Island people welcome the erfin
Mirrortac was welcomed with fragrant embraces and the soft feel of their fleecy robes. Many came to embrace him, smothering him in their impatience. He felt overwhelmed by their warmth and affection for this stranger among them. A child emerged from the crowd and startled him with an outstretched hand grasping the live and wriggling form of a colourful tiny serpent. For a moment Mirrortac retreated, hesitant, remembering the snerks, but the tiny serpent looked up at him with comical bulging eyes and an endearing grin, slipping its tongue in and out without any ominous intent. The child proffered the serpent to him, urging him to take it. He reached out with a hesitant hand and accepted the creature, allowing its tickling sliding body to glide across his palm. The serpent twined its body in and out of his fingers, testing its tongue on the erfin’s skin and tasting the residue of sea and sweat that exuded. Its body was green with a pattern of coloured bands and red lines like veins.
The serpent casually explored the palm of Mirrortac’s right hand, poking its head up occasionally before crawling onward until it was hanging down from one of his fingers. The child laughed in the barking fashion of these people, calling his friends to watch the spectacle of the serpent and the stranger from another world. Mirrortac chuckled at the delight of the children, remembering his own children left behind in the Faug Forest. He raised the dangling serpent over the head of his little friend and allowed it to climb back upon the child’s head. The children laughed and jumped about with excitement then left him with their comical serpent crawling among the vine garlands of the child’s robe.
After much embracing, the crowd settled themselves down on the wide sandy expanse of beach. Although dressed differently, the people of the island were clearly of the same race as those of his companions. They were not silent like the expeditioners but they did share the same calmness of bearing. They spoke in an eloquent tongue and often burst into song. Servants emerged from the rim of the forest, carrying with them woven baskets filled with exotic fruits. They dispersed the baskets to the crowd and one was placed within arm’s length of the erfin who was made to feel like a valued member of the tribe. The fruits were a welcome change to the daily diet of fish he had fed on for the many days of the lake journey and Mirrortac ate with gusto, savouring the tang and fresh sweet flavours of fruit-meat and juices.
As the banquet progressed, some of the expeditioners got up from their places and began to perform elaborate movements, telling in gestures and signs, the stories of their travels and the things they saw and discovered. Mirrortac recognised many of the signs such as storms, fish, becalmed sea, and wind. Some brought with them oddities that they had discovered – strange sea plants, small animals and flotsam of worlds undiscovered. Each vessel master would have his or her story to tell, swaying and expressing themselves with their hands and bodies. The erfin’s own companions also took their turn, telling of land, rock, something of the sun, discovery and evident points about the erfin. All eyes shifted to the erfin as his vessel master ‘discussed’ him. He returned an awkward smile, uncertain of their intentions.
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