The Chronicle

"And heaved and heaved, still unrestingly heaved the black sea, as if its vast tides were a conscience; and the great mundane soul were in anguish and remorse for the long sin and suffering it had bred." - Herman Melville
Locked
User avatar
Smyg
GETTIN' REAL TIRED OF YOUR MACHIAVELLIAN BULLSHIT, GESAR
Posts: 2838
Joined: 23:01:40 Thursday, 02 August, 2012

The Chronicle

Post by Smyg » 23:28:37 Wednesday, 16 July, 2014

Chronique d'une Frontière Congelés

Professeur Antoine Saint-Laurent
Institut National des Sciences et des Arts
Lutèce, République des Francs
Année XLVI de la République


[Propriété de la Bibliothèque Nationale]

___

The following texts are select excerpts from the works of A. Saint-Laurent, on the subject of the Island.

Additional excerpts may be published at a later time.
Comrade Astrojildo Pereira Duarte Silva
Secretary-General of the Partido Comunista do Brasil
(PCB)


Image

User avatar
Smyg
GETTIN' REAL TIRED OF YOUR MACHIAVELLIAN BULLSHIT, GESAR
Posts: 2838
Joined: 23:01:40 Thursday, 02 August, 2012

Re: The Chronicle

Post by Smyg » 00:08:39 Thursday, 17 July, 2014

Preface

As most of my fellow Citizens know, in the far north of our continent, near the Pole, lay Thule and Ultima Thule (or as the Scandians call them - Island and Grønland), two sparesly populated, rugged islands of ice and ash. What few without a more intimate knowledge of cartography and other sciences (and, perhaps, occultism) know, is that to the east of these distant rocks, between them and lands claimed by the Muscovite Czar, lays another territory, an archipelago of quite some size.

In our fair language it is usually known somewhat crudely as Îles Baleine, but carries a plentitude of names in other tongues - the Batavian merchants used a number of nicknames depending on their mood (anything from Rijkdom Rotsen to Waanzinbergen), in the Scandian languages variants of Kallstrand were frequently used, and so on. In Latin, used very seldom by the Reman Catholic Church to imply its connection to a diocese at the time lost for centuries, it was Ultima Thule Orientalis. The 'Pomor' hunters used similar terminology, Grumant, their word for the lands further west. The Albionians, who together with the Batavians competed for access to the lands of the Orient through the North East Passage, would (tongue-in-cheek, perhaps) come to use the North Indies quite often, comparing the territory unfavourably to the West and East Indies.

In international parlance between mariners, and in the local trade language that flourished for a few decades, it is called simply the Island, for some reason ignoring the presence of other significant islets in the area to the benefit of the most major one.

Regardless, these names are all long forgotten now, other than in scholarly circles. Once, they were known throughout the entire civilized world, and sometimes beyond. Were one to journey there today, as some daring gentleman explorers, foolish fortune-hunters of questionable repute, and perhaps overly enthusiastic naturalists are wont to do, one wouldn't find much, physical remnants excepted. In the distant past however, the far north - resting on the 74th to 81st parallels north - was pulsating with life. Within this tome of mine, I shall endeavour to tell you, Citizen, of these forgotten times.
Comrade Astrojildo Pereira Duarte Silva
Secretary-General of the Partido Comunista do Brasil
(PCB)


Image

User avatar
Smyg
GETTIN' REAL TIRED OF YOUR MACHIAVELLIAN BULLSHIT, GESAR
Posts: 2838
Joined: 23:01:40 Thursday, 02 August, 2012

Re: The Chronicle

Post by Smyg » 12:59:45 Friday, 18 July, 2014

Nature

The Îles Baleine are an archipelago, consisting of numerous islands, islets, cays, reefs and so on. With the exception of the Island itself, these often carried colourful names, which today are only preserved in written accounts and the works of many a carthographer. The etymology of these islands, and their various geographic features and points of interest, is as diverse as the people who named them. From the divine ("Trinity Island") to the mundane ("Smeerenburg"), most names are indicative of something, and easily understandable at that, lacking in age - which has a tendency to twist language - as they are.

