Thursday, 22 January 2015

Swamp-Drunks of the Melanic Moors

"Why are they drunk, and on what? This was my question. I was soon to find out.

From the conversations of the rich I had thought the Melanic Moors and the tribes of Swamp-Drunks there to be little more than an irrelevant scattering of primitives living in the marshlands all around the bay.

As I listened more and spoke less, and descended deeper into the city, I found that knowledge and news of the Drunks and the Moors bubbled beneath the surface of the cities conversation like a cyst beneath the skin. Stories of the tribes of the Moors: the Dismals, Great-Dismals, Thesingers, Morokie-Men and the feared Fluke Boys, as well as the doings of the notable characters of the Moors: 'Her-Face' Shah Lun, Nine-Hundred Wilson, Chthonic Jones and Tenberous Djang, were on the lips of all classes, though only the poorest would speak directly to me on the subject, the rest spoke only amongst themselves, as if they guarded an open secret.

It was only from an apparently-homeless woman sitting on a disused landward dock of one of the poorest towers that I was able to learn exactly why the Swamp Drunks are drunk so much." - Z

"The Melanic Moors cannot be navigated by the conscious mind. The Moors themselves are a several broken archipelagos of reeds and black water, a maze of creeks and waterways, lakes, wetlands, insects and broad floating islands, a baffling labyrinth of reed beds, sunken forests, acidic mangroves and dismal pools. No-one can be sure exactly where they start or end, whether one environment or several linked. Even without any other-natural quality, they would present an incredible challenge to navigation. But some unknown quality of the Moors, some secret force, makes their pathways impossible to rationally understand. Any sane intelligent person attempting to move through them will find themselves travelling in circles, faced with impossibly branching paths, drawing maps that make no sense, unable to describe or understand where they are or should be. If they are very lucky they will go insane before they starve to death.

Only a deranged mind can move safely through the moors. You must be mad, drunk, drugged or half-asleep. Only then, with the conscious analytical part of the mind baffled and closed off, may you move by clever instinct, as the animals do, and find your way. 

It is for this reason that the tribes of the Melanic Moors are named 'Swamp-Drunks' and it is this that makes up one of the few points of continuity between the baffling miscellany of cultures in the Moors.

There, insanity is valued over sanity, the inability to hold your drink or drugs is thought highly of, rather than the other way around. (Anyone who can get drunk easily is a cheap and reliable guide.)  It is common for childhood to be valued over adulthood, dreams over reason, instability and intuition over reason and reliability. Though by no means absolute amongst all Swamp-Drunk cultures, these factors do present a common theme.

Professional guides usually keep a bottle of strong spirits on them at all times in case of emergencies. Some tribes specialise in certain drugs, some keep insane people to guide them, small families can be seen floating past on reed beds, guided by half-asleep children." - Leptoblast

"There is an extensive economic relationship between the City and the Moors.

The population of the Moors is sparsely distributed but the Moors themselves are huge There are reaches of which even the Deep-Drunks do not speak The total population may be very large indeed.

Trade directly with the Drunks is banned and there are regular attempted punitive expeditions in response to some outrage or act of piracy. As well as a flickering state of inconstant conflict. The two cultures are bound closely together.

I estimate as much as a third of the total mainland trade of Juaki comes from this illegal source.

The Moors supply, or transmit from further on: rare and or aromatic woods (for example gaharu, sandalwood, sappan and @orn wood), puccoon-Silks, Virid Steel, Caged Fruit Hounds, the leaves of the Catastrophe Tree, the feathers of the Blathering Bird, the Sanguibe Crane, of Hornbills, Peacocks and Kingfishers, Snapkegs and Snapkeg parts, rare forms of art, war-puppets, bezoar stones, dried organs of swamp fauna, aloe wood, hostages, edible birds nests, honey, beeswax, rice, opium, rubies, riddles, sapphires, liquid shadows in the shells of snails, a variety of spices, the services of Hex Dragoons, diseased spines and many other things.

In the other direction flow all kinds of manufactured goods: machetes, axes, tools, pots and pans, lamps, fuel, candles, sheets, clothes, weapons, fast shallow draft boat, sail, drugs and a truly staggering amount of alcohol.

All of this is carried on secretly, or semi-secretly. Yet the trade is so vast and so important to both cultures that, though they both feign independence from, and contempt for, each other, if it were to ever cease they would both be ruined.

The balance of power shifts endlessly between the two. The borders of the Moors by the bay are dotted with the abandoned watch towers of failed alcoholic colonisation. Now more usually bases for smuggling operations. At times explosive tribes have threatened the towers of Jukai. They are swiftly absorbed, incorporated into the cities history, government and mythology." - Ashkott

"The Mystery of the Moors! A tantalising secret sought by many and postulated, theorised on and discussed by courtiers. No man is without a theory of his own: The 'Second God' theory, supposing the Moors a kind of Twin to the Forest of @orn, the 'Ten-Shadows' theory put forth by Stammel claiming the Moors as the seat of some ancient power, a mere emission of the reeds, a special kind of pollen, the bite of a specific moor-bound insect, a simple curse of Subtle Art, great black gates down beneath the deepest pools leaking forth the logic of some other world, space stolen from the world and worked into an alternative mirror-land. 

No-one knows. But the discoverer would become famous throughout the world!" - Leptoblast

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