Three Companions

When two enormous hero-type people come out of the desert demanding your lentils, why might you have a confident smirk on your face?

Lafash and Udu-Shab struck across the desert to find the emerald-eyed creature Zubag, that Udu-Shab might place it in the grave of her demanding ancestor, Ten-Trees, who has demanded it of her. Lafash is trying to rescue the priest Mudebet, but they’ve lost his trail, only knowing that he was taken in a caravan with the great golden likeness of Damegag, headed either east or north.

On this voyage, though, they find that they have made a terrible miscalculation: their water skin has run dry, and their food was exhausted two days ago.

But as they walk further into the desert, their nostrils are tickled by the smell of cooking food. Oil and lentils. And if there are lentils, there is water. And surely, the speck of light they see on the horizon is the fire from which the smell emanates.

As they draw closer, they see a slight man, bearded, humming to himself and stirring his clay pot with a long-handled wooden spoon. As they approach to demand his red lentils, however, he says to them, no surprise in his voice, “I am Gugezal. Would you like some of my lentils? I have been preparing them here for you.”

The two heroes exchange a glance. They are tired enough that even their prepared coercion seemed a challenge. “Thank you, we would,” says Lafash.

Gugezal blows on the spoon to cool the stew and the smell of sustenance rides on his breath toward them. They both lean toward the spoon. “I was hoping,” Gugezal says, “that you could help me, too.”

Modular systems are a function of industrial society. But do people of The Fifth World still know how to agree to standards? With their acute interest in efficiency, I think they might have carried that lesson forward!

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