After repeatedly assuring Dubhe and Lilia that I’m not some biblical figure, no character in a parable, I look down and see Mika had woken up. I want to talk to her, but when she looks around, she starts to cry. She is just sitting there, on the ground, crying.
Despite spending some time trying to console and talk to her, Dubhe, Lilia and I haven’t even been able to get out of the reason why she is crying. I suspect it’s the treatment of women in this town, but, honestly, that is only a guess. Gaia was very clear about getting other people’s perspectives, but how am I to do that if she won’t talk?
“Poor thing…” looking on with compassion, Dubhe speaks to me. “Should we go hug her? We don’t want to frighten her and make it worse.”
I think for a moment, then crouch down to Mika. Placing a hand on her shoulder, I introduce her to Dubhe. “Mika, I’m not sure what any of us can do for you, but Dubhe wants to give you a hug, is that okay?” She looks up for a second and is startled into a brief silence.
After relaxing from her terror, she responds, “I-I’m sorry…” before she reaches up for the hug.
Dubhe beams the widest smile I can imagine. She proceeds to sit down with Mika and completely wraps her in a literal bear hug. Thinking about it, that would be awfully comfortable. She would also make an excellent body pillow. Hmmm…
My thoughts are interrupted by Glen. He had gone out to his caravan, and come back. With him, he brought back his entire entourage. They are currently occupying the town as a temporary base. Seems they’re about to begin some sort of interviews. As he heard that I should seek to understand what is going on, he invites me to sit in on the interviews, provided I am silent.
Gaia would damn me otherwise, so I agree.
Most are mind-numbingly mundane, yet disappointing. It’s as if the people themselves are just passive bystanders in a terrible situation. Something along the lines of: ‘I did what the leader said we should do. It just got out of hand, and then no one could protest any longer, because you didn’t know who would be next as an example. I didn’t want my children tortured and killed.’
Turns out, these interviews are actually more of ‘Judge, Jury and Executioner’ form of justice. Sanctioned by Gaia, nonetheless.
As a part of one of the interviews, I learn an interesting piece of information: in the enclave, due to the long lifespan and the hive mind like mentality, people rarely have any sense of monogamous relationships, aside from initial child rearing. Even that event was strongly controlled by the hive mind, making physical relationships relatively rare and intensely subdued. This makes sense in a lot of ways now that I think about it. Not that having multiple partners makes sense, but having children with multiple partners, especially when you live for over a thousand years, isn’t too much of a stretch. Well, that is, if your physiology allows such. Even more so when I consider that their morals stem from a single mind/purpose/thought pattern. To that end, there isn’t a cultural stigmatism for polygamy or non-exclusivity in this world.
Adding to that, it’s clear from how dangerous this world is, post ascension, that having children with as many people as possible may be necessary for survival, as a town or even race. This is not to mention how the experience of loving is now no longer muted by a hive mind, and actually qualifies as a pleasurable activity.
Since all that is the case, the actual having of children from multiple females wasn’t considered something inappropriate for the sake of these interviews. I held my tongue. Obviously, that doesn’t sit right with my worldview, but at the same time, what guy wouldn’t be excited about multiple partners? Well, maybe not all the time.
Most of these people, males, usually, are sentenced to terms of non-life-endangering labor in nearby towns. They will be marched to their expected town of service, and indentured until their sentence is up. They won’t be allowed to leave for any reason, so the’ll be relatively safe from harm. Well, unless they refuse to do their work.
These sentences are passed down by Glen’s wife. She explains to me that she was once visited by Gaia when she was younger and told that she would become an Arbitrator of Gaia. She mentioned that Gaia gave her some items of great wealth to perform these tasks. In order to go to the needed places, she traded those items for several indentured people to act as her guards. While traversing the lands, guided by Gaia, she had resolved many disputes, and one of the indentured guards, Glen, upon finishing his service, stayed on as her husband.
Upon being granted a preferable status by the bearfolk for some service, the need for guards became minimal, since any bearfolk nearby would come to their aid in times of need. The caravan came later, but grew naturally from the people they helped, since traveling was dangerous in general. Well, for everyone except the people surrounding Gaia’s Arbitrator, as she now has the protection of the bearfolk.
And that comes to why they are here at just the right time. Apparently, Gaia predicted something like this, and sent them off over 30 cycles before we arrived at the town. That Gaia is scary. No way I want to pick a bone with someone who can predict something like this, that far out. It is terrifying just to think about.
The women of the town, of course, are mostly innocent. There is definitely a sense of fear for their lives and the lives of their children. In a town of around 250, in which many of the inhabitants are certainly old enough to have multiple generations of families, it seems that nearly every woman has either a child, children, grandchildren, or parent in the town. This lead to an unfortunate circumstance where there is someone who could potentially be subjected to punishment on their behalf if compliance was not obtained. I say mostly, because, like anywhere, there are people who actually liked the situation, and helped put it in place.
That thought distresses me; I can hardly believe what I hear. The primary ringleader? None other than Mika’s mother.
Thanks for the support! I am in your care!