Continent of Dreams

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Questers
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Continent of Dreams

Postby Questers » Tue Apr 24, 2018 5:18 pm

Part of a series of a Praetonian travel magazine.

Arriving, the airport has one sign only - WELCOME TO NEW SENLAND. New Senlanders think that New Senland is the best place on earth and once this is agreed go about arguing which part of New Senland is the best place on earth. It was of course, not always the utopia they say it is. When the first settlers arrived at Landing they bought from the Prince of Mogami a plot of land that he thought good only for mosquito nests.

One hundred years later, settlements had popped up all across the Oryontic seaboard. Their names bore their heritage: New Haversham, New Kingston, Gannet Cross, Moncktown, Yorktown, New Perth, Bradford, New Ripon. The inhabitants were mostly Sennish, with the odd Cockay or Quiberonnaise. Thus they called their new home New Senland, and damned any natives who said otherwise.

Now even a Hindu New Senlander will make fun of a white Praetannic Sennish man. New Senland, he will say, is far, far better than Old Senland. For a start, it's cleaner. The New Senlander towns were built on the town corporation system, perhaps the first joint stock company in the world, in which common land like streets and sewers were owned by a corporation which any resident could buy shares in. Over time these town and city corporations built, planned, and administered cities like giant private concerns. Elsewhere in Questers this system has corrupt attributes: in New Senland it works without flaw.

Thus, most of the cities look the same. Their streets are old and narrow, and they hold heat too well. They are green and brown and moss comes up through the cracks in the right places. Street life is lively, loud, civilised. Eat chappatis dipped in condensed milk, or a New Senland classic - heaped mutton roghan ghosht, covered in herbs, eaten on the move in a pathetic polystyrene box. Take bright morning tea in hot-to-the touch metal pots. If coffee is your thing then here it is cooked thick and strong and by the gallon - it's not clear if New Senlanders ever really stop moving or working. Drink your beer in any of the hundred tiny street bars that pop up as darkness falls. Make a friend, and speak your mind: it does not matter, because the next day, everything is always forgotten. The chairs will be plastic - New Senlanders spend nothing on luxury and invest every dollar they ever see. An old joke says that a New Senlander pinches a penny from a friend. It's not for me, he justifies. It's for my bank.

Fortifications line the waterfront, bristling ancient cannon, looking over massive docks - New Senland became the wealthiest part of Questers from selling rubber to the home islands - and further up the coastline lie the ruins of an ancient dharmatic pantheon, barraged by timeless Oryontic waves. Drive up the quiet coasts and hear only the greetings of Oryontic seabirds and hear the prayers of the priests of the last millenia echo in your ears. Any old pillar about to fall to the sea might be four thousand years old. The history of this land is kept by the pride (or hubris) of its people and the indefatigable wealth of its old families. There are two big boasts in New Senland - I was here first, and I am a contributor to the Historical Society.

Syndicalism came here four years ago, but it didn't stay. Some New Senlanders barricaded themselves in their old forts and refused to come out. North Point warships resupplied them for seven months. Others simply shrugged. They ignored the Syndicalist militia and went about their old business. When the Old Senlanders came in their mighty grey warships and vomited tanks and guns and helicopters across this land, the New Senlanders were not grateful. You're late, they said. And in New Senland, that's a cardinal sin. The only thing worse than being late is not being from New Senland.
[Tue 22:53:29] <colo> holy shit you are the fucking worst guy

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Re: Continent of Dreams

Postby Questers » Tue Apr 24, 2018 7:35 pm

To fly over the Orissan highlands, you would think all the tea in the world is grown there. It probably is, but nobody in the Orissaland drinks it. They drink coke out of glass bottles with tiny little straws. Then they get three cents back for recycling it. The poor come round to you on your beach chair and ask if you would ever so kindly give them your glass bottle. You won't want to say no.

Orissans are a breed apart. This is the only part of the Commonwealth where Whites don't eat beef. It's the only part of the Commonwealth where football is barely played, and beach volleyball is everywhere played. Go on a hike in the highlands and see the tea plantations and catch a coolie lugging a bag of tea from one hill to the next, muscles twitching and glistened in sweat, and ask him what he's thinking about. Sahib, he'll say, on Friday eve I'll take a bus to the coast and lounge on the beach until morning Monday. The coolies stay in the hills all week and there they've brought up sand to play beach volleyball at the top of a hill. Play with them. Learn their stories. Drink the leaves they haul.