The isles traditionally considered part of the archipelago are located from 74° to 81° north latitude, and from 10° to 35° east longitude. As can be expected, these lands are extremely cold. While there are a small number of natural hot springs recorded, very little volcanic activity (in comparison to Thule) takes place beneath the Island, and despite the best efforts of certain apparent warm oceanic streams and currents going northwards temperatures can go down very, very far. The terrain, which is heavily mountainous, consists mainly of polar desert and tundra, continually stuck in either glaciation or permafrost. The tall mountains would form a veritable wall of rock and ice, were it not for the many 'fjords' and valleys that cut through the land, opening it up. The interior of the Island has, in actuality, never been fully explored - surveyors report conditions similar to the southern polar region in the heartlands, the rim of which was simply "the Iceplains".

[...]

Cold as it may be, the Island is not devoid of life, far from it. While seldom visited in modern times, an 'Apostle' of the Princeps Botanicorum, Linnaeus, endeavoured on a journey there a few years back, for scientific purposes. The botanist, M. Rolandsson Martin, was only able to make brief landfall due to rough weather, but the Geatish expedition - and other similar ones - none the less brought important scientific data. In total, only a handful terrestrial mammals (among them the magnificent Isbjørn, or polar bear, an unique subspecies of reindeer, and snow foxes) live on the Island. On the other hand, ample birdlife exists (although few avians appear to be permanent inhabitants), and the ocean is brimming with various types of whale, dolphins, seals, walruses, and other marine mammals. As for flora, only about a tenth of the archipelago's (yet to the day largely unchartered) territory carries vegetation, but the amount of species may range up to about two hundred, possibly. No trees exist (to our knowledge), beyond dwarfish shrubbery, and with the exception of areas fertilized by guano even the vegetative areas may seem desolate.

At times, the biology of the Island has been more difficult to explain than that. The amount of supposed 'oddities' reported by sailors during the region's heyday are many, in comparison to other areas with similar penchants for the mysterious. Additionally, some of the fossilized material brought back by intrepid explorers seem to defy the theories of the controversial Cuvier, whose works I am sure most of my readers are familiar with to some degree. But, let us not jump to overly exotic conclusions - there is simply much room left for future generations of naturalists to claim as their own.

[...]

On the Island, its forlorn population of whalers, trappers, miners and other less reputable individuals appear to seldom have counted time in terms of years. Instead, the seasons held primacy, due to the massive differences in nature between them.
  • Spring
    The period of Spring is short, ranging between roughly the months of Germinal and Floréal. During this period, light and returns to the Island, and the snow slowly starts to recede. Many migratory birds start arriving - as did, historically, many of the migrant workers heading to the mining camps, hunting cabins and whaling stations, in preparation for the high season.
  • Summer
    Summer is long, reaching throughout Prairial, Messidor, Thermidor and Fructidor. At the height of Summer, snow retreats completely except for mountain slopes and glaciers, and life blossoms. It is primarily remarkable due to the midnight sun, continiuous daylight, which persists for quite some time. The human inhabitants, for whom this was the season of highest activity, called it the "Long Light", and celebrated it - often a bit too much.
  • Autumn
    Like its more fortunate cousin Spring, Autumn is short on the Island, consisting more or less of the months Vendémiaire and Brumaire. The temperatures fall, and night appears once again, with snowfall towards the end of the season. Most of the Summer populace would now leave, the exodus becoming the scene of frequent naval battles between departing ships.
  • Winter
    If Summer is a time of life, then Winter is a time of death. Reaching throughout Frimaire, Nivôse, Pluviôse and Ventôse, it grips the Island in ice and darkness. Few birds overwinter, and even fewer people - only a few hundred remained huddled within their shelters, many succumbing to disease, hunger, infighting, or just the cold. This was the "Long Dark", a harrowing period around which most of the superstitious tales of the Island revolve.
Comrade Astrojildo Pereira Duarte Silva
Secretary-General of the Partido Comunista do Brasil
(PCB)


Image

User avatar
Smyg
GETTIN' REAL TIRED OF YOUR MACHIAVELLIAN BULLSHIT, GESAR
Posts: 2838
Joined: 23:01:40 Thursday, 02 August, 2012

