Thursday, November 30, 2023

For the Wise Ones to Record, for the Idiots to Learn

    On the western edge of the world, north of Los and south of the unfinished continents of the animal-men, is the Basking Coast. It is a cold place, lonely even in company, oppressive even in solitude. The forest was planted before the g_ds fashioned your race. Grim pines, in black bark armor, stretch their limbs out over the pit that leads down to death. Grudgingly the forest allows men take the lives of its sons for firewood, and not a few lives it takes in return, by cold and hunger and savagery under its black canopy. Dead men walk this wood, weeping frozen tears, crying out for a fiery end. Things are buried in the snow that were never given a name, and some of them not dead, but only sleeping.

    The lord of the Basking Coast is called the Heptarch, a crude joke in the whaler-tongue. His hall, the Villa, is draughty but never dark. His walls are decorated with great jaws and barbed harpoons. His subjects are yellow-eyed Kings, iron-collared Builders, sullen gorillas, and men rendered indistinguishable by lamp-black. The people of the Basking Coast have clung to their frigid town, between crashing shore and whispering forest, since their g_d put them there, and will stay until He returns, if they are not driven away or taken by the evil armies.

    Generations ago Artur Hoxha, a widely-respected Gentleman Naturalist, visited the Basking Coast. He wished to write the greatest encyclopedia of all the world, the Nowe Anyangy, containing all the knowledge of men, Kings and monkeys. There is disagreement on whether he succeeded.

On the Whale

" WHALE cometh in many fifes, and it is ye Lord of the Ofean. Some Whales have mighty teeth, and others have fmall teeth, and others no teeth at all. Some Whales are larger than whaling boats, and fome Whales are fmaller. What unites fuch diverfe creatures is ye prefenfe of Oil in their flefh, which is efsential to many Induftrial Profefses, but as everyone knows ye multitudinous ufes of Whale Oil I writeth no more on that subject..."

On the Oliphaunt and the Camelopard

"... ye OLIPHAUNT, in Lofian Oliphaus, meaning: the greateft of the Animals, becaufe the beaft is great. It alfo has a lot to fay about itfelf to that matter. They attribute to him, Docilitatem, great understanding in everything. He even underftands writing, and with his long nofe or trunk, genuinely fpeaking, Probofcide writes. Some time (tefte Klohrus) Oliphaunt wrote these words: IPFE EGO HAEC FCRIPFI & FPOLIA ARETICA DICAVI..."
" Oliphaunt is widevaunted ye Ftupideft Beaft in all ye World, for it feems he goeth about Arfe-Firft and ftumbleth trampl'ing, but this is not fo. He doth but haveth two tails, and two Arfes alikewife. and a great maw and teeth like Great Weapons. Ye tongue of ye Oliphaunt is exfeedingly fine, and fituated fo far back in the mouth, fuch that it is difficult to get a fight of it. Men fay this be for fome purpofe but I know it not..."

" Oliphaunt is a mighty beaft, but no Creature is fo feared and defpifed by ye men of ye Bafking Coaft as the dreadful CAMELOPARD. Alfo yclept Long-Legs & Alden's Horfe, ye Camelopard is known to ftrip trees of their Bark and Needles, and to graze on the Bones of Men to garnifh its own imprefsive fkeleton. In ye Fpring and Fummer, when many Camelopards are born to their mothers, travelers muft be wary, for their Ftride is Fwift, and their hunger for Bones is ftrong..."

On the Mammout

" MAMMOUT be a type of Ife Demon. Fome fay it 'marmot' but I fay they be confufed. It be ye largeft of ye Rodents, and burrowing underneath the ground all its life by ufe of its great tufks, if it comes to furface by chance or artifife of Men, ye Mammout is at onfe killed by funlight, and its bones are made into fine ivory..."

