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Sep 20, 2015

Izhiun's Quest

It should not have surprised me that Gohrlay got to meet Izhiun when he was on Earth. I wish I'd had the chance to talk to Izhiun after he deposited a swarm of infites in my brain. I'm still puzzled and intrigued by the contact that he had on Luk'ru with some remnants of the Kac'hin.

Izhiun was born on the planet Luk'ru which is located in the Andromeda galaxy. He was only briefly on Earth, helping to rescue his grandmother, Kach. He stayed on Earth just long enough to pass on to me a record of the life of Parthney, Izhiun's grandfather.

Like most people, Izhiun took for  granted the events of his own life. He mistakenly assume that nobody on Earth would care about what he had done on Luk'ru, so he never really explained his adventures on that planet. Language gets in the way. The people who he viewed as the "natives" of Luk'ru had their own tribes, culture and many languages. I can see those people in Izhiun's memory, but my infites have never allowed me to translate most of their words into a language that I understand.

Jeva
Gohrlay was amused that I've spent years wondering about the things that Izhiun might have heard from the tribes of Luk'ru. Taking pity on me, she recently provided me with the means to now efficiently translate six "missing" languages of Luk'ru into English. According to Gohrlay, they have only been "missing" because of a trick played on Izhiun by Jeva (see below).

Teminating Jeva's "trick" and giving me fuller access to the content of Izhiun's infites is a small experiment: we will find out if this constitutes a violation of the terms of the Trysta-Grean Pact.

According to Gohrlay, there are hundreds of languages spoken on Luk'ru, but these six were the ones that Izhiun had to speak during his search for the Kac'hin.

Map showing the part of Luk'ru traveled by Izhiun.
Izhiun grew up at Bosweina, the village perched on the side of a mountain where Izhiun's parents decided to make their home on Luk'ru. That home started as a landing craft from Many Sails, but through the years Boswei and Hana continually expanded their living space, adopting the architectural style of the nearby Zinty tribe.

By the time Izhiun began his quest and set out from home, a small village had grown up around the homestead of his family. Dozens of the tribes of Luk'ru had sent "ambassadors" to Bosweina where their families lived and slowly built up a small cosmopolitan town that had become an important trade depot by the time Izhiun left home. The closest native village to Bosweina was Zintzun, home of the Zinty. Hana had named her son "Izhiun" in honor of a resident of Zintzun who was named Izini jot hi zun, which roughly translates as "Teller of the future".

According to Gohrlay, when Hana was pregnant with Izhiun (as yet, still un-named), Izini told Hana that her new son would one day go on a great adventure, exploring Luk'ru. Many such little "prophecies" convinced Hana and Boswei that the people of Luk'ru retained some of the abilities of the Kac'hin such as being able to use the Bimanoid Interface.

Zhulf hi zol
As wonderful as their cognitive abilities were, the people of Luk'ru showed no interest in what we here on Earth would call "advanced technology". In order to account for their perfect health and lack of interest in food, Gohrlay hypothesizes that the tribal people of Luk'ru were "cared for" by nanites. Boswei had proposed an alternative theory: that they were not actually biological organisms, but rather, a form of artificial life composed of nanites. Gohrlay rejects that idea because the people of Luk'ru occasionally did die and, when needed to maintain the population, they could give birth to babies.

While growing up, Izhiun had often visited friends who lived in Zintzun. Izhiun learned the Zini language as a child and that was the one language of Luk'ru that I was able to translate upon receiving infites from Izhiun a couple of years ago. When Izhiun set out in search of the Kac'hin, it was natural for him to first pass through Zintzun.

One of Izhiun's friends in Zintzun was Zhulf hi zol ("Sing the stars"). Zhulf was what we on Earth might refer to as Izhiun's girl friend, although few people on Luk'ru thought in such terms. Izhiun and Zhulf had long made plans to go on a quest together, but they had different visions of the future and Izhiun's impending search of the Kac'hin. Gohrlay suspects that Zhulf knew exactly how to make contact with the Kac'hin, but did not want to tell Izhiun the truth. Zhulf wanted to travel and have a great adventure with Izhiun, but she was in love with Izhiun and feared that his quest would result in her losing him.

