Thursday, November 24, 2016

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learning to burn part 12

Start at the beginning.

Ofonode wakes earlier than usual. “I think we need to leave today, Os. I dislike giving Estie such short notice, but I feel like we know what we need to know now.”
Yes. I agree.” Os shifts into his humanoid form and begins gathering their things.
Someone might see you, Os!”
No. you awakened before any of them males ever do. I'm fine.” He finishes packing their bag and shifts back into lizard form. “Let's go. I'm sure Estie is already in the kitchen.”
The two make their way down to the kitchen. Os was right. Estie is sitting on a high stool working on some papers at one of the counters.
Oh! Hello Tin. I thought you might leave today or tomorrow. I kept you away from Florabell as long as I could. I just knew she'd know what you needed. I'm sorry to see you go. Pollyanna will be sorry, too. She really likes you.”
I like her, too. She a sweet, kind, and beautiful girl. It's just that… I'm not supposed to stay here. I have to try to finish what I started. When I come through again, I'm pretty sure I won't stay then either. Please tell Polly. I mean… I like her, but she's just...”
Yes. She's not who you're meant to find. I know. She'll be sad, but she is meant to stay here, so she'll just have to find someone who will stay with her.”
That's right. I hope you know I'm leaving so suddenly simply because I did learn what I need to know from Florabell. Thank you for sending me to her yesterday. Especially in light of the fact that you thought I would leave soon afterward.”
You're welcome. You're a good worker, Ofonode. If you need to stop here for a few days on your way back to your village, you can come here for work.” Estie slides down from the stool, “I also want to make sure you are able to travel well. Put your pack on the table and open it.” She walks away as Ofonode does as she's directed.
When she returns, she puts her armload of supplies on the counter next to his pack and begins loading them into it. “This should last you a couple days… or more if you eat very little. You should really eat as much as you need to feel satisfied at the very least, though. Your friend, too. You have to keep up your strength when traveling. This will definitely last you long enough to get to Crossroads. It's a small town, but they have enough travelers through their town that they have extra to help travelers along.” Estie finishes packing his bag and turns to him smiling. “You better share some stories when you return. I've always wondered what it would be like to travel a long way away. I thought I might last year. But then my parents died and Ram showed up… I like my life, don't get me wrong. You can pay me for all this stuff by telling me stories of your travels. That's what I'm trying to say.”
Ofonode nods his head vigorously. “I'll be happy to tell you all about it, Estie.”
Good.” She rests her hands on her hips. “Oh! I almost forgot!” She turns away and almost runs to a less used part of the kitchen. When she returns, she hands Ofonode a large container. “Your small container for water will not be enough for two days. I believe two days is the longest you'll have to go between towns. If you go beyond Riverton, you might need more. I've never known anyone who traveled through the mountains or along Mountain River. All I know if from here to Riverton and from here to Peninan. I don't even know what you'd need if you were trying to go to Flindernan. I hope you're not going that way just because I don't know how to help you make it there.”
We are heading to the mountains as you guessed. Thank you for all your help, Estie!”
This container… it's special. I don't know how they did it, but if you push this thing here on the bottom...” she pushes the space she's indicated and large wheels pop out of each corner of the container. “Your friend could probably right on it while you pull. It'll be way easier to carry the water you need this way. I know the aqueduct goes most of the way, but I don't know how people get water from it. Anyway, I just want to make sure you have plenty of water and food to start your journey. I'm sure you'll be able to figure things out as you go.”
You're going to make a great Mom, Estie.”
She blushes and ducks her head, “Thanks, Tin. I mean, Ofonode. I appreciate it. I do worry sometimes. She turns away and takes a few steps. When she returns she has two meat pies. “Breakfast on the go. It's really good. I know you haven't tried them yet.”
Yeah. I heard they were a favorite among your customers and didn't want to cause you to be short by eating any myself.”
That's really thoughtful, Ofonode. Well, we won't run short. Enjoy them. I hope your friend does, too!”
Thanks again, Estie.”
Travel well, Ofonode. You too lizard.”
I call him Os.”
