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A Most Imperfect Age

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Shorah Cousin!

I promised to tell you when I began to write my first book. I have begun! It is early but that will only add greater glory to our house when it is declared the next classic. I have no doubt my mentor will be pleased. I have many pages of his notes about the best qualities for sky and soil. I will use them all!

It should be a rich world with many new plants. When it is available I will ask my father about inviting you to see it. You can help me plan the site of our new vacation cottage. You can have one after you help build ours. There will be plenty of land because I've written it that way.

My korfah v'jah should come in the next few months, as soon as it is approved. (I am sure your father will bring you) That will be the first step toward establishing me as the youngest guildmaster ever. Won’t father be proud!



From: Rahno, GuildMaster of Writers
To: Markil, GuildMaster of Maintainers


An impetuous youth from our guild has finished the Age enclosed. Were he not Lord K'lahbahn’s son, I would have turned him out and burned it on principle! He had not yet attained the rank to begin copying linking books, let alone write his own Age unaided. He seems to have depended heavily on his rector’s thesis notes on Gahro-hevtee interactions between soil and climates. The results should be… interesting.

I await your report with interest. We will, as always, be ready to burn the work on your reccommendation, though I'm sure his father will be disappointed.


Guildmaster Rahno


From: Markil, Guildmaster
To: Gillo Gehn, Guildsman

.shorah guildsman


I have a new assignment for you. Let us hope you can carry it through with greater dispatch than you did your last errand. A Lord's son has jumped the gun a bit and written himself an Age without proper training . Markil, unsurprisingly, has left the unpleasant task of passing judgement on it (and facing the father's wrath) to us.

I am sure I do not have to tell you that the way to safely condemn this Age is to judge it by the most basic requirements for inclusion, noting carefully each failure. Hu's new work must have a safe linking area, a safe environment, contain no large hostile creatures, and be essentially stable. Should any situation arise that makes it necessary for you to use emergency linking procedures, that would be grounds for immediate burning. Be sure to document any such incident carefully.

I will be awaiting your findings, guildsman.

Guildmaster Markil


(from a heavily soiled notebook)

Gillo Gehn's report on Age 23789 *unofficially named "Hu Bris' First Great Age"*

Personal Note: Yahvo must hate me! First I slip on the freshly waxed marble with the Guildmaster's new china and then I get this! Why does everything have to happen to me?


yahr 1

I have been here five minutes and my boots are already filthy. It took me this long to get untangled, but the footing is firm enough 4-5 inches below the surface. The linking location appears to be a thick natural raft of thick mud and ferns. All the flora in view have extensive roots and vines near the surface, probably to compensate for the lack of firm earth. The area is very flat,except for long hillocks created by a fallen trees. Many arboreals around me have reached enormous girth. Their roots must run very deep indeed. Everything within reach of my goggles is the same.

I will head north first, checking for quicksand and other natural hazards. No fauna visible larger than the clouds of mosquitos, gnats etc.that surround me. I have linked back samples of these to check for disease. I do not yet have proof of dangerous conditions here but I expect it will not be long before I find something of the sort.


First Gahrtahvo checkpoint:

It has been raining steadily since my arrival. The soft misting spray gave way to a torrential downpour which has now settled into a dreary drizzle. The sky remains so grey that I could do without my goggles if the precipation would cease. By now I have tested the atmosphere, and found it within tolerances. I should have the results of a more throrough ananlysis in a few hours. I have sent back several soil and water samples as well, though pure examples of the latter were harder to come by. I have yet to encounter a single body of water larger than a puddle. It looks as though the water is distributing evenly through the topsoil. The Guild of Healers report that the initial insect samples are free of serious disease. I will send them more species. Yahvo knows there are more than enough insects!


(second entry is hard to read)

Second Gahrtahvo check..... Air confirmed breathable...Found the "hill" is whats left of an root system from one of these old trees. I have decided to make camp.....much mud, black this.... mild gale conditions...still no quiksa.....drat! the whole hill is moving!

(next entries unreadable)

yahr 5

Blast it! Can the Chemists & Healers find nothing? I have returned kilos of soil samples of every shade of the rainbow! I have sent them buckets and barrels of bugs, colorful frogs, and small reptiles! What are they doing with them all? Eating them???!!


2nd Gahrtahvo checkpoint

The sun has finally appeared! Yahvo be praised! Now we will see what harsh conditions put so much moisture into the sky! Even better, Skehppur, my senior partner, has been ordered to assist! He ridiculed my troubles in rating this Age at first. but no longer. I have adjusted to the sliding waddle-walk required to remain upright here. He has yet to master it. Skehppur eats more roots than I did. heh heh heh

yahr 10

The weather continues hot, humid, and largely still. Had I known what a relief the monsoon rains were to the usual conditions in this place, I would not have wished their departure so soon. On the other hand, travel has become much easier as the surface crusts up in many spots. Water is still widely available,especially under the great oaks, but unsedimented puddles are hard to come by. The swarms of mosquitos have vanished but most of the other flying insects have only fled to the shadow of the trees. gggggrrrreeeeeaaaaaatttttt.