Oz danz
After Izhiun said goodbye to his father and left his home for the last time to begin his search for the Kac'hin, the first half of his adventure involved a long complex ceremony at the pyramids of Zintzun. Izhiun's stay in Zintzun lasted 23 days and featured a long debate between Hana and Izini about the nature of the Kac'hin (known to the natives as "The Ancients"). Hana and Izini both liked to split philosophical hairs and Hana was rather desperately trying to delay Izhiun and keep him near home. Finally, Izhiun and Zhulf set out from Zintzun, following along the river Zi towards Izhiun's next destination, the village of Wezzkarinin.

Izhiun had previously met Zhulf's cousin, Oz danz ("Next mother"), a resident of Wezzkarinin. Oz had the honorary title "Oz danz" because she was to be the next woman who would become pregnant. This was a big deal, and she was expected to devote full time effort to trying to predict when she would give birth and who the father would be.

Izhiun was never certain about the sex of Oz. As a child, when Ishiun was first introduced to sexual games by Zhulf, Oz was sometimes present in Zintzun and became one of Izhiun's sexual partners. Gohrlay suspects that when Ishiun was young and was in a state of blissful ignorance under the protective wing of Hana, he had no idea that half the population of Luk'ru were hermaphrodites. Izhiun later became part of an on-going conspiracy by which Zhulf protected Izhiun from ever realizing that he's had sex with a hermaphrodite.

The issue of identifying fathers on Luk'ru was tricky, because until the arrival of Boswei, there were no males. The people of Luk'ru were all either females or hermaphrodites. The hermaphrodites were almost anatomically identical to the females and nobody much cared who was a hermaphrodite most of the time. However, there were always circulating rumors and new prophesies of an impending pregnancy somewhere on Luk'ru. Most of these rumors were not taken very seriously and were enjoyed by the people as a kind of elaborate "guessing game". A favorite ploy was for someone to predict a pregnancy and announce the prophesy in a public ceremony as a formal way of proposing "marriage" to a new lover, although "marriage" is a human term that was not used on Luk'ru.

After the arrival of Boswei and Hana, there was considerable speculation about the possibility of inter-fertility between the new arrivals and the natives of Luk'ru. However, Gohrlay says that there was no chance of such cross-fertilization, despite the considerable experimentation with gamete exchanges that did take place. Love affairs and sexual behavior were major preoccupations and pass-times for the people of Luk'ru along with story telling, singing, the practice of complex rituals (which often involved dancing) and the crafting of decorative works of art which they collected in their homes and wore on their bodies.

Oulen cheneshere
Oz took seriously her role as an oracle and she insisted that Izhiun abandon his original plan (jointly developed with Zhulf) to simply follow the river Zi downstream all the way to the sea. After much argument and repeatedly dosing herself, Izhiun and Zhulf with hallucinogenic plant extracts, Oz convinced Izhiun to accompany her to the mountain enclave of Wazani, where Oz claimed he could learn the true path that his life should take.

During their rather long uphill walk to Wazani, Oz and Zhulf argued incessantly. Zhulf accused Oz of being jealous and trying to steal Izhiun away. Oz warned Izhiun that he should not trust Zhulf because she was unable to put aside her personal wants and desires and help guide Izhiun towards his proper path through life.

Wazani was located on a high mountain-side meadow and was the home of a famous hermaphrodite named Oulen cheneshere (translated: "Mighty 6743"), the 6743rd hermaphrodite of Luk'ru to have fathered a child.

Original art work by James Allen St. John
Wazani was one of the Stations of Life for the nomadic Ducam tribe and Mighty 6743 had traveled extensively across the entire continent over the course of thousands of years.