Orissans are great outdoorsmen. Hunters and hikers, truck and quadbike drivers, sailors and sportsmen. They build their own houses. Every year a parade runs the length of the Orissan axackal coast, bikers taking their motorcycles on long journeys, stopping at each town for fanfare and for cokes in glass bottles. Watch them, join them. Wave at the side of the road if your bike breaks and let these veterans stop and help you and lose a race in doing so. It will be hard to make them take your thanks, but do it anyway. If Karma is true anywhere, it's true here.

Of course, not all Orissans live in the countryside.

The towns in Orissaland are flat affairs, no highrises, no minarets. Dusty, friendly, hot - wear sandals. Each city, town, or village is centred around a cenotapth, often the tallest building, granite imported from the home islands, decked in flowers. There are buried the suffering memories. The Great War inflicted powerful, gouging wounds on Orissan society. Whole battalions of Orissans walked into the smoke and did not walk out. Fully one tenth of Orissa's men did not come back from the war. The qualities that make Orissans great outdoorsmen made them willing soldiers. They heard the call, and they went: plantation managers, tea pickers, coolies, packers, and dockers all put down tools, picked up rifle, pike and sabre, and went to die in far away southern Questers or upon Yehudi plains.

The war would change the Orissaland forever. The strain of Hinduism that renounces violence grew and grew until it burst and carried every person in this land with it. Now, Orissans are a peaceful people. They live to live. Tourists come from all the world to this place: to dive in Weston Sound, to laze under palm trees, to drink too much coconut liquor and to cure the hangovers with mountains of Orissan pancakes, they come for Orissa's many music festivals and for the Party Heard Round The World, for fun, for love, for life. True Orissans are the least warlike people in this great Commonwealth. Don't test their hospitality: others, less kind, less peaceful, will punish you for it, and harshly.
[Tue 22:53:29] <colo> holy shit you are the fucking worst guy

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Re: Continent of Dreams

Postby Questers » Mon Apr 30, 2018 7:08 pm

Jesselton: city of a thousand quarters, divided by the mighty Mogami river, holy place for Hindus, the greatest floodplain on the continent, largest city in the Commonwealth. There are two hundred and eleven ways to enter Jesselton, but the best is through the Main Gate. There you can stand at the top, right where General Jessel stood when he saw Amin Arjun on his war elephant, ready to hurl a mighy host toward the city he had been ordered to hold. Hold, he did, and when his relief came and crushed Arjun in a giant pincer attack, Anga was renamed Jesselton in his honour.

Today, people from every clime and country have made Jesselton their home. There's a quarter here for every minority imaginable. They form townships, surrounded by other townships, and with no space to build out, they build up. You can pass through the Kehmanik quarter to the Sharfic quarter by a hastily made wooden bridge between apartment blocks, three stories up, as the road beneath is too busy to pass. Everything in Jesselton is busy, so busy that every map is out of date the moment it's published. Entire shop lots disappear into apartments, and shift down the street and re-appear, as if time and space had contorted around them. The boundaries of ethnic law waver daily, but people have learned to live together here. They buy up space together, make their own rules, sign their own treaties with each other. It's no surprise, for Jesselton is the most densely populated city in the world - and some say it has the most pistols per hundred men.

Not all of Jesselton is dominated by ethnic enclaves. The Old Town, which people sometimetimes still call Anga, is dominated by the Jesselton town corporation, the Jesselton Company. It too owns the rail and the large roads that break this town up, and it holds regular meetings between all parties of the city, to keep the public peace. A Sharfic merchant has fallen out with a customer from the Dumani minority. They mean to duel one another, but all present fight to restrain them: since both drew their pistols but were held back by others, there was still honour in the contest. They shake hands. Jesseltonians, unlike other Questarians, are not litigious. A man might beat another on the street for a perceived slight, but shake his hand the next minute, and throw gold dollar bills at him in order to cover his expenses. Jesseltonians always say it this way: where there's no dishonour, there's no misdeed.

