(Day 110 on Tashoo)
I can't believe it! Three nights in a row? I've been before the Ishoo'se Aka'ny the last two days. I had convinced them that my ideas would mean it would be detrimental to put me to death. I can't think of any reason to have to return before them again so soon. So, why am I having a third nightmare in as many nights?
Tonight, my first dream finds me in the company of Tyarza, as usual. We are on the deck of an ocean-going vessel. In front of us is a pool with several attractive women swimming while wearing skimpy bathing suits. Tyarza is wearing a leather bikini suit. Around the waist of the suit is a leather fringe which makes the suit look like an extremely short leather hula skirt.
I get up and walk toward the pool, inviting Tyarza to join me. She tentatively arises and joins me at the poolside. She reaches out and grasps my hand with a grip that makes me believe she could easily break all the bones in my hand. Despite the fact that the water is perfectly clear, I can sense that she is as scared of the water as any Terran house cat you could imagine. I can't imagine why she should be unless it's instinctive because of the creatures that Mu-Naka described during my Trial of Life and Death.
Because of her fear, I escort Tyarza to the ship's railing and we watch the water. She is still fearful but not as strongly. I look in the water and see a pod of dolphins swimming in the bow wake. I point them out to Tyarza and she screams fearfully as she backs away. She says, “Oocholefala!”
“No, Tyarza. They are dolphins. They just look like Oocholefala. Besides, are not Oocholefala land animals? There is no land for many kilometers.”
She shakes her head vehemently. “No! They are Oocholefala! I have seen them! I know what they look like! I know what they can do! We must get away before they notice us.”
“Tyarza, these creatures are not like Oocholefala. They are friendly to Uany. You will see when we arrive.”
Now, we are lying on the semi-deserted beach of an island. I look out and see the water is as clear and blue as any I've ever seen. The beach sand is blindingly white in the equatorial sunlight. Tyarza's lion yellow skin looks natural on this beach with so many other men and women with dark tans. I see the tell-tale spume of a dolphin's exhale just offshore.
I stand up and extend my hand to Tyarza. She gets up and accompanies me to the edge of the water, but she refuses to so much as put one toe into the water. I wade out until I am waist-deep. A dolphin swims up to me and starts swimming around me. Once again, Tyarza panics when she sees the dolphin swimming around me. When I turn to look at Tyarza I see that, while she is fascinated at what is going on, blatant fear is in her eyes when the dolphin rises up and rubs its head against my hand as I hold it over the surface of the water. But, after a few athata, she starts smiling and enjoys the fun I am having with the dolphin. Yet, at the same time, she adamantly refuses to enter the water and join me.
As I watch Tyarza smiling at me and the dolphins, I can see that she is surrounded by a mist that quickly develops into a thick fog. Soon, everything is enveloped by this aggravating fog. As she fades from my sight, I can hear Tyarza saying, “Please do not forget your promise to me, Mvilu. I do not want to return, but, if you think I should, I look forward to you accompanying me home. I will be waiting for the day we leave Talo-Vy for home.”
Now, Tyarza is gone and I am sitting at a table wearing clothing that I don't recognize, but the word uniform comes to my mind. The “uniform” consists of a blue-black coat with silver buttons and silver piping. On the shoulders of the coat are epaulet boards with silver oak leaf clusters and silver piping. Underneath the coat is a light gray shirt with a blue-black tie. The trousers are light gray with blue-black stripes down the outside of the legs. On my feet is calf-length highly polished boots.
At the table, also, is another human by the name of Admiral Jeremy Yamashita and two reptilian creatures that are called Khorchans, Admiral Yamashita is dressed exactly like me, except for the insignia on his epaulet boards, which consists of four small five-pointed stars, two on either side of a larger nine-pointed star. The Khorchans wear nothing more than a leather vest that covers their narrow chests and leather shorts that reach down to the middle of their overly large thighs.
There is a shock in my voice as I reply to something one of the Khorchans has said to me.
“That was you?”
“Once again, I must plead guilty. When I recognized your craft, I could not bring myself to fire on you. I had to let you know how much I respected you as a pilot. By the time of the Battle of Zokoka, I had learned about you and found out that you had only been a certified pilot for less than two years, Terran. I had not learned a lot of the lessons you showed me at Tonojen in fifteen years as a fighter pilot. However, despite my respect for you as a fighter, I knew that one day we would meet in battle again and our shared respect for each other would go by the wayside. That day finally came at the Battle of Krawchorka, a year ago. It was because of you in that battle that I am now ambassador to the Terrans.
