At Winter's End
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between us and the humans? Then the humans are higher than the gods?” “Higher than our gods, boy. Higher than Nakhaba, higher than the Five. But not higher than the Creator, who made them as well as us and all else. Do you see the hierarchy?” Noum om Beng drew vast structures in the air with the tip of a finger. The Creator here, at the highest place, the great Sixth of whom Hresh had once speculated; and here the humans, some distance below; and here Nakhaba; and here the Five; and here, lower
your place. We should not occupy it long. Taniane leads us southward, and we will find a home for ourselves there, until we know where the gods mean to carry us next.” “Taniane is chieftain, then,” said Salaman in wonder. “Well, it was what she dreamed. How did Koshmar die?” “Of sadness, I think. And weariness. But also of knowing that she had completed her task. Koshmar lived nobly and died nobly too. She brought us out of the cocoon to Vengiboneeza, and she sent us onward from there to our
quarters, the number of workers they employed, tactics of competition in the marketplace, and other such strangenesses. They had begun to divide into classes: rulers, owners, workers, poor. Nor were the old tribal lines completely erased. They were fading, yes. But Koshmars and Bengs had not yet entirely forgotten that they had been Koshmars and Bengs; and then there were all the others, the Hombelions and Debethins and Stadrains and Mortirils and the rest, the proud little tribes gradually
decided then by Koshmar the chieftain that the tribe would seek Vengiboneeza the great city of the sapphire-eyes, for it might be possible there to find secret things that would be of value in the repeopling of the world.’” Hresh stared at her and did nothing. “Go on, write that down. You can write, can’t you? You haven’t wasted my time in this? Have you? Have you? Write, Hresh, or by Dawinno I’ll have you skinned and made into a pair of boots for these cold nights. Write!” “Yes,” he murmured.
wildness. Then the breeding pairs had caught the fever, Nittin and Nettin, Jalmud and Valmud, Preyne and Threyne. Plainly enough, all three pairs had accomplished their season’s work—there was no question of it, you could see their swelling bellies—and yet there they were, coupling zealously the whole day long anyway as though someone might accuse them of defaulting on their duty. And at last the older members of the tribe had been infected by the new restlessness: Thaggoran sniffing around the