The Day Died As The Bonfire Flickered On

The trio had come to resemble traders in a few ways. Those were the only people they knew that would travel such long distances regularly and they adopted some of their ways. Among those ways was actual trade. They had begun to go out of their way to acquire objects that were worthy of sale. Areul had even acquired a knack for crafting. The breadth of this self taught artisan’s skills was simply astonishing. What they were trying to sell in the town they had encountered earlier in the day was a set of glasses and a jar fashioned out of bamboo, each glass decorated differently with amber, beetle shells. wood-carvings, woven hemp and such. He had a lot of time to craft this set for they hadn’t seen a town for about 2 months now. When they brought out the set infront of what looked like a shop, they couldn’t communicate anything. They were used to dealing with varying accents and tried a bit to get across their intent to trade, but their efforts were met with words they did not understand in the least and after several attempts when they settled down on the outskirts they were attacked by men armed with sticks and sickles and machetes, after handily defeating them our travellers were utterly disgusted by the fact that two of those faces were at one of the shops they tried to sell the stuff at. If this is their way of dealing with people, they decided, then this is what they will get. They set fire to the fields they were resting in after looting as much grain as they could.

“What should be our way of dealing with people from now on then?” Areul asked after they had settled down and were waiting for the fire to turn their food edible. He was met with a prolonged silence as his mates looked into the distance in different directions. “That was exhausting,” Taiga said as he stirred the metal pot filled to the brim with crushed grain and water that had not yet started boiling. “How likely is it that we have crossed a border and all the people from here on will speak that language” Kaila said staring into the pond from her seat against the cart a little bit away from the fire. Taiga turned the leg of the deer that was perched on top of the fire as Areul lent a hand in stirring the porridge. The bonfire grew a bright orange as the sun kept going down over the road in the distance behind Taiga. “Fairly likely,” Taiga said as he spread his body out on the grass staring at the stars. “We have not found anyone that speaks our language and there was no road leading up to this town from where we came from. It is very likely we have crossed borders.”

“Well, I guess the first thing we need to do is to learn their language,” Kaila said as she turned her intent gaze from Taiga lazily over to the stars. “Yeah, I don’t think it will be fun if we stopped interacting with people,” Areul said as he turned to stare at the forest on the other side of the pond they sat by. He then turned to Kaila as he lazily lamented “What have you figured out so far then, Kaila?” Kaila continued to stare at the stars as she doled out a reply that matched the laziness of the question “Well, their architecture, first of all, doesn’t seem to use much bamboo at all. I think we should infer that bamboo either doesn’t grow in the forests around here or that they don’t know how to harvest bamboo. I think it is the former, that would also explain why they thought your glasses were so valuable that they tried to kill us for them. The buildings are made of stone and the doors are sturdy and well made. Every building has a door. That might as well be a matter of style, but in conjunction with the fact that the shops had no goods on display outdoors, I think it is safe to assume that, in this town, at least, there is a clear lack of trust. Judging from the fact that the aesthetic elements of the doors augment the sturdiness, it is not unlikely that this is the case for this culture in general, aesthetic elements, after all, cannot evolve from just one settlement. All the crops that I could see in the fields were low water requirement crops. But the forests are well formed and the pond beside us has quite a bit of water. It would make sense if we assume that this land has a well defined season in which it rains and we are currently out of that season. As for the level of craftsmanship they possess, we can safely assume they know how to work metal. The quality of metal working doesn’t seem more advanced than what we have seen so far, but the quantity of metal they use in everyday life seems to be much larger. They probably have an abundance of iron mines somewhere that is well connected to that town. The ornaments seem to be made prioritizing precious metal over precious stones. This is either an aesthetic choice or, more likely it means that they do not have a lot of precious stone deposits around here. It could also mean that they are simply more adept at mining metal in general. I think Areul will be doing a lot more metal working from now on. It would be safe to assume that this civilization has spring steel or something like that being used for the weapons of the soldiers. There were no women manning any of the stores. I didn’t see any women anywhere. I would say women are not really allowed to come out into the open or do any kind of work here. Too early to come up with much else though. It will be tough to find out stuff for me if they consider women unfit to have open conversations with.”

The water started boiling and the firewood kept cracking as she finished her lazy monologue with a lazy sigh turning towards the two men sitting fiddling with their food as it was almost ready to be eaten. “I wish the forests have something new to find” Areul said. “I don’t want to see people for a while,” Taiga lamented as if in agreement. The air had clearly grown heavy with those words and they kept silent as the food finished cooking and the fire spoke of warmth and light in what was otherwise a land now forsaken by the Sun. Kaila came over and lay her hand over Taiga’s shoulder as she picked up the now-cooked leg, “what about the porridge,” she said as she cut into it breathing over the torn piece to cool it down.

They ate by passing around the pot with a single spoon. It was too much of a hassle to wash multiple utensils and water was not always available. The pleasure Kaila took in eating her food was something that was always refreshing. This night again, she enjoyed the meal that was seasoned well with spice and salt while talking enthusiastically about how good it tasted and how to source ingredients for the next meal. She kept talking about what kind of food they might find in this new land and how the grain tasted slightly different and new until they finished their meal. The air grew merry by the time they put the fire out and retired to the tent to fall asleep.