Years before, when Izhiun was just a baby, Mighty 6743 had know Hana well, but had finally fallen out of her good graces after insisting that Izhiun's great quest for contact with the Kac'hin would result in him departing from Luk'ru. Hana did not want to hear that her son would leave the planet, so she forbad Mighty 6743 from ever again visiting Bosweina.

Through the years, rumors that he would travel to the stars reached Izhiun. Izhiun was intrigued by the idea that he might be able to travel through outer space to other worlds. However, Zhulf had long been hoping that Izhiun would remain as a resident of Luk'ru.

The Ducam were renowned to be great herbalist, famous for brewing a hundred different types of potions and drugs. Oz, Zhulf and Izhiun spent nine days in Wazani on a drug-powered vision quest, trying to learn the truth about Izhiun's path through life. All of their visions indicated that Izhiun should travel to the east, into the Za river valley, but Zhulf insisted that she and Izhiun should first make their long-planned journey down the Zi valley to the coast.

Finally, after a long guided hallucination session with Mighty 6743, Zhulf could no longer deceive herself about Izhiun's destiny. Oz rather bluntly accused Zhulf of having intentionally lied for years about the portents in order to keep Izhiun from achieving his true quest. After a long and mournful leave-taking, Zhulf returned to Zintzun and Izhiun departed alone from Wazani and continued on down into the next valley to the east.

Kripf jot zi oung
In the village of Zaachil, Izhium met another hermaphrodite, Kripf jot zi oung (Master of the copper). Inside the High Pyramid of Zaachil, Kripf showed Izhiun an ancient book, imprinted on metal plates, that held his life's story, including a detailed description of his quest to find the Kac'hin and even an account Izhiun's impending journey to Earth.

Reading off of one metal page, Kripf informed Izhiun that he must make his way towards the city of Muzizu. Izhiun asked for details about his quest and his prophesied visit to Earth, but Kriph refused to translate any more of Izhiun's life story into Zini, telling him that it would cause a time paradox if Izhiun learned too much about his future.

In the company of Kripf, Izhiun set off again, now moving upstream along the Za river. They next reached the river village of Abzarok.

Jeva wy
Abzarok was a port for the aquatic and nomadic Mele'iswa tribe (roughly translates as "The Boat People"). There, Izhiun met a fellow traveler named Jeva wy ("Reads minds").

Jeva had a major impact on Izhiun's life and I now understand that the infites I received from Izhiun were heavily "curated" by Jeva. Below is an account of the brief time that Izhiun and Jeva shared together on Luk'ru.

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Jeva wy
After Kripf and Izhiun reached Abzarok, they spent several says participating in dance ceremonies. Izhiun was rather famous across much of Luk'ro, and for several years rumors had spread that Izhiun would visit Abzarok. Special dance ceremonies had been choreographed and the idea had grown up that Izhiun must be entertained and kept in Abzarok as long as possible.

After several days of wild dance parties, Izhiun was rather tired and sat on a dock blinking into the morning sun and eating his breakfast, a fish that he had just caught in the river. While Izhiun eats and chats with Kripf, a boat comes up the river and moors at one of the docks.

Jeva wy is a passenger on the boat that has just arrived in Abzarok. Without delay, Jeva exits from the boat and walks up to Izhiun and introduces herself, speaking in a mixture of river-pidgin and broken Zini, "Hello, Izhiun. I am ready to join your quest. I am Jeva wy."

Izhiun feels that somehow he already knows Jeva, although he is certain that they have never met. Izhiun remembers Zhulf's many stories about her relatives who lived in villages to the east of Zintzun. Speaking in Zini, he asks uncertainly, "Are you part of Zhulf's family?"

Jeva replies, now switching over entirely to Zini, "No, Zhulf and I are not closely related, although all we people of Luk'ru are the children of the Kac'hin. I'm from the far side of Luk'ru." She takes his hand, "Come, we can make a good start towards Muzizu before night falls.

 Kripf says goodbye to Izhiun and wishes him luck on his quest. "If you ever return this way, we can compare what is written in the book of your life to what actually happens to you."

