Wednesday, 7 June 2023

Hex Crawl 23 #158: Judgments of Aish Mashuila: A Double-Header from Shakalul

 Twelve hexes north of Alakran.


Among these sleepy villages, Shakalul is the one with a story of judgment to tell. It belongs to the time of the Band of Bronze, and of the Khilan priest Korth's ascension as Judge of Balance after the defeat of Azeneth. But -- because at the time of our survey, the Band's deeds are in the future -- a visit to Shakalul itself will acquaint travelers with the strange tale of the son, or sons, of Hahharti the roof-builder.

Hahharti had already two daughters, but after his son was born he begged of his wife, "One more!" For the infant was one child with two heads, or two twins with one body -- a debate expected to be moot, for such prodigious births did not live long in the midwife's experience. But the child, or children, confounded expectations and grew to adulthood, while the wife could not comply with her husband's wish, for she died of a lingering childbed fever. Although called by one child-name, the adult heads preferred different names -- the left going by Amur, the right by Ashur.

The conundrum that confronts visitors today is simply that Hahharti is seeking a wife, or wives, for Amur-Ashur so that his trade, which he taught the son(s), may continue. There is an eligible lass, Tupalli, daughter of a wall-builder. The union would augur in a construction dynasty for the ages! Yet Tupalli fancies Amur, but is indifferent to Ashur, and before that conundrum can even raise its head the village elder, the keen-eyed centenarian Dumanima, has forbidden the marriage as the result of reasoning that goes like this:

1. If there is marriage among Tupalli, Amur, and Ashur, then the marriage would be biandry, which is most unnatural and unconventional.

2. If Tupalli marries Amur but not Ashur, then Ashur would either be a participant in their sexual congress, which is adulterous, or a spectator thereto, which is voyeurism and also a misdeed.

3. Reifnorcing point 2, if Tupalli consents to congress with both, it is an orgiastic misdeed, but if she consents to congress with only one, the other would nightly commit a violation.

Anyone who solves this riddle by suggesting a way for the marriage to proceed lawfully and morally will gain both the gratitude of Hahharti and a plot of land worth 100 gold that is coming to him as part of the dowry, as well as a reputation throughout the land as a wise and benevolent lay judge. The easiest way is to convince Dumanima that the two men are in fact one person, but this will not be easy. Certainly when Amur-Ashur's two sisters came before Judge Korth after the death of their father, requesting a third instead of a quarter of the inheritance due them all, the wise judge noted that the two men had different names, and different tastes, and therefore were owed a half instead of a third share. But different judgments are indeed possible.

Tuesday, 6 June 2023

Hex Crawl 23 #157: Judgments of Aish Mashuila: The Price of a Fledgling Fowl

Eleven hexes north, one northeast of Alakran.


Unlike the wilder, quirkier villages on the frontiers of Shasari, the placid farming settlements in the central parts can rightly be accused of being deadly dull, inheriting millennia of tradition, religious observance, and routine. Most adventurers, like the Band of Bronze, will pass speedily through on their way from one frontier to the other. 

And yet, there are some interesting tales going around about the villages, for it is the wont of these villagers to be baffled by unusual wrongs and to seek redress for these at the tribunal of the priestly Judges of Aish Mashuila: the Judge of Mercy, who serves Mitra and pleads for the defense; the Judge of Severity, who serves Set and pleads for the plaintiff; and the Judge of Balance, the chief judge and priest of the temple, who sits between two pillars of ivory and renders final judgment.

This case involving villagers of Minuziya happened in the last generation but is still talked about.

A penniless day-laborer, Alliwalwi, carrying a cedar beam through the village market, by accident dropped it on a cage and killed a poultry chick belonging to a landowner, Huzpa, whose greed had made him rich if not loved in Minuziya.

Huzpa hauled Alliwalwi before the Judges, claiming, not the copper piece the chick would usually fetch, but a whole gold piece, which the laborer did not possess and would have to enter into indenture to pay.

Huzpa argued thusly: "Although he has killed only a male chick, under my care the chick would have matured into a fine bantam pullet, and his lineage is of the noblest barnyard blood. As a stud, this cockerel would be worth at least a piece of gold, if not more, and the fowl he would sire are worth a sackful -- I am letting this churl off lightly!"

Severity agreed with this reasoning, while Mercy pleaded that the man could not pay and the logic was specious.

The Judge of Balance at the time, Mutarassi, thought and then said:

"I find for the complainant. The defendant is ordered to pay the sum of one gold piece to Huzpa."

The crowd had scarely started to murmur, and Alliwalwi to wail, when Mutarassi raised his voice and continued,

"But there is another matter. Huzpa, do your prize fowl scratch in the sand and peck for worms and beetles?"

Huzpa protested, "By no means! They dwell in a wooden run and eat their fill of the finest and freshest barley."

"And do they sicken and die early?"

"Your Honor, Set and Mitra have blessed me otherwise! My last stud rooster lived ten years and covered eighty hens."

Following this line of logic, the Judge calculated that Alliwalwi's accident had saved Huzpa grain and labor worth two gold pieces, and asked the laborer if he would bring suit right then and there for the amount owed. So Alliwalwi settled his liability and walked away in possession of a shiny gold piece of Dulsharna.