Transcribed as closely as possible from the narration of last night's dream.
The people of Dymansthya were climbers, nimble tree folk who explored the vast deciduous forests of Homeworld by clambering from branch to branch, sometimes fashioning rope bridges to allow them crossing from tree to tree when a creek or canyon drove a wedge of relative emptiness through the otherwise close-knit huddle of moss-blanketed trunks.
These curious and agile people were known collectively as the Folk. Though wise in the ways of science and technology, the Folk lived what would seem to us lives of relative simplicity, dressing plainly in earth-toned garments of cotton (or what appeared to be cotton). The Folk were spread wide across the world, in small bands of some fifteen to twenty-five members, about equally divided in sex; children and the elderly were rare, for the Folk generally lived thousands of years in a state of perpetual young adulthood.
Their lives were not perfectly idyllic. Though wars were rare, the Folk were vulnerable to folly once in a great while and every few generations there would come a self-inflicted culling. And as with any people, they endured the small everyday tragedies that none may yet escape: the broken heart, the trust betrayed, the opportunity lost.
But by and by the Folk were happy and lived as close to a state of grace as any member of the great human family scattered among the stars. Most members of that larger family ignore Dymansthya for that very reason; outsiders consider it a world lacking the intrigue and adventure that lend spice to the less harmonious worlds of the human sphere.
As is so often the case, this is a judgement made in ignorance, and my tale, if it should have purpose at all, is to show why the Folk's adventures rival even those of the Metaphorians or the Calumny. I bore witness to only the final half of the grand journey I am about to relate; but my sources for the beginning of the tale are impeccable, related to me by the very Folk who experienced the first days of an impossible quest: to follow the endless River Yx to its source.
The River Yx is the vast blue-green ribbon of fresh water that girdles Dymansthya twice. Yx terminates at the Yx Delta on the northwestern coast of the continent Mu, at the great port city of Nogar, a metropolis home to nearly one hundred of the Folk. Nogar is nestled comfortably between the gentle ocean and the looming trees, into which the river winds, deep into the shaded dark. Most Folk of Nogar were content to while away the centuries playing games, frolicking on the beach, creating art or making love. But a few of the younger Folk - no one remembers exactly who first proposed the idea - grew restless and decided one day to follow the Yx into the wood.
They numbered five. There were three women: Zel, Pyv and Landa. There were two men: Jus and Ax. I was the sixth member of that party...but I came later.
The blue sun hung low against the horizon when the five Folk waved goodbye to the well-wishers of Nogar and began their ascent into the trees. Golden Pyv would die first, only a month into a journey that would last another two years. Pyv was fleet-footed, agile and possessed remarkable balance; it was merely the worst luck that she slipped on a rope bridge in the passage from one side of the river to the other and landed in shallow waters, knocking herself unconscious on a rock and drowning before the others could reach her.
It was the first tragedy; I would arrive just in time for the second.