Forbidden numbers of the Dung-Haters

The Dung-Haters have certain numbers which they are forbidden to name. They refer to them only by various euphemisms, and even then are uneasy about so doing. The numbers I have been able to discover, and their euphemisms, are as follows:

  • 34 – dead man.
  • 220 – brother.
  • 284 – sister.
  • 100,000 – lack.
  • 10,000,000 – craw.

Some of these uses have been picked up by other inhabitants of Teleleli.

The sage Hekabe points out that all these numbers are sufficiently large that hunter-gatherers will be unlikely to use them in daily life. She suggests that the taboo may derive from some conflict between hunter-gatherers and farming folk, but is at a loss as to why these numbers were chosen and not others. The Dung-Haters themselves have no explanation either (or, at least, none that they will offer outsiders).

It is notable, however, that 220 and 284 are known on Earth as ‘amicable numbers’: the factors of 220 add up to 284, and vice versa. This fact is unknown throughout most of Teleleli and the lands around, since pure mathematics (as opposed to its applications in engineering, magic and other fields) is an almost non-existent art.

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