This is the beginning of story (of indeterminate length so far) told by an Orikrindian woman who leaves Orikrindia at age 15 and comes to Quarios to be able to pursue a life a greater liberty (Orikrindian society doesn’t offer a lot of independence or a very wide array of options for the future of a yong woman). Like I said, I still don’t know what’s in store for this story, how well I’ll end up liking it, how well anyone else will end up liking it, etc. If you DO want to see more, I’ll probably consider continuing it. Its main purpose now is to help me explore Orikrindian vs Quariosian (i.e. Gotevian and Lomi) cultures, as well as a peak into some other Aeniithian cultures/people/stuff. 😀
Mother always praised my two brothers. She praised their ability to take what they wanted, claim glories for our name, do honors to our family. She praised their fighting instinct.
Mine, not so much. I was encouraged to stay indoors, stay quiet, stay calm, stay passive. Stay. That was my childhood, more or less. Obedient equals good, silent equals good, compliance equals good.
So I did what my mother said. Good little Elucuna always obeyed her mother.
I think about it now and it makes me feel sick. Being where I am now—so far across the sea, the master of my own fate, doing as I see fit in the world—I cannot imagine my life without the freedoms I now possess. My adolescence is a world a way, an era beyond. It feels more like a long dream than the first decade and a half of my life.
I remember being on the boat though. I remember it very clearly. I had never been so far south, and the air was so humid and warm I thought it would make me sick. The pitching and thrashing of the waves did instead.
It was such a long trip, it seemed endless. I think I would have wasted away on that journey if not for the Eian woman I met. She had lived all her life in Ei, in Quariosian territory. It was at the end of her life that she decided to make the journey to the mainland of Quarios, to see the lands of her ancestors. She told me long, winding stories of the land where her mother was born, in a deep valley surrounded by towering trees the colors of jewels. She said the wind blew warm all year long where her ancestors lived. That there was no winter as we in Orikrindia knew it. I didn’t know where in Quarios I would end up, so I didn’t know if I’d ever see such a land.
At the end of very many weeks, we arrived at the port city of Naeglitan (1). It was a large city, a lot like Nimhal in Orikrindia. Like Nimhal, Naeglitan’s life blood was commerce from all over Keta and beyond. Merchants of every imaginable kind were selling goods both familiar and foreign to me. As I stepped off the boat, a whirlwind of colors met my eyes. There was an assortment of different people, of every appearance, and I did not know if perhaps they were all foreigners like me or if Quarios itself was home to such an array of people. The spinning chaos of the port was overwhelming to me, habituated as I was to a quiet life, kept away in a cold mansion, and my head reeled as if the water still broiled beneath my feet.
Unknown words echoed in my ears. Everything was loud. I still remember the first person—the first of many—who tried to sell me something in Naeglitan. I would later come to recognize him as one of the Bayë, who call themselves Emir. Immediately his appearance was arresting to me, and took me quite by surpise, for though I had heard tell of the Bayë, I had never seen one. He looked me in the eyes, and his face was almost like that of an amel like myself, but not quite. Something seemed just off, that my sight was drawn to his almost-familiar features for longer than I feared was polite. His eyes were brighter than any I had seen, a mix of colors that did not normally appear in eyes (to my sheltered experience), something like green or yellow and red around the edges of his iris.
In his hands outstretched toward me was a scarf that I recognized as made of pyecca silk, which was rare enough in Orikrindia, though I didn’t know its status in Quarios. If this man was to be believed it was definitely something I should be purchasing, and as he held the brilliant swath of cloth aloft, I could see the telltale six fingers of all Bayë.
“Tjeutae norgaino! (2)” he said to me. I had no understanding of Gotevian whatsoever at the time, so I only guessed at what he meant. I nodded dumbly, knowing I was still starring like a baby cyimir (3) with my huge dark eyes. The Baa smiled a strange smile. I had been given a large sum of money by my oldest brother when I left. He had been my only ally in my schemes to leave Orikrindia forever, and it was only thanks to his aid that I was ever able to do so. I had not yet changed my money for Quariosian currency, and my brother had told me I would have to in order to spend my fortune in my new home. Nonetheless, being star-struck, I pulled an Orikrindian pyelke (4) from my pocket and handed it to the Bayën merchant. It must have not been foreign to him, for he smiled sweetly and accepted it. Either he meant to melt it down again or change it himself—either way, it bought me the scarf, and I felt a sense of accomplishment for having made my first purchase in Quarios—my first independent action since stepping onto a new land.
(1) Naeglitan is Gotevian for ‘sea gate’ or ‘port’.
(2) Gotevian: ‘Silk scarves!’ (Lit. scarves of silk)
(3) Small feline mammal native to Ei and Orikrindia.
(4) Unit of Orikrindian currency made of silver and copper. It consists of alternating concentric circles of each metal and is inscribed with the name of the present king and the name of the heir apparent (typically the crown prince).