Memoirs of a Travelling Tolderian Salesman #4
I’ve been exploring the world of Elenchera for more than a decade now. Over time I’ve been privileged to learn of some amazing events:- gods at war, voyages of discovery, near extinction of ancient races, the elevation of magic as the necessity of all, slaves breaking free of their shackles and inventions that changed the world forever. Chronicles of Elenchera are hard to come by with the legendary historian Hawkswood having written the most prized accounts of the Elencheran timelines. In my endless search I did manage to find one book that I have found most useful in sharing something of this very different world.
“Memoirs of a Travelling Tolderian Salesman” was written by a unique individual known as Norman Verne. Who is Norman and where does he come from you might ask. Well, Norman is/was a toldere from the island of Lemanto. Tolderes? You must have heard of them. They’re canine headed men, a jovial bunch that love buying and selling, you could say the Del Boy of their world though a little more successful. In 26338 of the Fifteenth Shard Norman Verne became the first travelling tolderian salesman when he boarded a ship and left Lemanto behind, not returning for 79 years. In that time he is said to have travelled throughout Elenchera, visiting familiar lands in the east and the fledgling colonies in the west. I intend to use this blog to share extracts of Norman’s journey. This book only covers the early years of his journey but if I happen upon any later instalments you’ll be the first to know. Take my hand and let us delve into the world of Elenchera together.
27th April 26338
After three days wandering the dense woodland I finally came to an end of the monotony when I emerged from the shelter of the overhanging canopies and saw it standing before me – Sincerity. The glorious capital of Odrica, steeped in history, appeared crystalline from a distance but it was a mere illusion, simply the sunlight bouncing magnificently off the white walls that form the perimeter of this vast city. I’m so stunned by the sight that I feel obliged to change my jacket, assuming one riddled with leaves, broken twigs and soil would be unbecoming of such a marvel of architecture as Sincerity.
If Sincerity had been a man he would have spent the winter of his life recounting seemingly endless tales of all he had seen and achieved. Sincerity was the early capital of Odrica but back in the days when gods walked the earth it came into the hands of Evidon, ruler of the immortal race of Beruvians, who made the city their seat of power for a duchy founded in North Odrica and known as Burgalia. After Evidon’s slaying, the Beruvians aged dramatically and within a few decades they were wiped out. For many shards Odrica was an island divided into rival earldoms and dukedoms before Merzara rose from humble origins in the Ninth Shard to unite the warring lands under his rule. Odrica has remained united ever since, and by the Twelfth Shard had led the maritime age of exploration and colonisation alongside Eligantiar.
Sincerity became Merzara’s capital when he united Odrica and on every street you can see the impact of the island’s vast wealth from its colonial adventures and trading. Being here reminds me that Odrica is one of many lands frowned upon by the tolderes for where colonialism is ripe so too is the bitter memory of our brothers and sisters chained and shipped to the distant colonies in the west as slaves. I once again bury the hate and turn to commerce to assuage my anxiety at being in the heart of this great colonial empire.
Formerly worshippers of Eglacion, the Odricans in Sincerity cannot resist buying and trading goods I’ve brought from the stalls in Pargont and even a handful of rocks I surreptitiously bagged under the noses of the pilgrims in Elenchon. At first my customers think these are ordinary rocks but when I mention Elenchon they are fighting each other to hand over their money or to trade me everything from wine and beer to the shirts off their backs. I find myself reluctant to take their clothes but they are insistent and given the quality of some of these tunics I’m convinced they’ll have plenty to spare at home.
After some frantic trading and selling I decide to spend a bit of time seeing the sights of Sincerity. Everywhere you look there are a multitude of market stalls, the goods on offer here both local and foreign, thanks to Odrica’s many centuries of interest in the colonies, even after seeing their soldiers overthrown from the lands they once governed. Seeing the merchants in full flow leaves me feeling somewhat inadequate, a mere fledgling to the world of commerce and all of a sudden I seek sanctuary away from the markets.
In central Sincerity close to the towering palace that is home to the Odrican monarchy and government stands a courtyard with juniper trees lined along the perimeter. In the heart of the courtyard stand two statues, both reminiscent in the glory they convey but at the same time distinct from one another. The first statue is of a man with a sword held aloft, a flowing cape draped over his shoulders while the intricately carved crown resting on his head could almost be seen to omit a glitter of the man’s undoubted kingship. This was the great ruler, Merzara, himself and at his feet rested many wreaths of splendidly coloured flowers, honours to a king that died many centuries ago but remains unforgotten in the hearts of the Odricans.
Tributes to Merzara cannot match those of the accompanying statue in the courtyard. Mounted on a fabulous steed was a warrior queen whose hair was cut to shoulder length while a band across her forehead stopped the striking curls falling into her eyes. Her visage was plain rather than beautiful but her appearance was undoubtedly that of a monarch and on reading her epitaph I realised this was the greatest monarch Elenchera has ever seen – Leansja the Great. Queen of Odrica following Merzara’s untimely death long before his life had run its true course, Leansja dreamed of a reign of peace but a long-standing war against her brother-in-law, Treval II, king of Eligantiar led to the Odrican queen pursuing him throughout the continent of Valadomiar. Leansja led her inferior Odrican army to many memorable victories but at the dawn of beginning her rule over all of Valadomiar, Leansja disappeared without trace, believed to have died of wounds in her last battle but her body was never found. The glory and mystery she left behind fascinate me and though this is a mere statue I can almost feel the late queen watching over her subjects and in that moment I wished beyond all possibility that I could have seen her.
The statues of Merzara and Leansja lead me back to the market stalls where I trade wine from Pargont for figurines of the great king and his enigmatic daughter. I suspect they will sell well in the distant lands I have yet to visit. I decide to stay in Sincerity for a few more days but after that I’m not sure. Is it time to venture west to the colonies? Odrican ships are among the best I could use, seasoned veterans of colonialism that they are, but I find myself hesitant in facing such a long journey across the water. I favour staying in East Elenchera for the moment, so I can continue to build up funds. Getting to the colonies is one thing but I’ll need plenty of surplus funds if I’m to get back. This journey is only just beginning.