Salis' Story

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: The Imaginarium


This is the first chapter of the first novel I attempted to write. I improved so much during my time that I actually rewrote the entire thing after having written seven or so chapters because the
first chapters were obviously so much worse regarding their prose. Chapters 11 and 12 are the only ones that survived the rewrite.

Chapter 1 (v.1) - Child of White, Village of Iron

Submitted: August 23, 2019

Reads: 587

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Submitted: August 23, 2019

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 I wouldn't exactly say I awoke to this situation as I hadn't been asleep. Or at least I don't think I had been. One moment I was just there, wide awake. I wasn't actually sure what was going on. My mind was still hazy and I couldn't think clearly. My vision didn't seem to be working well either.

After a moment of confusion I came to my senses and noticed that all around me were floating balls of blue... flame? Flame wasn't quite the right word for it as they were round and didn't have the same shape as a flame should. One thing I soon found out for certain was that anything they did touch did turn into the normal kind of orange and yellow of the familiar fire I was used to seeing.

  As I watched the blue flames my mind became more clear and I noticed that there were smaller blue flames on the ground around me. Some too close for comfort. I also noticed that I was in the center of a jagged circle of flames.

Unsure of what happened I decided that it would be a good idea to get out of the middle of a bunch of fire. At that moment I realized that I had been sitting. I also realized that I was completely naked. I still could not remember what had happened right before I had gotten here, but I knew one thing. Something was wrong.

This thought was quickly confirmed when I tried to stand. As soon as I stood I wobbled and fell over, almost landing on a nearby line of fire. It was this that made me realize something even more startling than the strange scene around me. I had shrunk. Actually, from what I could tell I had gotten much, much younger and was now a toddler or somewhere around that age. From what I could tell, I would be at the age where I was just learning to walk.

I had never been athletic but I had always been confident in my walking ability so I would not let this slow me down. So I tried again. My stubbly little baby legs did their best but my baby body just didn't have the strength nor the stability for proper walking. It was time to show my body who was boss. I had done tons of walking, my mind knew how it was done. I could do this.

With more care than last time I stood up as carefully as I could. I was still really wobbly and fell down again, but I immediately tried again. This time I managed to stand. It was all I could do to keep standing so I decided to let my body get used to it. The flames also didn't appear to be spreading towards me so I didn't feel I needed to hurry at the moment. On the other hand some of the fires near the edge of the circle around me were starting to get bigger. If worse came to worse I would be surrounded by fire.

So, after one minute I decided that I had given myself enough time and took a step forward. I fell on my face. If I had a normal baby I would have started crying by now. Maybe I should. It might help. No, it probably wouldn't. I didn't feel like crying anyways. In fact, becoming a baby meant that I was really young again and had held off old age just that much longer. Sure I couldn't walk at the moment, but I'd get over that. Hopefully soon, because while I didn't have to worry about dying of old age any time soon I did not want to die by fire. Getting burned didn't feel good after all. Though in a way, old age was probably just all the pain just over a few years instead of a few moments.

And I had gotten lost in thought again. What was I doing? Oh yeah, walking. I needed to get out of here before the fire got too bad. Or maybe, just maybe it would be safer to stay where I was. There didn't appear to be much of anything that would burn nearby and the strange blue flames had gotten smaller so maybe instead of trying to outrun flames in this body it would be better to just stay put?

Some of the fires were starting to get large now and were beginning to spread. If I was going to go I wouldn't have long to do it. I had to decide quickly. So, standing again I decided I would let my body decide. If I fell on my face again I would stay, and if I walked I would go.

I fell again. My leg just wobbled and then I fell. I obviously wouldn't be able to make it far with how well I was doing so I was going to have to take the chance and hope the fires would go away from me and I wouldn't die from smoke inhalation.

Admitting defeat, I decided to think about my situation. What had happened to me? I couldon't even remember what I had been doing before whatever had happened to me. I also didn't know what would have happened to cause these blue flames. I had heard of things like ball lightning and Will 'O Wisps and other such things so maybe these were one of these things.

