iota (part 3) 🐅 preparing the long trip over the #mountains🐅
🌛 for other chapters, please see the end of this post 🌛
July 3 — Another day has ended. I’m getting back to my log, trying to put some order in my thoughts. I hope the empty sheets of my notebook can help me do that, while getting gradually filled with words.
In this isolated village with friendly people, called Eldor, I was saved from the claws of death and brought back to life. Like in Gold City, I didn’t see any old person here. I asked the locals about this unusual phenomenon, but apparently it was difficult for these people to understand my question. Besides, they seem to have a lifespan longer than ours (it is also a bit complicated to convert the terms “year” and “month”, because their equivalents for the natives are different from ours).
Now, going back to Gold City and thinking about the forest filled with cocoons, why were those people there? Were they all old? Was that place a cemetery for their dead? Or perhaps could it be that they did not really die, but transformed into something else? Cocoons make me think of butterflies…
“What happens to your people when their lives end?” I asked the village chief a few days ago.
“Then,” Etin replied, “when their life force is almost depleted and the destruction of their body is near, they leave us.”
I thought he meant “they die” and did not insist further. I’ll just have to assume these people look young and in good shape until they come near the end of their lives. Apparently, Nivit’s mother left her in the same way, when she was little. I could never find more details about this event from her life, anyway. Certainly, there is no cocoon forest anywhere near the village and nobody has “died” in Eldor this year, whatever “death” means for them.
This afternoon, Nivit took me fishing. When she was not aware of what I was doing, I was glancing at her discreetly, admiring her amazing complexion and perfect body shape. She speaks my language now better than I can speak hers. Her physical perfection is well-balanced by a very sharp mind. Seeing this astonishing woman day after day I know that love has taken deep roots in my heart and its flower will open soon.
Incompletely recovered, I think I need to stay in the village for another week or two. Even though my mind and senses are back to normal, my body still has traces of the giant lizard’s poison. I still get easily tired from any physical effort. I try to limit myself to short walks in the garden and some fishing, preferring to spend most of my available time learning from Nadar or seeing Nivit. A subtle feeling tells me that she is not indifferent to my attention, either. What if I bring her to my ship and then to my world? Will she agree to spend the rest of her life with me, far away from her people?
Looking back at my adventures so far, I realize now that our arrival at the Island was a pure matter of luck. The conditions that enable a crossing between our worlds cannot be created at will and, if she comes with me to my world, she may never see her village again. This brings another question to life: can Excelsior actually go back at all? If I think of the historical accounts, most ships who reached the Island returned to Earth after a while. It appears to me that it is much easier to go back than to come here. However, I feel that certain conditions need to be met for this to happen.
Perhaps I could forget about my people and stay in this village for the rest of my life? I could do farm work, fish, and sometimes hunt, like everybody else. I could spend many evenings in the library, reading from the available local books and writing a few myself (Eldor even has a small pressing machine, but most of the local books are hand-written).
Here I could see Nivit every day, then maybe we could start together a new family, have kids, teach all the villagers about the science and technology from my world, make the life here easier and more interesting. Back then, Gold City would have forgotten about me and I should be under no risk of being captured when paying them a visit in a more distant future.
But to visit Gold City I need to find a different route from the one on which I came here. It would be impossible to paddle a canoe through the narrow gorge while going against the quick and powerful river stream. Scaling the tall rocks and trekking around the canyon might not be an easy option, either. The villagers told me that all the mountains upstream have vertical slopes, impossible to climb without ropes.
Still, before staying here for good, I have to fulfill my duty to my captain and my crew mates. They need to know I’m alive. I have to give them a copy of my log plus all the other useful observations about the events I have experienced, the places I have visited, and the people I have encountered in my trip inland.
July 4 — Even though my body is still weak, I can do now some light farm work for short intervals of time. The Eldorians (the name of the village comes actually from the name of the people, but its origin and meaning are lost) grow many types of plants, including vegetables and a kind of cereal similar to both wheat and rice, named aledo (pronounced “alaydo”). The local climate is good for crops, as every few days, rain falls for one hour or so, keeping the ground moist and the plants healthy. The locals are crafty agriculturalists, yet they don’t have any kind of domestic animals or pets.
