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Saturday, April 26, 2014

X is for: Xorsecc (#AtoZchallenge)

This was actually a place (with a name) before I started the Challenge. It’s the ancient town in Water and Chaos.

Xorsecc is one of the larger settlements (these days, calling it a “city” is stretching) on the Spine of the World, a chain of long mountainous islands in the Western Sea. The narrow passages between the islands are logical spots for a town, and Xorsecc is situated just south of the northernmost passage; this passage is the most direct route from Port Joy to the Archipelago (a chain of islands farther south and west). Mik’s first impression of Xorsecc is recorded in Water and Chaos:

Mik looked around the town. Everything about it said old. The stone buildings seemed to shrink into the hillsides, or sag with exhaustion. Clumps of grass grew here and there, but Mik saw no trees. The streets were flagstone, kept up as well as any street in Exidy or even Queensport.

The name is a holdover from the most ancient of Termag’s languages. The X is pronounced with a tongue click, and the cc at the end with a throat click. These sounds are not present in modern Western, and so Mik can only approximate the pronunciation as “Chakorsect.”

The Spine is perhaps the longest continuously settled part of Termag. Like everywhere else, it was hit hard in The Madness, but (as in the Alliance cities) the survivors were able to keep order. Even then, the people were at least partially Westernized. Only vestiges of the ancient tongues spoken there, or native cultural practices, remain. There is no central government on the Spine; each town manages its own affairs. Freeholder farms may or may not be under the jurisdiction of a particular town.

The Spine has no trees (mostly grass, reeds, and scrub). However, they mine a black rock called firestone that burns hotter than wood. The smoke ruins food, so they cook on top of their fireboxes.

The steep hillsides are suitable for raising goats; crops cover what flat spaces there may be. Even without trees, the denizens of the Spine build small boats; they are usually wicker frames with oilcloth or goatskins stretched over them. Others are essentially large copper bowls, and a few are even made of glass. These little coracles are the foundation of the Spine’s fishing fleet.

Xorsecc’s residents earn their living by fishing, farming, making minor repairs to passing ships, and renting houses to travelers. There are more houses than people in town, so property is cheap to either rent or purchase. Raiders and the like often have houses in Xorsecc, either as convenient quarters between jobs or as hideouts. There is little love lost between the permanent residents and these temporary denizens.

Next: Y is for: Yes (ways to say it)


  1. Oh suuuuuure, you just conveniently named a place with an X word before the challenge started. ;)

  2. Screw Westeros for a moment, this place sounds cool with the details provided! And blessed be the word mountain for it reminded me of an unfinished story! Ha!

  3. Patricia, it's true, honest! I released Water and Chaos in July last year. Mik can tell you which vendor sells the best smoked goat around the harbor, too. ;-)

    Wow, Cindy, that's high praise indeed! Glad to hear I helped you out there, too…

  4. It sound like its a place for the hardy! ^_^

  5. This is a vivid description, and sounds like a wonderful place to explore. Pointing out the pronunciation of X really adds to the feel.

  6. I remember that description! Also, glass boats?

  7. Helen, it is.

    Thanks, David!

    Sonia, glass boats are uncommon in Xorsecc, but they do exist. They use firestone to melt sand, then pour it into a stone mold (actually, a depression in the rock). They pour out the molten glass in a spiral pattern, so it holds its shape. Then when it cools, they cover the outside with goatskin to cushion it from rocks.


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