Thursday, December 8, 2016

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learning to burn part 14

Read HERE before you read this!

Yes, Ofonode, I do have a place for you to sleep. Your lizard won't be a problem, will it?”
No ma'am. He won't be a problem at all. Thank you.”
You did well today. Thank you for working hard and steadily. How long do you think you'll be here?”
I honestly don't know. I will need enough food for two days of travel and I want to pay or trade for it. You might have a better idea than I, actually.”
Yes. I might. Well, given the way you work, I'd be willing to give you enough food for two days if you work for another five. Does that sound fair to you?”
More than fair, that's generous, ma'am. Thank you.”
Follow me and I'll show you where you can sleep as long as you're here.”
Ofonode picks up his pack and lifts Os and cradles the sleeping lizard. Maybella leads Ofonode to a quiet corner of the kitchen. The thin dusting of flour reveals that this area of the kitchen isn't as frequently used as the rest.
Maybella pushed a rolling cart out of the way and opens a skinny door. She reaches in the small room and flips a switch. A gas light fires up. “This should be plenty of space for you and your stuff.”
Ofonode walks in and looks around. A narrow cot, enough floor space to walk around three sides of it, and a shelf at about head height on the wall against which the cot is pressed, “Yes, ma'am. This will be plenty of room for a few days. Thank you.”
The faterio owner nods her head and walks away. She calls over her shoulder, “Sleep well, boy. The racket of the morning will wake you if you're not up already. Make sure you get right to work when you hear it. Find Trinia, she'll show you what to do.”
Yes, ma'am.” Ofonode watches as she leaves the kitchen. Then he closes the door that seperates his closet from the kitchen. “If you want to change, I think you'll be safe now, Os”
Why would I want to do that? It's more comfortable to sleep on the floor as a lizard. You need the cot. I'm sure the kitchen gets loud very early. We both need to get to sleep right away.”
Ok. Thank you for letting me have the cot, Os. Sleep well.”
You, too.”
#
The days passed easily and quickly except for one. Four days into his stay in Crossroads at Maybella faterio, Ofonode's anger flared. He was upset with himself because he'd ruined a pot of soup. He was sure Maybella would feel as angry as he did. He caught sight of himself in a pot and stood still, counting, until the flames that made a mask around his eyes faded away. As it turned out, Maybella wasn't upset at all. She simply asked him to be more careful. He was.
#
I wish you could stay just one more day, Ofonode. I've finally found a clue to my father and you're leaving!” Trinia had come to his room very early. Ofonode was already up and almost finished packing his few belongings away in his bag.
With the information you've shared about getting to your village, I'm sure I'll be back really quickly. I believe your village will be with me, too. So, not only will you get to see your father, you'll have your mother with you!”
I should be excited about the prospect. But actually, I feel a little sick to my stomach when you put it that way!”
Well, I'm sure everything will be okay. And we'll see each other again, either way. Are you planning to leave for Trebukenan today?
No. I think I'll leave in a week. I'd like to have a little more credit built up with Maybella. I know you said Estie would let me work for her, but what if she doesn't need any help? I just want to feel more prepared.”
It's your choice. You don't have to go to Trebukenan if you don't want to. I thought you might like it and if you go it'll feel like you're making your way on your journey still. I've felt a little antsy the last couple days and I know it's because I want to continue my journey. Especially now that I know everything you've shared.” Ofonode finished closing his bag. Os climbed to lay across his shoulders.
Yeah. I guess I feel a little more relaxed about things since I know I can't get to my father's village without you and you have at least a couple weeks' worth of travel to go.”
Well, I better go say goodbye to Maybella. Bye Trinia. Thank you for your help. I'll see you again soon either here or in Trebukenan.”
Yeah. One place or the other. Be safe.”
Ofonode walked out of his room and into the kitchen. It was poorly lit this early, so he shouldn't have been surprised when he bumped into Maybella. They both laughed a little.
I thought you'd leave early, but this is earlier than I thought. You really are rearin' to go, aren'tcha Ofonode?”
Yes ma'am. I am.”
Well, I started collecting food stuff for you. It's over on the main counter. Look it over, would you. See if there's anything I forgot.”
Ofonode packed the food into his bag. Maybella had given him at least four days' worth of food. That was way more than he'd said he would need.
