Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Tale of Kutava (Prologue)

I Have Seen Shliflet

There is a world, far away from here, of which few have heard. It was known by the ancients, who called it Degom, but in modern times even its name has been forgotten. Although this place has vanished from the memory of our people, I wish to restore it, for I have seen Degom! I myself have scaled its peaks, I have wandered through its forests, I have walked through its fields under the stars.
I have sailed its oceans, I have heard the voices of its people, and I have listened to their ancient tales of wisdom and bravery.
O! That I could return there, to those lands of such history, to the people who remember the days of yore!
I shall not explain how I journeyed there, but suffice it to say it was in a manner similar to that in which the Connecticut Yankee found himself in King Arthur’s Court. Also, I may well note that I shall never again be able to return there, however much I may wish to.
The days I spent in that land were precious, and I beheld many good and beautiful things whilst I dwelt there. This is not to say that it is a Utopia, for the very name “Utopia” indicates that it is nowhere. The land of which I write most certainly exists—though now it seems almost a dream—and perhaps it was a dream. But no! I have with me still the tales which I wrote down while listening to various storytellers of that land. It was certainly not a dream. And yet, if it was, what an awesome dream, such that the human mind could not contrive!
But let us put away this matter—whether it was a dream or not—for I wish now to put in words all I have seen and heard in that distant land, before I forget.

Of the Kingdom of Ĝimlu

Before I begin the tale of Kutava, I feel it is right to give you, the reader, a proper introduction to the country of Ĝimlu. Please know that Ĝimlu is not the whole of Degom (or Shliflet, as I prefer to call it), but only a part thereof. There are many other countries in Shliflet besides Ĝimlu, and although I have certainly not visited all of them, I am well acquainted with the people of Ĝimlu, having dwelt there a time.
At this time I feel it is good to mention the language of the Ĝimluvians as well. In Shliflet, it is true, there are many divers tongues spoken, and none are the same. When men first arrived on the shores of Ĝimlu, they spoke a tongue not unlike those of the region from which they came. None knows what they called the language at that time, but later they called it Ĝimlugant, ‘language of the new land.’ Accordingly, no one today knows what the people first called themselves, not even the Knowing Ones. In later times, or perhaps before, they began calling themselves Ĝimlusae, ‘people of the new land.’ Concerning the pronunciation of the language, the spelling system which I have used is fairly straightforward. In Ĝimlu itself a different set of letters is used, but to facilitate the reading of names for speakers of the English tongue, I have devised a spelling system using our letters. The pronunciation is not difficult, and you may pronounce the names quite accurately if you observe the following notes. The letter Ĝ is pronounced as the S in ‘pleasure’ and ‘measure’, and the T in ‘equation’. It is also well to note that the letter J in this language is not pronounced as one would suppose, but as in the word ‘hallelujah’.
Ĝimlu was originally a large kingdom, stretching from the Tokma Sôlen (the Tokmean River) in the north, to Maheya in the south. In later times this vast kingdom was divided, but you shall read of in the tale of Kutava.
Although I remember much of the land of Ĝimlu, the thought that arises when I think of the country is that of the hills and the mountains. Besides the Lutaem and the regions along the sea and the river, the whole country is mountainous. For this reason, travelling is done on a type of animal similar to the llama. They call them neshkuje, and I believe they are native, at least that’s what I’ve been told.
The people of Ĝimlu are generally friendly and hospitable. They live in simple houses, which are often built on slopes. As Ĝimlu was at first quite an extensive country, the people in one region differed slightly in customs and language from those of another. As a whole, the people of Ĝimlu are an interesting folk. Their manners and customs would to us seem quite odd, and indeed I thought so when I first arrived there. But they are kind, and welcome strangers heartily as they did me.
The people themselves are generally short, and have light brown skin and slanted eyes. Their dress is like unto that of the Romans, yet of many colours. They know not shoes, for they go barefoot wherever they go, and as a result, they have quite tough feet and do not mind stepping on objects which would make our feet hurt. They enjoy hats, and wear all manner of them upon their heads.
It was in this land, the country of Ĝimlu, that Kutava son of Anitijova was born and raised. However, seeking adventure, Kutava wandered far and wide, finally settling in a land across the sea, far away from Ĝimlu. It was in this land that I became acquainted with him, indeed, we became good friends, though he was old and full of years. When I knew him, he was beyond his days of adventure, but he enjoyed greatly telling stories of his adventures to whomever wished to hear it. Although they knew the stories by heart, his many grandchildren ever delighted in hearing those tales of adventure, and of Ĝimlu, the homeland of their agéd grandfather.

Continue reading: Introduction

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