The Wall, Part 3
“But why can’t we go look for her?” Irem’s face is pale, and her voice is twisted.
The headman’s look of irritated impatience quells her momentarily. “Irem…”
“She’s a baby, Keiji!” the young mother cries.
“And the last trace of her is two days away!” The annoyance Keiji feels is apparent in his tone.
Fia speaks now, her tone consoling. “Nagge says the little wild people are searching for Bian.”
“Do you have any idea how ridiculous you sound?” demands Irem, turning furiously on the weaver. “Those wild creatures are here! They are not searching for my child, and they are not doing anything but making silly eyes at one another and grunting! How can you say they’ve sent out searchers when they’re nothing but animals?” She looks at Fia in disgust, and once again turns her demands on Keiji.
“Keiji, my little girl is out there, all alone, without even her doll to comfort her. And now you are telling me that you will not organize a search party even though Foy and Nagge can take us to where she was four days ago!” Irem would continue ranting, but her husband, a generally taciturn man, puts his hand on her arm.
“Fia, I want to hear what Foy and Nagge have to say about Bian,” Jarrah says, his gravelly voice steady, but taut.
His wife shakes his hand off and turns her attack on him. “You want to hear more ravings from children!” she shouts.
“The only one I hear raving is you,” he replies.
His wife gasps with the indignity of his accusation and tears begin falling from her wide eyes.
“Minna’s children can tell us more about this,” Jarrah says softly.
“The only child who matters is ours!”
“I agree, Irem.”
“Then go find her!” Irem turns away, sobbing.
Jarrah looks helplessly at his wife, then turns to Keiji. “I will hear what the children have to say,” he repeats.
* * *
They find the children still at Minna’s with their troupe of small brown companions. Keiji hails the door and Minna greets them.
“Where is Irem?” she asks.
“Hysterical,” the headman answers shortly.
“I wish to hear what your children have to say,” Jarrah tells her. His deep voice is soft but urgent. Minna beckons them inside.
The children are seated in a circle of small brown creatures unlike any Jarrah has ever seen. Each creature looks the same, a palette of sepia dressed in an odd cloth of the same hue. Almond eyes turn curiously toward him as he enters the gathering room.
“You remember Jarrah,” Minna says to her children, and they both nod to the man in greeting.
“Nagge, tell me how it is you know the creatures are looking for Bian,” says Jarrah simply.
The sister’s smile is serene. “They have called their kin to tell them where she was, and to look for signs. The Tynan look for her traces even now, and will learn what has happened to her and bring her home if they can.”
“Explain,” Jarrah growls in his gruff voice.
The girl does not answer immediately. She turns her attention instead to the sepia circle and one graceful arm dances to punctuate the unfamiliar words she speaks. The brown eyes are fixed on her, but none of the brown creatures with sound or gesture of their own. She turns back to Jarrah.
“The Tynan can communicate over long distances without speaking aloud,” she says simply. “They have communicated with their brothers and cousins. Many of their kin search for signs of your Bian right now.”
Jarrah looks at the girl’s younger brother. Foy’s expression is faintly smug, but appears to hide nothing. “How do you know this is true?” Jarrah asks, directing his question to the boy. The young man straightens his shoulders and looks to his sister, who nods.
“They speak with their minds, and distance does not matter. They taught us how, too.”
“Show me,” Jarrah says. His firm request does not challenge Foy’s words, but asks for verification.
Again the brother looks to his sister. “Do you want to see how Foy and I can do this, or how the Tynan can?” The girl’s placid look relays her confidence.
“The Tynan are those creatures,” Keiji interjects, waving his palm toward the creatures impatiently. Both Nagge and Foy glance at the headman, then their eyes meet each other’s.
“I want to see the Tynan communicate without speaking.” Jarrah’s answer is decisive, delivered without hesitation.
“Mam, will you take two of our companions to Grandmama’s room?” Two of the creatures rise, one from the girl’s left and one sitting directly across from her. They walk to Minna and look at her expectantly. Wordlessly, Minna turns and the creatures follow her into the back rooms of the home.
The sister turns back to Jarrah. “You will want the Tynan to come back and demonstrate that they can communicate telepathically.” Jarrah nods. “You must tell me something for them to do when they come back into the room. Something I can describe to them.”
Jarrah nods again. “I wish one to draw the sigil for the rain. The other – I would like Foy to step outside with me. I will tell him what the other should do.”
Foy rises and walks through the entry to the outside. He stops a little way from the door. Jarrah follows him out. A few moments later Jarrah returns alone. He nods to the girl.
“Mam!” At her daughter’s call, Minna appears in the doorway. “We need a slate and chalk for drawing, please,” Nagge asks.
Minna locates a gray tray and places it on the table. She finds a chunk of chalk and sets it on the tray. “Is anything else needed?”
“Thank you, no. Please have our friends return now.”
Minna retreats again to the rear of the home and the Tynan appear in her place.
One of the small creatures immediately walks to Jarrah, looks into his eyes, then circles him three times. Turning his back to the tall farmer, facing the circle of his people, the Tynan raises his left arm to shoulder height then crooks his elbow in a salute, which he holds. Jarrah nods and returns the salute and the small creature resumes its seat with the others. Jarrah looks expectantly at the other Tynan.
The Tynan is examining the chalk stick curiously. He lifts it with two fingers, scratches it gently, then tastes the powder that has crumbled on his fingertip. He makes an experimental mark on the slate, then wets his finger and erases it. Quickly the creature makes several marks. He sets down the chalk and resumes his seat in the circle. The headman walks across the gathering room and picks up the slate. He holds it up for Jarrah to see. The sigil for rain, the tiny slanted lines in their staggered rows, are there on the slate.
Foy appears at the door, steps softly inside. He approaches Jarrah and asks, “Do you need more proof?”
The big man shakes his head. “Do the creatures –”
“Tynan,” Foy reminds him.
“Tynan. Do they write?”
“No,” Foy shakes his head. They use paint for art or for ceremonies, but they do not write. They have no need.”
Jarrah looks at headman Keiji. “I am satisfied,” he says. “I will tell Irem that they can communicate. But I must know more.” He is looking speculatively at Foy again, and at Nagge.
Minna brings him a cushion, and he sits between the children. “Tell me about the Tynan,” he requests solemnly.
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