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Fire-Rider, Foreword * FREE READ *

A Word about the Translation and Interpretation

When the Cottrite Chronicles (Cottrite Codex 1.1–18.7) were recovered from a remote northern Vada cave in 2782 P.E., few researchers understood the extent to which they would forever change our understanding of the history and prehistory of our predecessors on this continent. As we have seen over the past three decades, these fragmentary journals, some of whose precious pages were lost in their very discovery, proved to be the key that unlocked the door to a remote past and revealed details of the lost civilization of the ancient Mercans, a culture whose complexity and sophistication had been hitherto unimagined. Perhaps as startling, the manuscripts provide an intimate view of the ice-age Espanyo and Hengliss cultures of the Great Lacuna, those tribal peoples who are our immediate ancestors.

The definitive translation of the Cottrite Codex appeared late last year under the direction of scholar and author Fontano do Caz Eviatád. The sponsors of that edition, the Western Regional Council of Research Sciences and the Institute for Theory of Intuitional Dissemination (TID) Studies, recognized early on that a direct, line-by-line rendering of Cottrite’s archaic language would be less than accessible to the general public. Given the wide interest in the discovery and its profound importance to our understanding of Methgoan culture and history, it was decided that a popular rendition should be produced, incorporating the best of current story-telling techniques. The Council announced an official competition to select the individual who would bring Hapa Cottrite’s narratives to the people.

Several outstanding story tellers received nominations for this challenging and prestigious role. Ultimately, Master Story Teller Estabanya Marcanda do Tilár i Robintál do Nomanto Berdo, of the Methgoan Academy of Written and Oral Performance, was selected. Marcanda do Tilár’s extraordinary output of realist and fantasist historical tales, including her acclaimed Forty Days of Holiár do Cortazín, recommended her highly. We believe the result of her seven-year collaboration with Fontana do Caz Eviatád fulfills all the promise of the heady excitement that characterized the early days of the Cottrite discovery.

The present volume, Fire-Rider, relates the events preceding and following Cottrite’s departure from Lek Doe with the Hengliss bands under Brez Lhored Kubna of Grisham Lekvel. Designed to show what life was like for men in the field, the narrative follows Kaybrel Kubna of Moor Lek, his associates, and his cousins through a summer’s campaign. It begins with the fall of Roksan, a crux in Kaybrel’s biography, and proceeds through events that, in the long run, were to determine the Hengliss tribes’ fate. The narrative’s details are based on Cottrite’s explicit relation of events he observed and stories he learned while among the Hengliss, and on intuitive-disseminative understanding of Hengliss history as deduced by the various scholars whose efforts are cited with Fontana do Caz Eviatád’s afterword.

Fontana do Caz Eviatád’s scholarly discussion of the Codex, which follows Marcanda do Tilár’s interpretive narrative, should not be missed by the serious reader. This important companion piece is the first article to discuss the manuscripts’ provenance, to provide an overview of the ancient Mercan culture, and to describe Espanyo and Hengliss life in the late Inter-Historical Era in a single document. What the Cottrite Chronicles tell us casts light on the events that led to the beginning of the Present Era, and they suggest that Hapa Cottrite himself may have played a role in those events.

The kubna Kaybrel of Moor Lek, dubbed Fire-Rider, was selected as a central figure for this first volume for several reasons. First, Cottrite seems to have felt a particular affinity for him, perhaps because they were both widely traveled and, for their time, learned men. Kaybrel of Moor Lek returned from his youthful journeys with a headful of pharmaco-herbal lore that earned him the title of tocha (“healer”), a shamanistic position whose considerable prestige and influence added to his already powerful status as tribal warlord. Of the many individuals Cottrite describes in his journals, the kubna Kaybrel stands out as the most nuanced, complex, and multidimensional figure. Second, the House of Moor Lek had an almost totemic significance for the Okan Hengliss, whose long-standing hatred of the Espanyo was fired to a vindictive pitch by the town’s destruction, approximately three decades earlier, at the hands of Roksando raiders. And finally, the kubna of Moor Lek clearly played a central role in the politics of the entire Okan stae’: cousin and councilor to Brez Lhored; cousin to Mitchel Kubna of Cham Fos; comrade and advisor to the future Brez Fallon Mayr of Cheyne Wells; friend to Jag Bova Mayr of Rozebek (destined to become the future Brez Fallon’s father-in-law and his most trusted aide); and chosen man to the powerful and influential Maire Kubnath of Silba Lek. In any of these roles, an Okan leader was positioned to make his wishes and opinions heard; occupying all of them, Kaybrel Fire-Rider Kubna of Moor Lek must have been a formidable presence.