I brought several big stones from the river and began doing various exercises with them in my hands, to work out my muscles and regain my previous level of fitness. Some villagers found this idea funny and gathered around to watch my training, with big smiles across their faces.
Nivit spends a lot of time with me lately. Most afternoons I continue to work with Nadar and the others to improve the dictionary. The list has now almost four thousand words. We became fluent in each other’s language and communication difficulties are a thing of the past. Eori continues to watch over my health and I still take between meals the medicine prescribed by him. Somehow I’ve got the feeling this treatment also had a powerful effect on my memory, improving it a lot and helping me assimilate their language must faster.
July 5 — I am recovering quicker than expected. I can run now for one minute without stopping and do ten pushups. I have asked the Eldorians if they have four seasons here, like in my country. They answered affirmatively. It’s just that their “winter” is mild and does not have any snow. Snow is something to be found only high up in the mountains.
Their year is shorter than ours, having only two hundred and seventy-three days. It is divided in nine months, each of them thirty days long. The three days left at the end are called the Special Days of Year Change and are not part of any month. Once every 11 years, a fourth day is added to these three days, to correct the calendar. The months are subdivided in ten-day intervals, which they call “dektagoj” (read as “deck-tagoy”), this meaning “ten days”.
In some ways, their calendar is more practical than ours, however I will continue to use the one from my world in my log, for the sake of consistency. Now it’s also summer at their place and it is the 16th day from the 5th month. For distance, weight, or volume, they employ empirical units based on body measures, like most of my people used to do until a few hundred years ago.
After my watch was fixed, I was surprised to find out that their day is also twenty-four hours long. This synchronization between our worlds is remarkable. I read many astronomy books over the years and am familiar with the opinions of the scholars from my world about the possibility of life on other planets. Some would be hotter, some would feel colder than Earth. Their day length should vary greatly. Some would be bigger, some smaller. It is unlikely to have many planets with the same gravity and this means that the local gravitational force would most likely differ from that of my planet. I have no means to do a precise measurement, I would need a well-calibrated spring scale for that, but my subjective feeling is that the gravitation here is very close to that on Earth.
Based on the totally different stars and constellations visible in this sky, I have concluded I must be far, far away from my world. We don’t know exactly how far away the stars are from each other, but we know that the size of our Solar System is insignificant compared to these distances. Many of our scientists believe the stars are suns, like ours, and so do I. Perhaps, many of them have planets. We must have traveled somehow to a different planet from a different solar system, passing through a giant hidden gate that linked us directly to the other realm.
A different sun, larger and paler, shines now high above my head, and my feet are stepping on a different world. How can these two planets be sometimes connected so closely, allowing people to cross from one realm to another as if there was no space between them? How can such huge celestial distances be made so short? This is beyond my comprehension. Maybe the future generations are going to understand this phenomenon better. I’ve talked about these things with Nivit and she followed my ideas with interest, glad to hear me sharing my thoughts with her.
July 6 — Using my watch as a model, Ezer began working to make a copy of it. With his skills and tools, he hopes to have it finished in about a week. I’m astonished by the abilities of these people. Later, he intends to use my technical drawings that describe how a telescope works to build one to observe the stars himself.
Rem, the village priest (if we can call his role in this community as the equivalent of a priest, although I can say the Eldorians do not have much of an organized religion) explained to me that for Eldor the world is divided in two complementary realms: Esyon and Nosyon. Esyon is the world we see, the world inside which we live. The other world, Nosyon, is almost like a mirror of it, the other face of the same coin. Some say their sun is our moon and the other way around. There are people living there too, but they are very different from us.
“Is my world Nosyon?” I asked him. “No, your world is a separate entity that seems to be sometimes connected to our world through a desoro.” He could not explain me what a desoro is. Nobody else from the village could. The closest word to it is “tunnel.” Where did he take this concept from? Rem could not come with a clear answer.