Highly suspicious, yet curious, I ask, “What do you mean?”
“That time, you got the better of me, although your shots were off a bit, due either to a minor computer glitch on your fighter or my experience as a fighter pilot.”
“I don’t use my computer to aim or fire my guns. I don’t trust a computer for that purpose. They have a habit of using logic when instinct aims guns better. Besides, computers also tend to contract viruses which can affect the way they operate, usually negatively.”
“Then, my respect for you is even higher. But, I should have figured this out on my own. You aim and fire your guns when most pilots, depending on their computer, would not even consider doing it. This may be why you are such a deadly fighter pilot.
“Either way, your shots hit one of my engines. My radar officer, gunner, and I were able to eject in time to avoid the engine’s explosion as a result of the ensuing chain reaction. Unfortunately, my radar officer was killed when flying debris from the explosion punctured his escape capsule causing explosive decompression. My gunner was uninjured and reassigned to another fighter. However, I received injuries that prevented me from ever flying again. Because of my past military experience, the Zahr-Khohr was impressed with me and offered me the opportunity to become an ambassador. I accepted the offer because I knew it would allow me to spend more time with my family.”
Ambassador Rokshesan speaks up, “Commander, these experiences are precisely what we are talking about. Your killer instinct intrigues us. We have always been told that humans do not possess this instinct. We have been told that it was bred out of the human species more than three hundred Terran years ago. We have not observed this instinct in humans before.”
Despite being impressed with Ambassador Dreydos’s revelation, I am still a bit leery and short-fused. This shows in my reply to his mate. “If the Khorcha and Yavkognians hadn’t brought this war to our doorstep, you would still be looking for it. I show this 'killer instinct,' as you call it, only because of what your people did to us at Tonojen. As a general rule, humans are peaceful creatures and I am the leader of that peacefulness.”
“But, you were learning to kill when we were attacking the disputed area of space.”
“That doesn’t mean I am a killer by nature. It only means that I believe that freedoms are not truly free. Somebody must be willing to sacrifice his life to ensure that everybody else has these freedoms. Unfortunately, sometimes people must learn to kill to protect freedoms from those that would try to steal them. It has always been this way on Terra.” I say this last while looking directly into the eyes of the Ambassadors.
Ambassador Dreydos interjects, “But, don’t a lot of humans distrust your military?”
I turn to him and say, “That's true, Ambassador, especially politicians. But, when it comes time to fight for our freedoms, they're thankful that we're around, even though at the same time they want to cut funding to the military.”
Both of the Ambassadors laugh, as evil a sound as I've ever heard. “In the Khorchan Empire, there are none that questions the needs of the military. What the military wants, it gets. Why is this not true in human space?”
“Because we believe that the military is the servant of the people, not the other way around. This is especially true here in the United States of America. It has always been true here. Of course, at one time or another, we've had military people that thought they knew more about what the country needed than the civilians, but those military personnel learned a hard lesson when they were sent to prison for a long time or killed when an attempted coup failed. Our constitution clearly states that the military serves the civilians.”
I'm moaning quietly during the nightmare. These Khorchans seem to be something that I both fear and hate. But, the nightmare fascinates me enough to make me believe that they aren't just dreams but encounters that I have actually experienced. But, when did they occur? The fact that I don't remember them except during my dreams tells me that they must have occurred during the two years that are missing from my memories.
As I lay there moaning, I can hear a sound that sounds like a cat's claw scratching on a wooden board. Now, I can hear the sound of metal scraping against metal making a creaking sound, not unlike the sound that can be heard in one of the ancient horror movies. Suddenly, I realize that it is the sound of the door to my room being opened slowly.
As the door opens, I can hear a gruffly feminine voice saying, “Mvilu, you are having another nightmare. Please wake up.”
Slowly, my eyes open and I find myself looking directly at Ara. I can see the concern in her eyes as she looks at me. I say, “I cannot believe that I have had nightmares three nights in a row. Until yesterday, I had never even had my nightmares two nights in a row and now I have had them three nights in a row.
“I had to meet the Ishoo'se Aka'ny two days ago for my Trial of Life or Death. Yesterday, I met with them to explain the advantages of the mota. I wonder if there is a connection and if that means something is going to happen today.”
