Lands of Red and Gold, Act II

This is the thread for Act II of Lands of Red and Gold.

Links to previous threads:

Preview Thread

Thread I (combined Prologue and Act I)

Lands of Red and Gold #70: True Colours (and #71)
Lands of Red and Gold


Lands of Red and Gold #70: True Colours

Instalment #70 gives the framing device which will be used during Act II.

Reader discretion is advised when reading this instalment.

* * *

24 December 1912
Gerang’s Falls [Buckley’s Falls], near Cumberland [Geelong, Victoria]

Carl Ashkettle paces slowly up and down the road atop a dam. He steps from one length of the dam to the other, then turns around and repeats the process. The dam is small, and in truth he could walk it quickly if he wishes, but he is in no hurry. Or rather, he is in a hurry, but this slow walk will have to do as a means of marking time.

To his right – as he now paces – the waters of the lake grow ever darker as the sun sets behind them. The lake is only small; the River Wandana [Barwon River] has been dammed here purely to hold water for fishing and aquaculture. He supposes that the dimming glimpses of the lake might be soothing, if he were in the right mind, but all he cares about now is the much-delayed arrival of the source he has arranged to meet here.

Moments later, he notices a man walking down the road at the far side of the dam. Walking. The man has come here on foot. Strange, that.

As the man draws nearer, Ashkettle studies him with a practiced chronicler’s [reporter’s] eye. Old and short, are his first impressions. The man barely reaches Ashkettle’s shoulder, and Ashkettle himself is far from the tallest of men. The man’s advanced age is obvious from the whiteness of the hair on his head and neatly-trimmed short beard. Something is odd about his face, though; it nags at Ashkettle, but he cannot place it for now.

The newcomer’s clothes are undistinguished. He wears dark green linen overalls with a few blackish stains. Nothing that would be out of place in any of Cumberland’s many mills [factories].

“Good evening, Mr... Clements, is it?” Ashkettle says, with the briefest hint of a bow, but with no effort to shake hands.

“So I’m called,” Clements answers, with a vague hint of a bow in response. “My most recent name, that is.”

Ashkettle raises an eyebrow, but the other man does not elaborate. After a moment, Ashkettle says, “Why did you ask me out here, Mr Clements?” A little abrupt, perhaps, but the long waiting past the appointed hour plays on his nerves.

“Because I want you to tell my story,” Clements says.

“The tale of your life, or just one particular story that you want the world to hear?”

Clements grins. “Oh, my life story. Enough as would interest the world, any ways. I dare say they’d be right taken with most of it.”

“Enough to pay to read it?” Ashkettle says, in what he hopes is a disarming tone. Lots of people think they have stories worth telling, but usually other people do not find those stories worth listening to.

“I’d say so. Yes, I’d def’nitely say so. Not that it matters much to me, you see.”


“Don’t care nothing for this,” Clement says, and rubs his thumb against his first two fingers of his left hand. “Make what cash off’ve my tale as you can. Only one condition I have for you.” At Ashkettle’s inquiring noise, the old man says, “Write as much as you can while I live, to get yourself ready. But you can’t print nothing in your paper or books til I’ve gone.”

“Ah.” That kind of story could well be interesting. Perhaps not, but the chances are so much better. And a story for which he pays nothing will cost him only his time. Easy enough to stop hearing the tale if it proves worthless.

Ashkettle produces a notebook and pencil. “Shall we begin? The short version, to start with.”

Clement chuckles. “No such thing, with my tale. But we can go from the beginning.”

“As good a place as any, I suppose. Where were you born?”

“Yigutji [Wagga Wagga]. The city. The old city.”

Ashkettle has to think for a moment. History has never been his forte. “Ah, yes. The old – very old city. Must be a tale there. How did you come to be born in an archaeological site?”

“My mother didn’t live in no place of diggers. When I was born, Yigutji was still a real city. A living, breathing place. The heart of its kingdom.”

Ashkettle gives a hollow laugh. “Oh, your mother borrowed a time machine before she gave birth?”

“Not on your life. Born there too, she was, may she rest in peace.”

Ashkettle considers whether to rip the page out of his notebook and walk away on the spot, but decides to indulge this would-be scammer a little longer. “How old are you, then?”

“Don’t rightly know, not to the day. Live long enough, and the oldest times start to blur in your head, know what I mean?” Clements looks at him, and apparently recognises how close he is to leaving on the spot. “But I dare say I would’ve been born around 1610, give or take.”

“You’re telling me you are three hundred years old?”

“That I am, or thereabouts, any ways.”

“And I’m Prestor John. I think I’ve wasted enough time here,” Ashkettle says, and tucks the notebook back into his pocket.

He goes to put the pencil in after it, but Clements lays a hand on his shoulder. “I assure you, Mr. Ashkettle, that hearing me out will be worth your time. I am offering you the biggest scoop of the decade, if not the century, and you are not willing to listen.”

The change in diction is astonishing. Ashkettle knows he is staring, but cannot stop.

Clements chuckles. “Oh, yes, I can sound like an educated man, or a common oaf, as I prefer. Or any of several other guises. Live as long as I have, sir, and you will learn to play many roles. If only so you can go on living a while longer.”

Ashkettle looks at the man more closely. His ancestry appears muddled enough that he could be telling the truth about being a Yigutji man of pure heritage, even if he lies about his age. Or he could have a white man or two somewhere in his ancestry, and be a Junditmara [1]. It is difficult to tell.