Since I had no idea how I had gotten here I guess I should try to figure out where I was. Obviously I was in the middle of a forest. The trees around me kind of gave that away...

As I sat there I noticed something else about my body. It had gone completely white. It was not the white of an albino either because they still had a pink coloration from blood, but my skin was just white. Even my hair had turned white.

I heard a noise. It was faint and over the crackling of the surrounding fire I had barely heard whatever it was. I hoped it wasn't a wild animal. If it was maybe I could cry at it like a normal baby and it would get annoyed by it and go away. It worked on me, why not something else? Ah, who was I kidding a wild animal would just think of it as a dinner bell... Whatever the noise was I was going to sit tight and see what happened.

A few minutes passed and I heard the noise a few more times. I still couldn't quite tell what I was hearing yet but if I had to guess it was coming from a human. If it was it was either a really good thing or a really bad thing. Well, I guess it depended on what country I was in at the moment. Wait, why would I be in a different country?

I decided to be optimistic for a moment and decided that if I was hearing someone coming it was a good thing. After all no matter who it was it was better than staying here.

The fire was getting pretty bad now. In a few more minutes I would be completely surrounded and I would be stuck. Maybe I should shout and get their attention?

"Waaaaah" came out a weak and pretty emotionless cry. I had forgotten how quiet of a person I was. Yelling wasn't something I did. I tried again anyway but got the same results.

I tried standing up again. I succeeded.

Now, I wasn't going to try walking again but I knew they would be able to see me better if I was standing. I would have jumped up and down too but I could see myself doing another face plant into the dirt if I tried so I just decided to wave my arms.

In a few more minutes I could clearly hear the voices of men. I couldn't tell what they were saying but they sounded... worried? Probably. Who wouldn't be worried about a fire? I just hope I didn't get in trouble for causing it. If it was me that caused it. Hopefully I could figure that one out.

So... I waited. I was actually getting bored. I hated just being able to sit and do nothing. Sure the fire was getting bigger, and sure I could die. I didn't care about that. I just hated the fact that I was pretty much stuck here... oh... I had forgotten about something so simple. I felt stupid. I knew I couldn't walk but I had forgotten about how babies normally got around. Crawling.

I didn't want to do it. It just felt like if I did crawl I would really turn into a baby. I didn't want to be a baby. Being a baby was so inconvenient. I don't know how I had managed the first time.

Shouting brought me back to the world around me. The men were now somewhere outside the growing ring of fire. What were they going to do? Was it too big for them to put out? Would they see me in here and rescue me?

"Waaah..." I cried again. This time it was a little louder... hey, wait! Why was I trying to cry like a baby when I should be shouting "HELP! I was turned into a baby and am now trapped in a ring of fire!"

I tried it but sounds vaguely sounding like words came out. I was stumped. Why wouldn't I be able to speak properly? Was it something I ate? Maybe flying blue flame was bad on the throat and that was why?

In any case, I think the men heard me. Soon after my garbled sentence I could here one of them shout orders. It was in a language I wasn't familiar with. Where was I?

I could now see them through the flames in some of the weaker areas and soon I saw one rush to the thinnest place in the growing flames and throw dirt on it with a shovel. Another soon joined him and soon enough they had put out enough of the flames to get through to me and seeing the hole in the flames the first man ran to me and picked me up before running back through the hole.

He didn't run far. When we were a safe distance from the fire he sat me down and ran back. He soon came back with four other men. I had no idea what they were thinking as I looked at me, but I did no one thing. They didn't look like any race of people I had seen before. Sure their brown hair and eyes were not anything special, but the shape of their face and their arms and legs that seemed too long and frail.

None of them spoke to me as they took me to wherever we were going though from what I could hear when they spoke to each other I definitely knew now that I had never heard a language like theirs.