“I cannot say, Mvilu. I suppose that only time will tell.”
“I will be up and dressed in a few athalloo. I will join you in the kitchen as soon as I do.”
Ara left and I got dressed. As I dressed, which didn't take too long since I only wore a vest, loincloth, and sandals, I looked around and felt a pang of loneliness. I couldn't explain why I felt this way. I've had plenty of company with Ara and Rora, as well as visiting with Tyarza and Kyta. So, the loneliness I was feeling was beyond my ability to figure out at the time. The loneliness was a feeling of needing someone to depend on me. I could remember having a pet as a child. Was that why I feel this way? I really didn't know. I just shook my head to clear the feeling out of my mind.
About a thalloo later, I arrived in the kitchen to “assist” Ara in preparing the nakyvy. As usual, Ara refused to allow me to do more than keep her company while she cooked. But, I did a good job at keeping her company.
After we ate the nakyvy, Ara glared at me when I started to clear the table. She told me in no uncertain terms that, if I touched one dish, she would have my ears for a trophy. Needless to say, I decided my ears were more important than clearing the table. So, I, gently, placed the dishes I had in my hand back onto the table, smiling a placating smile the whole time. My reaction caused Ara, and Rora, to laugh uproariously.
After wiping her eyes, Ara said, “Now that you finally understand who is the boss in this house, since Rora has to go to guard duty, and now that you can do so, you can go to the market and make a few purchases with some of the back pay that Ka' Mu-Naka brought two days ago.”
“Yes ma'am,” I said.
Ara made me a list of things she needed from the market and from which booth operators I was to make the purchases.
While I had learned the language rather quickly, the writing system was more difficult. In a way, it reminded me of some of the ancient writing systems in which the main characters used were the consonant sounds. These marks had small marks, similar to commas or apostrophes, located around them to denote which vowel sound followed the consonant. As a result, the combinations of consonant sounds and vowel sounds meant that there were over 200 different "letters" in this writing system. Because I was still in the process of learning the writing, Ara made certain to tell me what each "word" was and I made different marks in Terran that came to my mind to remind me of what the word was.
After receiving the list and the money, I donned my Etyma Jivekoo, made certain the documentation that allowed me to walk around Talo-Vy unescorted was in it, left the house, and headed toward the market. I stopped at each of the booths that Ara had written for me to visit.
The last stop was TaJoola's booth. Ara had wanted me to purchase a few Nakooja fruits. She had told me that they were her favorite fruit and they were at their peak ripeness this month. While I was at TaJoola's booth, I looked for Tyarza but, when she saw me, she turned her back on me and walked behind a tapestry wall. My heart sank when I saw her do this. I don't know why I felt this way because I knew she was promised to someone else and it's wrong to want someone who belongs to someone else.
When I returned with the purchases, Ara had finished cleaning the dishes and kitchen. She was sitting at her tapestry loom working on one of her tapestries. She worked on her tapestry until about a hi’nu before Rora would arrive for the nakyvo. Then, she went into the kitchen to prepare a light meal for all of us. As Ara worked on her tapestry, I ignored her threats and cleaned the house as best as a man can clean a house.
Right after the nakyvo, Rora returned to the garden and guard duty. He was going to have to remain on guard duty until we started digging the ditch, so I was pretty much alone since Ara preferred to do all of her housework by herself. While Ara was doing the housework, I went to my room and did my martial arts exercises. A couple of ahi’nu after the nakyvo, I went outside and sat beside my stick. When I arrived at the stick, I could see that it was close to being time to stop my timer.
About thirty athata after I reached the stick, the shadow of a Mory chohachy blocked the sun and almost ruined my timing. I said, “My Lord, with all due respect, could you move about a meter to your left or right?”
The voice, one that sounded vaguely familiar, yet was definitely one I had never heard before, said, “Of course.”
Just as he moved, I saw that the shadow was all but gone, so I stopped the timer. After stopping the timer, I looked up and saw a familiar face. At least, it looked familiar. I knew I had seen it somewhere before, but I didn't know where.
The chohachy said, “Chitekuro, Uany. What are you doing here without an escort?”
I continued staring at him for a few athata before I gave a small shake of my head and said, “Chitekuro, my Lord. My—most sincere apologies. I was conducting an experiment. Oh, and here is my permission to be outside alone.” I reached into my Etyma Jivekoo and retrieved my permit from the Ishoo'se Aka'ny.