After studying the man, Ashkettle realises what has been nagging him about the old man’s face. There are lines on it, as befits an old man. But there are no other blemishes on it at all. No scars, no moles, nothing but the patchwork of lines. Clements is old, but somehow he looks less worn than he should.

Three hundred years old?” He does not believe it. He cannot believe it. But he writes it down, just the same. Whatever story Clements has to tell may be worth publishing, even if it is just entertaining fiction.

“I’ve already said I cannot tell you, not to the year. My family were not wealthy, and in that era, few low-born families kept what you would call accurate records. But I was alive and old enough to hear and remember the first confused tales about the “raw men” – de Houtman’s expedition, that is – when they spread to Yigutji in what would have been 1619 or 1620. I was still considered a child then, and boys were thought of as men quite young in those days. So I think that I was born around 1610, and in any case no later than 1615.”

“Is there nothing you can place that would... Actually, forget that for now. It can wait. You don’t look that old.”

Clements smirks. “You expect a three centuries old man to look like some decrepit half-mummified corpse with a beard down to his knees?” He shrugs. “In truth, for most of that time I did not look old at all. I reached the age of twenty-five, and that is where I stayed, in outward appearance. As far as looks go, I did not age at all. Which made saying in one place for too long an unwise idea, as you can imagine. I had to keep moving on and changing my name.”

Clements clears his throat. “Anyway, until about twenty years ago, I looked young. After that, I started aging. Quicker than a normal man, which is why you see me as I am. I expect that I will live a little longer, but now I can see death approaching. Time to tell my story.”

The man certainly sounds convincing, enough to make Ashkettle wonder where the scam can be found. “The story of how you met everyone famous in the last three hundred years, I suppose.”

“A few over the years, but not so many as you might think. My preference has always been to avoid attracting attention. Living in the courts of the rich and aimless was never a good way to remain low-key, since too many people would be likely to remember me.” He pauses, as if thinking. “But I rode with the Hunter during the great crusades. I was in the crowd at Wujal [Cooktown] that cheered Korowal home when he brought his ships back from sailing around the world via the three capes. And Pinjara considered me his friend.”

Ashkettle makes what he hopes is a non-committal grunt. He would have expected a confidence man to claim that he knew many more famous people than those named. Unless he does not want to be caught out giving false details, of course. But then again, years of journalism have taught Ashkettle how fallible human memory is; any man can misremember things even if they are being honest. “What can you tell in your story, then?”

“I can tell you about the way things happened to ordinary people. I saw that. I saw it all, from the earliest coming of white men. I saw their coming. I saw the new marvels they brought. The new hope. And I saw what came after. The wars, the plagues, the famines. The deaths, so many deaths. I lived through it all.”

Ashkettle’s skepticism returns. “You did all that? You lived through the plagues?”

Clements nods.

“Even, hmm, smallpox? Where’s your scars?”

“I do not scar,” Clements says. “That is probably part of why I have lived so long. If I get cut, I heal without scars. I even had half a finger regrow once. Though that is an experience I would prefer not to repeat.”

That is something that can be verified,” Ashkettle says.

“Not if I die of infection, thank you all the same,” Clements says. “If you want me to prove my veracity, there are safer ways. I can tell you things about my life, things which history does not remember.

“Listen, and I will tell you.”

* * *

[1] Native Aururians of the Five Rivers (Murray basin) have slightly lighter skin than most other Gunnagalic peoples. In turn, other Gunnagalic peoples have slightly lighter skin when compared to other native Aururians, and the Junditmara have somewhat darker skin than just about everyone else.

This is a consequence of the history of adoption of agriculture. The shift to agriculture meant a lower animal protein diet, which in turn meant less dietary vitamin D available, and thus led to natural selection for lighter skin (i.e. faster biosynthesis of vitamin D in the skin). This process started earliest with the Gunnagalic peoples (the earliest farmers), and spread with them during the Great Migrations (900 BC – 200 AD) as they expanded across eastern Aururia (see also post #6).

However, during these migrations, the dispersing Gunnagalic peoples were hunters as much as farmers (due to the disruption), and so the selection pressure halted for most of the millennium. Within the Five Rivers itself, however, the hunting grounds had largely been exhausted, and the aquaculture collapsed with the Interregnum, so the selection pressure continued throughout that period. Even after the Interregnum ended and aquaculture (and domesticated birds) became more common, they were still a high-status commodity, and so the selection pressure continues.

The Junditmara maintained a long tradition of aquaculture throughout this period, and thus had as much vitamin D as they needed, and retained a darker skin tone.

* * *

Lands of Red and Gold #71: World Out Of Balance

Carl Ashkettle asks, “When you were born in Yigutji all those years ago, were your family Plirite?”

“Not as you would understand things today,” Mr. Clements says. “Religion was not something you were, it was something you did. My family took me to the local temples from time to time, on the right occasions. Weddings, most often. When the occasion demanded it, we attended other ceremonies that were not Plirite, too, such as whenever the bunya pines produced cones.” He shrugs. “But we did not need to be Plirite to know that the arrival of the raw men had put the world out of balance.”

* * *

This instalment gives an overview of what’s happened in the Third World – that is, Aururia and Aotearoa – since the time of first European contact in 1619. It covers events up until approximately 1643. While it recaps briefly on some of the main features of the pre-contact era, and provides expanded information in a couple of cases, its main purpose is to summarise how things have changed since then. The history of the pre-contact Third World is described in post #11.

This instalment also gives some overview of how Aururian contact has changed the broader world, but in less detail. The main focus of this timeline is, and will remain, on the Third World itself.

