The Scroll of Suratican

The Scroll of Suratican

by Vincent James


Publisher Austin Macauley Publishers

Published in Science Fiction & Fantasy/Fantasy, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction

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Book Description

Two young travelers from different primitive cultures living upon an undefined planet meet on a journey to Suratican, the mountaintop domain believed to be the home of a mysterious society whose leader has the power to provide answers to questions that burn within them.

Beyond the gates they discover a futuristic world and return home with knowledge that shakes their primitive societies to the core. They unearth shocking evidence of their prehistoric past and develop a deep friendship, all under the watchful eye of Suratican whose true nature is only revealed when they look to the heavens.

Sample Chapter

Garek Crazimante, a young member of the Fincalistan tribe, is unaware of the future he will set in motion when he meets, befriends, and shares an extraordinary journey with Morglisec of the Banishanti. In Fincalistan society, befriending strangers is an omen of good fortune. For the Banishanti, however, it may open a path to unknown and unpredictable cultural disturbances, risking the wrath of the Chief Zincala, their tribal leader who is not one to welcome strangers from unfamiliar groups into their midst.

Garek is different from his fellow tribesman. His stature, appearance, and natural curiosity are unique among the Fincalistan. He is tall, half again the height of the average Fincalistan, and his distorted features are the bane of many and the envy of few. Garek’s face bears the scars of a difficult birth. His head is elongated with close-set eyes and ears pressed close against the sides. The skin covering Garek’s head is stretched thinner than most, exposing the pulsing veins beneath his forehead and temples. The only saving grace is his thick brown hair that he keeps long to cover as much of his affliction as possible. Unlike most young Fincalistan men, Garek often wears a long hooded robe that extends to the ground, a misguided attempt to hide his disfigurement from disdainful eyes.

The taunting and deriding comments Garek endured as a child made life difficult for him. But with the unwavering love and support of his large family, he no longer considers his condition one to be ashamed of, and often feels special due to the attention it brings him. Few Fincalistan can say the same. Unlike his fellow tribesmen who are content with their lives in the valley of Mervemar, Garek feels restless, and his curiosity can no longer be satisfied within its confines. Working on his family’s farm, swimming in the valley’s rivers and lakes, exploring the thick, green forest and fields of wildflowers is no longer enough for him. He wants to see and experience what lies beyond the only world he’s ever known.

Garek embarks upon a pilgrimage to Suratican, a strange and mysterious place on the island of Ashantic. He seeks enlightenment and the chance to meet with the Grand Vizeer who dwells within its walls. Some Fincalistan, Garek among them, believe the Grand Vizeer has a direct link to the one god most revered by their culture, Platisco.

He sails aboard a wind-driven ship to the island, a journey that requires three weeks to complete. He brings little food, and the simple clothing he wears does little to protect him against the damp sea air. The ship arrives in late evening at the island’s only port, the small village of Pantic. With the captain’s permission, Garek remains on board for the night, too tired and with too little money to look for another place to sleep.

The next morning Garek joins a small caravan traveling the long road to Suratican. It consists of ten carts, each pulled by a team of male Oomas. Some carts carry only two passengers, while others are occupied by as many as six. Some carry a single family; others provide passage to individual travelers, often from different lands. The caravan plans to stop at several points along the route, dropping off most of its passengers in villages and sites of interest along the way. Garek and one fellow traveler are alone in the lead cart. He is unaware that they are the only passengers continuing all the way to Suratican.

The train of wooden carts leaves Pantic just as the light of day is breaking. Along with the chill, heavy clouds hover over the distant landscape in the direction of Suratican, sitting atop the highest mountain on the island. This is not a good sign as most of the carts are unprotected. For those willing to pay a little extra, loose fabric coverings tied down at the sides are provided on a few of the carts. However, this meagre protection will prove of little value if the weather becomes windy and wet.

