Issaries' First Trading Trip

Woodcut of Issaries

In the Darkness, Orlanth was outlawed and Ernalda was in hiding. Our clan did not have enough food and our Ancestors were hungry. Issaries travelled to each of our neighbours and asked if they could spare any food. Most clans had no food. Those clans that had food would not give any without something in return.

Issaries went around our clan and asked everyone to tell him of anything that they would give up for food. The first time he asked, many told him that they would go without their troubles or other nonsense. Later, he asked again when they were even more hungry, and then they offered real goods. Issaries tallied all of the offers and concluded that the clan had a surplus of cowhides.

Issaries asked for the blessing of the clan and then loaded many hides onto his mule. He carried many hides on his back too. Taking his staff, he set off to trade for food. The Darkness had worsened and the trail was difficult to see. His load was heavy. But Issaries could carry heavy loads and follow difficult paths and so he trudged on.

The trail went through a place where Humakt had not separated the living from the dead. Issaries came across a mob that had been killed in some fight. They surrounded him, all mutilated and empty looking. Those with arms tugged at him. Those with faces looked pleadingly at him. But the dead and the living cannot communicate; all Issaries could hear was a breathy puff that took the words from his mouth each time he tried to speak. In their frustration, they tried to block his way. But Issaries knew the path and went around them. Afterwards, Issaries wondered what power could silence even him.

Issaries arrived at the tula of Gustbran's clan. They exchanged the greeting and then he announced his intention to trade. He told them that they could make aprons from the cowhides to protect them from the sparks of their forge. He showed them how to hang the cowhides in the doorways to keep out the cold. They agreed to trade some of their armour for the cowhides that Issaries and his mule carried.

When Issaries reached the Not Hungry clan, he explained how the armour would help their weaponthanes defend the clan against the Gagarthi, who raided them for food. The weaponthanes liked the sound of this and so their chief asked his dishthane to negotiate with Issaries.

The dishthane offered Issaries some bronze plates. Issaries refused, as what use were plates when there was no food to put on them. Next, the dishthane offered a pair of silver drinking horns. Issaries refused, as where was the joy in drinking fine wine or good beer when wracked with the hunger pains. The dishthane offered gold coins and suggested that Issaries could say that he had been attacked and that all of the trade goods had been stolen. In this way, he could keep all of the gold coins to himself. Issaries was sorely tempted and, since then, some merchants have enriched themselves by stealing from their clan. But Issaries remembered his duty to the clan and resisted the temptations of Raw Greed. Again, he refused to trade the armour for anything but food. Finally, the dishthane agreed to exchange the armour for food.

A feast was held to celebrate the successful trade. During the feast, the Gagarthi attacked but were easily driven off by the weaponthanes in their new armour.

Issaries started his long trip home. The Gagarthi were hungry because they could not take food from the Not Hungry clan with their new armour. They knew that Issaries was travelling with just his mule and his staff, carrying food. But Issaries spotted the ambush and turned onto a different trail to escape them. On this trail home, he discovered that our neighbours had pots to trade. But that's another story.

At last, Issaries returned home to us with the food. And, for a time, it was as good as before Orlanth and Ernalda had to leave us.

Each clan has a different excess commodity and their version of the story is altered to incorporate this commodity instead of cowhides. The first clan that Issaries visits is often changed too, but the trading always ends at the Not Hungry clan. On the trail home, the storyteller names a commodity that he believes the listeners are interested in.

When Issaries Goldentongue worshipers gather, this is their signature story. Each merchant tells the story with many additional intermediate exchanges, boasting of their best trades.

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