copyright © 2005-2010 Dennis Paul Himes
The contents of this page are preliminary. They won't become canonical until the first complete version of the Tale of Tifa Walbatnuwa Siina is up. - DPH
translated from the Seezzitonian by Roger Kerr
In the DDiimudonian Sembezit of 332'2 Tifa Walbatnuwa Siina had a dilemma. He wanted to marry a woman, Nomemu Pipemuwu Jaamu. Nomemu was intelligent, she was beautiful, and the Jaamee were wealthy and honored. He believed she would be willing to marry him. Her father, EEta Vuwa Jaama Domubwaina, was Tifa's uncle and Tifa was sure he would approve of the marriage.
Tifa's dilemma was that his cousin, Uza Polpuwa Siina, who was the last unmarried man in the main branch of the Siinee family, had announced his engagement. The Elder Brothers, therefore, would be forced to pick the next first mate of the wainu from another branch. The First Mother's second daughter had but one son, Laasa Xusuwa Siina, who was at that moment returning from Poto, and was not likely to be chosen twice in a row. Tifa was the eldest son of the third daughter, and the expected choice for the next year.
On the 36th day of Sembezit, Tifa Walbatnuwa left the Siinee house on the northernmost point of Walbatno and walked along the Eastern shore, crossing the two rivers, until he arrived at the Jaamee house at the southernmost point. This he entered, not knowing if he would leave the house engaged to be married. His uncle EEta received him in the garden room, with naasenopiit and patujee.
After inquiring about his sister Walbatnu, EEta said, "Tifa, have you heard? Uza Polpuwa's engaged to marry Pipu Umuwu Aufxatu."
"Yes, it's quite an honor for the Aufxatee. Not just a Siina but a domubwaina."
"Thank you. A domubwaina is a great honor for any family. I was happy to raise my dear wife's esteem in her family and the Jaamee family's esteem in Xalbauto."
"The honor was even greater for you, being not only the mate but the father of a wainu."
"Thank you again. I'm sorry the same honor hasn't come to Uza or Laasa Xuxuwa. I'm afraid my daughter Sifu is not strong. Her body will not easily make the next wainu or emperor. God will help her when the right time comes, though, and I think the right time will come when the right mate is chosen."
After talking with his uncle for a little longer Tifa went to visit Nomenu in her room.
Nomenu asked him, "Has your cousin Laasa Xusuwa returned from Poto yet?"
"No, but he should be arriving soon."
"Oh, I would so love to go to Poto someday. Just imagine, to talk to the emperor or the wainu. To sleep in the imperial palace. To stand where Neetta SSildifuwa stood and walk where he walked and gaze out on the sea as he did when he was about to set out for Ponomo.
"Siina men are the most fortunate of all. Imagine, to mate with the wainu. I would consider myself honored beyond compare if I were only chosen to marry a man who had mated with the wainu, as my mother was. To share a mate with the center of life would put me only three places away from God."
"It is an honor you deserve, and I would not be at all be surprised if it was an honor which you acquired."
"Why, do you know of a domubwaina who wishes to marry me?"
"Not at the moment, but the chances of that happening I think are quite high. There are men in the Siinee family who love you dearly, and who only wait until they can offer you the greatest honor possible before proposing marriage."
"And there are some who don't."
"I'm not sure I understand you."
"Tifa, I should be frank with you. Laasa Xusuwa proposed to me last year. I refused him. I don't know what I will do if he proposes again. He is now a domubwaina. Do you think it would be selfish of me to refuse a domubwaina's offer because I might receive an offer from another domubwaina in the future?"
"No, you have every right to the husband you want most. You are still young. You are, if I may say so, among the most desired women in Xaulbato. My advice, since you asked it, is to wait a year at least. I feel confident that you will in the end be very happy with your choice of husband."
"Thank you for your kind words. You are right, I think. I will wait."
When the new year arrived Tifa was indeed chosen for the first mating. He made a gold belt for the wainu and a copy of The Tauwo Campaign for the emperor. On the third of AAzzbezit he threw a foot long copper money bar into Imumo and sailed off under four red fish on the Siinee ship Xilit. The Xilit sailed with fifteen sailors under the command of captain EExa Bintuwa and three cooks and four servants under the command of Tifa's secretary Na Popinuwa.
