Finding The Mail

Messy Desk

Where’s the mail?

I just don’t know where they are. Margaret usually arranges things diligently while I’m away. I must have moved them last night when I arrived. Let’s see.

Margaret convinced me to leave my provisions’ pack at the door and come in here to the office. Likely, she just wanted to separate dirty from clean laundry without me standing over her. She keeps my things very well organized. I probably would be lost without her. Very much like I have lost my letters, I’ll wager. Really, this is her house. I never expected to find such a helpful housekeeper.

So, I came in here. I remember I got distracted at one point looking at the stars. I built this room like a greenhouse. I am surrounded by an open view of the property around the house. Even now, the sun just crests over the horizon. The first rays of light stretch themselves to the edge of the trees. The original builders of Lignum Estate did a very nice job of clearing the trees around the house. They left most of the forest untouched. I am surrounded by pines and dogwoods. The pines offer a wonderfully green setting all year while the dogwoods add some marvelous flowers in spring and summer. They make for a very comfortable house.

Where was I? Oh, right, I was looking for my letters. I can’t find them this morning, so I was retracing my steps from last night. I ended up gazing at the stars last night. I could have knocked them into the floor.

Nope, they don’t seem to be there. I would wager, then, that they must be on the desk somewhere. I must have put something on top of them. I have picked up everything on this desk. I still do not see them. There is only one thing left to do.

“Margaret, could you come help me for a moment?”

I hear her steps in the hall. She never rushes just takes her time. “Good morning, Margaret. I have misplaced my letters again. I know you usually put them on this corner of the desk. I don’t see them there. I must have moved them last night. Would you happen to know what I did with them?”

Margaret nods her head with a smile. “Of course, Mr. Edward. You did the same thing you always do with them. I know you appreciate my work around here, but you would really be better off remembering what you do with things.”

Margaret makes a move, but I remember something from last night. “You’re right. I moved them to this drawer, didn’t I?” I move to the bottom desk drawer and nearly roll over Margaret’s feet with the desk chair. “Oh, excuse me. I was just going to look in this desk drawer.”

Margaret grins and shakes her head. “No, Sir, you don’t put them in that desk drawer. That’s where your maps go. You most likely….”

She moves around behind me again. I get another thought and slide the desk chair between her and her destination. “Oh, I did make some adjustments to the maps last night. I travelled through an Eastern country this time. Remind me to tell you about it one day. I thought I made a good representation of that place. However, much has changed since my last visit. So, I must have moved the letters to this bookcase.”

I rummage through several stacks of papers but still no letters. Margaret just watches me with a laugh like an aunt watching her nieces learn to walk. “They’re not there either, Sir. You always put the letters in the same place. Why don’t you check your center desk drawer?”

I blink at her. “My center desk drawer? Where my pens are? Why would I put them there?” I recover and glide the chair back to the desk. What about that? There just behind the row for pens rests a stack of letters. I echo Margaret’s laugh. “You see that’s why I called you. I knew you would know exactly where they were.”

Margaret smiles. “Yes, Sir. I am glad you found them. Is there anything else I can help you with this morning?”

I look down at the floor. “No, I don’t think there is. I will just see what my correspondents have to say. We will then see where I am off to next. I predict.”

“Very good, Sir. Just call again if you need me.”

“Thank you, Margaret.”

A Forced Summons

Wow, Ferdia, you must be busy. I still feel the other message. I only left it two days ago. I should not be surprised you have not visited since then. I have never made this quick of a return to Ceird City. Really visiting any city again this quickly is strange to me.

Still feeling this old message is strange too. Is this what you find when you look for my messages? No wonder that you have no problem finding these things. This energy is strong. At least, this feels strong to me. I am still new to this though. I mean this message feels weaker than your messages. I sense it obviously anyway. The message ripples across my skin like feeling an approaching thunderstorm.

I am getting better at feeling the environment. I am grateful for your lessons on that. I watch during my whole journey into a meeting now. I can see how people become entrenched in their approach to things. Surely, they grow up with these examples all around them. Makes some sense then how they become fixated. Still, seeing these community patterns makes spotting the individual’s distraction easier somehow. I suppose it highlights the person’s quirks.

Mostly, I am still meeting with merchants, traders, and producers. Landowners and crafts-people go about things differently. Different cities have their generalities too. I knew that things were different among individuals as I mentioned to you. I just failed to realize how towns and cities differ. I learned that from listening to you about how you help people.

