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(Translator's Note: the following is a translation of the recently unearthed Alsoran Scrolls, which appear to be the court records of an ancient civilisation as yet undated. Any similarity to recent events in any contemporary place on this Earth only goes to prove that nothing but nothing is new in this world...)
In an age now long lost in the mists of antiquity, amidst the tall rolling dunes of the great sandy desert, lay the mystical land of Knoteetinghamm, a wondrous place of pristine beaches bordering crystal clear oceans and a clime ever warmed by the sun. But sadly, after many years of plenty its people had become lotus eaters, relying for their every need on foreign traders, who controlled all commerce to their land.
The Cherif of Knoteetinghamm was the wisest of men, and years before the first wisps of grey began to appear in his beard, he saw clearly that his realm would be forever beholden to the foreign devils who owned every caravan that plied its way to his kingdom. And so it came to pass that he issued a royal decree. Henceforth, his realm would have unto itself its own mighty caravan.
But a caravan would require camels, and at that time Knoteetinghamm was totally bereft of these marvelous beasts of burden. However, this was not to remain so for long, for news of the Cherif's proclamation spread rapidly to the four corners of the earth. Before could be intoned that oldest of all camel buyer's cries - "deposit-me-hefty-commission-in-a-numbered-swiss-bank-account-there's-a-good-lad-msieur" - camel traders from as far afield as Ceeaddlewash., Parmbeich sur Mer and Wun-twoloose hastened across the sands to the Cherif's court to sing the praises of their breed of camels over those of all other stables. In less time than it takes to say "sell-cheap-an'-milk'em-dry-with-the-cost-of-spare-saddles-oolala-m'sieur", the Cherif found his stables graced with camels of the Wun-twoloose breed - the autocamel.
He called his courtiers to him. "To ride these mighty ships of the desert with the saddlecloth of Knoteetinghamm upon their flanks will be a singular honour for our young warriors. Gathereth up thy sons and call upon them to sally forth to distant lands in search of silks and spices for Our court."
At this command, the courtiers quaked and hid their eyes from their Master's gaze. Their sons were to ride these monstrous beasts? They muttered amongst themselves, at once fearful for their sons' lives, for all had heard whispered tales of warriors in other Lands who, for but one moment unmindful, had been bitten badly by the autocamels of Wun-twoloose. Many riders so bitten had fallen to their deaths in the burning sands, trampled beneath the very hooves of their charges.
They stood mute, until one, braver than the rest, ventured to speak out. "But Sire, we fearist -"
"Thou fearist what?" The Cherif looked from one to the other - none of whom would meet his gaze - until his eyes fell upon his oldest and most trusted courtier. "Canst riding an autocamel be so difficult, old friend? Dost not thy youngest son ride his phorewealdryve with ease upon these very same sands? Beith not an autocamel nothing more than a very large phorewealdryve?"
(Translator's Note: Phorwealdryves were the swift and sprightly steeds on which the young warriors of Knoteetinghamm jousted daily, often to the death, upon the dunes around their scattered tents. It was usually a timid, almost passive creature. However, the moment a young Knoteetinghammi warrior cast his thighs across its saddle, it became like unto a raging bull, unable to bear the sight of any other phorewealdryve unless that animal be far behind it. To see other phorwealdryves in line upon the desert sands would send it into a slavering, eyeball-rolling frenzy and plunge headlong past them, its two bright eyes flashing, until it found itself at the head of the queue or smitten against the flank of another phorwealdryve, itself almost certainly racing to the head of yet another oncoming queue.
Where the phorwealdryves were hastening to, no one knew, for they seemed to go nowhere but in endless circles seeking out more queues of phorwealdryves to jump. In the market square, Gull Fnewz, the Cherif's trusted herald, expounded almost daily upon varying theories passed to him by visitors from many lands who witnessed this strange and fearsome trait. Although still unproven to this day, it is believed by many learned scholars that the phorwealdryves and their young riders were in search of their final resting place, the fabled Doubleparkoutsidetheshwamashoppe.)
