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The Myth of Kyrrell Swamp – Chapter 1 Part 6 (End) September 6, 2009

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The wailing of the newborn infant
is mingled with the dirge for the dead

Lucretius


CHAPTER I.6:  Birthin’ in Thelra  (End)

© D. Erick Emert

lobot

The day after, as mama and papa rested from the hectic birthing, an expected villager paid a visit. Jalleli helped her into their stead from the access pole.

“Shammtu how good ta see ya! We are x’cited n x’pectin’ your visit.”

Shammtu crafted the silver Cord symbols worn around the necks of all Thelra’s villagers.

“Is my pleasure, Jalleli, as always,” Shammtu smiled.

She sat down on a floor mat next to Gilrrie as Jalleli collected her baby from the crepea, a high-sided hammock strung above Jalleli’s sleeping pad. The little girl slept through the commotion. Gilrrie helped his Cord sister, still a bit tender from her ordeal, squat down on the floor mat.

“Whatta wondrous day for Rirchet n Lobot alike! Must be sumthin’ special ’bout your hira, Jalleli, for the Elder ta recite the God Firetale.”

“Thank ya, Shammtu. We have no idea why he chose ta do so. I hope ya had an ‘njoyable time,” said Gilrrie.

“Yes, for sure. Mayhaps a bit too much latzu passed these lips tho.” Everyone laughed. “Ya will have ta be careful ’bout the name ya select for such a unique quacha.”

Jalleli and Gilrrie looked at each other and at their little hira. You may wonder why her name had not been given yet. Vigroth babies received their true names later in life, sometime between their fourth and seventh year. Parents considered names personal. They watched a child grow and develop before deciding on a name. Names chosen reflected the nature of the child, some physical characteristic, or a noticeable habit that the child developed. Until then parents referred to them as hira, if a girl, or karne, if a boy.

Shammtu reached into her belt pouch and removed an object wrapped in brown mouse-like melna fur along with a small strand of leather.

“I su’pose ya know what this is,” she quipped.

The new parents both nodded their heads in anticipation. They had seen the Lobot Cord symbol, a silver wolf head with gleaming red ruby eyes that hung around the neck of the son of Onnoix and Treptca of the Keisha Cord. But this one belonged to their own child.

Shammtu unwrapped it and handed it to Jalleli.

“Ohhh is strikin’, Shammtu. Ya work true wonders with metal.”

She turned the silver wolf’s head, intricate to the last detail, over and over between her fingers.

“Thank you, Jalleli,” Shammtu said while handing her the small cord. “I’m glad ya ‘preciate my ef’orts.”

Jalleli passed it to Gilrrie who attached it to the simple leather cord and placed it over his daughter’s head.

“For you, hira. Forever.”

The silver Lobot Cord symbol remained around her neck throughout the girl’s life. Gilrrie, as any proud father would, smiled his approval. Their daughter’s birthing stood complete.

*

Thelra celebrated a new life. Death, however, continued being an ever-present fact in the Great Weald. Some time after the birth of her child, Jalleli and her Cord sisters Ciattie and the melodious Gauggan worked at gathering gutamar roots deep in the Weald west of Thelra. Returning to their village a Summanari hunting party ambushed them. Ciattie and Gauggan died in an instant as purple-banded shafts found their marks. Jalleli took a shaft in her midsection, which by some stroke of fortune missed her vital organs.

Left for dead by her attackers, Scakkif and Gilrrie found Jalleli only moments later, alerted by the instant throbbing pains that shot through their own bodies. Gilrrie removed the shaft and dressed the wound. The two Cord brothers carried her to Jacattou and Lopptyrie, the village planters, who applied their healing herbs, danced and sang the fever from her body with the help of her remaining Cord family. Jalleli would live and though her month’s cycle would continue, she would birth no more children. I’ll not go into detail here concerning the deaths of these Rirchet Cord members because theirs is not the story being told. But it stands as an example of how Circle, the natural religion of the Vigroth, continued to turn its wheel in the deep rainforest of the south Weald. Life and death danced together as they always had and always would.

The Myth of Kyrrell Swamp – Chapter 1 Part 5 September 4, 2009

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History is a cyclic poem
Written by Time
Upon the memories of man.

