kids happy to show off. Use book and manage to buy some to take with us. Kids refuse to take green coins. Seemed frightened of it. Really need guide. Decide to ask kids.

Long conversation. Kids very patient. Manage to explain after much miming and storytelling. Kids huddle together talking. Eventually one goes out. Short time later kid comes back. All kids move into a formation making two straight lines. Old man with long white beard shuffles around corner. Kids shout different things. Do not understand. One of the words is old. Another is powerful. Elderly man reaches us. Takes off hat. Begins speaking slowly in Xexan. Try to translate. Respond. Man smiles. Breaks into perfect Hashim. Then switches to Hishtu. Even speaks a few sentences of the speech of Bel. All of us shocked.

Uras recovers first. Greets the elderly man. Watch and listen to conversation. Realize old man is messing with Uras. Step in after a bit. Too funny to do at first. Man laughs. Turns serious for a bit before messing with us again. Might be a little crazy. Between bits of riddles and jokes we slowly start to come to an agreement. Man willing to guide us to capital. Discussion of price. We make offers and man laughs. Make offer involving green coins. Man grins. Starts offering to pay us with green coins for honor of guiding us. Think I understand. Seems crazy. Why coins not get thrown away?

Able to stop Baal child from agreeing. Explain concept to companions. Think me mad. Old man laughs and backs me up. Green coins are like debt. When you have them then you have less money. Good thing we made few purchases. Shop gave us extra debt as change. Tried to sneak extra debt into food. Somehow rule must be that can only give green coins to other people. Not able to throw away for some reason. Old man smiles at explanation. Formidable man. Seems clever and very tricky. Going to be a very different guide then Hadia. Long while later after other companions annoyed enough to leave without a guide we reach agreement. Old man is expensive but will be worth it. Based on conversation man seems to be friendly now that we have agreement. Having him on our side will be very useful.

Becomes very formal and efficient with companions after agreement struck. Think it is a kind of joke. Between me and him. Helpful for companion though. Think woman might have killed him if he had kept messing with her and the Baal child. Listen closely and still he is mocking. Just does so in way that is hard to catch or is ambiguous. Sort of compliments sort of insults. Think it is my fate to fall in love with all our guides. Not as pretty as our last guide. Damn smart though. Need to make sure he does not get himself killed though.

Food finished. Still much of day. Decide to buy supplies then head out. Split up. Uras goes to meet up with Eric and explain plan. Old man goes with woman to purchase supplies. Children take me to a cartographer. Maps are incredible. Beautiful colors and well drawn. Covered in Xexan writing describing things. Get map of kingdom and map of nearby islands. Expensive. Worth it. Will treasure maps forever. Kids not allowed in shop. Take maps out and show to kids. They point to there favorite places on the island. Take notes of parts I understand. Kids huddle together for a bit. Speak very slowly and formally to me. Translate even more slowly. Realize they are asking for money. Considering guide and polite nature of request I comply. Kids are great. Very thankful. All line up. Give me a deep bow all together. All run off. Reunite with others.

Success on all fronts. Eric has started selling his goods. Understands time line. Woman returns carrying a heavy pack filled with supplies. Old man is smiling but so is she. Apparently quite the charmer when he wants to be. With all complete we head for edge of town. Ask old man his name. Gives me a riddle in Xexan. Will have to work on it.

Leaving town checked by officials with devices again. Old man gets us through very fast. Record numbers again. Ask old man about devices. Explains. Tricky concept. Some special substance in coins. Attracts or repels certain kinds of metals. Device measures push or pull. Normal money pushes and un-money pulls. Total sum of money can be seen on dial. Explains that one can not leave city with negative money total. Kinda makes sense. Seems like magic to me though.

Land we walk through very hilly. Very green. We walk together in silence. Pace is slow because of old man. Begin to climb hills. Hard on the legs. View at top of each hill incredible. Can see land for very far distance. Lots of farming even on uneven ground. Will need to ask how done. If simple technique will be easy to bring back to homeland. Would improve land use. Help farmers. Been a while since thought about returning. Still not sure if I want to. The outlands are beautiful and wonderful. Do not need to be looked down on here. Outsider but not a lower type of person at least in some places. Could help many if return though. Remember dream of feeding flames. Vision of return or vision of spreading knowledge out here? The silence of the walk and the beauty of the scenery makes it easy to ponder. By fourth hill it begins to be dark. Start to make camp. Old man tells us story about a battle between two great warriors in these hills. Good story. Hidden wisdom and all that. Need to post guard says old man. Hills not as safe as they seem. First watch is for me. Stars are beautiful at night. Work on riddle of old man. Uses grammar I do not know. Need to ask about tomorrow. Maybe riddle is didactic tool. Would not put past man. Is a tricky one. Think I see something. Need to go check on it. Should be quick. Probably nothing.

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