Written by brax, and first published on 2000-01-01
Lost Cities of the Trembling Plains
The Price of Freedom
Father, tell me the story about the night I was born.
Again? Aye. It was the Coldnights season in the Trembling
Plains, and your mother was swollen up with you in her belly, but the House had
business for me to do in Ket. I wanted to reach Azethâs Rest in time for your
birth, but the east wind mired the road in silt. When I finally passed Fort Ral, the road was busy with travelers to the seasonâs festival. They clogged my way
and I could not get around them. Then I saw him.
The broken man.
Yes, many of his bones were broken. Bandits had taken
everything they had, even his clothes. But he was still breathing. The other
travelers were walking past him. A southbound mekillot wagon nearly trampled
him, and I heard the driver say, heâs almost dead, anyway. Another traveler
stopped for an instant, but then said, weâd better hurry, there might be more
bandits out there.
But you helped the broken man.
I am Azeth. I follow the winds, and the winds blew this man
into my path.
Why did the others not help him?
They do not hear the winds, or they do not listen to them.
Tell the story.
I wanted to be home to see you and your mother, and the rest
of the team wanted to get home as well, but we stayed a day until I was
confident that I could move the man without killing him. A few bandages and
Kurnan herbs turned him around, but I did know if he would survive the journey
northward on our crodlu. He needed to lay in a bed, and the only bed for a
hundred miles was south to Fort Ral.
So you went back.
At Fort Ral,
I sold the broken man to an innkeeper for one
Slaves usually cost more.
A lot more. But this one was broken.
Could you have paid the innkeeper to take care of the broken
Yes, but sheâd have pocketed the money, and let him die the
moment my shadow disappeared from her horizon. Iâd asked for less than a silver
piece, she would not have nursed him back to health as carefully. Once she paid
silver for him, she gained an
interest in his life.
What did you do with the silver piece?
You know very well what I did with the silver piece. I
strung it on a necklace, and it was my first gift to you, the moment I saw you.
You are wearing it this moment, silly girl.
Tell me the end of the story again.
You must never spend that silver piece. It is the price of a