Lands of Red and Gold

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Jared, Dec 16, 2008.

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  1. B_Munro Member

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    Nice update. So the Indian subcontinent is usually considered separately from the rest of Asia in this TL? How did that come about?

    Bruce
     
  2. Jared Voldemort Jnr

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    A different view of geography (and of *Eurocentrism) which holds that if Europe counts as a continent, India should too. If India is a subcontinent, Europe is one as well.

    This led to a different geographical convention in many circles - though certainly not universally - that "Eurasia" was a supercontinent while Europe, Asia and India were continents.

    A similar view - again, only in some circles - holds that "America" is a supercontinent and North and South America are the two continents. This view isn't as widely held as the Eurasian supercontinent model because it fails to explain what Africa counts as.
     
  3. Admiral Matt Member

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    By implication India will never be united by a colonizing power, and so remain the name for a geographic zone rather than nation.
     
  4. B_Munro Member

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    An interesting thought.

    Bruce
     
  5. Threadmarks: Lands of Red and Gold #66: Under The Nine-fold Crown

    Jared Voldemort Jnr

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    Lands of Red and Gold #66: Under The Nine-fold Crown

    “Easier to juggle death adders than wear the Nine-fold Crown.”
    - Proverb in the Kingdom of Tjibarr

    * * *

    Sandstone Day, Cycle of Water, 4th Year of His Majesty Guneewin the Third [17 August 1636]
    Estates of Nyulinga of the Azures, near Yoorala [Wentworth, New South Wales]
    Kingdom of Tjibarr

    Rain falling outside: soothing, welcoming, blessing. The sound of water bringing bounty to the soil, a rare and most auspicious rhythm here in the West Lands [1]. The lands here were almost as dry as the red heart, among the most marginal lands where crops could grow.

    But how ever poor the rainfall might have been, these lands were Nyulinga’s to manage as he would. Or should have been managed as he had instructed, which was why he had summoned one of his most senior farmers here, to hear his wrath.

    The music of the rain came through the unshuttered windows into his manor-house. Nyulinga needed that sound; it was an anodyne to his soul. It helped to maintain much-needed composure, to preserve his shouting for a time when it would be most appropriate, not when he first saw the misguided farmer.

    Nyulinga settled into a chair in his common meeting-hall. Nothing special distinguished the chair or the table beside him; it was but one of many used to entertain large gatherings. Indeed, a handful of his other guests were breaking their fast at other tables. Greeting the farmer here, instead of privately, was another part of the message he needed to send.

    A brief nod to the nearest servant, and Jarrakana was ushered into his meeting hall.

    If the senior farmer had any idea what fate awaited him, he did not show it. He glanced around the nearly empty meeting hall, then exchanged the usual polite greetings with Nyulinga, the same ones which would be used between even the bitterest rivals in the Dance [2].

    “Be welcome, my guest,” Nyulinga said.

    “Fortune and good health to you,” Jarrakanna replied.

    Nyulinga waited a long moment before speaking again. Enough to make the senior farmer uncomfortable, and to test whether he would have the audacity of trying to speak first before someone of superior status.

    When he decided that the message was clear enough, Nyulinga said, “What have you done to the trees near Three Stone Creek?”

    “Cut down two hundred on the western march. You were told-”

    “You had permission to cut down twenty, no more,” Nyulinga said.

    “I needed the timber for-”

    “Why have you done this on my lands?” Nyulinga said. This farmer overreached his authority. Jarrakanna had authority to farm set lands, but only within the constraints set by Nyulinga. He had no authority to clear land, collect trees, or do anything further without permission.

    “My kin required them. What does a couple of hundred trees matter?” The senior farmer, fool that he was, sounded completely unapologetic.

    “Everything matters!” Nyulinga did let himself shout now; anger fitted properly. “No more trees are to be cut down than are replaced. You have no forethought or management of the forests. If we cut down too many trees, then we would soon run out of trees, and then where would be?”

    Proper management of forests was important anywhere, but doubly so here. Rain was a rare event around Nyulinga’s lands, but floods were all too common. The Anedeli [River Darling] joined the Nyalananga [River Murray] a short distance upriver of his estates. The Anedeli was irregular as a river, but flooded prodigiously at times.

    Floods were a mixed blessing, but one his family had long learned to use. Crops in the ground at the time of floods could be ruined. Likewise, his manor-house had been built on a natural hill that had been further heightened to be above the worst known floods in memory of his own or his father’s time.

