Momuva'e

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The Ndak kept their cities clean by periodically gathering up all their trash, refuse, and excrement onto ships and dumping it overboard in the middle of the bay; the garbage piled up so high that the dump site rose above the waves, and they named it Momuva'e. Or so goes the jocular creation tale so often repeated by the denizens of this, the second-largest city of Kasca. It is also the most colorful Kascan city in many ways, and certainly the filthiest, as the tale attests.

Physical Setting

Physical map of Kasca (c. 170 YP), showing the location of Momuva'e

Momuva'e is situated on the western shore of the largest of Kasca's many coastal islands, though some would call it a peninsula because it is connected to the mainland by several miles of swamp. But because a boat is required to get there, the locals have always called it an island. Geologically it is indeed an island, connected to the mainland only because the Ya river delta grew outward enough to meet it. The city of Momuva'e is not a compact population center like many other cities of its era, but instead sprawls unevenly along some eight miles of shoreline. Knots of dense population are interspersed in places with land too soggy to support structures. The city's waterfront stretches most of its length, while behind it to the east there is extensive farmland. Also included under the umbrella term of "Momuva'e" are a number of small agricultural settlements on other parts of the island which exist mainly to serve the city's need for food and are not really considered separate towns, just extensions of city, though they do have their own names.

Only a meter or two above the high tide, the streets of Momuva'e are always muddy, and the mud puddles at intersections are sometimes deep enough to drown in. The sour mud and the open cesspools where the citizens dump their chamber pots in the morning combine to give the city an aroma like no other. The division of land into streets versus building areas has been stable for so long that the two are no longer at the same elevation; throughout the city, ground-level for buildings is around two meters higher than street level, and sometimes more. This is due to two factors: new structures are built atop the rubble of previous ones, and the streets are continually being compacted by the burden of traffic.

Landmarks

Momuva'e has no well-defined city center in modern times, but serving as such in the Ndak era was a broad low rise, now on the northern outskirts of the city, on which they built their most important structures which were then immune to street flooding. The ruins of some of these buildings still grace the hill, among them the Akan Palace from which Tsinakan ruled and the Temple of All Gods, which is in better condition because it saw continuous use until perhaps 400 years ago. Both of these sites and several others remain relatively undisturbed aside from the ravages of time, because the people revere them, but a majority of the great stone Ndak structures on the hill have long since been plundered for their stone - a scarce commodity in alluvial Kasca. The low hill has no modern name.

Other notable landmarks in the vicinity include:

  • the stele on which the original Tsinakan text can be found, now located in a grassy field some three miles north of Momuva'e (other such steles exist in the area, but none have as much readable text);
  • two rows of massive stone pilings rising out of the sea, which are all that remain of a major Ndak pier, located on the waterfront just below the low hill;
  • a great obelisk, ten miles south of the city, erected by the Ndak as a landmark for ships seeking the Momuva'e inlet (or the Aiwa canal to which it connected) - and still used by mariners to this day, although the top half of the obelisk broke off many centuries ago. The remaining portion leans awkwardly and looks as though it must surely soon fall, although it has survived this way for generations.

Economy

Located on an island not quite big enough to fully support it, Momuva'e imports some grain from Påwe and other towns, though it can grow the rest and plenty of vegetables. Meat comes almost entirely in the form of seafood - the docks of the city serve several thousand small fishing boats that bring home their catches every evening. Counterbalancing the grain imports, the city exports various products like fish oil and pottery; it also imports retted flax and exports finished linens, as the city has a substantial (if not superb) textiles industry.

Government

Governance of Momuva'e is virtually absent on any city-wide scale. Various noble families have claimed it from time to time; they have rarely profited from their supposed ownership, however, and so such arrangements have invariably withered. Attempts by Huyfárah and other Kascan cities to conquer it have tended to meet with this same fate: it is easy to dominate Momuva'e militarily, but difficult to make it a valuable possession. Civil works like road repair and the construction of buildings are completed haphazardly by the people acting on their own - if they see enough need, or on the advice of a neighborhood council - or not at all. For example, if a dock decays to the point of uselessness, the fishing teams who had been using it will generally take it upon themselves to rebuild it, if they cannot find adequate moorage elsewhere.

In many districts of the city, a much smaller scale of government is informally followed: small neighborhood councils resembling the councils of delta villages in scope and power. Local business, civic, and noble interests tend to seek representation on such councils. However, these bodies are relatively toothless; their primary influence is by persuasion, and by brokering deals and managing the resultant complex of intersocial debts. Certainly the ability of these councils to do any governing of those who do not wish to be governed is very limited, but in some cases they have evolved into small business cartels or even protection rackets. There are more than a hundred neighborhood councils, but very few have any influence over more than a thousand citizens apiece. This division of management into numerous small councils resembling those in villages has led to an oft-repeated metaphor, which states that Momuva'e is not a city at all, but instead a thousand villages that are all in the same place.

Lack of an overarching organization leads to many cracks in the council system. Many areas are served by no councils at all, while others are served by multiple and sometimes competing ones. Life in this lawless city tends to be somewhat rough-and-tumble, but people do get by, and the poor and vulnerable do not necessarily live in fear. It is possible to avoid most sorts of trouble, with a little effort. But at the same time there are districts most people avoid entering at night - or at all.

Culture and Religion

Names

Language Name Pronunciation Source
Ndak Ta Mos Mumbasi [ˈmos ˈmũm.ba.si] (unknown)
Adāta Muphai ['mu.pʰai] ← NT [Mos] Mumbasi
Fáralo Muəbaz ['mu.ə.baz] ← NT [Mos] Mumbasi
Ndok Aisô Môsp'euseu [mɞsˈpʰɛːw.sɛw] ← NT Mos Mumbasi
Buruya Nzaysa Mubasɛ [mu.ba.sɛ] ← NT [Mos] Mumbasi
Naidda Momuva'e ['mo.mu.va.ʔe] ← NT Mos Mumbasi
Wippwo Moumβai ['mom.βai] ← ND Momuva'e