Percy Bysshe Shelley


CHAPTER I.5:  Birthin’ in Thelra

© D. Erick Emert

fire

With these words, Thelra’s Elder married the newborn baby to members of the Lobot Cord. Only one Lobot had been born previous to this, a boy, birthed over a full season before. This baby girl became the second. Their numbers would grow to eight over the next four Times, five girls, and three boys, this being the usual ratio of men to women born to the Vigroth tribes of the Weald.  Her Cord brothers and sisters would be her mates.  Mistakes in matching never occurred.

At the word “ranish” a roar went up from the assembled people.  The drumming started again, this time spreading the happy message of birth throughout the southern Weald. People slapped Gilrrie and Scakkif on the back and hugged Jalleli, Kariessie, Trachhie, Ciattie, and Gauggan.  Others whooped and still others danced in circles.

Elder Biccata lifted his hand for silence once more. Again he addressed his people, this time relating a seldom voiced firetale:

“Soon after, the Maker cracked Erde;
Back when the Great Weald
Flexed its selfs ta be rid a its pain;
We Vigroth would be birthed outta the Secret Place
N inta the land where we now live.
With new bodies – more like animals.

The eyes of the villagers opened in wonder. Why did this birth cause their Elder to recite a story saved for special occasions? Had he heard something in the baby when he listened for its Cord affiliation?  The Elder continued:

“Life proved unsubmis’ive ta us
In this new cracked world.
So Juist, our Mother, sent ta us
Sammins, Owatachhe, Racchela n Kallam,
Who would instruct us
On how ta survive in the land”.

The faces of his people reflected their awe when they heard the names of the Circle gods and goddesses. Fathers lifted up their little ones so they could see the intensity which Elder Bicatta showed as he continued his discourse:

“Racchela came in urgency
N brought with her the gift a fire
Ta provide warmth from the cold
N ta cook the food we ate.
Vital this boon would prove ta be
Which Racchela graced us with that day.”

Everyone nodded in agreement. Where would they be without the gift of fire? Some eyes traveled over to the huge community blaze, which still flamed to mark their celebration of the new birth.

“Next Kallam came upon our people.
We journeyed ta places high in the Corrins
He showed us where the wammac lay hidden.
Now our knives would be sharp;
Our shafts would pen’trate n kill quick.
We praised Kallam for his gift.”

In the boot or strapped to the side of each individual a heavy wammac knife could be found sheathed. Hands glided down and touched them as the Elder mentioned Kallam’s gift.

“From Owatachhe we received
The twin gifts a voice n language.
No longer would we speake with our minds.
Our mouths could now make thought sounds.
The DeepChat she placed inta our souls.
High in value we hold the gifts
Owatachhe brought.”

Again nods and low murmurs of thanks to Owatachhe rose from the collected villagers. The DeepChat, a special mark of their race, enabled the remarkable ability of Vigroth Cord members to enter into the souls of selected brothers and sisters to converse.

“At the last, Sammins came ‘mongst us.
From him we learnt ta stroke the Universe
Ta travel agen without our new bodies.
He showed us Quatalla, the Land a Heroes
N taut us phys’cal n spir’tual law.
From Sammins we gained our balance.

Another strange ability of this people, to leave their physical bodies while asleep and travel through the spiritual plane anywhere they had already been. The people mumbled Sammins’ name in thanks as Biccata recited this passage.

Now this ageless people,
Forged by the will a its Maker,
Gifted by Spirit n the Great Teacher,
Stands on this cracked n broken land.
We will not give inta it.
We will survive.”

Shouts again filled the air as Elder Biccata kissed the baby and handed her back to Jalleli, smiling. The villagers drank from latzu gourds, filled with a frothy beverage. Voices carrying songs of honor and bravery coursed through the night air. The revelry continued well into the next day.

The admiring throng surrounded Gilrrie, Jalleli, and their infant. Each of their Cord took turns showing off the newborn child. People laughed and shared stories as the excitement of new life lifted their spirits and hopes. It strengthened them. As the latzu flowed you could hear one after the other repeat, “Lec hojasoc!” (We are one!) or “Lec lona ranish!” (We will survive!) while slapping each other on the back.

Jalleli found a seat and made herself comfortable as her village celebrated around her. Exhausted, she soon asked Kariessie to accompany her back to their stead. Trachhie and the baby followed a short time afterward. Members of Vigroth Cords all lived together with their children in the same stead.

