Putesh

By Bill Browne and Ryan St

The Puteshi are slaves, wives and servants of their ancestors. What was once a simple and quiet veneration of the departed has become an oppressive oligarchy where dozens of dead chieftains squabble and feud for power in a network of towns and homesteads.

For hundreds of years the Puteshi dwelled in mountain fastnesses near Anishomodz. They were a quiet people whose main defence against barbarian invaders was to retreat to cave systems or travel up into the mountains. They used ships to carry thier wool, rye and venison into Anishomodz, and when a patriarch or chieftain died he would be mummified, buried with trinkets, clay statuettes of dragons and rams, and his lieutenant to watch over his body. These ships were launched from the harbor with sails full and billowing, and soon disappeared from the horizon.

Three years ago, these ships returned carrying their cargoes. The dead had returned to life (or its semblance) and now claimed dominion of the Puteshi as their right. While the chieftains had the appearance of their former selves, their personalities were crueller with passions intact but no capacity for love or mercy.

The Puteshi are slaves of their ancestors, and have begun to bear their children. These bargemarked (for they are conceived on the ships their fathers once left the world in) are reserved, ill-tempered children but the oldest among them have shown a capacity for love and intimacy. Many have suffered neglect from mothers who will have nothing to do with the children they were forced to carry.

The ancestors have declared war on all invaders of their land. They have armed their people and - when not fighting amongst themselves - organise raids on nearby barbarians. This new state of warfare has stirred up trouble and focused attention from Anishomodz on the region - which is in no one's interests.