Marcanda do Tilár’s interpretation of the Cottrite Codex attempts to communicate the loves and hates, hardships and joys, successes and losses of a distant people, and to show how their humanity touches us. The historical importance of the individuals depicted here is beyond question: had they not made the choices they did, innocent of their ultimate effect, the outcome of the Wars of Occupation might have been entirely different. The Espanyo-Mezgoan Unification from which the early Methgoan Polity grew might never have happened. Upon so little does so much depend.

The Board of Trustees of the Institute for Theoretical Intuitive Dissemination Studies
The Western Regional Council of Research Sciences
Seaside, Bahagalifone
2812 P.E.

Want to get the whole set, beginning to end, for your very own? The first six books are available at Amazon in Kindle “boxed set”…click on the image below to find it.

And the rest of the thing…

The Dark Ages of the Great Lacuna

_hay-book-timeline2 color

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Kaybrel and Tavio wander through the famed marketplace of Lek Doe, the greatest trading center of Western Methgoa during the Great Lacuna…

They bought gloves. They found some shirts that met Tavi’s approval, for no more than the rejected merchant’s price. They ate some more—fresh, hot bread, grilled meat of an indeterminate bird, squash deep-fried in bubbling lard. They watched a magician, paid to see a trained bear dance, bypassed innumerable beggars, explored a museum of curiosities and monstrosities—the two-headed lamb, the fire-eating dwarf, the noisy metal twirling contraption said to be part of an ancient Mercan flying cart, the boulder etched by a lightning strike with the triple face of the Espanyo god, and similar marvels. They bought new dungarees for both Tavi and Kay—Tavio lost the day in his campaign for something more suave than the loose Okan-style pants that Kay regarded as sensible and manly.

“They could fly, huh? The Old Ones?” said Tavio, taken by the wonders they had seen.

“Sure. So could their cows,” said Kay.

Hapa Cottrite, the mysterious scribe of the Fire-Rider saga, lived during the Great Lacuna. If you read much of the saga, you realize the Great Lacuna was a dark and scary time. But when was it? And what was it?

Methgoan archaeologists and historians living today, several thousand years after the Great Lacuna, believe that about 2,600 years before Hapa Cottrite’s time, a vast empire covered the Methgoan continent and extended down into the southerly continents. This enormous civilization, which spread from seashore to seashore, was built by a technologically advanced people called Mercans, or, some scientists believe, Americans or Emericans. The empire was named Merca, after its inhabitants.

Archaeologists believe that the Mercan Empire thrived for about three to four hundred years. That figure is in question, because so little is known about the culture’s origins and evolution that its beginnings are shrouded in the fog of time. We do know that an abrupt planet-wide climate change occurred approximately 5,900 years ago, and that its effects brought a swift end to the Mercan era.

The Mercan Empire collapsed — as did similar technologically driven cultures on the other side of the globe — when world-wide warming and severe drought set in. Untameable wildfires leveled forests, grasslands, and agricultural fields and fierce storms brought insanely powerful windstorms, uncontrollable floods, and bizarre bouts of unseasonable cold. As crops failed everywhere, famine and disease spread rapidly.

Large numbers of Mercans died in the face of these uncontrollable events. Those who knew how to operate the technology that made it possible to support vast populations concentrated in city died off. With too few survivors to keep power, water, and food running, the cities experienced catastrophic population collapse.

In short order, the Mercans effectively went extinct.

