Fantasy Fiction posted May 19, 2014 Chapters:  ...11 12 -12- 13... 


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Some things you just don't talk about!

A chapter in the book The Trining

THE TWO FACES OF KOJUTAKE

by Jay Squires


NEW TO “THE TRINING” ADVENTURE?  There are summaries beginning with Cha. 2, and continuing to Cha. 11.  What follows now is a summary of Cha. 12, (the first part).
          After a sometimes heated exchange over cultural differences, Doctrex and Klasco have lunch while the crossans rest, eat and drink.  The two make a very important toast to their brotherhood.  Klasco then explains the taboo usage of the word Trining as a secret code word used by the infiltrators of the Far North Province to refer to the onset of the all-out assault by Glnot Rhuether on all the other Provinces.
          Doctrex proceeds to fill Klasco in on his history with Axtilla, with his ultimate goal to be able to describe being pulled from the plane below up to their plane by his little daughter, Sarisa.  Before Doctrex can proceed too far, however, he gets an unexpected lesson about how the people on the Kabeezan plane communicate.  It matches his earlier experiences with Axtilla and explains how everyone understands each other through a process called pappering.
Chapter Twelve
 
[THE LAST PART]
 
I continued with my narrative, studying his face for changes in expression, especially at the more incredulous parts.  This came soon enough when I described my being wedged in the opening of the cave wall, her disbelief that I could not dislodge myself, and then the ease with which she made the opening wider with a strange movement of her hands between my back and the wall of the cave.

"After I was able to slide the rest of the way through and outside the cave, and she followed me, she told me, tearfully, that she knew I was Pondria and was certain I was trying to deceive her into believing I didn't have Kunsin."

"Kunsin," he repeated.

"Yes, magical powers that Pondria was supposed to possess."

"Oh, yes, I remember.  All part of the myth.  I’d forgotten what it was called until you mentioned it."

"Myth to your people, maybe, just a story, a fiction—but to Axtilla it was very real.  And, since she had a spear she kept prodding me with, she had a way of making me feel the strength of her belief."

“Well put, Brother.”

I went on to tell him of the moment I wrestled away her spear and in a fit of masculine rage attempted to break it over my knee.  The corners of his mouth twitched as I described how it bruised the flesh above my kneecap, causing me to hop around like a howling madman.
With this he threw back his head and roared.

“Yes,” I said, “yes, like that!” I pointed at him, grinning.  That’s just how she did it, too.”

Then I described how I crouched beside the spot where she had dropped to her knees and was bent over laughing so hard she could scarcely breathe, and I joined in with her.

“Klasco, this was the first time we felt a closeness to each other—well, I probably more than she."

Those words said, I found myself staring at the carriage floor, waiting until I could speak again. Finally, I pressed the back of my hand to my nose.

I looked up to see him dangling a cloth napkin he'd taken from the basket.

“Thank you.”

“Doctrex, I can see you really …” He didn’t finish.  There was no need.

I nodded anyway, and swallowed.
 
He reached over, put his hand on my arm and gave it a small squeeze before releasing it.

Over the shoulders of the crossans, the dirt road rose as it stretched out before us and I had a kind of dreamy awareness of their lazily thumping hooves.

Where are you, Axtilla?  Has my disappearance convinced you I used my Kunsin while you were sleeping so I could vanish and join forces with my brother in the Far Northern Province?  Have you hardened your heart against me, Axtilla?

Somewhere—far back—I was becoming aware of a soft but deep sound competing with the crossan’s hooves, and it took me a moment longer to realize Klasco had been talking.

I gave my head a quick shake. "I'm sorry, Klasco."

"You were somewhere else."

"Oh, yes, I suppose I was."

"You were with her."

"Yes."

“You're okay, Brother?”

I told him I was; and, then I resumed filling him in on this history I had a deep urging not just to tell him, but have him understand, accept and embrace.

"We were on the path that began at the opening to the cave and wrapped around the mountain.  We’d begun a mission to do something or other, I don't know what, but the important thing was there was a—a togetherness that didn't exist before."  I stopped my narrative again, but feeling myself slipping back into an easier place in my private thoughts, I forced myself to go on. "We hadn't walked far when Axtilla let out a whelp and grabbed her ankle.  She had been bitten by something from a bush beside the path and, losing her balance in her pain, she tumbled down the hill, with me scrambling close behind.  The ground leveled out a spell before it continued its descent.  Happily a log lay across the small plateau and our now rolling bodies were stopped by it.  She was unconscious.  "

I noticed he was caught up in the drama of my narrative, much the way he was enrapt by my fictional account of the Pomnot encounter over the family's kitchen table.  He was watching the road, but every now and again he would give a little nod of understanding.

I continued on with how I lanced the snake bite by slicing an X across it, sucked out the poison and then how flooded with guilt I was about not knowing first aid. However, when I explained I had to interrupt caring for her while I scavenged for firewood, since it would soon be dark and it was inevitable we would be staying put for the night, Klasco give me a sidelong glance.

I held up a hand.  "You promised, Brother, you'd let me finish."

