Aaron sat in the back of the cart still tied up with the rope that Jonon had used to keep him from leaving. The man seemed friendly, but his insistence on bringing Aaron back to his village was a bit unsettling. Still, Aaron didn’t feel threatened. Not yet, anyway.
After some time had passed, Jonon reappeared accompanied by two women. The older one had silver hair and stood more than a head shorter than the man. She had an air of authority about her. The younger one had longer hair, brown, tied behind her head, and she was nearly as tall as Jonon. She, too, projected authority, but not as confidently as the other.
As they got close, Jonon turned to the other woman. “Moth, this is the storyteller, Aaron. Aaron, this is Moth Ara and her second, Sis Eres.
“Aaron?” The older woman stared intently at him. “Strange name for a man.”
“Well, what sort of name is Moth?” Upon seeing Jonon’s face flush, Aaron regretted his words, but his patience had been worn thin.
“Moth is my title, not my name.” A hint on condescension came through her voice. How should he have known that?
Moth Ara turned back to Jonon. “Why is he tied up?”
“Well… I wanted to be sure he was safe.”
“You just finished reassuring me he was. Now you are uncertain?”
“Moth, I just wanted to be sure, until I could talk with you. And I wanted to be certain he would come back here with me. After Matten left…”
“Don’t! Do not mention him. You really are convinced we need a storyteller, aren’t you?
She looked to Aaron once more. “Why should I trust you?”
Aaron took a moment to think about his response this time. “To be honest, I’m not even clear why I’m here. I helped Jonon, and he offered me a meal and some company. We spoke well into the night. When I woke the next morning, I was bound, then he brought me back here.”
“You are a storyteller?”
“I suppose, but…”
“If I allow you to stay in this village, will you harm anyone here?”
“I have no reason to, but…”
“Will anyone be looking for you?”
“I very much doubt that; still, I should…”
“One more thing. I am responsible for the safety of everyone here. You will do as I say. Agreed?”
It felt as though he were swearing some oath. “I agree.”
Moth Ara did not look convinced. “Very well. Sis Eres?”
“You are responsible for him. Find him a place to stay. Explain the village, as much as you deem appropriate. And above all, make sure you watch him. Let us see if this storyteller belongs here.”
Aaron could not read the expression on Sis Eres’ face, but she quickly acknowledged the instructions. “Yes, Moth. Jonon, untie him.”
“After you do that,” Moth Ara spoke again, “Find a couple of men and unload these supplies. Provide an inventory to Sis… No, that won’t do. Give the inventory to Pru. We need to figure out how best to utilize all of this. When you’re done, come find me.”
“Yes, Moth. Yes, Sis.”
The pace with which everything happened left Aaron feeling bewildered. His wrists were grateful to be freed, though. What was this place? Who were these people? Maybe Sis Eres would give him some answers. For now, he was glad just not to be tied up any longer.
Sis Eres was watching him expectantly. “Let’s go, Aaron. We need to get you settled in.” She turned and began walking away. He nodded and began jogging to catch up to her.