Monday, June 20, 2011

Leaving SuyMaTmakk

Farewell to SuyMaTmakk. Today I left behind the whirlpool lake, the wicker buildings, the endless living cacophony of life on Market Street. As the wagon rattled along the road by the River KleMit, the bird's-nest skyline and its crown of waterfall mist faded into the distance.

I've enjoyed my time in SuyMaTmakk, but it's time to move on before I get too attached.

I said goodbye to the TiLeKraNas before I left this morning. As thanks for their hospitality, I gave them a set of origami birds in bright paper, the kind that can be folded up and put into an envelope or a pocket. I learned how to make them in Mollogou. To my surprise, the family gave me a beautiful salamander lantern, a fluid shape like a turnip of blended metal and glass. HmoTan said it was an experiment that went slightly wrong. It makes a perfect home for a salamander. Apparently, the children have been playing with my salamander while I've been out,* and they'd noticed that its lantern was getting a bit small. My salamander has grown a lot since I got it. In fact, it's starting to get a bit fat. Maybe I should feed it less coal for a while.

The TiLeKraNas are going to spend a few more days in the city before heading back up the Hley. Instead, I got a ride with a merchant on his way out of town. His name is FlunDitChukk. Whether it's his first name or last name, I have no idea; he's said maybe six words since I met him, and that many only if you count grunts. His cart is pulled by something called a dunderblub, which looks something like a hairy mushroom with four stumpy legs. If it has a head under all the fur, I haven't been able to find it. I can only tell which end is the front when it's walking; even that's only a guess. I'm not entirely sure that it's even an animal. Its name is Tupp.

FlunDitChukk is taking a shipment of jazz birds to CheChmit. They look a bit like roadrunners, but they have clever faces and black-and-white magpie stripes. When they spread their wings, the feathers look like piano keys. They sit in wicker cages in the back of the wagon and warble syncopated improvisations to each other. Occasionally, one of them gets its talons on a trumpet. (FlunDitChukk has a shipment of those too. I'm not sure whether this is a coincidence or not.) I have no idea how they can play a trumpet without lips; whenever I look around, the music stops. All I ever see are a bunch of birds sitting around and whistling innocently.

This could be an interesting trip.

* I was surprised at this, but not particularly worried. My salamander was well trained even before I got it - Cormilack salamanders are some of the most reliable in the world - and children on the dry plains of the Scalps learn fire safety at about the same time they learn to walk. I wasn't worried that they'd hurt each other. I'd watched TiLi and HnerKipPeLo catch fireflies and phosphor moths on the way to SuyMaTmakk, and I don't think they harmed a single charcoal scale of their wings.

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