The stranger looked at the permit as he said, “What kind of experiment?”
“I was trying to determine how long the day is here.”
As he returned my permission slip to me, he laughed and said, “The day is from sunup until sundown, and then it is night.”
I smiled and said, “Yes, my Lord. What I meant was I wanted to find out how long it is from one sunset to the next.” He looked at me curiously; so, I explained further. “What I did was, I pushed this stick into the ground at an angle to hide any shadow yesterday. Today, I came out to watch the stick until the shadow was gone.” Showing him my chronoputer, I added, “With this thing on my arm, I can figure out how long this is.”
“Ah, I see what you mean. Why do you want to know this?”
“I do not know why, but for some strange reason, I seem to need to sleep more often than my master and mistress.”
“And what have you discovered?”
“I have found that the day is about twenty-five hours and ten minutes long.”
“Twenty-five?” He laughed softly and added, “No, the day is twenty ahi’nu long. Ten ahi’nu during the day and ten ahi’nu during the night. Anyone could have told you that. Is that important to you?” (1)
“Yes, my Lord. I could not understand why the day seems too long. As I said, I have to sleep more often than my master and mistress. For some reason, this makes me believe I am not from Tashoo. Fortunately, I have a wonderful master and mistress and they accept my sleep schedule.”
“That is interesting.” He stood there in thought for a couple of athata before continuing. “Your curiosity seems to indicate you to be a very intelligent Uany. Come, take a walk with me. I would like to talk with you.”
“I would love to do that, my Lord. But, despite the fact that the Ishoo'se Aka'ny has allowed me unrestricted, unescorted movement through the village, I should let my mistress know I am leaving so she does not worry about me. I will ask her.”
“You are the slave of My-Ara, are you not?”
“Yes, my Lord, I am.”
“I will speak with her for you.”
Before I could reply, he walked over to the door and scratched on it. Very shortly, Ara opened the door and gave a short gasp. The chohachy spoke quietly with her for a few athata. It was difficult for me to see, but I thought I detected something of gentleness in his manner toward her. He reached up with his right hand and softly caressed her left cheek. She reached up, took his hand in hers, pressed her cheek into his hand, closed her eyes, and purred loudly, loud enough for me to hear her from about five meters away.
After speaking with Ara for a few athata, he returned to me and said, “She has given her permission. Come along.”
I left the stick and joined him. We started walking in the general direction of the river. He was quiet for a short while, like he had something to say but didn’t know how to put it into words. I chose to remain silent and wait for him to speak up. Perhaps he would reveal something of the reason for his “unexpectedly” walking up on me. I say it that way because, in my time here in Talo-Vy, I had never seen a chohachy appear without a purpose. So, I waited.
After a few athata, the chohachy spoke up. “I have heard of you. You are Mvilu Uatusun. You are the slave that has struck fear into the heart of the Ka’yno. After hearing all the horror stories about you, I would have thought you were ten meters tall and almost as wide.” He laughed quietly and then continued. “The Ka’yno both fears and hates you.”
“I have heard this and I can understand his hatred. He seems to hate all Uany. But, I cannot understand his fear of me. I am a simple slave.”
“There is a prophecy about one similar to you. Have you heard of the prophecy of ‘The One Who Will Unify’?”
“I have heard bits and pieces of the prophecy. But, I do not really believe in prophecies. At any given time, someone, or something, will fulfill parts of a prophecy and many will believe that person or thing is the fulfillment of the prophecy. I know that I fulfill parts of the prophecy. I arrived in the middle of the night. There was a bright light accompanying my arrival. I did not know the language of Tashoo when I got here. I seem to have knowledge that the Mory lack. And, most importantly to me, I seem to be unable to be killed despite the Ka’yno’s best efforts. But, none of those things should strike fear into the heart of one such as the Ka’yno.”
“There is a part of the prophecy that either you do not know, or you have not considered.”
“What part is that?”
“In the prophecy, ‘The One Who Will Unify’ will kill a Mory Ka’yno in personal one on one combat.”
I laughed out loud. The chohachy looked at me strangely. I said, “I am sorry, my Lord. But, in case you have not noticed, the Ka’yno is about one and a quarter times my height and probably at least two and a half times my weight. Even though I have worked hard and maintained my muscle tone, I doubt that I am a serious threat to kill him in one on one combat. Besides, I would have to be allowed to have a weapon of some kind and, as a slave, I am not allowed to have a weapon in my possession.”
