Into the unknown
Mary sat in the carriage, feeling somewhat depressed after leaving everything and everyone she knew behind.
That wasn’t entirely true, she thought, she was, in fact, surrounded by people she knew, and she was with the Lady and Kopa. That helped a little, she just needed to look at this as an adventure. Like when Erik and she would explore the city when they were children.
After a while, the carriage stopped, and Mary looked at the Lady questioningly.
“We have to wait in the wagons with our luggage” the Lady explained without Mary having to ask.
Mary nodded and realized that they could not travel without storage wagons. The procession with the gray riders and the lonely white carriage, was only to create an impression, to maintain the vision of the Lady and her company.
Mary thought she should have realized it earlier, she if anyone should know how much food it took to feed all these people. As they waited for the carriages to catch up with them, Mary thought about the journey ahead of her, and a whole range of other things.
She discovered that she had a whole series of questions but didn’t know if she would dare to ask them. She turned to Mildy, who was sitting opposite her.
“How long will the journey last?” asked Mary.
“About a week, depending on the weather and other things,” the aari replied, and the other two women nodded. Mary sat quietly for a moment before asking the next question.
“What language do you speak in Salmisara?” “Salamis is the most common but in Salmis there are so many merchants and different nationalities that common is spoken quite often. Then there are several local languages in the different regions, but most can be considered dialects to Salamis” Mildy replied.
Mary was surprised. In Dermes, only common speech was spoken.
“Then I have to learn Salamis” Mary said.
“You’ll be fine with common, at least for the first couple of months” the Lady assured her. But Mary shook her head.
“I can’t live in a place and not speak their language. That would be disrespectful of me” she said. The statement made the other three women smile.
“You’re wise for your age” Leana said.
“Thank you” Mary responded.
“It wouldn’t hurt if we give you some lessons along the way” the Lady said. “It would give us something to do.”
Mary felt a little better, it felt important for her to become part of the city that would become her new home.
Kopa opened the door to announce that the riders were now rearranging themselves with the wagons and that they could continue the journey in ten minutes.
The day then consisted of one of the women in the carriage giving Mary a new word in Salamis, Mary repeated it aloud a couple of times and then concentrated on trying to remember it. After a while, she was asked if she remembered the different words.
Mary discovered that it was surprisingly easy to remember the different words. What caused her biggest problem was the pronunciation. Salamis was more melodic and had more nuances within the melody than common had.
Their little game meant she didn’t have the time or energy to think about her decision or her future. Something she was grateful for and that helped her focus on the present.
Day turned to dusk and for the last hour they had travelled through a wooden landscape that had almost no sign of human presence. Mary began to think that they would continue to travel through the night when she glimpsed a hill a little further ahead where it looked like there was a village on the top.
Fires among the small buildings lit up the approaching darkness. As they got closer, Mary realized that the buildings were in fact tents that were set up in a dense cluster.
The tents were guarded by grey-clad people and Mary realized that the Lady had a larger company than she had brought into the city. The rest of the group had been waiting here in the camp.
Mary could see more storage wagons standing between the tents. It was really a huge undertaking to move all these people, Mary thought. Then the carriage stopped and Kopa opened the door to help the women get out. A group of grey-clad people stood up to greet the Lady.
“Everything is ready for departure tomorrow” said one of the men. He was small in stature, barely taler than Mary, but the expression in his eyes gave the impression that he was a man who was accustomed to being obeyed.
“Thank you Nihal” said the Lady with a small smile. She indicated for Mary to get closer, and Mary hurried to obey. “Nihal, this is Mary, she will accompany us on our journey. Mary, this is Nihal, he oversees the Grey Riders” the lady said.
Nihal bowed his head to Mary in acknowledgement, and Mary answered with a small curtsy and looked down. Mary thought she saw a disapproving look showing on the Lady’s face and was afraid that she had done something wrong, should she had show more respect and if so, how?
But the expression was over so quickly that Mary wasn’t sure if she had seen or if she imagined it. The Lady continued to talk to the small crowd of grey-clad people. Mary stood and thought about who she could ask how she should behave and looked around.
She saw Kopa helping unload a couple of the chests and trunks from the storage wagon. She walked over to him, standing a bit on the side, waiting for him to finish. As usual, he seemed to know he was there and turned his head toward her and smiled a little before continuing to work.
There was activity going on everywhere and Mary felt restless and unnecessary where she stood without helping. When Kopa approached her, she asked him.
“What can I help with?” Kopa smiled at her.
“You can keep me company when I do my round,” he said. Mary was not entirely satisfied with the answer but nodded and followed him as he began to walk.