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Sun Quest

Part 1 - Southbound

by and © Ruwen Rouhs

Chapter 9

In the morning the rain was coming down in sheets. The roof of the shelter could hardly keep water out. "It's time to start!" Buri tried to get Aegir out from under the warm blanket of fur. But Aegir just turned his back to his friend and went back to sleep. Buri insisted and finally shook him up impatiently, "Hi Bro! It's time to get up! It's time to reclaim the crescent. It's time to hunt down the shaman!" When Aegir still didn't answer, he explained impatiently, "I bet theEagle-clan has arrived at the Lake Fjäderalready and is beginning to settle down in the pile-dwelling. We must be there before the clan has settled down completely. My chances to get back the crescent of moon-stone will be lower if we arrive too late!" Now Aegir was wide awake, "Your chances?" he growled still sleepy, "Our chances!" he objected, "Bro, chances are always better for a team!"

They had not much to carry on their voyage, essentially only Aegir's belongings and weapons. Buri owned only the clothes he was wearing when Aegir rescued his life and the newly made weapons. They also were low on food. The food for the journey comprised only of the rest of the meat of the buck killed two days ago. Therefore Aegir was utterly surprised when Buri took a big piece of the meat and placed it on a flat rock. "Mighty Eagle! Mighty Guardian!" Buri called out, "Take our offer! Please guard us on our way to the lake and help us to recover the crescent!" At the first moment Aegir wanted to protest against this waste of food, but on a second thought he augmented Buri's prayer, "Mighty Eagle, Man-Eater, take this offer of your sons and help us to accomplish our mission."

The rain was just a dribble when they paused in front of fortification surrounding the old Eagle-clan's settlement. Carefully they searched the rock face for the eagles with their eyes. The old eyrie was deserted. But then Buri spotted a newly built one further up the cliff nearly hidden by an inaccessible peak. "There, the new eyrie! Look Aegir it's the bigger of the birds who is home! It's the hen, she is breeding!" Proud as if he was a father to be, he called out "We will have fledglings, our eagles will have fledglings!"

Just then the smaller of the eagles approached, "Look! Look out Buri! Here he comes, the other eagle, the father! Look, he is carrying our offer in his clutches. Look, he offers it to his wife!"

"Aegir!" Buri burst out happily, "The eagles are accepting our offering! Look they share it!" Both were delighted! "This is a good omen!" Aegir shouted, "It predicts success! We will win back the crescent!"

Happily they took the trail along the river. The rain which had started again didn't bother the two. They shared Aegir's cloak of fur to stay dry, because Buri's had been taken away by the Eagle-clan. For strangers the friends would have looked like dangerous four legged two headed animal walking along the trail.

When the rain passed off in the afternoon and the birds in the shrubs on both sides of the trail began to sing again, Aegir asked Buri "What happened afterwards?" when other looked surprised, Aegir added, "What happened when your father woke up after the night with the strange visitor, the girl?"

"It was the most astonishing morning my father could remember! Everyone he met at the estate asked how he had spent the night. "Did you sleep well? Did you like your bed? Was it soft enough? Did nobody disturb you sleep?" My father didn't know what to answer. He not sure if he should disclose the adventure with the nightly visitor! He even didn't know her name! Did they know about his adventure? Had they sent the girl to him or did she come on her own account? He just smiled and kept silent. But question after question racked his brain: Who was that girl? What was her name? Where does she live? Will I ever see her again? When Menkaure; the white haired merchant; finally showed up he told him "Come on White Boy, you still have to prove your skill as a stone cutter! You have to prove your worthiness to be let into the secret of the moon-stone makers."

"Did he?" Aegir asked, "Did he learn how make knives and arrow tips and all these sharp weapons from moon-stone? Did he learn where to get the rocks containing the material that melts in the heat and becomes hard again when it is cooled down?" and after an instant of contemplation he asked "Did your father meet that girl again?"

"The merchant called the pieces of rock crude ore." Buri continued, "He took my father to a hidden room in the main house. There he showed him fist-sized pieces of sharp-edged rocks. The rocks were dark grey and streaked by green-blue veins bordered by red crystals. The veins were sparkling in the sunlight coming through the small window and shining softly in dim light of the room! "My cousins on the other side of the dry desert far, far in the south steal these precious rocks from the bowels of the earth. The land is known by the name Ta-Seti, land of the bow. The people living there are fearless archers. But still these fearless men are afraid to cross the scorching dry desert to deliver the ore to our king. They rely on the help of desert- nomads for transportation, who are shrewd enough to escape the man-eaters lurking in the pathless desert. But still not every caravan of these daring people arrives at our king's town to bring the precious moon-stones." My father went pale thinking back on murderer of the travelling trader by the mountain-men, but cocked his ears when Menkaure continued. "The king's artisans heat the ore to separate the moon-stone from the other material." He explained to my father, "Then the separated moon-stone is then given to knife-makers to produce knives, swords, tips for arrows and spears. From another ore a yellowish material is extracted. This is used for charms, for bracelets, fingerings and necklaces."