A variety of new plants are taking root in the soil as it changes. We will send samples of these as they grow, as several appear to be a sort of grain. Even if they prove edible it would be hard to harvest it in large amounts under these growing conditions, but they may prove useful elsewhere.

yahr 16


Another mudslide has carried us miles further south than we wished to go but we could not declare an emergency, blast it! The muck steadfastly refused to bury us or our gear. The camp floated on the surface due to the increased density of the mud just below us. Yahvo knows its warm enough to bake a pie, let alone mud.

It would be impossible to be dirtier than I am now. The mud thickens as it dries. Some varieties turn to glue, others to sand; but some kind of mud manages to gets into everything we own: goggles, food, gloves, even toothpaste. I think I will cease to avoid trying to eat too much of it. If I get ill, perhaps the blind researchers at the healers guild will finally find some harmful microbes.

(the next pages are too soiled to read)
yahr 25

Just returned from the standard checkup at the Healer's Guild. According to my examiner, the mud we are forced to ingest all day long is responsible for a notable improvement in our health! Healer Johkin further informs us that they have discovered that the mushy soil samples are simply overflowing with nutrients AND a new form of phytoplankton which is easily digested as lean protein. We cannot starve, though such a dinner is no feast.

We expected fungal infections to appear by now, and so they have, inside our suits. Once exposed to the air (and mud), however, the rashes disappeared within hours. Johken theorizes that the local microbes have theurapeutic qualities. Yes, but what about the gnats & flies? We get no infections from them but they are certainly unpleasant enough!

The increased visibility has given us one last target. There are large seal-like creatures playing on a fallen great tree in the distance.

At last we have found the herd grazing on floating grass. The topology must not be as uniform as we first thought. These moos (so Skehppur has dubbed them, for the sounds they make) use "tunnels" made by "rivers" of fast flowing dark mush below the surface. The huge herbivores are not especially dangerous. Several of them are gentle enough to touch. Taking samples of the new materials.

Special note: Avoid the mother/calves! Skehppur spent most of the afternoon disengaging me from the mud mound a cow splashed up to my waist before diving to safety.

VIlee vaht

So now we know the cycle. monsoon, small drought, monsoon again. The mosquitos are back. yippee.

VIlee vahgahbree

Skehppur is looking into the possibilities of having the Age declared harmful based on its psychological effects. He says I am the better candidate because I was here first ....and looks hopeful every time my eyelids twitch!


VIlee nayvoo

Its become apparant that we could survive here indefinitely without ever being able to easily approve or disapprove the Age. Thankfully Skehppur has received a suggestion that may relieve us at last. His mentor remembers that there's a precedent for referring stable Ages of questionable worth for final review before the High Council.

Markil would back this recommendation, we feel sure. Lord K'lahbahn has been pressurring Rahno to set his son's Kor'fah V'ja, and he in turn, has been pressurring Markil to give him final assessment.



From Markil, Guildmaster of Maintainers
To: Rahno, Guildmaster of Writers
CC: High Council

official summary: Age of Mud

Honored Sirs:

We have completed our report. We find that the Age enclosed is stable and benign, but is not suitable for D'ni habitation. There are no flora or fauna that may be utilized save in small scale enterprises. Further, the continuing conditions will not permit structures based on any building code currently approved by council.

It is, however, possible that certain persons may wish to explore this unusual environment for recreational, health, or scientific purposes. I am therefore referring the final approval process to the High Council. They may find a guild or party who wishes to make use of it. The full report is enclosed.



Guildmaster Markil


From Lord K'lahban
To Rahno, Guildmaster of Writers



What is all this nonsense? You say my boy has written a stable Age. Why is it not approved? The engraver will seize my deposit if we do not have a date for his Korfah in two weeks!

Why should I have to find "an interested party" to have his Age sealed? This is most irregular. I shall have satisfaction. I demand Hu's accomplishment be recognized!


Lord K'lahbahn



From: Rahno, Guildmaster of Writers
To: Lord K'lahban


Lord K'labahn,

The High Council has chosen to approve Hu's work and is pleased to present you with your own family Age. You must be very proud that your son has filled your family's desire for a personal Age with his very first effort. Guildmaster Markil has personally volunteered to deliver Hu's freshly sealed Age to your very door and outline your new duties, privileges and land taxes.

We are given to understand that this Age is not only benign, but beneficial to visitors, we therefore recommend that you visit it at your earliest opportunity. Should you wish to build a cottage or other structure, be sure to consult the Guild of Maintainers first for a plan specially suited to the environment.

The graduating class will have their korfah v'ja at the end of term. Your son may take part if he wishes, however he must still complete all classes and exams in the coming years to be employed as a full guildsman.



Guildmaster Rahno


From: Lord K'lahbahn
To: The Guild of Healers

Honorable Sirs:

You will find enclosed the Age we discussed last week. I am told the maintainer's report details at length the many valuable resources available in my son's creation. You should ask for a copy. As you know, Hu's Age is a very healthful one, excellent for complexions and digestion. But sometimes it is wise to give up personal treasures for the common good. I have therefore removed our house seal.

I look forward to receiving your official acknowledgement of this generous donation by the earliest avaliable messenger, as I am to meet with my tax preparer in a few days. I trust you appreciate that there is a great deal of acreage in this gift.

Thank you.

Lord K'lahbahn