Okay. You too Os.” Estie smiles. Ram joins her as Ofonode and Os reach the back door out of the kitchen. Ofonode turns and waves. The two wave back.
Making his way out of the city after filling his water containers, is easy enough. He just follows the aqueduct. Knowing what to do when he reaches Spring Lake isn't quite as easy to see.
I didn't realize they had a wall up almost all the way around Spring Lake, Os. How are we supposed to get out?”
Osaretin looks around, “Why don't you go to that small building there?” The lizard points.
I didn't see that. I can barely see it now. You think someone is there?”
Absolutely. Even if they can't directly help us, I'm sure someone is there. They'd want to watch this entry to their city just like the other one. Wouldn't you?”
Yeah. Now that you put it that way. Definitely.”
The two make their way to the small building. It's actually built up into the wall with steps leading up to it. Ofonode takes a couple steps, but stops when a man calls out, “Yes, yes. I'm coming. I'll be down in a minute. Just wait at the bottom, there, would you?”
Ofonode turns around and shrugs at the lizard waiting on the rolling water container as he steps back down.
The tall, slightly pudgy older man is down the steps a few minutes later. “I meant to be ready and waiting for you, but I didn't wake up as early as I meant to. They said you'd be here early. You surely are!” The man walks toward the water, “You'll want to get across, of course. Walking around the city would add a whole day to your journey, even if you took the shorter way. We don't want that. No reason to make things more difficult than they're going to be on their own. Right?”
I agree with that, for sure.” Ofonde smiles in case the man decides to turn and look at him.
Okay. You'll have to pick that container up to get in on the barge here.” Just as the man says it, Ofonode sees a flat boat at the edge of the water. He wonders how he didn't see it before. “Things we don't know are there somehow seem to disappear until someone tells us about them. Remember that, boy. If you can try to see what you don't know is there, you'll encounter far fewer surprises as your travel. And if your friend there can help you, even better. I hear lizards can see farther than we can. Anyway… more eyes are better than just your own as long as they are friendly, of course.”
How did you know I would be here today?”
Well, I didn't know for sure it would be today. I thought you might wait until tomorrow if you likes Polly as much as I hear she likes you. Poor girl. She's a catch, though. I'm sure she'll find a wonderful young man to take over when her father decides to step down.”
I do like her...”
Just not enough to stay. Yes. I thought it might be that way. At least, that's what it seemed like when I heard you kept asking questions every day you were here. Most travelers let go of questions after their third or fourth day in Trebukenan. It's just a really good city.”
I think so, too. I just need to work harder to finish what I set out to do. I told someone I would and I want to return knowing I did my best.”
That's very good, boy. You'll find what you're looking for with that attitude, for sure. I hope you'll tell us the story on your way back to your home.”
Ofonode just nods his head, wondering how it is that the people here are so confident he'll find what he's looking for when he's not nearly so sure.
Okay. Now that we're all loaded, let's get going. Just stand with your legs wide apart and bend your knees a bit. With your big container in the middle, this should be a cinch.”
The man pushes off and the raft-like barge slides over the water of the small lake easily.
Is it very deep?”
No. Spring Lake isn't deep at all. The only reason we have enough water is that the spring is very strong. Once I get a few more feet it'll be too deep for me to reach and push, but the flow of the spring will catch us and push us far enough that I can push the rest of the way to the shore.”
How will you get back?”
Oh, we have a good rope system along the wall. I'll pull myself some of the way, and push with my pole the rest of the way. The flow of the spring won't push me at the edge. I've done it plenty of times. I'll be fine. Don't worry about me none.”
Nodding his head, Ofonode watches as the shore grows larger more quickly. He realizes they must have met the flow of the spring.
With a bump, they reach the shore. “Unload carefully. It's a bit deep, so you don't want to step in the water here or you'll be in to your chest. That's no way to start traveling. Wet clothes, wet food… it's no good traveling wet.”
Ofonode tosses his water container off the barge, hoping it'll land and stay whole. Then he steps off carefully carrying their bag on his back and Os lying across his shoulders. He turns back toward the man, “Thank you for helping us across. I hope you have a great day!”
