by Max Barry

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Region: Democratic Socialist Assembly


Chapter III: Hide and seek

The two children could not have been more different from each other. Dņchas had pale Chasach skin, short blond hair, and two icy blue eyes, which looked like gems, set in a crown of freckles. Teachd was clearly of the Dłth ethnic group: long dark hair, gathered in a triple braid, eyebrows already marked and pitch black, skin the same color as the sand of the Ghazi desert. Both were thin, gaunt, hollow. They had been hungry, it was obvious. They had suffered poverty: you could tell by the clothes they wore. Dņchas wore a large white t-shirt dappled with a sweat not his own, and jeans ripped and worn. Clothes that had probably been given to him after he entered Talamia. Teachd, on the other hand, kept what remained of his traditional Dłth clothes: a diut cloth tunic, the result of a particular carding of the wool of the Caoraich sheep, made only by the Dłth.

We were silent for several minutes. I would have expected everything, except to find myself in that situation. Two innocent children sitting in front of me. I tried to draw on my knowledge of the Cąnan language but I didn't even know if those two spoke it or if they only knew their respective dialects. I knew very little of Dłth, much less of Chasach, a thorny language poor in vowels. When Bulesikur Egregori put his hand on my shoulder, I jumped, and I knew where to start.

"Who's the best at falaich?"

The four small eyes lit up and the dispute immediately ignited. Dņchas stood up on his chair waving his hands, Teachd started yelling "I" in a very narrow variant of his dialect. I had obtained the information I needed to start that interview: I needed a translator and the two children had already met. But where?

I was satisfied just that I had passed the barrier of the first question and when I turned to Bulseikur and Kremno, it was to ask them two requests. I got up and told them, "Kremno, take me to the nearest refugee camp. Bulesikur, play hide and seek with them in the meantime. Make them both win."

Later I found myself at the refugee camp number IV of Ereterma. Kremno had only agreed to accompany me alone after seeing how passionately Bulesikur had started playing falaich. An expanse of shacks covered with asbestos sheets welcomed me. Overlooking a single, long dirt road, there must have been about two hundred. At the entrance, two volunteers from the association for the defense of the rights of immigrants from Sorsluth had welcomed us with a big smile. The conditions of the camp were little more than decent. A family was assigned to each hut. The Sorlaidir family, however, is generally made up of two parents and at least three children, as tradition dictates. Those barracks were made to accommodate a maximum of two people. Ereterma had never faced a crisis of this kind. It was usually the second most affected city by migratory flows after Stamexo. I dare not imagine what the situation could be there.

I had explained to Kremno the reason for our visit: there we would have to look for a translator capable of speaking both the Dłth and Chasach languages. It was very rare to come across a Sorslaidir capable of this. But rumors were circulating about that place and I wanted to go and see for myself. Escorted to hut number 89 by the same volunteer who had let us in, a young Talamian from Anen named Ekousio, a large family welcomed us. A father, a mother and seven children were busy hanging freshly washed clothes on a metal wire. One of the ones I initially referred to as children, however, was far too big for those two parents. "He is the person you are looking for", Ekousio told us. I walked over to the frail bald man with glasses. He was hanging out a green shirt. I had seen similar ones in the past. I couldn't understand his ethnicity.

"Hi, my name is Barute Domonodo. I'm a-"
"I know very well who you are"
The answer stunned me.
"I expected you to be more responsive, given your reputation. The question you want to ask me is "what's your name?". I am Eadar-Theangaiche Beul. Dłnadh Beul was my direct ancestor."