    Yet for all of their destruction, floods replenished the soil, quicker and cheaper than leaving each field to be grown with wealth-trees and wandered by noroons [emus] for two years. Trees, too, benefitted from a flood [3]. Timber was more valuable to his estates than crops, in most years. Jarrakanna’s short-sighted actions threatened that.

    The senior farmer paused for a long moment before attempting to answer. “Two hundred trees for good purpose is not-”

    “You do not decide on that!” Nyulinga said. “Even if you had such authority, a man must care not just for today, but for all time. Now, what will I see if I look to the west? Fewer trees than I should.” The bloody man continued to look at him in disbelief. “If there is to be a shift in priorities in my estates, then I will decide it.”

    Another man entered the meeting hall. Nyulinga gave him the briefest of glances, then decided to curtail his condemnation of the senior farmer. “Jarrakanna, you are dismissed from all of your allocated land in my estates. Find something smaller within another faction’s land, if you can. No land controller in the Azures will accept you, not after making such a breach without even asking permission.”

    The senior farmer looked as if he wanted to argue further, even now. Then he caught sight of the newcomer ambling up beside Nyulinga, and darkness fell across his features as he thought better of it. The first glimmer of intelligence he had shown. Jarrakanna gave a curt shake of his head, then turned and stalked out.

    The newcomer settled into the chair which the farmer had vacated. He reached for a kunduri pouch at his waist, and settled into the ritual of mixing the pouch with the cold wealth-tree ash on the table before him. While preparing, the man gave only the briefest of glances around the meeting hall. Suddenly every other guest in the meeting hall decided that they had eaten enough this morning, too. Within a matter of moments, the meeting hall was empty.

    “Your talents are still strong,” Nyulinga said dryly.

    The newcomer grinned, though as with all of his smiles, it did not touch his eyes. “If my greatest gift was to clear a room without words, you would have put me out to chop trees years ago.”

    A casual reference to why Jarrakanna had been punished? With this man, it was hard to say. The minutiae of estate management should have been beneath his notice, but perhaps he had heard a whisper, or reasoned it out from the few sentences he had overheard. With this man’s talents, it was far from impossible.

    Nyulinga said, “What word have you heard from the west?”

    The man shrugged, as casual a gesture as most of those he made. Most things about the man were average: middling height, middling build, middle-aged, so far as anything could be judged of his age. His skin, for now, was as dark as a Junditmara; most unusual for a man of the Five Rivers, and no doubt a product of some skin colouring or other. A story would be behind that, probably the same story about the neatly-trimmed moustache. A story which would never be told. The only real distinguishing feature was his eyes: so narrow he appeared to have a permanent glare etched onto his features.

    “Trade with the Raw Men continues apace,” said the man, who answered to the name of Northwind [4] when he bothered to acknowledge any name at all. “Those with wit and fortune can do well.” He completed mixing the kunduri, and popped the ball into his mouth to start chewing.

    That much, Nyulinga already knew. The Raw Men – Nedlandj, he had heard they called themselves – had some valuable goods to sell, but paying for them was difficult with the produce of his estates. Kunduri and spices, the Nedlandj valued most; rather more than they were worth to anyone of sense, in fact.

    Alas, growing such crops on his frequently-flooded land was seldom easy. Timber fetched a good price along the Nyalananga, but it was useless to bring in bulk across the land road to Jugara [Victor Harbor]. He had considered trading his timber for spices and then trading those with the Nedlandj, but such bargains most benefitted the merchants in the middle.

    “Any word of factions making trade pacts to gain better terms from the Raw Men?”

    Northwind paused to spit, with perfect accuracy, into the bowl on the table reserved for that purpose. “Some small-scale bargains between individual merchants, but naught that suggests a major agreement between two factions.”

    Nyulinga shook his head. He had given some thought to establishing a trade pact between himself and another faction, to find something which the Nedlandj valued more highly, but had made no determination. Offering a pact could bring gains, but it also admitted a certain element of weakness. That was a perilous step in the Endless Dance.

    “Some of the trade with the Raw Men is curious,” Northwind offered. “Someone is buying Raw Men books. Quite a number of them. The agent appeared to be working for the Whites, but I do not know which particular noble was his principal. I judged it better not to probe too closely, so I advised your agent not to bid against him.”

    “Quite. No need to attract attention with a bidding war.” Nyulinga wanted Nedlandj books, if they could be obtained at a decent price, but his wealth was not endless. Nor was he willing to make his interest too open. “There will be more books, now that the Nedlandj know they can be sold.”

    “If their Association approves it,” Northwind said.