You, too. Keep your eyes open for what you don't expect, boy. Be willing to see what you don't know. You'll be okay so long as you keep going even if it gets difficult.”
I will. Thanks again.” Os jumps down to the rolling container and Ofonode waves and turns away, picking up the handle of the water container and pulling. It's still very heavy, so he feels hopeful that it's completely intact.
The aqueduct is much higher out of Trebukenan than in it. Ofonode is very glad to have his two water containers now that he sees how high the aqueduct is away from his path.
Still almost a full day of traveling left, Ofonode feels more tired than he thinks he should. “Are you feeling better yet, Os?”
What do you mean?”
Well, it seems like you needed the whole time we were in Trebukenan to recover from flying me away from that thing. We never did talk about that, either. Do you know anything about it?”
One thing at a time. It did take me a while to recover, but not the whole time we were there. After I recovered, I was resting more than necessary to prepare for this leg of our journey. Never can tell what we'll encounter. Especially with what we've already been through.”
Yeah. What was that thing, anyway??”
That was one of my people.”
An invisian? But it was horrible! It was trying to hurt both of us, wasn't it?”
Yes. Yes it was. Most of my people are not trustworthy, Ofonode. At least, not to your kind. They are angry that we lost the ability to leave and take their anger out on your people.”
Why was it trying to hurt you, too, though?”
I am a traitor to those who hate it here. I could live the rest of my days on the fringes of your village and feel happy simply watching over all of you and observing. That's not a common feeling among those who are physically like me. Before the land changed so drastically, we still had our last ship and even then we were not welcome among your people. It is natural for beings to distrust what they don't understand.”
If your kind were welcome to live among mine, would they be happier?”
I don't know any more. Their desires may have changed. It has been many many years since I have been among them. There are very few like me who enjoy being unknown. Invisians are, by their nature, a bit of attention hounds. Those who do not like it here may have changed their primary desire since they've felt trapped so long.”
I guess there's no way to deal with that right now anyway.” Ofonode wishes there was something he could do to help the invisians who resent his people.
You're right. I think we'll come to the town Crossroads soon. Why don't we have a break for food so we can feel at our ease as we enter the town and deal with people there.”
That's a great idea, Os. Let's eat under the aqueduct by that leg there. There'll be a little shade for us to rest in, I think.”
The two head to the larger leg ahead of them. Most of the supports for the aqueduct are about half its size, so provide little shade from the hot sun. He thinks it shouldn't be nearly so hot as it is already. But then again, he's never been on the surface, so maybe his understanding of the temperature of the day is all wrong given his limited experience.
I'm really grateful for all the food Estie packed for us. She was really generous.” Ofonode feels a sort of missingness as he eats a meatpie she packed. Wishing he could have stayed in Trebukenan he thinks aloud, “Polly was a really kind girl. And so sweet and beautiful.”
Ofonode, you are right to continue your journey. Polly is a kind and sweet girl, but you really don't know her very well. You have known very few girls. Perhaps you will learn which character traits you desire in your future sweetheart as you travel more.”
I guess. That is possible. Especially since I've got a way still to go. How long do you think it'll take?”
That depends on how long we stop in each town. We will have to figure out a way to restock. Since we don't have money, you'll probably have to work in exchange for provisions. So, it could take a few weeks, given that. We could get lucky, of course, and the people might want something we can give. That could cut days off our stay. I don't know how to find that out, though.”
Okay. Well, we should probably get going. I feel so tired, Os. I think I feel more tired than I should. I mean, it's not like our journey has been very difficult. Has it?”
No. It's been pretty easy so far. We should be grateful nothing exciting has happened. Why do you think you're so tired?”
I have no idea. I slept hard last night. So I think I should feel way more energetic than I do.”
Let's get going. It's not a good idea to nap here. Not with the sun as hot and strong as it is here on the surface.”
The two drink long from the small canteen and Ofonode refills it from the large container. “It's getting very empty, Os. I'm worried we might not make it to Crossroads before we run out.”
Don't get upset Ofonode. I'm sure we'll figure something out if the need arises.”
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