After eight days sailing along the DDiimudonian coast the Xilit arrived at Uno. Tifa was welcomed by the monks of Uno, and allowed to climb to the top of Misseetaino. Cumulus clouds were scattered across the sky, but Tifa could nonetheless see the sides of Uno to the West, North, and East. When he returned to the bottom he discovered that it had rained down there, although he hadn't felt any.
Six days later the Xilit arrived at Naaxapo, where Tifa visited the forest of his ancestors.
On the 22nd of AAzzbezit the Xilit cleared the Knife Tip and entered Laasa's Gap, bringing Tifa further south than he'd ever been. Three days later they entered the Thousand Islands. They spent 23 days in Inono. While on Blo Tifa poured cold water on the doddima's niece. They also stopped at Misso, where Tifa walked the titit bridge between Misso and Meelo at low tide.
In the evening of the 47th of AAzzbezit Tifa saw a red dot on the horizon. He knew he was looking at the Meenoit Umutoyit glowing in the setting sun. On the 48th The Xilit arrived on Zvano, and Tifa walked to the Meenoit Umutoyit, balancing the sky on its head, and touched his forehead to the northern corner and then to the southern.
That evening Sa Umuwa, the Governor of Ponomo, butchered a xijzzait for Tifa.
On the following day the Xilit left Zvano, and on the last day of AAzzbezit it arrived on Enisso. Tifa toured the seeddop of Pipopo valley, and declared that it was surely the most beautiful place on Umuto.
Tifa spent fourteen days on Enisso, enjoying the hospitality of Enissonians, the most gracious hosts anywhere, from Jaivo Point to Vbelo.
On the 19th of IIvbezit the Xilit sailed into Fpaamo harbor. Tifa stayed in Fpaamo for the final day of the Summer Festival, where he climbed the festival pole.
For the next two days the Xilit rowed up the Pafo River, and on the 22nd arrived at Yeepo. The mayor of Yeepo greeted him on the dock and presented him with a city scarf. He then escorted Tifa to the Miller's Palace to meet the Central Royal Family.
When Tifa entered the White Hall Aspa Umuwa Dotala was there to greet him, standing with the River Spear. To Aspa's right was Sifu Suseuwu Wainu, wearing a green robe. Although she was thin and leaning on a silver cane, she looked happy and pleased to see him. Her skin was very light for IIvbezit, but looked healthy nonetheless. To Aspa's left was Neetta Suseuwa Dotaledda. To Sifu's right was SSamau Ujuwu Suyeu, as white as her name. To Neetta's left was Suseu Umuwu Wainisisu.
Aspa said, "Welcome to Seezzito, Tifa Walbatnua Siina. I am pleased to be able to share my house, my food, and especially my water with the loyal and orderly Siina.
Tifa answered, "Thank you. I am happy to report that DDiimudo, and all of the northern islands, are thriving under the wise and benevolent guidance of the SSildifulee." Tifa then presented the emperor and the wainu with his presents, gave the wainu a yellow feather cloak from her father, and handed the emperor the Elder Brothers' report on the state of Pozino.
Tifa and Sifu lunched together the next day.
Sifu asked him if this was his first time in Poto. He answered, "Yes. This is my first trip south of Meenoit Umutoyit. Have you ever been to the Northern Islands?
"No. I've never even been to Ponomo."
"Really? I thought a new wainu was presented to Polpinoit at the Meenoit Umutoyit."
"Normally that's so, but my uncle thought it would be too hard of a trip. I have been to Enisso, though."
"Yes, I visited it on my way south. It's a beautiful place."
"I hope you have a chance to visit more of Poto. It can be very beautiful as well."
"I am planning to visit all four provinces before Bridge Day. What I am seeing so far is very beautiful; I'm sure the rest will be as well."
The next day Tifa lunched with SSamau Ujuwu. She asked him, "Will you be in Yeepo for Bridge Day?
"Yes. I'm looking forward to seeing the sspentufee championships. I understand that there is a DDiimudonian with a good chance of winning this year."
"Yes, Pa Semuwa. He has a very strong arm, although perhaps not as accurate as he would wish."
"I see you are a fan of the sport."
"Of course, every woman is interested in her potential mates."
"I'm sure your uncle is appreciative of the sacrifice you make for the empire."
