The village crowd was utterly silent as the three figures returned. The sheer fact that they were alive and unharmed spoke volumes of the encounter with the talamh nàimh. The toisiche made her way along the rugged path, standing on a small ledge above the onlooking denizens. Her companions halted behind her, awaiting orders.
“The talamh nàimh are not an immediate threat. We are safe for now. My advisors and I will discuss our options regarding them.”
Muttering immediately broke out among the assembled osyatao. They were all nervous, such a present danger was bound to keep tensions high. But, at the words of their chieftess, they were willing to go about their lives, if with greater caution. The toisiche and her companions made their way to the hall, the crowd making way for them.
As Fionnaghal pushed aside the crude wooden door that led into the ramshackle cabin she inhaled, preparing herself for the coming confrontation. The building was long, accommodating a large table that she and her advisors would use to discuss things of importance. It was also where celebrations and such would take place during the winter months. Today though, a serious mood persisted in the air as the advisors awaited her.
“Toisiche,” the advisors rang out as they stood to attention. Fionnaghal gave a nod and they sat looking expectantly as she made her way to her seat at the head of the table. As soon as she sat Dubhshìth, her father, called out from her left side, “what did you learn?”
“They are peaceful, and they can speak.” Muttering broke out for a moment before someone said, “they’ve never done that.”
“The large one speaks the tongue of the Aiolians so Niall O'Beirnei was able to translate a small amount,” she gestured to one of her companions, “the large one said its name is Adam, the smaller is Radish.” Someone at the table quickly stifled a small laugh. Fionnaghal nodded in acknowledgement at the humor of the name. “They appear to be at peace, “Adam” named itself friend.” Mumbling once more swept through the room. “And as is custom, so did we.”
Uproar. Never had the osyatao dealt with the Aiolian nàimh in any capacity, never had any peace offering been offered, never had any treaty been attempted. Yet now, in the midst of what could be a threat to their very survival, their chieftess had offered the enemy hospitality.
Fionnaghal waited for the cacophony to die, but it was only halted by the pounding of her Dubhshìth’s gavel upon the table. “Silence!” he boomed, cutting off the majority of the assembly. Cries turned to strangled whispers as he turned to his daughter. “Toisiche,” he said, maintaining formality, “why have you done such a thing?”
Fionnaghal stood. “These talamh nàimh are unlike any we have seen. They are almost childish, especially the smaller. The large one has clearly suffered and was more than willing to welcome us into its abode.” Whispers once again began to spread like a plague. “They presented us with a gift.”
Silence. Gifts were very important to the osyatao. It signified trust, respect, and a deep bond between the giver and receiver. Such a thing was unheard of coming from an enemy. Unless it was a trap of course. The osyatao had much experience with that as well. In the silence the toisiche continued.
“It is a large pot, one that was too heavy for us to carry. It can be used to pool water from the spring, or collect the tears of the gods.” The assembly remained silent. “You know the ancient rites as well as I. A gift must be accepted, a gift must be exchanged. We have honored the code for generations. We cannot stop now.”
“What if it is some Aiolian deceit?”
“I do not believe it is. It is not in their nature to let beings such as the talamh be free to settle and live. They are not our enemies, of that I am confident.”
Fionnaghal gazed at the osyatao surrounding the table. “I leave you to your decision. Honor the ancient rites and allow the large talamh to present its gift, or shame our ancestors.”
With that, the chieftess sat, allowing her advisors to discuss. As the sun began to sink below the horizon, they at last fell silent. Dubhshìth turned to Fionnaghal.
“We will allow the nàmh to present its gift.”
Fionnaghal nodded. “Good.”
“We are unsure what to give it in exchange-”
“Are there any gourds in the village from the harvest?”
Dubhshìth looked confused. “Yes, will that be enough of a gift?”