Author Topic: An Arashi Pilgrimage  (Read 1840 times)

Offline Hoen Von Huntingdon

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An Arashi Pilgrimage
« on: January 14, 2015, 10:53:23 pm »
I wanted to create something cultural for the Arashi. I've taken many liberties and made many assumptions but I hope you like it all the same.
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   It was hot out today, though that wasn’t to say that it wasn’t always hot in desert. Con attributed this particular heat to a lack of water. It was the last day of their pilgrimage, and they had run out of water the night before. This wasn’t so uncommon during the long trek. Con had heard of some tribes starting their walk with no water at all, but that seemed more myth than truth to him. The sand gave under his feet with every step, he felt as though he walked three steps for every one that he actually gained towards their destination. Con wanted to ask for a break, even just a few seconds to adjust his wraps and get some sand out of his boots, but he kept his mouth shut.  The other men weren’t complaining, and it would look ill on his father to have a son that was “not as sturdy as the desert.” Con’s tribe prided themselves on being particularly hard folk. They tended to make their camps past Maison Grise, though in the past they had been known to travel as far north as Vautour.
   All twenty men in the group had the same bleached features. They were told that this was because they lived so far west, something to do with the old world but few in the tribe actually cared. For them, it was simply because their fathers and their father’s fathers looked the same way, so why shouldn’t they? They were hard to spot when their faces were covered in dust and their cowls were up.
   “Con!” one of the men shouted, “check the mounts and make sure the balloons are still secured. We’ll be coming up on Alleron soon.”
    Being the youngest in the party, it seemed to always fall to Con to pack the mounts and to secure their cargo. Every year around the same time, all the tribes made their pilgrimage for water.  Those living close to water didn’t have to travel at all, but they usually did some kind of symbolic trek anyways. There were three options the tribes could choose from for water. Caidos for those in the east, Widow’s Point for those in the north, and Alleron for everyone else.  Being from the west, Con’s tribe always made their pilgrimage to Alleron. Aside from being closest, it was also the safest and cheapest. In Caidos, tribes usually had to fight with the guild for access to the water, and in Widow’s Point the water from the gulf had to be filtered to get out the salt. But Alleron was pure, fresh Arashi only water. 
   The balloon was securely fastened from this morning when Con had first packed it, but he gave the strap a good tug for show. There were times that Con wished he could ride their desert mounts. They were hardy creatures that could travel the desert for days without water. Yet to ride them would put undue strain on the creatures, and they were desperately needed for the journey to carry all the tribe’s cargo.
   “Check the other one’s too Con.” The man who spoke from the head of their column was Con’s father. He was their leader for this pilgrimage. While not the chief of the tribe, many considered him the de facto leader. He was in his late thirties, strong, smart, and a good leader.  Though he was a modest man and faithfully served the tribes Elder who had been chief for the last fifty years. The chief had been sick for a long time and many of the tribe’s daily activities were governed by Con’s father, as well as the right to lead the pilgrimage.
    Con moved to the other two mounts at the rear who carried the materials for the sled. Many tribes made the pilgrimage on foot as Con and his tribe were doing.  Using the balloons from airships, they would fill them up with water and then usually hire airships to carry them and their cargo back home. For the poorer tribes like Con’s airships were out of their price range, and much if not all of the tribes funds went to buying water every year. So they would have to make the journey back on foot. The balloons were mounted on make-shift sleds and towed by the strong backs of the mounts. The return journey on foot was always twice as long for this reason. Con gave two more ceremonious tugs on the straps before returning to his place behind his father in the column. Many times Con wished that his family lived in one of the established cities. They had wells and good stores of water, many who lived there didn’t need to make the pilgrimage, though many still did.
   Coming over the crest of a particularly large hill, Con caught his first sight of Alleron.  The city was vast, or at least vast to Con who on a daily basis saw no more than twenty or so tents spaced over nothing larger than a couple of airship lengths. Though as big as the city was, the lake was bigger, and coming out of the dessert in all directions were caravans of other tribes dotting the sand like insects in their long columns, all pouring into the checkpoints at Alleron.