He nodded (I could see it was begrudgingly), and started watching the road ahead.

I continued on about managing to get a good fire going, and afterwards brought the tip of a branch to a red-hot coal.  “I was preparing to cauterize her injured ankle, you see, which was swelling, with the skin stretched to the breaking point.”

"Cauterize?" he interrupted, looking at me through a spreading grin—and then looked away.  "Sorry."

“So, you’ve heard of it?  Cauterizing?”

“Just now,” he said, and then smiling, added, “pappering.  The meaning wasn’t that clear, though, Brother.  Was it clear to you?”

“No, no it wasn’t.  It wasn’t clear at all.”  Then, I grinned back at him.  “I don't remember who I was before, Klasco, but I know I sure wasn't a doctor."

He laughed outright at my words.

"But, fortunately before I applied the coal to her ankle I decided to check her pulse.  You see, she was staring at me, unblinking.  To be honest with you—” I swallowed just thinking about it— “I thought she might be dead.  After I put my fingers on her neck, I almost fainted when I heard her ask me what I was doing."

Again, he laughed, almost doubling over in his seat.  "I'm sorry, Doctrex, but you do tell a good story."

"Perhaps, but it's a true story.  I'm afraid it's the next part that will stretch what you're prepared to believe to the breaking point.  I know it did me.  And, I don't know how to do it except to tell it to you as it happened to me.  Darkness is a part of it, Klasco.  And Axtilla's fear of it—well, not of darkness—but what happens during the darkness.  This was also why she wanted to get back to the cave before it got dark.  She was like a child, trembling in fright.  She kept repeating that Kojutake would soon arrive."

His head whipped toward me.  "Kojutake!"

"Yes,” I sighed. “I know. Part of your myth."

"No! Not a myth. Not a story. The afterlife, the Prevaluate!”

This I knew was significant, though I had no idea in what way. "So, when you die you go there?"

For a while. It's the Prevaluate. You know."

I shook my head, and he looked at me in the puzzled way I would look at someone who'd told me he'd never heard of heaven or hell.

"We're not of the same world, Klasco.  The sooner you accept that, the sooner—the sooner—I don't know what." 

And, I didn't.

"It's a place you go after you die," he started, "a place where you get measured by what your gifts and talents were that you had all your life compared to what you did with those gifts and talents.  And, whether you met adversity with courage or not.  That weighed most heavily. And, whether you were kind to strangers."

"Who kept score while you were alive?"

"Each one did, Brother.  You. Me. We all know."

"How about after you're dead?"

"You still know, but the lightness or heaviness actually decides.  Some never go."

I said, almost automatically: "How could that be?  They are either heavy or light."

"They are.  But, they don't know they are.  So they stay.  It's a bad, violent place and it’s good that those who know don't have to stay there long."

"The Pomnots," I said.

He smiled, but a confused smile, with his lips not fully committed to their own mirth.  "What do you mean?  The Pomnots, I already told you, are myth."  He sat there somehow threatened by my questions and my Pomnots suggestion, and smiled that strange, non-mirthful smile at me that was trying to tell me the subject had reached its limit.

I stopped short—but just for a moment.  This was too important a connection.  Unless I launched into it confidently there would be little likelihood that he would ever accept my explanation of how I got into his world.

Waiting until the disconcerting smile left his lips and he once again had his eyes fixed on the roadway beyond the backs of the crossans, I reminded him of the untidy fact that we were from different worlds.

"I don't mean our lives' experiences are different, but the physical world we live in is different."  I knew he thought I was referring to the world I claimed I inhabited with Axtilla (and, after all, he was only taking that on faith). It would have been foolhardy to try to conjure up in his imagination the world I knew I was really from.  How could I do that if I didn’t remember the part I played in that world?

The only way I was sure he was listening to me was the way his jaw knotted, released and knotted again.

"I realize you think I am mocking something that is important to you, Klasco.  I'm sorry if it seems like that, because I'm not.  I was as disbelieving of Axtilla's reality, which I thought was merely her myth, right up until I experienced its reality face to face.  So, please try to understand it from my—"

"Just get on with it," he said steadily, measuredly, and firmly, while not taking his eyes away from the road.

"The Kojutake that Axtilla was so terrified of, which I thought was nothing more than a myth she had not yet faced up to, scared the pants off me when I actually experienced it!"

He laughed at my hyperbole, though I was certain he hadn't wanted to.  "Scared your pants right off you, did it?"

I shared the laughter.  "I guess that is quite an image."  Then I continued, gingerly, "Do you think it will be too upsetting if I explain what I saw in Axtilla's Kojutake."

"I must tell you, Doctrex, Kojutake is something no one talks lightly about."

"But, that's the point, Klasco; yours and Axtilla’s Kojutake are not the same place."

"I know it's important for you to tell me about her—her place, brother, but I need some time away from it.  Over there is our lodging."  He nodded toward an imposing structure, partly eclipsed by a grove of trees I was amazed to see were not oaks.  He reined the crossans, whinnying and snorting off the roadway.
 
The wagon pulled up even with the trees and I got a good view of the inn. 