Garek stands out among his fellow travelers, as he does most places. Not long after the caravan leaves Pantic, he takes an interest in the short, well-dressed tribesman sitting across from him whose face is buried in a large animal-skin-bound book with strange symbols on the cover. The young man appears older than Garek and seems more interested in reading than appreciating the beauty of the landscape through which they are traveling. Garek suspects the symbols represent something mystical, not an unusual assumption considering the destination to which they journey.

A friendly sort, Garek taps the tribesman on the knee to get his attention. “Excuse me, my friend. I couldn’t help but notice the book you are reading. May I inquire as to what it is?”

The little man lifts his gaze, his eyes widening when he sees the tall, strange-looking traveler addressing him. Even when Garek is sitting, he towers above all in his presence. The man eyes Garek up and down, then buries his face in the book again and mumbles a few words that Garek can neither hear nor understand. Not one to give up easily, Garek taps his traveling companion on the knee once more and repeats the question. The diminutive young man raises his head, closes the book, and stares Garek in the eye.

“I said it is a book of mysticism important to my people. Is there anything else?”

Garek, not understanding the sarcasm in his voice, continues. “My name is Garek; I am a Fincalistan. And what may I ask is your name?”

“Apparently, you are intent upon imposing yourself,” the fellow traveler responds. “If I tell you, will that be the end of it? I will appreciate being allowed to return to my reading.”

“I’m sorry, my friend. I thought since the journey will be long, time would pass more quickly with some conversation and sharing of stories. I didn’t mean to impose.”

“My name is Morglisec, Morglisec of the Banishanti. I’m traveling to meet with the Grand Vizeer at Suratican, hoping his wisdom will help me better understand some of the symbolism in this book that define the laws by which our village must live. The interpretations I’ve been given by the leaders of my village do not sit well with me. What is your purpose in going on this pilgrimage?”

“I have no specific purpose. I want to meet the Grand Vizeer whom I’ve been told has a direct link to our most important god, Platisco. I’m not a religious person, but at this stage of my life I thought it would be wise to explore all areas of existence beyond what I’ve experienced.”

Garek notes a change in his cart-mate’s demeanor, appearing to take an interest in the thoughts he is expressing.

“Are you familiar with this island?” asks Morglisec. “It has some strange and wonderful things that do not exist anywhere else on this world.”

“No, I’m not,” replies Garek. “What sort of strange and wonderful things?”

“Well, we will soon pass a grove of small trees unlike any other. They have a unique relationship with an unusual animal, one living among them for most of its life. When the female becomes fertile and mates, she deposits her fertilized eggs into a special sac hanging from a branch of the tree. The sac then closes and remains so for six moons before opening again. During this period, the tree provides all the nourishment and fluids the growing embryo within the sac requires as it continues to mature. When the time of birth arrives, magically, the sac opens and the newborn emerges. How the animal and tree developed this relationship is completely unknown, and no other such relationship exists of which I am aware.”

Morglisec, leaning closer to Garek, continues. “If that isn’t unusual enough, when the baby is ready to leave the sac, the mother instinctively knows and returns for its ‘birth’. Amazing, isn’t it? But there is more to this strange relationship.”

With eyes wide and mouth agape, Garek hunches closer as Morglisec continues. “After maturing, the offspring spends its entire life nearby. When sensing the end is at hand, it returns to the same tree from which it sprang, taking its last breath beneath the canopy of branches and leaves.”

Garek ponders Morglisec’s words for a few minutes. Then he says, “That is unbelievable, but the look in your eyes tells me you are a truthful man, and I believe you. I hope when we pass the grove you will point out one of the sacs, assuming it has an unborn animal within. Are there any other things unique to this island?”

“Well, let me see,” responds Morglisec.

He stares into the distance, deep in thought. “Ah, yes. This island is an extinct volcano, at least it is thought to be extinct. Since this land is quite distant from any large populated area, it may explain why several of the natural inhabitants existing here are thought to have evolved more rapidly on the evolutionary time scale. Some of what exists on Ashantic may give a glimpse into the future of our world. However, very few believe anything here is actually from the future, a rather bizarre idea that no enlightened person takes seriously.

