Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Story of Utuk the Guide

by Lucinda (Edith's Player)

Ever since he was a child, Utuk has been deeply interested in the natural world around him.  When he was young and still named Kanto, he learned to trap small lizards and mice around camp; his mother called him "better than a tiktok" (the Inner World equivalent to a cat) for keeping vermin out of her food stores.  When he lost his last baby teeth and had his kon'ga (young man's tribal ceremony), he chose to learn from the far-hunters of his tribe.  They taught him to walk long distances, move quietly (which he never learned very well), survive off the land and find his way home from many leagues of travel.  Upon reaching puberty he killed his first saurian and was accepted as a full member of the tribe and received his man's name, Utuk.

When the old white man (Roald) came to their tribe, many members of the tribe were too scared to get near him, but the tribe has a strong tradition of hospitality and it was obvious that Roald was in need.  Several people were assigned to help him adjust to the tribe, primarily Utuk and Old Man Guak'i.  Guak'i and Roald quickly learned a pidgin of each other's languages, and Roald taught Guak'i some basic mechanical principles that the tribe has put to good use.  Utuk ignored them when they jibber-jabbered to each other in Roald's tongue, but showed Roald around the forest readily enough.  There is a legend in the tribe that if you touch the white man, your ghost will be white when you pass on to the sky beyond the sun; Utuk has bumped into him, and he seems to have flesh and blood just like any tribe member, so Utuk doesn't believe that legend.  For this reason he was willing to act as guide to the six foreigners that wanted to go to the Atlantean cities when they came.

Utuk is unmarried.  He is old enough that he very much wants to get married, and he has an understanding with a particular young woman of his tribe; but he has to bring five bagaa pelts to her family, and the bagaa pass rarely as they slowly migrate between the swamps and the mountains*.  He has three pelts cached in his mother's hut.  The headman of his tribe has promised him another pelt if he brings the foreigners back safe and a hut if he brings useful treasure.

Utuk has three brothers and no sisters; his father died when he was young, but his mother is strong and energetic and her brothers were very involved with her sons, so they were brought up with a deep sense of their place in the tribe and a strong respect for their elders.  Utuk will not do anything that he conceives would go directly against the will of his tribe.  However, when confronted by new experiences like the city of Atlantis, he realizes that the tribe's rules don't cover everything and improvisation may be required.  He is more strongly motivated by his desire to get married than by his need to stick to his learned view of the world.

* Why do the bagaa migrate when there are no seasons?  This question would puzzle outer-world naturalists to no end if there were any.  Perhaps they like the change of scenery; perhaps the swamp is better for feeding and the mountain eyries are better protected for breeding.

GM Notes - Utuk says, "More Style points for Lucinda!"