Another thing I found curious was their clothing and tools. Their clothes reminded me of stuff I saw people wearing in pictures depicting peasants in some ancient country I couldn't remember the name of. They were also made of crude fabric that was well worn. Their tools also reminded me of something I would see in a history book. The shovels were wood and everything else they carried, which wasn't much, also seemed like it would be something I would see in a history book.

Now that I'd had a good look at these me I had come to two conclusions. I was either in the middle of a historical reenactment or I had gone back in time. Well... maybe I was just in some poor country somewhere not Africa, since their skin wasn't dark, or jungly since this obviously wasn't a rain forest.

Another thing I noticed while I was being carried was that we were on a mountain and a fairly tall one at that. Fortunately the part we were on wasn't too steep despite being pretty far up from what I could tell.

After what seemed like too long I saw a village through the trees. It turned out to not be a very big village and was very dirty. I hoped I wouldn't have to stay here long. I didn't want to stay at a place like this. I wanted a bath just looking at the place. Actually, I wanted some clothes too. Just not something as filthy was what I saw most of the villagers wearing.

I soon found myself in what appeared to be the biggest building in the villiage. I guessed it was the house of whoever was in charge or where the town meetings took place, maybe both.

Inside I found myself finally with in the middle of a circle of older me. As they stared at me I stared back. And stared, and stared... Finally they spoke to me. Obviously I couldn't understand a thing. Seeing this the eldest stopped the others. He then motioned to himself and said something, then did the same for each of the other men before motioning to me and making a gesture that probably meant he wanted to know my name.

I only looked at him. When he saw this he tried again before giving up. The men then quietly talked amongst themselves before calling the man that rescued me. The older men exchanged a few words with hime before he turned to me and picked me up. Giving me a look of uncertainty he took me out of the building.

I soon found myself inside a small house near the edge of town. Inside the man talked to a young woman holding a baby not much younger than me. There was an older child too, a boy.

I soon realized that this was going to be my family. And it was.

 

 

 

* * *

 

 

And thus started my life in the Town of Porra-kel in a world called Calorin with my new "family." The first few years were not enjoyable. Not only did I not know the language and had to learn it, I also had to make do with the tiny body of a baby. Fortunately I was not treated wholly as a baby.

One of the biggest things that I had to get used to was the living conditions. Everything was dirty, there were no toilets, and the food was not of any quality. There were other problems too. The one I tried to avoid the most was the parasites. Everyone had lice. In fact at one point I even shaved my head once when I was able to hold sharp objects without worrying about cutting myself. Ever since then I have made it a point to not come in contact with anyone and refused to sleep on anything else they had. Not sleeping with my "family" also kept the fleas away pretty well.

Another thing I had problems with was the lack of bathing. Everyone stank. There was no toilet paper either and this is what made me realize why left handedness was looked down upon in some parts of Earth. The left hand was what was used in the place of toilet paper... If you come to Calorin, or at least a poor place, DO NOT TOUCH the left hand of someone.

Now, I would like to say that not everything about living in this small mining town was bad but it was. There are no redeeming qualities about living here. Aside from the things I mention earlier, it is boring here. Very, very boring. While the men work in the mine all day the women either take care of the many children or the many household chores. While the younger kids did get to spend much of the time playing the older ones, about six Calorin years and up helped with many of the chores.

This boredom problem was huge to me. There was no way I could do chores like that all day everyday. I admit that I could handle helping with some, and I did, I did not want it to become all I did. Call me lazy, but people deserve some leisure time and aside from the occasional Vellis Bard and drinking for the men there was none. I don't know how often I wished for a book or even a school textbook.

When a few years had passed and I didn't know how much longer I could take of this lifestyle an opportunity came. While it was certainly nothing I was proud of I was happy to get away from that small dirty house and the ever growing number of children in it. The opportunity was helping out the mine superintendent keep track of records and pay rolls.

