This is a lightly edited version of a story that was originally posted to the pre-magazine Freelance Traveller website in 2002, and reprinted in the October 2014 issue.
[Editor’s Note: The origin of this diary excerpt is unknown. The original was written in an archaic form of High Vilani. There are indications that it may have been found on a world that was on the periphery of the Ziru Sirka, hence the title.]
… I buried Khaashuur yesterday. We were attacked by nomads who had no conscience at all, leaving us with our clothes and some new bruises. Khaashuur suffered internal injuries and was coughing up blood not long after. I still cannot use a cutlass. Now I wish I had learned a long time ago.
If only the calendar here made sense. Everything is local. Money is local. Time is local.
Everything is primitive. Money is disorganized and silly, with strange denomination ratios… 3 to 1, then 5 to 1 or 6 to 1 or even (Sharshurshid protect us!) 7 to 1.
With a functioning memclip and patience we were able to learn these people’s simple language. They certainly sound strange, with some noises I’ve never heard before. Kind of nasal, like the yokels in Ilelish, liberally peppered with yowls and coughs.
Medicine is horribly primitive. I don’t want to talk about it. Though I must say their herblore is of an extremely high quality—they can extract beneficial chemicals from the local flora without all our expensive and tedious processing techniques.
Let’s just say it, shall we? I’m doomed to die on this miserable world, so far from all I know, and too close to all these smelly people. Actually, they don’t smell anymore, which means I must smell like them now.
Though, of course, they must have technology somewhere on this world. The atmosphere is pleasant, if a bit dry, and people actually eat most of the smaller vegetation here! In fact, they even eat the animals, which proves that there must have been genetic engineering going on at one time. That, or someone transplanted most of the edibles in the galaxy and planted a garden-quality reserve world, perhaps for hunting? My goal is to find the emergency starport that must be on this world.
On the schedule for these next couple days is the end of a great feast. The religious caste are playing tug-of-war or something with the warrior caste over a trouble-maker who claims to be the king. He’s obviously an artisan, but I heard he says the most extraordinary things, inciting riots and disturbing the peace. And now this bit about being the king. I mean, if he went around saying he was the Emperor we’d put him away! They take things like that very gravely down here. I’ll stick around and see what happens. …