As winter drew near, Su-Laing and a part of her family planned to leave the city and join her grandfather and the clan at their winter campground near a hot spring up on the steppes. She and Tetsukichi would be wed according to the traditions of the horse people.
The large party accompanying them included Beatriss (who was five months pregnant and finding the confines of city life progressively repugnant), Hatsu, 5 of Gwinch’s sohei, and 20 soldiers. They made camp in a strip of light woods growing between a ravine and steep cliffs. While gathering firewood, the soldiers discovered that many of the trees were thickly gummed with thick spider webs. The party considered returning to Khanbaliq or pushing on through the night, but both these options were rejected as dangerous. They sought shelter of some sort at the base of the cliffs and were happy to find a small, snug house. Beatriss’s vulpine admirer made a couple appearance in fox-form alarming some soldiers and amusing others.
Before squeezing into the house to sleep, they set up a watch. It was near dawn when the spiders attacked.
Well-organized and with great numbers, they killed multiple waves of attacking spiders without anyone being bitten. Soon after they chased off the last spider, and while debating whether to sleep another hour or break camp, O-me-sa appeared in human form. If Beatriss would consent to stay with him at his house in the forest, he would guarantee that the others passed through forest in safety. Beatriss readily agreed.
The travelers broke camp to continue their journey. Beatriss said that she hoped to join them in time for the wedding.
The rest of the journey was peaceful. Along the way they met Gunjar, a wandering shaman with four horses, who agreed to join their group and assist with the wedding ceremony. They reached the great camp of Duutar, Su-Laing’s grandfather, and they met representatives of the Sansar clan, including Tetsukichi’s soon to be adoptive father. Tetsukich said a temporary good-bye to his betrothed in order to go to the Sansar camp and go through the adoption ceremony. He built his own ger and a week later he returned to marry Su-Laing and to bring her back to his own new clan. During the bride’s first official meeting with her new in-laws, they were startled by the sound of a herd horses galloping into the camp. The horses were without riders, and unsaddled, and sweating as if they had been running for a long time. They began eating the grass around the newlyweds’ ger and the shamen agreed this was a good omen.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
It was flour that poured from the ceiling in a big flammable cloud. We had a torch and the ensuing conflagaration consumed both our torchbearer and Perdu.
Pavel, as the surviving cleric, gave the last rites.