The Country WisdomEpisode 1 Chapter 1
You can now visit Altenor through the eyes of a young girl discovering the city for the first time.
Cedric Neumann & Laureline Brun
Today was a special day. For the first time, I was going to go to Altenor. We all dreamt about this city. After romance, it was clearly the second most popular topic of teens in my village. Going to the Wall of Winds to have our grain ground was an adventure, but going east to the capital was…, what can I say, I couldn’t find the words! And I had done neither. My relatives urged me to tell them everything I had seen there as soon as I got back. I had not left yet and they were getting impatient.
My family bombarded me with warnings and recommendations. They told me that all kinds of creatures lived in this huge city and that many of them were warriors or powerful adventurers, mastering magic and atoriums. Some of my friends were scared.
For my part, I was excited at the idea of leaving for this land, so often spoken of, and yet unknown. I was both afraid and eager to see alacars, the birdfolk, and sticis, the seafolk. In our hills, I had never had the opportunity to see them up close. Our village was devoted to working the land. We only had a few dull-shelled cohors, from the bugfolk, to vary from humans. They were certainly nice but gruff and not very talkative, all like the neighbor an old coleoptera type. As for the alacars, we only saw them from afar. Some of them flew over us sometimes. I had never seen one stop in our little town out in the sticks.
As I hugged my friends and brother, my father motioned for me to join him. I hurried to get into the cart.
He gave me a wink before he spoke:
“Ready to discover the wonders of the city of Altenor?” His mischievous look should have given me pause…
I hesitated for a moment and then chose to be excited. I nodded vigorously, a broad smile plastered on my lips. I was incredibly lucky to have a farmer and merchant father, whose fields and business were doing quite well. Once a year he would travel to the capital to negotiate on behalf of the community. Between the days of travel and the weeks in the capital, he was away for a long time. Our fields produced only millet, wheat, and barley, but these grains were important for feeding the city’s throngs.
My father told me that I should be proud to accompany him, but I didn’t know what to think. He had decided to take me with him that day to show me around the city and introduce me to his business there. I think he initially wanted my older brother to help him, but sadly for him, it was not that easy. My idiot brother was only interested in running around in the woods, chasing wolf hogs and village girls! Incidentally, he also put my head in the manure at every opportunity. So my father had turned all his ambitions towards me. At 14, I had the chance to be trained but I was afraid. I had doubts. Would I be able to live up to his expectations? Today, in any case, my spirits were high.
After 2 hours, my excitement was completely replaced by back pain and bruises on my rear end. My backside was battered! The potholes and the rickety cart didn’t spare a single shock. That’s when flying like an alacar, or walking like some cohors would have been useful… When I wasn’t dreaming of an improbable transformation, I was counting the stones that were slowly, very slowly passing by. From time to time, I replaced my father driving the cart while he rested or I slept in the back.
The days passed slowly.
One morning, he woke me up. Dawn was just breaking and the sky was full of warm hues.
“You have to see this,” my father said, lifting my head. I was transfixed by the sight. In the middle of the flying islands, windmills and chains of the Wall of Winds, the sky was divided in two by a huge tower that was lost in the pinkish clouds.
“That’s the Tower,” he said simply, looking at me without hiding his obvious amusement at my shock.
I must have looked like a chicken. A chicken that had just laid the BIGGEST egg ever. My ignorance embarrassed me, but the excitement overtook it.
“It’s the Atorium of Altenor,” he said. The mills, the islands, everything captivated me! Aside from the frustration of crossing the mysterious Wall of Winds without being permitted to touch a single chain, the end of the journey was also filled with many fatherly explanations and warnings: what to do, what to say, to be careful and behave… I was at my wit’s end. He didn’t talk often, but when he did, he bored me regardless of the subject and I simply stopped listening.