Chapter Nine: Names
The next 'colonial day', as she'd decided to call them, after she and Tengwar had been able to trade for some more axes and a few saws, the colonists of the newly named Giant Forest got to the work of building shelters. Dawn had contemplated asking the Eisental people for nails, as well, but that road led to trading for hammers, and most of the people wouldn't know how to use them, which would lead to ouchie thumbs. And, besides, she wasn't quite sure how many shelters would be needed anyhow, so how many nails would they have to trade for? Best to just go with the axes and saws and be a bit more self-sufficient, right?
The trade negotiations had not gone the way Tengwar had expected at all - the embroidered cloth hadn't made quite as big a splash in the minds of Klang and the people of Eisental as he'd hoped, but after she'd mentioned it in a fit of inspiration, her storytelling had. So in the end, she'd traded them a pared-down version of The Three Musketeers
and a dramatic telling of The Sword in the Stone
(with props, though she'd made clear she was only borrowing the sword) for the town's children, which had almost caused a riot. Master Klang had afterward insisted that Master Tengwar and Lady Arwen were cheating themselves in offering so much in trade for the few dozen axes and saws they had requested, and after an exploratory talk to see what other needs Giant Forest might have, they received the difference in the form of arrowheads, unfinished sword-blades, hinges (with just enough nails to install them), and a couple dozen Ring sequences to add to Dawn's pocket notebook.
The trading trip had lasted much longer than intended, and by the time they returned to Giant Forest - with a handful of Eisental's militia assisting with transporting their trade-goods back to the Ancestral Ring - there was only cold venison steaks set aside for them to eat. The people of Eisental had been all too happy to invite them to return at any time, even inviting them just to use their Ring as a waypoint for other worlds which Giant Forest might lack the symbols for - which Tengwar later explained, was a huge honor in itself - and had granted the title of Mistress Storyteller to go along with Tengwar's seemingly constant use of 'Lady' Arwen. Master Klang had even insisted they take half of the embroidered cloth home, rejecting it at the last moment as overpayment. Tengwar had repaid the compliment by providing the address and inviting the people of Eisental to visit Giant Forest, though he reminded them that it was a new settlement.
She still hadn't had the chance to explain the whole name thing, which she was going to have to do eventually. But in the meantime, they had plenty of work to do. Dawn sent most of the colonists off to cut down trees - they didn't want to cut any within sight of the Ancestral Ring's clearing, so she suggested ones along the trail to the pond they were using as a water source. And not the biggest ones, since they didn't have any draft animals - they'd have to see about that on the next trading trip. But Eisental hadn't had any to spare, even on loan, so she wasn't getting her hopes up.
But within a few colonial days - the colonists were slowly adapting to the long days and long nights by trying to structure their alternate days around sunrise and sunset, sleeping in the dark of night and the heat of the day - they had the beginnings of a settlement going. Several of the men tried to insist that Dawn, alone, take the first shelter they'd completed, but she insisted that the families with children should all get shelters first. They'd made a few alterations to her basic suggestions, in terms of the shape of the structures, in the name of defense and also providing a little in the way of semi-private space that was still 'outdoors'. Dawn was guessing that was for household chores that required natural light, social space, and other things like that.
As their original camp had been, they designed it in a circle around a central point, a dozen or so paces in front of Dawn's tent. Except, because of the number of structures they wanted to build, the far side of the circle - away from the Ancestral Ring's clearing - would be gaining three extra arcs behind it, so the result would look something like an amphitheater - with Dawn's tent serving as a temporary focal point. The area in front of her tent, where they had built the large community fire ring, would remain an open space. Dawn was already equating it to a New England village green, though in the shadow of the giant sequoias, it was more dirt than grass.
About nine colonial days after the return from Eisental, in which several of the new shelters had begun to take shape, Tengwar stepped over the unspoken boundary of Dawn's personal campsite one morning and sat down on Dawn's usual log, asking, "Would you like to go on another trading trip?"
Dawn considered that - it was another morning day, so even if they stayed late like they had on Eisental, they would be returning in sunlight - and nodded, as she finished pulling her boot-laces tight and tied them off. She just asked, "Where to, this time?"
"Lachryma. You know the language, and we usually get most of our medicines from them. The Master's Council met last night and it was mentioned that a couple of the children have ear infections, and other common childhood illnesses." She'd noticed a few of the women being pulled away from the shelter project by family considerations, and realized it must be because their children were ill. "They're also the ones, generations ago, who gave us the address for Sateda, and the Satedans gave us the sequences for both Eisental and for this world."