“Stories have been written about long-extinct species found to still exist on this island, but these are just unfounded tales with no basis in fact. We all like to believe them, and many do, as they sit comfortably in the mind. In truth, they are more to entertain than to inform. To some, anything is possible, at least here on Ashantic.”

“Morglisec, I am humbled by your knowledge. I know nothing of such stories to contribute to our conversation.”

“Don’t worry, Garek. Being a man of books, I spend a lot of time reading and chasing down stories, some true and some not. That is the reason for my trip. I have no doubt your own history includes many interesting experiences that, from my point of view, would be unusual and noteworthy. Our journey will be long. You will have plenty of time to think of stories that will entertain and enlighten me. In the meantime, let’s eat something; I am in need of satisfying my large appetite. If you like, we can share our food, a good way to learn more of each other’s culture.”

Garek and Morglisec open their sacks and take out a variety of foods, some appearing somewhat strange to the other. But share they do and a long and eventful friendship begins. The caravan soon comes to the first stop on its route, the village of Sangornia. Three carts let off their passengers, turn around, and head back to Pantic. The rest start up again and continue on their journey to Suratican.

“What do you know of the Grand Vizeer?” inquires Morglisec.

“I’ve heard tales describing his ability to converse with all the gods of this world, face to face,” responds Garek. “It is said that he flies up to their domain on a strange creature that is large enough to carry a man and can fly for days without rest. No one I’ve encountered has first-hand knowledge of this creature, but they refer to it by the same name, Trimaglidor.

“Some believe the Grand Vizeer controls them and thus they never wander outside the confines of his domain upon the mountain. Others believe the Grand Vizeer can fly to the gods by himself without any need for a winged creature.”

“I have read many stories about Suratican and the Grand Vizeer,” offers Morglisec. “I have my own theory. If the implications are true that some living things evolve more rapidly on Ashantic than elsewhere, then perhaps he descends from an unknown society far ahead of us, and whose origins are shaded in mystery and myth. Unfortunately, there is little in the way of hard facts about him or the culture from which he descends.

“They appear to maintain a closed society. Neither their physical appearance nor their social structure is known to anyone of my acquaintance beyond the gates of Suratican. Many describe the Grand Vizeer as an all-knowing visionary, but no one has proven to have had an audience with him, at least not among the Banishanti or the tribes that tell of him. I have set upon this pilgrimage as a leap of faith, not unusual for a culture like ours whose first-hand knowledge of the world does not extend far beyond our tribal roots.”

As the caravan slowly moves toward Suratican, Morglisec tells Garek about himself.

“When I’m not helping on my family’s farm, I spend most of my time reading and exploring the natural world around my village. Although I’m small in stature, the shortest in my family, my outsize curiosity drives me to learn about and understanding the nature of all things.”

He goes on to describe his family, how the people of his tribe live, and the valley in which his village lies. Most importantly, he tells Garek about the village leaders and the rules they impose in guiding his culture.

“Banishanti society is rigidly structured with little room to move beyond the controlling principles set forth by them. I don’t accept some of the rules imposed upon us, especially those based upon rigid interpretations of the Banishanti book of symbols, known as The Hylx. That is the reason I’m taking this arduous journey to meet with the Grand Vizeer.

“The Hylx has always been the historic basis of Banishanti society, handed down from generation to generation. Its origin is lost to history. No one knows who created the symbols, or who defined them and set down their meanings. Their power within the tribe, however, is unquestionable as far as the leaders of our culture are concerned.

“Garek, our society has many legends we believe in and take on faith. Not a religious faith, but a belief in the truthfulness of our ancestors who passed them down from the earliest times. Most come in stories told by fathers to their children. Storytelling is a major force in connecting those living today with ancestors who passed before us. I will relate a few as we continue on our journey, but first you must tell me of the Fincalistan.”

