The First Passage Hand, The Second Day, after the month of En’ Kara, Year 10162 Contasta Ar
There is something about the Village of Minus that bothers me for on my map Minus is located differently from where we found the village — in fact, many, many, many pasangs away. I ultimately decided for reasons mentioned below that either there is another place called Minus or the map I had must be in error.
In any event, as we left the place called the Village of Minus I did not immediately sail rim (east) on the Vosk; instead I noticed that the river expanded as it reached the Voltai mountains. There I saw something of particular note and briefly we docked in a secluded area. Tanz and I walked a bit and she told me something that had I known in Minus would have given me concern and worry. But here, having left the village and safely away, instead gave me reason to laugh loudly.
In my last entry, I wrote of the advantages of correcting a slave’s mistake, even though it is something that I fail at often – mostly out of ignorance. And I wrote of how Tanz is so much more attentive to such things then I. Well, it should go without saying that there are many ways to correct an unintentionally errant kajira, some appropriate and some abusive to the point of causing no honor to the free who acts with intentional malevolence. And, of course, to be abusive to another’s property can certainly not give the abuser claim to any honor.
While I was sleeping or otherwise elsewhere, it seems that Tanz had reason to see inside the pub in Minus a man act in a manner excessively abusive towards a kajira whose only offense was perhaps a serve that did not meet his highest of expectations. . . But instead of me trying to rewrite what Tanz told me, perhaps I best simply put the words as she conveyed them straight to me:
“The loud voice of a man woke me up. It came from the tavern below our guest room. I looked around groggily, trying to remember where we were now, I crawled out of the bed and plastered the veil on my face a bit awkwardly, trying to adjust it. The man below continued to berate the slave as I threw on some clothes. He kept screaming that the soup was too hot and that she was too slow. From what I could hear the poor thing seemed to be trying.
“So, Vorg, I headed downstairs to see what exactly this poor girl’s crimes were. I arrived to see him deliberately spill some of the hot soup on her leg. He then slapped her and told her to clean it up. Well.
I entered and smiled at the man and introduced myself The man asked me to join him. The girl, meanwhile, was trying to wipe the soup up with her flimsy silks and it just wasn’t working.
“I went to get myself a black wine and picked up a cloth which I dropped by her discreetly as I walked past her. She nodded appreciatively.
“The man offered to have the girl get me some soup and I said lovely but please make sure it’s hot. I said that I like hot soup. I thanked her for her serve then feigned a bug in my skirt, jumping up shrieking and alas, tripped, spilling the hot soup all over man. Last I saw of him, he was heading off to the baths and grumbling all the way.
“I guess he was not amused, Vorg, but the girl and I certainly were.”
Though I laughed at Tanz’s story, inwardly I was concerned that one day she would go too far. The woman’s confidence may one day outlast her skills and luck.
As I laughed and we rested in the quiet secluded area, I had another reason to smile. For we were near the Voltai mountains where the river ends and at this point I noticed something more. Along the water’s edge I saw what clearly to me seemed to be the movement of the waterway continuing, and amidst some rocky reefs I then espied something more – water flowing further than what appeared to be the river’s end.
As I contemplated whether we should try to sail further, Tanz began to urge me that we should begin to sail back along the Vosk and head towards Iskander. She wanted to reach there sooner than later. I decided not to protest nor to mention for the moment my suspicions about what I had noticed. Nevertheless, I made a mental note to return to this place at some point in the future and explore where this waterway might lead. It was at this point as well that looking up I saw a large tarn overhead and noticed that under it was a passenger basket. I watched as the great bird made its way into the mountains and at a certain point begin to descend.
I smiled, then, a third time. I care not much for profit, but information of all sorts interests me and mysteries make me hunger for their answers. As I have mentioned earlier I had thought our journey would have us find Payton and rose in the City of Treve. Yet, when I mentioned this to others I was met with the response that Treve was both full of scoundrels and was well hidden from casual visitors. And, as have clearly mentioned, instead of Treve, I found Payton and then later rose in this curious Village of Minus, a place where tarns land and fly and carry certain people off in passenger baskets.
Well, when I attempted to ask one free woman who had arrived by tarn from where the tarn had come, she repeatedly attempted to dodge the answer to my question. Many times I asked and many times the answer I was given was unsatisfactory to my ears. More curiously during the days we were in Minus I often found passing through the streets the men in black whose livelihood depends on secret murders. These contract killers spoke not to me and I did not see fit to communicate with them, but it seemed clear that their presence was no doubt related to the woman’s reticence. This left with me an unsatisfactory mystery the answer to which I required to satiate my hunger. Added, of course, to this mix were the people I had known before whom I found in Minus and whom I had had too little time to spend with, Payton and rose. Each had told me little of their lives these days though rumors I had heard connected them to Treve, not Minus which, by the way, would seem far too small to hold the residences of the people congregating within its streets and on its grounds.
One way I have learned to solve a mystery is to pretend no mystery exists. And, I have often found that better answers come to me from slaves rather than the masters of the slaves. For slaves have at their very soul a desire to please and if a master is not pleased, even if it not be the slave’s true owner, causes the true slave a certain fundamental sadness. And so it was that in casual discourse with one such slave, a slave who had arrived in Minus by the tarn, and who assumed I knew more than I did, that the comely kajira did confirm to me that the tarn is like shuttle transporting back and forth between Treve and Minus. And, so I watched the skies and as I watched I could follow the tarn’s flight towards the mountains.
And, finally, by the mountains themselves from where Tanz and I had docked to enjoy each others presence, and elsewhere from our small sailing ship as we navigated well the Vosk, the tarn’s flights that I espied made clear to me its path, its destination, and the location as accurately as if I had ridden the tarn myself.
I do not see fit to give the location of Treve in this journal, nor do I see fit to identify herein the specific kajira whose words confirmed a secret that was obvious. She, herself, may not even realize what she told me. I would not wish to cause the slave punishment for having spoken to me the truth. Likewise, I will not mention the name of those that could not conjure up an answer that might have dissuaded me from pressing further. After all, since such deceive I prefer not to give them advice on how to make their deception better.