This passage introduces a major new character in the saga. I hope you’ll want to learn much more about her in BOB!
Kalma: I am daughter of the great city of Bergarten, a city I have known with
pride, shame, and aching womb all my days. In the twenty-five years of my growing
near the three rivers, I thrived in the knowledge my home city was a center of the
world. All around me were the wide, clean walkways leading past gleaming buildings
unlike any in any other city on Olos earth. I knew these flowing streets well, I knew I
was one fleshly part of the best of humanity. My Bergarten was where the future
shaped, where discipline and energy superseded the ways of others tangled in their
But I also was shaped by a family deeply troubled by the slavery of fellow
Balnakins sharing not our deep, earth-soil colors. I knew well our Sojoa sheets shone
because of the polishings of blues dangled from rooftops or belted to mechanical
ladders. Riding in our trans from one site to another, my Mother often circled her
breasts with single finger loops, signaling gratitude to be blessed each time she
glanced at a sullen blue woman tuning tools, unloading tracs, crawling down into
pipes below ground. Many such women would know spears, children, family not.
Futures not. We whispered our regret. But only whispers, silences, prayers. After all,
without the blues, our greatness possibled not.
Then, my soul ached and more as I was in Bergarten the day the soundless
explosion robbed my city of its heart. I was one of those shoved onto an evacuation
bus at stadsem that cursed day, cramped with students and sweating teachers on the
road north when the catastrophe took away the rooms we sat in but minutes before. I
can name names of many who exist no more. My belly tightens still to think of them.
Had not my Tribe fast boats on the Gell River, two of my Sisters and their children
would also exist no more.
To say more, for years, my family has been a deep part of what I loved most about
Bergarten. For one matter, unlike many, my father, Lius Salk, built his empire of
connections relying not on what he considered a dishonest means of business. That is,
as he rose in the ranks of the shipping company of Mhelapras, he chose not his wives
based on tunic sewings. Instead, each of his five bondings were daughters from the
New Dome Church of No-Stratas founded by the eminent Devlin Joco Llyam. Llyam's
congregation agreed on various principles including the possibility, but rarity of, true
prophecy. We believed Olos was indeed the Mother of All, and that all included all
skins. This meant Olos abhorred slavery. No member of the New Domes associated
with Devlin Llyam could own or deal with the selling of humans. This meant we had
few prosperous, powerful tribes to share worship with. My father looked for wives
with these beliefs knowing they would come from families with these values. He
wanted wives focused on their children. So, each of us grew in a home devoted to our
betterment while my father grew his company in countries stained not by human
bondage. He worked with makers of goods with sellers all over the globe interested in
unique wares from cultures across land and sea. As Father rose to the top of
Mhelapras, we rose with him.
True said, in each family, seeds bear different fruits. My brother Mool became as
interested as my father in the ways of connecting makers with distributors. So, he
established his own healthy branch to the family's growth into the countries south of
the Psam Peninsula, mostly on the continent of Verashush. But my brother Kinn
could find his way not. He became an angry student at the Lipran Stadsem,
graduating just before the news came out that an alien was in the Halls of the great
Bergarten Institute of the Species. Kinn stood in the audience the day Doctor Malcolm
Renbourn reached out to two globes. Later, Kinn raged in father's house the day the
alien snuck across the border into Rhasvi. My father dismayed when Kinn denounced
loud the Lipran authorities for having allowed this escape to happen. Why had any
fool put a Shaprim robe on a blue, why was a creature so obviously defective
contained not here in Bergarten where all the world should come and beg access to
our knowledge? "Olos put her stamp on every Brown," Kin preached, "when she
marked us with her own color, the color of her most fertile land! What is blue but an
empty shade between day and night? Unnatural. Name one other creature sharing
this strange pigment!" He laughed. "And these are creatures to envy, pity not! How
relaxing to have no decisions to make, no will to exercise! We shelter, feed, guide
these off-colors!" My father had known not my brother had changed at the Stadsem.
Into this nest of anti-slavery philosophies, a racist had emerged.
And Kinn became more than that when one-fourth of our city became a dome in
the earth, a gaping hole where once friends and companions lived. One horrible day,
my father's office view overlooked a wound that now defined a culture. Devlin Llyam's
home was but two-lanes away. During the first years after that damnable rip in Olos
appeared, such men and their women grieved in silent wonder. During the same
years, men and women like my brother Kinn spoke often and loud. "I stood there,
right there at the very center of that wound in the Mother! By miracle alone three of
my Sisters survived! But a minute, a moment, our Tribe, too, would have had souls
with bodies not for holy burning!" All Balnakin homes knew the debates. Yes, drain
and bleed Rhasvin coffers for compensation. But compensate who? How can lost
knowledge be re-claimed? Who owned the lost land? They were gone, too. Rebuild?
Build a memorial? Answers were slow. But those like Kin looked for answers not.
Vengeance. Slashing, burning, crushing of all creatures whose skin was brown not.
Consuming, unyielding rage. So, father sent my brother to Alma in the hopes the
distance might calm his angry spear. To live among blues who were slaves not,
Balnakin, Rhasvi not. For a time, we knew not of success in father's dreams. We more
concerned with our world turned upside down.
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