1. - Top - End - #109
    Ogre in the Playground

    Join Date
    Nov 2011

    Default Re: Cultures -- Multiple Pan-Asian sources in a WELL DONE "mashup"

    She watched Father barter with the human from behind the wagon wheel. The human had six oxen, and Father was pretending they were worth far less than the ceramic pots he was offering. The human was pretending they were worth more. What the human wanted was obvious to her: he had not even glanced toward the bolt of blue silk Father 'accidentally' exposed when taking the pots out of the trade goods wagon. Even now his stiff-necked refusal to look at it only proved how much he wanted it.

    Tani'aho-tinnini was young, but she could already read this human. His oxen were healthy, but there was nothing exceptional about them, other than that he had too many. And he wanted that bolt of silk. That's the way trade worked, Father had explained to her brother. She would never be a trader because she had The Gift, but Pyton would take his place beside Father one day, and he had need to know these things.

    The lot of silk had been bought with a set of pots, much like the ones Father displayed, from the humans who lived in the valley of butterflies. The pots had been bought from the river folk who buried fires in great pits where they burned for days. Everyone had too much of something and not enough of something else, and the Travelling Folk followed the Twilight Roads from village to town to city, buying what they had with things others didn't want. Trash to treasure, as Mother said.

    Father pretended to be frustrated as he ordered Pyton to put the ceramic goods away, but the human suggested he might have something else to trade. Then Pyton 'accidentally' knocked the bolt of cloth off the wagon's tailgate. Her brother was not much older than she, but he was well trained. Scurrying as if to avoid a beating for clumsiness, he gathered the cloth and 'hid' it in a chest with a corner left peeking out of the closed trunk. She smiled at his skill.

    The human asked to look at the cloth. Father said it was too expensive. It took a while, but in the end Pyton hitched the oxen to trail the goods wagon, along with their yokes and harnesses. Father would surely trade those elsewhere, but he needed the oxen to replace Danner and Dan, the pair that had drawn their house wagon for years before being replaced and hitched to the goods wagon. At fifteen years the pair was already too old.

    The other four were for Gia'aho-beri, her half sister from Mother's first husband. Her father was dead, and Father had done all he could to assure her a future. Their next stop would be with the Rittivi Family, with whom she traveled this summer. The wagon builders were building her house wagon now, and it would be hers when she married, but she didn't have The Gift. Perhaps one day Gia would travel with her, when she had a house wagon of her own.

    The human was gone, congratulating himself on his skill at trading. Father had let him buy the silk knowing that his neighbors would be eager to trade for more next year. The herdsman should have traded for the pots; they were much more expensive than silk, and much more practical.

    Of course, practical things weren't all that Father traded. Like Mother's music box. Tani loved the tiny girl inside who sang when the box was opened, even though the girl only knew the one song and its words were meaningless. Father had traded it from the Stern Folk for some blue stones which the desert folk found in cliffs along dry river beds. The Stern Folk and their unreadable slaves who were much like the tiny girl never bartered. Father paid the price they asked, though how he knew what they would ask for was still unknown to her.

    Father and Pyton were ready and Tani hopped up to the driving bench beside Mother just before Father climbed into his place.

    "Mother, may I?" she asked without words. Mother had The Gift, and knew all the Twilight Roads.

    "Go slowly, child," Mother answered. "The new animals will be afraid."

    Father chucked the reigns and the oxen started. Moments later Pyton's wagon was creaking behind them as the new oxen protested.

    Tani slowly opened the door. It wasn't really a door, but a way of imagining what she did. The world sat on one side of the door and the Twilight Road on the other. There was no color on the Twilight Road. No heat or cold. No sun. Only the Moon. Under the white orb the roads were straight, and a night's journey could take them anywhere, even to the fortress of the Stern Folk.

    "Your mind wanders, child," Mother chided.

    Tani concentrated, reformed her thoughts. Mother had warned her of dangers along the Twilight Roads, not the least of which was getting lost. Slowly the Twilight World formed around them, replacing the world of the sun and stars. There was the Moon. And before them was the road. Tani could see its end in her mind. At its end was the Wagon Maker's village.

    Mother's pride in her came wordless, but no less intense than if she had spoken it aloud. Tani was very tired. Moving the world was hard.
    Last edited by brian 333; 2018-03-13 at 11:43 PM.