“The prophecy says 'The One Who Will Unify' will have knowledge of weapons that we Mory know nothing about.”
“Does the prophecy also say how I will kill him without losing my life in the process? Do not forget, my Lord, a slave may not kill a Mory, Ka'yno or otherwise, without losing his life in exchange.”
“There is a way. The Ka’yno, or any Mory chohachy, must challenge you to a fight to the death. In those cases, which admittedly are rare, you can save your life, if you kill him.”
“I doubt very seriously that the Ka’yno will do that. I do not think I am that much of a threat.” That statement sent the chohachy into deep thought.
As we walked silently, I noticed that we had entered the market area. Without thinking, I started looking around, hoping that we were nearing Joola’s booth. As we walked, I saw that we were, in fact, approaching her booth. Since I had already visited TaJoola, I guess Tyarza wasn't expecting me to return today so, I caught a glimpse of her long straight blue-blond hair. I stared at her for a couple of athata when she suddenly looked up and looked right at me. I smiled. When she saw me looking and smiling at her, she threw her chin up and turned her back on me. I felt dejected; I don’t know why; but, I did. I also saw Joola smiling at me.
Suddenly, I heard the chohachy at my side say, “Do you know her?”
Startled out of my reverie, I said, “I am sorry, my Lord. Did you say something?”
“I said, ‘Do you know her?’”
“Who, my Lord?”
“TaJoola’s slave. You looked at her as if you knew her quite well.”
“Yes, my Lord. I do know her.”
“Perhaps you would like to stop and speak with her.”
“No, my Lord. I do not think she would want to speak with me. When she saw me looking at her, she threw her chin up in disgust and turned her back toward me. I think she is angry with me over something. What it is, I do not know. But, that is what I think.”
“Well, I am going to stop at TaJoola’s booth. She sells the best-tasting fruits in all of Talo-Vy. I especially like her Nakooja fruit. It reminds me of someone that is very special to me.”
I didn’t quite put two and two together at that time. I was too preoccupied as to why Tyarza was so angry with me, I guess. But, if we were going to stop at Joola’s booth, I was going to try to speak with Tyarza. Hopefully, she would be able to get over her anger with me long enough to explain. We arrived at Joola’s booth and, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the chohachy look at TaJoola and give her a slight shake of his head. I also heard him speaking to TaJoola in a low whisper. I couldn't understand what he was saying; so, I didn't pay any attention to their conversation. I thought he was bothered by an insect. As the chohachy selected several of the Nakooja fruits, I tried to engage Tyarza in conversation.
“Chitekuro, Tyarza,” I said, but she just glared at me and then turned and walked away behind the tapestry she had walked behind earlier in the morning, although I thought I saw her hesitate just before she was completely hidden by the tapestry. Her reaction hurt my pride more than anything I can remember. I thought and thought as hard as I could. I couldn't think of anything I had said or done that could possibly be offensive to a woman. I had always treated her with the utmost respect. I also considered that maybe I had failed to do something that she wanted me to do. Perhaps it was what Joola had said yesterday; perhaps Tyarza had wanted me to put my arm around her after all and I had failed to realize it. Whatever the reason, it was plainly and painfully obvious to anybody that saw her reaction to me that she had to be angry. Perhaps the next time that Rora and I visited Kyta, I would be able to find out for certain. I was most assuredly going to try.
The chohachy received his fruits and we walked away. I was dejected. I really wasn’t in a talking mood after that. I had never been so completely rejected by a female in all my life. Don’t get me wrong, I had been rejected by women before, but, at least with the other rejections, the door had been left ajar. Tyarza not only closed the door, but she also slammed and locked it.
We continued to walk toward the river and the chohachy handed me one of the fruits. I accepted it because I knew how good they were but all I did was just hold it and look at it. He looked at me from time to time and would slowly shake his head. Finally, he said, “You have it bad.”
I shook my head slightly to clear the cobwebs and said, “Have what, my Lord?”
“I believe it is called love. I have it. There is a nohachy in the village I would gladly take as my mate if the Ka’yno would allow it.”
“Really? Who, if I may ask?”
