Journey to the South: Eight of Thirty

Posted: February 8, 2013 in Fiction
Tags: ,

     We left the estate as swiftly as we could, both because of Natallu’s forceful request and because we had no desire to tarry there any longer than was necessary. We made our way south on the snow-dusted Imperial Road, the Gromothim slave, Cuahuatec, joining us in our carriage for the first day of travel until the supply wagons caught up with us.

    Viro continually surprises me at times, and this was leg of our journey was one of them. While the Gromothim shared our carriage, my wife applied the small amount of medical knowledge she learned during our years in Harran, when she would volunteer her time assisting the priests and priestesses of Jailii. She treated the slave’s wounds and bound them as best she could with the little supplies that Atam’s legionaries had available. Her empathy and willingness to care for those who need it is one of the ever-present traits Viro possesses that always reminds me of why exactly I love her.

    The rest of the journey was rather sedate and boring, I must admit. We traveled south through countryside that was almost continually white, though occasionally some greenery from a fir or a pine fight its way free from the snow that covered the land and other a brief splash of variety in the otherwise monotonous landscape. We nighted most often in various inns found along the roadside or in the small villages that clustered around the Imperial Road. It had been years, if not a decade or more since I had spent so much time away from the larger cities or centers of political power, and I found it refreshing to interact with so many of the common folk.

    Eventually, after three more weeks of travel, we eventually crossed into Tijhor province. For those who have never traveled there, the region is still heavily forested despite having been brought into the Moy even before Hijamahneeli Gharan Udo abdicated to his son. The country is much less hilly than Kravam province is and where there are not trees or villages or the occasional city, there are vast fields of grass. In fact, when I first caught sight of one of the Tijhoran grasslands, I was reminded of similar country in Mughri’i province; though, of course, there, the grasslands are smaller, due to the steppes.

    As we first entered the Tijhoran countryside, I couldn’t help but think of all the old histories that spoke of this southern land and its barbaric inhabitants. In the ancient days, before Jarutu Nohn Kriiv, the Tijhori – or, the Tijhorekyi, as they refer to themselves, the “Children of the Mother” – would regularly raid the lands of our ancestors. In fact, the academies of Noharnu, I am told, contain more than one history that lists one Tijhoran tribe or another as being the perpetrators of the sacking and pillaging of that old city. In my mind’s eye, as we passed into the darkened forests, I could see the ancient savages, wearing their animal furs, carrying spear and sword and axe, flitting from tree to tree. Their eyes always turned northward. Eyes filled with greed and envy.

    The image sent a shiver down my spine that I brushed off as simply the chill from outside. For I knew that the Tijhori had long been members of the Moy and were no longer the savages who precipitated the elevation of Jarutu Nohn Kriiv to the Throne of Tides. But, I would be lying if I did not admit to having dreams that first night filled with wolves, steel, and blood amongst the shadows of the trees.

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