Walking to the village takes us well past the setting of the first sun, and a far distance towards the setting of the second one. I was worried that the people of Killian’s tribe wouln’t let us in what with it being so late. They certainly wouldn’t have let you in back home if you arrived so late. It would be a good test for you to see if you manage to survive the night. At least that’s the theory. All we get is a ‘who goes there’ and we are given permission to enter. No questions as to our whereabouts that evening, nothing. They ask about me of course, but Killian tells them that I’m a friend who needs to see the elders and they simply allow me to pass. Its madness, how do these people survive? If I was standing on gate back in
Teaghais, and I just let some random traveller in, I would be thrown out! Still they’re not totally relaxed people. I’m quickly assigned to Killian as ‘his charge’ which I suppose means that he has to stay with me at all times just in case I decide to do something that might hurt people.
After a brief stop at Killians house, where I wave to his mother through a door but exchange no words with her, we are off to see the elders. It is insisted upon that I see them that tonight rather than waiting for the morning. I don’t understand it at all, but then I never claimed to know the customs of Casters. The elders all appear to live in one building. It’s a strange circular hut made from what feels like twigs and mud, very different to the animal skin dwellings of my people. Inside the hut it is
horribly warm, there is a fire in the centre of the first room and it would appear that none of the heat is able to escape. I may not be an expert at surviving in the cold but this is so much hotter than anything that I’m used to. It wouldn’t be proper to complain though, so I bite my lip and try not to sweat so openly.
“Girl whose name is Darah. Stand forwards and show yourself to us.” What a greeting, that’s not a little bit intimidating at all. Why couldn’t they just say hello? I take one step forwards.
“I’m here.” Well what else would I say?
“We have been told that you are one with a talent unknown to us. We request that it be shown to us.” It is really creepy being spoken to by what appears to be a group of voices, in unison. There’s not another person in this room with me, even Killian wasn’t permitted to come in with me. Considering what I’ve seen today I wouldn’t be surprised if there were no people around at all, and I’m really just having a conversation with a disembodied group of voices.
“So you want me to dance? Is that it?” I wanted to be clear, just in case they thought I could do something different to what I had shown Killian in the forest.
“Yes. This thing which you call Dance. Show it to us.” Well that’s easy enough. If I managed it in the forest then I can manage it in here. I started to move, working around the fire, dancing in a way that was new even to me. It’s so easy to make my dancing fit wherever I am, I never tried it before but it comes so naturally. I don’t ever lose beat and by the time I’m finished I’m boiling hot, but very satisfied with my performance. “Girl whose name is Darah. We have seen this Dance and we are impressed. It is decided; you will stay with us for three moons and teach us your way. We will teach you our talents in return.” I’m a little worried about trying to learn things like the talent Killian showed me. I don’t exactly have a clean record
when it comes to trying new things. I can only hope that I don’t kill anybody in the process. I really want to learn about these people, they’re fascinating so far.
“I accept!” I shout back to the voices. “I would like to learn about your history as well, if that’s alright. Not a lot, just enough to be able to say that I know of your people, should anyone ever ask me.” The room went silent and the fire fell from the roar that it had been to nothing more than red hot coals. I was so busy staring at the place where the fire had been that I didn’t notice a tiny frail old woman walking towards me. She extended a hand as she said to me.
“The elders see fit to allow you to learn what you can about us. I will begin your teaching in the morning, but for now you must sleep, girl whose name is Darah.” I was weary from my dancing, never before had I danced so much in one day. I was glad to be offered a sleeping place. “Killian” the woman called. “Killian please show your charge back into your living. She will stay with you tonight.” He smiled at me as I walked towards him. He seemed pleased that the elders had allowed me to stay.
“So, Darah, how long are you going to be here for?”
“They gave me three moons, though I’m not certain if that includes tonight. They weren’t exactly specific.” He laughed.
“That sounds like the elders. They never tell you any more than they think you need to know. Sometimes you’ll go in there for advice and come out with an ancient recipe for fish. They are a mystery to all of us.” I had to laugh along with him for that, never had I known such a strange thing. While I am not wholly comfortable here yet, I believe that I can call these people friends, at least for the time being. They haven’t killed me yet.
Killian doesn’t live in the biggest house, but it’s incredibly comfortable. He has made a bed up for me on his floor, using all the spare furs that the family own, as well as a few borrowed from other people in the village. Warm, safe and happy. I fall asleep feeling like I am in my own bed, in my own house. This is so much better than strapping myself to a tree. I awake with the rising of the first sun to a house already full of movement. A bowl of water is steaming next to me and my day clothes appear to have been washed ready for today. I don’t know how I’m ever going to repay the hospitality by dancing, it just doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to me. It seems
strange that to these people it is more magical than their...well...magic. Washed, dressed and walking down the stairs I feel more refreshed than I have in days and things just keep getting better for me in this little village. I am embraced by Killian’s mother before being ushered to a table to eat with the family. They eat strange things here, I am presented with a bowl of what appears to be mushy white roots with nectar, and I will admit that I’m sceptical about how this will taste. My first spoonful changes all opinions. It may not look like much but there is a creamy sweetness that I have never experienced in this gloop. How do we not have such things back home? I remind myself to ask how my meal was made before I leave, but for the time being I don’t want to waste any eating time with talking. It’s just too
delicious to put down. I offer to help with the cleaning after the meal, it seems the least I can do for these people, but they refuse my offers. I am given a cup of fresh water and told that I should relax before the start of my day.