* * *

The ATJUNTJA (see post #12) are an ethnicity and empire in south-western Aururia, and the second most populous state on the continent at the time of European contact. Ruled by the King of Kings in the White City, or in its native tongue Milgawee [Albany, Western Australia], the Atjuntja Empire was the product of the first iron-workers on the continent, who were first unified by conquest, then in turn conquered all of their farming neighbours. The Atjuntja religion is based on a dualism between positive principles, embodied by the Lady, and negative principles, embodied by the Lord. Most prominently from their neighbours point of view, the Atjuntja believe that the Lord needs to be appeased by sacrifice – to the pain or to the death – to avert even greater suffering.

The Middle Country (the Atjuntja realm) has been much changed by European contact, perhaps more than any other region. First contact came here with the ships of Frederik de Houtman in 1619, and the Dutch East India Company (VOC) has been heavily involved in the Atjuntja lands ever since. Early contact saw trade agreements established, under terms more or less dictated by the Atjuntja, but the balance of power has been gradually shifting. The VOC profits enormously from exporting Atjuntja gold, sandalwood, sweet peppers and other spices to the broader world, and so has an ever-growing interest in this realm.

The Atjuntja lands were the first hit by Old World diseases; syphilis, tuberculosis, mumps and chickenpox have between them killed about one person in eight in the Middle Country. This has been exacerbated by plagues of rats which escaped from Dutch ships, and are now troubling Atjuntja farmers, not to mention the local wildlife. The value of European trade goods quickly made trade with the VOC indispensable to the Atjuntja nobility, at the cost of disrupting many of the old internal trade networks, and the King of Kings no longer dares to cut off trade.

The watershed moment came in 1632-1633 (see post #31), when a chickenpox epidemic followed by a rebellion by a subject noble called Nyumbin came close to overthrowing the Atjuntja monarchy. Dutch aid in transporting Atjuntja soldiers was of great assistance in preserving the Atjuntja throne, and the VOC capitalised on this by securing unrestricted trade access to all of the Middle Country. While the King of Kings theoretically is still an absolute monarch over all of his dominions, the opinions of the VOC officials matter more and more with every passing year.

* * *

The YADJI (see posts #15 and #16), in south-eastern Aururia, are the most populous state on the continent. Their neighbours call them the Yadji, after the name of their ruling family; to the Yadji themselves, they are the inhabitants of Durigal, the Land of Five Directions. They are a rigidly hierarchical society with a religion that holds that this world is awaiting the emergence of the Neverborn, the god within the earth. Their emperors merely rule in the name of the Neverborn; their imperial title can be translated as Regent. They are the master engineers of Aururia, particularly in building dams and other waterworks to sustain their ancient aquaculture.

The Yadji permit trade, but have a justified reputation for violence to any visitors who transgress their complex social codes. Other Aururian peoples warned the early Dutch explorers of this reputation and advised against making contact, and those explorers followed this advice. While some Dutch met with individual Yadji elsewhere, the first direct contact between Europeans and the Yadji Empire was in 1636. In that year, the English East India Company (EIC) sent an expedition commanded by William Baffin, who made contact with the Yadji (see post #39) before proceeding to explore the east coast of Aururia.

Although direct contact with Europeans came relatively late, the Yadji were affected by the same early plagues that ravaged the rest of the continent. One of these plagues (mumps) was blamed for the death of a mad Regent in 1629, although in truth he was assassinated. This triggered a ten-year civil war between two rival Yadji princes, that caused considerable devastation within the Empire.

In the later stages of the Yadji civil war, a Dutch adventurer and would-be conquistador named Pieter Nuyts invaded the empire. While he won some battles and gained some local allies, he was ultimately defeated (see post #44). After that battle, the Yadji united behind their new Regent, Gunya, who blamed the Dutch as a whole for Nuyts’s raid, and has forbidden them from entering the Land of the Five Directions. The Yadji have now concluded trade agreements with the EIC, who are establishing trading outposts. A VOC raid on one of these, Gurndjit [Portland, Victoria], in 1642, is usually taken to mark the start of the Proxy Wars.

* * *

The NANGU, known to the rest of Aururia as the ISLANDERS (see post #14), who live on the Island [Kangaroo Island], are a culture of maritime traders who have explored all of the coastal agricultural regions in Aururia, and who had ongoing trade contact with most of them (except the more northerly parts of the east coast) even before European irruption in 1619. The Islanders are staunch adherents of Plirism (see post #17), and have been active in spreading that faith through much of Aururia. They have economic hegemony over the neighbouring Mutjing people of the Seven Sisters [Eyre Peninsula], who supply much of their food, and maintain some more far-flung colonial outposts as trading stations, resupply points, and sources of raw materials such as timber.

European contact has brought mixed blessings for the Nangu. Dutch competition has eroded much of their original trading network, with their monopolies broken and many of their own people fighting against each other. Nangu influence over the Mutjing is waning as the Dutch establish their own protectorates, and the rise of feuds and vendettas on the Island, together many deaths from the plagues, has prevented the Nangu from re-asserting their influence.

European contact has brought some gains for the Nangu, however. Knowledge of the broader world has inspired them to undertake greater voyages of their own, and develop larger classes of ships that can transport greater cargo. The Nangu are developing considerable influence on much of the Spice Coast [the eastern coast of Aururia] to replace lost markets elsewhere, including establishing new outposts in tropical Aururia [far north Queensland]. A bold Nangu captain named Werringi led the first expedition to circumnavigate Aururia, and has undertaken further voyages to Jakarta and the Ryukyus to establish trade contacts there. Four out of twenty-one Nangu bloodlines have already relocated to the new tropical outposts, and two others are considering joining them. As the Proxy Wars begin, the Island’s future hangs in the balance.

