The Green Land

–Biturian Varosh

When she said it the others looked at her, some angry, and she blushed and turned, and left the table quickly. Norayeep didn’t know what this was. I had to find her, barely caught her after she and her two women left the compound unescorted, uz grub, such victims are called. But she wasn’t worthy of any steed, and since I rode a mule we came upon the three, exhausted already and trying to hide under the blankets they bore. I promised to take them to safety only if she told me what the Green Land is. They refused, and I left them there, watching from just fifty yards away, slapping themselves inside a great cloud of insects that followed their scent. So naive were they that they couldn’t see me, even half in the open. As night fell I could hear them. One was still whimpering, crying as softly as she could. The others, in loud whispers, debated whether to make a fire and hide it with the blankets. When a swarm of bats raced appeared above them, feasting while they could upon the insects that eat living prey, the girls screamed like they’d been attacked. I approached them again, with a gentle protection around us that even drove off the insects.

“I cannot,” she said, “I am unable to say what it is. I don’t know. It is impossible.”

“Let me help you,” I said, “like this umbrella helps you.”

Her servants, free women both, fell to the rocky ground in the gesture that only slaves use when pleading for their lives. One no longer wept, but just sobbed. The other’s arms were bleeding from scratching her bites.

“I will,” she said at last, and sighed. “We won’t make it to your Pavis anyway.” She glanced about towards the dark. “Do what you want.”

“We’ll get you back.” I said, “Just think of the Green Land.”

She nodded hastily, but closed her eyes and breathed deeply. Her girls took her hands. They breathed, and relaxed, and I placed my left palm upon her forehead. Here is what I remember I saw:

“Green there,” she said

“No more can be said

“We emeralded, grassy and I

” — if me it was indeed —

“Olive there, hard jadeing on peas

“Foresting within, foresting with and foresting through

“We could not stop

“Why? Why ever?” [she frowns, pauses sighs]

“Red leaves fall, brown burn, black ash

“The Green Land is not a bud, regrown after its fruit falls.” [she looks down, pauses, speaks softly.]

“now… we all rot.”

We left her at Loud Lilina’s with a little red-headed hellion there who treated Danserella like a best friend.

“I always want to know of this place you live in,” she said. Norayeep thought we ought to collect a bounty, or a slave fee or something, for her. I was just glad to be rid of such a worthless thing so easily.

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