To be honest I wasn't exactly sure what had made them come to me, but I welcomed it. Not only did I get to learn the local writing system, the Flaern Alphabet, I was getting paid and with this pay I could save up and hopefully get away from this villiage. Where I would go from here, I didn't care.

In the meantime, now that I had some money, I decided to improve my quality of life. There were just so many little things from Earth that I could make to make my life here so much easier. I just needed to keep anything I did a secret so people wouldn't try to steal whatever I had made.

With this in mind the first thing I wanted to do was probably too big of an undertaking. By this time winter was only a little while a way and winter on the mountain was never pleasant. While our house never got freezing because of our small stove the family goat and chickens got to spend the winter in the house too. I imagine I don't have to say why I hated that.

So I decided that I might be able to build my own place to live. The only problem with this was that I had no where near enough money to buy a house or pay to have someone build it. I also didn't have enough money for a stove. So, I decided to try a make my own.

I had never built a home before. Actually I had never built much of anything bigger than models or toys. Still, I thought there was no way it could be that hard.

In the end it turned out to be too much for me. Not only did I not have access to all the materials I needed, winter ended up coming so I had to stop. In the end all I had manage to build was the frame to a very small house since I was still so small. I also couldn't lift very heavy weights despite the fact that I had become suspicious that the gravity was lower on Calorin.

This was last year. This year I had started up again as soon as the snow had started melting. During the winter I had been slowly collecting flat pieces of wood that I could use for my walls and roof. I had also gotten the idea to build an elictric heater. This was actually more of a challenge to myself than something I expected to be realistically doable as I had only read a little about how generators worked. As for the heater, I remembered seeing some old ones that produced heat from wires. I was certain this was achieved by electrical resistance so if I could get electricity I just needed to find the right kind of wire to heat up.

Going into this I knew the hardest part was going to be making a generator. As far as I could remember all you needed was some magnets and copper wire. If there was more to it than that I would be in trouble. Still, I was looking forward to the challenge. It would also break the tedium.

By the time spring came I was ready to get started. Unfortunately finding some good magnets was actually the hardest part. There weren't any in town and the only thing that came up and down the road during winter were wagons filled with ore and even then it was only when it wasn't snowing so no merchants were available.

When winter finally broke I patiently waited for the first merchant of the year to arrive. When he did come I made my request. I had never talked to any merchants before so not many knew of the Terran child in town so he was surprised. I don't know if this helped my chances at him finding me magnets but I hoped his curiosity about me and what I would ever want a magnet for would motivate him.

While I waited for the merchant I built more onto my house. Since I was planning on building a generator I knew that I would need a way to turn it. Nuclear wasn't an option and since building a steam engine was stupid because I just wanted heat and I would get that from the fires making the steam for the engine. So that left me with wind and water. There was a river just behind my house so I went with water.

Using water added one problem. I would need to build a water wheel. This meant more time, more wood, and a need to move my little house next to the river. The last one wasn't too big of a problem since I hadn't gotten much done. The problem of time wasn't too bad because it didn't take me all day to do my job and the boss didn't care if I left early in the day if I had finished all my work. The only problem was wood. Most of the houses in Porra-kel were made of stone and plaster so there wasn't very much other than the wood discarded from the mine. Unfortunately, most of this wood was either broken or the wrong shape or size.

Spring came and went. I had moved next to the river and had a sturdy frame built and had actually gotten a working water wheel built. I had also gotten some copper wire, iron wire, and a ceramic box that I hoped would keep the heating wires away from anything flammable.

Then the magnets came. Most of the money I had saved up left. Now I could get this generator built. I just hoped that all I needed to generate electricity was magnets and copper wire.

 

* * *

 

 

It was another day. Yet again I had a strong desire to just stay in my hammock and not go to work, but having Momma Eliz or Poppa Garen scold me like they often did to the other kids was not something I wanted. So I climbed down from my hammock near the ceiling, well away from any other sleepers mind you, and got dressed.