Anyway, I got distracted again. I hoped you would come yesterday. I figured you would not have enough time. I am just going to leave you two messages. You can just leave me one though. I just need to tell you what’s happening in this one.

So, I ride into Baile and see a man in tan riding pants and a black tunic. He walked around the well there. His gait was just off. He looked out of place. That’s seeing the environment. He turned to see me, and I saw the red lion of Riocht’s City emblazoned on his chest. I can only imagine how awkward he felt in such an out of the way village.

He greeted me and started to walk my way. He hands me a letter from the city leaders. They plead with me to return as quickly as possible. They tell me I need to visit immediately. Apparently, some group has scheduled a meeting in Riocht secretly. They did not reveal the group. They seemed very excited. Usually, they just request my attendance. This letter was forceful though. It is very unusual. So, I have to go to Riocht City to see what this is about.

The courier tells me that he is my escort. I told him I have two stops to make before I can leave. He counters with an imperative to ride with him. I just walked away. I left him standing there and went to my scheduled meeting. I met with a farmer who had a new plan for his produce. He wanted to pull up some trees. He was very particular about just needing one more donkey in his appeal. I wanted to make sure he had a real plan. You know what? He did. I paid for the donkey and left feeling very hopeful about that farmer. The courier was gone by the time I returned to the well.

I decided to come here next. Squilla resisted initially, but I convinced him. I bundled up in my wool cape against the morning cold. The temperatures drop more rapidly here. Back home, the temperature descends over a couple of months. Winter arrives slowly. Here, winter just arrives all of a sudden. That’s one thing I enjoy about my travels. I get to see how the climate varies across our country.

Squilla moved slowly just enjoying the chill. We arrived with the city in full swing. Many people pushed their way through the park. I shook my head as I watched the people from other cities adapt to Ceird. I could not help hearing your messages as I watched this transformation.

Squilla helped me out and navigated us toward the pub in the flow of traffic. You may want to know that the pub owner added fireplaces to the back porch. They are wonderful. I could begin to feel the cold even through my cape as we approached the pub. These fireplaces are so warm that I had to take off the cape before this message. They are very nice and look great.

I confess that I got to the pub with the market having a very strong day. I suppose the villages are sending people to find provisions for the winter. I got distracted watching folks for a little bit. I saw one older man with a younger companion. The younger ended up carrying all the purchased stuff. He reminded me of a donkey. The older one not only passed bags of stuff but also gave instruction at each stall to the younger. I watched the older show the younger how to select late season fruits and furs. I figure the younger will face this task of provision buying next year.

Anyway, I got preoccupied again. I wanted to let you know why you would not hear from me for a while.

I have enjoyed our conversations these past few months. You have really helped me focus my task selection too. Just remember that farmer in Baile. On my recent tour, I just chose four requests from each county. This allowed me to focus on the task in front of me. I did not have to worry about arriving for the next task on time because I could schedule them leisurely. I spent as much time with each of them as I wanted.

Okay, I hope that is all for now. One day maybe our paths will cross, but I look forward to hearing from you when I get back. I should not be long.

Leaving Home

Borrowed from

Borrowed from

“You must pardon me, Kayn. I just received a message from the order to come to Riocht at once. I managed to pull Mansit by Dair to leave one more message. I understand it is out of our sequence. I wanted you to know that you might not hear from me for a while.

“I last visited Ceird a couple of weeks ago. I completed my rounds since then. I visited this one farm where the workers had an issue with the landowner. It passed without interest. As usual, I just tried to get both sides to listen to the other. Both of them had a reasonable point, but they just wouldn’t hear the other side. Once the dispute was aired, they reached an agreement in record time.

“One mother drew my attention because of her sick child. The child is doing well now. I had to listen to both child and mother to identify the complaint. Now, I did rearrange the child’s room a bit. The toy chest was right on top of the child’s bed. The mother wanted an active child badly enough to exhaust her child and only place things to play with near the child. Still, I talked with both mother and child about expressing their desires a bit clearer.

“I, even, stopped in on yet another couple having problems. I still can’t believe that I have resumed romantic tasks over these last few months. The first couple of tasks were rough as I told you. I couldn’t get out of my own mind long enough to assess the problem. Now, though, I have a better idea of what to look for and must listen to the individual tale in front of me. If I am willing to listen long enough, the source of the complaints will reveal themselves. I’m just fascinated by the actual problem rarely being where people start.

“These new tasks are a credit to you. I remembered dad’s lessons of listening in these moments and connecting to that individual story that is these folk’s marriage. Your ‘specific distraction’ continues to revise my process in surprising ways.

