An excerpt from… Children of the Moon (cont.)
By L.M. Brickwood
"I offer my help to you then good people. Kindly accept." Alesians were a cultured and hospitable people, always prepared to help out. The boy looked at the ground in a non-threatening gesture. They had no idea what the meaning of his words was. And what's with the staring at the ground?
He then pointed to his chest "Alun." he said, "Alun of Cydonia." It was customary to add the location of birth to one's name, when conversing with foreigners. The children understood this age-old way of introduction. Trevor followed suit and introduced himself as 'Trevor of Chicago', Katherine was 'Katherine of Oxford' and Chryseis called herself 'Chryseis of Etheridgeville'.
Alun slowly repeated all the names gesturing the proper greeting each time.
He struggled with the pronunciation of Katherine, Oxford and Etheridgeville, which sounded more like Kathín, Oxfol and Ethigevee. They nodded anyway.
It was cool that somebody who lived such a long time ago actually tried to say their names.
The three of them repeated Alun's name and made the greeting gesture.
Hopefully this was the right thing to do. The boy called 'Alun of Cydonia' seemed satisfied with this display of civilized behaviour.
Alesians took hospitality seriously. Alun was obliged to offer these three lost children the comforts of his family's home. It was just one block away from the bottom of Shepherd's Hill.
Alun had set out for Shepherd's Hill this morning to gather pine nuts for the roasted ptarmigan stuffing, herbs for his mother's famous green sauce and raspberries for pie. He gestured that he would continue picking some fruit, which he ostensibly placed in his basket. The time travellers understood. They all started picking raspberries, quickly filling the basket and eating even more of them. Juicy fruit peeked out shining red between the thicket. Raspberry brambles! Katherine picked one good-sized dark red raspberry to put it in her mouth. It was sweet and aromatic and delicious. Definitely not supermarket stuff.
They tasted divine. This place was obviously very fertile. But this heat….
Alun began to notice the odd clothes of his new acquaintances. These two were undoubtedly girls, to judge by their hairstyle and comportment, but all three of them were wearing breeches and shirts too warm for an Alesian spring - jackets they had wisely taken off.
So, they looked foreign all right, and their rucksacks seemed full. Perhaps they were runaways. But runaways from what? In Alesian society, unhappy children were rarely to be found. And they were certainly not Gabari from the uncivilized areas, Alun thought, for they were too small for that. He wondered how these three foreign children had ended up on Shepherd's Hill. Was it possible that their parents stayed somewhere in the vicinity? In a guesthouse perhaps, or with friends. If someone from foreign quarters had taken lodging in Alesia, they would find them, no doubt. In the meantime, good manners demanded that his hospitality be offered to the children. His elder brother Kheton worked on citadel hill and would report the incident soon. They would find the parents for sure.
Eventually, Alun decided that they had picked enough berries and told them, pointing downhill, that it was time to go. The three friends followed him down a slightly different path to the one they had taken on the way up. They noticed that the features of the landscape looked rather unfamiliar now. There was, of course, no longer an inn. At the bottom of the hill, they walked onto the road, paved with sizeable flagstones. The colour of the stone was almost white in the glaring sunlight. They passed a small park with a few trees, where four roads met. Like a type of traffic circle, Chryseis thought. She imagined carriages drawn by horses driving around the circle. Could have been like that in Greece…, she dreamed. But this wasn't ancient Greece. In fact, she realized that this Cydonia was so ancient, that these people might not even know horses.
The park exhibited a curious water feature. A block of dark rock shaped like a seashell was set snuggly into a half-moon shaped boulder. Oblong right-angled water conduits made of stone, aimed at the shell from different heights. Water splashed and dripped down into a reservoir. Quite modern actually. Exotic plants grew in the boulder's crevices and all around the water feature was emerald lawn. There was other lawn too, except, it was not green, but more of a burgundy colour. The two colours created simple patterns on the lawn. Interesting.
Alun was proud of this water feature. His father had it made for the park in honour of the Nereids, the water fairies. Daughters of Nereus, the 'Old Man of the Sea'. They were especially revered by seafaring peoples in the Known World.
Only a few Cydonians walked about in the streets. During the lunchtime siesta, most people preferred to remain indoors. They were dressed in a similar fashion. No extravagant styles. Soft-flowing pastel coloured garments, their feet shod in strappy sandals. There were long tunics, which closed with buttons down the front. Some Cydonians preferred the same type of short trouser suit Alun was wearing. A couple of women wore long dresses, like the lady they had watched from the hill.