Re: The Chronicle

Post by Smyg » 17:21:02 Thursday, 24 July, 2014

Language

As more and more people came to the Island during the century's first years, it became a veritable melting pot of nationalities, cultures, and languages. Eventually, over time, a pidgin tongue developed, creating a type of lingua gallica commonly used both for communicating with foreigners during parley at sea and interaction at shore, and among multi-cultural crews. It was called Nordvalsk, a twisted form of an apparently Geatish term. This primitive trade language reached its apex during the most intense whaling period, before slowly dying out. As most writers used their own languages, and there was little concern for literature on the Island, there are very few text sources containing this language in written form. The exception is a small, tattered copy of Luther's New Testament, translated into Nordvalsk and written by hand, no doubt for local religious purposes, and a water-damaged codex that so far has proven incoherent.

Our primary knowledge comes from secondary (and sometimes tertiary) sources - the works of Alistair Daniels, today obscure but well preserved in his home country's libraries, contain several quotes and excerpts from conversations written in the tongue, for example. What little linguistic research into these sources that exists, primarily conducted by my colleagues across the sea in the University of Cantebrigge, show a young language rich in depth and width, if not high culture. Much of the biblical translation would seem strange to those learned in those outdated texts, exchanging "bread" for "blubber" in many cases for example (palm branches often become sprigs of low-sprouting mountain birch, it may be added), no doubt a pragmatic if not all too puritan adaption to the local situation and conditions. It is unlikely that this translation was endorsed by the local clergy, which M. Daniels reports as dogmatic.

The known vocabulary from these sources have a multitude of origins - Scandian, Batavian, Albionian, Gallic, Muscovite, and so on. The grammar varies wildly, with odds and ends borrowed from Germanic, Slavic, Romance and in some cases Semitic roots, with the occasional peppering (often in relation to sailcraft or whaling) of the bizarre and confusing tongue of the Biscayans, which many modern scholars hold to be unrelated to the languages of surrounding territories. A tinge of Egypcian and various thieves' cants exists as well. Some of the terminology in the readable parts of the aforementioned codex has origins and meanings wholly unknown to the linguists I have consulted, but seems to mainly concern spiritual matters of some sort. Its pictographic content is reminiscent of the "witch grimoires" found recently in Thule, dating to the same period, but as I have little interest in such superstitions I will leave that field of research open to those among my peers more inclined towards such regressive subjects.

It would appear this lingua gallica was relatively easy to learn, given its (admittedly brief) adoption by thousands, if not tens of thousands, of men and women. This conveniently largely removed the necessity to bring interpreters on-board. Despite this success, the tongue died out as quickly as it rose, although some accounts indicates it survived for some time in the northern coastal region of Muscovy and Scandia, where the Pomors - prominent on the Island - continue to ply barter across the often ill-defined border.
Comrade Astrojildo Pereira Duarte Silva
Secretary-General of the Partido Comunista do Brasil
(PCB)


Image

User avatar
Smyg
GETTIN' REAL TIRED OF YOUR MACHIAVELLIAN BULLSHIT, GESAR
Posts: 2838
Joined: 23:01:40 Thursday, 02 August, 2012

Re: The Chronicle

Post by Smyg » 19:04:41 Thursday, 24 July, 2014

Settlements

Despite being so barren, many a settlement flourished on the Island, several of them lasting decades before being abandoned. While the number of minor whaling stations, trapper's cabins, pirate hideouts, coal mines and so on was quite grand, I can only hope to account for the most major, and most famed. Most of them were settled properly only during the Summer, their populations strongly decreasing during the Winter, albeit all of the towns below had a permanent population.
  • Smeerenburg
    Smeerenburg, quite literally "Blubber Town" in the thick and brute Batavian tongue, was the undoubted capital of the Island. Founded by whalers and merchants during the League's mercantile Golden Age, it was the center of all activity in the region. Having suffered a number of attacks from Albionian privateers, and facing apparent intrigue from fellow merchant guildsmen, the Batavian-appointed Governor fled the scene after only a few seasons, never to return.

