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Ancient Past Earth Her Dark Arts

Shelter, or the long stay

Röben
Shelter. It’s what we need most urgently now. I had this awful dream last night. I was drifting apart from you on a sea of sand, as a very old man. I grasped at air, and felt a great sense of despair at having nothing to stand on.

The counsellors have met in Röben’s tent on the second night of the full moon to eat a hot stew of fatted calf meat. It had been roasting in the sun all day in a ceramic crock pot. One of the men, Lvi, had found a course translucent blue grain in a dry pit. He had grabbed a handful and sniffed it, but it had no smell.

After eating the midday meal of millet with his fingers, he noticed that the taste was different. He licked his palm and it, too, tasted different. He went back for a small sackful of the thing and as he was presenting this evening’s meal, he gave each counsellor a small portion of the grain on the side of his plate. They weren’t sure what to do with it.

Röben suggested touching a little to the fingers and then touching the meat. Ysåk suggested swirling it all over the meat. That was unbearable, and so he wasted a serving. That caused a bit of grumbling. Ekob, however, thought it would work better to rub a little on the teeth and under the tongue and then savour the tender goodness of the veal with the juices from the mouth.

Röben
Alright, alright. Let’s be done with this. The bullock has served us his fattest youth and we gather now to enjoy his gift. Blessings on our meal.

All
Blessings.

Lvi
I think we should add the millet to the stew, just for various.

Lvi was already thinking about their next meal.

Ekob
Various?!

Ysåk
Various? Various is a word for bullocks. Big bullock, small bullock. Not so big bullock. New bullock, old bullock.

Cackles of dry hysterical laughter shook the tent canvas.

Lvi
No, I’m just trying to…

Benjamin
Shut up, this is a hallowed gathering.

Röben
Brethren, we must discuss the future of our tribe. I think that all we have are the children our wives bear us, these metal plates, these adornments, the ropes that tie our tents down on those pillars. We must be long in our stay.

Esai
You mean, make one dwelling place?

Ysåk
Yes, brother! I have the same feeling, but how can we all fit in the same tent?

Simeon is stunned at the sudden opening for ideas and speaks up.

Simeon
I have an idea. Can we prepare for a new home by charting the heavens in one location and observing the changes over the land?

Ysåk
Hmmm. Children play that game.

Simeon
The point being that we need to know where is best for our families to be long in our stay.

Röben
Hmm, hmm, hmmm.

A long awkward paused ensued. The odourless substance had altered the taste of their veal stew. Some of the men were licking their fingers.

Ysåk
Where can we get more of this, ahhhh… clear sand?”

Lvi
Ah! The cook has his secrets, brethren!

One of the brothers scraped off the rest of the clear sand from his plate and into a small piece of hemp cloth he’d produced for his shoulder bag.

Benjamin
For the wife. And children.

The others followed suit. Ysåk looked around desperately at the others. He’d run out. Lvi shook his head as if to say…

Lvi
(Sorry, none left)

Röben tried to continue through the excitement.

Röben
I think brother Simeon has made a good point. We should do a survey to prepare for a big change such as this one. May I add that we should split up into units? Man, woman, children together in one unit. Not separated.

Esai
Then what?

Röben
We choose one area but stay close enough to each other to meet for our moon meal.

Esai
How long do we separate for?

Ekob
How many full moons?

Röben
Simeon, your wife is with child. Let’s decide what to do when your newborn grows to the height of a reed or loses his first teeth.

Ekob
What are we looking for in the heavens and on the land?

Röben
We’re noting down everything we see, smell, touch, hear. The earth under our feet, and the wind in our ears. Simeon can make a graphic of what we don’t know a word for.

Simeon sees the opportunity, and takes it.

Simeon
Brothers, papyrus is needed. I don’t know how long my reserves will last.

Benjamin
True, but you don’t use so much at the moment.

Simeon
That’s right. We need to make more. Might I start by teaching our sons to help us to protect the trade? The trade of making papyrus? By making more papyrus.

More cackles.

Ekob
For variety? There’s more papyrus here than you can use. How do we make more? They just grow out there in the swamp.

Simeon
Not variety, but continuity. We can make sure we never run out of the plant. I have some ideas.

Benjamin
Let the girls and women do it. They need an industry.

Simeon
I will show you all the glyphs first but can we also teach our youngest to inscribe and interpret the glyphs? Maybe, gather them under one tent after sunrise on days when millet is not planted or harvested. All of the youngest children can live here with us in a tent, tended to by the older mothers. Among our brethren, I can teach Lvi first.

Ysåk
Yeah, make him write where we can find his eatable sand.

More cackles.

Röben
Lvi cannot run or trek like the rest of us. This should be his industry. He will teach our youngest to inscribe and interpret glyphs. We don’t have words for everything we want to say right now, but we can find them or even make them.

Esai
Like Lvi’s stews?!

More cackles.

Röben
First things first. We create a legacy by learning these symbols and we all inscribe what we know about the stars. Then we put them all together under one tent so we are saying the same thing. We’re going to need a shelter for the papyruses that won’t be blown away by sand storms.

Esai
Or the water.

Röben
Exactly. Shelter. It’s what we urgently need right now. Simeon, please take charge of this project.

By ΠιCΘLΣ

Life is short, so let’s be decent.