    Nyulinga nodded. This Association – Company was their word – was one of the strangest features of the Raw Men. One Association which controlled all of the Nedlandj trade. Odd to think that it worked. Most frustratingly, it meant that certain Nedlandj goods were not for sale.

    “Does their Association still forbid trade in their thunder-weapons?” Nyulinga said.

    “A few have been sold.” Northwind smiled. “Men are men, no matter how much their Association commands. But only a few weapons, and at a high price.”

    A few of those weapons was not enough. Even worse than that, the weapons were not like swords, which needed only to be swung, or even a bow, which needed arrows that any decent fletcher could make. The weapons needed fuel, like a fire, but a fuel which so far only the Nedlandj could supply.

    “Can we force their hand in trade?” he mused aloud, though mostly for his own benefit.

    “They have more knowledge than us,” Northwind said. “In some things, at least.”

    “Not in all,” Nyulinga said. He shook his head for emphasis. “You were in the east at the time, I think, but did you hear what happened when our physician tested the Raw Man doctor?”

    “Only that our physician had some cutting remarks,” Northwind said.

    Ignoring the horrible pun – the man’s talents did not extend to humour – Nyulinga said, “The Raw Men believe that bleeding a sick man can cure them. Our physician, Lopitja, let their doctor test it on three men fevered with swamp rash. Horrible. Two of the men died after the bleeding, and the third worsened; he was only saved when Lopitja intervened and refused to let the doctor bleed him again.”

    “So the Raw Men don’t know everything. Comforting. But then they didn’t know of kunduri before coming to our lands, either.” Northwind chuckled. “Now kunduri they are keenest for of all.”

    “If they value it so much...” Nyulinga’s voice trailed away as he considered options. “What then, would they say to an embargo on their Association: if they will not sell weapons to us, we will not sell kunduri to them?”

    Northwind raised an eyebrow. “Think you that the factions can be persuaded to that?”

    “Not immediately. But the idea can be planted.”

    Northwind thought for a long moment, too. “Even if the factions agree, we still need to sell kunduri. To the Islanders will it go, and they will sell it to the Raw Men.”

    “Of course. But at a higher price. And the Raw Men will know that, too. Let us test their resolve over their thunder-weapons.” Nyulinga smiled, now. “As for spreading the notion... Make sure that it is discussed widely, in every tavern and celebration of the Azures during the coming football season.”

    “That will see it widely heard.”

    “Quite. We can do more to encourage it. Let us see what springs from our first soil, and if need presses, drill more seeds.”

    This had to work. The Raw Men were here, and were changing the world. They would not be giving up their contact with the Five Rivers and going home. Even if ignorant of some things, perhaps they would bring an age of miracles. The Dance is Endless, but I fear that from now on, the dancers will move to a different tune.

    * * *

    [1] The West Lands is the ancient Tjibarr name for the westernmost farmable length of the Murray River, which stretch westward from historical Mildura. Rainfall here is erratic and barely enough to sustain the dryland farming techniques of Aururia.

    [2] i.e. the Endless Dance (Jingella), the eternal competition between the eight factions in Tjibarr.

    [3] The trees which Nyulinga manages are river red gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis). This is a large, long-lived tree which produces a distinctive hard red wood which is much prized both historically and allohistorically for decorative purposes and where rot-resistant timber is needed. Red river gums live along watercourses, especially in the Murray-Darling basin, and rely on regular flooding to remain healthy.

    [4] To the people of Tjibarr, a northerly wind is a bad omen. Northerly winds blow from the arid heart of the continent, bringing heatwaves and the worst conditions for bushfires. Even when they do not fan bushfires, northerly winds lack any moisture or rain, and are sometimes strong enough to damage crops.

    * * *

    Thoughts?
     
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  6. Beedok I exist.

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    I have to wonder if the Netherlanders might find it cheaper to send bullets than guns.
     
  7. Lycaon pictus Author of "Locksmith's Closet" Donor

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    If the factions are already cutting their own deals with the Dutch, it may be even harder than usual to get them to act in unison. (Although a kunduri monopoly would have the potential to get seriously rich.)

    And I wonder how long it will take for the Dutch to realize they might learn a few things from the Gunnagal about medicine?
     
  8. twovultures Well-Known Member

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    A very fascinating update, tying together economics, ecology, and politics.

    But for some reason I can't get over the fact that Tjibarr has a football season.
     