We mark this population collapse as the beginning of the Great Lacuna, a long Dark Age that extended until the start of the Present Era (about 1 P.E.). The Great Lacuna is also called the Inter-Historical Era, because written history — and anything else put in writing — ended with the demise of the Mercan civilization. History as we know it, as a science, did not revive until after the beginning of the Present Era, with the rise of the Early Methgoan cultures.

The few survivors of the continental population collapse spread into the countryside, seeking land on which to grow subsistence crops and enough water to do so. Separate Espanyo and Hengliss peoples emerged at this time, with the Hengliss migrating northward toward the cooler and wetter climes and the Espanyo occupying the rest of the continent. Over time, these broad ethnic groups coalesced into tribal societies, and by about 2600 years BPE (Before the Present Era), the various cultures had established an agrarian system that provided some equilibrium.

“Equilibrium” is a relative term. In fact these tribes lived in constant conflict, warring over territory and dwindling resources.

The constant warfare was not helped by the onset of the Ice Age, about 1450 years BPE, or approximately 4350 years before our time. At about the same time the carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gasses that had contaminated the atmosphere were subsiding through geologic processes, the planet’s course around the sun was perturbed by an orbital alignment with the gigantic plants Jupiter and Saturn. Gravitational forces distorted the earth’s orbit, pulling it further from the sun and causing a period of global cooling.

Food and water became even scarcer; seaside settlements were left high and dry as water was locked up in snow and ice and shorelines receded. Growing seasons grew shorter, life grew commensurately harder, and competition for resources intensified ferociously. The agrarian tribes developed a keen interest in killing their neighbors and taking over their lands.

Hapa Cottrite flourished during the darkest part of this grim period, about 935 years BPE or about 2800 years before our day. Evidently cast out of the powerful trading center, Lek Doe, possibly because of his revolutionary tendencies, Cottrite was thrown in with the Okans and their A’oan allies under Brez Lhored Kubna of Grisham Lekvel, Devey Mayr of Metet, and Eddo Kubna of Bose.  A close observer, Cottrite watched, studied, and wrote down what he learned of the fierce northern peoples.

Did the Espanyo and Hengliss peoples of ancient Socalia, Galifone, Foshinden, Okan, and A’o have an inkling that they sprang from an almost magically privileged civilization? Apparently so, but the extent to which they did is not known today.

We do know that Kaybrel Kubna of Moor Lek acquired his healing lore inside the walled province of Uda, which normally excluded foreigners. Udans had a number of intellectual and technical traditions, not the least of which had to do with hygiene and pharmacopia, that had come down from the ancient Mercans. And we know that all the tribal peoples of far Western Methgoa spoke of vaguely remembered ancestors called “The Old Ones.”

In Book IV, for example, when Kaybrel tries to distract his friend Fallon from the question of Tavio’s haunts, he remarks, “But we know the truth, don’t we—the ancient writings from the Old Ones tell us what’s true.”

There were writings, evidently religious in nature, that could be read in a crude way by a few religious votaries trained to parse out meaning—possibly imagined meaning—from works said to have come down from the ancestors.

Whatever information they had about their predecessors would have been handed down by word of mouth, in a long and ancient oral tradition. Such stories must have been regarded as folklore or children’s tales. A man of Kaybrel’s native intelligence may have regarded them skeptically. But enough men and women knew about them and took them literally to support the occasional side-show huckster.

What and Where Is Lek Doe???

LOL! When I posted Book 13, Lek Doe, on Amazon, that august purveyor’s system first assumed I must have misspelled the title. “What?” it marveled. “You mean Led Doe?”

How about “Lead Doe“?

Assured that the spelling was intended, it then decided I was writing in Japanese. It asked if I wouldn’t please like a machine-generated translation of the title!

Well, of course, who on this side of the Great Lacuna ever heard of Lek Doe, eh?

Lek Doe is a trading center high in the Sehrra Muns. It’s situated next to a deep, clear, pristine lake that fills the crater of an ancient volcano. And it sits atop the crumbled ruins of the all-but-forgotten Mercan city once called “Lake Tahoe.”