"Mating, possibly, with a man of no family."
"I don't consider it a sacrifice to be won. To the contrary, I consider it an honor to be competed for. I wish all of my matings were the same. It is the matings chosen for political alliances which I consider sacrifices."
"I meant no offense."
"I can take none."
For next nine days Tifa and Na Popinuwa traveled up the ZZito Road through the heart of Seezzito, with the mountains to their left and the hills to their right, until they reached Xaapo Lake.
After a day's rest they traveled on to the Enlatto Cliffs, where Tifa and Na speculated on their possible meanings.
They then continued on to Fuwo. When there, Tifa ascended the tower and declared, "Now when I climb DDiilo I will have aligned myself with Umuto".
They next traveled on to DDiino, stopping on the way at Lo, where Tifa walked Zinzbeltu's Trail above the stone.
Tifa then traveled through the plains of Pottapo, with the west wind outracing him and the thundering herds of itpiit across great expanses of naasmop and jaujop.
On the 49th of IIvbezit Tifa saw DDiino Hill on the horizon, holding DDiino Castle above the city, as the castle held the DDyauwee above Pottapo.
In DDiino Tifa was the guest of Ela Jauwa Doya. He was served a house banquet.
Afterwards, Ela said, "It's a shame that Sifu Suseuwu has had such a difficult time producing children. She is not only dutiful and holy wainu, but a kind and pleasant companion."
"I'm sure she is only waiting for the proper mate."
"Undoubtedly why the Siinee send a different man every year."
"We have always done so, as I'm sure you know. We have had a good degree of success as well. I'm sure you also know that Sifu's own father is a Siina."
"Yes. The Siinaa have taken great advantage of Laasa Vituwa's gift. It's an undeserved bur on your distinguished family that your most noticable issue has been so sickly. At least the emperor is in good health."
After leaving DDiino Tifa traveled north to Umufo Lake, an ocean island in an island ocean. They sailed across the lake in three days, and then rode north into Seepofmo, where they spent a night in a ssttino grove. On the 67th of IIvbezit Tifa attempted to cross Vyo. As they climbed into the mountains it got colder, and the trees got shorter, until still a half day short of Zinzbeltu's Trail they encountered sleet and heavy wind and decided to stop at an inn.
At the inn, besides the innkeeper, were two men who were driving a cart of nuts west to Seezzito. Tifa had some ddipit meat with him, which he shared with all at the inn.
While they were eating, the older man, Eza Nuwa, asked Tifa where he had come from. When Tifa said, "DDiimudo", he asked, "The island on the other side of the world?"
"Not quite that far, but beyond Meenoit Umutoyit".
"Why did you come to Poto?"
"To mate with the wainu."
"The wainu? Do you mean the emperor's wainu?"
"Yes, I do."
"Do you know her, or did you win her?"
"My family chose me for the mating."
"I don't understand."
"The first mating with a wainu is always a member of the Siinee family. That is a promise made by Neetta SSildifuwa. The emperor graciously allows us to choose which of us receives this greatest honor."
Eza thought about this for a while, and then asked, "Is that how mates are chosen on DDiimudo?"
"No. On DDiimudo we marry."
"We marry. A man and a woman agree to mate only with each other for the rest of our lives."
"For the rest of your lives?"
"So you will be mating with the wainu for the rest of your life?"
"No, no. I am not marrying the wainu. This is a special mating, in order to keep the northern and southern islands united. Marriage is for one DDiimudonian and another."
While Eza was thinking about this Tifa asked, "do you compete for mates where you live?"
"No. In Fpilto a woman chooses her own mate."
"How does she choose?"
"She make a declaration to the town clerk."
"No, I mean what does she base her decision on?"
"Oh. Usually on who she thinks will best provide for any child which might be made."
Leela Damabuwa, Eza's companion, added, "or who she thinks will best provide the making of a child."
Eza added, "Well, yes, it's some combination of who's worthy as a father, who's worthy as a man, and who's worthy as a mate. It can get complicated. It must be easier when you marry. You only have to choose once."
"Yes, but it's a very hard decision, because so much depends on it."
"When will you decide?"
"Oh, I already have decided. I just haven't formally asked her yet."
"Because you want to mate with the wainu first?"