* * *

The CIDER ISLE [Tasmania] (see post #13) has long been divided into three nations: the honour-bound TJUNINI along the north coast, the crafty KURNAWAL who live on the east coast, and the indigenous PALAWA who survived the colonisation of Gunnagalic-speaking peoples and now live in the rugged interior and the more remote parts of the southern and western coasts. The Cider Isle historically exported much bronze to the mainland, although with the spread of ironworking its main exports are now gold and gum cider. The Tjunini and Kurnawal have an ancient hatred and regularly fight wars with each other; while there have been some reversals, the trend has been for the Tjunini to gradually displace their rivals.

European contact with the Cider Isle has been sporadic until quite recently. The first visit was the expedition of François Thijssen in 1627 (see post #24) who mapped much of the south and eastern coasts of the island that would later be named for him, and made some contact with the Kurnawal. Follow-up visits brought them into contact with the Tjunini as well. From the Dutch perspective, the Cider Isle’s only worthwhile resource was gold, since the few spices (principally sweet peppers) it grew could be more easily obtained in the Atjuntja lands without undertaking a long voyage around Aururia. Trading for gold was difficult, though, since shortly after Thijssen’s visit the Tjunini and Kurnawal began another iteration in their cycle of endless wars. During the war, the only European goods which interested the two peoples were weapons, and the VOC had adopted a policy of not trading weapons with the native Aururians.

The war in the Cider Isle came to an end in 1637 in the aftermath of Tjunini victories and a chickenpox epidemic which deprived both nations of manpower. In the dying days of that war, William Baffin visited the Tjunini as part of the first EIC expedition to Aururia. Now, with war ending and the peoples of the Cider Isle rebuilding as best they can, the VOC and EIC are seeking influence and gold...

* * *

The Five Rivers [Murray basin], the ancient heart of Aururian agriculture, is divided into three kingdoms, Yigutji [Wagga Wagga], Gutjanal [Albury-Wodonga] and the largest, TJIBARR [Swan Hill] (see post #18). The culture of the Gunnagal, the main ethnicity in Tjibarr, is dominated by the factions, eight groupings which are ostensibly about teams who compete in their form of football, but which in reality are social groupings whose competition extends to economics, the aristocracy, politics and justice. Famously argumentative – it has been said that the mark of achievement is getting three Gunnagal try to agree about anything – this is in most respects the most technologically advanced culture in Aururia, with the best physicians, metal workers and distillers in the Third World.

Due to a coincidence of geography, the Five Rivers have only limited ocean access to the sea; the great river Nyalananga [Murray River] is not navigable from the sea. Their contact with the broader world came via the Copper Coast, the fertile coastal strip between Dogport [Port Augusta] and the Nyalanga mouth. Most commerce was conducted via a much-travelled road to the great port of Jugara [Victor Harbor]. This made the Copper Coast a valuable region, and control of it was the source of endless wars between Tjibarr and the Yadji Empire.

This geographical fact has had major consequences for the Five Rivers’ contact with Europeans after 1619. VOC and (recently) EIC ships have visited Jugara and the other Copper Coast ports, but very few Europeans have been into the heartland of the Five Rivers, most notably a captive Pieter Nuyts after he fled the Yadji realm. The plagues have had similar consequences for the Five Rivers as the rest of the continent, but so far they have been untouched by direct invasion.

The isolation of the Five Rivers has recently been fading. Commerce is of considerable interest to the Gunnagal. While many of their goods were exported around Aururia in pre-Houtmanian times, to Europeans their most attractive commodity is the drug kunduri, on which the Five Rivers have a monopoly. After a slow beginning, European commerce in the drug grew rapidly during the later 1630s; in 1643 Governor-General Anthony van Diemen reported that over 50 tons of kunduri had passed through Batavia’s warehouses [1], mostly brought on VOC ships but a portion sold in Batavia by the Islanders.

European demand for kunduri was so strong that Tjibarr’s factions persuaded the VOC to lift its arms embargo on Aururia in exchange for continued supplies of the drug. This deal had its own cost, however; their Yadji rivals have now obtained English backing, and war between the two realms now appears imminent.

* * *

The High Lands [Monaro plateau, Errinundra plateau and Australian Alps], the mountainous sources of the two most reliable of the Five Rivers, are occupied by the Nguril and Kaoma. These two peoples acquired farming from the lowland peoples but maintained their own languages and culture. They have been given minimal coverage in the timeline to date, a feature which has been maintained in this overview.

* * *

In 1619, the eastern coast of Aururia is less populated and less technologically advanced than the farming peoples further west. The westerners call the region the Spice Coast, and while they value the spices exported from there, otherwise they give the region little heed. Divided by rugged geography, and in most cases lacking a strong maritime tradition, few large states have developed in the east. Technology has been slow to diffuse over the mountainous barrier of the continental divide; for instance, iron working has not yet arrived save as an occasional curiosity.

The kingdom of DALUMING (see post #19), with its capital at Yuragir [Coffs Harbour] is inhabited by a people of warriors and raiders whose most notable feature – from their neighbours’ perspective – is their habit of honouring fallen worthy foes by collecting their skulls and interring them behind glass. The PATJIMUNRA of the Kuyal Valley [Hunter Valley, New South Wales] are a caste-ridden, insular society who happily sell spices to anyone who visits but otherwise care very little for the world outside their borders.