   It was sunset by the time Con’s tribe reached the city checkpoint. They had been forced to fall in line with the other pilgrims, forced to check in with city officials. One by one the tribe gave their names until it was Con’s turn.
   “Name?” said the guard.
   “Uhhm, uh, Con!” 
   “Next!” the guard shouted as he wrote down Con’s name. There was no need to give his second name. Most if not all Arashi had a second name and most all male Arashi were named Arashi. It was seen as good luck by many to be named thus. That was not to say that there weren’t those with a different second name, while not rare, it just wasn’t popular.
   Walking through the streets was a new experience for Con. He’d never been anywhere  with so many people. They lined the streets selling their scraps, hauling their water balloons and entering various establishments that sold strong drink. Con attempted to hide his tribal markings, three black stripes that ran parallel from under Con’s lips and stopped at his collar bone. Since so many shared the same second name, tribes adorned themselves with specific markings so that they could identify each other.  It was common practice for lesser tribes to hide their markings by tucking their cowls around their mouths. This way they could interact with other tribes without fearing the necessities for adhering to social status of one’s tribe. The twin red triangles of the Arashi’s most prominent clan were everywhere in the streets. Being the largest clan, they had no need to hide their markings.
   Con’s father reached down and tugged the cowl away from Con’s face.
   “You don’t need to hide your face here. We are all equals on the pilgrimage, we are all in need of water.” Con nodded and looked around. His father was right, no one else was hiding their markings. They were all equal in this time, all sharing the same weakness and need for water.  As great as the other tribes were, they still needed the same thing as the lowliest tribe. Con took this moment to try and remember this lesson. One day he hoped he too would reach down and tell his son the same thing.
   Abiding by the customs of the pilgrimage, Con and his tribe found a place to bed down for the night. It was seen as bad luck to leave the same day one arrived, so they would put off buying their water until the morning. Con took the time to watch the other people in the streets as they moved about. There was such diversity here that he had never experienced. Aside from other tribes, every once and awhile he could pick out other land’s peoples.  He was sure that he had seen what looked like a Yesha airship crew go by. A few Guild merchants were busy writing down prices of various stalls. Even a member of the Baronies, in their regal attire, and accompanied by an armed guard. Con watched with fascination until finally the light faded and so too did his spirit to continue on watching.
   “What do you mean two hundred copper coins? It was one hundred last year!” Con’s father screamed at the water merchant.
   “It’s been a particularly dry year, thus it has been deemed necessary to increase the price of this year’s water.” The merchant spoke with a practiced speech, and voice without emotion that came with his duties. The time for pilgrimage was almost at an end, and it was common that prices rose and fell from year to year, but to double in one year’s time was unheard of.
   “We can’t afford that.” Con’s father said, dumfounded with the tribe’s purse in his hand.
   “Then you will have to step out of line.” The merchant ushered the clan away, and the twenty men and their mounts shuffled along until they found a place outside the line to talk. Con tended to the mounts while his father and the other men shouted at each other. Fear had gripped them, and now these hard men panicked. When a small tribe was unable to pay for their water, their options usually ranged from joining with another tribe, or dying off of thirst. Many feared this because it was seen as the ultimate stigma, to be too weak to live in the desert. They would have to hide their faces forever, even in their adopted tribe. Hide the shame of their past failures.
Some lied and simply change their marks. Changing one’s marks was tradition when one tribesman or woman married into another tribe. The old markings would have an “X” carved into them by knife point, thus allowing the new markings to take precedence over the old.  Many who lied moved to different parts of the desert to start life anew, and to avoid being caught in their deceit.
   Con hid his face as he stood with the mounts, accepting his future and forever shame.
   “No!” Cried Con’s father, as he spied his son’s action from his place in the discussion. Rushing over to his son, he ripped the covering from his face.
   “We are not shamed yet!”With that Con’s fathered turned his son around and marched him back to their accommodations. The tribe followed along, heads hung in disbelief.

