Chapter Normal Magic Hexagon
Scene Three: Hunger
There are no rafts on No Map Creek. I have been hiking along the banks. But to no avail. I have come at the wrong time of year.
The rivermen who deal in leathers, meats, cloth, and finished goods all sailed down from the northeast hills as soon as the ice melted. They are long gone. The next slew of rafts will not launch until the harvests of spring crops begin in mid-summer. That's two months from now, a wait that I fear my apprentices cannot afford.
I've written an explanation of my delay to my partner, Curo, but there is no one to take it south. I've also written a letter to Carinde Vogel and sent it with carters from Shore Kill. The contents were mostly Lesson Number 6 from the schedule of the Oggli and Anghrili Accounting course. I dared to include a personal message. Part of that was in code but I expect she'll have no problem reading it.
After two days in Shore Kill, a town that borders the creek, a letter from Carinde caught up with me. It was addressed to 'Denario de Dramatik, Master Accountant, care of the Bank of Oupenli-Ogglie.' I daresay it would have found me even in Oggli. She must have written it the day after my departure. In it, she includes a drawing of another eight-pointed mullet. She describes using algebra in her father's business and refers to the money I gave her as part of her dowry. I suppose that makes sense from her step-mother's point of view. Cari also says, many times, that she misses me and hopes I'll return soon. It makes me feel bad that I won’t see her again.
She inspired me to seek help. I went to the town hall to plead my case to the mayor of Shore Kill. He advised me to build my own raft.
That is impossible. But as I have debated with myself about the situation, I've grown hungry. I've eaten most of my rations. Shore Kill cares nothing for accounting, geometry, or any other sort of math. The citizens will not let me earn my keep here. Nor will the mayor intervene. He said that the problems of the world beyond his farms are of no concern. Indeed, for hundreds of years, there have been no wars here. His town has no wall to protect it. There are no barriers or levies around the neighboring towns.
I've tightened my belt. I've prepared myself for the hardest journey, the one through the most magical of lands.