Journal of Jon Cuinn, May 1608 to October 1608

by Jon Cuinn

What follows is a reprint of a portion of my personal journal on the early events of the colony of Flint. I hope that the knowledge it contains may be of use to those who, like me, have followed their own path to arrive in Flint.  

May, 1608
  4th: Tremendous progress has been made on the palisade wall construction and it is nearing completion. The new-to-us tree, I am told, has begun to be be called a “maple” though it is not entirely clear to me what process was used to name it thus. I suspect that Master Beylon might be behind this naming.   5th: The remaining temporary structures have had foundation rituals conducted on them and it has become clear that whatever is the underlying cause, there is a definite effect produced by following that particular ancient practice. Folks are starting to examine all of their traditions, fables, and stories for hints. For example, in Holthar it is customary to brush one’s shoulders when entering a dwelling. The story goes that it is a sign of respect to brush the dirt off, or that it is a way to ward off evil. This practice has been going on for so long that most people from Holthar do it without even thinking about it. Could there be some ritual value to this simple everyday gesture? What about the midwinter celebration from Sorjund where the participants all make an astounding amount of noise in an effort to scare the winter away? Could it have some actual effect other than to induce hangovers in the morning? It will be some more weeks before the requested research books are hopefully sent over; maybe they will contain some answers.   7th: We have been here in Flint six months now and until today we thought that we were the lone inhabitants of this land. But early this morning that all changed when a ship of unknown construction was spotted in the bay! Excited murmuring ran through the settlements as the news spread and a crowd, nay, the whole settlement, began to gather. Speculation abounded and rumors swirled among the nearly 200 of us. Could these visitors be members from one of the lost expeditions? The Field Marshal began to order her people to load up their weapons and form a defensive line but the Governor stepped in and bade her to stand down. Reluctantly she complied and instead ordered the military to perform a very thorough weapons inspection. The Governor then organized a group to go and talk to these new arrivals. Under the watchful eye of the military, from behind the walls, the parlay group approached the shore.   The visitors halted their paddling approach when they spotted our sole ship, The Sea Serpent, anchored in the harbor. Then, they spotted our parlay group. Clearly, there was some discussion taking place aboard their vessel; perhaps they were as shocked to see us as we were to see them. Captain Kiyoshi of the Sea Serpent signaled us using semaphore flags to ask for instructions. The Governor had one of our semaphore experts signal to instruct them to “wait patiently”. As soon as those flags were deployed, however, the visitors also raised flags with the traditional maritime signal for, essentially, “let us talk.”   The Governor instructed our flags to signal the “permission to approach” signal and the visitors slowly came to land their vessel on the beach. About a dozen people disembarked and pulled their two hulled ship up the sand so that it would not drift away. At this point the parlay group was near enough to talk to the visitors and a brief conversation was had. They then signaled the all clear to us and a small group of us, myself included, went with the Governor to join the discussion.   As we approached I looked upon our visitors and I noted their clothing first. Fine fabric that appeared similar to cotton from this distance. Most were dressed with practical, yet decorated, clothing that could have been mistaken for a merchant or sailor from Sobukand except for the unusual cut. The conversation was already underway when we approached and so I listened to the newcomers speak. Their language was of an unusual dialect but completely understandable save a word here or there. They seem quite friendly, excited even, and once the Governor entered the conversation it was quickly established that they are open to the idea of trade with us. Their settlement is a couple of weeks farther north from Flint by ocean and up a small river and they came down to our area to do some hunting for meat and furs. The Governor extended an invitation for them to stay the night in Flint but the visitors politely refused, stating that returning home with the news of our settlement took higher priority. They promised to return in about one month’s time with some goods for trade and proper diplomatic envoys. They call themselves Epirans and their settlement is known as Epiria.   The Governor called for a writing desk to be brought up and sat down to draft a note to the Epirans as a means of formal introduction that these few could take back with them to their home. Once this was completed the visitors piled into their small craft and paddled out of the harbor and out of sight.   