The Myth of Kyrrell Swamp – Chapter 1 Part 4 September 2, 2009

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Every beginning is a consequence –
Every beginning ends something.
– Paul Valery

CHAPTER I.4:  Birthin’ in Thelra

© D. Erick Emert

maker

Jalleli held her daughter out to the Elder who accepted the whimpering babe with a ready smile. He turned and addressed the gathered villagers.

“Long ‘go ‘fore even TimeWas began;
‘Fore the OutSiders n the crackin’ a Erde;
‘Fore His will called forth the Vigroth;
‘Fore the animals breathed the air;
Nuthin’ ‘xisted but Brother Maker himselfs.

The villagers fell quiet.  Smiles brightened every face.  They knew what followed.  Bicatta, his face both animated and exaggerated, continued.

Brother Maker stood alone back then;
‘Cause no need lived in the Universe.
When the need began Brother Maker created She,
Who sprang from the will a Him, the all.
Thus the Female came inta bein’.

Brother Maker saw the She n named Her Juist –
His reflection n the Spirit a all things;
The first creation n the foundation a all ta come.
She brought with Her the first Spir’tual Law:
All would come from the male thru the female.

Cord members stood in their own little groups.  Cord brothers hugged their sisters.

“N so Brother Maker called Juist inta His work.
Tagether they punched holes in the fabric a Time.
Thus light came inta bein’ n shone bright.
Juist took up the light n turned it in ‘pon itselfs.
The She sep’rated dayshine from niteshine.

“N formed the stars o’ the Universe with Her touch.
She hung a seat from the stars ta watch their lights.
Then Juist gathered some starshine n made it solid.
She formed it inta a circle, a ball, n called it Erde.
She called forth water n created the ancient seas.”

All eyes remained fixed on Elder Bicatta.  The villagers had heard this firetale numerous times before.  In fact, most of them could recite it at will.  Yet they listened as if they had never heard the tale before.

“The great waters produced air n clouds formed therein.
Juist waved Her hands over the air n motion began.
By such movement dry land appeared n Juist smiled.
Soon flowers n plants n grasses n trees sprang up.
Life gushed from Her Spirit n began ta fill all Erde.

“From Her seat high in the distant night sky,
Juist looked down ‘pon what She had caused ta be.
Pleased, She hugged Her Erde close ta Herselfs.
Thru her af’ection, fishes sprang forth from the waters;
The grasslands, mountains, n deserts filled with animals.

It is difficult to relate what these people felt for the Maker and Juist.  Some might call the Vigroth a simple people who believed in the nature gods and goddesses that all aboriginal tribes worshiped.  Yet, if you gave a full examination, the Vigroth firetales are complex.  Circle contains no simple  beliefs.

“Brother Maker saw the She made s’perior things.
He worked his will n Juist waved Her hand
N within the Secret Place, deep unnerground,
The first Vigroth man n woman came ta be.
They formed them in the spirit image a the Maker.

“The Universe rejoiced in what Juist had brought inta bein’.
Soon many Vigroth thrived in the Secret Place.
‘You must teach them our ways n our laws,’
Brother Maker said n Juist nodded agreement.
‘I will show them what I made n they will learn from such.’

You could see the anticipation in his audience’s eyes.  As the firetale neared completion, the Cordfolk  grew antsy to hear its finish.  Not to end the firetale, but for what would follow it.

“Brother Maker blessed Juist n all Her work.
He saw that all She created would instruct the people.
The plants, the animals, the fish, the birds, the stars;
From all these they would learn His laws.
For this reason, Nature is called the Great Teacher.

“Even taday, Juist watches from Her sky seat.
She looks over all creation n Juist is well pleased.
We Vigroth have learned many things from Her work.
The great Phys’cal n Spir’tual Laws are there for us.
We study n learn from the great mystery a life.”

Biccata opened the wrap and placed the infant’s chest to his left ear. Silence saturated the village as he listened with an intense expression for many moments. A smile creased his face. Turning to his people, he held the child at arm’s length. In a husky voice he announced to his village:

“Rolt moc hak hira tza Gilrrie n Jalleli!  Ka moc Lobot khars!  Ka lona ranish!”
(This is the daughter a Gilrrie n Jalleli!  She is Lobot Cord!  She will survive!)

