Thursday, January 26, 2017

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learning to burn,part 20

Please begin at the beginning!

Why are they so late for dinner? Prayer has already been said and the others are eating quietly.
Ofonode can't help but notice that he doesn't have quite as much food in front of him as he did for the past three meals, but still he has more than any of the other hands do.
A clomp of many feet indicate the arrival of the workers from the field. He's sure they've just come from the bathhouse because Primina wouldn't tolerate anything else.
When they come in, Eminghare is not with them. Ofonode stands and is just about to speak when she comes through the door. She looks very small after all the big guys that are already settled at the table. Already standing, Ofonode pulls Eminghare's chair out from the table and whispers, “Are you okay?”
She nods slightly and whispers back, “Later.”
The two sit and eat without another word between them. Ofonode reaches down to share his food and with Os throughout the meal. Ofonode watches Eminghare carefully and eats so that he's finishing when she does. “I'm leaving the extra napkin at my place, Primina. Thank you again for letting me use it. Dinner was wonderful. I'll take Eminghare to the women's rooms. She can stay in any room that doesn't have anything in it, right?”
“Good. You're welcome. That's fine. You can walk the hall, but don't go in any of the rooms, Ofonode.”
“Yes, ma'am.”
Eminghare rises and Ofonode does as well.
As soon as they are outside, “Are you okay. You look… I don't know, different.”
“Sure. I'm fine. That work was very different. What are we doing on this farm?”
“I'm not sure what you mean?”
“Well, I was expecting to do some sort of regular field work. But we didn't do that at all. They guys were digging and Boarch was watching. So, I started digging, too. Apparently the others already know how deep to go because after a few tries Boarch was only standing near me and he was very particular about the depth. I don't know. I felt like I was about to do something horribly wrong the whole time. It was worse than any physically strenuous work would've been.”
“I don't know. I haven't worked in the field. I guess no one really spoke about it at all, then?”
“Not a word. I mean, Boarch was fussing at me almost the whole time. But the guys didn't even say a single word to each other. It was really weird. I'm not going to stay longer than tomorrow. I was hoping to stay a few more days. But not because of this place, honestly. I was hoping to stay…”
Eminghare sighs in exasperation. “This way… not talking and being very secretive is not natural for me. I don't like it. I was going to wait until tomorrow, but would you come to the field behind the barn with me tonight?”
Feeling suddenly on alter, Ofonode works hard to carefully modulate excitement out of his voice and hopes Os is following as he usually does, “Sure.”
Eminghare nods to herself and leads the way. When she stops, Ofonode doesn't see anything out of the ordinary. Eminghare whispers into the air for a few minutes. Nothing she says is anything Ofonode can understand. A moment of silence and then a large dragon, very much like Os's dragon form appears almost immediately in front of Eminghare.
Ofonode grabs her shoulders and pulls her behind him, “Oseratin!” he shouts, “I need you now!”
Os wraps himself around the front of Ofonode's ankles and lays himself across his feet. Ofonode looks down, “That's not exactly what I was thinking.”
The dragon has moved only enough to land and in the process shifts into a small lizard form, just smaller than Os. Ofonode's mouth drops open.
Eminghare steps next to him and whispers, “She almost never takes this form. I've only seen her like this twice in the year we've been together. I think she really likes you!”
When the small lizard moves very close to Os, Eminghare's eyes open wide. The smaller lizard touches Os and the two disappear. Eminghare looks at Ofonode. “Why did they disappear?” Ofonode asks, “My friend has never disappeared like that before.”
“Just because you haven't seen it, doesn't mean he hasn't.”
“You mean, your friend disappears like that regularly?”
“Pretty often. When it's just the two of us, she doesn't, but if anyone else approaches or whatever, then, yes. I think she might be shy or just very careful.”
Has Os been able to do the same thing and I just didn't know it? Feeling very wary and nervous, Ofonode wants to speak to ease the tension he's feeling, “What is your friend's name?”
“I call her Binbin. But I don't know if she has a name she calls herself. She doesn't speak or anything. At least… not that I know of. Isn't Oseratin the name you've given your friend?”
“Uh… well, no.”
“How do you know to call him that?” Eminghare is looking intensely into Ofonode's face.
She hasn't really looked at him for long and never so directly, so Ofonode feels a bit uncomfortable and answers without thinking, “He told me.”
“What!?”
“Hasn't your friend ever talked to you?” he asks starting to wonder if he shouldn't have answered her question so directly.
“No… Not that I'm aware of. I mean, what do you mean by 'talk to'?”
“You know… talk. Like we're talking.”
“Then, no. Definitely not. She's never talked to me. Why would she not talk to me is she can? We've been together so long! Do you think she doesn't trust me?”
“I'm not sure why she wouldn't after so long… I'm sure there's a good reason for it, though. I just think it's amazing that you have an invisian with you, too!”
“In-invisian?”
“Okay, right. You wouldn't know that's what she is because she hasn't spoken. How about we talk about something else until they come back so she can tell you what she'll tell you and we'll go from there.”
Eminghare looks away as Ofonode makes the suggestion. She looks at everything around him and them unwilling or unable to let her eyes settle anywhere.
Ofodnode waits in silence. Does she still not trust me? Even though we both have the same sort of friend? Maybe it's just that she's scared, generally these days. I can't imagine what she's been through.
Slowly, Eminghare's eyes slow in their scanning of the area and eventually settle on Ofonde's chest. “Sure. What should be talk about?”
“Well, I'd like to know why you wanted me to meet your friend.”
“Oh.” Eminghare sags in what looks like relief to Ofonode. “I was hoping we might travel together. Since you've already been to Trebukenan, I'm guessing, you aren't going north, so we're headed in the same direction. It would be nice to have someone to talk to and safety in numbers and all that. I guess Binbin might talk now, but it's been a little difficult to travel alone in the sort of forced silence that comes with traveling with someone I thought couldn't speak.”
She is relieved! This is why she brought me out here anyway. “Without talking to Os, my first reaction would have been to say no if you'd asked me before now. But since I know you travel with an invisian, I think he'll be willing to have you two join us.”

“But what about you? Are you willing to have us join you?”
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