I’ve decided to post the Chapters to Currency, my three-part historical fiction tale of the inception/evolution/elimination of fiat money, one at a time as I write them. Basically the story will be posted in an episodic format one chapter at a time. I’m going to consolidate them as I post them in its own page, which will be linked in the dropdown menu of my site. So if you’re joining us at any point mind-story, you’ll want to refer to that to read what’s come before.
With no further adieu, below is the second chapter of the story, which picks up after Rickar’s monumental return after making the world’s very first “trade”. I hope you enjoy!
The feast is tonight. My return was a late one, as I reached my village just as the night sky’s glow-orb was being overtaken by its bright, yellow ruler. My trip was not without peril. The orb’s light illuminated my path ahead, and helped me narrowly avoid a group of fanged ones. I can only imagine what fate would have befallen the goats and I had they seen us. Upon my return, I hid the goats in my small abode. I do not want the others to know that I have disobeyed the will of the elders. Not yet, at least. I must first speak to the eldest in solitude, away from the others. The feast shall be my most opportune time to approach him. I am confident I will be able to convince him that this “trade” with Barbado was not ill-advised. It was for the good of our people, and I must assure that it is viewed as such. I am not worried that the goats will be discovered prior to my addressing the eldest. The section of our village reserved for the mid-tenders is not frequently visited, and it is well-known among my peers that we do not enter each other’s abodes.
The others, those who fill roles other than mine, will not strand into the area in which my abode lies. Those in my village are separated into groups. We all have jobs for which as are assigned. The elders are in charge of choosing our roles upon our tenth birth ceremony. Every child born during each span of the four seasons is put in a group with one another. As each group turns ten, we have the Assignment Feast, where we learn what work we will do and where we will live. There are three classes which the elders use for all jobs – low, mid, and high. The low-cleaners are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the elders’ abodes. Low-growers raise the crops which we use to feed our village. My role, mid-tender, is in charge of caring for our beasts and animals. We use the beasts for our work, and use the animals for nourishment, along with our crops. High-breeders are the ones who lay with our women to produce the young ones. I have always wondered how young ones are created, but this knowledge is not passed down to anyone until they become a high-breeder, a role that most of us never achieve. Many of the elders were high-breeders before they became elders. There many other roles in our village, these are but a few. There have been times when the elders have granted one of us a new role, but this is uncommon. This seems to happen only as a reward when someone contributes significantly to the village or does something that greatly pleases the elders. It is understood that the lows must obey the wishes of the mids and highs. It is also known that the mids must obey the commands of the highs. All of us, no matter our role, must obey the elders, who in turn obey the eldest. If members of our village ever reach disagreement, the judgment of the elders is called upon for resolution. There have been times when the elders have difficulty agreeing, and if necessary, the eldest shall render final judgment. It is a good system, I believe. Yet I ask myself on occasion what the rules of other villages might be. Sometimes, most often during the times I lay in my abode unable to slumber, I wonder about many things. I question much of what I am told, but I know I cannot voice my questions. The others would surely tell the elders, and I fear what punishment may be rendered as a result of my doubts.
There have been times when members of our village have violated the rules which we have abided by for generations. These members, without question, are sent to what the elders call an abyss, after a shaming ceremony. They are bound to a stake in the center of our hall of ceremonies, and are openly shamed and beaten by the rest of the village. Then, the high-banisher uses a spear to penetrate both eyes, sending their spirit to the abyss.
We are taught from our early years of being a young one that the afterlife is something we should gleefully await. Yet many of us do not fully understand it. Our high-learners, those who pass along knowledge to the young ones, have given lessons in the importance of the afterlife, and have attempted to describe what it is like. I find it difficult to understand how they know such things, though. How can the elders claim to have spoken with the gods if they are unable to do so in front of us? How have they learned of the afterlife? This puzzles me, as I know they have never been there themselves. I often find myself questioning other lessons of the high-learners, as much of what they say has never been shown to us. Rather, we are simply expected to believe their lessons without question. I attempted, many seasons ago, to describe my doubts to others in my birth group, but was only met by fear of punishment of speaking such things. This is why I remain silent on such matters.
Yes, the afterlife is what awaits us after we depart this world. We are told that those who disobey, however, are stricken from the reward those who obey will enjoy and instead are cast into the abyss. They tell us that this abyss is filled with those who disobey, and that their spirits are eternally at war with each other. They have described the agony and sadness that the abyss makes its spirits feel, and I cannot ignore the terror I feel when considering such things. If the high-learners and elders speak the truth, I shall be careful to earn my place in the afterlife, for I shudder to think of the alternative.
The beginning ceremonies of the feast begin soon. I must make my way to attend now. I can only hope to find opportunity to speak with the eldest. Despite my fears of what will surely happen if the tale of my actions invokes his wrath, I am convinced the good that may come is worth the risk. This “trade” will surely change the way we view our neighboring villages if we are able to consider even more transactions with them in the future.
I shall pray for my spirit now, as it is time to begin my approach.