Half Shaman, 27
|Example of Food Brick, by The Food Brick Company|
Mongoose thinks up the perfect solution to the unwanted attentions coming Jeb's way ...
Links to Previous Chapters:
Chapters 1-5 Chapters 6-9 Chapters 10-14 Chapters 15-19 [These links send you to the archives for January to April. Read from the bottom up.]
20: Girl Questions 21: The Village Square 22: AZ, Ship to Shaman 23: The Silver Storm
24: The Leadership Challenge? 25: The Street Camp 26: The Unlooked-for Amulet
27: The Food Supply
It’s still the evening. I suspect the excitements of the present, and worries about the next few days are keeping everyone on the go. Puma has invited the other leaders to bring their remaining stores, and their troop numbers, for a discussion. He means to ration the food equally.
Mongoose and I sit with our party, behind Puma, with Vulture and Eider either side of us. “Better if you are in the managerial group,” Puma says.
I think he means to keep me out of harm’s way. Thyalsene sits beside Puma. Crow, as the numbers person, on his other hand. Limber and Lithe bracket them.
Of the two other groups, the larger has matched our nine while the smaller group seats five. Red-tail hovers in the gap, supervising her new recruits at guard duty. She’ll input her ideas as and where required.
Ibis and Bear eye-check their people in the guard crew posted across the thoroughfare. Three sit spread out over the rubble with Jackal. The wall behind us requires only a guard at each end.
“Another one staring at you,” Mongoose says. “I really don’t like their interest.”
I find the subject of Mongoose’s ire in the crowd beyond the circle of leaders. “When he comes to meet me, I’ll let you deal. I have no idea what to do with such bare-faced … Do you think he doesn’t know about you? That he thinks that …?”
“Lust is the word you didn’t want to say.” Mongoose kisses my the back of my hand. Everyone with even an iota of observation skill already knows we are a couple.
But the reason does not drop his gaze, nor wipe his expression from his face. I grip Mongoose’s knee. “Don’t let him get to you.”
“I’ll gladly fight him but I resent that he thinks you are so stupid that you’ll go off with him if he wins.”
Uncle Puma calls me to order with formality. “Shaman Jeb, tell them about the two-hundred-year-old stores.”
Mongoose rises with me, he stays half a pace forward of me. His shoulder in front of mine. His arm, stitched and re-wrapped with a clean cloth, is covered with his sleeve. My loon, my lover and personal guard.
The object of our consideration smirks. I get that same fury on me, because how does he dare think he’d love me better? Or that I would want his hands on me? Or that I …
Mongoose senses my upset. He grunts. “Easy! Tell you what? We’ll get married! That’ll fix all that kind of garbage.”
I smile to hide that I almost cry. I curve my fingers through the tear along the length of his shirt and stroke him down to the small of his back. I whisper so only he can hear me. “I accept.”
He smiles with all his teeth on show.
Uncle Puma frowns a question. I think he senses civil unrest.
I clear my throat and begin. “Some of you will know this story. Others don’t. One of the shuttles, when it descended to Lotor, landed in the Bone Mountains. On the way down to the planet’s surface, those settlers saw a large mud-brick city at the base of the mountains where the shuttle was taking them, and decided they need not begin a circle-town afresh.”
“They built themselves a road raised above the Field of Dreams they found at the feet of the mountains, that they eventually transformed into a viaduct to transport the stones they quarried to build their houses and certain elements of a round-town. Such as the tower. They made the outside of it with stone and cemented one thousand bricks of food into the inner tower wall. Food rations that are largely untouched according to the last census. Any questions so far?”
“At two hundred plus years old, will we get any sustenance from that food?” Ibis asks.
A confirmatory murmuring tells me this is the main concern.
I note that Ibis didn’t ask whether we would eat the old rations. Only whether we’d get anything out of them. All our food pooled together and shared out again, gives everyone two days of plain eating.
A shock to everyone not directly involved in catering.