Monday, 30 May 2016

The Seven Who Went Before

The PCs are not the first adventurers to travel into the memory-world of the crocodile of the Guarded Lake. At least seven others went before. What they did there is unknown, because they never returned. But the shamaness of Sepik knows that they are still alive, somehow: lost in a labyrinth of the half-forgotten and misremembered, but perhaps - perhaps - strong-willed and fierce enough to have forged something for themselves there, and hence to have chosen to remain. Creators of realms of their own within and from the memory-stuff of the crocodile's mind.

The Seven Who Went Before are:

Sese-Mahuru-Bau. The most recent to enter the mind of the crocodile, Sese-Mahuru-Bau is a native of Paradijs, a young man who had by his seventeenth birthday already killed five men in battle and wrestled three of the smaller puk-puk crocodiles on the river. He came from a nearby village and pleaded with the shamaness to be allowed to enter the memories of the crocodile of the Guarded Lake, so he might bring out a dowry to present to the father of his beloved.

Xu Fu, the Sorcerer. A Chinese magician from the court of the Emperor in far Peking, who vowed to find the elixir of everlasting life and traveled the oceans in a vast junk crewed by 3000 eunuch slaves. Four hundred years ago he arrived in Paradijs on a raft, alone except for a young girl from some far off land in the icy North. He made his way up the Sunset River to the village of Sepik and asked the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother of the shamaness to seek his elixir in the memories of the crocodile of the Guarded Lake.

Pape Jan or El Preste Xuan or Prester John. A black-skinned king from the "Third India" of Ethiopië, who traveled beyond the sea in the antique past to spread the word of God among the heathen peoples of the Orient. Long thought to have forged a kingdom there, in fact he eventually made his way to Guarded Lake, and, with the help of the shamaness's distant ancestor, ventured from this world to the crocodile's memory so as to raise a great host there and bring it back for his holy wars.

Jorge de Menezez. A Portingale adventurer and explorer, one of the first from Europe to sail to Paradijs. A bloodthirsty killer who was given to fits of violence, though possessed of a cold charisma, he was struck by the savage beauty of this new land and abandoned his crew to strike out into the interior. Coming to the Guarded Lake after many weeks of jungle living, he was close to starvation and half-mad. The villagers of Sepik nursed him back to health and, hearing from them the story of the great crocodile, he demanded the great-great-great-great-great grandmother of the shamaness allow him to enter its memory world, because he had never yet let himself be refused entry to any land or harbour.

Anak Wungsu. A Hindoo noble from the island of Bali who, it was said, could sell skin to a tiger or ivory to a rhino. Having amassed great wealth and traded across oceans, from Orissa in the West to the Indianized thalassocracies of Cebu and Palawan in the East, he hungered for yet more exotic treasures. This led him to the place now called Paradijs, and legends of the vast crocodile who dwelt in the Guarded Lake came to obsess him. He begged the shamaness's ancestor to be allowed through the doorway of its memory, so that he might purchase there items that he might bring back for his Rajah.

Abu Yaqub al-Sijistani. A philosopher from far off Persia, across the wide oceans, who ruminated on the nature of things for decades until struck by what he felt were certain ineluctable Truths. These truths compelled him to travel the world spreading his newfound faith; he arrived in Paradijs an old man, withered and hardened like a tough old tree, yet utterly unwilling to allow the spreading of his Truths to be hindered by as trivial a thing as the distinction between reality and memory. His vision was so strong that the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother of the shamaness allowed him to proceed.

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