"It's the same in Fpilto. You never mention one mating to another mate, even if they're friends. In fact, even if one mate arranged the other mating, you're still better off not mentioning it until summer".
The next day the weather cleared and they all crossed Vyo. Four days later, on the First of Xubezit, Tifa returned to Yeepo.
In the days leading up to Bridge Day Tifa attended the sspentufee hand rounds. He sat with Sifu Suseuwu in the royal seats. He was pleased to see the DDiimudonian Pa Semuwa take the lead, and emerge from both the eight player round robin and the four player round robin in first place. He would compete in the final match against Afa Bintuwa, the previous year's champion.
The evening before Bridge Day he met the suyeu and asked her about Pa's chances in the final.
"I think he will lose," she said. "He is a very good player, naturally, or else he would not be in the finals in the first place. However, he wants too much to win. Afa will get ahead of him and he will throw too soon. He always trusts his strong arm to reach the target from a great distance. This has gotten him to the finals, but I think in the finals themselves his aim will be off and he will miss his target."
"But he's done a fine job of hitting his targets so far."
"Yes, but the finals are different for a player, even though the game's the same. Bintuwa will defeat Semuwa because Semuwa's competing in order to be champion and Bintuwa's competing in order to mate with me."
"But that's the same thing, isn't it?"
"Not at all. They go hand in hand, but winning a mating and winning a contest are two very different experiences, and the competing for the former concentrates a man's abilities in a way the latter never can."
When Bridge Day arrived the emperor opened the ceremonies, which began with a dance by 1152 men. The two contestants then approached the suyeu, standing by the field, and each gave her a ssildifo blossom. She, in turn, whispered something into each one's front ear.
The championship round was an eight game round. In the first game Afa Bintuwa got ahead in the running, but Pa Semuwa threw and hit the target, with Afa still holding his spear. In the second game Afa again got ahead, and Pa again threw, but missed, so Afa ran up to the target and tapped it. In the third game they got further than the first two when Afa set and threw. Pa immediately did the same. Pa's throw was stronger and flatter and hit the target, but Afa's had hit his target a moment earlier. The fourth game was identical to the first, tying the score at two all. In the fifth round Pa threw from the same spot, but Afa this time also set and threw. Pa's spear arrived first, but both spears missed their targets. Afa being closer and swifter recovered his first and won that game. In the sixth game Afa got ahead, Pa set to throw, and Afa set and threw. However, Pa held on to his spear. Afa's spear missed and Pa calmly trotted into range while Afa sprinted to recover his spear. To the amazement of the crowd, however, when Pa did throw he missed, and Afa easily won. In the next game, down four games to two, Pa tried the strategy which had won him his two games. He threw early and hard. The spear flew just over the target, and Pa sat down on the ground, not even trying to catch Afa.
That night there was a city banquet for Afa hosted by the emperor. Tifa was seated next to Sifu.
He said to her, "Your cousin enjoys her duties as suyeu, doesn't she."
"Yes. She does this time of year, at least. Usually she's in my shadow, but now she's the sun, casting shadows around her.
"She told me that she actually considers the sspentufee mating to be more honorable than any of her others."
"Yes, she really does. If she had her way men would still fight to the death for her."
After Bridge Day the days quickly got shorter and the nights colder, and soon Tifa was celebrating his second autumnal equinox in half a year.
Tifa lived in a building in the Miller's Palace during his stay in Yeepo. He got to know the capital well, and became well known around the capital. He would lunch with Sifu most days. One day, however, she sent word just before they were due to meet that she was not feeling well and would not be able to meet him. He soon heard that her doctor had confined her to bed. When he came to pay her a visit, though, she was in good spirits.
"You mustn't worry, Tifa," she said, "I get like this every few months. It never lasts very long."
On the tenth of Mubezit SSamau went into her first heat.
On the fifteenth of Mubezit Tifa received a request to see the emperor.
The emperor addressed Tifa, "Yesterday the wainu dressed in red."
Tifa said, "I'm sorry, emperor, I wasn't aware. I will begin preparations immediately."
The emperor replied, "Unfortunately, the wainu's health has turned even worse that it has been these last few days. I regret to have to tell you that she is too sick to mate. She is not likely to recover before it is too late. You will have to wait for her next heat, when she will undoubtedly be healthier."