More Than One Moon in the Sky

Text of the Marker: Astronomers of Sem/ehகுvren

Astronomers of Sem/ehகுvren

A generation of generations ago, in the parallel universe known as Kcymaerxthaere, the shapes you see here would have represented just one small part of an vast landscape of forms stretching out in every direction, even a bit past what we call the Wind River. This arrangement served as both stretching out in every direction, even a bit past what we call the Wind River. This arrangement served as both astronomical archive and cosmological observatory and it was known as Sem/ehகுvren—A Journal of Heavens.

Key to the astronomical community stewarding this archipelago of records were people of Saqhaelin descent—famous for vision so sharp they had to close their eyes to see as badly as we do. Indeed, with the naked eye, the Saqhaelin could easily see all the moons of Jupiter—and used those moons to keep time. Familiarity with the inner moons—with their faster orbits—was considered critical to any Saqhaelin kitchen.

In fact, the moon we call Adrastea is particularly favored by chefs: not only is the time Adrastea takes to complete a transit of Jupiter just right for roasting a medium-size game bird like a Hemit [≈14 pound, at low temperature], it also crosses the Great Red Spot at a pace perfect for baking a tray of the local dessert, ek arve [pronounced zhek zharve]—kind of like a streckle-nut brownie. On the other hand, the so-called Galilean moons are best for scheduling at the time scale of one of our weeks.

The astronomers were important to other area cultures as well. Uruss Kush (we call it Themisto), a Jovian moon with an orbit of almost 130 linear Earth days, was a reliable benchmark for the nomadic warriors known as the Urushiol. Once per orbit, as required for their cultural ceremonies, they would gather at a different hot springs in their territories. As a result, the Urushiol were quite protective of Sem eh vren— good fortune for those tending it. Even Nobunaga-Gaisen, when sending Minotsuna Tano's elite forces through the Umbrasphaere to encircle the Urushiol at the Battle of the Platte, was careful to respect the astronomers' neutral status.

The Urushiol were tough, sometimes brutal, people. Urushiol men and women alike were famous for the elaborate tattoo—like designs made via scarrification. They used an extract of gallaatan, a poisonous plant far, far more virulent than poison oak (its name means to "inscribe with fire"). That intensity offers the artisan remarkable precision of drawing at the cost of searing pain to the warrior. The ring of both bride and groom are inscribed this same way—a fact which itself inspired fear in their enemies.

In battle—and all travels for that matter, they rode Woolly Mammoths, Short-faced Bears, Miracinonyx, and, naturally, at the head, their chiefs rode Nayn Jingkats, the most literate of the saber-tooth tigers. Though Ventreven's armies defeated them decisively, many scholars believe the Urushiol might well have prevailed were it not for the confusion resulting from their native language of False Cognate. In any event, Ventreven was magnanimous in victory and the Urushiol were honorable in defeat, a fact with a major impact for all the Kymaericas many generations later.