Ibis’s Flight, part 2

We’d walked for some time in silence through the cave below my home. The only light was from the two small gems Magistrate Cefin and I wore around our necks. They were each smaller that a little finger nail, but they emit enough light to show us a ten foot radius of our surroundings.

Cefin had packed a bag of his personal belongings before he came to my home, and I now carried it for him along with my own. He’d brought objects of sentimental value to himself, and it confused him when he’d watched me pack. “Do you really expect to need a jar of pickled spiders on this trip?” he had asked, “Or a half-dozen ivory spice shakers?” He stopped asking questions about my odd choices when I placed a box of fishing hooks into my bag and pulled out the light gems.

The silence of our walk was broken by Cefin first as he requested that we sit for a bit. As he drank from his canteen I removed a jar from my bag. It contained a balm for rejuvenating tired, aching muscles. I grabbed one of his legs and began to rub the balm on it without his consent. He didn’t object, but did ask where I got it. “From my satchel,” was my answer.

He’d learned long ago that I perform tricks beyond his understanding and had decided to stop asking about them. I often frustrated him by truthfully answering the questions he asked, but reminding him that he’s not asking the right questions to get the answers he wants. All the years of this annoyance must have finally sunk in. He leaned forward and asked a better question: “How did you get it from your satchel when you did not put it there in the first place?”

“I traded a collection of dried butterflies for it,” I replied. His eyes narrowed; I laughed. I moved to applying balm to his other leg and continued, “There was a Meddyg, rather a Shaman, in a far away land in need of butterflies for his potions. I asked for a muscle-soothing salve in exchange and he agreed.”

“I’ll never understand it, I suppose,” Cefin said. I gave a short chuckle and continued masaging his legs. No matter how close he desired to be to me in his youth, I always pushed him away by confusing him. It was easy to do, as it seemed no human was capable of understanding instantaneous trade, or communication, over long distances.

“Oh, you just don’t want to,” I said and stood. I wiped the excess balm off my hands on the bottom of my cloak. It would collect more dirt from the cave, but cleanliness didn’t much interest me at this time. “It’s like an ethereal market in the back of every Meddyg’s mind; one offers up a number of items for trade and asks for a specific need in return for whatever they take.”

“I get that much,” Cefin said, “State’s tried to replicate it and force the villages into joining their setup. I don’t get, and I’m sure they don’t get, how you move physical objects such great distances in no time at all. They instead use objects made to specific standards and place them in every city, town, and village, so that anyone who wanted a tool for a task has what they need available.”

“It’s a horrible substitute,” I said, “You can’t make a standard wolf to trade for a standard wife.” The look on his face amused me, as did any expression of realization from a human.

“So you, with the she-wolf,” he stuttered. “How did you get a wolf’s brain into a woman’s body?”

“Magic,” I replied. An overly simplified answer, one which he was again not pleased with. Magic was just a word to describe things unexplained or not understood and he knew this; he also knew that everything occurred for a reason and that if something seemed magic, it was because they just hadn’t figured it out yet.

“I can’t tell you how to do it without you taking years of training as a Meddyg, Cefin.” This was the first time I’d used his name since he was in his twenties, long before he was the Magistrate of the village. Hearing his name spoken resonated with him and brought him back to the reality of the situation. He was no longer a Magister, and as such I did not call him by that title.

“I’m not happy with that answer, but I suppose I’ll have to accept it. You have rules to follow just like anyone else.” He stood and stretched his legs. We continued on in silence again.

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