Momma Eliz was already up and making those bland wheat flat bread cakes that we ate every morning. She was also making up some eggs that we got from those accursed chickens. Since we only got about three eggs a day on average and five other kids besides me I often didn't get any.

Fortunately for me everyone left me alone and I quickly ate my meal before leaving. They had long ago gotten used to the fact that I didn't care to speak to them so while the others rough housed, shouted at, and played with each other they pretty much ignored me. I wouldn't change it.

Since most of the miners, including Papa Garen, had already left for the mines and most people were still eating breakfast and getting ready for the day the streets outside were pretty empty. That was why I was walked to work earlier than I needed to be.

As usual the walk through town was quiet and uneventful. When I approach the cleft in the cliff that led up to the mine area I began to notice more activity. Men were preparing the wagons and loading some for the ore shipments down the mountain. Others were carrying tools and such into the mine while others were bringing newly dug out dirt and ore for processing.

As usual I just walked right past all that and headed straight for the foreman's house. This house was where I worked, if only in a small room near the front. The house the second biggest in the village and probably the only clean place in the entire village. This wasn't because the mine foreman was a clean person it was because he almost never came here after he hired me.

When I first started working here the place had been a mess. None of the parchment papers were organized well and old pieces of fruit and bottles of alcohol were everywhere. I had never been one to demand cleanliness, even after coming to Calorin, but this place was so bad I spent half of my first day cleaning up what I could.

Now I enforced the cleanliness with an iron fist. I didn't allow the miners to even come inside if they were dirty and had made it clear that anyone dirty would talk to me through the window. Fortunately not that many came in the first place and even fewer came as time went on. This was especially true when I added a drop box for the shift leaders to slip in their status reports.

As for what I do with my job. It is very simple. I recorded the output of the mine for the day, recorded any accidents, kept track of wages, and range the bell that told the miners to stop for lunch or whatever reason. I was pretty much what some might call a secretary.

To be honest I didn't have much to do. It only took me an hour or so to finish my job. For the rest of the day I was supposed to just keep an eye on the mine and make sure everything was going as it was supposed to. In the end I didn't really have to do anything since the shift leaders were borderline slave drivers.

So for the rest of the day I did whatever. I couldn't leave the office for the first part of the day, but I did as soon as I could. On days I didn't have any materials to build my house with, which was most days, I cleaned the house owned by the Lord who owned the mine.

Even this didn't take long since the foreman was rarely here. With the rest of my time I often ended up bored out of my mind. So one day when I was dying from boredom I saw the faces of the miners, whom also looked bored. I wondered if there was anything fun in this village. There wasn't. So what could I do for fun? I guess I would have to make my own fun.

For the rest of that day I had thought about what I could do. I didn't want to do anything with someone. No one in the village besides me had much free time anyways so even if I wanted to ask someone that wasn't like six years old they couldn't and even when they did things for fun they were things I didn't find fun.

Another problem was that I didn't have the things needed for most of the fun things I thought of or didn't have the money for them. While I technically had money, there was no way I was going to use it on anything that didn't go towards my house or go towards my Escape from Porra-kel plan.

A few weeks had passed. That fateful day I had left home late so there were more people outside than when I usually went. Normally this didn't really mean anything but on that day I saw something. Something that would forever curse the names of the two boys I saw.

These two boys were hiding behind a bush near a house and were watching the front door intently. Looking at the door I saw that they had propped a wooden bucket on top of the door that was slightly ajar. I immediately knew what they were up to. They had placed the bucket up there, probably filled with water, and were waiting for someone to open the door and have the water fall on them.

I didn't stop walking, I didn't want to be caught up in their prank, but it did give me an idea of how to amuse myself. From that day on I was constantly thinking of things I could do or any items that I could use. That day was also the day that the people of Porra-kel would live in fear. *Evil Laugh* It was also the day I started enjoying life again, even if only a little.

