Naareth and Saragos Vignette

Priscian stepped of the steamer, feeling the humid Naarethi air assault his face. He winced as his eyes adjusted to the light after three days in his cabin. 

    He’d been told about the extreme tides in Naareth, and was expecting to see a city built on stilts. His face fell as he looked around and saw a bustling harbour little different to what he was used to seeing back home in Saragos. No stilts in sight.

    He stumbled on the gangway as he struggled with his crate and saw a pair of women waving at him across the quay. He lifted his hand and approached them.

    “Well met,” he said in Narthi. He hadn’t used the language since his days at the Lyceum and was worried the diplomats would find his technique lacking. He’d have to practice down at the market when he had chance to.

    “Well met, said the women together, smiling naturally. Their skin was much darker than Priscians, and their coarse hair was tied back into a large bun and held in place with colourful jewelled bands. They wore the traditional female female dress of Naareth - white dresses with coarse coloured woollen scarves. One of them had large copper bracelets with symbols of the Volute on them. She was the Matridule. Her companion reached out a hand in form of introduction. “This is Matridule Andani, of the Household of Sumaar.”

    He turned to her, “I am Priscian Barenus, envoy of the Technocratic Republic of Saragos. I thank you for welcoming me to your country. I look forward to dealing with you and your people.”

    The woman nodded. “As do I. Your Narthi is very good.

    Priscian smiled. “You flatter me. I trust I will get the change to practice it more during my stay here. 

    “Come, let us get started,” said the Matridule. She gestured to a porter who came to take the man’s crate. She was slender, no more than a child and would have had more difficulty handling the crate than he. 

    He went to stop her, but the Matridule’s aide held him back. “It is her job, her duty in this world to serve at this dock. Please, let her work,” she smiled.

    Priscian nodded and let the porter take his crate. 

    As they walked the Matridule pointed out bits of local history and trivia. He was surprised to learn that the entire city was in fact built on stone pillars, and that the tide fluctuated by as much as 30-feet. As he looked around, he noticed a dearth of men. Women porters. Women sailors. Women guards. The handful of men he saw appeared to be servants or slaves to figures of importance. 

    He’d heard that Naareth was a matriarchal society and that its leaders and living deity were female, but he’d not been expecting them to be this prevalent.

    “I pray you are not discomforted by our cultural differences. I hear that Saragos is a place that takes pride in its machinery and science, and that its technologists are largely male. I understand that his may all come as a bit of a shock to you, given the tendencies to the contrary in your own lands.”

    They reached an open area of the city with a large market. Surrounding it were imposing buildings, larger than the ones he’d passed so far. He looked at the structures in turn, reading the signs above their arched doorways. Embassy to the High-empire of Korachan. Consulate to the Secular Republic of Parthis. Saragosi high-commission.

    “Home,” he whispered.

    “I am sorry?”

    “Nothing. Just seeing where I’ll be living from now on. 

    “Yes. The death of your predecessor was most unfortunate. Were you acquainted with the former High-commissioner?”

    “No, not really, though we had corresponded on occasion. State matters. He seemed decent.”

    “I was quite close with Commissioner Saturin. We had lain together on occasion.”

    Prisician stopped, and stared at the woman. Had he understood her correctly?

    “Is something wrong?”

    “Um. No… nothing.”

    “He was a good man. I am sorry we could not send the body to Saragos, but the heat. The humidity. You understand.”

    Priscian nodded and looked to his new home. 

©2018 by Nate Mangion