But back(eth) to the tail - (sorry) - tale of the autocamels'
The old courtier quailed under his Master's gaze, seeking an answer to the Cherif's question that would not raise him to a fearsome anger. "Yea and verily, Sire, my son doth ride his own phorewealdryve upon the sands like all the young warriors of the tribe. But alas, wouldst it were so that the autocamel wast no different to the phorewealdryve. But Marcelhardcel -"
The Cherif held his hand aloft for silence. "Marcelhardcel? Who beist he? Ö Ahh, I rememberest now. Thou speakest of the swift talking camel salesman from far off Wun-twoloose."
"None other, Sire. He informeth me that strange as it may seemith, these autocamels demandeth both hands beith firmly placed upon their reins at all times to controlleth them - and not just that, but both(-th) feet as well(!)"
The Cherif, like all within hearing in his court, was badly shaken by this news. "Both hands? But pray, old friend, what dost the rider doeth with his conch shell if both hands be needeth for the reins?"
(Translator's Note: to date, little is known of the gods and idols worshipped by the people of ancient Knoteetinghamm - with one notable exception: undoubtedly, there was widespread adoration of the humble conch shell. It is obvious from the scrolls translated to date that the small black palm-sized conch shell was venerated with deep religious fervour by the young and not so young warriors of Knoteetinghamm - and their women folk as well. Mention of it has been found frequently in a number of the other scrolls only partially translated to date. Other names for the conch shell god sometimes appear, like No-kia and Mo-torola, but the favourite by far seems to have been the tongue twisting Majornogoitem. The origins of this last name remain obscure, but it would seem that no warrior dared approach his phorwealdryve without his conch shell god clasped firmly to his right ear.
Other scholars studying these ancient scrolls have opined that the conch shell was not in fact a god, but used only to cover the right ear from a stranger's gaze. They believe that in the Knoteetinghamm of yore, the display of the male's right ear in public was the greatest of all social taboos. Some, seeing even less significance in this custom, believe that the warriors of Knoteetinghamm simply liked the rushing sound of the waves filling their ears as they rode their phorewealdryves upon the arid dunes. Whatever the reasons, religious taboo or not, one thing is certain: for any warrior of any age to ride upon the back of his phorwealdryve in public without his conch shell clasped tightly to his right ear was plainly unthinkable and against all custom and good taste.)
Back yet again to the autocamel's tail/tale'
Another of the old courtier's revelations caused the Cherif's youngest son, still but a minor Princeling, to speak, his piping voice plainly incredulous. "Didst thou also sayth that both feet be needeth to controlleth these camels(th)?"
The aged courtier looked to the callow youth, bowing low in respect as he replied. "Verily, Sire, it beith so - both feet. It is said that the autocamel beith the easiest of beasts to ride - but only until it throweth a shoe or turneth its head to biteth its rider. Then hadst the rider best have both feet already fixed firmly in the stirrups of the saddle lest he topple to the sands below its hooves."
"But but, dost thou meaneth the autocamel rider canst not place one foot up high upon the phorewe - I meanest the autocamel's head whilst he rideth?"
"Yea verily, Sire, it beith so."
The Cherif spoke again. "Old friend, thou sayest these autocamels beith easy to ride if one canst but avoideth their bite?"
"'tis true, Sire."
"But pray, how dost the rider doeth this?"
"Marcelhardcel of Wun-twoloose saith that first the rider must learneth the many devious ways of the beast."
"But how dost he learneth these ways?"
"There beith men who canst teacheth our young warriors these mysteries. They art knownst as cameleers."
"Dost thou speaketh of the rabble who leadest the beasts of the foreigners' caravans?"
"But but to a man, they seemith a rowdy, ill-bred caste who causeth no end of trouble. Whilst their camels resteth, dost they not frequenth only the lowliest sherbet stands and pursueth maidens of the illest repute?"
"That beist so, Sire. It beith widely said that in any city along the far-flung caravan routes, should a stranger follow a cameleer, he willst surely findeth the cheapest sherbet and comely maidens of the lowliest kind."
"And thou sayest these devilish foreign cameleers be needeth here, to live amongst our people in Knoteetinghamm?"
"Yea, Sire, but only until they have shown our own young warriors the ways of the camel."
"So be it. We willst suffer these mannerless ruffians in Knoteetinghamm for a short time. But I fear they willst sully our fair land. Wouldst that We knew how to controlleth such an ill bred rabble."