This was last fall, almost a year ago. This last year was the most bearable year I had had, but I was running out of ideas to do with what little there was to mess with in this small village. The villagers had also gotten very watchful so it was getting hard to pull off anything anymore. Actually, I think the only reason I could think of as to why I wasn't suspected was because of how withdrawn and emotionless I seemed. The villagers even went so far as to calling it my defect.

Perhaps it was my defect. From what little I had learned about Terrans, or what the villagers called people who came from Earth, was that all Terrans had some sort of defect. Most of the time they were physical deformities, but that didn't mean there could be mental defects.

As far as I could tell this might have been true. While I by no means had defective emotions, I did still feel all of the normal emotions, I could never express them for some reason. Not that I really cared to. In fact I would rather not have people know how I was feeling.

So, because the villagers saw me as an emotionless being they never even looked in my direction when they searched for the culprit. I took advantage of this by being in plain sight of many of my pranks. In fact, I wanted to see if anyone would ever make the connection of how I was present at so many of them. Since I stood out so much there was no way they didn't realize I was there, even if they didn't show it. Someday they would have to figure it out, even if I had to go out of my way to do it.

Fortunately for the villagers my rain of terror had temporarily ended a few days ago. This was because a certain merchant had come back with magnets. They were as expensive as I had thought they would be. They were good strong ones though so I was more than happy to part with my money.

Because I had been thinking about all of this and the fact that I was anxious to get back to work on my home project I soon found myself done with my work day and was on my way to my house. Since I had jogged all the way I reached my house withing a few minutes. There was still much to do on the house itself, like adding the walls, but I would soon have myself an electric heater.

I had actually been suprised at how easily it was to make a generator. I was expecting there to be more to it than simply spinning magnets inside a coil of copper wire but that was all it took. My only problem had been figuring out how to get the right amount of power into the iron wires so they would produce heat without melting. If it hadn't been for that I would have finished on the first day. Now I had to figure out how to adjust my water wheel to make it spin at just the right speed or find another way to adjust the power.

For now I just decided to do trial by error. Iron wire was actually pretty cheap around here so I didn't mind melting a lot of it. And surely I would be melting some today.

So, sitting inside my unfinished house I got to work.

 

* * *

 

 

Pali was staring up at the nearby mountains. He would be going up there today in his yearly summer quest to find special students for the school he taught at. The school, The Kein School of Magic and Learning, sent out him and a few of the other teachers every summer to look for bright children from poor families and give them a chance for schooling.

While Pali was more than happy to give these children a chance at an education he wished the reason behind it was not there. The reason was the country to the east, Toa Mirr. This country, Flaern, had actually been conquered by Toa Mirr in the past and after a long and bloody fight had driven them out. With such a dangerous country next to them Flaern was in need of the best. Because of this Flaern had fortified itself, allowed women in every aspect of military to help with numbers, and searched the populace for bright minds and strong fighters.

Since most of the children were found and admitted to schools throught the year it wasn't surprising if he would go an entire summer without finding anything. So he just used his search as an opportunity for seeing the country and if he found a child all the better. But this year as he lounged around a food stall in this city by the mountains, called Stutra, and was asking his usual questions about if there were any bright children in the area someone told him something that caught his attention.

The man, an ore cart driver, told him about a strange child, with white hair, skin, and blue eyes that lived in the mining village that fed Stutra's refineries. Pali was immediately hooked. He wanted to know everything about this child. He quickly learned that the man did not know much. All he knew was that she was about seven years of age, that she lived with one of the miner's families, and that she took care of the records and pay stubs for the mine. He also said that as far as he had seen she rarely talked and showed no emotions.

Pali was excited. If this child was as the man described then she was most likely a Terran. Terrans were extremely rare now with only one or two in the entire country. This in of itself wasn't what excited Pali. It was the possibility of what Terrans knew. While most Terrans suffered from severe memory loss, or just did not have much learning to begin with, there had been a few that remembered things.