Every day, Nivit continues to spend many hours in my company. She is an accomplished physician, taking after her father, but also shows a keen interest in physics and astronomy, and absorbs like a sponge everything I teach her about my world. With access to the right resources of education from my country, she could become a first class scientist.
July 7 — I try again to ask the Eldorian people about who they are and where they came from. Etin suggests I read the books in their library. I already did that, went through the several hundred tomes filling the shelves there and found no answer to my question. However, I decide to obey his advice, entering the building again and checking one more time all the titles.
The books are mostly everyday chronicles of the village, going back in time for more than two centuries. Some tomes are medicine textbooks, very similar to those from Earth, mainly describing the use of plants to treat various diseases. I also discover a few scripts that contain poems, songs, legends and fairy tales about this place and some places downstream. I try to find more about Nivit’s mother in the village records, but there is no information about her. Some books are missing and the Eldorians don’t know what happened to them. Or perhaps they don’t want me to find out about some events that took place here in the past.
The volumes related to Eldor history travel in time for only about two hundred and fifty years. They describe the local people’s occupations and the most important events, with some gaps here and there. Nothing really different from today’s life and no answers about their origin. Two hundred and fifty years ago, the village was simply here, with houses and people. And no information ahead of that time can be found. Besides chronicles, most remaining books are about herbal medicine, agriculture, or hunting. Some are about how to build houses or describe the methods of metal working. I can find nothing about this world’s history or geography.
In the end, I’ll have to give up asking these questions. It seems the locals simply don’t know the answers I was hoping to find. They saved my life and helped me to recover quickly, they are my friends and I have no reasons not to trust them.
Even though I expected to need another week to fully recover, my healing process has sped up unexpectedly during the last couple of days. Now I’m making plans for the trip towards the shore. The gravitational force surely works in a very strange way on this planet. This river probably originates near Gold City and flows all the way towards an even lower elevation area. Based on my travel, I would expect this location to be at least three or four hundred meters below the sea level. However, something tells me that the level of the ocean on the other side of the snowy ridges must be significantly lower than the altitude of Eldor’s houses.
I ask Nivit if anyone has ventured recently beyond the mountains. She answers simply and shortly: “No.”
“I have to return to my ship and tell my captain about everything I have discovered during my journey,” I tell her. “Is there any map of the mountains available in the village?”
“No, there isn’t. We don’t use maps,” says Nivit.
“That’s too bad, a map would be of great use for a long trip. Then, I suppose I’ll have to rely only on my orientation abilities to reach the sea. Once on the shore, I plan to build a small raft from the trees that grow there, navigate along the coast, and come back to my people who might still be stationed near Gold City.”
“Are you planning to return with them to your world?” she asks, with a long and intense look in her eyes and a blush in her cheeks.
“Would you like to come with me and visit my world?” I retort, smiling.
Her eyes brighten, then she smiles back, puts her arms around my neck and kisses me.
“I was hoping to hear this,” comes her reply. “Even though none of the people who live now in the village have traveled to the sea behind the mountains, many of us explored the slopes facing Eldor. We can guide you through the first half of the trip.”
I kiss her back and hold her in my arms for a long time.
July 8 — I have begun my preparations for the trek over the mountains. My relatively long presence here and the stories about my world seem to have had a strong impact on the villagers. Most people look like awaken from a deep slumber. Pulled out from their isolation, all the Eldorians are suddenly interested in science, technology and exploration trips. They don’t hide at all the fact that they would also like to visit my world someday. In the end, I manage to convince most of them to remain in the village for the time being. Only Nivit, Eori and a young man named Ron will go with me to Excelsior.