“In other words, I’m grateful for our correspondence. I am seeing things which I’ve forgotten. I probably picked up more from mom in the people category, but I’m learning to combine the perspectives of mom and dad better thanks to your perspective. Even in a very personal case like the mother or the marriages, people still draw a lot from their environment. They focus on different tasks depending on where they are and have a pretty set way of going about them. Yet, there are these little quirks to the equation that only the individuals have.

“Mansit and I road into Dair this morning. The sun rose brightly over the trees. I can’t think of a place I would rather be when I saw such a welcoming scene. Mansit hustled down the knave at the start, but even he slowed to a trot by the time we reached the tree. Mom would be proud of such a sight. The cool morning already shows the leaves falling from the trees, and soon the shrine will be bare.

“Right now, though, folks have been busier than usual. The cooling temperatures inspire a rush on the shrine before winter, it seems. They know I will work all winter. Still, they make an explosion of prayers in the last few months before the cold. I actually don’t mind this. Because of the lull in winter, I can clear some of these prayers and have the shrine in great shape by spring.

“I look at hundreds of rags, yet I can’t take a single one of them. I must go to Riocht because the order calls for an assembly. We do this from time to time. Our leaders like to get us to gather and hear what we’re doing. I received their letter as I was riding from the mother with the child’s house. Mansit started quickly in the cool morning, and another rider emerged just as quickly from the fog.

“The leaders of the order pitch these gatherings as assessments, but the gathering becomes more of a party than anything else. Everyone gets together and shares what they are working on. We toss suggestions for help around a campfire. So, we get more support out of these trips than we do formal assessments. Although, I recognize there is plenty to learn about us if our leaders listen at these things. We reveal more about ourselves around the campfire than they could see testing us.

“I’m looking forward to seeing everyone, but these rags will weigh on me the whole time. I’ll have to remember your lessons to stay with them and see what they have to say.

“I might even have more to share this time because of your lessons. Usually, I just find a place near the back and let the others vent. They tell of every task they have taken since the last gathering. Everyone questions what the person did. I suppose some of the other druids hear helpful things. Mostly, I think the other druids just enjoy venting their frustrations. Although, I changed my approach, so they might like to hear that. That’s an interesting idea.

“I’m not looking forward to the journey. I generally get distracted by things, so I take longer than I need to. Maybe that explains why my letter sounds as if the leaders are in a hurry to get everyone assembled. I wonder if all our letters sound the same.

“Oh wait, Riocht is your home, right? Well, that question raises a whole new prospect.

“And, did you tell me that you often get tours of Riocht’s shrine? I wonder if you will get a tour this time. If they like showing off the shrine at other times, I would imagine they would leap at the chance to show it off now.

“Well, that prospect should keep my mind occupied. It might even make me less prone to distractions. Besides, I hear Mansit neighing, so I must depart. We shall see what happens.”

Dealing With Change

Morning at the Pub

Morning at the Pub

Well, Mansit, you better have enjoyed your stroll from Gort this morning. You delayed us just long enough to fight everyone arriving at the gates. I know the cooler morning made the journey more comfortable for you, but it’s down right chilly these days. Plus, I will never understand your skill at navigating these crowds.

Now, don’t ney like that. You did very well getting us here. Look the usual table is still open. You know well that the energy there will keep many people away. So, you got us here exactly when we needed to be.

I guess I’m just concerned about today’s task. I will just tie you up here and go get my biscuit and tea. Maybe that will give me a moment to see what Kayn has to say and prepare for this task.

The sun warms things nicely even under the new porch cover. Few people are even out at the pub right now, and the waiter from my last visit is still here. I’m glad to see the pub owner getting some people to stick around. Now, let’s get comfortable and see what happens this morning.

I don’t even know why I took this task. I haven’t taken a pink rag in years, so what motivated this task? There are even more pieces to these disputes than with the business disagreements. They dive into the disagreement much like negotiating a sale. Everyone looks for getting out of it with the best deal for themselves and tend to overlook the other side. I can’t believe I took this on.

The latest additions to the pub seem to block the sun well. I can see the merchants setting up their stalls sweating already. It’s cooler here though. I feel the temperature rising, but the cool edge to the morning remains. The pub owner really did a nice job building the cover to the porch. Everyone seems a bit more comfortable and less running around. No one has bumped into me today.