The KIYUNGU (see post #45) of the Coral Coast [Gold Coast, Moreton Bay and Sunshine Coast, Queensland] are a coastal culture of city-states held together in a loose confederation. While their maritime tradition is less advanced than the Nangu, the Kiyungu are capable of coastal voyages, which traditionally was to collect coral from the reefs further north and trade it south for bronze. Long confined to the south by the constraints of indigenous agriculture, the Kiyungu started advancing north when new tropically-suited crops (sweet potato and lesser yam) reached their cities. Many of the Kiyungu are moving north in a gradual migration which is slowly displacing the native hunter-gatherers; this process is still continuing in 1619.

Beyond the same plagues which have afflicted every Aururian culture, European irruption has had relatively limited consequences for the eastern peoples. Due to some early unsuccessful voyages and the disruption of Aururian diseases causing their own epidemics in the Old World, the VOC were not even the first Europeans to visit the eastern coast. William Baffin’s voyage (1636-7), sailing for the English East India Company, was the first to visit the eastern coast. He made brief contact with the Patjimunra, but his most significant contact was with Daluming, where one of his crew received the traditional Daluming honour for a worthy warrior (see post #63).

The first Dutch exploration of the eastern coast followed in 1639-40 with the ships of Matthijs Quast. His voyage was intended mainly to assess the accuracy of charts which the VOC had copied from the earlier Nangu explorer Werringi. Based on that advice, his expedition carefully avoided landing anywhere on Daluming’s shores, although he conducted a brief visit to the Kiyungu at Quanda Bay [Moreton Bay]. Although the VOC leadership plans to expand this contact, as of 1643 their influence over eastern Aururia remains minimal.

The other main changes that have been brought to the Spice Coast have been indirectly, via the consequences of European contact for the Island. The Nangu who found themselves closed out from traditional markets have begun to push east in greater numbers, establishing greater contact with the eastern peoples, and seeking greater volumes of spices. Most notably, four of the Nangu bloodlines formed a nuttana (trading association) to trade with the Spice Coast and beyond to the East Indies. Their association in turn concluded a treaty with the Kiyungu city-states to provide farmers and labourers.

After this pact, the nuttana founded a trading post and victualling station at Wujal [Cooktown, Queensland] which is rapidly growing into a significant city as many Nangu flee the Island and Kiyungu labourers choose to remain after finishing their terms of service. The nuttana have also been fortunate in their exploration of nearby regions; as part of making contact with local hunter-gatherers, they discovered strange translucent stones deposited on several beaches, with colours ranging from red to yellow to green to the rarest kind of brilliant blue (amber).

* * *

The most ancient agricultural peoples in Aururia call the land they live in the Five Rivers, but in truth their agriculture and population is concentrated on only three of those rivers, the Nyalananga [Murray], Matjidi [Murrumbidgee], and Gurrnyal [Lachlan].

The fourth river, the Anedeli [Darling] runs through country which for most of their history was too arid to support large populations. The Anedeli serves mostly as a transport route, although its flow is so irregular that it is sometimes unusable for months or in worst case more than a year. Despite that difficulty, it provides the only route to the ancient sources of tin in the northern highlands [New England tablelands, New South Wales], though in more recent years it has been more commonly used as one of the best routes for bringing in spices from the eastern coast.

The fifth river, the Pulanatji [Macquarie] is the southernmost major tributary of the Anedeli, and marks not a centre of agriculture but a border. The land beyond the Pulanatji is considered no longer part of the Five Rivers, and in truth in modern times even the peoples who dwell on the nearer side of the river have no meaningful involvement with the main kingdoms of the Five Rivers. By southerners’ standards the whole country is arid, transportation difficult, and in many of the northern regions, the principal crop of red yams barely grows.

The headwaters of the Andeli are thus largely ignored by southerners, except for those passing through in trade. The peoples who live here are called the Butjupa and Yalatji. The division between them is purely geographical; the Butjupa live to the south and the Yalatji north of what both peoples call with pragmatic unoriginality the Border River [2]. Both peoples speak a range of dialects which are so divergent that some of them are mutually unintelligible, but some of their dialects can be understood by speakers of dialects among the other people.

Politically, both peoples are also divided into numerous small chiefdoms. The semi-arid lands they inhabit mean that their lands are filled with numerous small agricultural communities, but few large towns. In particular, the Yalatji country, which they call the Neeburra [Darling Downs, Queensland] was until recently on the margins of Aururian agriculture; of the three staple crops, one would not grow at all (murnong) and the red yam was marginal and would not grow any further north.

In their religion, both peoples have gradually converted to the Tjarrling faith. This religion had the same origin as Plirism, but treats the founding Good Man as a semi-divine figure, and it reveres a class of warrior-priests who claim to be his spiritual successors and seek both religious and political authority. All of the Yalatji and Butjupa chiefdoms are either ruled directly by men who have been adopted into the Tjarrling priestly caste, or who have such priests as advisers.

The transformation of these two peoples has nothing to do with European irruption. Indeed, of all the agricultural peoples in Aururia, they have been the least affected by the coming of Europeans. Even the plagues have so far harmed them less than most other Aururian peoples; the distance from European contact and their physical separation into so many small communities means that some of those communities have so far been spared one or more of the plagues.