"Sure, I'm ready whenever you're ready, I've been keeping my bag packed. But first, there's something we need to discuss." Tengwar had just been starting to stand up, but settled back onto his seat on the log. After all, it was early morning, so they had plenty of time. "About my name..."
"It's not Arwen." Tengwar interrupted. "At least, it's not your only name, it takes you too long to answer to it, like you have to remember. Especially when you're thinking about something else."
"No, it's not. I mean, well, it is... but... my people sometimes take on second or third names, for certain situations. When I came here, I was on a... quest, you might say, and it was customary to take an extra name for the quest, rather than using your own. That was Arwen, and if you want to keep using it, that's fine with me. Originally, Arwen came from one of our most famous stories, The Lord of the Rings
. My original name, the one my family gave me, is Dawn." She made sure to say it in English, even though the harsh sound seemed a bit out of place after several sentences in Colonial. "Which is also our word for the beginning of the day... sunrise, or as you said, the time of the sun on the east land."
Tengwar sat in silence for a few seconds, before mentioning, "Our word for that is Maha."
Dawn nodded. "You mentioned that before. And if you want to use either of those, keep using Arwen, or even just call me Mistress Storyteller, that's fine with me too." Dawn smiled. "I'll adapt."
"You have adapted yourself quite rapidly to our people's ways." He gestured at the women butchering one of the elk-moose creatures, and Dawn realized that she was idly watching the activity as well, without feeling uncomfortable about it as she had on that first day. Then Tengwar added, "In our language, sometimes we add 'ila' on the end of names for women who are masters of a craft. Like the two dyers, Korafila and Sokaila." He paused, as if deciding how far to proceed, and then announced, "Mahaila sounds pretty."
Dawn blushed. "I'd be... honored, I think." She paused. "When did you want to go to Lachryma?"
"Right now, if you're ready, Dawn..." He paused after the unfamiliar, English word, and she nodded that he'd pronounced it correctly. He returned then to the familiar "Lady Arwen... or shall we learn to call you Mahaila?"
Dawn grinned, liking the sound of her new, Colonial name. "Take your pick, Master Tengwar. I'll adapt." She twisted around and started unzipping her tent, which Tengwar took as a sign that she was almost ready.
Grabbing his pack and swinging it onto his back, Tengwar waited for Dawn to duck into her tent and grab her black daypack, and then they headed off toward the Ancestral Ring. About halfway there, she started to feel that sensation again, the one she couldn't describe precisely but felt like she should in terms of spiderwebs or perhaps magnetism. Absently brushing her hand across her face a couple times, and once down one arm, didn't help with the actual sensation, but at least she felt like she was doing something about it. Tengwar didn't seem to be bothered by it, though, so she supposed it was just something to get used to.
After they climbed over the log and reached the Ring controller, Dawn asked a question that had been bothering her. "How long does the Ancestral Ring remain open?"
"If you don't shut it off, about twice as long as it takes to walk here from our camp." Tengwar said. About half an hour, Dawn translated, maybe forty minutes; she still had not discovered any time references in either the Colonial or Lachryman languages other than 'mealtime', at least none referring to a length of time shorter than a day. "But if you touch the dome on the other control, as I did on Eisental, it shuts it off. Or have someone touch it behind you, as the Eisental militia did when we returned here."
"Like hanging up the phone." Dawn muttered, but at Tengwar's questioning glance, she waved him off. "Never mind, just comparing it to another device we have back home."
"Come here, if you are to be a Ring-Walker, then I think I'd best start teaching you how to open the Ring, and the sequences." Tengwar gestured. "As I explained, every planet has a sequence for arriving and one symbol for leaving. The leaving address is always found it at the top center of the Ring, and this button here." He gestured at a specific button on the control. "Each planet's is unique. The arriving sequence is always six symbols. It takes seven to activate the Ring, so you add the leaving symbol for the planet you are on, at the end."
Pointing to a series of six symbols, he said, "This is the sequence for Lachryma." She copied it down into her pocket notebook, and then he glanced at her writing and nodded approvingly before stepping back. "Give it a try, Mahaila
Dawn hesitantly checked her notebook again, tapped the first three symbols, then double-checked before tapping out the last three. She noticed that each button lit up after is was pushed and stayed lit. Finally, she hit the three-trees button for Giant Forest, and then gently tapped the basketball-sized ice-blue dome button in the center of the control panel, willing the Ancestral Ring into action and at the same time, bracing her other hand against the edge of the control, slightly squishing her notebook in the process.