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A Tale in the Desert

A Tale in the Desert III 

The Oasis (General)  » Morrigan I

3 posts found
  Tzalaa

Apprentice Member

Joined: 8/01/06
Posts: 4

 
OP  8/01/06 10:21:00 AM#1

Morrigan loved the feel of the wind in her hair, sand under her feet and the hot sun at her back. The more she ran in the desert the faster she became at running.

Sometimes she went to visit her grandmother Tzalaa, who spent most of her time these days on a tiny island in a distant part of Egypt called Seven Lakes - oddly, because it had more lakes than seven. It was Tzalaa who had taught her to run in the desert, to catch the noisy cicadas and to forage for wild herbs and mushrooms, to find the strange black tar and foul-smelling sulphurous water that she could trade for useful items.

Morrigan herself had settled in the remote district known as Fool's Paradise, a mountainous and fairly dry part of Egypt, sparsely populated compared to the bustling metropolis of Karnak or the rich farmland of Kush.

Tzalaa had been a citizen of Fool's Paradise for many years and had been a part of the famous Village there. But the changes in its structure, after the departure of its founder, DrDave, had taken their toll, and as she put it, she was no longer as patient as she once had been. So these days she preferred to live quietly by the sea, surrounded by mountains and flowers. Now and then Tzalaa met with old friends Blondie, Reyzer, Hasani and BryceCicada, comrades from her youth, and with new friends such as Calixes and Deeva; they shared strong wines and herbs, hugs and many jokes, and they recalled long-ago days when they had danced around bonfires and made great heaps of brightly coloured tiles for strange buildings.

Morrigan had made many friends in the area while hunting there and while her grandmother lived there, and now, she had married and settled there. Her young husband, Aidanzoo, worked as the gardener of the local millionaire Gearjammer, a strange, charismatic man. Gearjammer's aim was apparently to cover most of the dry landscape of Fool's Paradise with mines. She found Gearjammer rather frightening, but Aidanzoo, who was also Gearjammer's younger and much quieter brother, was a very sweet, gentle person.

Aidanzoo and Morrigan slept on the roof of the sheep pen, which she made comfortable with the fine linen sheets she wove, while Gearjammer and his own wife, Queen Murtha, a tall blonde Amazon, had a very pretty columned house Murtha had built, beautifully furnished with its modern sofa, mantelpiece fireplace and shiny dark wood wine table. Morrigan dreamed of the day when she and Aidanzoo would have their own place. Meanwhile she worked hard at the camp, making linens, bricks and slowly learning to mine to Gearjammer's very exacting standards.

  Tzalaa

Apprentice Member

Joined: 8/01/06
Posts: 4

 
OP  8/01/06 10:23:39 AM#2

On her days off she ran back to the desert, gathering herbs and cicadas, hunting otters and occasionally even seeing an ibis or gazelle, or the tracks of some other small desert creature. She loved to go right to the edge of the world and listen to the sea. This was how she had discovered the strange, lonely land of Khartoum in the first place...in the far south of this beautiful land there were many fine beaches, stretching for miles of clean, empty sand, and she persuaded Aidanzoo to come and spend time there occasionally on his few days off and even to paddle in the sea, though he was a little cautious about this, never having seen the sea before.

Exploring in the South one day, they bought a prime, surprisingly fertile piece of land, with a long lake and large lawns where they planned to eventually build their own farm and vineyard. They went there on his occasional holidays to work on the farm buildings, tend the grapes and to plan their own little house.

One morning after they returned to the Hillbillies camp to work, when Aidanzoo had already been working on the lawns for two hours, and she had finished most of her morning chores, Morrigan went to Gearjammer's factory building to ask for instructions for the day. "I've been building!" he said proudly. "What do you think of this?"

"This" was a curious, and oddly graceful, machine in one corner of his recently extended factory. It had a large stone tank, with four huge, strange animal horns sticking out of it on the sides which constantly moved slowly up and down, a rotating grindstone on the top and two small metal balls which flew around the top in an odd circular motion. Morrigan found herself drawn into the patterns of rotation of this strange machine. It also gave off an odd scent, slightly musky. A little dizzy, she asked "What is it?"

"I just built it from some plans from new research at the Karnak Universities. It's not fully operational yet, but I think it's quite cool."

"It's beautiful," she said, watching the arms go up and down and the balls rotating...

"Are you going to stand there all day, or are you going to do some work on those firebricks?" Gearjammer's voice penetrated at last. She shook herself and moved away from the hypnotic machine. Much time had passed, she thought; the sun was far higher in the sky than it had been... Gearjammer beamed at her. "You like my machine, it seems. Now, I need another five thousand firebricks before the sun sets, so you had better get a move on."

