Thursday, October 8, 2015

Learning the Language

The homestead, as the author has come to consider it. For now.
I find this village pleasant... well, it is inaccurate to call this a village, as it really is only one solitary house on a hillock, standing above an atoll. One cabin and its garden: I'm sure I don't know what could be as pleasant.

Except, of course, for another couple of houses somewhere nearish. I must wonder what has happened to the other houses, if others there were. What is it about the area that retains these two villagers to this house? Are they the keepers of a disappeared tradition? Are they defenseless to travel across great stretches of land, just the two of them? Are they waiting for the others to return?

I cannot answer any of these, but the truth is that I have picked up a few words in their tongue. I am not fluent, but it was a stroke of that particular genius/obviousness that we seemed to hit upon recently, which compelled us to share the names we have for various objects. Promptly we traded our words for, of course, the crops: wheat, carrots, potatoes, and then water and then soil. When we established the pattern of education, that is, isolating an object and then naming it, we were able to properly introduce ourselves. They know me as "Henry"; they are Selidon and Voessi. While they appear identical, they nonetheless manifest subtle traits that distinguish them from each other, not the least of these being their occupations. Selidon is a shepherd (we have amassed many other words through drawings and rather superior pantomime on my part) and Voessi is a fisherman. As soon as we established this, they wanted to begin trading.

I have no coins upon my person, of course. I didn't prevail upon Emerson's generosity for his section of Walden Pond only to start a savings account—which, as you will no doubt know, would have been quite impossible on account of the law-men who hunted me down for refusing to fund Senate's flesh-trade of earnest, innocent citizens. So, lacking legal tender, I was refreshed to understand that these laborers resort to the happy medium between service-for-service and legal tender: barter. The unit of their barter, however, is the emerald, which rather surprised me. Had I strolled over the hillside and spotted these mean, humble gents at their trade, I should not have supposed either to possess a rather immodest sack of cut gems. Yet another jarring incongruity in this world, but I accept it as I accept all its other seemingly arbitrary features.

The villager hums, then offers a trade.
If I could supply Voessi a quantity of spider's silk, for example, he would remit me an emerald. Likewise Selidon, were I able to produce some wool. Now, both of these are stored in abundant amounts back at Ellery and Bartram Islands. I've slain many spiders and shorn many sheep, and I've had hardly any requirement for them as materials. They're great for making bows and fishing poles, beds and banners, but I've not much call for these either. But all things in perspective: while I'm sure I could buy them out of all their emeralds with my horde of materials, what then? What exactly do I do with a pile of emeralds, atop a hillock in the middle of a pig-field, on the edge of an ocean?

Night has fallen and I have gone out on my rounds. This is as much for our safety as it is to assuage my sense of equity. I do quite well for myself and don't wish to brag, but like any pastime, hobby or chore which, through diligent application and intentional meditation, one's body by degrees becomes acclimated to the practice of, I humbly admit to a level of prowess. These fields are fairly foggy with the nightmarish beasts, yet I may sprint through them, spin, feint, and attack with the litheness of a young cat. I leap at an archer-skeleton and bring Biter down upon its head and chest; I spring forward and twist in midair, to land at a crouch and launch a short volley of arrows at a group of A.C.M.s, who for their stumbling gait have no chance to reach me.

Skeletons, spiders, A.C.M. and Explodicons swarm the tall grass.
The only true risk is that of the Explodicons: every other creature announces itself with shuffling legs or clanking bones, but the Explodicon does not. It merely sidles silently up behind you, and erupts violently into flame with thunderous accompaniment. But they are not fast, so it is well to keep an eye out for them, being prepared to flee in the opposite direction should one arrive.

It was not my wish to attack the swine, however. As I hunted on the strand, the pigs took leave of their senses and charged into a cluster of monsters, and at my distance I could hardly control the true flight of my arrows. I'm afraid I wasted four of these hardy little animals, much to my deep regret. Still, the fields are choked with them, and they are as prolific as they are stupid: I found several of them fallen down a gorge, somehow having survived the fall, and still they snuffle and root down there in the opening of the earth, with nothing upon which to dine.

Speaking of, I found several of Selidon's sheep in a distant field, wandering thoughtlessly about a large pool of magma. It is a poor shepherd, I feel, who cannot retain the wherewithal to anticipate the foolish behavior of ovines.

And speaking of that, I can't seem to find the shepherd or the fisherman anywhere. This has just occurred to me, after another day and another night—I beg your pardon, my dear reader, but this is a very protracted entry in which I do not mark the passage of days. There hardly seems to be a point to that, but should anyone find my works, this will be a little disconcerting. But where have the villagers gone? They rush into the house each night, secure in this stout structure even before I showed up with my advanced monster-slaying abilities? Each morning they tend to the garden, or they wander out to the sheep or down to the cay, but I've just scouted the larger area and I cannot find a trace of them.

Another night of monstrous breakouts, and where are Selidan and Voessi? Are they yet with us?

I'm alone once more. Well, I shall stay in this cabin for as long as it suits me, with none to contest my presence, but I know in a week I shall grow restless once again. Perhaps I may stave the urge off for a fortnight, perhaps, but I will be out and about, and I will need to prepare for this.

O my reader, watch me make a map; and, this done, watch me employ it.

No comments:

Post a Comment