"My father listens to the merchant open-mouthed but then he couldn't hold back his request, "Please, please I have to learn how to dig for these rocks! I have to learn how to extract the moon-stone. Please show me the way to this far country!" Amused the merchant just shook his head and padded my father's cheek, "No never my poor White-boy! Nobody except my dark cousins are allowed to dig for these rocks! Nobody except the king's artisans are allowed to extract the precious material from the rocks."

Having ventured so far my father insisted, "I travelled from the north to the south, went down the big river with a boat, crossed ice-covered mountains and the man-engulfing sea! I will not give up! Please, at least help me to meet your fearless cousins! I will ask them!"

"No my White-boy, never! I will never help you! It's my duty to keep you alive! But I will give you the chance to learn how to work with this material. But after you have proved to me your skill with flint-stone, I will ask my friend to show you the art of working with moon-stone. He is a famous artist on the king's court"

"Already on his first day in Râ-Kedetmy father faced three serious problems. First of all he had fallen in love with the mysterious visitor, the girl. Secondly he had to find the men from across the desert, to travel with them to the mines and learn how to dig for the precious ore. Thirdly he had to learn how to separate the moon-stone from the other components of the ore and turn the moon-stone into tools and weapons.

"The whole day my father looked out for the mystery girl but couldn't get a single glimpse of her. She just stayed invisible. He was angry with himself because he didn't know her name and could not ask for her. During the night he had been so overwhelmed by emotion that he had forgotten to ask her name. Frantically he checked the houses of the estate, the barns, the stables for the livestock, even the smallest shed however the mysterious visitor stayed invisible. Had she been an apparition, my father agonized, or a figment of his overwrought nerves? He was in a desperate state. He doubted his own sanity. Midnight came and all his doubts were wiped away. Out of the dark of his hut the girl appeared, woke him up with kisses, hugged him, teased him and stayed till dawn. From this night on my father knew that they were made for each other!"

"Did the mysterious girl visit him every night?" Aegir asked curious, "Did they make love?" getting cheeky, "They did, Buri!" Didn't they? Surely they did! You can let me in on the secret Buri, please, I am your friend!"

Now Buri smiled shrewdly, "My father never told me about love-making to the mysterious girl, but......." He pause and then grinned like am imp, "I am their offspring! So what do you guess? Did they do it or didn't they? Guess what!"

Now Aegir broke out in laughter, "Stupid me! How could I forget about this!" sizing Buri up from head to toe Aegir raised his hand to swear solemnly, "Your parents made the most perfect of all living creatures! They created you, my curly haired Buri!"

Buri was more than surprised. He never had dared to think that somebody would call him perfect, nobody in this world! Never in his life! NO, NO! He didn't believe he was perfect. He knew he was not perfect, not with his dark skin, his curly hair, his short nose and his thick red lips. All he could do now was give thanks to the deities for meeting Aegir. He closed his eyes and said his thanks to Wuitan, Frija, Thunar and all the other deities he could remember. But then he had to do something else. He had to do immediately! Buri embraced Aegir and began to kiss him, on and on and on!

Later when the both had recovered their breath Aegir beamed at Buri, "In a way the encounter between your parents is comparable to ours. As fate willed I am made for you and you are made for me!"

"You are right my red-haired love, but not in every respect. Since you rescued me from death we have been together day and night and night and day and all we have to do is care for our problems. But remember my father had to solve three issues. Besides finding his love he had to earn his host's trust to be able to solve his other problems."

"Only a week later my father had mastered the tasks asked for and Menkaure called on him again, "Come on Hödur, my white boy! You proved your skills to me. From now on you have to prove your skills to artisans of the king! Let me call you son. I have to adopt you, because the craft you longing to acquire can only be taught to members of a family chosen by the king's advisers." The big man smiled and embraced my father, "As from tomorrow you, my worthy son, will become apprentice of a weapon-smith at the king's court. At first he will teach how to sharpen axes made of moon-stone, daggers and spears and how to hone sickles. Then he will teach you the art of making weapons of that precious material and later after you have proven your artistic abilities as an armourer you may be allowed to take part in the ceremony of extracting the moon-stone from the ore."

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