The Butjupa and (particularly) the Yalatji have been changed not by European contact, but by the arrival of the new crops of lesser yams and sweet potato. While neither of these crops is as drought-tolerant as their former agricultural staples, both of them can be grown in the tropics without difficulty. This led to a gradual northward expansion in the interior of Aururia, which began around 1450 and continues to the present.

As of 1643, the northernmost inland farmers have reached about Beelyandee [Clermont, Queensland]. This has not been a continuous expansion; there are some hunter-gatherer peoples who still live south of that line, though they are gradually been displaced or absorbed by farmers (mostly Yalatji with smaller numbers of other peoples).

Perhaps the most significant development for the future of these peoples, however, was made further south in the new lands that the Yalatji are colonising. Among the migrants were a few former miners from the northern highlands. In 1626, one of those miners turned farmers working his land noticed a red stone which he recognised as a form of the sapphires which were still mined back in the old highlands – to his people, rubies are simply the red form of sapphires. These gems were greatly valued in the Five Rivers, and he began a more systematic search. He found a couple more, and word soon spread. Further discoveries followed, of other colours of sapphires, and of emeralds.

By 1643, there are now several hundred miners exploring the gem fields of the interior [3]. Trade in these stones has reached the Five Rivers and beyond, and the wider world is beginning to become interested in what can be found in this remote region.

* * *

The MAORI (see post #46) reached the islands of Aotearoa at the same time they did historically, and soon came into contact with Aururian peoples. This led to a mutually profitable exchange of technology. The Maori gave knowledge of seafaring and navigation to some Aururian peoples, and passed on sweet potato and a few other tropically-suited crops. In exchange, they received the indigenous Aururian crop package, pottery, bronze working, literacy and several other technologies, and the less welcome receipt of two native Aururian epidemic diseases, Marnitja and blue-sleep.

In 1619, Aotearoa is a heavily-populated group of islands divided into a number of competing Maori kingdoms (iwi); Aururian crops have allowed them to support a much higher population than was possible with the crops they brought from Polynesia. Their high population allows them both to sustain an almost endless series of warfare, usually a low-intensity cycle of endless raids, but sometimes developing into all-out warfare. Their higher population density and labour-intensive industry of weaving the native fibres harakeke and wharariki [New Zealand flax] means that slavery is a major social institution, and raids for slaves are a major reason for their ongoing warfare. Plirism has made some minor inroads amongst common peoples and lesser nobles, but the large majority of Maori peoples, and all of their kings, still follow their traditional religion.

Maori relations with the exterior world are complex. Unlike their historical counterparts, the Maori have maintained their knowledge of long-distance seafaring. Their have ongoing trade with Aururia, principally for bronze and gold from the Cider Isle, but occasionally for spices from the Spice Coast; the main goods they provide in response are textiles and cordage. The endemic warfare of their own peoples means that they are often wary of outsiders, but the Nangu do manage some occasional trade. The Maori also have sporadic contact with their ancestral homelands and various other Polynesian islands, but trade is quite limited because the Polynesians do not have any goods which the Maori value. The only commodity which Polynesia can really provide is people: a handful of chiefs in Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Kuki Airani [Cook Islands] have persuaded the Maori to supply bronze, textiles and sweet peppers in exchange for suitable numbers of slaves.

Maori foreign relations are not always peaceful. Heavily warlike amongst themselves, the Maori have also been known to go raiding overseas. Displaced peoples in their internecine warfare, or sometimes just opportunists, have looked overseas from time to time in pursuit of new lands. Attempted raids on mainland Aururia have long since ceased; early efforts soon showed the Maori that they had no technological or numerical advantage.

Other island groups are another story, however. The Maori have at various times settled islands near Aotearoa, including Norfolk, Lord Howe, the Kermadecs, the Chathams, and Auckland Islands. Some of those settlements failed, but even successful settlements found themselves targets whenever some ambitious Maori chief decide to pay a visit with a few hundred heavily-armed friends. To date the Maori have not conquered any other previously populated islands, but there have been a handful of raids in New Caledonia and one on Fiji.

Since 1619, European irruption has had some consequences for the Maori, but less than in Aururia. Some diseases (syphilis and mumps) have reached them via trade with the Cider Isle, but other diseases (chickenpox and tuberculosis) which have struck Aururia have yet to reach across the Gray Sea [Tasman Sea]. A handful of European explorers have visited Aotearoa, but their reception has been largely hostile. However, the Nangu have turned to Aotearoa with greater interest as other trade markets have been closed to them; trade contact has increased, and in 1638 the first Maori king converted to Plirism.

* * *

Among European powers, the Dutch had the earliest contact and thus far the most extensive involvement in the Third World. They started from their first contact with the Atjuntja but have been gradually expanding their influence further east.

From the Atjuntja, the VOC’s most valuable early trade commodities were gold and the Aururian form of sandalwood. Sandalwood was extremely popular throughout much of Asia, particularly in India, so much so that for the first two decades of contact the trade in sandalwood was even more valuable than that of gold. However, Aururian sandalwood is an extremely slow-growing species, taking many decades to reach a harvestable form. Native farmers used to plant a few trees of sandalwood every five years and harvest them in rotation, which ensured a sustainable yield. Dutch demand led to extensive overharvesting, and sandalwood production is now in significant decline. Gold remains the most valuable VOC export from the Atjuntja realm, supplemented with sweet peppers and smaller amounts of minor spices.

Dutch trade along the southern coast of Aururia took much longer to build. The kunduri trade is rapidly becoming another valuable venture for the VOC, and they are also acquiring greater volumes of sweet peppers. So far, the Dutch have no significant trade in the greater range of spices available from the Spice Coast, but the VOC is seeking to expand its influence there, too.