  9. Kaiphranos Hydraulic Despot Donor

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    I'm curious as to how this will interplay with the epidemics both in Europe and Aururia--on one hand, the Europeans may be more open to new medical ideas and techniques; on the other hand, I got the impression that the Aururian civilizations were going to end up with the shorter end of the epidemic stick. How well will the Gunnagalic medical tradition survive the disruptions of this era? Surviving Gunnagalic doctors may be a valuable commodity on account of their rarity as well as their skill. Perhaps there are works of medical literature that can be translated, but how long will it take to find someone with the technical as well as the linguistic skills to do a proper job of it?

    (Hmm... and even if Gunnagalic medicine does gain a good reputation in Europe, how many charlatans will be cashing in with books full of "cures from the Indies?")
     
  10. forget Banned

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    The English and the Dutch have been to Aururia.
    Where are the French?
    Maybe the French could blow the market for fire arms wide open being the late comers to the Aururia markets, being the late comers seeking advantage.
     
  11. mojojojo Member

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    Will their version of football spread to the outside world?
    Also on the subject of games, have the civilizations of Australia come up with any thing analogous to chess?
     
  12. mojojojo Member

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    Are human experiments a regular practice among Australian doctors in this TL?
     
  13. Jared Voldemort Jnr

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    If the Dutch are selling, then there will be a market for guns, bullets and powder. At first, anyway. Gunnagal metallurgy will be stretched to reproduce a gun, if it can be done at all, but they can probably manage the bullets of the time, or adequate substitutes.

    At this stage, the factions aren't cutting unified deals with the Dutch. What's happened up to now is that individual merchants - who are pretty much all members of one faction or another - are selling kunduri to the Dutch, and bidding against each other as often as not. The factions themselves don't have policies on the matter. If that changes, though, then the game certainly gets interesting.

    It would be good for the world if they did, but I'm not sure how much Europeans of the time were prepared to learn from "savages". Europeans clung to all sorts of other beliefs or habits which were wrong (e.g. sanitation, or rather the lack of need for it).

    There's also the fact that in the short term, the Gunnagal don't know about a lot of the afflictions which are present in the Old World. Finding out will be a horrible process for the Gunnagal too.

    Also, there are a few things where the Gunnagal are themselves behind, particularly in terms of preventing bleeding after surgery, and could learn from the Europeans.

    Why is that such a strain? The word "season" is itself a translation, obviously - that wouldn't be the exact word that Tjibarr uses. But organised sports were common in early urban civilisations over much of the world, both in the Old World and the New.

    In what's been a continuously occupied urban society for the best part of 3000 years, I'd be more surprised if organised sports didn't develop. Certainly their level of social organisation (though not technology) is close to that of ancient Greece or Rome, which did have organised sports.

    Their football also wasn't something which I created out of a vacuum, either. Indigenous Australians had existing team-based football games which were played during social gatherings, and in an urban society, that would naturally evolve into some form of organised sport.

    The epidemics are going to be very, very bad. The overall decline will be at least two-thirds of the pre-European contact population.

    The only good news is that the population decline is not as rapid as it was in OTL either in Australia or the Americas. The slower navigational tech of the time means that the various diseases will arrive further apart rather than the multiple near-simultaneous epidemics which happened in OTL.

    This slower decline means that it's slightly easier to maintain social organisation and traditions, including the medical tradition. The medical tradition will also help - again, slightly - in alleviating some of the effects of epidemics, such as via quarantine and the knowledge that only early survivors of the epidemics should be used to provide palliative care for more recent victims.

    The irony is that there will be plenty of translations of medical literature, but these will mostly be into Gunnagalic, not the other way around.

    The Gunnagal are intensely curious by nature, and they will be quick to learn Dutch in the hope of understanding European works and knowledge. Learning the technical terms of medicine will be harder than finding out general European languages, of course, but there will be a few people who can teach them.

    A few European surgeons will show up in ships from time to time (and they will be able to give good haircuts, in the best barber-surgeon traditions of the time). Enough to teach the right words to allow a translation.

    The problem is how quickly things will go the other way. I really don't know how open European doctors in general were to foreign knowledge in this era. Or at least foreign knowledge from "savage" non-European peoples.

    There will be plenty of that even if Gunnagalic medicine doesn't catch on.

    The French are very much latecomers to the Orient in general, not just Aururia. In OTL, while there were a few abortive earlier attempts, if I understand it right, the French didn't get meaningfully involved in the East India trade until the 1650s or 1660s. While the rumours of Aururian gold and spices may speed things up a bit, the French colonial presence will mostly be felt later, not in the first few decades of contact with Aururia.