   …   

   To steal water was considered one of the highest crimes among Con’s people. In times of desperation though, many tribes had no other choice. This was especially Con’s tribe, for they lived so far from others that without water, many would die. Even if adopted by another tribe, Con’s people would still have to march through the desert to their new home, and members like the chief would not survive the journey.
   Standing guard, Con held his long rifle in hand, his father and a few others manually pumped the lake water into their balloon. They had chosen a secluded spot on the western portion of the river. The rest had chosen to stay in the city, accepting their shame and what they saw as the ultimate fate of the tribe. Con’s father however refused to give up on his people. He knew more than honor and shame hung over his head, but also the lives of his people.
   It was dark out, and the tribe worked without light. They couldn’t afford to let anyone spot them. For as hot as it had been during the day, Con now wished that the night had been just a bit warmer. He stared into the darkness of the desert, scanning for light. Having little experience with airships, Con didn’t think to listen for the slow swooshing of propellers at quarter speed. Otherwise he might have been able to alert his tribe before the airship was on top of them. In Con’s defense, the pump was quite loud and drowned out the sound of the surrounding area for the men doing the pumping. The only thing that was louder was the rattling of the chain gun as it tore into the balloon and the men of Con’s tribe.    There was no forgiveness for water theft. Con watched on in horror, there was nothing he could do. He thought about firing a few rounds from his rifle, but that wouldn’t accomplish anything. He knew as he watched his father dying in the distance, hidden atop his dune that he’d chosen that he had to get back to the city and save what was left of his tribe. In such cases of water theft, they’d surely assume that those who had stayed behind were equally guilty. Con took a final look back, his father’s body and the bodies of his clan mates lay motionless in the sand, the balloon leaked water from hundreds of holes, and poured back in streams to the shore where it had come from mixing with the blood of the guilty. There was no forgiveness for water theft.
   It took Con the rest of the night to get back to the city. Even in the hours before the dawn, the streets were just as busy. He pushed his way through the crowds, until he made it back to his clan’s lodgings. Standing out front were the city guards, and with them were several members of Con’s tribe. They weren’t in cuffs though, no, they were standing as equals, faces uncovered. They were scanning the streets and when they saw Con, they’re fingers raised in accusation, and their familiar voices shouted his name. Con took off in the other direction once the guards began to chase him. Weaving through the crowd, Con ducted into a bar. He made it nearly to the back, before the guards grabbed him. Con struggled but he wasn’t strong enough to fight off two trained men. Resigning to his fate, Con let the guards pin his arms behind his back, the cold steel of the cuffs pinched as they locked into place.
   The commotion had drawn the attention of all the patrons, and one in particular vocalized as much. 
   “What seems to be the problem?” A man in his chair next to Con said, “usually don’t see you lot chasing down teenagers, especially during pilgrimage.”
   “This ‘boy’ is a water thief!” The guard shouted aloud, taking pleasure in publically shaming Con in front of his people. Voices stirred throughout the bar, jitters and sneers could be heard. The word thief was followed by several other choice comments. The guard laughed and turned Con around to take him out of the bar.
   “Now wait just a second.” said the man who now rose from his seat, “I think you’re mistaken.” The guard turned around slowly, sneering at the interloper.
   “ You mean to tell me that this is not Con Arashi, that these aren’t the markings of his clan, that he’s not one of the deep westerners with his white hair and skin?” The guard’s gruff voice accentuated what his finger did not as he poked Con in his throat and tugged on his hair.
   “That’s exactly what I’m saying.” The man replied. Con had paid attention at first, but now he saw that the man was a foreigner, a Yeshan. His robes clung neatly to his body and his inky hair was tied at a knot on the back of his head. He had all the trappings of an airship pilot, goggles around his neck, looking glass at his hip, and a general air of one who’s free from the restriction of the surface. 
   “Mind your own business Yeshan.” The guard growled back, “Your Empire doesn’t have any sway here!”
   “Oh, I’m not with the Empire. I’m with Mr. Copper and Mrs. Silver.” The Yeshan man said as he tossed a purse filled with coin to the guard. Opening it up, the lead guard took a look before handing it to his associate. Arashi guards saw bribes less as a dereliction of duty and more as a benefit of the job, and in establishments like this little information gleaned from there was seen as credible. Making this very open ‘negotiation’ perfectly legal in the eyes of the governing tribe of Alleron.
   “So if he’s not Con Arashi, then who is he?” The guard had his coin but still felt like stirring the pot.
   “Why he’s Hoen Von Huntingdon. He’s my gunner, I picked him up in the Baronies, some second son of some second son. Just far enough removed from inheritance to not be important.  Now if that is all gentlemen, I’ll thank you for finding my gunner.”  The lead guard grunted at the Yeshan but decided to accept his bribe without further harassment. Nodding to his fellow guard they un-cuffed Con and pushed him into the waiting arms of the Yeshan. Catching Con, the Yeshan Spun him around and plopped him into a seat. Grabbing him by the face, he turned Con left and right inspecting his markings.
   “How many times have I told you, you gotta stop marking you face up like that. See what you did this time? Now everyone thinks your some water thief, stupid lad.” As the patrons of the bar returned to their own business the Yeshan took his seat.
   “ My name is Chan, but you… will call me Captain.” Leaning on the table Chan intertwined his fingers, a grin creeping across his face.
   “Now, let’s talk about your future.”


Offline Jester Schulz

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Re: An Arashi Pilgrimage
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2015, 08:04:57 am »
Nicely done. Don't worry. A lot of the lore is untold or yet to be told so a lot of the writings here are speculative and assumption. Until Muse releases more information, all we can do is assume things from what we currently have. Overall, nicely done and well written. It was very entertaining to read. We need more work like this in the Cantina. Keep up the good work and I hope to see more of what you got! Take to the skies and maybe I'll see you there!