With these words, he married the newborn baby to members of the Lobot Cord. Only one Lobot had been born previous to this, a boy, birthed over a full season before. This baby girl became the second. Their numbers would grow to eight over the next four Times, five girls, and three boys, this being the usual ratio of men to women born to the Vigroth tribes of the Weald.  Her Cord brothers and sisters would be her mates.  Mistakes in matching never occurred.

At the word “ranish” a roar went up from the assembled people.  The drumming started again, this time spreading the happy message of birth throughout the southern Weald. People slapped Gilrrie and Scakkif on the back and hugged Jalleli, Kariessie, Trachhie, Ciattie, and Gauggan.  Others whooped and still others danced in circles.

The Myth of Kyrrell Swamp – Chapter 1 Part 3 August 31, 2009

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I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.
– William E. Henley

CHAPTER I.3:  Birthin’ in Thelra

© D. Erick Emert

fighting

Outside the shakanu, Rathhcerie slipped into his position at the drums. He wore a wig made from the light brown husks of the lokish plant. Thelra’s drummer presented a bizarre appearance. He covered the left side of his face with white stain, the right with a shiny black. One corner of Rathhcerie’s painted mouth curved up in a sublime smile. The other sunk downward in a somber frown. Now he started his drumbeat…tattooing a simple message, which would continue until the sounds of birth could be heard:

“Come ta Thelra.
Birthin’ here.
Come ta Thelra.
Birthin’ here.”

Biccata, the Elder of the village, long and thin with jet black hair even at the age of sixty-five, seated himself to Rathhcerie’s right. Two thirds of Thelra had gathered by now. The rest remained scattered throughout the trees surrounding the village, on guard as part of the Eyes of the Weald. Each Cord took their turn as members of this force.

Those who awaited the birthing chanted songs led by Jacattou, the elder planter. Planters held the position of healers, who worked with medicinal flora and herbs.

Many of the men’s bodies exhibited painted symbols that told stories of their deeds in battle. This showed returning spirits that Thelra’s Cords remained passionate and worthy of their selection.

A youngster turned to his mother and asked, “Mama, how comes we burn a fire taday that is smoky?”

His mother smiled and said, “You are right ta notice that, karne, for by usin’ agotchu seeds our fires never give off smoke. But taday is dif’rent. Cause a the birthin’ we want ta attract the spirit o’a strong, fierce n devoted warrior lookin’ for a body ta inhabit. Ya know how we say we’ll be birthed agen? Well taday one spirit will be birthed ta one a our Cords. The smoke will help attract it. Listen now, they begin singin’ the Cord songs. They call out ta the Hawk, Falcon, Wolf n Long Tooth Cords.”

Ke Keryl children.
Off spring a the air.
The mountains echo.
Blood is set ta run.
A donie births.
Alight.

Sha Batsu kin.
Range far wide distant.
There be good huntin’.
Fly low n soar.
Raise your wings.
Descend.

Lobot children.
Hungry n lean.
Death on padded feet.
Stalk your enemies.
They mourn n lament.
Now close.

Nag Katu kin.
Shake the mountain lands.
Cast the sacred meal.
Roar thund’rous with danger.
Turn n leap.
Emerge.”

The mother continued to explain to her son. “The songs, drums, n fire will lure a searchin’ spirit ta the shakanu at the moment a birth. On o’casion, more than one essence will be ‘tracted n they will clash ‘bove the flames inna eerie vision a contrastin’ light n shadow till one prevails n the child is inhabited. If this is so, don’t be scared, karne.  Such must be or the child could be birthed without life.”

The fervor of the singing and dancing taking place in the virkum increased.

“But mama, won’t the Riggrathi see n hear all this?”

“Just as the child n mama are vulnerable ta death by the ordeal a birthin’, the n’tire village makes itselfs vulnerable ta death as well, by openin’ themselves ta detection by our enemies.”

Suspended in a crouching position, supported by Kariessie and Trachhie who also experienced her pain, Jalleli pushed one last time. Solloja caught the baby and helped it with the remainder of its escape. One swipe of Solloja’s knife cut the cord. Jalleli sank to the mat in exhaustion, yet strained for a glimpse of her baby. Solloja gave the little one a quick smack on the bottom.  It brought forth a gurgle followed by a healthy wail.

Rannabih and Mirjennie took the child, bathed and cleansed it. Solloja finished her work on Jalleli. All of this occurred in a silence broken only by the soft cries of the new baby.

Rannabih wrapped a soft goatskin blanket around the babe and handed her to Jalleli. “Your li’l hira,” she smiled.

