NaNoWriMo 2022, Fling Thirty-Five

As the twilight began to deepen, the middle-sized grub, the one that had some ability to speak, had indicated, with gestures and a voice that Alissa thought held fatigue in its rough halting tones, that they would be burrowing into the large pile of bark fragments at the rear of the clearing, to spend the night. She replied, as best she could given the creature’s limitations, that that was a very sensible idea. The three pale creatures, or people as Alissa tried to think of them, had slowly turned away and vanished into the darkness of one of the holes in the dank-looking pile.

“Such very odd people,” she said to Sonorandelan and Glomorominith when they had returned to their own shelter, concealed cautiously among a thick growth of stems, and now made comfortable with layers of supple leaves.

“Indeed! You are generous, I think, to grant them that title, my friend.”

“They did have the gift of speech.”

“To some small degree.”

“Yes, well. Their voices are so slow and deep and odd. Perhaps they have their own language, which they use among themselves, communicating by groans and booms.”

“Their own language! Groans and booms! A novel thought, dear storyteller.”

“There is a story about that.”

“I am gratified to hear that.”

So Alissa told the others, as they all settled down in the twilight to eat tender seeds and shoots that Glomorominith produced from somewhere, the story of the invention of language.

In ancient days, the story says, there was no language; all people were as infants or aphids, thoughtlessly eating and mating and dying, huddling away from the rain, devoured by predators and mammals, each generation discovering the same few facts about the world and expiring to no purpose.

Then the ants (in different versions of the story, Alissa noted softly, different peoples are described as beginning the process, but the ants are commonly named), who were by brute nature gregarious and able to lay and follow fine scent-trails by instinct, began to signal to each other with abstract gestures, and even with sounds. Other peoples observed the ants and tried to copy them, most without success, and the ants became more efficient and successful with the seasons, as their speech became refined and symbolic; certain gestures or sounds would be made in certain circumstances, and other sounds or gestures made in return, depending on the individual’s mind.

In time every people developed their own ways of signaling with motion and gesture and speech, and between the peoples all was confusion, and even war. It was a dark time, now mostly forgotten.

Then the meslieres, certain individuals from each of the peoples, who gathered at certain times and places for reasons forgotten in the mists of time, had begun to communicate between each other, each sharing the motions and speech of their own people, and learning those of the others, and taking them back to burrow and hive, to earthen gathering and hollow trunk, and this had opened up the hearts of the world.

Before long, all peoples spoke the same language, and the meanings of motions and gestures, as adapted to each shape of mandible and antenna, were universally known. Each generation taught language to the next, and knowledge could finally be passed down rather than re-invented with each cohort. And gatherings of storytellers and teachers spread through the Cuer da Verai, to ensure that language and wisdom would last from season to season, and the people would be bound together.

Alissa finished the story and fell silent, and the others, who had been listening happily and intently as listeners should, settled deeper into the leaves to allow the silence to linger.

“That is an excellent story,” Sonorandelan finally said, and the others motioned in agreement. “It draws me to wonder if my own small efforts in the classification and study of certain leaves, could also be shared from generation to generation. I have thought, over the seasons, if everything that I do has been done before, by some other person in some other trunk or hive.”

“I know few stories involving the types of leaves,” Alissa said, “it does not really strike me as a topic that lends itself to storytelling.”

“True,” Sonorandelan nodded, “but it comes to my mind that there might be ways to pass the work from generation to generation, other than the stories of the storytellers.”

“What sort of ways?” Alissa asked in surprise.

“I am not certain”, the other replied, “it has only come into my mind.”

“I wonder why only one of the grubs seemed to know language at all. Could they be from some small people that somehow or for some reason kept their own language in the time of the ancients, and learned only a little of the world’s?”

“Perhaps they have come from a great distance, where there are more grubs, and even the language is different.”

Alissa found the idea unpleasant.

“I can barely imagine a whole gathering of slow soft grubs, groaning and booming at each other! Could they even survive a heavy rain?”

“A good question! Perhaps that is why we have never encountered them before. Are they known to your stories?”

“Not to any story that comes to my mind; they resemble grubs but are not grubs, resemble larvae but are not larvae, resemble mammals in some ways but are not overall, I do not think, the legendary mammals.”

“What of these mesliers? I very much like the sound of that, those who gather and mix and share knowledge.”

“They are in many stories! It is said that they gather at certain times, at special places, where stones are set in circles and songs and ceremonies are carried out, and stories told from before there were storytellers.”

“Stones set in circles, you say? This brings something to my mind,” Sonoraneldan said thoughtfully.

“Stones, yes, circles, yes,” said Glomorominith from under a couple of leaves, “What have we here?”

“At the second dawn,” Sonoraneldan said with an eager but contented tone, “perhaps we will see what stones and what circles we can find nearby.”

Fling Thirty-Six

3 Responses to “NaNoWriMo 2022, Fling Thirty-Five”

  1. Stones and Circles hmmmm:)

    Liked by 2 people



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