I must leave here soon. When the market opens up, I will have difficulty getting to the residential areas on the back side of the market. Plus, I will need to get to the house before the couple leaves. I know they are hesitant to leave in the morning because they want to work this out, but neither of them wants to be the one to apologize first.

Oh, here comes the waiter. “Good morning, Ferdia. Welcome back; would you like your biscuits and tea this morning?”

“Yes, I would, Jacques. How are you today?”

“Hey, thanks for asking. Doing good so far. Folks are just arriving here. Lots of your fellow travellers this morning. Should be a good day for us and the market in that case. Give me a moment, and I will get your breakfast.”

“Thank you, Jacques.” That’s a good kid. So far, he’s improved his skills on the job, but he keeps his energy. I pray he can keep that up. His staying is a good sign.

Now, let’s see what message Kayn has left.

Ah, the confident, kind voice.

“Ferdia, thank you for your last message in Dair. I reached the shrine late at night and had to get Squilla, that’s my horse, to help find the message. You placed the rag well, but I overlooked it. Squilla proved herself again as an amiable companion.

“Our families taught us much about the work we do, didn’t they? I was complaining to Squilla on the way in that I need to be more deliberate in choosing tasks. That was a lesson Mom tried to teach me, but I keep forgetting it. I look around your shrine and notice that you receive as many rags as I do letters. Do you find it difficult to select tasks because there are just so many?

“Oh, have you ever seen the rags at night? They glow in the trees. I thought the stars were leaking through the canopy. Then, I realized the colors and drew a sense of peace from all the colors shining. That’s really amazing. Was that another imprint of your mother?

“Anyway, looks like I got distracted again. I just got to Ceird from Baille, and your messages about the context is amazing. I never noticed before that only in certain environments do people act in certain ways. That perspective really helped me clarify the ‘specific distraction,’ so thank you for that.

“People move in Baille different than they move even here in Ceird. Much more purposeful on the farms than in the city. I mean the people here move with a focus, but they don’t really seem to focus on things around them. On the farms, it seems the opposite. They get so focused on what’s around them that they miss their distraction easier.

“I don’t know. This is all still new to me, so I am still trying to figure it out. Do you find that our work gives a unique perspective on folks? I mean we get to see them at pretty vulnerable points. They let us into their lives in ways that they refuse to let others in, so what does that allow us to see?

“Well, I don’t know what brought on that reflective bit, but I have to go meet this merchant. I’m not even sure what he wants to do, but we’ll see, I suppose.”

The sun is very bright now, so the heat in the market will be difficult. Folks will move even faster to get out of the sun. This will create some more bottlenecks, so I better get moving myself.

I must remember to answer these questions in my next message. Family definitely shaped my journey, and I hear that it did hers as well. That’s interesting. The focus on her work is encouraging too. I can’t imagine caring for the entire country. Riocht is a massive place, and I am grateful that I just have one county. Though, maybe she has a point that our work is linked some how?

That question should keep me duly distracted for the ride to the residences. I’ll just let Mansit lead the way and contemplate these new pieces. Time to go get Mansit.

Looking for Connections

Woman on Horseback

Found here:

The sun may be directly in my eyes, but I can still see that we made it to Dair, Squilla. We rode a long time today. I feared we would never get away from Riocht City. I scheduled too much for the last adventure around the kingdom. My letters stacked nearly to the ceiling. I ought to remember by now to make more deliberate choices in who I help. As a result, I could limit that piling of letters and be more helpful perhaps.

Actually, I recall Mom trying to teach me a very similar lesson when she first took me along. She never planned more than four or five stops on her journeys. She still answered every letter. No one wrote without receiving a response, but she didn’t visit everyone. Meanwhile, I think I had twelve or thirteen slated for my last trip. I must remember to be more specific next time.

Yes, Squilla, your snorts are as pointed as ever. I realize I recall that lesson after every trip. Maybe if I keep saying it, I will learn the lesson? Anyway, let us enter the shrine and see what we can find.

The temperature drops with the sunset, Squilla. That should make you feel a little better. The ride today was hot, I know. We covered a lot of ground today. I doubted whether we would reach Ceird County by nightfall, but we did just barely. We still have a couple hours of daylight, so maybe we can still see for the most part.

I have not been away as long this time. I know I rushed leaving this time, Squilla. I left half that stack of mail in my study. However, I was at least more deliberate in my tasks this time. I’m glad you find this funny.