“You may ask, but I cannot, and will not, tell. It would mean her death, possibly mine. I hate the Mating Law. It is one of very few laws that the Ka’yno can overturn without permission of the Ishoo'se Aka’ny if he desires. But, for some reason, the Ka’yno will not even consider overturning it. We have more than enough achohachy to ensure that there would be little chance of inbreeding, especially if he overturned the Chorotha-Rothoo Law, another law he could overturn without permission of the Ishoo'se Aka'ny.” Conspiratorially, he whispered, “I believe the Ishoo'se Aka'ny would actually cheer him if he did.”
So, my escort was in love with a female in Talo-Vy. I kept looking at him as we walked and talked. I had the strangest feeling I had seen him somewhere before; yet, I couldn't think of where. I felt I knew him, but I also knew I had never seen him before. It was a strange feeling, almost of déjà vu. We walked and talked as we neared the river. As we walked through the woods, my escort walked with his sword drawn and he continually looked around. I placed my Nakooja fruit into my Etyma Jivekoo. I followed the chohachy's lead and, even though I didn’t have a sword, I did continually look around. From what Ka' Mu-Naka had said during my Trial of Life or Death, I knew that there were extremely large and dangerous animals here. Besides the ones I had seen in the paintings on the wall in the anteroom of the Suala Ka’ynony, Ka' Mu-Naka had implied that there were large reptilian creatures similar to the prehistoric Sarcosuchus that lived in the rivers. According to Ka’ Mu-Naka, these creatures act similarly to the ones on Terra, so we had to be on our guard, especially near the river.
My escort asked me about the ditch that I planned to dig around Talo-Vy. I was surprised that he knew about it since he wasn't one of the Aka’. Because of this, he wasn't in attendance at the meeting yesterday. I told him that I wanted to start on the northeast corner of the north garden and work my way around the village and gardens to the southeast corner of the south garden. I also told him the size of the ditch that I had in mind and how long I figured it would take to complete the task. My escort was impressed with my calculations. When I told him that I had been granted the use of one thousand achohachy from a different Ka’na each day until the project was completed, he was even more impressed.
My escort said, “Let us walk the perimeter of the village and gardens. I would like to verify the distance that the ditch will be. We should be able to verify your statement of how long it should take to complete.”
“That sounds like a good idea, my Lord.”
We started walking from the edge of the river and started counting our paces. I counted over three thousand five hundred paces. I converted that in my head to about 2667 meters. Unfortunately, we were unable to complete the verification of the distance due to the fact that it was getting late in the day. The chohachy and I decided that we would meet the next day and continue the measurements.
As we walked along, I was thinking. Finally, I said, “According to my calculations, to dig the ditch to the point where we stopped measuring we would be moving somewhere in the neighborhood of eight hundred thousand, one hundred cubic meters of dirt. I would say we must have walked perhaps one percent of the distance around the village and garden. Therefore, we would not be too far off if we multiplied these numbers by one hundred for just the perimeter ditch. If we include the cross ditches between the village and the gardens, it will be significantly more.”
“What would we do with all that dirt that would be removed?”
“We could pile it up on the village and garden side of the perimeter ditch and on the village sides of the cross ditches. This would create a difficulty for enemies to surmount should they manage to cross any of the ditches, which I would doubt they could. It would also hide the number of our achohachy that are prepared to defend the village. One thing I do know about attacks is that no one likes to attack an enemy if they do not have any idea as to how many achohachy are prepared to defend the village. We could also spread the dirt over the gardens. The dirt would add necessary nutrients. That would be the best suggestion as far as I am concerned.”
“That is very interesting. I had never thought about that possibility.” He looked at the sun and said, “It is getting late. We need to get you home.”
“All right, my Lord.”
As we walked, once again my escort seemed deep in thought. Finally, just before we arrived at Ara’s home, he said, “Mvilu, do you know the Ka’yno’s name?”
This question caught me a bit off guard, “No, my Lord. I have never heard him called anything except Ka’yno and Great One. Why do you ask?”
“Oh, no reason in particular. I was just wondering.” Once again he was quiet as if he were deep in thought. Finally, he asked, “Why have you not asked me my name?”
“I thought that you would tell me when you were ready for me to know it.”
“That is a wise decision. However, since we will be spending time together over the next few days, I will tell you; I am called Lo-Katoo.”
“I am pleased to make your acquaintance, my Lord, Lo-Katoo. It has been a pleasure to spend the afternoon in your presence. I look forward to spending more time with you tomorrow.”
