"Four days later a small caravan arrived at the last village before the steep trail climbed up to the pass in the mountain chain that barred the way to the south-eastern plain. My father was tired although he had had to carry only a small load compared to that of the four porters. These skinny men with short sturdy legs and long skinny arms carried loads of approximately their own weight. But none of them ever complained about the heaviness of the load. The merchants called the four porters "my thralls". As my father did not understand the term, he explained, "The four are brothers, I bought them on a bazaar when they were kids! Now I am father, mother and big brother all together. I own them, I own their souls!"
"The merchant also carried a bundle but much smaller than that of his thralls. The villagers were waiting for him and their chieftain bade them a hearty welcome. Next morning when the caravan left their numbers had doubled. The merchant had engaged six sturdy villagers to help his porters to carry the goods. "We need their help! Further up in the mountains the air will be so thin we can hardly breathe. They are used to wandering through these high mountains." The loads of the thralls, the trader and my father were divided into smaller ones and off they set.
"My father couldn't imagine how strenuous the next days would become. Already at he was out of breath and trailed behind. In evening everybody was exhausted and despite his tiredness he didn't sleep well in the camp. Next morning the merchant offered everyone a small pellet of tree gum. Only moments later the tired faces of the thralls and hired porters began to look keen and they tackled the way up the mountain. My father declined to take the stimulant remembering the warnings of the trader at their first meal together. And he was right. The porters, the thralls and the travelling merchant seemed to have wings. By the evening the caravan had already covered one third of the distance to the pass over the watershed. My father lagged behind and when he finally reached the camp the others were already sleeping. The same happened next day and the height gained by the group was even greater. On the third day after they had left the village of the mountain-clan the caravan crossed the summit of the pass and began to climb down the steep slope on the southern side of the mountain range."
At the summit looking over the mountain peaks shrouded in mist my father asked the travelling merchant "How far is it to the Land of the Moon-stone?" "Down the mountains and through the foothills, you travel, then across the plain and then along the shore of the salty water! This water is not like the lakes you know. It's so wide that nobody can see the shore on the other side. People call it sea. Sometimes this sea is so stormy, that many ships are destroyed and vanish in the depth without a trace. But you have to cross the wide, wild water to come to the country where the moon-stone makers live. Or you have to take the long, long walk along the shore through the dry, dry land to get there. On the way you may die of thirst. " My father was worried, "But how can I cross the water? Can it be done with a raft or with a dugout boat?" "No, beware, you have ask some seafaring men to take you along! They have big boats sailing with the wind! " Looking shrewdly, the trader continued, "But you would do better to sign up as a member of the crew because the seafaring people like to rob their passengers and enslave careless travellers." My father was worried "You are travelling to this country, would you take me along as your companion? I can pay with my manpower and sign up as a member of the crew!" "Let's see!" Those were the last words they would ever exchange, but my father didn't realize that at the time!"
"Should I end my story for to night? I'm only half way through!" Buri asked, because the night had fallen and the sky was pitch-dark because of clouds. A wolf pack was howling in the distance and night owls were hooting. Aegir yawned, "I can't keep my eyes open anymore, bro! Let's sleep! Come on let's snuggle up. It's cold!"
Both Aegir and Buri had already passed the rite of passage, but they were still growing. Aegir was the first to be awake. He tried to leave their shared bed without disturbing Buri's sound sleep. Outside in a short distance from the shelter, he relieved himself watching narrowly the settlement in the valley. His concentration was disrupted when Buri began to tickle him. "Stop it! You made me jump! Do you want me to wet my feet?"
"Hi bro!" Buri stepped up the tickling "Why didn't you raise me out of my deathlike sleep? I would have liked to take my morning piss together with my bro!" observing Aegir's frown, "It's fun to pee all sorrow and pain together with a bro!"
"And I would prefer to have breakfast with my bro, my stomach is rumbling!"
"Yeah, but..." "I know we are out of eatables, we have to go hunting, turnips and roots are scarce now in spring."
Buri looked gloomy, "Hunting? They took all my hunting gear, my knife, my bow and arrow my spear. They didn't even leave me a fishing line!" Suddenly a smile crossed his face, "Lucky me!" he sighed with relief, "Not one of them knows the place where I buried the best tools my father left behind when he left! Let's hurry down the slope and get the flints from the hiding-hole by the little well-spring."
Halfway down the mountain face just above the well Buri pulled up a stone-slab and recovered a big bundle from the cavity below carefully wrapped up in a deer skin.
"Oh!" Aegir exclaimed with surprise, "I hadn't expected such a treasure! Are these tools all yours, the axes, blades, arrow-heads, scrapers and borers? And the many tool cores! Look this axe has even a staff-hole. It just needs a straight handle and you will win every fight with this axe! You are a rich boy, bro!"
"Yep!" Buri beamed and showed Aegir a small bag full of thumbnail sized flint-chips. "These are as sharp like as a martens tooth. We just have to attach some of these to the tip of a fishing spear and no trout will have a chance!" Aegir added "You can fix the flint chips to the tip of an arrow and hunt small prey!"