8th: I mentioned the unusual ship in yesterday's journal but in my excitement at the news of having neighbors I neglected to fully describe it. It has two hulls, as I mentioned, connected by a section of decking and a single mast with a single triangular sail. There were additionally two pontoons outside of the hulls on long arms. As they made their way out of the bay the more skilled sailors observed the ships characteristics. This style of ship, I am told, should sail very quickly and turn very well, but would not be suitable for deep ocean going. This new design clearly serves its owners well and is well maintained but is wholly unlike any ship of Sobukand design. Some speculated that the pontoons were in fact removable for navigating in narrow river channels and that perhaps the mast and sail could be lowered as well converting the whole boat into a double hulled canoe of sorts, if quite a bit larger.   I also failed to mention what the people themselves were like. The reason for this omission, in retrospect, is because they looked a lot like us and while that is unusual in its own right it didn’t hit me as being unusual two days ago. It was only upon reflection that it struck me as odd. There were individuals among the visitors who shared features of Alloyim, Aeldin, Bisad, and Zahnir ancestries. If you dressed them in clothing from our settlement, they would most likely be able to pass without notice among us. At least until they entered into a conversation, that is, and their unusual phrasing and pronounciation of certain words would give one a chance to ponder the differences.   It should also be shocking that their language so closesly matches our own. Discovering that we are not alone on this new land as we originally surmised is shocking enough; for them to have so much in common with us and converse with us with relative ease while not being from Sobukand would have been unbelievable if I had not witnessed it. How did they come to be here and us not know of them? Of course, we came to be here and they did not know of us until two days ago; this may be just as unusual for them as it is for us.   9th: I spent some time this afternoon in the tavern listening to others asking the same questions about the visitors as I had yesterday. One of the military folk, Jaspa Goins, noted that the visitors carried what could have been guns, they were certain of this fact, and bet one weeks wages on the notion. Nobody took that bet. The metal work, Jaspa claimed, was exquisite, though they admitted that they only saw it briefly through a looking scope from far away. Jaspa also pointed out that the visitors had forged metal spear tips. Oliver Tippet, Bosun of the Sea Serpent, commented on the quality of the build of their boat. Oliver said it was a “right impressive thing, if he did say so himself.” All around the tavern there was nothing but talk of the visit and speculation about the intentions or motivations of the visitors.   10th: I am still reeling from this news. I asked the Governor to have a look at our charter, one of the few professionally printed documents in Flint, to verify something and perhaps assuage my fears a bit. When pressed for why I wanted to do that I explained my concerns. With the recognition that we have established a colony in an area near other civilized peoples, and not in an uninhabited land as previously thought, my concern was that the charter would require us to vacate the area, or worse, to make war. The Governor and I then sat down and reviewed the charter together. In it we found the following phrase:  
Under no circumstances shall the expedition establish an outpost or settlement on lands occupied, controlled, or claimed by any people, nor shall the expedition make any conflict with established families, tribes, or nations, known or unknown. There is no permission granted to instigate conflict with any persons of intellect or language. Should the expedition, or any eventual outposts or settlements, come under attack from any source then all due defense of the expedition and its charter approved instruments shall be undertaken. Such defense shall not include mounting a counter offensive nor shall it include preemptive attacks. In the event an outpost or settlement is wrongly established in foreign controlled land such outpost or settlement shall be abandoned and the expedition shall search for a new location or return to Sobukand. The Field Marshal is empowered to make decisions about how to execute the defense of the expedition and its settlements. The Governor is empowered to overrule the Field Marshal to ensure that only defense is undertaken.
  20th: The Wise Oak and the Wellspring begin their voyage to Sobukand today. I was instructed by the Governor to not report anything about the new neighbors at this time as we do not yet have enough information to get everyone back home needlessly worked up. Once the Epirans have returned, possibly with diplomatic contact, possibly not, then we can establish the facts of the situation and decide how to proceed. This bit of self editing is difficult to handle, but I understand the Governor’s position on this, and I trust him to know the right thing to do here. Nowhere in the charter are we required to report any or all contacts with foreign entities and as of yet we have no proof of this groups organizational structure, or if they are a threat. I am unsettled by the situation but I do believe that Cornelius is steering us in the right direction.   25th: The Conflagration and the Zephyr returned from Sobukand today. Their journeys were uneventful and while they carried the news from back home there was not anything of major note contained therein.  