From what those of the past had written, Terra was more advanced than any country on Calorin and sometimes a Terran would come that had some or most of their memory intact while having been educated in some way. These few Terrans had brought new ideas and technology to Calorin. Since the hight of the coming of Terrans ended some eighteen hundred years ago and the fact that Candrar, the Deity of Knowledge, had not provided those on Calorin with new knowledge since eons ago there had been no progress in any way.

There was no way Pali was going to turn down an opportunity to find a Terran. He was surprised that she had gone this long without being found, but it made sense since to most commoners she was nothing more than an oddity. He just hoped that she turned out to be more than this, but the fact that she was in charge of what she was made him optimistic.

Unfortunately it was too late in the day for Pali to venture up the mountain. He needed to call the school for permission anyways. He almost wanted to just go up now even though it meant arriving in the middle of the night, but everyone would be asleep.

Pali quickly made it back to his room. When he arrived he pulled out his travel bag and took out a locked box. Opening it he pulled out a flat rectangle of clear crystal. This was no ordinary crystal because when he concentrated like so... it lit up.

At first he did not see anything other than what looked like a ceiling. He had not been expecting for anyone to be there as soon as he tried so he called out.

"Headmaster Ury, This is Pali. Are you there?"

There was no reply. He wasn't surprised because Ury was the headmaster of a school and wouldn't be available all the time. He would have to try again later. He was not in any hurry anyways. He just had to catch the headmaster before he retired for the night and since there was about another half an hour of sunlight left he still had some time.

Twenty minutes or so later Pali tried again and this time caught the headmaster.

"Hello Pali. I trust you have some news." The headmaster said before Pali could say anything.

"Yes Headmaster. I have heard rumors of a Terran child and would like to see if they are true."

"A Terran child? Come now, you know Terrans cannot have children."

Pali laughed. "You know what I mean Headmaster."

"True. If you really can find a Terran that would be worth a detour. But you do realize that even if this Terran looks like a child they really are not."

"Yes, I know that much. This child could be eighty years old or in their twenties. Maybe if we are lucky she will be able to tell us."

"If it were that simple Pali, then we would have found that out by now. But finding out why their ages change when they come to Calorin is not important. Just go see if "she" is really there or just a rumor. You know how peasants can be."

"Great! I will be leaving at dawn tomorrow. She is in the mining town of Porra-kel so it will take me a while to get up and down the mountain but I will contact you again when I get back."

"Sorris be with you Pali."

"Thank you headmaster."

Pali had not expected anything different from Headmaster Ury, but getting it out of the way made him feel relieved. Now he just needed to find something to do to pass the rest of the night. He just wished he had one of his books on Terrans with him at the moment and his guide to the language they called "Latin."

The next morning Pali woke up early and left the inn as soon as the sun made its presence know and the first light started devouring the stars. He did not need to leave so early but he did not know how long he would be in Porra-kel and he wanted as much time as possible to make it back to the inn before nightfall.

Pali almost rode one of the ore wagons up the mountain but one of the reasons he did these summer searches was because he enjoyed walking, even with the long distances he traveled. He also had not hiked up a mountain in years and wanted to take in the scenery, especially with the leaves farther up that were already turning their reds and yellows as winter approached.

As he hiked he became more and more impressed with the scenery around him. To the south he could see the land that spread out as far as he could see while to the north were the hight snow covered peaks of the Flaern Mountains, of which his country had been named after.

As he neared Porra-kel, his sense of excitement grew. In a few more minutes he would see if what the mine cart driver had said were true. He had no reason to doubt the man but doubt there was. Terrans were such a such a rare sight that rumors should have spread past Stutra, yet they had not. Maybe the fact that the Terran was in an isolated mining town was the reason but that could not be the only reason.

Pali rounded a ridge and saw Porra-kel. It was a small village with only fifty of the small rock and mortar houses that most commoners lived in. Pali was actually taken aback at how poor the village looked. Most of the houses were old and worn. Even the small shrine in the village center was worn.

