The Water-getting Girl and the Inverse Tiger

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Librarian Note:

This book is supposed to have several parts. Sadly we have only one.

Part One, Tiber Septim’s Favorite Bedtime Story

This is the first part of what is reputedly Tiber Septim’s favorite childhood story. The Emperor’s fascination with tigers has been documented elsewhere, though it is this translator’s belief that it was Orylon’s particular nature that colored that appeal. Such notions may become more apparent in the story’s second installment.

Whoa-ho! Are you listening? Watch me beat my drum and tell no lies; may hard fruit from this tibrol tree fall upon my head if I lie (I will not!)! Come, sit! Or dance with your backsides, for I am beating my drum!

I tell you the tale of Perrif, the water-getting girl, (no, not that Perrif, another Perrif — this is an old story and in those days most girls were named after the Paravania), and Orlyan the Inverse Tiger of Cyrod, Black with Orange Stripes, Old Stony, Lord of Dark Fleas and Cake Batter, Always Roaring!

Long ago near a river branch of the Topal, a Kothri village sat there very sad: the men were away at skirmish and only the women, girls, and infirm elders were left. They were surrounded by jungle, a great batch of it between their huts and their portion of the river, and tigers were everywhere in those days hide-hissing in the trees. A three-beat for Tigers! Klo! Klo! Klo! So glad you are gone! You ate us! We will make due with pigment drawings! A four beat for their demise! Klo! Klo! Kloppa!

One morning it was Perrif’s turn to go get the water (she was eight or nine or ten, I forget! Forgetting is fine, so nothing will fall on me! Ha!). Everyone warned her not to take too long! “The stripe-cats are out! They did not sleep last night because they can hear better than we can and the skirmish where our men are (while far away to us is cat-senses-close to them) is keeping them up and hungry!”

Little Perrif, though, was very brave putting the jugs all in a row on top of her head and making for the jungle roads. But she was not stupid, so she sang a song to Dibe-Mara-Kin, our mothers in the Around-Us, and with that small blessing felt very, very confident. And she was almost to the water before any tigers found her at all, but they surely did! “Don’t run, little water-getting girl!” they said (there were maybe three or four, I forget!) “We will kill you quick, we promise, but only if you don’t make us run!” Perrif ran so fast that even the tigers went, “Wow, that’s an impressive stride, some forty in two drum beats with five jugs on her head”, and that is how come we use this measurement in our current My Tribe Is Better Than Yours Games! No lie! Klo! Hudda!! Kloppa!

She ran so fast that she was able to find a giant rock to hide behind, hoping the tigers would lope right past her. And they did! “Thank you, three mothers,” she whispered, kneeling and keeping the jugs steady with her hands, and praying some more to DMK just in case. After a while, it all seemed safe, and that is when the giant rock spoke up! (You heard me!)

“Praying is all well and good,” the rock said, booming, “But I’m the one who hid you from the tigers! My moss-shade! My stone-bigness! And now you owe me a favor!” And it was true, she did, little Perrif, for in those days as it is now the laws of fancy-story must be kept, and in this case it was courtesy obligation, favor for favor. A three-beat for Favors! Klo! Klo! Klo! (Pay all of yours BACK!)

The rock said, “So now! Roll me to the river and wash me! I’m filthy from the ages!” And now Perrif could kind of make out a face in the rock, but it was covered so much in grub and lichen that there wasn’t much to speak of, so she told herself she was thinking nonsense. While she was looking, the stone spoke up again, saying, “Roll me, girl! It’s river-time for me! I’m so dirty I can’t stand myself!”

So Perrif began to push, unearthing the rock from the tangle of the jungle floor, and it seemed very light to her despite its size, but she explained away the ease of the effort by tiger-fear (which was still on her!). It was lots and lots of pushing, and so the stone began to sing:

Roll me down down down to the river that welcomes me
Ge-rulla seb-seb-seb ytri topali ke wel’kyn-ge
I am a Welcome Stone
Ge una Wel’kyn Bal
Just ask anyone of age, little girl, for they remember me
Yn set ghyn aka, ky’naless, synd laru’me ge
I am a Welcome Stone
Ge yni Wel’kyn Bal
Wash me up up up and see! A familiar face! Too long gone!
K’yness-ge bes bes bes ad’soon! Ha’phyn fex! Ald’ald-het!
I am Orlyan, the Long Gone Stone
Ge yni Orlyan, the Ald-Het Bal
The Around-Us will be happy to see me again!
Aurbex lemha je-je ad’soon al-ge!
But it might go, “Wait, you looked different before!”
Hyn detta set, “Ka, g’e lr’khn nymbo!”
I am a Verily Stone!
Ge yni V’arla Bal!
But it might go, “Wait, you looked different before!”
Hyn detta set, “Ka, g’e lr’khn nymbo!”
I am a Verily Stone!
Ge yni V’arla Bal!

(At this point in the story we traditionally get down with the get down! Here comes the drum! Klo! Hudda!! Everyone get down! Klo! Hudda!! Dance with your necks and big asses!)

After a long time of pushing, Perrif finally got the big rock near the river’s edge. She flopped to her backside, wiping off sweat, saying, “Please hold on, mister big rock, we’re almost there. I’m just really tired and somewhere we lost the jugs and that’s going to get me in big trouble, which is going to be even worse if I stay out too late. Which I assume will happen, as I have to wash you still.”

(It was true; the other villagers were getting worried already!)

And then the rock made a wistful-yet-gravelly sound, being so close to the water, saying, “All right, little water-getting girl, rest a bit. I’m content for the moment, just being able to look at the water. Look how silly it is! Water is the silliest thing!” And, at that, the rock started to laugh, O HO! HO HO!, dust and little leaves falling to reveal a face!

Perrif gasped! The rock’s face had a wide nose and heavy-lidded eyes and a mouthful of stony fangs, for all the world looking like a big-assed tiger head! She screamed, “Wait, you looked different before!”

Stone: “No kidding?”

Perrif: “No kidding. What happened? You were just a normal hiding rock and now you look like a stripe-cat!”

Stone: “Ah, well, it must be because Welcome Stones like me absorb some of the thoughts of those that touch us. And you can’t help but imagine a tiger!”

Now by this point little Perrif had become so overcome by tiger-fear that she yelped despite herself, kicking the big rock! And then she yelped again because she hurt her foot, and fell down, and got hurt more, and the Welcome Stone couldn’t help but laugh because she looked so stupid. But when Perrif saw that laugh all she saw was the tiger teeth going up and down GRIND GRIND GRIND, and so she kicked the stone again in panic, this time with both feet. And WHOA did the stone start to roll down the hill going WHOA-HO NOW towards the river but little Perrif didn’t notice because the tiger-fear made her run, run, run!

Stone: “Hey, now waittaminnit! You come back here and wash–“

KER-SPLASH! The stone sunk like a rock.

End of Part One.

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