* * *

The Portuguese (while still ruled by Spain) were the second European power to explore Aururia. With rumours of the early Dutch discovery percolating throughout the Indies, the Portuguese were in the best position to explore northern Aururia, thanks to their existing bases in Timor and its neighbouring islands. Their first voyage of exploration in 1629, led by António de Andrade, inadvertently brought blue-sleep back to the Indies with them (see post #25). The disruptions of the plagues and warfare with the Dutch curtailed any immediate efforts to colonise the northern coast of Aururia, but the Portuguese did launch several more expeditions to chart the northern coast, which largely concluded that there was little of value to be found. They also made an extremely profitable raid on Fort Nassau [Fremantle], the largest Dutch trading outpost with the Atjuntja, in 1631.

In 1643, Portugal has broken away from Spanish rule – though Spain has yet to recognise its independence – and has concluded a tacit truce with the VOC in the Indies. (No such truce exists with the Dutch West India Company in Brazil, however). With the problems of the plagues and warfare subsiding, Portugal is once again giving some consideration to the Great Spice Island.

* * *

The English East India Company knew of the rumours of the wealth which the Dutch had discovered in the newest spice island. However, they had an existing truce with the Dutch that shared trade in the East Indies, and the EIC’s directors were reluctant to anger the Dutch and risk that trade in exchange for an unknown land. In time they grew bolder, and sent William Baffin to explore the new land; his voyage lasted from 1635 to 1637.

Baffin was the first to call the new continent Aururia, the Land of Gold, after his contact with the Yadji convinced him of its wealth. He also made the first European contact with the Spice Coast. His voyage gave the EIC the opportunity it needed, and it has moved quickly to establish links with the Yadji. The best seafaring route around Aururia is along the southern coast and then north along the east coast, so this also puts the EIC in a strong position to trade with the Spice Coast. This effort was what pushed the VOC into open warfare in 1642 when it struck at one of the new English outposts in the Yadji realm. While the two nations are not officially at war, for all practical purposes the VOC and EIC are, and Aururia will be one of their chief battlegrounds.

* * *

Aururian contact has had considerable consequences on the broader world. The earliest effects were economic; the Dutch East India Company (VOC) became considerably wealthier with Aururian gold, sandalwood and spices. Aururian gold funded greater expansion of their endeavours elsewhere in Asia, even after the plagues struck, and paid for stronger efforts in the VOC’s wars against the Spanish-Portuguese. By 1643, the VOC had essentially pushed the Portuguese out of the Moluccas. They also made an earlier alliance with the kingdom of Kandy in Ceylon that pushed the Portuguese back to the western coast of the island, although the outbreak of peace negotiations in Europe saw the VOC conclude a de facto truce with Portugal that left the remainder of its Sri Lankan and Indian possessions in Portuguese hands.

Much of the wealth flowed back into the Netherlands to be reinvested in other Dutch ventures. The Dutch West India Company received a considerable flood of investment which it poured into new ventures, including better fortifications in its outposts in Dutch Brazil and the New Netherlands, and for more slave trading outposts in West Africa, particularly in the Gold Coast [southern Ghana]. The Dutch provided some subsidies to Protestant powers in the religious wars in Germany. Inflation is also growing within the Netherlands as the money supply increases.

Some of the economic effects of Aururian contact are more unexpected. The rise of the kunduri trade is starting to undermine the tobacco boom in the New World; while production of tobacco is still increasing, the prices it commands are starting to fall as some European consumers find kunduri a more desirable alternative.

In the mid seventeenth century pepper is the most traded spice, accounting for about half of the total value of all spices brought into Europe. However, Aururia contains several kinds of bushes which produce an intense peppery flavour; Europeans come to call them sweet peppers. The leaves of sweet peppers have about the same intensity of flavour by volume as common black peppers, but the berries are about ten times as strong. While sweet pepper does have constraints in where it can grow, there are sufficient places that produce it in Aururia and Aotearoa that with its current population the Third World can supply any foreseeable volume of European demand; its inclusion in Aururian cuisine is routine. The growing trade in sweet peppers is beginning to devalue the trade in existing black peppers [4]. The VOC has even found it quite profitable to sell sweet peppers in Asia, particularly India [5].

Aururian crops have been slower to spread outside of their homeland, since the Dutch who were the early European coloniser did not have many suitable overseas colonies where the crops could be brown. Early efforts to grow Aururian crops in the tropical East Indies were abysmal failures. One Aururian crop, murnong, was successfully introduced into the Netherlands in the 1620s, but it could be grown only in limited quantities because the soils were mostly too well-watered. However, it has been exported to Denmark, which has considerable regions suitable for cultivation, and it is beginning an agricultural revolution in that country.

Aururian crops had the greatest early success at the Cape of Good Hope. In 1640, the VOC persuaded (for a given value of persuade) some Aururian farmers to migrate to the Cape, including seeds or cuttings for most of their common crops, and establish a victualling station for ships. Aururian crops proved to grow very well around the Cape. From there, the Aururian crops will spread with European ships around the world. The red yam will first be introduced into Europe (Portugal) in 1648, and cornnarts [wattles] will arrive in Argentina in 1654.

* * *

So far, the greatest changes which have come to the broader world have been the result of the Aururian plagues. Unlike its historical counterpart, Aururia harboured epidemic diseases which could and did spread to the outside world. Marnitja, the Waiting Death, and blue-sleep, a virulent form of influenza, spread to the outside world in the late 1620s and devastated the Old and New Worlds. The death toll was around 19% in the Old World, and even higher in many parts of the New World (see post #25). Marnitja will continue as a recurrent epidemic disease throughout the world; for long after the seventeenth century, global population will be lower than it was historically.