"We willst employith a Master Cameleer to controlleth them, Sire."
"A Master Cameleer? But wouldst he not be like unto the rest of his tribe, perhaps worse?"
"Nay Sire, for we willst findeth a Master Cameeleer from within the ranks of the Expurtexpat tribe."
"The Expurtexpat tribe? We knowest this tribe not."
"The Expurtexpat careth not one whit for the others in his tribe, Sire, but only for himself. There are many such men among the cameleers' ranks, men who will do Thy every bidding if Thou payest pay him enough gold."
"Then findeth Us such a man and summon him here."
"There beith a score gathered at Thy door as we speaketh, Sire, for the Exurtexpat canst smellth the promise of gold from a thousand leagues away. They pitched their tents at Thy gate the moment Thee bought the autocamels."
And so the Cherif of Knoteetinghamm and his trusted courtiers chose one Yasser Wateverusay as their Master Cameleer - by far the smoothest talking Exurtexpat from the many supplicants at their city gates. Yasser Wateverusay promised that with a single snap of his fingers, he could gather together a band of seasoned cameleers to teach the young Knoteetinghammi warriors the ways of the autocamel - and then begone.
And so the messengers hastened forth, far out across the burning sands, in search of cameleers. But alas!, the messengers returned fearful of their Master's wrath, for at that time, seasoned cameleers were in great demand in their own lands, and few were willing to come to the unknown, burning deserts of Knoteetinghamm for the trinkets and beads Yasser Wateverusay's messengers offered them.
The Cherif sat back upon his throne. What was he to do(eth)? The silver-tongued Wateverusay's promises were like unto an empty drum - all noise and little substance. Without cameleers, his expensive camels would doeth naught but eat what little precious grass the sands of Knoteetinghamm provided, and his visionary plans of a mighty caravan wouldst be stillborn.
Fearful of losing his nicelittlearner in the Cherif's court, Yasser Wateverusay whispered into his master's ear. "Sire, gold wouldst tempt cameleers to our shores."
The Cherif pondered on this advice. These camels werest already more trouble than they werest worth. But what was he to doeth? Marcelhardcel had long since disappeared across the dunes, his saddlebags heavily laden with the Cherif's gold.
He clapped his hands, commanding his court to silence. "Let it be so. Offereth these cameleers gold. So let it be written."
Yasser Wateverusay called unto the weary messengers. "Resteth not, O footsore, dusty ones. Harken to our Lord's command - go forth again forthwith with promises of gold for all cameleers and effohs who will cometh to our shores."
The Cherif commanded silence. What had his Master Cameleer said? "We commanded thee to seeketh cameleers. Pray tellest - what beith this word eff-oh of which thou speakest?" He rolled the strange-sounding word across his unaccustomed lips, almost fearful that it was some vile and secret curse, for it had a base and nasty ring to it.
Yasser Wateverusay smiled his most ingratiating smile. "Sire, the effoh beith the poorest excuse for a man - the lowliest of lowly castes that willst worketh for the scraps and leavings fromst Thy table. However, they beith a necessary evil on every caravan."
"Effohs. We have heardeth not this strange name before. Whence commeth it frometh?"
"Sire, the effoh beith the caravan's effluent orderly."
"Effluent orderly? Dost thou meanest he collecteth the shit from the autocamel?"
"Yea, Sire, but not just from the autocamel. The effoh's lot in life beith to taketh shit from all quarters as he walketh close behind the autocamel in the dust."
"Dost thou sayeth he walketh under the autocamel's tail and taketh shit from all quarters?"
"Yea and verily it is true, Sire - from everyone. All tribes considerth themselves the superior of the lowly effoh. Why, even the Miserly bin Beancounter tribe looketh down upon them."
"They must taketh shit from such as the Miserly bin Beancounters?" The Cherif shook his head in wonder. "'tis extraordinary, truly extraordinary. But pray tell, what else(th) doth this effoh doeth?"
"Sire, whilst taking shit from all quarters, the effoh watcheth the road ahead to warn the cameleer of potholes or falling rocks from the cliffs above."
"And if the cameleer heedeth him not, what then of this effoh?"