Remember, in this city, a handshake is your word of honour. The people here consider it as a signature to contract. They have no qualms making you an outlaw for breaking your word. Jesseltonians look out for each other and they take their hue and cry rules seriously. A Praetannic woman toured Jesselton. She complained that whenever she went out at night and was alone on the street, there was always a person watching her from a window. No wonder, a Jesseltonian friend told her, that you were never once attacked, harrassed, or interrupted. The whole city was your sentinel.

Jesseltonians are businessmen first if nothing else, but they know that nobody ever made much gold out of lawlessness. They would be right: Jesselton is a safe city, for those who follow its rules. Successive waves of migrants have won a life in this town only where they have learned to respect the way that others live. When you come here, you must hire a guide, because you will never know whether you have violated some local ordinance; an unassuming street temple patrolled by a religious sect, a petty landowner's retentive nature, or maybe just the town corporation's bailiffs, who will cane a man for spitting gum on the street. Your guide will allow you to negotiate the complex code of laws and customs that somehow, in spite of it all, work to make this city a great and mostly peaceful metropolis.

In Jesselton, you can buy, eat, and drink whatever you want. There are monuments to men of every race for every war, there are ancient Hindu temples and tombs, there are dense markets, wet and dry, with smells you can never explain. But the best thing is simply to walk from one side to the other and watch the world change around you.
[Tue 22:53:29] <colo> holy shit you are the fucking worst guy

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Re: Continent of Dreams

Postby Questers » Wed May 16, 2018 5:51 pm

2009

This year, New Ripon has once again won the title of Greatest of New Senland. The city, which has won the award six times this decade, has a total population of approximately 177,000 souls and a square area of around 23 miles, making it one of the most densely populated cities in New Senland. Its Town Corporation has never been fiscally insolvent, and rents remain average relative to income in the region. Violence is low, and New Ripon is the safest town in the northeast; this year recorded only one murders, 28 rapes, and only 1,825 assaults against the person, which the Corporation puts down to a newly introduced system to control the entry of squatters from the town's surroundings. With regards these people, New Riponers also ranked as the most generous; a new program charitably apprenticing promising young squatter children has been described as an outright success.

Relations between the tenants and their neighbours fell to an absolute low two years ago, after the abduction and violation of twin children by squatters: it was only when the burghers of New Ripon threatened to shell the forty-mile square squat settlement with heavy artillery that the perpetrators were handed over. New Ripon was given big points for its willingness to forgive the issue; prominent socialites erected a new water tower in the squat just four weeks ago, as a sign of good relations.

The city saw many exciting social events in the past year. There was a home-cooking festival and competition, with more than a hundred and eighty families taking part in a bustling Blossom Street event that ran for four days and four nights. Mrs Singh of Bridge Street won the competition with her vegetable pakoras, which the judges declared to be the finest pakoras within ten thousand miles. Other events included a popular communal gardening week and a homecoming gala for the New Ripon Yeomanry, who had spent three months patrolling the borders with Sharfland.

The expansion of New Ripon's major exxport, its vibrant software development firms, is set to offer four thousand new jobs in the next three years. Those with the right skills looking for a place to move could do no worse than New Ripon!
[Tue 22:53:29] <colo> holy shit you are the fucking worst guy

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Re: Continent of Dreams

Postby Questers » Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:01 pm

In my first year in the Raj Political Office I was fortunate to be posted to the Kaidailand and unfortunate enough to be posted to Lopburi, a one-lakh acre principality that straddles the Maeklong river. Her one very profitable industry is the manufacture of rubber tires, and her one ruler is the ebullient Ramapoon XII. He has no surname: Ramapoons have ruled Lopburi for centuries, and each first born son is simply called Ramapoon.

Nobody likes to work with Ramapoon XII. The only clothes he owns are basketball shorts and singlets that he rolls up to display an ever growing stomach, the aftermath of a diet made up of only pork belly and beer. Tattoos and gold rings cover his body - the prince, (officially a Chao), lives like an arriviste, but he is as blue blooded as anyone in the country. Hip hop blares from his official limousine.

But Ramapoon is not an idiot. He takes no interest in the rubber business, because he knows nothing about it. He's not a coward, either: in the Shangani war, when he was still the first born son of Ramapoon XI, he led the Lopburi Household Troops from the very front. There's at least one vapourwave album with his picture from that time as the cover. And the last, least obvious quality of Ramapoon - loyalty. He always pays his dues to the Rajah, always on time, and always more than he needs to.