As they walk out of town along the bank of the Za river, Jeva soon convinces Izhiun that she can read all of his thoughts and view his memories. She tells Izhiun that he is a fool to leave behind Zhulf and go off in search of the long-dead Kac'hin. "If you come to your senses, we can turn around at any time and go back to Zintzun."

In an alternate Reality.
Izhiun laments, "I am tempted to do just that. Each step away from her pains my heart. However, I have had strange visions...I must visit Muzizu and discover what awaits me there. Maybe I will return to Zhulf after a few weeks of questing."

Jeva, never having released his hand, teases him, "There are many women in your future. You will learn to live without Zhulf... you will love again."

Izhiun says, "Tell me my future. What have you seen?"

Jeva shakes her head. "I can't see the future, but I can read what is in your heart. You already know more about the future than you find it possible to believe." While they walk, Jeva recounts to Izhiun some of the key experiences from his life and explains the meaning of those events, meanings that Izhiun was often totally unaware of at the time.

When they make their camp for the night, Jeva watches with interest while Izhiun eats his supper. He asks her, "Are you eating right now?"

She laughs, "What a silly idea, although it must be true. Something must feed me all the time. Maybe we will learn answers to such mysteries in Muzizu. I've come from the other side of the planet to find you and visit the Ancients."

"But you and everyone on Luk'ru agree about the Ancients, that they are long dead."

Jeava asks, "How do you know what is true and what is fable?"

Izhiun grows uncomfortable under her constant attention. "Tell me the truth." He asks her, "Are you female or an hermaphrodite?"

She laughs and replies, "I could give you either answer! How do you know what is true and what is fable?"

Izhiun says, "I'm a male-"

Jeva interrupts him: "I know. I've come half way around this world to be with you. To join with you."

Izhiun complains, "I don't think I want to...be with an hermaphrodite."

Jeva chastises him, "How do you know until you experiment? You might enjoy having an hermaphrodite for a lover. Or as a second mind."

"I know myself. I like females."

"Really, what difference does it make? Female, hermaphrodite...even male. None. No difference... we are all people. Anyhow, I can see it in you memories. You've already made love to an hermaphrodite...you did not even notice that she had been misrepresented as female."

Shocked and a bit repulsed by the revelation, Izhiun asked, "Who was it?"

"What difference does it make?"

"Looking in my memories, how do you know that one of my lovers was an hermaphrodite?"

"I've been all through your mind and heard conversations that others had while near you, using languages that you did not understand. With their words as a hint it is easy enough for me to see the verifying clues in your mind. Were I an hermaphrodite, I could fool you just as easily as you were fooled before."

"So, you are not an hermaphrodite?"

"What difference would it make if I were?"

Tired of verbally sparing with Jeva and tired from a long day of walking, Izhiun builds up a big fire and beds down for the night. Jeva, in awe of his need to eat, drink and use fire for warmth, lies down beside him. She asks, "What is it like to be cold?"

He replies with a question, "Can't you see that in my mind?"

"I can see it, but I can't feel it."

"After a long night on the ground, cold is a pain."

"Yes, I see that...it is a pain like the pain you are feeling for your loss of Zhulf. We of Luk'ru are lucky...we have very little pain in out lives."

Izhiun asks, "How is it that you can read minds?"

Jeva is silent for a long time. As the fire dies, she can sense that Izhiun is beginning to feel the chill of the night air. She rolls over into his arms. "Normally I need to touch people in order to dig into their memories, but ever since you were born I have been able to see into your mind. Even before you were born. I came all the way around Luk'ru to find you. Now that I have touched you, I know that your mind is a fire. When we stop touching I grow cold."

Puzzled, Izhiun speculates. "Somehow this planet knew that I would come into existence...be born on this world. Everything has been arranged to send me on this quest, to direct me to Muzizu. Something linked my mind to yours."

Jeva agrees, "Yes, this was all anticipated by the Ancients. They knew the time would come when Luk'ru would have to send an...emissary to Earth. Somehow I am needed for that great mission to Earth."

