Welcome to Wednesday and the second part of the adventure=) Readers have chosen to offer water in exchange for beasts of burden to the Alosians. Let’s see how it goes.
(If you missed Monday, just know you’ve been sent by your village to trade for animals to help in the harvest. The Alosians or desert dwellers, are the only ones you know who still trade. If you’re interested in reading Monday’s post, you can find it under recent posts.)
Alosian Oasis Option A: Water
Although it’s a gigantic task, your village has a large river running to the north and if they had beasts of burden, they could haul casks of fresh water to the Alosians.
So you say “water.”
The woman bows and backs away as an old woman so gone to wrinkles you can barely see her lips takes her place. You catch a glare between the women before the new one starts speaking.
“I am Malya, Mistress of the Wells, follow me.” She leads you through the group of people and into the oasis.
As soon as you pass the trees, the ground turns to lush grass, tinted slightly blue. In the middle of the oasis is a small lake and surrounding it are small huts with lanterns glowing from the front of each.
It’s peaceful after the desert winds.
Malya escorts you to a hut on the right.
“Sleep well barterer, for in the morning you will be tested.”
You almost call her back, wondering about her comment and also about food and water for the night but then you shrug.
You’ve just enough food in your pack and water in your skins to last you till morning, so you enter the hut. And find a bed on the right wall and a table laden with water and fruit on the left.
You select a pomegranate from the fruit, fill a cup with sweet cool water and sit on the bed to eat.
When done, exhaustion from the last five days in the blistering sun catches up and you set the now empty cup aside, lay down and sleep.
Malya shakes you awake. “Morning water barterer. Today we test you.”
She hands you clean clothes and leaves to let you dress. After donning the outfit, which turns out to be just like your old one, you eat several figs and almonds and down a cup of water.
Exiting your hut, you step into a crowd. The entire populace has gathered again.
Malya steps forward.
“What do you come for?’ she asks.
“Horses or camels.”
“Then you may pick either the Test of Ice or the Test of Air.”
You are unfamiliar with either choice, so you ask, “what does each test involve?”
Malya smiles and her wrinkles shift. she might be pleased but you can’t tell her expression beyond the lift of her lips.
“Ice requires you to keep an ice cube intact for a day. If you succeed, we will offer you five horses, if you fail, you will work at the oasis for a year and a day.
“Air requires you to shade the pavilion and cool if for a day. Success and failure are the same except we will offer camels.”
“Why test me?” you ask, “when we offer water in return for beasts. Is that not a fair trade?’
Malya’s deep eyes study you for a moment and a few in the crowd mutter. You see the burly woman from the night before smirking. Finally Malya answers.
“Outsiders do not understand that our animals are family to us. If we trade them it is because we trust you to care for our family. Thus the test. We test you to trust you.”
Ah, now you understand the other reason you were chosen by the council. You’re young enough to work for the Alosians without it effecting the village too much. They conveniently forgot to mention this part.
So do you say…
(Please post a comment with your choice. One vote per post please but comment as much as you like=) This makes counting votes easier. Voting will end at 8pm Mountain Time Thursday. I’ll post whichever option gets the most votes Friday and we’ll see how the adventure continues!)