[6] Volume I, Summer's Night - Part One, Sescut and Cutset, the Mother and Child (e)

The Talkers do not have a religion in the way that civilized beings elsewhere understand it. Instead, each tribe has a pantheon of folk heroes. These are individuals from times past who achieved great deeds and who, it is generally believed, still accompany the tribe in some metaphysical sense, as though imbued in their thoughts and emotions - a process something like possession by a spirit or ghost, except in each living member of the tribe. Thus, every Talker feels as though he is not an individual strictly speaking, but an individual comprising the essence of his mighty and venerated ancestors.

The tales the Talkers tell each other of these folk heroes are especially vivid because, of course, their perception of history is such that the events in these stories constantly confront them in the geography of their physical surroundings. "This is the boulder where such-and-such did this-and-that" is an endlessly common refrain in their conversation as they go about their daily lives. So I heard dozens if not hundreds of these stories during my sojourns with various tribes. There is not enough space in this account to properly narrate all of these stories (and some, it must be said, are rather dull or nonsensical to the non-native ear), but one tale will suffice to illustrate. This is as it was told to me by She-who-was-born-without-sight, a blind young female Talker of the Deep Gorge tribe.

The Tale of Seventh-Son-Who-Resembled-A-Loris

"And so it was that Seventh-Son-Who-Resembled-A-Loris came to the Great Mossy Boulder and found sitting upon it a Giant Starlight Moth, made of silver light from the firmament. And he wondered at the sight, and asked the Giant Starlight Moth why she had come to the land of the Deep Gorge tribe. And she said to him, 'I am searching for my children, who I have lost.' And he was overcome with pity for her, and said to her, 'I will help you find them.'

"And so he climbed onto her back and she bore him up into the air and he searched for her children from above. And because his eyes were so wide, like the loris, he was able to see in the darkest places where she could not. And as she took him up above the high mountain peaks he saw her children, scattered across the rocks and ice, searching for food to sustain them. And he whispered into her ear that he had seen them.

"And so they descended to where her children scoured the mountainside. The Giant Starlight Moth called to them that they would not find sustenance in this wild and desolate land. But her soft voice was drowned by the wind. And so Seventh-Son-Who-Resembled-A-Loris set about running, gathering her young together under his arms, but because he was so slow, like the loris, by the time he had gathered them all together and brought them to her, she had frozen and died.

"And so he brought her young to the forest and fed and reared them, and when they had transformed they thanked him and left the land of the Deep Gorge tribe. And that is why even now if a Giant Starlight Moth comes across a member of the Deep Gorge tribe, it will endeavour to repay the debt of gratitude owed to us, by carriage by flight to a destination that member wishes to go.

"That is the Tale of Seventh-Son-Who-Resembled-A-Loris."

The giant starlight moth is a creature of Cutset, which I will describe in the next chapter of this volume.

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[1] Author's Preface

[7] Volume I, Summer's Night - Part One, Sescut and Cutset, the Mother and Child (f)

[2] Volume I, Summer's Night - Part One: Sescut and Cutset, the Mother and Child (a)