iota (part 2) 🐅 recovering 🐅
🌛 for other chapters, please see the end of this post 🌛
As the days passed, I began taking short walks inside the garden and visited the rest of the settlement. It was a village with twenty-five houses, all made of nicely cut blocks of stone and covered with wooden tiles. Each building was quite large and had three or four rooms. The village area extended all the way to the river bank and was bordered by ponds and forests in the opposite direction. Most of the people living here, almost a hundred souls, were farmers or fishers, but also occasional hunters on the nearby snowy mountain slopes. I felt safe in this place, now being certain that no soldier from Gold City would follow me to this location through the narrow and treacherous canyon.
The locals spoke this elegant, musical tongue, very regular in structure and easy to learn, surprisingly similar to some languages from our world and especially close to Latin. The river, named Kai, was about one hundred meters wide here and the terrain crossed by it was relatively flat in this area. The climate was pleasant during this time of the year, with warm days and moderately cool nights.
Four days after I woke up inside Eori’s house, I was already conversational in most basic topics. The new words were easy to remember and at night, during my sleep, I had the strange feeling that someone was reciting them to me again and again, just to make sure I won’t forget anything. Their tongue did not have a name, it was simply called “lingvo”, meaning “language”. What amazed me was that Nivit, Eori, and also Etin, the village chief, could learn my language at least as fast as I was learning theirs, even though it had an irregular structure and a more difficult vocabulary. Once they heard a word in my tongue and its translation, it would stick to their brains as if they had already known it for a long time.
Unlike inside Gold City, I could not see here many objects made of gold. Stone, wood, steel, and some silver were the basic materials employed in construction, for tools or artifacts. Using my limited vocabulary and several sheets of paper to illustrate my ideas, I began asking the villagers about the large city-port on the shore. Instead of the expected affirmative answer, I’ve got surprised looks. They knew nothing about Gold City and said that, based on their knowledge, the whole region along Kai River upstream from their village was uninhabited. Only traveling downstream for about two days you could find another village, Vol. Then, going for another week, one could reach a city named Sen.
From the amount of time needed to arrive there by canoe, this city sounded more than three hundred kilometers away. It was definitely not in the area where I expected to find Excelsior. All this time I had had the feeling that the Kai River was turning to its right in a very wide curve and expected to see it reaching the sea after several tens of kilometers. Apparently, I had been wrong. The geography of this realm did not seem to follow any logic, as if this whole world was artificially built, patched up from many independent pieces by a rather inexperienced architect. Yet, who could build such a place and why?
I turned to the villagers again and asked them about the nearest place where I could get to the ocean’s shore. They told me the coast was behind the mountains, maybe fifty kilometers away, but the whole area on the other side of the snowy peaks was difficult to cross, uninhabited, and inhospitable. People hadn’t ventured there for many decades. The river itself flew into the sea, but much further, in the opposite direction. It took about two weeks to navigate along its stream all the way to the coast, and yes, there was a large city there, indeed, but its name was Adir. By my estimates, I had already traveled about one hundred and twenty to one hundred and thirty kilometers from Gold City to Eldor. Two weeks on the river would mean at least another six-seven hundred kilometers. The island was very large indeed. Or maybe it was a continent?
As my mastery of the local language improved, and also helped by drawings on many sheets of paper (the village had its own paper mill and a library), I could tell these people my own story. They were surprised to learn about the strange connection between our world and theirs, about our big ship, and the huge quantity of gold from Gold City. Still, I didn’t tell them everything I saw, preferring to keep for myself the part with the forest full of human cocoons. Somehow I had an instinctual feeling I would miss the chance to solve the mystery of that place if I told anyone in Eldor about it.
Then I tried to describe my world, too, with its large cities, chariots pulled by horses, guns and canons, clocks and pocket watches, piano and violin music, our steam machines, our experience in map drawing and sea navigation, our sciences: astronomy, medicine, biology, chemistry, and physics. Even though my vocabulary numbered now over five hundred words, this proved to be a difficult task, as many of the concepts involved here didn’t have an equivalent in the locals’ language. However, in spite of my narrative clumsiness, my new friends were happy to hear my verbal descriptions and, while listening to them, often wrote down notes on their own sheets of paper.
