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The Wishing Map
Chapter Sixteen: Fisher Folk and Naims (Cont’d)
Previously: Gina became unintentionally drunk by dipping into the adult’s bowl at the Inn in Sur Kellan.
(See below for a Glossary of SurKellish words*)
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Disgusted with his sister, Zack headed for the meeth bowl marked “Cheldings and Naims.” This put him near enough to the alcove to hear what the naims were saying. They were arguing about the “story” inside a big fresh-cut piece of timber they’d laid against the wall:
“Nay, yer can’t have yellowy-ness coming out a’ water, yer pilky fern!” a well-fed fellow named Bulgy pontificated. “An’ looky: that’s a lee pond there, certain, in all its ripply bluey-ness, so there can’t be nay yellowy-ness!”
“Yer duppy toadstool, that’s sky, not water. An’ there is yellowy-ness, so it has ter be sunrise!” averred Sniggle. Only he and his wife, a naim called Noddie, dared openly challenge the self-important Bulgy.
“How can sky be all ripply like water?” a ruminative old fellow named Tuber asked. “Yet how can water have a sun in it? An’ sky nor water make nay such greeny-ness. We don’t know the story—that’s what’s amiss. We got ter have some’n who can see the story! A storysmith would know what it is, traith, and then would tell us. We got ter have a storysmith!”
“Traith!” the others agreed loudly.
“Well,” Bulgy boomed, “we don’t got nay storysmith—not since old Pogger Knotfiller’s passing—”
The naims stomped their feet and smacked their foreheads in reverence.
“So,” Bulgy continued, “I say I should decide, since I’m the most cleverest. An’ I say it’s—”
“Both,” a voice declared from behind them. The naims were stunned; humans rarely spoke to naims unless purchasing rainbowwood or mushrooms, and when they did, they nearly always treated naims as inferiors. Zack walked over to the plank of uncarved rainbowwood and pointed at the blue, green, and yellow grains the naims had been arguing about. “So, check it out. There was this mega solar explosion, right, and a piece of the sun broke off and fell into this pond, and this green stuff is the hydrogenic power that was released when it hit the water!” (He wasn’t sure if hydrogenic was a real word, but it sounded cool.)
There was a moment of silence, and then Noddie, Sniggle’s wife, said, “I see the hygerpow! I see it!”
“Aye! Me too!” said Sniggle. “It’s all greeny-ish, certain!”
This was way more fun than watching Gina monologue. “And when it hit,” Zack went on, “it went KUSHOOOOONG!!!”
“KUSHOOOOONG!!!” the naims echoed rapturously.
“And everything for a million miles around was covered in hot green steam and no one could see anything!” Zack pointed at the gray-green spirals that spun out from the blue-yellow-green patch on the plank.
Tuber Root-Rigger, the older naim who’d spoken earlier, stepped forward, sensing more than anyone the gravity of the moment. He inspected the plank, and then looked up at Zack.
Zack got down on his knees and bent over until his eyes were level with the old naim’s.
Gasp!—humans never showed deference to naims—ever! Tuber looked at the plank once again, then back at Zack. “It do look like steam…” He studied Zack’s face, and then hatched an ear-bridging smile. “He’s a storysmith—certain!” Before anyone could respond, Tuber turned one more time, peered deeply into Zack’s eyes, and said,
“A great storysmith!”
“Traith!’ the naims erupted. “Traith!”
Zack stood up. He’d obviously passed some kind of test.
Thoughts: Have you ever found a group of people who see value in you that no else has? It’s heavenly. Or dangerous. Probably both.
*A brief Glossary of SurKellish words: meeth–much-loved Sur Kellish brew; cheldings–children; naims–gnomes; lee–little; pilky–a crude, derogatory adjective; duppy–stupid; ter–to; nay–no; traith–truthful or wise saying
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