In Europe, the plagues swept through during the warfare that another history would call the Thirty Years’ War (see post #54). Many current and future leaders were among the casualties; perhaps the most prominent were Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II and many of his relatives, Charles I of England, Scotland and Ireland, and Cardinal Richelieu. The plagues and related disruption brought the war to a conclusion ten years early, and with broadly more favourable outcomes for the Protestant side in the war. Sweden, Denmark, Saxony and Bavaria were all territorially better off than they were historically. The Habsburgs remained Holy Roman Emperors but lost much of Austria, and the Hohenzollerns acquired Lorraine while losing their ancestral homelands in Brandenburg. In England, William Cavendish became Duke Regent during Charles II’s childhood, while in France Honoré d'Albert, Duc de Chaulnes, became the chief minister of Louis XIII, although he did not wield quite as much influence as his predecessor.

In Cathay [China] (see post #51), the plagues struck at a time when the Ming dynasty was crumbling due to famines and economic problems. The plagues caused even more problems for the Ming, but also disrupted the Jurchen peoples who would eventually have created the Manchu dynasty to replace the Ming. In the chaos, one of Cathay’s leading generals, Yuan Chonghuan, ended up defeating the Jurchen and then proclaiming himself emperor. He drove the Ming from northern Cathay and founded the You dynasty, but the Ming remained in power in southern Cathay. In 1643, Cathay remains divided.

* * *

[1] For comparison, in 1639 the Chesapeake tobacco colonies were exporting about 670 tons of tobacco to the British Isles.

[2] The Border River is their collective name for a river which historically goes through several name changes – Dumaresq River, Macintyre River, and Barwon River – and which for much of its length forms the historical Queensland-New South Wales border.

[3] This region is historically called the Gemfields, and has town with names like Emerald, Sapphire and Rubyvale, which give a hint as to what can be found there.

[4] The devaluation of common black peppers (Piper nigrum) by Aururian sweet peppers has a historical precedent. Before European discovery of the New World, the spice trade included the long pepper (Piper longum), which had a similar but hotter taste to black peppers. New World chilli peppers proved to be easier to grow and provided a more intense flavour than the long pepper, and long pepper more or less disappeared from the spice trade soon thereafter.

[5] Finding a spice which can be exported to India in large quantities marks quite a significant change. Historically, since at least Roman times, Europe had been in perpetual trade deficit with Asia, with spices and other Asian products commanding much greater prices in Europe than any European goods could obtain in Asia. The trade deficit was made up with bullion (gold and silver); the expansion of European trade to Asia was driven in large part by bullion which was ultimately obtained from the New World. The trade deficit would only be reversed historically with industrially-produced cotton textiles during the nineteenth century. Sweet peppers are a cool-temperate zone spice which cannot be reliably grown in much of Asia (except potentially in a few high-altitude areas), but they can be grown in many parts of Europe. Together with Aururian sandalwood – if it can be cultivated on a wide scale – they offer some potential for an earlier reversal of this trade deficit. Even historically, sweet peppers are exported to Asia (Japan, where they are used to flavour wasabi).
I at times wish Shakespeare would still be alive during the opening decades of the European presence in Aururia and the time of the proxy wars. It might inspire him to write a play with elements inspired by the outlandish cultures of a distant continent that he heard of.

BTW, since Jared is providing links for the newcomers to this TL, I'll add one as well: While not all is finished, I try to update this little database as much as I can.
Excellent! BTW, is there going to be an all-Aururia map?

Sort of from the last thread, but hey! New thread. Are the Manchus conquered by Cathay/North China, or as of 1643, are they still holding on in Manchuria proper?

Very nice, Petike.

I at times wish Shakespeare would still be alive during the opening decades of the European presence in Aururia and the time of the proxy wars. It might inspire him to write a play with elements inspired by the outlandish cultures of a distant continent that he heard of.

Even stranger then "The Tempest"?

The Sandman

It certainly feels strange to be looking at LoRaG and not seeing any page numbers yet.

Still has that new thread smell...

So how long before enough horses and/or camels have diffused into the interior for the standard nomadic raiders to start hitting the edges of settled territory? Marauding nomads aren't exactly a thing that's existed in Aururia prior to this, so their reactions to the phenomenon should be interesting.
Lands of Red and Gold


Lands of Red and Gold #70: True Colours

This will be splendid. But I offer one suggestion. You have centuries of world history to narrate. Don't be afraid to summarize savagely; avoid being sucked into colorful narrative detail.

And plow straight ahead with events. OTL is implausible anyway.

Also - there's a project planning technique which works backward.

One starts by specifying the desired outcome. Then one determines the immediate preconditions for the outcome - and the preconditions of those preconditions, iterating till one gets to the present state.

My recommendation is that you decide what end conditions are required, then work back from them, in big chunks.
So how long before enough horses and/or camels have diffused into the interior for the standard nomadic raiders to start hitting the edges of settled territory? Marauding nomads aren't exactly a thing that's existed in Aururia prior to this, so their reactions to the phenomenon should be interesting.

Any beast of burden would be really revolutionary. Before this the Aururian civilizations had to rely entirely on manpower - no carts or pack animals or mounts of any sort.
Now can you condense all your updates from Act 1 into one thread so one doesn't not had to go through the comments?