"Sire, 'tis then the lowly effoh must singeth loudly the effoh's ancient mantra. Whenever the cameleer directeth the autocamel into a pothole or causeth it to loseth its load, it beith the effoh's task to chant this ancient incantation: "Yessiree, cameleer, the road sure is bumpy." From whence this strange chant cometh is lost in antiquity, but 'tis sung with great gusto by this craven caste. Those who doeth it not are spurned by their cameleers and damned to remain lowly effohs forever."
"A lowly caste they beith indeed to liveth on scraps and tuggeth their forelocks so! But We cannot seeith the need for such a caste in Our caravan. The deserts are wide - Our caravans canst scatter shit to the four winds without the need for such as these effohs to gather it up."
Yasser Wateverusay bowed low. "Sire, Thou art wise and we hasten to do Thy bidding. But pray, wouldst Thou reconsider, for 'tis from these lowly effoh ranks that the cameleers we now seeketh doth cometh. Why, Thy own young warriors must joineth their ranks ere they become cameleers themselves."
"Mocketh Us not, Master Cameleer. Our own young warriors shouldst join such a lowly caste? Joketh thou at Our royal expense?"
Yasser Wateverusay trembled and was silent, at once in fear of his head - (or was that 'his job'?) - for already he had learned that the Cherif's anger when aroused was awesome indeed and feared throughout the Land.
The wise old courtier came to his aid. "Nay, Sire, he speaketh truly, even if 'tis said that most cameleers hasten to forgetteth this be so. Before any man becometh a cameleer, he must first servith as a lowly effoh. This way, he learneth the many ways of a cameleer, most importantly how to avoideth the autocamel's bite. The day his Master sayeth "Riseth up, I dubdeth thee cameleer," - this beith for the effoh the sweetest time of all, and one for which every effoh waiteth impatiently. It then becometh his lot in life to heapeth shit and scorn upon his own lowly effoh and quickly forgetteth that he wast ere once one himself."
"Cannot we findest cameleers aplenty already skilled enough to dodgeth their own potholes?"
Yasser Wateverusay grovelled in subservience at his Master's feet, mindful that here, earlier than he had thought, was his chance to prolong his nicelittlearner in the Cherif's court, perhaps indefinitely. "Alas, would that it be so, Sire, but no. We must taketh unto ourselves foreign effohs as well, for as Thy caravan groweth, Thou willst needith more cameleers than Thou canst find among Thy own young warriors."
The Cherif held his hands aloft for silence, for such had not been his plan at all. "Why beist this so?"
"Ahh, Sire, because the autocamels willst walketh the caravan routes all through the longlunchbreak and night as well."
"Through the longlunchbreak?" The Cherif hadn't considered that. Very few Knoteetinghammi warriors would work through the longlunchbreak.
"Yea, Sire. And on feast and holy days as well."
The courtiers muttered among themselves at this startling news. The caravans wouldst continue to walketh through the longlunchbreak, at night and on feast and holy days? Their sons wouldst taketh some convincing before they'd want a slice of that cake, boyo.
Yasser Wateverusay saw that he had scored heavily with this point. His face impassive, he clenched his fist under the folds of his long robes in silent glee. Yess-ss! Golf club membership, a company phorwealdryve and a spacious tent with three comely servant girls - and not just for a shorttermcontract, but right up to retirement! Ahh, life was sweet!
He carefully adopted a ponderous tone. "Yea Sire, whenever possible, a wise Master Cameleer will entrusteth his autocamels only to the hands of cameleers whose skills he knoweth well. What better way to learneth the true worth of any aspiring cameleer than first to observeth him as an effoh calling warnings of oncoming potholes and falling rocks? For it is written that many cameleers who willst seeketh to joineth Thy caravan will cometh not from the caravan routes, but from the tribe of Parker bin Pehn."
"This tribe of Parker bin Pehn. We knowest it not."
"Ah, Sire, the Parker bin Pehn beith a secretive sect and one which plyeth its trade behind tightly closed tent flaps with but a single quill. Many an unwary Master of Cameleers hast fallen foul of this widely scattered tribe. They willst enter Thy house glibly, bearing stirring testimonials from masters who in fact knewest them not. These richly bound scrolls willst speak of wondrous deeds on caravans they have travelled - but, alas! they willst have travelled these routes but only in their dreams."
