I’ve decided to journal my experiences with the Himalayan tribe that saved my life while I searched for the Black Idol of Nirrti.
It’s amazing that it has been only a month since I left Boston; it feels like a year. The truth I’ve begun to realize about India is that the entire country is infectious, no matter what connotation you decide to use. The energy of the people, the taste of the food, and the mystery of what’s around the next corner infects you.
The search for the Idol continues for me. Shortly after waking from my feverish state, I found my camping pack, and while it had everything in it that I came to the Himalayas with, I would happily trade it all for the one thing I came to get. The Idol is gone, taken by the Tcho-Tcho – or so Prashant tells me. The warriors that pulled me off the mountain told me that these sinister tribesmen came close to killing me, but were driven off in the nick of time. I did what I could to thank them, but they ended up thanking me for killing the Tcho-Tcho that I was able to. Prashant’s tribe has been at war with them since anyone in the camp can remember and it is a great honor to kill even one. The three that I was able to kill has given me a sort of celebrity status among the people here.
In the past two weeks, I have met every member of the tribe, learning many of their names and the names of their children. I’ve been offered no less than three young ladies as wives, although not directly. The way that arranged marriages work normally in India, I’d have no chance without a stock of wealth and a good family line. In the tribal lands, it seems much different, and is more about what a man has accomplished in his own personal life than who his parents are. The fathers that have come to me have done so with Prashant in tow for translation. My studies at Brown included a small course in Hindi, but spending two weeks in this village have given those lessons a real test.
I’ve told Prashant that I plan on going after the Idol once I’m back to feeling better. The poison that the Tcho-Tcho used has kept me from leaving. The climb up the mountain was hard and I am not ready to make it in my current state. I’m hoping that I don’t have to wait much longer. The dreams have gotten worse since I woke up. I still see the frogmen and the library when I go to bed. I feel that I could connect with it, if I only knew how. When I see the images now in my dreams, it’s as if they are frozen in time. I’ve never dreamt something so real. The shaman – Acapentas – said that the herbs and stones used to ward off the Tcho-Tcho poison create potent dreams when used in other rituals.
Prashant has told me that the Tcho-Tcho live higher up in the mountains and further off to the east, perhaps north of Bangladesh. He also said that they never stay in one place for more than a few weeks, so they are elusive to say the least. I’ll fortify myself here for a few more days and then head out onto the trails. If they live north of Bangladesh, I’ll need a guide. The trade roads are dangerous places for single travelers, especially those that are new to the area. Natives along the trade routes are more likely to lie about directions, cheat you in a trade or worse. I heard from more than a few colleagues at Brown before I left that the trade routes got so dangerous that most universities would spend the extra money to avoid them. I don’t believe that these folks on the road are the real India – not from what I’ve seen – but I’m not about to give them the chance to slow me down.
I need the Idol. I’ve come too far to stop now.