On the Harvestman

"...alfo ye HARVEFT MAN is there, not fo called for his Harveft, becaufe he does not Fow, but on account no Man Haveth more Hair than he. Ye Harveft Man is called a fpider, but only by the Ignoramus, becaufe he has fix limbs, and four are arms. On the Bafking Coaft he liveth by theft and fcavenge, as he does elfewhere. He knowth not the fecrets of Fletching, and from his bow he fires wooden rods adorned by ftrange Herbs and Flora. Fome enterprifing Merchants attempt to fell him arrows from ßheen in exchange for Expenfive Furs, but the cunning Harveft Man will take the arrows firft, and drive off the Merchant after..."
"...I have heard a tale where Vifious Wreckers made camp on the Coaft, intent on driving Whalers to their Doom on the rocks, but were difcovered there by a band of Harveft Men who quickly brought Paladins down on them, to their ill fortune, for like all the Men of the Bafking Coaft, and Kings and Builders, likewife Monkeys too, the Harveft Men depend on the Commerfe of the Whaling Fleet, and its Heptarch..."

On the Sparrow

" FPARROW, alfo yclept ye Fparrowcamel, be ye fecond-largeft bird created by the g_ds, and ye third largeft in Exiftenfe, or fo we have Heard. Defpite its great Wings, it cannot fly but inftead rafeth fafter than a man can flee. Its body is of great Value yet its multitudinous ufes is now unknown to the Civilized World and inftead private to ye Whaler Kings: therefore expoundeth I upon yon anon. Ye aigs of ye Fparrow, being of fuch ftrength and thicknefs, that men may ufe ye fhell of them as cuppes, bowles and lampes. The Bones of the Fparrow are like unto thofe of ye Kings and are as ufeful. their Leather is the greateft in all the world, almoft Maille when firft drefsed and almoft Diamant Fteel when boiled..."
" Feathers of ye Fparrow be ye Crown of ye Fouth, and dear were they indeed to ye Lofian when he yet lived. Great farms had they, wherein were raifed armies upon armies of yon bird. The Cattle furvived the Hufbonder, it might be faid, for the great vifioufnefs in their Hearts, and the warmnefs of their Coat, a quo "Furvive", a furréd life..."
"...on ye Bafking Coaft the Fparrowcamel be a Great Peft. he maketh Fport of men, with trampling and fcourging, and tearing the Beams of their Fhips and Houfes in his Fpurs, and drinking their Oil. few things prey upon ye Fparrowcamel, and fo the men of the Academy fay that Weafels muft be carried from Arel to fteal their young and hunt them fully grown, but the Heptarch fayeth this is a Fool's Plan and will welcome in difafter..."

On the Ice Bee

" Ife Bee is beloved as the fecret worker who layeth up great ftores of Golden Treafure, more valued than gold in olden times. Ye Raifing of this Mafter-Craftfman is wide-thought impofsible, for there is nothing ye Ife Bee loathes more ftrongly than ye ruddy face of a Bee Keeper or ye fickening glower of a Fmoking Lamp, and they love to die to deftroy thefe things. Their coats be Highly Noninflammable, and ye Lint off their hides chokes ye breath, and fo they are hated as much as adored by thofe who walk Ye Paths Up and Ye Paths Down in darknefs and light. Ye Honey of ye bees is what I fpeaketh of here when I fpeaketh of yon Treafure. Emperors would pay diamond-weight for a tafte of olde, and many a Wife One fayeth it has powers to ameliorate fuffering of ye fpirit, and to cleanfe ye body of difeafe and death..."

On the Ounikorn

" Ounikorn, fo-called for its fear of ye mighty Eagle, for its fmall eyes cannot be turned Heavenwards enough to efpy it in the Plunge, be an amphibian creature alike to the Frog and the Flutterby. ye firft porfion of its life be fpent upon Land, where it is confidered the most honorable and notable Game or Quarry in ye whole world, barring only ye Quefting Beaft. When its bulk becomes too great for four legs to fupport, it betaketh itfelf to the Feas where it playeth in the deep and maketh fport of men in their Boats. I wouldft have included a Fketch Illuftrationary, but I could find no man claiming he had ever feen the Thing nor willing to defcribe likewife..."

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