[Arkan censor’s note: Oras, this is obviously some West sea coast bumpkin writing home to impress his family. The sigils at the top and bottom are common on ancient stones west of Marsae and are meaningless and decorative. Pay attention to the more important letters, Mikas help you, instead of this nonsense.]
[In stone script]
Elders. Father and I are alive and held slave in Arko. Father managed to destroy the caravan before the books were found so the Gybir are still safe. The Arkans think he is deaf as well as mute and they believe I am as mute as he is.
Father is set to tending the Fire Fountain Park above and I am set to tend the fires every bead all night.
[In fessas Arkan]
I have arrived in Arko in good health and I have a good place to lay my head, even if there is no view. My apprenticeship proceeds apace and I have managed to stop burning my fingers. The Master is good and is, in fact, trusting of me and my co-apprentice and lets us work mostly unsupervised.
I will spend some time focusing on my new life here and hope that Dia is still in good health and working hard on her wedding chest for my triumphant return home with my Master’s papers. I enclose some of my artistic versions of the stone-images from home for her, if that is not too forward. If it is, Father, please just convey my regards to her father for me?
The libraries here are amazing. I have not had time to peruse but I will. Father, the Fire Fountain is astonishing. It is a whole park unto itself, just off the Presentation Square, with rows of benches and trees running the whole length of the space. The trees are big and shady and the Fire Fountain mist reaches up to the lowest branches.
The mist… There are no sprays of water. The stone grates between the rows release mist that wreaths the whole park with fog which is very pleasant in the heat and as we heard, on every bead through the night the whole park is lit by fire. There is a slave who is placed below the fountain to replace the fire-stocks in the bowls below glass discs set in the pavement and there is a sort of fuse that burns even under water with a bright, bright white light. The discs are colored glass so the light shining up into the fog is pleasing, and they can be replaced according to season.
I am fascinated with the design, father, it is ingenious. I will attempt to apply to the City works to see if I might be allowed to view the construction and equipment below the Fountains, since it is to be my field of endeavour. Perhaps my Master will be able to let me see a number of hydraulic works in the city.
The Fire Fountain is the first of my research projects to present and it is fairly labour intensive. One slave is required to change the fuses and the fire bowls and another tends the square above. My Master tells me there is a bead clock that fires the fuse automatically but the slave is required to tend to that as well.
The city normally buys mute slaves for these functions because people tend to meet at the fog shrouded benches because of the privacy afforded. Of course they do not want some barbarian tool knowing people’s private conversations. Most people do not even think of the slaves living below the Fountain at all.
My apologies for rambling about my work, I will write further when I am allowed the time. My regards to the family.
I am, your devoted son,
[In stone script]
Please warn the rest of the family that slavers west of Marsae will be targeting all of us, especially single family caravans, since they can blame our disappearance on bandits. I am writing this from under the Fountain and Father will write his own observations in stone script later when we aquire more paper and ink. We will drop it in the post box on the corner under the cover of tonight’s fog. We will send as best I can until Father and I find a way out of this place. Gian.
The young man, barely old enough to be called man, sitting in the slave’s quarters under the Fire Fountain, sealed the letter. The light from the roof slots, designed to resemble the rest of the fog grates dimmed as a cloud passed over the sun.
He was a husky young man, as the slaver had commented, dark eyes and dusky skin with the sharp features of the wandering Gybir, the stubble of his newly shaved head showed dark as well. Arkans might have thought he was a Yeoli/Lakan crossbreed, if they had cared.
The door clicked and his father, Rikar, came in, setting the gardening tools in their closet. Gian looked up as Rikar signed at him with his hands, using the hand-talk exclusively since the horse's kick had stolen his voice.
Gian nodded and signed back “Yes, I’m done.”
“We’ll get out, son.” Rikar hugged him, hard. “We’re fortunate. They didn’t just kill us. And we’re still together.”
“That’s right, papa. And until then we’ll just keep learning. We might be able to get some books to send home. All we have to do is aquire the money. People just lose amazing things in parks. Someone even dropped a jewelled button that fell through the grate and hit me right in the head!” Gian’s hands flashed as he spoke. Rikar laughed, his mouth open, silent.
The intricate bead clock in the outer hall clicked. “Time for you to eat, and for me to start feeding the fires.”
Rikar nodded. “Have a good night, son.”
“Good night, papa.”