Jalleli accepted the bundle as tears moistened her eyes. She felt her strength ease back into her body. Jalleli’s Cord sisters all knelt beside her, exhausted by their own pain but thrilled at the sight of the tiny newborn girl.

The people saw the faces of Gilrrie and Scakkif twist in pain as each felt every birth pang of their Cord sister, Jalleli. Those gathered continued singing, intensified now by the reactions of the two men. The thirteenth hour brought a single cry from the shakanu.  Not from Jalleli but from a newborn voice.

With the echo of that howl, the drumming stopped and the singing quit. Nothing but silence stirred in the village. Everyone caught their breath. All eyes focused on the opening of the shakanu.

Inside, Jalleli passed her baby to the doe-eyed redhead, Ciattie. “Is time,” she whispered. “Please, lift me up.”

Ciattie accepted the bundle as Kariessie and Gauggan helped Jalleli to her feet. Trachhie moved to the entrance then crawled down the access stake to the ground.  She waited as Kariessie and Gauggan followed.  Jalleli climbed down next, assisted by her Cord sisters.  Ciattie passed the baby to its mother and descended to the ground.  The virtuous women gathered in the doorway.  Jalleli and her sisters walked toward Elder Biccata, ruby-red rirchet eyes glowed in the firelight from the symbols on their chests.

Scakkif released Gilrrie from his bonds.  He rose and joined Jalleli as the women walked outside the circle.  They continued on to where Elder Biccata waited at the virkum.

The Myth of Kyrrell Swamp – Chapter 1 Part 2 August 29, 2009

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Though a good deal is too strange to be believed,
nothing is too strange to have happened.
– Thomas Hardy

CHAPTER I.2:  Birthin’ in Thelra

© D. Erick Emert

tapping3

Kariessie splashed out through the wooden front gate of Thelra, past the twenty-foot high massed bonan wood staves that protected the village. She didn’t need to use the step stakes driven into the inside of the walls because the gates stood open. By the time she ran eighty feet into the Weald, the village disappeared into the abundant vegetation surrounding it. Even Kariessie’s own sharp eyes could not make it out. No trails connected Vigroth villages, making them difficult to find.

Her toes tickled while she ran through the short stemmed piccato and gutamar plants. She wondered if she would pass any of her friends gathering this indigenous and profuse flora while on her errand.

Kariessie found Gilrrie harvesting jasim sap as she ran up to him. He milked the sap from arno trees to make a glue which he used to attach fappin feathers to the sharp wammac tipped, bonan wood shafts he crafted. Even at his youthful age, Gilrrie had the respect of being the finest fletcher in the Weald. Friend and foe alike sought out his handiwork. He crafted strong shafts, accurate and lethal.  They flew true to the mark.

Karissie showed her excitement as she ran up to her Cord brother.  “Gilrrie! Is time for the birthin’! Come!” She showed no signs of being out of breath even after her mile and a half dash punctuated by pains from her Cord sister’s contractions. Her pregnancy had not yet hindered her ability to run.

As a smile spread across his hawk-like features Gilrrie replied, “Ready, Kariessie. I been feelin’ the pains.” The fletcher stood a good two inches taller than his Cord sister. At less than two hundred pounds he set the pattern from which the gods cut Vigroth males – lean and muscular. Shoulder length dusky brown hair surrounded hazel eyes that always seemed to have a serious look about them. Around his neck jangled the silver symbol of their Rirchet Cord. He shoved a stopper into the sap drain plugged into the tree and gathered his full gourd pots. His body glistened in the morning rain, which by now had slowed to a misty fog.

By the time the two reached Thelra the news had spread throughout the village. Gilrrie hung his brimming gourd pots on a peg outside his fletching stead and followed Kariessie to the shakanu. As they walked, well wishers grasped Gilrrie’s forearm greeting him as he passed. They led the tall Vigroth warrior to a special chair that sat outside the circle which surrounded the shakanu, a circle which no man could enter.

Gilrrie saw his Cord brother, Scakkif, standing to the left of the elegant goushtoka, or patience seat near the outside of the circle. Taller than Gilrrie, with dark brown hair and eyes, he presented a fear inspiring impression. A scar ran from his left ear to his jaw.  His appearance tended to mature him past his actual age.  The two men embraced, smiling.

