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The Pathfinder Tribes of Nrge Land – Dr. Vince Kaminski

The origins of the Pathfinders tribes of the Nrge Land are shrouded in mystery.  A growing body of academic literature seems to support the hypothesis that at least some of them are refugees from the Econ land [1], escaping subsistence wages, poor working conditions and oppression under the rule of the tribal elders. Like ancient Cossacks, fleeing their Polish and Russian feudal overlords, and trekking through the Wild Fields into the Sich, the Pathfinders abandoned their settlements known as dept’s and made a journey, facing many perils and deprivations, to the Land of Nrge. Many of them perished during this hazardous expedition and were never heard of. On arrival, the refugees make a pledge of fealty to two dominant tribes of the Nrge Land: the hunter-gatherers and warriors, who promise in return to feed and protect them. From the safety of their fortified villages, known as flr’s, they tease their old masters: “If you think you are really smart, try to match our deeds and succeed in this treacherous and perilous place.” They do it, however, at their own risk, because some hunter-gatherers and warriors are very cruel and inclined not only to abuse the newly arrived Pathfinders but also to act on the spur of the moment. Sometimes they expel the Pathfinders back to their depts. On return, the failed Pathfinders are likely to suffer many humiliations before their elopement is forgotten.

The theory that the Pathfinders (or their core group) originated in the Land of Econ (and also other lands, such as Math and Phys) is supported by additional findings that the social status of Pathfinders and the amount of food they get is dependent on their ability to manufacture certain artifacts, generally considered to be useless (except for use during certain tribal festivities called cnfrnc’s), known as mdl’s [2].  Making mdl’s requires years of experience, because some mdl’s are considered superior to other mdl’s, though nobody really knows what the criteria for comparison are. The lack of any apparent practical usefulness of the mdl’s is not an impediment to their wide proliferation.  The Pathfinders successfully convinced powerful priests, known as the Guardians of the Treasure (also called, in the street jargon, risk managers) that the mdl’s are required under the tribal customs and laws. The priests are too old to ask too many questions, and some of them are blind and deaf anyway, so it is not difficult to convince them of anything.

On arrival in the Land  of Nrge, the Pathfinders separated over time into two distinct tribes, known as qnt’s and fnd’s, with two different totems, displayed below. The representations of these totems, made of sticks and feathers, are carried across the flr’s by the most respected Pathfinders during the tribal ceremonies, when the rest of the tribe engages in incantations: “Behold, the Truth and Power of the Mdl’.”  The qnt’s specialize in making mdl’s which are described and explained in special parchments covered with ancient runes (see below in Figure II). Unfortunately, the ancient art of writing and reading runes has been greatly neglected in our part of the world and it becomes increasingly difficult to find people with the depth of knowledge reached under  our Forefathers.  The Land of Nrge has to bring people with deep knowledge of the runes from the lands of the Orient (I was one of them, in the interest of full disclosure), where such skills are still highly respected and cultivated. They don’t know too much, however, about farming and mining in our fair lands, but they compensate for it by making even more mdl’s and producing more parchments. It creates the need to bring even more of them, to interpret and copy a rapidly growing volume of parchments.

Figure I. The Totems of Fnd’s (left) and Qnt’s (click image to enlarge)

The origins of the art of mdl’ building is a controversial subject among the historians and anthropologists. According to some most respected researchers, the early mdl’s were primitive devices, similar to divining rods, used in search for water and edible roots. Over time, the mdl’s evolved into coded directions to the secret sites where treasures are buried. From time to time, the flr’s send expeditions to find the treasures and dig deep holes at the locations pointed out by the Pathfinders. No treasures are usually found and the Pathfinders claim that either the configuration of the terrain has changed since the mdl’s were made (they call it a regime shift) or the holes were not deep enough. Instead of covering the holes with dirt, the expeditions move on to the new excavation sites, and leave the task of filling the holes to the tribal councils. Some skeptics express doubts that any treasures were buried at all and random digging of holes is a fool’s errand, and the only way to get rich is to become an efficient miner or farmer, and perhaps an honest merchant. Such reckless statements, however, only put their reputation at risk. The entire flr’s rise in indignation in defense of the sacred rights to dig holes. “Our Forefathers risked their lives and property to establish the freedom of hole-digging and we shall continue in this business.” The warriors hire the wisest members of the College of the Wizards who prove that hole-digging is part of sacred cultural heritage of the Nrge Land and of other lands in the same part of the world. Digging holes makes the miners and farmers more efficient and should the warriors stop digging holes it would have catastrophic consequences for all the kingdoms ruled by the warrior castes. In any case, this point is moot, because the warriors across all the lands figured out that if they dig up holes deep enough, the tribal councils will have no choice but to fill the holes and charge the miners and farmers for the trouble.