An affluent town straddling trade routes between north and south, Okan and Socalia, Lek Doe enforces a strict neutrality that prohibits hostilities among the many wanderers, traders, merchants, and soldiers who pass through its precincts. Arms must be set aside, harsh words are frowned upon, and fights are likely to land all participants in the hoosegow.

Its neutrality is one of the reasons the Okan and A′oan bands are force-marching their men through the mountains toward the town, trying to reach it as fast as they can. If they are being pursued (as some of the kubnas suspect is the case), the Espanyo enemy will have to stand down once the Hengliss are inside the town.

Lek Doe also embodies the highest point of culture in the world of the Great Lacuna. Locals are wealthy and as civilized as humans get during the deep ice age that has afflicted the globe. Kay and Tavi explore a town laid out like a huge medieval bazaar, filled with interesting and entertaining sights, always tempting with luxury goods and tasty foods cooked at roadside.

Marching, the men contemplate the glories that await them:

Down on the lower end of Pine Ridge Road, not too far from the lakeshore, stood a wooden shed that was one of Mitch’s favorite watering holes. The proprietor brewed six different kinds of custom potations, none of which was to be missed. Perhaps, he thought, he’d go there first, before he visited Liana’s [Mitch’s preferred house of ill repute], so as to be adequately lubricated. Later, maybe the horses. Or the dogs. These people would race anything. Once, in the downtown marketplace, Mitch had seen some guy taking bets on racing fleas. They seemed to have arenas for everything, too. Out on the Espanyo side, they had a bull arena, where slender, graceful, crazy young men confronted long-horned bulls, big angry brutes crazier than their challengers, and where horsemen from deep in Socalia—some even from Mezgo, they claimed—raced wild horses and bulls, and if you were as demented as they were, they’d let you lay down your money and ride against them. Charro, they called them.

Devey liked to go to the fights. At Doe, you could wager on bare-knuckle and gloved, wrestling and kicking, cocks and bears. He promised Porfi they would see a cockfight, and Porfi bragged to that effect in front of his friends. Devey also had his favorite cathouse, and he had about decided Porfi had reached an age when he could be introduced to ladies. He would make up his mind about that once he got to Doe.

Lhored considered cathouses far beneath his dignity. Instead, handsomely placed women came to him, when he so desired. For the prominent or the very wealthy, Lek Doe offered a type of woman who was less a prostitute than an entertainer. Some of these became mistresses or wives of favored clients. Others maintained independence, accrued considerable wealth, and retired to become proprietors of various small businesses, or simply to live out their lives in comfort. One, in particular, Lhored hoped would still be there to visit him.

Hardly a man in the company didn’t have similar thoughts, and more. On an earlier visit, Arden had learned he could rent a tiny sailing boat from the locals and let the breeze carry him over the water, the way he might ride a wind-driven ice skiff across a frozen Okan pond. He looked forward to trying that again.

Don’O had caught the finest fish he’d ever eaten in the cold, deep waters of Lek Doe. Big, too, it was, and a fighter. He intended to hook another one someday—maybe tomorrow would be the day. He knew, though, that he’d spend a fair amount of his time riding herd on Moor Lek’s young pups, trying to keep them from forking over every tahm they’d brought with them plus the clothes off their backs to the various hustlers and grifters who inhabited the streets.

He calculated: he’d spring at least two from the hoosegow. A dozen or more would have to be nursed through the consequences of having no clue how to handle their liquor. The whole idiot crew would think the cat-lady was real and the two-headed calf (or whatever marvel the sideshows that dotted the thoroughfares had to offer this summer) was worth paying to see. Three would pass out somewhere and come stumbling along, bedazed, hours after the troops had hit the road. Several would show up at the barracks-tent with hookers on their arms, and at least one fool would announce he was in love. His buddies would never manage to resist the pranks this invited. Silently, Don’O laughed at the Lek Doe antics he had gone through in the past. Had he ever been as dumb as these young kids?

And if some rustic from north or south would like to buy a lead doe, no doubt he can find one there.