We need new boots and warm clothes to survive the high altitude crossings among the peaks covered in snow. The Eldorians are amazing craftsmen. From antelope skin, they are making new pairs of foot gear for our team, based on their own design. Their boots are much better than the ones made in my world, which I’m still wearing for the time being. The new clothes that have just replaced my thorn military uniform are woven from a very sturdy fiber that looks like linen. I and my companions will also use coats made of bear skin to cover our shoulders and protect us from cold.
Based on my suggestions, we shall also build two tents. Two layers of waterproof canvas are going to prevent the humidity from reaching the people sleeping inside. Metal pegs will be used to anchor the collapsible shelters solidly to the ground.
Light leather backpacks are prepared to carry our equipment and food supplies, consisting of aledo, dried fruits and dried antelope meat to last for a whole week. Everything else is going to be provided from fishing, hunting or fruit picking along the way. We are going to need another six-seven days to be ready for our trip.
July 9 — I am still amazed about how quickly I could learn to speak satisfactorily the Eldorian language. Yet many Eldorians speak my language even better than I speak theirs. The preparations for the trip are going normally. And Nivit is so beautiful!
Three men came today by canoe from Vol, trading linen clothes and hunting bows for orange-like fruits and antelope skins. They wear light leather boots, and are dressed in tight linen trousers and shirts, with long coats made of antelope skin over their shoulders. I have talked to them for a while and got the conclusion that Vol is a village very much alike Eldor, where people speak the same language and have similar occupations.
Vol, Sen, Adir… The world downstream certainly looks interesting, but there is no time to visit it, my duty calls me in the opposite direction, back to Excelsior.
July 10 — With a few simple angular measurements, I have estimated the distance to the peaks that border the sky in the ocean’s direction to twenty-eight kilometers and their height to about three kilometers. My approximate map fits well with the fact that the sea should be straight behind those ridges. It’s a bit strange that the Eldorians don’t use maps.
I suppose we can cross the mountains in three or four days. Then we are planning to build a makeshift raft on the shore, using small axes to chop the wood and perhaps transforming the tent’s canvases into a primitive sail. If the weather is good and the currents favorable, we can arrive to Excelsior in another two or three days.
July 13 — I was so busy with the trip preparations that I’ve omitted adding new notes in my log for the last two days. Everything is ready. We shall cross the river and proceed towards south tomorrow morning, towards the place where the white pics of the mountains stand. Yesterday, I was profoundly impressed to see Ezer with an almost perfect replica of my watch. His model is just slightly bigger. It took him another four hours to fix its running speed and by evening his watch appeared to be as precise as mine.
I wanted to see the tools used by Ezer to craft all the tiny complex metal pieces from the new watch, but he refused to show them to me, apologizing for the inconvenience and saying he is bound by an oath to keep them secret. In the end, I had to give up asking any other questions. It’s obvious these people have access to technologies way beyond their lifestyle. Perhaps they don’t trust me sufficiently to show me everything they own and everything they are. I just hope that in time their attitude will improve enough to accept me as one of their own.
Here, in this village I came back from the claws of death. Here, in this isolated location, I’ve made many new friends. Here, in this place, the delicate flower of love opened in my heart. I leave Eldor as a man born for a second time. Soon I shall see my ship and crew again. Then, hopefully, Nivit will accompany me in the return trip to my world.
Excerpt from "Butterfly's Dream", a novel by Marian C. Ghilea;
3d graphic portrait by Marian C. Ghilea: A #smile for you;
(c) Marian C. Ghilea, all rights reserved
12 sample chapters (pre-final draft) are available here: http://nivitx.blogspot.com/2017/08/final-proof-reading-novel-almost-done.html
#scifi #literature #amwriting #romance #adventure #books #writing #fantasy #novel #comingsoon #ya #chapter #prose #history #photography #exploration #village #life #revival #river #mountains #recovery #friendship #romance #expedition
@ellowrites @ellowriting @gardenlovepoet @ellophotography @ello
For the previous chapters, please check:
iota 1: https://ello.co/gebeleizis/post/heby1mtemuse3klk1txkmg
iota 2: https://ello.co/gebeleizis/post/rtj21h0fjkl5g0yesel18g