    Much depends on whether the nation of Tjibarr even survives. For reasons of culture and geography, Tjibarr is in a somewhat better position to survive the trauma of European irruption than most other existing Aururian states, but it's still in a very precarious position.

    Haven't given this much thought. It's certainly possible, but in terms of describing the game, I'd just be making something up from scratch. Unlike football, there's no OTL precursor to extrapoloate from.

    What the Gunnagal are doing isn't quite human experimentation as we'd understand it in modern terms, but yes, the Gunnagal test their practice on humans, not animals. :D

    What Gunnagalic medicine has something similar to what was practiced in medieval Islamic medicine: a form of peer review where other experienced, recognised doctors passed judgement on the practice of one of their peers. What's happened here is that in this case is that the senior doctors - Gunnagalic ones - have agreed to review the methods of the European doctors to decide if their treatments are worthwhile. The European methods were distinctly found wanting.
     
  14. Falecius Well-Known Member

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    A question: is even there yet, at this time, any book of medicine to be translated from Dutch? As in, it's obvious that some Tjibarr can and will learn Dutch, but, to my knowledge, medical expertise of this era was essentially written in Latin with some limited exceptions (probably Italian and French, I think German and English too, and I suppose Spanish, if I remember correctly). Getting medical terms from barber-surgeons of the ships is relatively easy. But learning Latin wholesale would take pretty longer I think...
     
  15. Sam R. Well-Known Member

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    Oh fuck. Massive capitalist slave states in the North East exporting to the Europeans and Asians.

    yours,
    Sam R.
     
  16. The Sandman Purveyor of Sky Cake Banned

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    The Dutch might still have issues with selling guns to the locals, but what about fireworks?

    All it takes is one inventive sort realizing that fireworks and guns are both burning more or less the same thing to realize that they can use it to do an end run around the gunpowder monopoly.

    Also, it might lead to rocket experiments, and rocketry is probably simpler than gunsmithing to pick up in terms of what you need to be able to machine (sophisticated rockets are of course a whole different kettle of fish).

    I do wonder how long before the first scientific (more-or-less) expeditions set out from Tjibarr? If the Dutch (and English) aren't willing to sell the information and expertise the Gunnagalic folk know they have, then the only alternative is to follow them home and learn those things there.
     
  17. BgKnight The Vulgar Bulgar

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    I love this, subbed.
     
  18. Flubber Banned

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    So, when is that shoe going to drop? We've already seen the effects of Aururian diseases in Europe with this king dead, that dynasty gone, this nation imploding, etc., etc., etc. When is the feces going to hit the fan in Aururia?

    Your writing is excellent as always and I'm continually amazed out how you're able to draw us into this fantastic world. I read posts set in 1600s Aururia with great foreboding however.

    The islanders are contemplating trade with the wider world, thoughtful men are mulling over how they can get guns, others are planning on playing one set of Europeans against another, still more are looking for skulls for their pyramid and the end of their current religious cycle. Wheels are turning, plots are brewing, and plans are being made.

    And all of this is for naught because two-thirds of the Aururian population is doomed.

    Thoughtful people in Tjibarr are thinking about forming a kunduri monopoly in order to trade more fairly with the Dutch? So what. How long will that last when two-thirds of the people who grow kunduri are dead?

    The islanders are thinking of sailing on trading voyages to the Indies and Asia? So what. How many ships can they man when two-thirds of their population is dead?

    Those kooks might fill the few remaining openings in their glass pyramid? So what. How many priests, kings, and warriors can the peasantry support after two-thirds of them die?

    Aururia is so agriculturally marginal. The societies rest on a slender reed and the surpluses are relatively small. What's going to happen to those societies when the people who hew the wood, draw the water, and all the rest die off in droves? The peasantry who feed everyone are going to be more effected by the plagues too.

    You've been sharing exquisitely crafted glimpses into various societies and cultures which are going to be swept away or changed out of recognition within a generation or two.

    While Nyulinga's and Northwind's plans are interesting, they're also doomed. Their world and all it's assumptions will be gone and gone soon.

    So, when is the other shoe going to drop?
     
  19. Hamurabi Ex Somali Pirate

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    Due to the native population having a more diverse genetic pool than the native americans, a virgin soil infection will look more like the black plague ala 1350 Europe than americas.

    so its more like 1/3 population loss, than 2/3 or more like 90%.
     
  20. Flubber Banned

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    Miss the part where I quoted Jared himself? I'll quote him again and do pay attention this time:

    Two times should do the trick, don't you think?
     
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