“Ready ta do this, Brother?” Scakkif asked. Gilrrie nodded and slid himself into the ceremonial  seat, as more villagers congregated around them. The chair sat on a pedestal about a foot off the ground.  The carvings in the arms, back and legs represented images of the Vigroth Cords.  Here, the father of the expected child would stay while his Cord sister gave birth.

Kariessie, meanwhile, entered the circle and climbed up the access pole into the shakanu.

Shouts of encouragement welled up from those gathered near the goushtoka as a pair of virtuous women slid down from the shakanu and approached the seated Gilrrie. Scakkif stood to the side to make room for them.  They walked with slow, solemn steps, ending up one to each side of Gilrrie. As the people whispered in excited tones, the two women tied his wrists to the arms of the goushtoka and bound his feet to the chair legs using soft leather cords. The woman to his left produced a leather band that she tied around his forehead.

“This is ta help ya ta maintain focus,” she said to Gilrrie.

The woman to his right sprinkled him with goushin, or patience petals, to the obvious satisfaction of those gathered around who clamored their approval with gusto.  She gave him the ritual explanation.

“Gilrrie a the Rirchet Cord, there are spiritual reasons for the bonds that hold ya ta your seat. They are there ta remind ya that no matter the cries what might come from shakanu, ya must not enter the circle. At times, this is hard for the papa cause probl’ms can raise both phys’cal n ‘motional issues. Also, your bonds add ta the discomfort ya feel so’s ya can share in the pain n sufferin’ your Cord sister is xperiencin’. This is not ta say ya won’t feel each n every birth pang, cause ya will. Your entire Cord will xperience them, but not as intense as they will be for Jalleli. No matter the reason, ya may not leave your seat till the child is birthed. Such is the Vigroth way ta ever increase the emphatic bond a our Cords.”

Finished, the two women retreated back into the shakanu.

There, Solloja attended Jalleli assisted by both Rannabih and Mirjennie, the women who had bound Gilrrie. Solloja, the elder Virtuous Woman, had helped in the birthing of almost everyone in Thelra over past Time and Times. Tall, even by Vigroth standards, she kept her silver gray hair tied back by a single leather loop that hung past her waist. Her easy ways lent confidence to Jalleli and to those who worked with her.

Jalleli’s Cord sisters also attended her. Kariessie, Trachhie, Ciattie, and Gauggan sang in soft voices while they massaged her back, head, and arms. Gauggan’s voice carried a haunting melody, which the others followed with ease. Their presence lent comfort and loving support to their sister, as the hours passed.

While her sisters massaged her, two other occupants, both in their dangerous time, worked with Solloja inside the misting cell, a small hide encased circular chamber set away from the other women. Moiccha from the Sansubach or White Tail Cord and Sarshattie of the Nag Katu or Long Tooth Cord heated water over a smokeless fire.

“Birthin in the Great Weald is sucha time mixed with joy n fear, no?” Solloja asked. “Will the mother survive? Will the child survive? Will the village survive?”

“Course they will, Solloja,” Moiccha said. “We Vigroth people gotta survival instinct but it’s mixed with a natural zeal for life n that touches every element a our bein’.”

“Yeah,” said Sarshattie, smiling, “Ya ask them same questions every time one a us is birthin’ it seems.”

Solloja grinned; glad the young girls didn’t feel the same tensions as she.

The Myth of Kyrrell Swamp – Chapter 1 Part 1 August 27, 2009

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The beginning of knowledge
is the discovery of something
we do not understand.

– Frank Herbert

CHAPTER I.1:  Birthin’ in Thelra

© D. Erick Emert

rainforest

Tzagrast lur seted krind kynpa ecoy – a long ways from anyplace here. This Vigroth expression seemed a sensible place to start, except you, no doubt have never heard of the Vigroth. Or Thelra, Kyrell Swamp, the Weald, Erde, or even the great Empire of Uppsala for that matter. Neither had I. “Won’t make much mattermind where I start,” Ahllie said to me when we first met. As her story unfolded, I understood her point.  This is Ahllie’s story, not in the same sense as she told it, but in my experience of what she related to me. My advice is, bear with the things you don’t understand and there will be many. All will soon become commonplace to you.

