Nico scratches his head, thinking where he's heard this before.
Khemehekis wrote:Jim looks at Nico and notices the wings. A winged sapient! Surely we wasn't in California anymore.
"Nice to meet you, Nico", says Jim. "Twenty twenty-eight is the year on my world's calendar. Here it's two thousand and twenty-eight years after the birth of Jesus Christ, so we say twenty twenty-eight. Well, not really. Jesus was actually born two thousand and thirty-two years ago."
"Oh! Iyesushuê he was when he came among Men
, that's what the monks say. I don't know when he was born. Our Ma's mother used to tell how her Da's older brother went off wandering into the West and saw him there, when he went down to look at the Sea. Anyway, you name your years with numbers? That's different! Ours are named with names. Now is the year of the Mended Peacock and last year was Brass Waterpot and before that, Mended Scapula. Easy as a meat pie!"
Jim continues. "A kohlrabi is a vegetable. Like a cabbage, except it looks more like a human hand. It looks like some plant from outer space, more or less. Kohlrabi's really green, except we called our band Purple Kohlrabi to sound trippy. The bands out here put their names together from colors, numbers and foods." Jim put one finger up when he said "colors", a second when he said "numbers", and a third when he said "foods".
"And a lead singer is the member of a band who does most of the singing. Usually the lead singer writes the band's songs too. I know I write my band's songs. We can say . . . maybe . . . that Stan Dzwonkowski is the lead singer of Sulfur Pie, or that Zach Stillwell is the lead singer of Thirst. Thirst are a band from a genre called kuro. A dark, foreboding sound. It's really pleasant to listen to with headphones on and my eyes closed."
"So, bands are groups of musicians, and you are their rimesmith? That is a great gift indeed, to make songs and sing them for people! Our rime makers do not sing with other musicians, and not often with more than one other singer. Is it usual for you to sing with other musicians and singers, then?" Nico's trying to keep up with the strangeness of this fellow's speech:
"But, what are Stantsuoncuoios and Sax and curro and edfuuns?"
Can you see with the crystal eye? Too bad twas your left eye. There must be a story there!"
"Oh," said Jim. "My eyes are blue. Arcades? You mean like a video arcade? But, yeah . . . it's a glass eye."
"Blue..." Nico scratches his head again, hope that this boy would be sensible too now dashed!
"You sound like my sister now! Oh, arcades? No, not like in a garden; but you know, the fine arches and tendrils, the forest of trunks and intertwined branches
in the grey part of your eye surrounding the throbbing red part in the middle(*)
Jim continued with the story. "When I was 7, my brother Matt and I would like to play with darts. One day, a dart hit me in the left eye. I was screaming in pain, and the dart immediately put the eye out. My mother drove me to an eye specialist, and the doctor removed the blinded eye. I was fitted with my first glass eye. When I got older, they invented an artificial eye that can actually see when your eyes are open. It's connected to the nerve of your remaining eye. But you can see the machinery inside, so I said no thank you. I wanted to keep my glass eye because it actually looks like a real eye. To humans, at least. But you . . . you have a strange vision. And what does that word 'dwimmery' mean? It sounds like 'dimwit' or 'nim' -- those are words we use for saying someone's stupid, like 'idiot' or 'moron'."
"You have duckters
too! Just like Risatri here. And your duckters
only work with eyes? Our healers must be able to treat any wound, not just those in the eyes or the shoulders or the fingertips!" He laughs with the thought of twenty different healers attending to someone who's just been roughed up playing football!
"Anyway, the crystalsmith that crafted your eye was quite skillful! And you sound like my sister again --- I'm sure my vision isn't thát strange! Any boy can describe perfectly sensibly what a person's eye looks like!"
"Dwimmery? That's just one of the forces flowing and swirling all round us. Can't see it, really, but you can see its effects, how it interacts with living and resting beings; most Daine can find its streams and use them to make things anew or change things already made. Like, it's easy enough to pick up a stick of wood and cause it to burn with fire --- just have to nudge the flow of dwimmery a bit. Great factitioners can take a stick of wood and trap a flow of dwimmery inside it, so that with a touch it will glow like a lamp! Or cause a ball of silver wire to weave itself into a big flower
. Or gifted healers can mend a shattered leg or sliced off arm."
Nico smiles at the thought:
Jim took another look at Nico's wings. "Those wings . . . can you actually fly?"
"No, we can't fly, leastways not without an airship! Boys can leap from great heights and use our wings to slow our fall, and perhaps glide a bit. See ---" He stands up to show Jim his wing in comparison to Enca's:
"Mine are longer and have longer feathers than a girl's wings. Girls always say we look like penguins flying when we go leaping. But I don't care if I look like a penguin in flight! It's so much fun to just drop off a tall tree or a cliff by the riverside and for a moment feel like I'm flying!" He pauses a moment, lost in thought:
"I guess that's why I like flying in Enca's airships so much!"
(*) By "throbbing red part in the middle of the eye", what Nico means is that he can see Jim's retina
, though I certainly hope it isn't detached like in the image! What he's seeing, really, is the heat of the blood against the retina. Jim's left eye caught him off guard --- on first glance, it appears quite normal, but on the other hand, it didn't anything like the other eye.