As discussed in the article on medicine, pharmaceuticals form a major part of the Pocali economy.
Medicinals are generally available in two forms: prefabricated or compounded.
Prefabrication works best for widely used remedies that can be mass-produced on some level (not dependent on rare ingredients, and used for treating relatively common ailments). These will typically come in tubes, many labeled in Rovari script in addition to Pocali, particularly for medicines used by both Daraz and Humans.
The majority of medicines, though, are compounded: made to order from raw ingredients per the individual’s specific medical needs. Because several different types of raw medicinals might have the same or similar effects, and the rarity of various medicinals makes large scale consistency difficult to achieve, in many cases it’s just easier to make something on the spot based on whatever ingredients are available in the region.
An apothecarist’s egg is basically a portable mini-pharmacy. A typical egg will contain raw ingredients, tinctures, extracts, and tools for mixing medicines or forming tablets.
The names humans have for many of the flora and fauna of the Valley come from Rovari, the Daraz language (Daraz are native to the Valley, humans are not). This particular creature is called merev gombi in Rovari, which literally means “hard sphere.” Humans usually just call this animal “merev.”
Merev are the beast of burden of choice for this region. Opportunistic grazers, they’ll eat just about anything placed in front of them, making them extremely easy to maintain. They’re slow but sturdy, and nearly indestructible. When spooked, they don’t run: they pill. If you get into a spot of bother, you know your cart will be more or less where you left it.
The merev’s hide is too tough for many predators to pierce, and its center of gravity too low for them to knock it over. So most predators simply don’t bother with them. YOU might get eaten, but your pack animal won’t.
The merev is not an insect; it is yet another of the many monotreme species in the Valley.
Ah, the humble blue beetle, such a common sight in the Valley it gets the most obvious possible name. It’s also one of the main sources of animal protein for the citizens of Pocalo. So delicious, so nutritious.
Humans typically cook these insects prior to eating, as the texture of raw bug is not especially appetizing (similar in consistency to raw poultry). At the same time, “appetizing” is a luxurious concern for one who hasn’t had anything to eat in awhile, and humans can eat the beetle flesh raw if need be.
Daraz, meanwhile, aren’t accustomed to cooking food first (they can’t have fires in their underground cities or they’d all die of asphyxiation). But, whether raw or cooked, Daraz don’t typically care much for the taste of blue beetle and only tend to eat it out of necessity. The Rovari name for this particular insect translates roughly as “edible, I guess.”
Humans don’t just use the blue beetle for food. The shells are collected and ground into powder, which is then made into fabric dye. This particular dye is called “blue beetle blue,” JUST in case you were confused about the color or the source. Any dyed fabric is fancier than un-dyed fabric, but blue beetle blue still doesn’t rise much above “better than nothing.”
The Daraz have a tactile written language, since their infrared vision can’t detect ink on paper or print in a book.
They have two main systems of writing:
1. Cord notation: This format is similar to quipu, though the actual implementation is a little different. Size and distribution of knots, as well as weave of the cords, is used to convey information.
2. Wax notation: Knotting and weaving is a slow process, so the corded language is more for information that needs to be archived. These cords are typically transcribed from a writing system that uses a stylus to deposit dots and dashes of hot wax that mimic the knots and weaves of the cords.
The pot of wax is kept warm and liquid by storing it in a rivulet diverted from a hot spring. While it is still warm the wax is visible to the Daraz, so as they write with the stylus they have a visual impression of what they’re writing.
Once the wax cools and is no longer visible, they read the raised parts via touch.
This system is also useful for written communication with humans – while humans are not physically capable of speaking Rovari, they can certainly read it. Objects that might need to be read by both Daraz and humans, like containers of shared medicinals, will often be labeled in both Pocali and Rovari.
The Daraz we’ve met thus far in the Valley of the Silk Sky comics speak a regional dialect called Rovari.
Rovari is a tonal language that, if you [a human, I presume] could hear in its full range, would sound very musical, with voiced tones over more sibilant sounds.
But you can’t hear its full range, because much of it is voiced in supersonic frequencies. So to a human the language sounds harsh, buzzing and staccato.
Humans are not physically capable of speaking Rovari, lacking the required physiology and sonic range. Luckily, Daraz don’t generally have trouble speaking human languages (though they do tend to speak with a lisp), and often take on roles as translators.
Daraz have fairly poor vision: they don’t see color or detail, and their language reflects that in that they don’t have words for specific colors, nor do their idioms reference sight. They comprehend detail through sound, via echolocation, so words for precision reference hearing. For example, they might say “I hear you” instead of “I see” to signal understanding.
They do have extremely sensitive senses of smell, so there are thousands of words for different smells, indeed different individual esters, and further metaphorical meanings for those various words. Daraz names almost always reference scents, and are formally constructed as “Smells Like .” Halvanylila = “Smells Like the Fourth Ester of Lilac.”