Currency: Chapter 1

So I think I’ve decided to write currency out on my blog, since I’ve taken such an interest in it. Perhaps later I’ll wrap it into a book, but I like the suspense of periodic installments. Plus this way its free, which is always a plus.  First chapter below. Warning: might be a bit weird.

The Beginning

Chapter 1

It’s happened again.

Barbado continues to approach our village, offering goats to us. He seems to think that the goats are worthy of replacing our swine. I fear he will come with the others soon, wielding spears to take our stock by force. Giving him our swine for the goats, he says, is the only way to prevent this. He calls it a “trade”.

The elders have told us that if we heed Barbado’s attempts, we will weaken our supply of livestock. They say the meat from our swine is necessary to feed the village. Yet I cannot help but wonder if his proposal is worth considering. The hunting season is coming to a close, and it has been fruitful one. We have amassed more livestock than we will likely need for the winter, and the elders plan to use the surplus for breeding. I find it difficult to understand their assertion that Barbado’s proposal is ill advised. Surely the extra swine can be spared, as they are our most plentiful stock. Our goat supply is lacking. The women continually comment on the low supply of milk being produced for the young ones.

I find myself asking why we must safeguard our swine so closely if we can replace them with the goats. Barbado’s idea is a new one, surely, yet it seems to help both of us. Our village can use his goats to produce the milk we need, and his people would surely benefit from the meat of our swine.

I am convinced that our elders’ judgment is clouded. I must do something to preserve our milk stock. Am I misguided for this? Will the Gods punish me if I break their will? I know not. We have survived here for generations, and this land has been bountiful.

Yes. I must do this. We need the milk. It will help our village. Our women. Perhaps even our elders will see the benefits of this “trade”. I must find a way to contact Barbado.

“Rickar, come! The beasts await!”

Tru is right. The feast is tomorrow and I must make the preparations necessary to welcome the winter. We do this every year. I find it tiresome. When the autumn colors give way to the pale white of winter, the village feasts upon the hunting season’s yield. One, big meal to welcome the cold that is to come. As a young one, I never understood why we celebrated the beginning of such a harsh season. Why do we celebrate that which helps nothing? Sometimes the others come with their spears and take things during the coldest months. People, even. The winter is a dangerous season, but it begins with a feast – and I must make preparations. But I cannot forget Barbado’s proposal.

Walking into the swine-hold, the pigs look healthy. This is the best yield I have seen. These pigs will be more than enough. But we need milk. I heard Tru’s mate say that we don’t have enough milk. I need to speak with Barbado. How can I, though? I am a mid-tender. Not an elder, not a leader, as I would like to be. Barbado is a chief. How can I speak with the leader of an entire tribe? I must find a way.

“C’mon Rickar, hurry up! We need to prepare them for the feast tomorrow.”

“Yes yes Tru, I know. I am trying to decide the best one to slaughter for our Eldest.”

The Eldest is the leader of our village. He has done magnificent things for us. We have had seventeen seasons without incident. He has always assured we have plenty to eat and drink.

It is night now. The elders do not know of my plan to help the village. We must have milk. The young ones will surely expire if they are not tended to properly. I am packing what I can for my journey to Barbado’s village. I know it lies in the west. The elders say his lands are littered with game and fruits. Perhaps I can take something back if Barbado allows it.

I shall take five pigs. That was the request Barbado offered. It is good that the swine are not tended to throughout the night. I would have difficulty obtaining them if a mid-tender were present. The pigs are used to me. I tend to them every day. I have picked the five. It is good that they are not alarmed.

We are walking. I am unsure how far west Barbado’s village lies, but we are making a steady pace. I fear that my journey will be intercepted by the fanged ones. They have been absent for weeks, but I have not ventured this far out of the village before. The pigs are behaving. They follow me as if I’m a shepherd, but they do not know what outcome lies ahead.  Nor do I. Barbado told us he needed swine, and we have plenty. I believe it is just to take these pigs for goats. Their milk is needed. To “trade” them, as Barbado says. The wind is strong. I must continue.

“Stop!”

Wait. There is a voice. Have I reached the village?

Whispers. They’re surrounding me. I do not want to turn out like those that explored. They never returned.

“Rickar?”

He recognizes me. He saw me tending to the swine, he must have, and learned my name.

“Barbado?”

I must kneel. That’s what we do when we see a chief.

“Come Rickar, we must speak.”

Speak? He wants to speak with me?  I did not think this would happen. Five pigs, five goats. That was his proposal. Stand up! I must follow him.

“Rickar, sit down. Tell me, why are you here?”

What do I say?

“Barbado. You came to our village and offered your goats to us. For our swine. I….fear our elders are not prepared for the winter. And that your proposal was the right one.”

He’s staring at me. Right into my eyes. Sitting there, on a log, leaning over the fire, just staring.  Why?

“Rickar. You have done your village a service. Now, you must listen. Take the goats, the ones just over there, to your village. Tomorrow, during your feast, make certain that your elders know how plentiful their stock of swine is. And then you show them the seven goats I have just given you. You tell them that were it not for those seven goats, that half of their babes would expire before winter’s end. And you tell them that this “trade” with Barbado is what kept them alive. Do you understand?”

“I understand, Barbado. Thank you. For the goats.”

“Go, son. Go before the fanged ones come out!”

I must go now. Seven. Seven goats. It is more than I had planned for. But tomorrow I will surely gain the favor of the elders.


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