Summer Growing, Stalker’s Day 5, Year of the Lion number 427
I learned many new things today. I don’t know where to begin. I suppose I should start at the beginning.
After I awoke from my evening slumber, high up in an oak tree on the outer edge of a farm, I came down and returned to the road. The sun was still low and the people were just now heading out for their daily toil in the fields. When I got to the road, two men on horseback rode past me, heading east. They were dressed alike in the strange cloth that humans wore. They had swords hanging from their belts and wore some sort of metal under their tunics. Their hats were also metal. They seemed to be traveling with a sense of urgency, but they ignored me as they rode on. I watched them, their horses galloping noisily.
One of the workers was near me and said something in their language. I didn’t understand her words. “Sorry, I don’t know what you said.” She gave me a funny look, said something else, more slowly – as if speaking her language slowly would magically translate her words. I shook my head. Not giving up, she reached out and touched my fore-paw. I jumped back and pulled away. This time she beckoned. She wanted me to follow her. Unsure, I did as she led toward one of the human structures. It was a large building made of wood and coated with a white stain. The worker opened the door in the front of the building, but before going in, she pointed to the floor and held her other hand up. I guess she wanted me to wait here.
After a moment, she came back out of the building followed by an older man. He came out as the woman chattered to him in their tongue. He sized me up. His eyes lingered on the shoulder-guards I had made before focusing on my face. “Hello,” he spoke in my language, albeit a bit slowly. “My name is Griffin. This is Vidonia. May we know your title?”
“I am M’Raana Kabize of the Vipertree Clan, Daggerclaw, Czethai. I am new here, and I’ve–” he cut me off.
“Hello, Merrrr,” he had difficulty pronouncing my family title.
“Kabize will suffice.”
“Kabize. Welcome. You have walked far. You are baby. You are lost?” I could tell that he wasn’t that familiar with my language. Perhaps, if I was going to travel outside my native land, I should learn to speak the human words.
“I’m not lost. I’m a wanderer,” I replied.
“You wear the shell of a giant spitting beetle. They are a plague in some of the farms. Did you find the husk, or did you kill one of them?” The conversation went on and eventually he invited me in. Another woman served us cooked food comprising of bread, eggs and meats. The sauce they poured over the bread was extremely sweet, but had a quite enticing flavor. The women only spoke their language, so the man did his best to interpret for me. I started picking up some of their words in the process.
After the meal, they led me back to the door. “Unless you’re willing to work, we cannot afford to keep you. You are a traveler, so you may not be willing to stay here for long. But with no coin, you won’t get far in our world. It is your choice.”
I said, “Teach me about coin. I will work for a time. I am youthful and I am good with my paws.”
“Very well,” he said. “Vidonia will teach you.”
Vidonia collected a couple baskets from behind the house and gave one to me. “Cotton,” she said. She put on a wide-brimmed hat and together we walked out to one of the fields. Already, several men and women were working the fields. Vidonia showed me how to carefully pull the white fibrous material without harming the plant. As I did, I had to pick seeds from it. The “cotton” went into the basket while the seeds were placed in a bag hanging from her belt. It didn’t take long for me to get the hang of it, and together, we harvested two rows. All the while, I wondered what they did with the stuff. It didn’t look like food or grain.
As the sun began to set, all the cotton we and the others collected was brought to a large building she referred to as a “barn.” Inside, the cotton was put into a hamper where a large mechanical device, operated by two strong men, spun the fibers. Several women worked the other side of the machine where the cotton had been turned into a strong thread. I realized what they were doing! Making cloth! I’d seen this cloth from the traders and marveled at its bright colors, light weight, and soft feel. While at this stage, it was a dirty, grayish white, I surmised that various dyes would turn it to the brilliant colors. Clothing made from this would be much preferable than the animal hides worn by my people – especially on hot days.
As we finished, Vidoria led me back to the “house,” where Griffin met us, along with the other field workers. He handed each of us a few copper coins. “I did not charge you for breakfast, but the lunch and evening meals were accounted for. Vidoria says you did well. You may stay and work for us as long as you choose, as long as you don’t cause any problems.”
From there, Vidoria took me to another building where there were rows of wood-framed palettes along the walls. She pointed to one of them and said, “Mine.” She pointed to another and said, “Kabize.” Other women were already in the building and all of them looked at me with curiosity. Vidoria said a few things to them and they all came and introduced themselves. I did my best to associate their names with their faces so I would remember them, but without variations of fur color and pattern, it would be difficult. Vidoria showed me a box that I could put my things in. “Safe,” she said.
As I write these words under the dim lantern light, I wonder if these humans were going to be my new family. What do I do with the three coins made of copper Griffin had given me? How long will I stay here?
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