In the village Pali went to the first person he saw and asked them about the Terran. The villager looked uncomfortable but confirmed that there was indeed a Terran in the village and even told him how to find where she lived. The village also gave his some advice.

"That child speaks little and avoids people as much as possible. Speak with her parents first. They know her best. Even if that is not much."

Pali did not know what to make of this news. It might be a bad thing or nothing at all. Terrans were know to be highly eccentric after all. If it was a bad thing then it would make things hard. He hoped that things would go smoothly.

It was not hard to find the house. With there being so few houses there was no way he could get lost. He stood for a moment and looked it over. It was just as small and worn as most of the other houses. On the other hand he noticed a few differences. Unlike the other houses the latrine had been moved farther away and the children playing in the yard looked cleaner and healthier than the others he had seen, though their clothes were just as ragged.

Pali walked up to the door, waving at the children as they looked up at him. It was open but he knocked on the door anyways. His knock was immediately answered by a woman of about thirty, if Pali had to guess. This must have been the mother.

She looked at Pali and gave a momentary expression of surprise before bowing herself slightly. Pali had thought that he had chosen clothes that would not give his higher standing away but she had seen through it.

"Good day to you Sir, I am Eliz Attish Porra-kel."

"Good day Eliz I am Pali Candrar Bo and am a representative of the Kein School of Magic and Learning. I heard there might be a Terran child living here and I wanted to invite her to come and attend, but before I see her I was told I should talk to you about her first."

"I see. I will answer anything I can."

"Thank you Eliz. Could you tell me her name and how you came to care for her?"

She thought for a little while and then told him. "The child, Salis Terra, as we have come to call her was found in the middle of a ring of fire six years ago by my husband and a few others near the village to the west."

That sounded right. Every case he had read about said that Terrans were always found in the middle of what looked like a magic circle and blue orbs of raw magic that often started fires.

Eliz continued. "She was no larger than a one year old child at the time. Since she could barely stand on her own and could not talk no one knew what to do with her. In the end my husband volunteered to raise her."

"I see." So this Terran, Salis, had been given the body of a baby. "Can you tell me if she has any deformities?"

"Deformities? Why would she have any deformities?"

So, she did not have any deformities that anyone could see. That was a good thing.

"How about her memories? Has she told you anything?" Pali asked the question he hoped would get a good answer to.

"I could not say. The child has made no mention of anything about where she came from or even her real name, but sometimes she does strange things and even makes us do them too."

"Like?"

"She will not eat any food I prepare unless I clean my hands. She also made us move the latrine away from the house and refuses to sleep with the other children and instead uses a hammock."

"Why would she do those things?"

"I do not know. I asked her once and she did not say."

That was strange. Why would the Terran do these things? Pali knew there must be something to it, but what? What would doing those things accomplish?

"Alright," Pali continued, "could you tell me what the child is like?"

Eliz thought again before speaking. "There is not much I could say. She rarely speaks and only when spoken to or instructed and she often goes off to her..." Eliz paused again, "She goes to her water wheel by the river that runs just behind our house."

"Her water wheel?"

"Yes, she just recently finished building it. I was quite surprised when I saw it."

She had built a water wheel? What would she need one of those for. There was no way she would build it to grind grain.

"Is she there right now?" Pali asked.

"I could not say for sure, but for the past few days she has been going there right after she finishes her job at the foreman's house."

She had a job at the foreman's house? There was no way this Terran was a child of about seven, but he knew that already. It also seemed that she had much of her memories intact or at leasts habits. Pali was looking forward to talking to this Terran more and more.

"Could you take me to her?"

"Yes."

Eliz took Pali outside and led him into the trees behind the house. He soon heard the river and wanted to run but did not want to leave Eliz behind like that. So for another grueling few minuts he walked. When he finally broke through the trees he saw it. In front of him stood a somewhat crude but working water wheel and the small figure of a child inside.

 


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