Garek is completely captivated by his new friend, by the ease of his conversation, and the knowledge of his people and their history. It makes him feel inadequate, particularly since most of the time Garek lives in the here and now and is not much of an historian. How can he relate what he has never learned or thought about, the early basis of his culture’s development? He is compelled, however, to offer Morglisec at least some information about his life and family.

“I live in a valley deep within the land of Mervemar. It is a beautiful place filled with lakes, rivers, and abundant wildlife. They provide us with food, skins for clothing, and in some cases, medicinal ingredients. I am one of twelve brothers and sisters, but none are as misshapen as I am. I’m half again as tall as the average Fincalistan that of course, makes me an object of curiosity and ridicule.

“I do not have a family of my own, as you can imagine. Who would want to be my mate when I look like this? I’m comfortable with who I am though. In fact, I now look upon it as an advantage rather than a curse. For one thing, it is easy to separate true friends from the pretenders, something many Fincalistan cannot easily do. I also find that my appearance scares off would-be foes who hesitate to engage me.”

A wave of sadness comes over Morglisec as he listens to Garek describe the impact his affliction has had upon his life.

“The Fincalistan live in family groups with no strong central overseers. There is a family council on which all family groups are represented. Every year the members select thirteen from the family council to become the Council of Elders, temporary leaders with the responsibility to make certain everything runs smoothly on the council and in the village. They meet once every new moon to discuss and decide on issues raised by the Council of Elders or family council members.

“The Fincalistan have no list of rules that must be followed, allowing each family group to decide its own guiding principles. As long as they don’t interfere with other family groups, it is of no one else’s concern. Our tribe believes in many gods. Some control the land, the sky, and the water. Others protect our people from worldly things we fear or do not understand.”

“Garek, the Fincalistan are so different from the Banishanti,” says Morglisec. “My village would benefit from knowing of your culture.”

Garek continues. “Our main god is Platisco. Whereas each god has only one responsibility, Platisco is overseer of all the gods. He is the main reason I have come on this journey. I believe, based upon tales from strangers passing through our village, that the Grand Vizeer has a direct link to Platisco. I am here to learn how he became our most powerful god. Many whom I’ve spoken to about my journey told me not to go; that I should just accept what we have always believed. I am curious though, so I decided to ignore their advice and take this journey.”

The two travelers continue talking, unaware the sky has become threatening and the winds blow stronger as the caravan reaches the foothills leading up to Suratican. Fortunately, Garek and Morglisec are in a cart possessing a fabric cloth cover. A wooden frame made from saplings of the kakuba tree is available to support the cover. Passengers in carts with similar coverings are unfurling them, providing a small measure of protection against the wind and impending rain. Garek and Morglisec quickly do the same.

The caravan makes a second stop in the village of Tzixaxco, a small, neatly laid out community. Dwellings sit upon the ground and in large trees surrounding the hamlet. Their thick trunks, low-spreading branches, and dense foliage give the necessary support to assure the dwellings built upon them are safe and secure. Three carts drop off their passengers, turn around, and head back to where their journey began.

The mountain they travel to is shrouded in a mist-filled cloud, lending an aura of mysticism to their destination. Suratican’s mountaintop location gives one the impression of a gateway to the gods on high. Staring into the distance, Garek’s sense of excitement is growing deep within him. He is confident that he made the right decision in coming here.


Excerpted from "The Scroll of Suratican" by Vincent James. Copyright © 2016 by Vincent James. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Vincent James

Vincent James

Norman Brown, who writes under the pen name Vincent James, is a U.S. citizen born in New York City and currently residing in the Los Angeles area of Southern California. He began writing this manuscript shortly after his retirement from the aerospace industry. He has always loved the power and beauty of words and the emotions they are able to convey. This is the first opportunity for him to use them in a fictional setting. The author’s six young grandchildren inspired the choice of subject and genre for his first manuscript.

View full Profile of Vincent James

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