“I feel the same way about you, Mvilu. I look forward to tomorrow as well. I will see you early tomorrow morning. I will stop by My-Ara's home and we shall start our measuring again. Perhaps we will finish measuring tomorrow. If not, then we will finish when we finish. Good-bye, my new friend, Mvilu.” He turned and walked away.
I entered the house and was met almost immediately by Ara. She seemed to be in a tizzy. I asked her, “Ara, what is wrong?”
“Mvilu, where did you go with that chohachy? Who did you talk to? Who saw you?”
“Ara, calm down. We walked to the market and spoke with TaJoola, and Tyarza was there. He purchased some Nakooja fruits. He said they reminded him of someone he cares deeply about. Then, we went to the river and walked part of the way around Talo-Vy measuring for the mota we will start digging soon. He told me his name was Lo-Nachoo. That is about all that we did. Why are you so upset?”
Ara calmed down a bit before answering. “I—I am sorry, Mvilu. It is just that when I saw him at my door, I was afraid that something was wrong. When he said he wanted you to go for a walk with him, I became concerned for you.”
“Ara, he seemed like a very likable chohachy. He was friendly to the extreme, very intelligent, and a great conversationalist, even though we didn't talk very much. Why are you so worried?”
“I—I cannot tell you. Maybe one day I will, but I—I cannot tell you right now.”
“As you wish, Ara. I will not bring it up again.” Despite being calmer, she was still upset.
Ara walked into the kitchen to start dinner. I sat in the dining area thinking about the day and how Ara acted when I got home. Something wasn’t right here; as a matter of fact, something was most assuredly wrong. I had never seen Ara get so agitated before when I would talk to someone. What was different about this particular chohachy? He didn’t seem to be a danger to me. This was something I would have to think about for a while until I could ascertain what was going on.
While I was thinking, Rora came home. When he entered the house, I happened to look right at his face. I greeted him in our customary manner and started into the kitchen. Before I took two steps, it hit me. Now I understood Ara’s agitation; now I understood her fear; now I understood her concern. I didn’t stop; I didn’t even slow down until I had entered the kitchen and was at Ara’s side.
When I got to her side, I whispered, “Ara, Rora just got home and now I understand your agitation. I think I know who Rora’s chorotha is.”
When I said this, Ara stopped what she was doing and became as stiff as if she had rigor mortis. Slowly, she turned toward me and, looking first at the kitchen door, whispered, “Mvilu, if you think you know, you must keep it to yourself. Rora must never know. Do you understand what I am saying?”
“Yes, Ara, I understand. The Chorotha-Rothoo Law would mean the death of either your chorothoo, or his chorotha, and you could not bear the thought of losing either one of them. Ara, I have to admit that I did not know for certain until I saw Rora’s face just now. He looks just like his chorotha.”
“I know. That hurts me almost more than I can stand. Why could he not look like me or my norotha or chorotha?” She slowly shook her head and had a look of sadness in her eyes.
“Ara, I know a secret about Rora’s chorotha. If you would like, I will tell you.”
She looked at me, shocked, “Are you in the habit of telling secrets? No, I should not know what it is until the time is right. You and you alone will know when the time is right. Then, and only then, can you tell me.”
“All right, Ara. I guess it can wait. Is there anything I can do to assist with the nakymoty?” Just as I asked her that question, it hit me what she had said about her father. “Wait for a thalloo. How do you know who your chorotha is?”
Ara’s answer was to shoo me out of the kitchen with a stern look of admonition on her pretty feline face. I knew she was warning me without words to keep my knowledge and questions to myself, which I intended to do anyway. I, too, could not stand the thought of possibly losing my best friend in the village or my newest one.
After the nakymoty, I assisted Ara with cleaning up the dishes. Then, I went to my room. I wasn’t sleepy so I followed my tradition after an especially interesting day and contemplated the day’s events. I had learned so much today. I had learned why I sometimes had a hard time sleeping at night, gained an idea as to how far it was around the village, and, most importantly of all, learned who Rora's father is. I didn't know how long I could keep this a secret, but I had to keep it as long as I possibly could. The last thing was something that I thought would, somehow, prove to be important in the days, months or even years to come. I wondered if I would now go out of my way to protect Lo-Katoo as much as I would to protect Ara and Rora. After a short while, I found myself extremely sleepy and, as the lighting gradually darkened, drifted off to sleep.
1-This revelation means that each Tashoo hour (Hi’nu) is about 75.5 Terran minutes long.