1879: The Ride of Kiposkodeyl
Herewith we present Monsignor Sherrard’s research into a major legend of the Saurids of Corshivarral, what the British call the Gruv, the story of how one of their great hapatvnorefvar carried the secrets used to drive back the Samsut to Arot’slavarral, the Saurid homeland, during the War of the Machine People. As background, the Saurids the British have met are sort of Mennonite verging on Amish, a splinter culture from their own people who have deliberately capped their technology levels in order to ensure their survival. Back on the home continent, a mechanistic civilization grew, poisoned the downstream lands with their effluents, and a war erupted to prevent the extinction of the species, dependent as the Saurids are for their reproduction and existence on wetlands and rivers. Forthwith, the work of the Monsignor.
In the Saurids’ hour of need, help came from an unexpected source. The emigrant tribes of Corshivarral knew of the war, having kept in touch to a limited extent through spirit messenger and thought link. Having faced a similar foe in the New World, they stood ready to lend their expertise to their relatives in the Old Country. Getting that assistance to where it was needed, and obtaining support for the travel necessary, became a battle all of its own.
Sending an expedition across the straits would require multiple ships, as no single vessel could hope to win through. Offerings would have to be made, along with a show of military strength, to fend off the Aquatics. Many of the ships that had brought the colonists to the new world had sunk generations ago, from lack of maintenance deriving from lack of interest. None of the colonists wanted to return to their ancestral homeland. New ships would have to be built, which would take months of intensive labor and considerable expense in terms of time and resources and effort. The Saurids of Arot’slavarral had nothing the Saurids of Corshivarral would want for recompense, and so the New World tribes would have to bear the cost all on their own.
As tends to happen, when expenditures on a large scale are involved, even in a culture that does not use money and does not think in terms of finance that we humans would understand, those in charge of accounting for costs fell to arguing among themselves. The subject became a political hot coal, a topic too hot to handle with any safety. Councils debated the issue with no resolution. No sooner than a new option for distributing the expense was proposed than someone shot holes in it and left it to founder. The Saurids of Corshivarral held the secrets that might help their relatives win the Machine War, but getting those secrets to where they were needed just couldn’t be done.
Or couldn’t be done by a committee. Kiposkodeyl daughter of Democlew, one of the great heroes of the Samsut War, looked at the situation, and saw it bore far too close a resemblance to arguments among her commanders over battle strategy. She had won renown, but made enemies, during the War by taking initiative, or being headstrong and foolish, depending upon whom one asked. Since her tendency to round up forces and lead a mission without waiting for orders worked out more often than not, and never ended with her or too many of her command dead, the command had repeatedly given her honors along with stern warnings to never do anything like that again. With the war over, Kiposkodeyl had been training airborne cavalry in aerial combat techniques, and going slowly mad from the boredom. Here, in the debate over how to deliver the necessary plans and materials to Arot’slavarral, she found once again proof that it is always easier to seek forgiveness than to obtain permission.
Many legends, poems, and songs relate the story of how Kiposkodeyl gathered copies of weapon plans and spell formulae, and obtained samples of the fungi and microbes needed for the effects used against the Samsut. Some of these are of a decidedly fanciful nature. The facts, so far as I have been able to determine in my limited and unskilled survey, speak to a quick and clandestine effort on Kiposkodeyl’s part, trading on the favors and reputation accumulated over a long career. She chose the strongest mount with the greatest stamina from the training flock under her command. Here again much of the source material veers off into the unabashedly romantic, relating how she said farewell to her own mount, and expressed her regret at having to choose another. The sources agree that she rounded up supplies, including a number of potions meant to extend the attentiveness and endurance of troops in the field, and made her departure scarcely ahead of a direct order to desist, delayed in its transmission by a few staunch friends. She took only what she could not do without, and set her course for Arot’slavarral.
Again, the source material wanders off into the fantastical, in many cases indulging in extensive prose of a decidedly purple nature. This in no way should be seen to diminish Kiposkodeyl’s achievement in flying, by herself, all the way from Corshivarral to Arot’slavarral. The single British survey that reached the western coastline of the Grosvenor Land estimated the distance to the far shore at no less than six hundred miles, and probably closer to seven hundred. Even with a stop on one of the two islands in the strait at the halfway point, each leg would require covering a distance of over three hundred miles in a single go, a grueling ride far beyond the capacity of nearly anyone. I do not know the full effect of stamina potions, but surely they could not sustain someone for that long without deleterious effects of the most untoward sort. The effort very nearly killed Kiposkodeyl’s mount. It survived only because Kiposkodeyl channelled her own life energy to it, using a method known only to the most elite of the Saurid cavalry and to their shamans, and crudely replicated by Samsut technology.
At the far end, Kiposkodeyl brought her mount in for a landing at a military outpost, where they both promptly collapsed. Kiposkodeyl never fully recovered, living out the remainder of her days in a convalescent facility. Her mount never flew again. Reports came back to Corshivarral, though, of her success in delivering the war materiel. An honor ceremony was held in her absence, with her egg-daughter standing in her stead. I am told that there is a statue of Kiposkodeyl and her mount atop a high cliff on the coast, at the point of her departure. Perhaps some intrepid soul with a camera might make an expedition to the spot and gather proof by wet plate.
Armed with the techniques and organisms of Corshivarral, and having tested them in the toxic environment of territory captured from the Machine People, the tribes of Arot’slavarral swiftly made up for lost time. The Machine People, long reliant upon their devices, could not hold against a foe that could neutralize them.