The faterio owner walks over as he puts the last item in his bag, “It's more than two days of food. I just wanted you to see how much I appreciate your work here. You're welcome to stay here on your way back to your village when you're done with whatever you're doing. And if you wanted to stay here, I'd be glad to have you a lot longer than a few days.”
Thank you, Maybella. I appreciate you, too. You've been a generous employer. I'm glad Roedar suggested I come here and work for you.”
Did he now? You didn't tell me that before.” Maybella blushes.
I'm sorry. I thought I did. Well, he did. He said you had the best faterio in town and you might need help.”
I'm glad you told me before you left. I'll have to thank Roedar for his suggestion to you. Travel well and safely, Ofonode.
I will. Thank you again, Maybella.”
#
Since Ofonode knew the secret of the aqueduct, and he wanted to shorten his journey now that he knew where he needed to go, he decided to travel on the road only long enough to get out of sight of Crossroads. He didn't want to worry the townsfolk and have the whole lot of them communicating about his journey in a way that could make it more difficult for him. As soon as he was out of sight of Crossroads, he turned off the road and walked through the scrub toward the south. He was confident that he would run into the aqueduct after about a day of walking.
It took longer than he expected. How was he to know he'd have another run-in with an invisian? This time he didn't have a dream that warned him, he just started to have a really dark and foreboding feeling. “Os…. Oseratin.” The lizard woke up. “I think there's something wrong. I have a feeling… I don't know how to describe it. I need you to help me with this stuff. I mean, I need you to change and pull the water container or carry something. I think we need to start running.”
Os jumped down and changed in mid-jump. He picked up the water like it was nothing. Ofonode was already running and Os caught up to and passed him quickly. “Come on, boy. If you're serious, you've got to put some energy into this run. I'm not sure I can carry you and all this other stuff very far at all.”
Fear felt like a balloon growing in his gut. At Oseratin's words, the balloon burst and Ofonode's head was on fire, the flames lifting his hair around him.
That's right. Be afraid. Now, use the energy of your flame and RUN.”
Ofonode heard his friend and wanted to do what he said. He just didn't know HOW. Fear grew and his flame encompassed his whole body.
Os looked back. Ofonode saw the expression of sheer tortured fear, like his friend saw something about to get him and there was nothing he could do about it. The fear that has popped and filled him now turned to pure anger. There's no way some invisian who had a problem with his people was going to get him and hurt him!
When he glanced at Os again, his friend's look of terror had changed from terror to wonder. He felt like he was looking down on his friend as he watched him become a flying dragon with their water in his fore-claws.
What's going on, Os?”
You've made wings from your flame! I've heard it was possible. I've never seen any of your people do it, though! They are magnificent, Ofonode! Keep flying, my friend. Keep flying.”
Ofonode did. After flying for a while, “Do you know where we are, Os. We were supposed to follow the aqueduct south. Do you know if we've reached it yet?”
I forgot about the aqueduct. Yes. We've passed it a while ago. We should turn a bit and head southeast now. We'll run across it before too long if you can keep flying.”
I don't think I can fly much longer, Os. I feel extremely fatigued. Like I've been running for days.”
I was worried about that. Okay, let's turn and fly just as long as you can.”
They flew on until Ofonode almost fell from his flight. He didn't fall too far because he'd flown close to the ground once he realized how tired he was.
Os changed as he landed, took a couple steps, placed the water on the ground next to the boy, and knelt next to him. Ofonode was lying on the ground breathing heavily. Os took the pack from the boy and shuffled through the food, taking out a few things. The invisian propped Ofonode up against the water container and handed the boy some food and opened the canteen and gave it to him. He sat back and the two ate in silence for a few minutes.
Your flight was really spectacular Ofonode. It would be an amazing feat to control your flame enough to be able to do that any time you want.”
I've never heard of anyone doing that, but you have, huh?”
Yes. I'm pretty sure Ughegbe is the most recent one to do it, but it used to be a little more common before his day. I guess your people just lost the ability because there wasn't a need.”
Do you think it's safe for me to rest here, Os?”
No. But you need to anyway. We'll travel in the dark if necessary. Just sleep as long as you sleep. I'll be here and wake you if anything happens.”
#
Ofonode slept deeply. “I thought you'd sleep a lot longer than that. Are you sure you're ready to get up and go, Ofonode?”
Yes. I feel really good. I slept better than I have in a long time, Os. Thank you for helping me feel safe.”