The fnd’s produce mdl’s which don’t require profound knowledge of the runes (with some notable exceptions). Instead, they cover the parchments with pictures, long tables filled with numbers, and many arrows pointing in random directions (See Figure III). Every day they bring the parchments humbly to the central hall of the flr where the upper castes gather for the morning council, and show the parchments   to the warriors and hunter gatherers. Unfortunately, the hunter gatherers and the warriors suffer from strong headaches in the mornings and become very impatient. They ask for a three minute summary of parchments and get very angry when they cannot grasp the meaning of the pictures quickly enough. The warriors on some occasions run to the perimeter of the flr and start shooting arrows in different directions in order to reduce the stress. One of the most respected groups of the fnd’s, known as the Watchers of the Storms, has the task of going every morning to the ramparts of the flr to find out about the  weather outside. When they come back they report back to the warriors and tell them that the weather is going to change anyway. Sometimes, this information drives the warriors into the state of panicked frenzy and they run outside to shoot even more arrows. On some occasions, they hit some warriors and hunter gatherers from the same and other tribes.   A few days later, the Guardians of the Treasure arrive to investigate the incident but all they can do it is pick up and count the arrows.       

Figure II. The Parchment of the Qnt’s: A Sample (click image to enlarge)

As mentioned above, the Pathfinders occupy a lower position in the social hierarchy of the Land of Nrge. Their role in society can be best described by explaining the services they render to the dominant tribes in return for food, shelter and protection. It is important to realize, that the hunters and gatherers don’t do much of hunting and gathering any longer. As a matter of fact, they even do much less sharing. They prefer to invite hunters and gatherers from other tribes to sumptuous feasts, which are followed by ritual dances performed by the most beautiful virgins of the Land of Nrge [4].  Such feasts are very expensive not only because the food has to be bought from other hunters and gatherers, but also because many virgins marry the hunter gatherers and, occasionally, even warriors. The shrinking pool of virgins represents one of the most serious threats to the future prosperity   of the Nrge Land and is seen by some wise men as the source of the systemic instability of the entire economic system of the Land. The feasts are justified by the hope of buying things from some other tribes at low prices or selling things to other tribes at high prices. Because other tribes have the same aspirations, a lot of buying and selling takes place all the time, with a sack of potatoes often changing hands twenty or more times. Every time it is exchanged, a sack of potatoes shrinks a bit. Some hunter-gatherers and warriors claim that they will not stop till every sack is exchanged on average one hundred times and becomes so small it can be carried away in a pocket.   Eventually things that were sold have to be acquired to make delivery, and things that were bought in excessive quantities have to be sold. This means that farmers, miners and merchants from other tribes have to be invited to even more sumptuous feasts, with even more beautiful virgins in attendance. The Pathfinders are brought in to the dance with the parchments in their hands (see sample of Parchment of the Qnt’s below), telling the merchants that the prices will go up, and, therefore they should buy in hurry, and telling the miners and farmers that the prices will drop, so they should sell.  If they fail to convince the farmers and miners, the warriors and hunter-gatherers become very angry and threaten to reduce their food rations and even to expel them back to the depts. 

Figure III The Parchment of the Fnd’s: A Sample (click image to enlarge)

Given the treatment the Pathfinders receive in the hands of the dominant castes, it is not surprising that some of them choose to defect and establish new settlements surrounded by high and sharp hedges. They claim to be guided by magic formulas they invented working late into the night after discharging their daily duties. They find protectors among some very affluent merchants to whom they promise limitless riches. They claim to have a very simple prescription for finding treasures. They intend to follow the warriors on treasure hunting expeditions and then dig a little deeper after the warriors move on.  But they seldom dig deep enough. They learn quickly that the best way to find treasures is to wait for other hole-diggers to slip and fall into the pits they dug up. Then the surviving diggers divide the spoils among themselves. It was reported by some naysayers who followed them that some hole-diggers were pushed intentionally into the abyss by their fellow travelers.

I will continue to send more missives from the Nrge Land ignoring great perils I am facing in this land. 

[1] Older readers will recognize immediately my debt to the path breaking research by Axel Leijonhufvud, summarized in his “Life among the Econ,” Western Economic Journal, 1973, Page 327-337. I have continued his research pretending to be a member of the tribe, at a great personal risk to myself.

[2] As discovered by Axel Leijonhufvud, “Econ political organization is weakening. The basic political unit remains the dept and the political power in the dept is lodged in the council of elders. The foundations of this power of the elders has been eroding for some time, however. Respect for one’s elders is no more the fashion among the young Econ than among young people anywhere else.”

[3] Axel Leijonhufvud reported similar ceremonies in his paper

[4] The study of the art of ritual dances inspired by the research of the late Bronislaw Malinowski will be reported elsewhere

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