"What is it, about—I paused, doing the calculations—20 Ds old?"

"Yeah, I think you're right; it's about a hundred years old."  He smiled.

Heavy, wooden joists undergirded the sloping thatched roof and smaller, oiled beams formed the support for the windows and doors.  As we pulled closer, I marveled at the craftsmanship of the window shutters that closed to form a weather-resistant seal.  To the side of the Inn, a building half as tall, with thatched roof, shutter-less windows, and with very low, very wide doors, was secured by a metal beam crossing both.  Through the open windows I saw the backs and heads of what must have been fifty crossans.

Pulling up to the Inn's doorway, it opened to the blend of music and laughter.  A lad of about 3Ds emerged.  "Gentlemen," he said through the teeth of his constant smile, "Welcome to the Thorns and Goblets.  I am the stable boy.  I will feed, water and groom your beautiful, but tired, mares while you go in and enjoy the merriment."

"Thank you," said Klasco.  "And, how much do I pay for your services, young man."

"Oh, no," the lad grinned, "We'll settle when you come out."

"We will stay to eat and for a sleep. Shall I settle for the crossans with the Innkeeper, then?"

He came right up to our wagon and leaned toward us. "They will hide it in with the other charges and it will cost you more." He gently laid his hand on the Chestnut's flank. "A lovely lady, sir, deserving of the best care."

Klasco stifled a smile.

"Sir, for five fleckets I will take such good care of the ladies that they will beg you stay another sleep."

"Two fleckets," Klasco countered.

"Two fleckets, seven, sir?"

"Two and six.  Not a faern more."

"I like a man who bargains, sir.  Two and six it is."

Klasco withdrew a pouch from his pocket, and from it removed two coins of one size and several smaller ones and dropped them in the boy's hand.  He cinched up the pouch and returned it to his pocket.

The boy bowed.  "My name is Klynch.  Send for me if you need anything."

Klasco and I stepped down from the wagon.  The boy climbed up and took the reins.
"We'll get our rooms arranged and then go to the tavern for a tankard of ale.  I'm dry and thirsty.  How about you?"

I told him I was, but that I had no money.

"I know you don't," he said.  "But, what you are willing to do for my family and me no money can buy.  While you are with me there will be no more talk of money.  Is that understood, Brother?"

I smiled and nodded. We opened the heavy oak doors just as three burley fellows pushed past us, bumping Klasco's arm. He spun around. His jaw was set, his eyes ablaze.

I put my hand on his shoulder and told him in as peaceful a tone as I could muster, "We're outnumbered, brother, and I'm a bit outsized."

Reluctantly he nodded and turned back around. He entered first, but before I followed, I glanced back to see the three huddled together about thirty yards away, laughing. I pulled the door closed, but before it joined, with a click, to the other door, I saw the three of them through the crack, lumbering back to the Inn.
 
*     *     *
 
CAST OF CHARACTERS
  • Doctrex:  The name Axtilla gave to the man who woke up on the shoure of an alien land without memory or identity.
  • Axtilla:  The young lady who discovered the ailing man on the shore, brought him to health and then held him captive, certain he is Pondria.
  • Pondria:  According to the Tablets of Kyre, he is the one who comes from the sea, to infiltrate the people of the Encloy, deceiving them with his language, setting them up to be destroyed by the Trining.
  • Pomnots:  (Pom = Dark not = Force)  Formerly on the plane below, these ancestors of the people of the Encloy were drawn up to the Kojutake during the Bining's 30 days of darkness.  Fierce, living for their appetites, they are not above killing each other to satisfy their insatiable hunger.
  • Glnot Rhuether:  According to Axtilla, the name of the dark entity who is destined to empower the lodging [the Trining] on their plane.
  • Klasco Braanz: Husband to Metra and father to Sarisa and Klea.
  • Metra Braanz: Wife to Klasco and mother to Sarisa and Klea
  • Sarisa Braanz: Klasco's and Metra's youngest daughter.
  • Klea Braanz: Klasco's and Metra's eldest daughter
  • Kyreans:  According to Kabeezan Myth, a people who lived 5,000 years ago (1,000 D’s) who were ultimately destroyed by Glnot Rhuether and the Dark Force
  • Crossans: They are similar to horses, but broader in the chest and sloping down to smaller haunches than horses.
  • Trining: A code word used by the enemies in the Far Northern Province marking the beginning of the all-out assault by Glnot Rhuether on the other provinces.
  • Kunsin: The magic that Pondria possessed.
  • Kojutake: In the provinces it is the afterlife.
  • Prevaluate: In the provinces, it is where you go just after you die, where you measure yourself to find out whether you will go to Kojutake
  • "D": In the Provinces, the equivalent of 5 years.
  • Fleckets and Faerns: Don't worry about it.  Just a kind of currency.
 
 


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NOTE: Reluctantly, but at the request of many Fanstorians, I am including a Glossary of Characters and Terms. The previous chapter summary and the glossary comprise I trust the reader who measures his/her interest by the length of the "scanning bar" will keep that in mind.
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