  Tzalaa

Apprentice Member

Joined: 8/01/06
Posts: 4

 
OP  8/03/06 9:24:50 AM#3

It all happened so fast.

One minute, in the early evening, she was heading for the mines, to look for a new stone for Queen Murtha's necklace, as she often did in her quiet times, talking a little to Gearjammer. The next she was jobless.

"Hey, don't mess with those mines!" his voice suddenly boomed at her from the distance.

"I was just..."

"I don't want to see any damage to those mines. I hold them in sacred trust. You're fired. Get out."

"But I didn't..."

"Go. Don't bother to pack. Out."

Confused, she realised that Aidanzoo was standing at the Guild Hall.

"...Aidan?"

It was Aidanzoo, her husband, who had removed her guild rights, doing, as usual, as he was told by his big brother. He looked shattered and could not meet her eyes. She knew that as usual he was excessively tired, having spent the whole long day working without a break.

"I have to go out, I don't expect to find you here when I get back." Gearjammer stormed off furiously.

Scared of his anger, she left, taking nothing but what she had in her pockets - luckily her hatchet and knife.

Not knowing what to do, where to go. She ran into the Village - very few people were around - and asked for help. What she really needed was consolation. Nepthys was kind, and offered her a home. But she felt she needed to get to somewhere further away. She was shocked and frightened. Miralda, one of the Village Elders, sat her down and gave her coffee, and calmed her down a bit.

Then, still feeling shocked and with adrenaline driving her, she ran - ran all the way to Karnak and the Essence of Harmony. She had to protect her grandmother's property. A friend of the family, a friend of Tzalaa's, had had a marriage turn bad before Morrigan was born and it had been a nasty business indeed. Morrigan had grown up hearing how spouses could wreck homes, destroy property. Weeping, she signed the divorce papers.

"I'm so sorry Aidanzoo, but I know you'll do whatever Gear asks of you." She sent this thought into the ether, praying that somehow he might hear her.

Then, hopelessly, she ran on, running and running, making blurrily for her grandmother's home on the island.

Tzalaa held her tight till she stopped crying and trembling. "Don't talk yet." She placed a cup of steaming cinnamon tea in Morrigan's hands. "Sit here on the grass and listen to the sea. When you feel better, tell me."

"It was a stupid joke, no more. I joked about overmining a sand mine... He never gave me a chance to explain. I should have known, it was the mines - he loves those mines," she gulped down the tea.

Tzalaa shrugged. "A joke? Dangerous, to joke about the things men hold most dear. I always said your sense of humour would get you into trouble... You know I never married. It always felt too risky. Maybe I was too timid. I thought sometimes that I missed out. It's difficult. You need a lot of trust; and if you have friends outside the marriage that can be an issue too." She sat quietly a moment, remembering good times. "Of course we didn't have divorce in those days." She shook herself and stood up.

"Blondie is on her way over, I want to make fish stew. Would you mind growing me a few onions and leeks for it?"

Later, calmer, chatting, Morrigan came to see that what Gearjammer had done was the same as what she had done. Both their instincts had been to protect; each their own, his to protect his mines, his power base, and hers to protect her grandmother and her pretty little home.

"Any ideas where you will go?" asked Tzalaa. "I know you can't get compensation because you got the sack - but I am sure Aidanzoo would want to provide for you. You know you could always stay here." She looked at her granddaughter, knowing she wouldn't stay.

Blondie agreed. "You need some kind of divorce settlement; you worked very hard there. And you know we would help, and the rest of the gang. Just let us know what you need."

"Thank you. I know. I can't stay, no. I need ...."

Morrigan remembered the beautiful vault kiln at Hillbillies, completed the week before. A beautiful object, it had a tall arching shape, decorated with pictures of gods and kings, painted in many colours. She had worked very hard on that project, really enjoyed building it, although it had never so far been used.

"I don't know what I need." Blondie hugged her.

Tzalaa came in. "There was a message from Gearjammer. Aidanzoo wants you to have the southern vineyards, the little farm you were making down South, as your divorce settlement. Gear is on his way down to settle the paperwork."

Numb, Tzalaa nodded. Everything was happening so fast. Too fast.

A few days later she had made her way to Southern Vineyards. There were many vine cuttings to plant, sheep to feed, a second compound to build, flax, carrots, onions to grow. She looked at the lake and sighed. It was so green here, lush and warm. Everything seemed so peaceful in the cool dawn. But she would rather have been working in the intense heat of the factory, baking firebricks and jugs and making flax, with her husband nearby working peacefully on the lawns.

She remembered Aidanzoo standing beside her, holding hands, looking over the lake. He had loved this place too. "Grass grows much more richly down here. There must be something in the soil. See, there are no sandy patches. This will be a wonderful farm, my dear." She had hugged him, full of hope.

She pulled herself together. There was an awful lot to do, and only her to do it now.