A misty spring rain dusted the thatched roofs of the small Vigroth village of Thelra. It sat nestled on the swampy edge between the southern rainforest and the Kyrrell Swamp near the eastern shores of Rigga Sea. The Vigroth laced greens into the roofs of all their homes, which I shall call steads because it is easier to remember than the Vigroth name – eradisin. They did this to give the appearance of the connected leafy canopy which overlaid the rainforest.

The constant drizzle droned on, a precursor of the wetness that permeated the Kyrell Swamp region around Thelra during the last month of Wyntza Yofilshat, the growing season. So survival-minded are the Vigroth that they raised all their steads on poles both for defensive purposes and to keep them dry during the rainy season. A young Vigroth woman shinnied down the access pole of her stead and headed for Thelra’s shakanu or woman’s place. Jalleli awoke to a sharp pain.  Being heavy with child, she knew this day would be like none other in her experience. Healthy and strong, the birthing would not present a physical problem for her.

A tall people, the Vigroth of the great Weald had a commanding visage, with Jalleli being no exception. Today she kept her long blonde hair braided for convenience. She wore a simple deerskin garment that covered her to mid-thigh.  A wide strap crossed over her left shoulder.  She kept her dress belted at the waist by a white cord tied with long ends that hung down to her knees. This was knotted seven times, one for each of the living members of her Cord family, the ends flapped just above the seam of her garment.  A leather pouch hung from her belt and a patch covered her left forearm.  She chose not to wear her normal thin deerskin footwear that covered her legs to mid-calf.  Jalleli walked barefoot today.

As she crossed the virkum, Thelra’s ceremonial plaza in the center of the village, two of her Rirchet Cord sisters, Trachhie, and Kariessie, rushed to meet her. They felt Jalleli’s birth pangs themselves and left their work to help in preparation for the coming event. Ruby-eyed, silver, eagle-like rirchet symbols hung from a leather cord around the necks of all three women.

Their voices rang with excitement and their words flowed with usual Vigroth speed. An OutSider would have had difficulty understanding what they said because the language of  a Vigroth Cord family traveled from mind to mind faster than the sound of voices move from mouth to ear. Understood in the psyche with ease, their expressions rushed forth in a slur. I haven’t used their Vigroth speech here, but employed their version of Selgan Anglich to make their words easier to understand.

“So, Jalleli, you head towards shakanu, hey?”

With a prance in her step, Trachhie giggled her words to her Cord sister. Her feet brushed the mixture of piccato leaves, misenx fronds and gutamar roots the Vigroth used for their pathways to lessen the chance of detection of their village by smell. Trachhie stood well over six-feet tall and her shoulder length brown hair curled across her face in constant motion. Her piercing green eyes twinkled and her mischievous spirit enlivened her prancing.

“Now I wonder why that could be? You not in season.”

The Vigroth shakanu provided a building where females could sequester themselves at the time of their cycle each month. They were considered to be of dangerous spirit during that time and no man was allowed to speak with or even be near a female of their tribe on those occasions. For the women this provided a time to relax, a break from their normal hectic routine. The Oarosh Hirain or Virtuous Women of the village waited on them and cared for them during their stay in the shakanu. Their use of the word virtuous referred to industry and hard works, not morality. Women also came to the shakanu to birth their children and the Oarosh Hirain acted as midwives.

Kariessie, pregnant as well, just cleared the six-foot mark and sported shining auburn hair that hung past her waist. She turned to face Jalleli and danced backwards as they walked. A large smile covered her face. “Yes, n I should go off n tell Gilrrie, no?”

Jalleli gave her Cord sisters a weak smile as she continued to walk through the natural clearing that the village occupied. She nodded to Kariessie who turned and broke into a run toward the village gate and disappeared into the Great Weald beyond.

Trachhie fell in along side her lumbering sister and took her hand as they walked past the common well, the village’s source of fresh water. Jalleli slowed her pace as another small contraction rippled through her body. Both Cord sisters stopped for a few seconds, breathing hard, and Trachhie steadied Jalleli with a hand on her shoulder. Trachhie felt the pains as well. A breathless Jalleli asked of her friend, “So, Trachhie, you gonna help Solloja n me birth this booger?”

Trachhie wrapped her arms around her Cord sister, allowing Jalleli’s head to rest on her shoulder. The nurturing love that all Cord members expressed toward each other welled to the surface. Her eyes moistened with honest tears of happiness.

“Course I am. Wouldn’t miss it for nothin’. Always be there for you.” They hugged and continued toward the shakanu.