Okay, then. Do you mind if I ride the water container? I could use a rest.”
That should be fine. I'll wake you if anything happens.”
Yes. I know you will. That's why I feel so safe sleeping with you. Thank you for being a mindful and watchful travel companion. I couldn't have asked for better.”
Ofonode feels himself blush. The invisian changes and hops onto the water container just as Ofonode begins pulling it.
#
Before full dark, Ofonode arrives at the aqueduct. He's only a little way from one of the very large support legs, so he keeps walking until he reaches it. Once there, he fills the water container, sets up the tent, and then wakes Os to eat.
The friends eat in companionable silence. When they've finished their food and both had a drink from the aqueduct, Ofonode asks, “Do you think we'll be safe here for the rest of the night?”
Yes. Most invisians don't like running water. You pitched the tent directly under the aqueduct, which is really perfect. So I think we'll be as safe as it's possible to be out here away from the road.”
Yeah, maybe traveling this way wasn't such a great idea. I'm sorry, Os.”
I agreed to it. I didn't think we'd find any more of my kind out here. I guess they must be all over the wilds now. I'm glad they seem to stay away from cities, towns, and roads, at least. Let's go to sleep now. We should wake up as early as we can and get going again.”
Ok. I am pretty tired. Sleep well, Os.” He didn't even hear his friend's reply before Ofonode fell asleep. He slept deeply, yet somehow also fitfully. His dreams were strange. Invisians everywhere he looked as he flew over the land. And when he looked around, he saw fiery wings were carrying him where he wanted to go. The next thing he knew, Os was shaking him awake.
The sun is fully up, Ofonode. I've let you sleep longer than I should. Let's get going.”
Ofonode was up and packing the tent without delay. As soon as everything was ready, he took a meatpie out of his pack and started walking.
Um… Ofonode… we should go this way. Unless you want to return to Crossroads. Did you? I thought we were heading to Ontewon.”
You're right, I'm sure. I'm just a little disoriented, I guess. I'm not used to flying, but I was in my dreams and I guess I'm remembering that more than what happened yesterday.”
Flying in your dreams, eh? Were you angry, then?”
No. Just flying. And seeing invisians everywhere. It was crazy. My wings were pretty neat… made of fire. Is that what they really look like? I mean, did I actually have wings?”
You did. Wings made of fire. It's been ages since I saw the like. They are really quite glorious. I hope you'll manage to control your flame to such a degree that you can use your wings anytime you want. That would be something else, for sure!”
I hope so, too.” Ofonode wonders how he can manage it. He hasn't even figured out how to control his fire consistently. One time meditation will work. Another time it won't. One time counting will work, another it won't. Singing hasn't worked yet, but works for some of his people. So far the things that have worked only help him some of the time. It's aggravating and every time he thinks about it, he starts to feel a little angry.
I think we'll have to spend the night under the aqueduct again. I'm pretty sure we're a bit more than a day away from Ontewon. Flying usually makes journeys faster, but not when we go out of our way. I'm sorry I wasn't paying more attention to the land when we were trying to stay safe. My neglect has definitely lengthened our trip.”
That's okay. We've got plenty of food and we will just make sure to stop at a support leg that has a faucet to refill the canteen and water container. No one's expecting us. It's not like we're going to be late or anything.”
The two travel silently with a few water breaks until lunch time.
It seems like we should have more food than we do, Os. Where has it gone?”
You ate quite a bit after you flew. I know we've been eating normally since then. Are you worried about how much we have?”
No, not if we get to Ontewon early tomorrow. But we definitely don't have enough left for a full day after today.”
#
The friends reach the town at lunch time. Both are very hungry since they finished their food for breakfast. The gate is not guarded and the wall is very low. They can see the sides of buildings and roofs easily as they approach.
This town must be much smaller than the last two.” Ofonode remarks casually. “Do you think they'll have somewhere for us to help out so we can prepare for our trip to Riverton?”
Never can tell. You'll have to ask around being that I'm just a lizard and all.”
Ofonode prepares himself to talk to strangers. “Do you think they'll be able to read my mind like the folk in Crossroads?”
I'd be ready for it. It's probably a good idea to assume everyone out here can do it. Maybe you can do it, too… if you try.”
Ofonode hadn't even considered the possibility. Maybe I can.
#
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