A New World: the People

First: A New World
Previous: Taking Stock

Half Yordiy off was better than she’d expected to get, if she was being honest, and all she had to do was draw up a safer version of things she’d been doing for years.

“Thank you, Mr. Vibius.”  He reminded Kael strongly of the people she had known before she’d become a potion-mistress and ruler of her own domain.  She knew how to act around him, but that didn’t make it the least bit pleasant. “You said the food was on the third floor?”

“Yep.  It’s always there.  I don’t get it, I really don’t, but it’s always there.”

Kael suppressed a smile.  Jaoan had been working on that for years.  She wondered how long it had taken him to perfect it.  “Thank you. If nobody is here to ask me about potions, I will go and eat now.”

“You’re really taking this seriously.”  He looked at a small glowing piece of glass for a moment.  “There’s three people in the museum, but they’re taking their down  in the Lives of the Ancient Natives and Potions Then and Now displays.  The Lives one really gets a lot of attention,” he confided. “People like going through how people lived back before, uh,” he coughed, “before the modern era.  We get a lot of yelling, too.” He smiled grimly. “People who say there’s no way things could have been like that.”

“I had one of those earlier,” Kael agreed.  “Her friend talked her out of it, I believe.  But how do you have displays that go against modern historical interpretations?”

He gave her another odd look, one that lasted a little longer than she was comfortable with.  “Where did you say the agency found you?”

“I didn’t.  I said I was your new Kael.” Actually, she hadn’t said that, either, but she had allowed it to be implied.  “I am more than qualified to speak on pre-colonization early history and the potion making in the time of Kaelingrade Torrent-Step, I assure you.”

“I’m getting that, I’m getting that.  It’s just, normally we get history majors from college or kids who don’t know that much but have the right look and know how to stir a potion believably, you know.  Potion-making this way’s a lost art, nobody but some grannies and some Hoija off in the Districts do things like that anymore. And you.”

“Speaking of, the potions ingredients.  Who stocks those? I’ve been looking around, and I have a shopping list, but I’m new to this town…”

His strange look shifted, at least a little.  “The Granter. I’ve never met him. Her, whoever.  They drop a package off once a month.” Mr. Vibius shot her another strange look, this one thoughtful and penetrating.  “You’re very good with this potion thing, aren’t you? Where did you learn?”

“As you said.”  She suggested a little iciness in her voice and didn’t know if it would work or not – he’d said he had no interest in the why are you bothering me, you pesky mortal sort of expression. “There are Hoija-” the term was, very remotely, related to a term the people around her Tower had used for themselves.  “ – in the District -” the potion seemed to be losing its edge, but she could still catch the edges of layered meaning there, something about collected off to the side, all your eggs in one basket, bad apples in the same kettle – “and they do the old style of potions.”

He shifted.  “It’s just. Are you Hoija? I mean, I know that’s rude to ask, and we don’t really, that is, ah.  You don’t quite look Hoija but you don’t, either. I mean, you look like the portrait of Kaelingrade, yeah.  But I never thought she looked like the Hoija, either.”

“That is,” Kael spoke slowly, and wondering why it was rude to ask if someone was – well, the word meant the people – and why the idea was making him so uncomfortable.  “because, as you can tell from a few details in the portraits that remain, versus extant paintings of the Hoeraija, Kaelingrade didn’t actually belong to the people who lived here.”

“You know a lot about that.  But if you’re not Hoija – and if Kaelingrade wasn’t Hoija – then, uh, what are you?”

“Surely in this large land you know of other people than the Hoija?”

“Well, uh, there’s like, my people, the Lambardesh, that is, the place my people came from it’s called Lambard.  And there’s the Viabereese, and people like that. From the Red Land, I guess that’s what the Hoija called it.  But that’s what, well, you know. Natives call themselves.”

“That’s – well, no offense, sir, that’s a simplification.  There was, back in the days of Kaelingrade, a nation to the west, down a deep cliff and over a wild river-”

“Well, a nation,” he scoffed.  “You mean like a group of tribes.”

What did these people know?

“I mean a gathering of people under one law, one set of leaders, and one set of agreements.  The Lerienoija lived there – that’s the Hoeraijen word for them; their own name is pretty much unpronounceable – and they’re the ones that Kael – and I, and likely most of the women who’ve played Kael here – came from.  The look is similar, clearly, when compared to, say, your Lambardesh. But it’s very different when you look at a Lerienoija next to a Hoeraijen.”

“If you know this much,” Mr. Vibius asked slowly, “then why are you working for what is a tolerable wage for an uneducated college student?”

“Because I want to learn more about how Kael lived.”  The answer almost appeared in her mind, and it was a good enough story that she decided to take it.  “And living in her tower seems like a brilliant way to do that. Now, you said something about food?”

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