The next day, I go hunting again. Even though the wind is adjusting for me, I can tell my aim has become better than yesterday. I managed to kill two rabbits in a short time. Like yesterday, I cut their throat and hang them from their hind legs. While waiting for the blood to drain, I meditate again.
Inhale… exhale… inhale… exhale… Clear my mind… Inhale… exhale… inhale… exhale… Clear my mind… No, it’s too cold out here… I’ll try again later when I’m in the temple.
After the while I check on the rabbits: their blood is drained. I try to butcher the rabbits. Seeing how I mess up another rabbit it’s safe to say I’ve made no significant progress with my dismantling skills so far. The second rabbit goes better, it’s still in chunks, but they are double the size as before.
I put the chunks in the pot and boil them with water like yesterday. While the meat is shimmering in the pot, as Mittens calls it, I dispose of the blood and innards.
After eating, I enter the temple. I sit down in a comfortable position and start meditating.
Inhale… exhale… inhale… exhale… Clear my mind… I can feel the warm sensation filling my body.
Again, I want to sweep the dust outside. I feel the air moving. I open my eyes. This isn’t any good… I’ve just blown up the dust again…
“You’ve put it too much force,” I hear a boyish voice say.
I stand up and turn towards the voice. The owner of the voice seems to be a humanoid about my size. I assume he’s about my age as well.
“Hello, I’m Aster, Aster Cayden,” I introduce myself.
“That’s a very odd way of speaking…” he answers, “I’m Rowan, Rowan from Dewick Village.”
“What do you mean? I want to blow the dust out, so I just need the air to move along, don’t I?”
“You need to think of where the air comes from and where it goes. Also, you need to think to keep the speed constant.”
“Like this?”, I imagine taking air from the outside through the upper part of the door, along the ceiling, to the back wall, along the floor, through the lower part of the door and further away from the door.
This time, I feel the air moving in the path I imagined. But as most of the dust is still in the air it doesn’t completely get rid of the dust.
“Ah, this works! Thanks for your help,” I say, “but come to think of it, Aevita said there wouldn’t be other people coming here until in a few weeks.”
“It’s about time for the pilgrimage to start, so the nearest village sends someone ahead of time to clean up. My own pilgrimage is about to start, so I was chosen this year. It’s quite warm in here,” he answers and takes off his cloak. I can see he has ginger hair with a lot of grey highlights. And cat ears, furry cat ears. I wonder he’ll allow me to touch them.
“Aevita was kind enough to heat the temple.”
“You speak like you’ve met Aevita.”
“Saying I have met them is saying too much — I’ve only heard and talked to them.”
“You can hear them?”
“You make it sound like it’s something special… Aevita, are you still here?”
“Another young one has arrived! Present thyself to us!” Aevita answers.
‘Thyself’? The language has changed… It seems Mittens has updated the translation program. So Aevita uses archaic language? That certainly explains why — what is name again, ah — Rowan mentioned my speech to be odd.
Rowan gasps for air, but a few seconds later, he composes himself and walks to the altar to put his hands on it.
“Young one, thou art qualified. Receive our blessings. We sense thy potential for the blessings of Therbea. Continue thy journey and present thyself to them.”
His hair and ears flutter a bit from the breeze. Is it me, or are some of his grey highlights turning green?
“I thank you for your blessing,” he states.
“So… who is Therbea?” I ask.
“What do you mean?” Rowan looks at me with a face of disbelieve, “Therbea is the counterpart to Aevita. Their blessing is command of the earth.”
“You’re an oddball… What were you doing here this early anyway?”
“I… I’ve come from a place far away. I got lost and happened to find this temple. Aevita offered me sanctuary until other people arrive. So I guess, since you’re here, I need to leave soon.”
It’s not a complete lie. I did get lost… while travelling in Space, that is. And Earth is far far away.
“Lost? Anyway, I’m staying till tomorrow morning. You’re welcome to join me on my way back to my village.”
“Thanks, I gladly accept your offer.”
“Young one, return here on the night of the blue moon,” Aevita interjects.
“As you have requested, I shall return on the Night of the Blue Moon,” I answer.
“Since we’re done here, will you join me at my abode, Rowan?”
“That metallic thing outside?”
“Yes, follow me.”
We walk outside.
“Mittens, it’s me. Open the door.”
The door of the shuttle opens and the ramp extends. I walk in.
Reluctantly, Rowan follows me in.
“Mittens, this is Rowan.”
“Welcome to the Speeding Kitten, Rowan,” Mitten answers, “I’m Mittens.”
“That voice…”, Rowan looks around for the source of the voice.
“Mittens is the voice of this… no, let me rephrase this. This is, in the words of Aevita, this is my ‘flying home’, I call it a ‘shuttle’. You can think of Mittens like something similar to a spirit that inhabits this ‘flying home’.”