Still, I hope that my short departure has given Ferdia enough time to leave me another message. The other counties only confirm what he said in his last message. They all move their citizens in certain ways. They all have a certain feeling to them. This feeling just seems to invade every aspect of what the citizens do. I don’t know how I missed such a thing earlier. I should perhaps tell him that in my next message.

Course that might depend on what I find here tonight. He certainly has his ideas. He sounds very committed to them. I wonder if he can notice anything else after so many years of work. Though, I guess I learned something new, so there could be hope for him.

The trees are already blocking the sun. This knave is very shaded. The sun streaks through the trees like the first light of day through my curtains back home. Ah, I see the knave is already working its magic. I’m feeling comforted already. I’m glad I can still see too. Squilla, we may get this done after all.

Thank you, Squilla for quickening our pace a bit. I am aware that we still have a long ride ahead of us. We must reach Baile by tomorrow, and we will need most of the night to get there. We have to pass south of Ceird City for tonight’s ride, but we could stop by there on the return trip, if we find anything here.

Okay, I will tie you to this tree and wander around the Dair Tree to see what I can find. Ney if anyone comes down the trail. I would not want to disturb any one. Surely, if they are coming at this point, they do not want to be seen. Now, let me see what is here tonight.

This Tree is fantastic. I know it isn’t the oldest, but it seems bigger than the Riocht Tree. I wander if Ferdia’s mom had anything to do with that. If she could expand that knave, could she have helped the Tree grow too?

Though, I suppose Ferdia learned more from his dad about their work. If Mom stayed here, Dad would be the one who showed Ferdia the job. Strange how opposite our families were. Could be a blessing though. We both learned what we needed to learn in our own time.

I heard that, Squilla. Yes, even if we are still learning some of those lessons.

Anyway, Ferdia and I do seem to have very similar work. I mean he definitely has a more difficult job taking care of all these people. I can look at these rags and see how much they lean on him. He must fulfil his duties much like I do. I suppose this is his pile of letters. He must take these and build his own list of tasks. I wonder how he goes about it. Was he as deliberate as Mom, or does he take on all comers like I do?

Oh, now the sun shines only from the Western edge. The shadows are creeping across my path quickly. I wonder how long I will be able to see? Though, the colors of the rags still look vibrant. They are shining in the dark. Greens, whites, blues, and pinks all look like little stars in the trees. This is marvellous. I’m sure the rags look overwhelming in the daytime, but something about this comforts me at night.

Look, Squilla, there are some dark spots in all the clusters of rags. Even some of the pink clusters are missing. Do you recall any of the pink rags missing last time? I didn’t think so. Well, that’s an interesting change. Also, there seem to be fewer green rags missing. Did he focus on pink and blue this time? I wonder why he would do that.

Well, I might as well start at the base of the tree. Hopefully, if these other rags glow, his will too. I don’t see anything there though. In fact, I don’t see any weeds here at all. He must have cleared them. If he cleared them, why would he not leave the message in the same place?

Oh, maybe he wanted to separate my message from these others. That would be nice of him. I will circle the border trees of the grove and see if anything is there.

Squilla, help me out. I don’t see anything here. Do you see anything? Everything is just getting dark. I am tripping over roots now. I bet anything grey will just blend in at this point. I guess we will have to come back at during the day.

What was that, Squilla? Oh, what’s that in your mouth?

You found it. Thank you. Where was it?

Ah, it was above your head. Well, that was a convenient place to put it. I should have paid more attention. I will just sit here then and see what he has to say.
Now, how does this go? Sit, still my breathing, and fall into the rag. There is that quiet voice.

“Hello, Kayn. I am glad that you wanted to come back to Dair. Yes, Mother did some excellent work on the Shrine. I hope that I have taken reasonably good care of it. I can’t give it the attention that she did, but I do what I can.”

Oh please, Ferdia, this place looks better than half the shrines in the country. Carry on.

“I don’t know how you managed to notice a ‘specific distraction’ in Ceird. That place is busy. People come and go. They rush from place to place just forcing their way over the others. The market drives that city. The buying and selling seems to filter into everything that goes on. I’m not even sure that people can see their own distractions.

“But, after I listened to your message, a merchant stopped at my table. He played with this locket. It had a sketch that he drew as a child in it. What do you know: there is a ‘specific distraction’ I reckon. I guess that the distractions are the background noise. You know those parts of us that are always playing just beneath the surface. I’m still uncertain of this, but I must admit that recognizing that locket smoothed our conversation. In the end, he helped himself, and I didn’t have to say a word.

