Chapter Ten: Who is the Bad Guy?
Tiag sat down, head in his hands. It was a city gesture that normally would have disgusted the other village men, but they had a bigger problem. He let out a stream of city curse words that might have tipped the balance, had they understood them. Tiag did not want to be in the village, much less this hollow where there ought to be two men trussed up. He wanted to be in the city where he was known as Tiag Chiefson, in the the local tongue.
There might be more accolades in the village, but there was a kind of ruthless peace in anonymity where he could be anything. His role there seemed a bit too much like his current role here, though not, perhaps “future chief.”
He couldn’t be richer than he was here, wheeling and dealing in the city—though hopefully not like the common thug some believed him to be!—if he was caught messing with the foreign archeologists. But he was already quite deep in a mess, because the village elders wanted the archeologists gone. Tiag had hoped for a lead into new money. He could have made money in fake archeological finds, salted or not, being a purported leader of the village that supported this rare and special dig.
Far too special for the village elders. Some of who were standing around wondering what to do. They could not see how their two captives had evaded them. None of them could believe that a mere woman, who had also run off—disappeared from a hut high up in the trees!—could have done this.
Tiag shook his head, cussed some more, and groaned. “Their own history, they forget!” he muttered to himself. “Women are strong in our lore.” He looked up. “Or were.” The last was said out loud.
“What is it that you mean!” said his father.
“Excuse me, sir?”
“You said, ‘Or were’!”
Tiag clenched his jaw, but his city life taught him to freewheel some. He did not refrain from using this skill on his own father. “Yes, or they were here, father. They are not now.”
“Then we must find them, before they find our treasure.”
Tiag stood up, angry. “Treasure? How can some pool of water be treasure, if it will soon be the rainy season?”
“Because it is the water of life!”
“You’ve never drank from it! Have you even seen this ancient cistern?”
“No! And you know it is forbidden unless at need. I know how to get there, as do you. Only the chiefs and their sons can ever learn. And I charge you to go there, now, to protect it, and our village.”
“Because these men do not know the way, nor can ever learn, unless the village is at need. We must go find these foreigners. You are not as good at tracking, being made soft from the city.”
It was an unfair accusation, as Tiag rarely stayed there long, considering there was some usefulness in his knowledge of the jungle where most people get lost far too easily.
“Fine,” he said.
He watched his father confer with the other men, good trackers all, and then walk away. He knew himself to be a confounded fool. He did know how to get to the ancient cistern. The area was now, and might soon be a famous archeological site. He could make money off the loot only he could lay his hands on. He might have the posh city life he wanted, without the wheeling and dealing and the illicit sales and thuggery. And he did not much mind his father’s pain at this, because his father would never know. His father would never venture where they were forbidden to go, because ‘at need’ was never death or dying. And his father had just insulted him in front of all the men he would supposedly one day lead.
(If you liked this second chapter of the adventure, please feel free to donate to Charity: Water, the fundraiser Mab Writes for Water. Also, feel free to write me via my FB page and tell me what you like about it, and what you don’t–these are the roughest “pages” I’ve ever presented, because I want them to be organic. I want the readers to be part of the story).