The Eyeworms of Girgar
Girgar! A huge and primitive world. Deceptively enough, Girgar is a Basic Ball: a globe covered with mountains and oceans and forests and tundras and people, whistling with the presence of distant gods, five-mooned, orbiting at a great remove around a pair of small but very bright stars. This is a very common shape for inside-out worlds to take. (Inside-out from the perspective of Hove, which is a Typical Toroid, where the mountains and all are comfortably and rationally in the hollow inside of the world.)
The girgs are Basic Bipeds. Two legs, ending in nearly circular and rather sticky feet. One torso holding all the entrails, with minor variations by sex and age. Two arms ending in nearly-circular hand-pads, which are less flexible and nimble than hoven-style fingers, but more flexible and nimble than clawed draconic toes. One head, with various sensoria stuffed in it, and a brain inside. Girgs also have an eating-tube, a short proboscis sort of thing that extends out of the central chest and ends in a rather ugly toothy mouth, with the other end in the digestive tract. They may be forgiven this anatomy as long as I never have to see one. It sounds hideous.
Now, the girgs are not your supremely advanced Basic Bipeds, the way my hovens are. They have some technology and some magic, but not very much of either. They know how to make wheels, for example; they use them for pottery, and for hand-lifted wheelbarrows, and for little toy carts. They do not make wagons very much (in the most sophisticated places), because their land is so bumpy and marshy that wagons would get stuck constantly. Someday they will invent the art of roadmaking, and then they will have wagons. That day will probably come when they develop enough metallurgy to make strong stonecutting tools, which they haven’t yet.
Their cities and towns are made of mud-brick, painted with lacquer so that they don’t wash away in the first rainstorm. They are very sticky. This does not bother the girgs as much as it bothered the dragons, which I presume has something to do with the girgs’ sticky feet and hands. These do not make for huge cities: some few 20736’s of people.
Their books are painted on a paper made from mashed reeds. Some of them are mythologies, and some of them are recipes, but most of them are merchants’ accounts and land records. Oh, and irrigation records — irrigation is very important to the girgs of Srad, and the other civilized countries, Darsa and Mumsu and Whesh-ik.
Itharieth and Psajathrion, appearing to be girgs, went forth among the people of Srad, in the city of Mo-Srad. And, though their language and their dress was perfectly in imitation of the Sraddites, and though they did nothing to excite the least bit of wonder or suspicion, they got constant glances of confused envy.
“By the Figer’s tigers! Why do you suppose that is, Psajathrion?” asked Itharieth, in a private modality.
“Should I answer sartorially or epidemiologically?” replied the doctor.
“What? You know?”
“I have noticed two things. Our garments are clean, despite the morning’s dust-storm which has nearly everyone else in the city wearing a fair amount of pink-grey grit.”
“So we are, so we are! But we are not the only such people, Psajathrion. Others, perhaps wealthy or perhaps late-sleeping or storm-avoiding, have also emerged wearing garments of the cleanest and whitest ... um ... whatever that cloth is,” answered Itharieth.
“Leading to the other point. You and I have smooth, clean faces. We naturally assumed the forms of unblemished, undamaged girgs,” said Psajathrion.
“By the Tarmelade’s marmelade, what of that? Surely we are not unusual, to be unblemished and undamaged!”
“So one might think — so the two of us did think. But look about! Do you see a single pair of eyes — a single eye, even — which is not discolored, bloodshot, infected, or at least surrounded by patches of some minor skin condition?”
Itharieth scanned and scouted. “As a point of primitive truth, I do not — I look further — ah, yes, I do. There, three infants are playing in a mud-puddle. Their garments are far from clean, but their faces are not injured in the slightest. The faces of their parents have not escaped the ravages of whatever-it-is, nor their older siblings. And there — five foreign merchants, dressed in the traditional costumes of Darsa. Their faces are clean as well! And the beasts are spared as well, which is peculiarly picky for such a problem.”
“H’m, yes. I spread my wings the proper degree to honor your powers of observation, or I would, except I am currently wingless,” said Psajathrion.
“I declare that I spread mine to match yours! For, though I have found exceptions, you have found the very common rule. The girgs here are overwhelmingly injured about the eyes. Indeed! To honor your discovery, I shall ask the natives that most stupid-sounding of questions, about why everyone’s eyes are injured!” And, so saying, Itharieth became a smaller and darker girg, dressed in the traditional costume of Darsa, and paid a few (probably stolen) small coins for a massage, for he had noted that masseurs in Srad converse with their clients while they work.Support this project! Show that you’re reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, the writer, and occasional other entities at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom’s books on Amazon, especially Mating Flight and World in My Claws, the prequel to this story. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.