June, 1608
  9th: The Epirans returned today, sailing their double hulled ship into the harbor. They unloaded some chests and barrels to the shore and approached with caution. At a certain point in their approach they shouted out “approaching the town”. This was a bit odd, but it seemed like it was some kind of traditional greeting perhaps, or maybe they didn’t want us to be surprised maybe, nobody is quite sure. Perhaps I’ll ask them if I get a chance to talk to them. The leader of this group, a slight person, possibly of Aeldin ancestry, with close cropped hair and dark brown skin, carried herself with the confidence of a soldier or diplomat. As her group approached the Governor was located and extracted from where he had been taking an inspection tour of one of the farms just outside of Flint, and brought to great our visitors. The Epirans were led inside the town and then into the mess hall, the largest building in Flint so far, and were treated to lunch. After lunch talk turned to news and business. Epira had sent a letter recognizing the existence of Flint and offering a formal negotiation of trade and a formal offer of peaceful cooperation. They also brought a map showing their territories to the north, a copy of which I will include here.   They have lived in this area of Torakand, although they call the continent Fest, for as far back as memory allows. Tens of generations at least. They have multiple cities and several smaller settlements shown on their map. They informed us that each city and its surrounding settlements is ruled independently from the others.The Governor asked how much they knew of the interior of Fest and this question appeared to confuse the Epirans. Pointing to their map, they indicated that similarly to Flint, much of their western frontier is made up of high mountains. The Epirans said that it was impractical for them to think about expansion or exploration of the interior. Nobody has gone exploring and returned in recent memory, it is simply too dangerous. Instead they live happily in their lands and keep the wilds at bay. They appear to have no need to explore, they are happy living with what they have. The Governor mentioned to me afterwards that the spark of wanderlust found in our people seems to have all but guttered out in our northern neighbors.   Why then did they come to Flint? As it turns out they come to our harbor annually to hunt for crabs. Apparently the crabs in our bay are quite large and tasty. Having not yet encountered any crabs this will bear some looking into. They hunt them by baiting them to the surface with meat and shiny objects. Large as a person, these red crabs put up quite a fight but can feed a large number of people and are delicious with butter. But since now we control the “crabenbooked” they would offer to show us how to hunt for the crabs and in exchange trade some “aels” to us. The aels turn out to be some kind of cross between a fish and a snake and look quite slimy. They offer to cook us some for dinner. After a dinner of aels with rice in a broth of some kind the Epirans loaded into their “catamar” (boat) and headed off for their home. The Governor seemed quite pleased with the days events, though he did not get to complete his inspection of the farm he had started.   13th: There are some little houses being built. At first I thought they were being built as a kind of hobby or pastime, but then they were put on short poles near buildings and folks starting making offerings to them. I inquired with a few individuals and they informed me that these are spirit houses, a tradition from Liber and Teyen. These little houses are meant to allow spirits a place to rest away from a home or place of business. Offerings of food and drink, depending on the spirit being attracted, or appeased, would be made at regular intervals. The spirits in turn either bring good tidings or avoid bringing ill tidings again depending on the nature of the spirit itself and how the individual interacts with the spirit. So far I have seen a house dedicated to elemental spirits of earth, fire, wood, qi, air, water and metal, of course, but I have also seen spirit houses dedicated to the animal spirits of owl, horse and snake.   14th: I happened by the cemetery today and saw flowers arranged on a new shrine that has been erected. I sat for a moment and thanked the spirits of those who have died on this journey so far for their service and asked for their protection. I poured some water from my flask into a small cup that was there as well.   20th: The Conflagration and the Sea Serpent set sail today carrying a few exported goods that would be appreciated in Sobukand during their long winter.   21st: Today is the summer solstice so I was up before first light to witness the Explorers Guild mark the solar clock. The ceremony was much like the New Year's Day ritual but the weather was much more pleasant.   27th: Obsidian Dancer and Golden Circlet have returned and they did come with some copies of books for researching the strange effects we have observed. I also received a letter from my sister the contents of which are for my own eyes only, but it appears to all be good news.  
