Mirrored from Sythyry.
Everyone who moves to Kismirth has a story. Usually the story is not very good — if one were completely happy at home, why would one move to somewhere else? The stereotypical story is of someone kicked out of home for transaffection, of course, and entering a life of licentiousness and luxury in Kismirth — like sweet beautiful Pirly. That does happen, yes indeed it does, and official civic policy is to encourage it, so it happens reasonably often.
But only a modest fraction of immigrants have stories quite like that. Here is the story of some Herethroy farmers who are not, as far as I know, anything at all like Pirly. I won’t say that they’re supremely typical either. I would say that I got more involved in their story than I usually do with immigrants, especially immigrants who are in no way nearly as sweet or beautiful as Pirly. So I am telling their story because it makes me look to be far more of a paragon than I actually am or deserve to be made to look.
In case you can’t keep track of the farmers (they are a bit rustic, which is only appropriate, as they are farmers), here are the main ones who figure in this story:
|Periwinkle Rounse||Co-lover||Married to Cory and Allam; sather of Ellie|
|Cory (Coriander) Rounse||Female||Married to Periwinkle and Allam; mother of Ellie|
|Allam Rounse/Noritt||Male||Married to Periwinkle+Cory and Gathern+Tansy; father of Ellie and Cayenne|
|Tansy Noritts||Co-Lover||Married to Gathern and Allam; sather of Cayenne|
|Gathern Noritt||Female||Married to Tansy and Allam; mother of Cayenne|
|Elecampagne (Ellie) Rounse||Co-lover child||about 12 World Tree [8 of your primitive Earth years]|
|Cayenne Noritt||Male infant||About two World Tree|
|Gorsen Caragaborse||Female||Mayor of the village Dren Mafferhame|
Also, “caunt” is a co-lover equivalent of an aunt or uncle, or a co-lover spouse of one’s parent who is not a parent. “Cister” is a co-lover sibling like a brother or sister. As usual, “sather” is a co-lover parent, like mother or father; “mari” is a co-lover spouse, like husband or wife, and “cosi” is a co-lover child, used both as ‘son/daughter’ and ‘boy/girl’.
The Worst Birthday Party Ever: Farmers, part 1/__
“Miss Elecampagne Rounse!” commanded Tansy Noritt. “Stand still! If you keep on wiggling like such a highly animated wigglebug, your carapace paint will look like climbing ivy, not pussytails!”
“Sorry, Caunt Tansy!” said Ellie, with the overwhelming but transitory sincerity of a child. “I don’t mean to wiggle and jiggle! But I thought there was a stinging purple beetle climbing up my hand-leg!”
“That was no stinging purple beetle,” said Tansy in a mock-ominous tone. “That was Gorsen Caragaborse, and you should have a lot more respect for the dear mayor of Dren Mafferhame than to wiggle and jiggle and giggle about her!” This was not entirely fair of Tansy. While Gorsen Caragaborse was, in fact, a purple-carapaced Herethroy woman with carabid styling, she had far too much dignity to ever crawl up a child’s leg. It is unlikely that she would do so even if (1) she happened to be miniaturized for some reason, and (2) doing so would amuse the child.
So ridiculous was the concept that it made Ellie squeal with further giggles, sending one of her painted reeds as curly as clematis. “That is so silly! The mayor’s over there, frowning herself all over!”
Tansy turned zir head, and flattened zir antennae. “Oh, dear. I hope she didn’t overhear us.” But the mayor was busy; she and a half-dozen other strong Herethroy women were carrying the village’s cardamom harvest in huge bags into the new barn.
Allam Rounse/Noritt popped out of the kitchen door of their home, holding a basket of buns in one hand, a bowl of bananas in another, and his infant son Cayenne in a third. “How’s my beautiful birthday cosi?”
“Zie’s been leaping around like a Sleeth on a griddle; there’s no painting her!” complained Tansy.
Allam clicked the toe-fingers of his free hand on his cosi’s head, tapping first one antenna, then the other. “You, m’dearie-dearie-dear, must stand still and let my wife paint you up. Or do you want to wear clothes on your birthday, like a baby?”
“I’m not a baby! I’m twelve years old now of today!” protested Ellie.
