Mirrored from Sythyry.
“I’m beginning to find bitterburr in my salad,” said Cory.
“What!” cried Allam. “It’s not enough that they give us the worst of everything anymore, but that they’re going out of their way to pick vile herbs and feed them to you!”
“Calm, Allam, calm, my husband-man. ‘Twere just a manner of speaking, is all. I’m a touch unhappy with all of the things that Gorsen and the other villagers are having us do.”
Allam shrugged. “No helping it — and mo suggesting anyone gets sold into indenture either! We’re hired laborers now. We haven’t many rights, or not as many as before.”
“We’ve one that we didn’t have before,” said Tansy. “Let’s be using it.”
“What one is that?” asked Allam.
“If we’re hired laborers, we can leave the village and find other jobs, if that suits us better,” said Tansy. “Couldn’t do that when we own a slice of the village, or not nearly so easily.”
“But we’ve still got things here! We’ve the house, the kitchen equipment — three chickens still, even!”
“We can fold up most of the kitchen equipment, and pack the chickens in wicker cages. The house … I’m sure we could build as good a house in a week, in any Herethroy village, even if there’s not one there we could move into,” said Coriander.
“I weren’t thinking of another Herethroy village,” said Tansy. “I were thinking to myself, Who is it that’s been kind to us since the accidents and troubles started?”
“Seems to me it’s pretty much just us,” said Gathern.
“Seems to be it’s just us — just us and one Zi Ri,” said Tansy.
“What, the wizard? Zie was snarky and cryptic!” cried Allam.
“Well, zie is a Zi Ri, what do you expect? Zie also healed Ellie for free,” said Tansy. (Which is an exaggeration! I charged them three terch for it! You could buy a used copy of today’s broadsheet for three terch! If you were a first-rate bargainer, and/or exceedingly cute, and trying to get it late in the day.)
“Zie was trying to find an excuse to heal Ellie, that’s true, when everyone else was making excuses about why they weren’t healing her,” said Allam. (This is also an exaggeration. I was making excuses on both sides. And yes, I was glad I got to heal little Ellie — but, honestly, Estertherio would have been too. One doesn’t stay an active Healer for long if one doesn’t actually like taking care of people.)
“So, d’you think zie’s taking in unlucky Herethroy farmers now, to go with zir collection of gallamagordies and flip-georges and twinssers and fleens?” (I do not know what any of those are. Neither does Grinwipey.)
“It’s a whole city zie’s building up there in the sky,” said Tansy. “You can see it from the top of the barn, like three upside-down shiny ice cream cones in the sky.”
“That it is, my mari, that it is. A whole city, with walls, with casinos, with whorehouses, with restaurants and museums and a mayor who wears a crown not like ours, and everything,” said Allam. “Everything urban, I mean. What they don’t got, is lands for farming. Not a lot of land around Kismirth, when it’s floating up there in the sky! Now, it might be that our only choice on wood — or floating up there in the sky — is to go into the city and work in casinos and whorehouses and restaurants. But I’m a village Herethroy, I am. I’ve been a farmer’s husband my whole life, and it’s a farmer’s husband I like best to be.”
“I hear they got farms up there, inside those city walls,” said Tansy, who had, I think, done zir homework. “I hear they want farmers to come and take care of them. And they ain’t so perticular about whether the farmers are gallamagordies and flip-georges and twinssers and fleens, or whether they are decently married Herethroy who don’t stray from their spouses in improper ways not a bit.”
The other four looked at each other, and noted that every antenna was flattened in the gesture that means I am not voting against this proposal. Cory finally said, “Well. If we move to another Herethory village, most like they’ll not be treating us any better than Dren Mafferhame is treating us anymore. Might be it won’t sting so much if we’re in a place where we’ve never been equals — and might be we don’t get any leftover bits of good treatment if we’re in a place where we’ve never been equals either. So going off to somewhere that wants farmers but isn’t a village might be a plan.”
“I wonder if we can go look and see what it’s like, before we pick up and move there?” said Tansy.