“Flying homes are relics from the age of spirits!!” Rowan exclaims, “nobody is able to use them! I’ve never seen one… so that’s how they look like…”
“A relic? From your standpoint, I guess it’s natural to call it a relic. Should I hide it somewhere before we leave?”
“You want to hide it?”
“Even it can only be used by me, I’m not fond of getting attacked over it.”
“No, you should be fine. Not many would think to attack someone chosen by both Aevita, or a relic as this. People fear the retaliation of the spirits.”
“The spirits only speak to few people. I’ve never thought Aevita would speak with me.”
“How would other people know they have spoken to you? Without something to prove it, anyone could claim it.”
“People that the spirits have been spoken to receive stronger blessings. You can see it by looking at their hair, part of your hair changes colour when receive a blessing. The colour is more intensive the stronger your blessing becomes. Also, it’s said when you reach a certain level you can sense how strong people are. So with a hair of such a strong shade of wind as yours, I doubt people will dare to touch you.”
Shade of wind?
“I see. I haven’t checked my hair recently.”
I take out my personal terminal and set it in mirror mode.
“Recently? But your hair… it’s such a deep shade of wind! I assumed you must have trained a lot.”
So wind is also considered a colour on this planet. I look at my terminal and see I have lime coloured highlights in my dark hair.
“I haven’t noticed my hair changed. You see, this must be the first time one of my people received a blessing. But I have only received my blessing yesterday.”
“I see, so you have received a very strong blessing.”
“That appears to be the case.”
“You don’t need to force yourself to speak differently.”
“No, I’ve come from a faraway place. I’m merely adjusting my language, it’s no trouble at all.”
Yes, it’s no trouble at all, at least for me. Mittens is the one that adjusts the automatic translation program.
“Ah, so you’re a traveller. I’m interested in your story. But I’ll refrain from asking for now. Just let me listen to it when you speak to the village elder.”
“Of course, though I’ll have to stay a little vague on certain things…”
“Well, you control a flying home, I’m sure you have your secrets.”
I’m actually worried people might call my views on the world heresy…
“I’m interested in what you think about the sun and the moons and their relation to the planet.”
“That’s a strange question…”
“I know, but please just answer it.”
“Well… the sun and the moon circle around us every day, don’t they?”
“I… I see.”
“Were you expecting a different answer?”
“Well, let’s put is this way: the scholars of my people have come to another answer. It’s also common knowledge among my people other people aren’t very receptive of the idea. I even hear people have called it sacrilege and silenced everyone that supported any other answer than the one you’ve given.”
“Sacrilege? No, why would that be sacrilege?”, Rowan shakes his head, “there’s only one thing people here consider sacrilege: openly questioning other people’s faith. Some people believe in spirits nobody has ever heard about. Believer of disruptive spirits tend to commit crimes in the name of their belief. While they receive judgment for their crimes, it’s forbidden to denounce the existence of what they believe in.”
“I see, so I even don’t believe they exist, I shouldn’t voice it.”
“I see. It’s a good thing I hear about this before I got into trouble. Thanks a lot, Rowan.”
“You’re welcome, Aster.”
I’m feeling hungry.
“It’s about time for dinner. Since this is our first meeting, I should splurge a bit on food,” I walk over to the replicator, “Hamburger, two portions.”
Two plates with Hamburgers materialize in the replicator.
“This is a function of a shuttle. I shouldn’t use it too much, since I don’t have any means of getting more fuel for the shuttle.”
“Fuel? Do you mean wood?“
“Ah… no, not wood! Burning wood wouldn’t sustain the shuttle operations. Metal would be preferable. The heavier the better.”
“I don’t know much about metals. Can you really burn them? But I can introduce you to the blacksmith in our village…”
“I think I’ll take you up on that offer. But enough talk, let’s eat!”
I grab my burger and take a bite. Rowan looks bewildered for a bit and does like I do. I quickly chew and swallow my bite.
“From your reaction, I guess you don’t have finger food? That is food you can eat without cutlery?”
“No,” he shakes his head, “this is the first time I’ve seen it.”
“Do you think it’s… barbaric or uncouth?”
“No! It’s just… unusual.”
“I see. I just remembered among my people, there used to be a time when some believed humans have to use cutlery. Not using cutlery was considered below the standards for being human.”
“No, I’ve never heard of something like that. But what’s in the bread? It tastes like meat, but it doesn’t look like it.”
“It’s meat, but…”
How do you make burgers again? I’ve never cooked before…
“Mittens, how do you make burger?”
“The meat is cut or grinded into small pieces. The mass of meat is shaped before frying it,” Mittens answers.
“I see. So you don’t cook?”
“No, I haven’t cooked before I got lost. But I think I can learn how to do it.”
Rowan laughs, “I can only do simple stuff. Anything else I try making isn’t fit for consumption.”
After we finish our meal, I prepare for the night. I show Rowan my hammock and foldable bed. Rowan eyes both with a curious look. In the end, he says he prefers sleeping in the foldable bed.