During my time in Lopburi I was called upon many times to observe that Justice in this Estate was carried out in such a way that no burgher of Lopburi could make complaint to the Rajah, and so that the Rajah would never need to use His Forces to interfere in Lopburi. Lopburi, like many Estates in the hot-blooded Kaidailand, has a Royal Bailiff, who runs a Gaol. It is a stinking place next to the train station; the paint peeled away long ago, and it smells only like a gaol in Kaidailand can smell. The gaol is a charity, so its inmates live on the lowest quality rice and sometimes kangkung. It is not to hold people as punishment, but the reverse: for the safety of persons accused of some misdeed, so that they are not lynched on the streets. Once a persons name has been cleared, they are kicked out, but if they are condemned, they also have to leave.

Once I observed the Bailiff lift a man from the gaol. He had been there four weeks while he claimed a witness was coming who would clear his name, but when the witness arrived all he had to say was a string of explicities, so the man was booted out. In lieu of paying nearly ten ounces of gold, he agreed to be struck ten times with a cane by the man he had offended (and just offense, too; in a drunken stupour this chap had driven his car into his neighbours house), which had to happen in Lopburi's town square. After the Bailiff, in his khaki shorts and peak cap, brought the offender to the town square, a curious affair began, watched by hundreds of the towns citizens.

Upon seeing the cane the offender dropped to his knees, made the Kaidai wai, a symbol of hands clasped together, and begged in the most repulsive way for mercy, followed by a string of insults by the plaintiff, the factual accuracy of which the offender agreed with, and added to. The crowd expected some mercy, and some was given; in the end the plaintiff agreed to hit him only nine times. And then a form of bargaining began, in which two strokes were substituted for an ounce of silver each. The crowd made such noise in appreciation of the plaintiffs mercy that the Bailiff had to quieten them. But then the caning began, and the crowd went wild: roars and piercing shrieks at every stroke. The plaintiff walked away, his manhood intact, and safe in the knowledge that everyone knew would what would happen if they wronged him again. As the crowd began to disperse, the Bailiff looked at me and grinned, the smoke of a gigantic cheroot blurring around his sunglasses. He simply said - "Lopbuli style."
[Tue 22:53:29] <colo> holy shit you are the fucking worst guy

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Re: Continent of Dreams

Postby Questers » Sun Jul 15, 2018 10:28 pm

"White People", Part One

For six years I lived in New Senland, in Landing specifically, with three other blokes; Gordon, from New Glasgow, Chiran from Khalistan and Paul from Douneray. We lived in a flat with four bedrooms and a mezzanine and a small kitchen and for those six years I shared and spent every moment of my life with those people. The first day we moved in, Gordon put a half inch scratch on the big wooden front door bringing his desk in, and six years later the Landing Corporation took eight hundred dollars from our deposit. The door was from the 18th-century and they had to bring in a specialist in old wood from North Point to repair the damage.

Chiran always used to say "white people." It was his saying; but he had got it from his father, who had got it from his grandfather, and so on. We verified this. Paul met Chiran with his father a year after we all moved out and swore on his mother's life that they once said "white people", together, at the same time. I don't know Chiran's last name, but he's a Singh now, I guess because his family made him do it, and he's a Captain of Yeomanry somewhere. But he always said white people. And when they charged us for that half inch scratch, he said - you got it: "white people!"

Me? I'm from Eulalia. Been there long? You bet. Great-grandpops came over from Praetonia and got ten acres of land because he brought ten Songian boots back to headquarters. But he didn't kill them. He was just good at finding stuff, and surviving. Married a Tagalog woman after the war and our people have been there since.

People from Eulalia can drink, apparently, but people from Khalistan can drink better. Chiran's the exception. We were all out once, at Settler's Bar (for some reason), and Chiran, three pints and four double whiskies in, nearly started a fight with some guy. For no reason. We had half the bar on each side. It ended because Chiran said "white people" at that man and he took offence, but in typical New Senland fashion they ended up calling the Watch. By the time they turned up both Chiran and his sworn enemy had had to shake hands and call it a day. The Watch turned up with them taking selfies together next to a pool table. So that's how Chiran avoided getting three good strokes from a lathi. But whenever we brought it up, he always used to say - "White people: troublemakers, the lot of them!"
[Tue 22:53:29] <colo> holy shit you are the fucking worst guy


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