    Some level of formal governance remained, although it was frequently chaotic. The Harbourmaster, a self-proclaimed title, controlled most of the day-to-day administration, running a small militia to maintain a semblance of order. His rule, however, was often challenged by others of importance - priests, merchants, soldiers. With little in terms of true justice around, and with thousands going in and out of the town uncontrolled, it often became a den of sin during the intense Summer season, during which up to twenty thousand men and women came to Smeerenburg (and ships in the hundreds), either to stay or pass through. During the Winter season, only a few hundred unfortunate souls remained.

    The town was surprisingly advanced for such a land, no doubt the work of blunt Batavian ingenuity. The streets, if few, were crudely paved with cobblestone, and were lined by a complex system of drainage gullies. During Summer, they were filled with market stalls. A core of well-built houses, with fireplaces and proper floors, stood at the centre, serving as accommodations, storehouse sand workshops, during the high season surrounded by tents of various shapes and sizes in the hundreds. In addition to blubber boiling tryworks, smithies, bakeries, and other honest workshops, there were gambling dens, taverns, and even brothels. More proudly stood the fort, small by our standard but a versatile defence structure and home to the Harbourmaster, and the world's northernmost church, the appearance of which has been preserved in sketches sent back to its mother church in Køpmannæhafn.

    If the archipelago was the North Indies, as the Albionians said, then Smeerenburg truly was its Port Royal.
  • Fort Elizabeth
    The sole major outpost of Albion, Fort Elizabeth, is said to have been a magnificent stronghold by the Island's standards. One of few settlements not located in the direct vicinity of the main Island, it was perhaps spared some of the peculiarities that afflicted the others thanks to its seat on Trinity Island, which was dominated by Albionian whaling. The bastion, which resembled the colonial forts of early Vespuccia, may not have been the most high-quality piece of military engineering, but it served the many privateers (and more civilian types) based out of its port well for many decades, with some interruptions. The settlement itself was not too grand, but housed mariners in the hundreds during the high season in addition to a sizeable Summer garrison.
  • Kristianbyen
    The major Scandian holding on the Island, almost on the exact opposite side from its Batavian competitor Sintdaal, Kristianbyen was a town of wonders. Founded by merchants and whalers, it became known less for its economy, and more for its infamous madman, Canute Bilde. A predecessor to the scientific minds of today, Bilde received royal funding for his enterprises (which were often quite bizarre, judging by surviving documents in the Royal Archives), and in constructing a magnificent observatory (and other contraptions). Modern explorers report that no trace seems to persist of it, but Bilde none the less left a mark on several modern scientific fields.
  • Pilfjord
    Pilfjord, the smaller but best fortified of the two primary Scandian settlements, was located not far west from Port Soleil, deep within the fjord it was named for. The weathered remnants of several strong gun batteries can still be seen along the fjord's shores, high up on the almost unscalable cliffs. As long as they were manned, no ship could get anywhere close to the town (which seems to have discouraged foreign mariners from ever approaching, resulting in declining royal profits), and there was no proper land route. Relations with the Gauls were amiable, most of the time, with the Scandians keeping largely to themselves.
  • Sintdaal
    Sintdaal, deep within Pieterbucht on the east coast, was established following the loss of Smeerenburg by wealthy merchants to compensate for the decrease in business. Never as successful as Smeerenburg, no doubt due to the fact that it did not enjoy the same autonomy, Sintdaal none the less attracted many entrepreneurs, and brought in much profit for its highly 'pious' masters (who never established a proper church, instead using their money to build churches back home. To compensate, religious decorations were commonplace among Sintdaal's buildings, as were religious place names).
  • Arumstein
    The proper etymology of Arumstein is lost (the town in Frisia? Arum lilies? Something else?), as is most other information surrounding it. The Frisian whalers that built the town, situated around a large standing stone at the foot of Hvalberget (Whale Mountain), kept few records, unusual for anyone involved with the Batavian trade guilds. Situated in the Island's south-eastern region, it was one of the three significant Batavian settlements, if one counts Smeerenburg. It appears to have been prosperous, with safe anchorage in its fjord, and several sets of piers.
  • Port Soleil
    Port Soleil, for most of its existence the smallest of the places held to be proper settlements in the region (a provincial hamlet to Smeerenburg's capital city) was founded by our own whalers from Gaul. Named after a certain monarch of old fame and situated on one of the minor islands, the few sources we have from its early period tell us it consisted only of a small gun battery, blubber-boiling facilities, and a few more or less temporary structures. None the less, it was port of call to most of the Gallic whaling fleet, organizational centre of armed activity, and starting point of lucrative mining expeditions.
  • Mechtaled Monastery
    One of the most unique sites on and around the Island, Mechtaled Monastery is today quite the mystery. The ruins have all mainly collapsed, and the fineries are long lost, but in its day it was no doubt one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture in the region. While not a true town, many temporary shelters and tents grew around the Monastery during Summer, and it was the closest thing to a Muscovite settlement that existed for the longest time. Little is known of the activities in the Monastery, due to a loss of records and the Orthodox Church's reluctance to surrender any remaining information on 'Abbot Semyon' and his heretical monks, who have reached almost mythical infamy among their barbaric kin.
Comrade Astrojildo Pereira Duarte Silva
Secretary-General of the Partido Comunista do Brasil
(PCB)