July, 1608
  4th: A large military drill was done today with two sides facing off against each other in a line. It seemed they were working on the loading and firing of weapons under duress, though they used charges and wadding they did not load any rounds. The sound was tremendous and echoed off of the distant mountains. Several of the newer recruits were clearly flustered by the pressure of the situation but the veterans helped straighten them out. In the end this kind of drill should help dramatically should we ever need to fight a major battle.   20th: The Obsidian Dancer and the Zephyr leave bound carrying the latest news and a few more goods to show the bounty of our summer months. I believe these are being sent to assuage the skeptics about our seasons being reversed from those in Sobukand.   26th: The Wise Oak and the Wellspring return from their voyage bearing a few more brave souls to join us and fresh supplies. The regular deliveries of supplies, news, and strong folk, really raises the spirits of everyone around the settlement.  
August, 1608
  15th: There is a really tall plant here. It looks like enormous grass, and it produces these large, yellow, bumpy, seed pods, but the seeds are not hard like seeds. The cooks have experimented with it and found that if you boil it, that is where the cooks always start, with boiling things, it turns into a kind of sweet crisp vegetable. I am assured it is a grain or a fruit, though, and not a vegetable at all. The fields in which it grows are easy to get lost in so the cooks have started to call this food maize. They vow to experiment some more since it grows in such abundance here.   20th: Wise Oak and Golden Circlet leave, each bearing, in addition to the official cargo, as many melons as their crew could manage to stash in their personal footlockers.   24th: Conflagration and Sea Serpent return bringing news of the reactions for their cargo sent out the last month. The summer melons that were sent out were quite a hit and they come bearing requests for another shipment. Folks are talking about starting up some more farms around Flint to see about taking advantage of this opportunity.    
September, 1608
  20th: Wellspring and Sea Serpent depart loaded down with a batch of maize to share with Sobukand. We all wonder what they will make of it.   22nd: Fall Equinox   25th: Obsidian Dancer and Zephyr return with news that word has spread of the season reversals. There is rumor that some folks from Sobukand are even considering visiting during the winter months, our summer, for the health benefits. Though only time will tell if any would dare risk the journey just for some warmer weather.  
October, 1608
  20th: Conflagration and Zephyr depart, right on schedule   28th: Wise Oak and Golden Circlet return, nothing otherwise eventful happened   27th: Today we had a bit of a experience with the legal system of Flint. A sailor assigned to the Golden Circlet, Helenka Milena, was accused of assault by Drugi Bannanson. Drugi claims that he was fishing on the banks of the river when Helenka happened by with some of her shipmates. The sailors were talking loudly and were disturbing the fish so Drugi bade them to, and I quote, “shut their bloated mouths.” Needless to say a fight broke out in which Drugi sustained a broken arm and lost three teeth while Helenka received a vicious cut on her lower arm from Drugi’s bait knife.   The first legal question was in determining who actually had jurisdiction to try the case. You see, there are three legal authorities at work on Torakand at the present. The Governor of Flint is granted jurisdiction by the terms of the Flint Colony Charter within Flint proper and for all lands that are within sight of the walls of Flint. The Field Marshal of the military has legal jurisdiction on lands that are out of sight of Flint and brings to bear military justice on all persons from Sobukand or from Flint regardless of military affiliation or lack thereof. But the Captains of the ships have legal jurisdiction over their crew if they are “near to the waterline.”   So the question of jurisdiction needed to be settled. The most qualified party to decide such a matter is, of course, the Guildhead of the Explorers Guild, Virginia Loman. Leader Loman headed to the spot of the crime and took sightings and measurements. As it turns out the spot in question was not able to see the walls of Flint as a result of a largish hill, so the Governor’s claim to jurisdiction was negated. Then the definition of waterline was debated and it was determined that the intent of its meaning was that it referred to the ocean water that was to be found in the bay and not along the river. Additional measurements were taken and it was declared that the crime happened alongside the river. The Field Marshal thus opened the first legal proceedings in Torakand. Military justice dictates that for fighting the two or more parties involved are each docked one week of pay and must serve double shifts for a number of days as determined by the presiding officer. Helenka was given two days of double shifts and Drugi was given one day. The trial was amazingly swift once jurisdiction was established.


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