"Then surely We must avoideth such vile creatures."
"Verily, 'tis so, Sire."
The promises of gold bore fruit, and cameleers aplenty came to the shores of Knoteetinghamm. The Cherif's caravan prospered and grew, and within years, its mighty trains stretched to the very edges of the Great Abyss, its cameleers to be seen in all their glory atop their haughty steeds, its effohs patiently walking the dusty roads behind them awaiting their elevation to that saddle on high.
Then war and pestilence began to rage in many far off lands. Effohs with many, many years of service under a camel's daggy tail were now willing - nay, eager - to come to the Cherif's caravan. Yasser Wateverusay found that he had to whisper naught save this magical incantation in their ears to have them run to the Cherif's colours: "None will come in from afar to sittith straight upon a cameleer's saddle without first he walketh in the dung and the sands as a lowly effoh."
Bewitched and beguiled by these magical words, as if by a alluring siren's call, many effohs came to join the Cherif's Caravan, some of them already old and grey, and some paying huge ransoms to their old Masters to escape their bondage. For naive, (as all effohs were by their very nature), they believed the honeyed words of the Master Cameleer.
However clouds appeared on Yasser Wateverusay's once clear horizons, for many of the effohs lured by his promises came from clans other than his own. (Like many Expurtexpats, he truly believed that only effohs from his particular clan could ever hope to aspire to be true cameleers.) But alas!, many of these new effohs cameth from Thethurdwoirld - and some even from the lowlist clan of all, the Strynnes bin Dnunda.
(Translator's note: Dunuda, a harsh, untamed land on the very edge of the Eastern Abyss, is sometimes referred to in other scrolls by the strange name of Ozmate.)
Yasser Wateverusay wailed and gnashed his teeth and called out to the others of his tribe: "Donneth ashes and sackcloth! Renteth thy garments in twain! Alas and alack and woe and begosh! Strynnes bin Dnunda in our ranks! - There goeth the neighbourhood!"
For not only did the Strynnes bin Dnunda bray through their noses when they spoke their horrible, ill-sounding dialect, but they were descended from thieves and murderers, sent in disgrace to their far off land many years before for heinous and most horrible crimes. Worse, these lowly outcasts simply kneweth not their place. To the slack-jawed astonishment of Yasser Wateverusay and many others in his clan, these contemptible and unworthy creatures appeared to consider themselves their equals! Cameleers might not beith at the very top of the social tree in Knoteetinghamm, but these ill-mannered, low-life ruffians wouldst draggeth the profession down to new depths. They were not the right class even to walk in the dust behind the likes of Yasser Wateverusay, let alone to sit up upon the camel's back alongside their august betters, just not the right class at all.
Seeking to redress this terrible wrong, Yasser Wateverusay sought cameleers of a better class in other far off lands, some even, it would seem, from the Parker bin Pehn tribe.
(Translator's Note: few of this secretive tribe were ever to be seen within the ranks of the lowly effohs, and then but for one brief moment while they sharpened their quills.)
Casting off his many promises to the lowly effohs, Yasser Wateverusay placed these newcomers straight upon the cameleer's seat.
Still choking in the dust at the autocamels' feet, the effohs in the Cherif's caravan mumbled and cursed their traitorous Master Cameleer, but he scorned their complaints. The situation, he told any who dared speak out, had changed. Those who continued to grumble were sent upon their way with these words: "If thou likest it not here, thou mayest returneth to the empty roads of thy homeland."
Few could do so at that time, as the cunning Yasser Wateverusay knew full well.
Time passed, and the ever suffering effohs wearied of the promises of the Master Cameleer. Some lost hope and many found other roads to tread as new caravans started up in their own Lands. As they took their leave, they cried aloud as one: "We seekest roads on which the Golepostes art not fixed upon the backs of swift moving camels!"
(Translators' Note: at this early stage, the translators are still unable to decypher the word 'Golepostes'. Perhaps they were shrines upon the roads at which the effoh caste worshipped their unknown gods? Whatever they were, many effohs, even while still walking in the dust and dung of the Cherif's caravan, appear to have gone in search of fixed ones. Whether they found them, and what eventually befell the Cherif's caravan, will not be answered until the rest of the scrolls are translated.)
Here ends the first scroll.