These fables are self-contained excerpts from a picaresque novel-in-progress titled Around the Rimless Sea. Because the tales encompass a world of spectacular landscapes and ancient ruins, teeming with vastly different and occasionally commingled cultures, religions, prophecies, species and cuisines, those curious to explore it may benefit from the following helpful words.
BEYOND THE SUNSET LIE THE Exilic Lands, where dreams come to die – or so say the coffeehouse wits of Soharis. But they are a professionally cynical lot, and often fervent in their presumptions.
Here by the southeastern edge of the Rimless Sea two abler-than-wise peoples anciently fought each other to land-cracking oblivion, leaving their regressed descendants (the Xao and Xai) wandering the shattered plains and scorched forests with no greater legacy than a few artifacts, mutual blame, and the hope of future redemption.
This hope was handed across the generations through whispered legends of Rimless Sea-borne saviors who would restore to the Xao and Xai their once-lush countryside before graciously and conveniently withdrawing. Some believed this, others pretended to, and those who did neither made plans of their own.
Thus, when the Children of Uul washed ashore at the mouth of the River Reaching in three great fleets filled with agricultural necessaries, the Exilic Lands’ indigines greeted them with a mix of joy, surprise and consternation. The Uulians were fleeing their own self-made and legendary catastrophe and, according to their Flickering Gods and High Sacreants, had reached where to repent and prove themselves worthy to return to their own lost homeland.
Deeply self-absorbed and heedless of their role in the local mythology, the Uulians could comprehend neither the indigenes’ initial amazement nor their eventual irritation as diligent Uulian fingers restored the land – and then built the Three Cities (cosmopolitan Soharis, epicurean Pormaris, and stony-hearted Tirinbar) and Thousand Villages of the Uulian Commonwell. While the Xao and Xai grew more perplexed by the century, the Commonwell ripened into that state of elegant decadence without which no civilzation can honestly be called interesting. Still, some (indigenes and Uulians alike) continued to believe in their ancestors’ prophecies; others pretended to; and those who did neither made plans of their own.
One did all three, often simultaneously and sometimes successfully. His name is Prosatio Silban – self-defrocked Sacreant, mercenary cook, and subject of these fables.
Prosatio Silban in his galleywagon / Illo (c) 2008 Alana Dill, http://youbecomeart.com