Year 100 day 100
I seems very fast to me, but even the grandchildren of those I first knew as babies are gone. Some things are unchanged: the People still follow the game, there are good seasons and bad, and every year there are new children and new deaths.
The “sharing of power” has become an important part of the ritual of recognizing a new shaman. Not in public, thank goodness!
In fact, it is taken for granted now that I will sleep with the woman (generally single) who stays to prepare my food and clothing, and such women are eagerly sought by the men of the group when their term of serving me is over.
I miss my own people, but while I know how to build a starship, I do not have the tools or materials.
Year 54 Day 33
I begin to suspect a conspiracy on the part of the women shamans. Four groups led by women had arrived by yesterday, and all of the leaders agreed on the idea of a direct transfer of power. Today the first male-led group arrived, and the shaman, whose wife I slept with last year, was clearly not pleased to find himself placed behind the women.
I explained the new rules: no more than one a night, first priority to those to whom I had not yet transferred power, equality between male and female shamans. The men were not pleased, but with four women already having slept with me and the new rules established, there wasn’t much they could do.
Year 54 Day 30
The first group in this year was one of the three descended from Storm Cloud’s old group, the one headed up by Wind Storm. She came to see me almost at once.
“You pass part of your power to the male shamans through their mates,” she said. “Could you not pass it directly to the female shamans?”
I didn’t believe I was passing anything on but they clearly did. “No reason I can think of, “ I said. Mentally I was counting up the shamans. “But no more than one a night. And those to whom I have not yet transferred power come first.”
She bowed, and her expression was positively smug. “Then I shall come to you at moonrise,” she said.
Wind Storm is a very determined woman.
Year 53 Day 112
I had no idea WildDog’s idea would be so popular.
Not that I wasn’t ready to ease my own sexual frustration! In fact, the women of the People have been looking more and more attractive to me. My night with WildDog’s wife proved that the likeness was even closer than I supposed. We fit in every way possible. It’s just as well that offspring are impossible, or I’d be tempted to settle down with a local wife.
At this point, with the People getting ready to leave on their annual migration, I think about half of the shamans have insisted I sleep with their women, to pass the “powers” on to them. Truth to tell, I’m getting a bit exhausted.
“You want me to do what?” I gasped at WildDog.
“To sleep with my wife,” he said calmly, “that some of your power may pass to her, and through her to me.”
I gulped. These People were very like the R’il’noids in many ways, but I was sure our DNA was so different that no offspring could come from such a mating. And if it reassured WildDog, why not? Face it, I’m lonely.
Year 11 Day 165
“Greenland-musk-ox hg” by Hannes Grobe), AWI – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.
Remember the part of the tideless sea that reminded me of an underwater mountain range? I didn’t even know what I was talking about!
The northern shore of the main north continent was at least fairly well defined. During the warm season I could tell water from land, though when the ocean was frozen to the shore it was a little difficult. Eastward from the strait, though ….
Imagine a partly drowned mountain range. Not one with just the tips of the mountains poking up as islands, but one with all of the valleys drowned. Let it be so cold and so dry that little survives but rock and cushion plants. Allow some surprisingly large horned animals to survive on the sparce vegetation. Now add a highly variable amount of drift ice choking the water-filled valleys.
I don’t think that a lot of warm water could get through.
So, hypotheses: this ocean remains frozen because there is not enough oceanic heat transfer from the south.
Year 11 Day 132
Well, I spent the day yesterday flying as far north as I could get in one day. Nothing but sea ice, and since it was (for a change) a clear day, I was able to hop from latitude to latitude as long as I could see there was no high ground. By the time I tired, I had confirmed that floating ice reached to the pole.
Two things are clear already. I am far enough north that the day is continuous. And this ice, like that on the west side of the northern continent, is inhabited. So far I am sure of the white bears and foxes, the seals, and some creatures a bit larger than seals with massive tusks. All live on ice floes, though the ones with tusks seem mainly found where the bottom is shallow.
I have seen the ones with tusks before, but rarely, I think they need shallow bottoms and ice floes in open water. They showed up occasionally on the north coast of the large land northern land mass, but that area does not have much open water in the winter. There are also some on the east coast of the large ice-covered island or continent. But while there is plenty of water there, the sea floor is only rarely shallow.
This shallow sea north and south of the strait seems to be an ideal habitat. Their tusks, when I found a skeleton, seem remarkably similar to elephant ivory. I wonder if it can also be carved and worked into ornaments.
Year 11 Day 130
I’ve come to a sea water strait that may or may not end this continent. It’s not very wide; I can levitate high enough to see land beyond. And it’s not very deep either. In fact, the whole sea water expanse between the northern continent and this land mass farther east is so shallow that it wouldn’t take much drop in sea level – no more that a buildup of the ice sheets – to make this new land continuous with the coast I’ve been following.
This strait is a bit wider than the one separating the tideless sea from the tidal see to the west, but shallower. I don’t believe it is really any as much of a division between continents as a flooded low-lying area.
Go on eastward, or follow the strait to the south? Since my main question is why this planet seems to have ice caps at both poles, I think I’ll assume that this strait is too narrow to allow much warm sea water in to melt the ice, and continue along the north coast of this new land mass. Right now the ice is within easy sight of the shore, but that may change as the season advances. At any rate, this will allow me to encircle the floating ice, and perhaps take an occasional side trip to the north.
Year 11 Day 45
Some images stay in your head forever.
I think I will always remember WildDog, sitting on the ground next to the snowfield I teleported in for the Gather, with Patches’ head in his lap. I knew she was failing, but she so obviously wanted to go with WildDog that I didn’t even think to object. I don’t think WildDog encouraged her to overdo, it, either. It was just that her time had come.
Death is nothing new or strange to the children of the People, and WildDog looked up at me with tears running down his face, but with complete understanding that his companion was gone. “She just laid her head in my lap and died,” he said.
“She was old,” I told him. “I think she hung on to see you again, and I believe her last moments were happy.”
He looked down at Patches’ head, and gently stroked her half-bald ears. “Can we bury her?” he asked. “Or is that just for people? Because she’s sort of people too.”
Yes, the People buried their dead, but my own people teleported their dead into the sun. I couldn’t manage that; my esper skills weren’t up to it. But I could wait until night fell and send her body toward the stars, and that somehow felt right.
So I told WildDog to look for Patches in the stars, where she would be guarding him as she had done since his birth.
Year 10 Day 345
Credit: Kevin Schafer/UC Davis photo
It’s a good thing I’ve learned to check the weather at a teleport destination, and set an automatic “return home” if I feel any danger. In nine fivedays I’ve actually managed to fly all day southward on no more than a handful of days.
Other days? Well, Patches has good days and bad, and when she has good days and her memories of favorite places touch my mind, I take her to those places. She doesn’t do much but lie in the sun, but she feels happy.
I never teleport into a lightning storm. That’s a lesson I learned years ago. But I decided that if I never teleported into cloud or wind, I’d never get very far south. Yes, the northern oceans are stormy, but not like this!
I’ve reached about 50° South, and with no sign of ice or land. I did, amazingly enough, see a bird today. It was soaring, rather than pumping its wings in flight, and it didn’t look as if it needed to land very often. It seemed to be getting its food from the water, which was teeming with life. Could it really be that far from land?