Tuesday, April 24, 2012
The Castles Part 3
"Ok, ok. I can see by that look you want more. I understand I do. I would in your shoes. So let's go back to when they brought their ships here. Maria Kala said she was guided by a vision and I have to say it would have been hard to find a place better than the Castlemount. She convinces the Portuguese to bring their ships up the river as far as they can and beach them in the shadow of the Castlemount. The plan was simple; they had enough workers, enough specialists, enough tools and enough raw material to put up a model town. The perfect place for them. They were going to name it Shtëpi Urti or "Wise Home." It was going to take at least ten years, specially since they planned to build their own castle right there, but in the end it would be beautiful."
"Their own castle?"
"Oh yes," said Oscar with a smile. "And they did it. It's a beautiful place. They don't live there now. It's a musuem. It's that town at the very end of the county, right there. It's called "Savantview" nowadays. When you get there you'll have to check it out. But I'm getting a little ahead of myself. See at first, things went well. They were felling trees and taking granite from the Castlemount. They even put together a little forge. Things were going up in quick succession. Until..."
What the hey, I bit at the bait. "Until what?"
"Until people started disappearing. Soon, anyone going into the woods was in deep mortal peril of not coming back. Turns out there was a local tribe, the Plithonek, who claimed the Castlemount and weren't willing to share. They were sneaky though. No, big attacks or anything like that. More just things to spook everyone. They'd kill people alone in the woods and then some mornings folks would wake up to see heads by the door."
"Well, Maria told her husband she would handle these savages, and he let her cause she was the one with all the charisma. If anyone could deal with this non violently it was her. So she and some of her alchemist friends went into the wood. It's said they built a huge table in a clearing and then stocked the table for a huge feast. They then sat down and waited. Waiting and waiting for three days so it is written. Then out came a band of Plithoneks all decked out in feathers and grey blankets. Maria bid her alchemists to do their tricks, the idea was to awe the natives. They were impressed to be sure but then it is written that the natives did their own tricks and they did indeed impress Maria and her friends. It was written that one Plithonek removed his head and left it on the table when all was done and they left."
"You don't believe that do you?"
"I believe they saw what they saw, but like all hocus pocus they didn't know what the trick was. Anyway, the mutual magic society seemed to give each the idea they had something in common with each other. So they spent days at the table learning basic words of each language. Eventually they were able to communicate each other's story and they found they did indeed have a lot in common. Persecution! The Plithoneks were hated by they other tribes and were only able to exist because they could hold the reach against the other tribes. That shared history of persecution, plus generous trade items Maria and her husband gave the tribe, helped heal the sore feelings of their "invasion." Soon enough new borders were drawn of who owned what and they even wed their youngest daughter to Fatlu a brother to the tribe's chief. You could say he was the first of the Cousins."
"Well, remember that Maria had seven children. If the line of Kala was going to go on, these kids were going to have to get hitched. Well, maybe that whole incest thing could work in Europe but not with the Kalas. His first solution was to raise up good people and knight them and then marry them to his kids. The first Cousins were used as a way to further bind the people to him. Besides the Plithonek husband, there were two Romanians, two Albanians, one Portuguese, and one Basque."
"I thought you said they traveled with gypsies as well. Why weren't any of them chosen?"
"Ah, well gypsies or the Rom as they like to style themselves are a bit dodgy on things like that. The gypsies have their own culture and didn't want to mingle bloodlines. Which was fine by the Kalas because for all their talk about the horrors of persecution, well they never could bring themselves to totally trust their gypsies."
"Anyway, this move started a tradition. Later on as the Kalas became the Castles they would look for families of merit around the Castlemount. When they found one they would charge them with a special project or duty. If they succeeded then someone in that family could expect to marry into the Castles which means a rain of money for everyone. If they goof up, well they were reward for the efforts but there was no more chance of upward mobility. These families became known as the "Cousins" cause even though they weren't real Castles they were close enough that some of that fine old power would rub off on them. There's about two dozen Cousin families now being juggled by the Castles. They bicker and plot against each other at times but in the end they are bound up in protecting the Castles."
"Isn't that sweet?"