Slaves of irony

  July 2008 »

Mark had fared little better. He did enjoy the breakfast of blackberries and tried to think of ways to control the pit down by the lake. It was possible that the water did that every night, or that it was driven by moon phases. Tides were already controlled this way. Water was still a strange medium, but that made a little sense.

He sat for a while after he had finished eating then finally got up to explore. Even walking slowly, he soon had seen the entire meadow. It wasn't worth leaving it until David got back. The path he had spotted was indeed used by humans. He also discovered that a curve in the meadow had hidden the rest of the path that would take them back toward the lake. He mused that even though it wasn't very wide, they had definitely come the hard way.

Several insects were chirping by now and Mark wondered if any were crickets so that he could try to figure out exactly what the temperature was. Just then he heard voices approaching on the path. "No point in making ourselves known yet," he told himself before hiding on the other side of the blackberry bushes.

A few minutes later five men emerged from the trail. They were headed toward the lake, but paused in the clearing to sit and eat a mid-morning meal of bread with blackberries and a round fruit that was hanging from a tree nearby. Four of them wore a kind of short tunic with loose leggings and swords, which Mark found to be a bit strange. He liked blades more than guns, but they were now impractical for most purposes. The fifth person looked like a servant or slave.** He was only allowed a pair of worn-out leggings and was carrying a heavy burden on his back.

Mark could not understand what was being said, and after listening for a while he decided it was a good idea to learn how to greet them. He sat down heavily where he had crouched and began to eat a couple more of the blackberries. One of the men jumped up with his hand on the hilt of his sword to see what had caused the noise. When he saw Mark, he relaxed and said, "Ah, wawqicha."**

Mark did his best to imitate the sound of the greeting, "Wawqicha."

The four men looked at each other for a moment before the one standing motioned for Mark to join them. The servant had a worried look on his face, but was trying to hide it from his masters.

Mark wasn't able to understand any of the questions that he was asked, so the men laughed and talked among themselves. At length they stood up and Mark followed their example, but before he was on his feet there were four swords pointed at him. The short knife he had tucked away wouldn't be a match against these so he slowly raised his hands in surrender.

A rope was procured from the package that was strapped to the servant's back and used to tie Mark's hands together securely. The sheath for his bush thinner was taken away from him and then he was marched down the path toward the lake. There was only an occasional attempt at conversation and it came from the slave, who's name turned out to be K'urpa.

Mark didn't manage an escape, but he did learn a few words like "rumi" (rock) and "taqu" (tree) as he had wanted. If only it were in better circumstances.

** For more information about slavery or the language, please see Appendix A

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