“Not ’til you’ve put out your pudding! You’re still eleven for at least two-thirds of an hour more. Maybe a full hour if you don’t let your caunt decorate you!” said Allam. Cayenne took advantage of his distraction to squirm out of his arms and head for his cister at a frantic six-legged crawl. “Come back here!” commanded Allam, and caught him mere seconds before he shared hugs, kisses, and paint with zir.
It wasn’t going to be that much of a party really. The Rounses and Noritts, together, weren’t terribly well-off. Not one sack of that cardamom was theirs. Still, they could make carrot buns for the whole village, and bring out a crock of their best pickled eggs, and make a substantial raisin pudding, generously soaked in rum and cardamom oil, as a centerpiece. And it had to be held in a barn, but that was no real surprise: only the mayor’s house was big enough for a whole party.
At length — well more than an hour — Ellie was painted. Cayenne was dressed in his best, escaped to hug Ellie while zie was still wet, and re-dressed in his second-best, and Ellie’s paint was touched up. Allam and Cory carried the pudding, a great raisinny lump of a thing, on a plank, and set it on a bale of hay at the edge of the mow. All the Rounses and Noritts climbed up there, with the adults standing in a bow-tie: Periwinkle and Coriander Rounse, then their husband Allam, then Gathern and Tansy Noritt. A respectable fraction of the rest of the village stood beneath them, on the ground floor of the new barn.
Gorsen Caragaborse, of course, did the honors. She grumbled out a thick birthday jeremiad, full of phrases like “taking zir share of the village’s responsibilities” and “leaving aside the permissive ways that zir parents have somehow inculcated in her”. But she did at least light the pudding. She wasn’t much of a mage — not many people in the village were — but any Herethroy can manage a bit of Creoc Pyrador. Virid, the god of Creation, made them all, and they have her favor.
When the pudding was burning eagerly, Ellie had zir own bit of magic to do. As a younger child she would have dipped a towel in a bucket of water and dowsed the pudding, and an adult would have created a wet towel. Ellie, a bit less certain of zir spellcraft, chose to start with a clean towel and conjure water to wet it, then use that. It was zir first public display of magic, and zie was a bit nervous. Zir parents and the Noritts watched zir, waving their antennae encouragingly. Ellie stood on two legs in front of the blazing pudding, nervously contemplating the ways of power and magecraft, and wondering if zie could switch back to a wet towel or if that would be too embarrassing.
Cayenne decided to encourage his beloved cister in his own unique way. He escaped from Gathern’s side and crawled in a flurry of limbs over to Ellie. Escaping and hurrying were his specialties; stopping somewhat less so. He hit Ellie’s leg from behind. Down went Ellie in a flurry of orange chitin. Down went the bale of hay from the mow. Down went the platter. Down went the pudding blazing like a comet, pausing only to crash against a column and spray the better part of the barn with crumbs ablaze with rum and oil.
“Oh, Cayenne!” scolded Tansy, leaping forward to the children, who were on the verge of going down themselves. Ellie, the elder and wiser, gave Cayenne a shove, pushing him into his sather’s arms and safety. Alas, zie unbalanced zirself in this rescue, and fell off.
Tansy grabbed for zir with a mid-hand as zie fell, and caught ahold of something. Zie was sure it was Ellie’s arm, and zie held it as firmly as zie could. In fact, it was Ellie’s left antenna. Antennae were never intended to hold the weight of a falling Herethroy, and, unfortunately, Tansy’s hand proved stronger than Ellie’s antenna. The rest of Ellie continued down, more or less along the same parabola that the pudding had taken, including a sharp blow to zir already-injured head against the column. Zie ended up in the arms of the mayor.
“Madam, I am afraid that your child has been irresponsibly dancing on the edge of the mow, and has injured herself,” proclaimed the mayor. She was not nearly as callous as she sounded. She was checking Elecampagne for injuries as she spoke, and ripped off her own new tunic, as the cleanest bit of cloth around, to try to staunch the blood.
Ellie was borne off to home, and cleaned, and tended with the best the village could offer. A dozen villagers had some training in the healing arts. Soon enough Ellie was restored to consciousness, and the gash on zir head erased to an unpleasant memory. Nobody in the village had the skill to reattach zir antenna, though; that is a somewhat obscure spell, and not the easiest.
In the fussing and fretting over Ellie, the villagers had forgotten about the scattering of burning oiled alcoholic cake crumbs all over the barn. The pungent incense of burning hay and cardamom was their first reminder. By then it was too late to save the barn, the hay, or the spice harvest.