"But you do not know what your role will be?"

"I can see part of it by reading what you saw on the metal plates of Zaachil. I think I am destined to merge with you, to place my mind inside you."

Not entirely surprised by that idea, for a while Izhiun thought about the implications of his entire life having been foreseen. He wondered out loud, "What would happen to you, your body, if you placed your mind in my body?" He left unspoken an additional question: And what would happen to me?

"We of Luk'ru seldom die. One cause of death is when a body loses its mind. My body will die when I send my mind into your body. You're mind will be safe. I will ride in your body like a passenger on a boat."

"Why? For what purpose?"

"You will discover the reason. At some point in your future you will be near another body, a host for my mind, and at that moment my mind will cross over into that other body."

"When? Who will be  the owner of that body?"

"I do not know answers to your questions. We will have to discover the answers together."

"When will it happen? When will you move inside me?"

"All day since we met I've tried, but I don't know how to do it. The Ancients will know."

Izhiun did not bother to speak: But aren't the Ancients all dead?

"Yes, but they still remember. You should not fear death. The Ancients now continue to exist as artificial life forms. They will merge us then we will go to Earth."

The Ancient
After two more long days of walking Izhiun and Jeva reached the city of Muzizu, high above the headwaters of the Za river. It was growing dark, but Izhiun could see a large fire burning. Jeva said, "An Ancient is waiting for us."

Out before them, as though emerging from a shadow, another voice spoke in the Zini language, "Come join me by the fire." Then just as suddenly, the Ancient could be seen. She turned and led the way into the common space between a set of teepees at the edge of the city.

With a king of melting motion the Ancient settled on the ground next to the fire and gestured to some waiting food. "I have food for you, dear Izhiun."

Izhiun sat on a log and began to eat. Jeva stood next to the Ancient and asked, "May I touch you?" The Ancient nodded and allowed Jeva to place her hands against the skin of the Ancient. After a moment, Jeva turned and sat down next to Izhiun. "I can't read the thoughts of the Ancient."

The Ancient laughed and explained. "It would not be wise to let you see into your own future."

Jeva asked, "But you can see our thoughts?"

The Ancient explained, "I am your thoughts. I took this physical form to provide you with a familiar target for our communications." The Ancient flickered and winked out, but her "voice" continued to enter into the minds of Jeva and Izhiun, "Or would you prefer that I communicate in this fashion?"

Izhiun replied, "Jeva might not care, but for my benefit, please remain with me as a physical entity."

The body of the Ancient re-appeared beside the fire. Speaking to Izhiun, the Ancient said, "Yes, Jeva is a special case. Tomorrow we will pull her mind out of its shell and place her into your shell. Then you will be ready to go to Earth."

As the last light of day left the rim of the sky, the Ancient's body seemed to glow with a faint inner light. Izhiun asked, "Every one seems to know that I must go to Earth. However, I am not convinced. From what my mother says of Earth, I wonder why anyone would want to go to that world."

The Ancient gave a gentle shrug of the shoulders. "You grandmother eagerly went to Earth."

Izhiun asked with surprise, "Kach? Kach is on Earth?"

The Ancient's head slowly shook from side to side. "No, she is held prisoner on Earth's Moon."

"Prison? What prison?"

"There is much for you to learn. First, the mind merging. Then you will be off among the stars. The journey to Earth will be a convenient time for you to learn about the fate of Kach and how you can rescue her and send her back to Parthney." The Ancient quietly faded away like a wisp of camp fire smoke. The Ancient's voice said, "The mountain nights of High Muzizu are very cold, Izhiun. Use the teepee that is behind you."

Izhiun satisfied his hunger then walked hand-in-hand with Jeva into the teepee where they spent the last night of her existence together.

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Image credits. The images depicting the residents of Lok'ru that are shown in the blog post, above, were made using artwork from the game Colonization. See the RaR mod.
Artwork from the computer game Colonization. See the RaR mod.
Next: exploring the origins of the human species.

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