297 The Visiting Vagrants
The Ruby Eyed Snake Tribe's village was nothing like Rima expected. It was so…sophisticated. She felt bad for not considering the fact that the Tribes could lead lives that appeared better in comparison to the one that she and Tigin had led in Rene. In fact, it was pretty insulting that she hadn't considered it.
Tigin too looked amazed. Despite the fact that the Tribesman perhaps led a simple life, they had everything they needed, and there was no doubt that they were happy and comfortable. Tigin, Rima and Aegin all received cautious looks at first, but upon noticing how comfortably Sevis spoke with them, they all nodded in greeting before moving on with whatever they were doing. Rima had only gotten a couple of hours sleep in the small hut that Sevis had showed them to. He said it was one that had been erected for guests, and apologised for the uncleanliness as it had been a while since it had been occupied. But Rima couldn't find it in her to care as she collapsed onto the bed in exhaustion.
Aegin had had to drag her out of the hut the next morning when the Chieftain of the Tribe and the Elders had requested to meet them.
Sevis guided the three of them through the village, there appeared to be no set streets, with some huts closer to each other than others. Sevis said it was common for extended family or blood brothers to have such close bonds.
The Tribe, he explained, had about 2,000 members. Unfortunately, the little area they called home could not accommodate many more than that, so it was traditional for many young men and women who came of age to go out and either join other Tribes or start their own. They were by no means the largest Tribe though, some, like the Black Sands, had an excess of 10,000 members, and did not encourage their members to leave, hence they only grew bigger. But the constant conflicts on the Hava Rastellan, as well as frequent droughts and other dangers, meant that death was all too common, probably why the populations of the Tribes remained stagnant.
The Large hut in the centre of it all was the Meeting Hall. A large free area was open in front of it for gatherings and celebrations of the whole Tribe, but for the most part those that frequented the Meeting Hall were the Chieftain, his advisors, and the elders.
"Any etiquette we should know about?" asked Tigin cautiously before they stepped in.
Sevis had shrugged quite nonchalantly, "Just be respectful I suppose".
Then he ducked inside without further explanation. Tigin looked quite taken aback. Aegin pushed him inside after Sevis and Rima followed them.
The inside was just a large room, the Canvas roof easily letting in enough natural light for them to see by without candles or torches. A sunken firepit sat in the centre, though it was not burning, and around the room were various tables with stacks of food, weapons, clothing, blankets, maps and various other items. Behind the firepit was where ten figures. Four of them far older than the rest and each wearing a decorated necklace, so Rima immediately assumed these were the Elders.
They sat with their legs crossed at individual tables that were only about knee height, resting on cushions.
The Chieftain was a middle aged man of large stature, identified by the fact that he was the only one in the hall sitting on a chair. On his left stood a woman who looked to be of similar age, eyes warm by fierce, a strange combination that seemed to work for her as she was no doubt the Chieftain's wife. To the Chieftain's left stood two individuals, one a man who appeared the largest in the room, he was quite intimidating with his arms crossed over his chest and a scar down the left side of his face. Then a rotund woman who was intimidating in her own way as well. The remaining two figures stood off to the left as if observers, they were younger, but had a remarkably similar appearance to Sevis.
The reason why became clear as Sevis arrived before the Chieftain and bowed his head in greeting.
"Father, the visitors from afar," he stood to the side and swept his arm across to each of them in turn, "Tigin, Aegin of the Chaos, and Rima, a distant daughter of the Blue Suns".
The Chieftain nodded, "And you vouch for them?"
Sevis nodded, "They are of no threat to our Tribe, I offered them a place to rest for a few days only".
The Chieftain waved a hands, "Very well, stand with your brothers, Sevis".
Sevis nodded, moving over to the two young men. Huh, so he was one of the sons of the Chief. The third by the looks of him compared to the other two.
"You, Tigin, was it? You appear to be of Tribal Blood as well, what Tribe do you hail from?" asked the Chieftain.
Tigin cleared his throat, "I was born in the Triad city of Rene, Sir, all I knew of my father was that he was exiled, he never spoke the name of his Birth Tribe".
The Chieftain frowned but nodded, "I see, then, despite your appearance, you are in fact a Half-Blood, correct?"
Tigin nodded, "I am, Sir".
The Chieftain was silent for a moment before he spoke, "Then so long as you cause no trouble in my Tribe I have no problem with you staying here. To condemn you for the sins of your father seems excessive".
"Thank you, Sir".
The Chieftain then turned to Rima, "A daughter of the Blue Suns, was it? You appear half-blood as well, though".
Rima nodded, though she was getting tired of their clear caution against those who only had one parent that was a Tribesman, "That is correct, Sir. My mother hailed from the Blue Suns, but like Tigin I was born in Rene".
"Your mother's name?" asked the Chieftain.
Rima hesitated, she'd been able to hide the fact that her mother was likely the woman who had escaped the marriage that had condemned her Tribe from Sevis, but she doubted she'd be able to hide it from the Chieftain. She contemplated lying, but then figured it was better that she show this Tribe the respect they deserved after offering her such hospitality, "Elva, Sir".
The Chieftain raised an eyebrow at the name, and whispers broke out amongst the elders on either side.
One of the Elders, a woman, spoke up, "You are the daughter of Elva of Blue Suns?"
"Were you aware of your mother's crimes?" asked the same Elder.
Rima frowned, "I was aware that she ran from a marriage that had been arranged without her consent. As for the events following her departure, she was quite unaware, and as such so was I until Sevis informed me last night when we met".
"Your mother is responsible for the devestation of a Great Tr-"
"And we have decided that putting the crimes of the parents on the shoulders of their children is too cruel, yes?" asked the Chieftain, instantly drawing the command of the room.
"Sir, if the Black Suns are to learn of her existence-"
"Then it is imperative that the information of Rima's origin not leave this hall, correct?" asked the Chieftain.
The Elder levelled him with her gaze before she turned away with a sigh. The Chieftain turned back to Rima, "Is that understood?"
"It is, Sir," said Rima, "I would wish no harm to come upon any Tribe, let alone one that has so graciously offered us sanctuary, even for a short time".
The Chieftain nodded, "You certainly have the same kind heart as your mother, though she was always a bit of a free spirit. Marriage to Gryffyn of Black Sands did not suit her".
"Agreed," his wife spoke up from beside him. Rima turned to her as she smiled, "You have the same beauty as your mother did. Is she well?"
Rima opened her mouth then closed it again.
"I see," said the chieftain's wife, "I am sorry for your loss, child. Was it a good death?"
Rima sighed, "The Triad Cities are cruel to those who cannot earn enough gold to speak for them. My mother grew sick from over-work, and succumbed to it a decade ago".
A moment of silence drew out for the loss of a Tribesman, even one not their own, then the Chieftain sighed, "We are sorry to hear that. The Tribes never held fondness for the Triad cities. The initial intention to trade with far-off lands was a noble and great endeavour, but the more we interact with the cities, we more we come to know how far astray they have been led. The places we may have once called brothers are now nothing like their ancestors, and they grow further from us with each passing year. Which makes it all the more strange that one of those from a distant land would come here, and of a Path of Chaos too if my son is to be believed".