From the technological wonders common in my realm, I could only show the villagers my broken pocket watch. Ezer, the steel master, was very impressed by its appearance. He asked me if I would allow him to fix it. I was skeptical about the odds of having my watch repaired in such an isolated area, without access to the required precision tools, but agreed and entrusted it to him.
Ezer took the watch to his workshop where, with infinite care, opened it up and cleaned the rusty parts from inside with some kind of plant oil. Then, he reheated and reshaped the cracked glass in front of a small furnace, using delicate steel pliers.
The next day, he brought the watch back to me in excellent working condition. My mouth dropped open. Astonished, I admired the quality of his repair, hardly able to believe my eyes. If these “primitive” people, who dwell in an isolated village and live a simple, unpretentious life, can do what Ezer just did, what are their limits if they tried to be like the people in my world? Who are they? What are they? Where did they come from? I went to Nadar, the village teacher (who is also a librarian and a scholar), and asked him all these questions. However, he seemed preoccupied to avoid a direct answer, so I decided to drop the matter for the time being.
My feeling that this world was not natural, not created by God at the beginning of time, but built recently by someone, continued to intensify. Other issues that did not fit well were the proper names, for both people and places. They were supposed to resonate with the spoken language and have some meaning in it, but they didn’t. All of them sounded as coming from another tongue, one that nobody spoke anymore.
I’ve got a partial explanation for the fuel used by the light globes. The unusual sources of light were made of hollow glass spheres and enclosed tiny organisms that fed on small pieces of rotting wood or on certain types of stone. These creatures could be seen during dark nights on trunks of dead trees or inside caves. Occasionally, the villagers harvested them from such places, when they needed fresh sources of illumination.
If fed regularly, the colonies inside the globes could live and prosper for months, sometimes even for years. However, in my dream about my trek through the giant maze of caves from the small bay to the city, the globes there looked like they had not been fed any kind of fuel for decades or perhaps even centuries. How could they stay lit for such a long time was beyond any logical explanation. Yet, what logical explanations can we give to the things happening in our dreams? Earth, too, has such tiny organisms that produce this type of “cold light”, however their luminosity is much fainter.
The villagers used an alphabet with rounded symbols as simple as ours (probably identical with the one from Gold City), and I could learn to read and write in it with confidence in less than a week. Nadar was particularly helpful in this endeavor. I was spending now about six hours a day in his studio, learning to speak their beautiful language. Both Nadar and I were working into making a good dictionary. Yanit and Evelle, a married couple, and Tevit, a young girl, sorted the words in order, in both alphabets, on small pieces of paper, then copied them in a large notebook.
Just seven days after my arrival to Eldor, our list already had almost two thousand words and this dictionary could be used to express most things in ordinary conversations. I was still surprised about the speed with which these people could learn my language, but also stunned about my own speed in learning theirs.
Soon I already knew by name everybody from the village. Their physical appearance suggested a trace of Asian ancestry in their blood and their faces had harmonious features that would make anyone from my world think they came from noble families. The men were well-built and of average height. The women, a bit shorter, looked delicate and charming but were in fact almost as strong physically as their masculine counterparts. Most men and women wore their dark hair long, tied on the back. Nobody looked older than fifty.
The attires of the locals varied in color and shape, but were designed to be first of all practical and only then beautiful. In most cases, they consisted of a pair of trousers, a long-sleeved shirt, and a jacket. Depending on the occasion, the villagers wore on their feet sandals, shoes, or boots. The women’s clothes worn on typical days were similar to men’s. Dresses or skirts were used only for festive occasions. A surprising thing was the low number of children. I was told in ambiguous terms that the villagers could control their birthrate and preferred to maintain their population low, to avoid straining the natural resources available locally.
Excerpt from "Butterfly's Dream", a novel by Marian C. Ghilea;
photo by Marian C. Ghilea: #Storks
(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 #suffering
@ellowrites @ellowriting @gardenlovepoet @ellophotography @ello
For the previous chapters, please check:
iota 1: https://ello.co/gebeleizis/post/heby1mtemuse3klk1txkmg