Image

User avatar
Smyg
GETTIN' REAL TIRED OF YOUR MACHIAVELLIAN BULLSHIT, GESAR
Posts: 2838
Joined: 23:01:40 Thursday, 02 August, 2012

Re: The Chronicle

Post by Smyg » 16:15:59 Saturday, 26 July, 2014

Currency

A question that has haunted our society in the modern period: Money. While the early explorers had no issue with it, the early entrepreneurs certainly appear to have. With thousands of people from half a dozen nationalities mixing, mutual exchange was soon found to be problematic. Albionian guineas, Batavian guilders, Gallic livres, Scandian riksdaler, Muscovite roubles, and other more exotic currencies (such as the real de a ocho from Hispania) all circulated. A merchant operating in the archipelago most likely had his pockets full of different coins of different denominations, and given the frequent state of war between the issuers of said denominations redeeming them would no doubt be difficult.

While barter was fine for smaller transactions, Batavian records indicate that the merchants of Smeerenburg and other settlements (not to mention the madames and the gamblers) found themselves with issues making profit on the local trade, and the efficiency of buying produce from foreign whalers, trappers and miners was low when they didn't accept your money. Gold, silver and copper always have a value, but the heads of kings and queens on the precious metal does not. The dilution of metal purity is, as we all know too well, problematic as well.

In the cabinets of certain highly specialized numismatic collectors, I have been able to locate the result of these troubles. The Nordmark. A primitive jeton, tokens used for exchange on the Island and with no value elsewhere, was minted for several years by an overenthusiastic trade in Smeerenburg. His work was initially useless, as no one cared to adopt the idea, and he minted far too high amounts of the would-be currency. When the Scandian was killed in a drunken brawl, and his screw press was destroyed in the subsequent fire (along with most of the overproduced tokens), things changed.

It took a while, but eventually the Nordmark seems to have gained nearly universal recognition among the migratory population of the Island. While fundamentally worthless, minted in low-quality iron mined and melted in an unprofitable and soon abandoned surface quarry not far from Smeerenburg, people are not always entirely clear-minded when it comes to currency, and adopted it none the less. Less a true currency, and more a form of currency conversion, the Nordmark remained in use for many years. The situation was somewhat remniscent of the "company scrips" developing in many modern logging camps, coal mining towns, and so on. No records exist indicating that attempts to counterfeit or produce new tokens ever took place, most likely due to the lack of such advanced technology in the region, or perhaps just apathy.

Only a few have survived, as most whalers superstitiously preferred to hide theirs in caches on the Island rather than bring them back home (few of which have ever been located by modern explorers), but those that do exist are large pieces of slightly rust-tinted iron, stamped on only one side with a simple 'cross potent'. Due to this, they were often used as amulets to ward off supposed evil, as shown by the holes drilled in many surviving examples. Much like the piece of eight, its Vespuccian cousin of sorts, the Nordmark was often clipped to create smaller denominations.
Comrade Astrojildo Pereira Duarte Silva
Secretary-General of the Partido Comunista do Brasil
(PCB)


Image

Locked

Return to “Vanaheimr 3: Aurora Borealis”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest