Saturday 5 August 2023

Hex Crawl 23 #202: The Fragrant and Shabby Village of Yotai

Five hexes northwest, three north of Alakran.


Yotai, with its fertile basin of barley fields, its gentle slopes that graze not just goats but miniature cattle and curly-horned sheep, is the richest village in the Dhuga Hills. Its stout and capacious houses hold a population of some 500.

About the grazing lands grows sammas-warqu, a yellow-flowered thorny shrub which the Yotans harvest for its sweet and spiky fragrance, selling it on in Eryptos and Gesshed where perfumers and alchemists distil it. One beekeeper in the village sets his hives near the shrubs and sells the resultant tart-flavored honey at a high premium.

The signal trait of the villagers is that they eschew buying or making new clothes for as long as possible. They walk around in shabby garb, broken sandals, fastened with pins and held with rope, and only when modesty is no longer served do they reluctantly buy a less damaged hand-me-down from a village vendor. Legend explains this as a backlash against Lusummu, a particularly vain elder from ten generations back, but it has become a centerpiece of municipal identity. If the sammas-warqu has a less enticing fragrance in any year, some scapegoat of fashion is usually found out and made to downgrade their wardrobe.

Why, then, do outsiders from Nekai, Kinaya, even Gesshed don shabby garments to blend in, and flock to Yotai's midsummer festival? Perhaps because it is an orgy of unmitigated carnal license, where people cover their faces with linen sacks pierced for vision, and run naked through the streets. The midwinter festival, though, is for the townsfolk alone, when they descend into a hillside cavern and enrobe their mummified elders in the sumptuous garments they never wore in life.

Six reasons you might meet a person from this village outside of it:

1: Coming from the city with a load of cast-off clothing

2: Going to the city with a load of unwearable rags

3: Coming from the city with an elaborate outfit, supposedly for the winter festival, but actually tow ear in private.

4: Going to the city to try to find out the father of her green-eyed child from last year's midsummer

5. Going to the city with a load of sammas-warqu on a camel, but will let the party buy load and camel, because she wants to go back and see if her man is cheating

6. Two landholders coming from the city, ine flush from selling barley and one flusher from selling special honey, gambling with knucklebones (d4s) at the side of the road.

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