They put the treasure back into the stash after Buri had selected the flints he needed for a sharp knife, an axe, a dozen of arrows and a spear. Just when he wanted to close the hollow with the stone slap he pulled out the bundle again, "I haven't given my thanks to you my bro Aegir. Make your choice, take anything you want." When Aegir looked amazed because of this generous offer, "Take this axe! It's of the same kind I will have! I have a brother now, a brother I never had before!"
Buri beamed. It was a happy day, the happiest day he could imagine. His splitting headache had gone; he had had a perfect night's sleep after he had been able to tell Aegir about his father; he had found his secret treasure untouched and his brother was standing beside him with shining eyes. His reverie came to an end, when Aegir poked him in the ribs, "There, on the bank opposite the settlement!" Aegir pointed at a roebuck drinking, "Let's try to get him, I will use my bow!" The hunt was short and the success made Buri`s day perfect.
Bloated with food Aegir and Buri were sitting close to a warming fire, tipping arrows with sharp heads of flint and their tails with stiff feathers. While a bow of yew tree was still in the making the spear was already finished. Aegir had made it from a straight hazelnut shoot. Its tip was a sharp piece of antler. "Should I continue with my account of my father's voyage to the origin of the moon-stone?" Buri asked.
"Let's retreat into the shelter, wrap up in our fur rug and then I will be ready to listen to your story."
"Hiking downhill with a heavy load was more strenuous than to hike uphill. My father with his light load was soon far ahead of the caravan. The merchant's four thralls, his slaves, took the lead while the six hired porters had trouble keeping up. The merchant didn't trust the mountain people and stayed at the rear. The early night fall and dense fog forced the main group to put up the overnight camp on a narrow ledge in the rock-face. My father being ahead of the others, stopped also but didn't go back to the others and put up his own bivouac."
Buri turned his head to Aegir looking sad "Next morning at the first light of the day my father was aroused by sharp cries. He listened into the dark. The shouting increased. The noise of fighting echoed in the canyon. Cautiously he crept up to the main night camp of the trader's group. There the deadly fight between the six hired mountain-men and the merchant's four thralls. There was no trace of the Trader. The mountain-men, being bigger, stronger and more vicious, prevailed. With horror my father observed that they pushed the thralls into the deep canyon."
pale and uttered imprecations while Buri carried on with his account with
quavering voice "For a moment my father was paralyzed with fear, but then he
fled. He was so afraid that he didn't stay on the narrow trail but climbed up
the rock-face and took refuge in a crevice. The mountain-men however didn't
care about him and silence returned to the canyon. Midmorning my father sneaked
back to the camp-site. The mountain-men were gone, the merchant's goods were
gone but there was blood on the ground a lot of blood. Looking down into the
canyon he could see the dead bodies of the trader and one of his thralls. Now
my father was on his own again, and the most
reasonable choice was to set out for the
Buri lay down and Aegir, feeling pity for his friend, began to hug him. After Buri had calmed down he returned the hugs and continued with steady voice. "Two weeks later my father hit the coast where there was a small seaport. It was not easy to find a boat going across the sea. The usual answer was, "We are fishermen not seafaring peddlers! Go and ask in the next port!" Finally he came upon a crooked, toothless old man, "Do you really want travel over the sea? That's dangerous, not only the voyage itself but also to go ashore there. They have strict laws and strangers are not allowed to enter that kingdom." then conspiratorially, "I can take you there but you have to make your way into the country on your own! Success not guarantied!"
"Next morning they set out in a tiny boat with an even tinier sail. They didn't take the straight course, but hopped from port to port avoiding the open sea. Weeks later they wound up in the swamp of a big river delta. "What do I owe you?" my father asked. He did it reluctantly because the only possession he had left was the bag he got from the merchant at the start of the journey through the mountains. The furs he had brought along from home had long ago been traded for food and water during the voyage. The old man laughed, "Nobody, especially not such a nice young man would have been willing to put up with me for such a long time. My destination was this country also, but whomsoever I asked declined to come along with me. You came, and even cared for me like a son. A son and a father should never charge each other. Go along my boy. Look out for your luck! If its God's will we may meet again!"
In the meantime it was dark in the shelter, stars were flickering in the night sky and the pale moonlight turned the landscape into a fairyland. Aegir was relieved about the happy landing of Buri`s father in the Country of Moon-stone. He turned to Buri. His friend was lying reclined his eyes reflecting the sparkling stars. Aegir couldn't help. He bent forward and kissed Buri. In the dark he missed his friend's lips and touched the tip of his nose. Suddenly ashamed about his daring he shrunk back. But that wasn't what Buri had in mind. He caught Aegir with both hands and held him tight, "Would you like to do what I want?" and when he got no answer, he started to kiss and caress his friend. They didn't only kiss but tried every naughty thing they had in mind, just everything they could imagine two boys can do. When the sunlight replaced the moon light they fell asleep, tired, sweaty but happy.
I would like to express my special thanks to my friend Anthony for improving my writing.
Comments, reviews, questions and complaints are welcomed. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Last not least I would like to add thanks for reading.