“The whole exchange reminded me of my father, so thank you for that. I will have to go now. I have a few new tasks to get to. I look forward to your next message in Ceird.”

So, the sun is completely down now. That’s going to make tonight’s ride an even longer one. I really need to be going. Squilla, I hope you got some rest. Oh, you were asleep. That’s good for you.

Ferdia sounded contemplative, Squilla. He sounded like he was trying new things and remembering his own lessons. I have plenty to think about, so I will at least be awake the whole ride. Let’s get started.

Morning Distractions


I need to do this more often. Ceird city doesn’t get going until after sunrise. I had no trouble navigating the park or the warehouse district this morning, and there was no one at the pub when I got here. I had my choice of tables.

The sunrise was beautiful. The sun crept over the tops of buildings. Slowly revealing the open market square and everything around me. Like the long-awaited answer to a question, the sun took its time before shining on us all. The market place was empty, and only one other guy sat out here on the pub’s back porch.

The pub just now opens for business. The sound of the door to the pub opening for the first time today draws my attention. A young man comes out and goes to the other guy. Good, this waiter quickly took the other order, so he is just getting started. Although, this child probably already knows that he doesn’t have a lot of time. Things must be done quickly here or not at all.

“Good morning, sir. Oh, you’re a druid. It’s an honor to serve a druid. I’ve never served one before. You must be Ferdia. My mother talks about your dad like he was the best servant our county has ever had. She says he always had the solution at hand. Your legend is spreading too. Your ploughing festival was incredible. I really felt the earth, what did you call it, reflecting on itself?

“Listen at me. I’m sorry. I forget my place. My name is Jacques, and I’ll be your server today. What can I get you?”

I can’t help shaking my head. I didn’t know I had fans. Dad always had more patience for the fans than I have. Still, “I would like a cup of tea and a biscuit with some fruit if I may.”

I swear the kid looks disappointed. “Well, if that’s all I can get you, I will have it out in a few minutes.”

Now, the swarm descends upon my quiet little scene. The stall-carts are already being hustled into place. Canvas coverings are ripped from their riggings. How do they keep these things in shape with such treatment?

What was that?

“Excuse me, sir. I didn’t mean to bump into your chair. I guess I just wasn’t paying attention. Going to be a big day at market, and I just have a lot to do.”

I close my eyes and exhale quickly. “No worries. You have much to do. The world has many tasks for us, so I bless you. I hope you receive from this day all that you need. May you make up your losses and turn a corner in your trade.”

This stranger bows his head. “Thank you, sir. I will certainly do what I can.” He marches off the porch and bounds toward his stall.

Now, I have my own business to get to. I saw that the pub owner added a new table out here, so I had to feel around for a minute. Still, I can feel some energy here. I close my eyes and fall into the chair.

There’s the strong, airy voice of my correspondent.

What was that?

“Morning, sir. I am sorry to disturb you, but may I use one of these other chairs? My party is too big for the chairs they put out here.”

I blink several times at the small woman in front of me. She tapped me on the shoulder very politely, so I choke my criticism of disturbing a druid in meditation. “Of course, take as many as you want.”

She squeals “Thank you, sir. I was a bit worried about disturbing you, but you have the only open seats this morning. Can you believe it’s already this busy here?”

She takes two chairs, and I smile “No, I cannot. However, if you are not up with the sun, you could miss the first sales of the day, right?”

She smiles back with a quick nod. “You are absolutely right. Thank you for the chairs.”

As she leaves, I find the energy in the chair again, settle my breathing, and fall back into that sensation. Yes, there’s that voice again.

The voice starts with hesitation, but that hesitation fades quicker than usual. I suppose my last message helped a bit. “Thank you so much for leaving your last message in Dair, Ferdia.

“Dair is a wonderful place. I never visited your shrine before. Lots of counties give me tours of their shrines. I always feel a bit awkward at these things. I sense that I am walking on people’s sacred space. Maybe that is why you don’t give them. The peace in your shrine must really help people focus on their prayer. I just felt the cares that I brought with me there melt as I went down your mother’s knave. Remarkable what your family did with that shrine. I know it is the second oldest, but I figure your family made such an impact that what was old is made new again. I can tell you care much for that space and attend it well.

“Listen to me. Where are my manners? My name is Kayn. I understand the welcomed burden of carrying on family traditions. My parents introduced me to my role. My siblings were more interested in managing the investments and running the business. My parents though wanted a way to give back a bit to our country. They went looking to offer assistance to those trying to improve their lives. Like you, I recall being escorted to all kinds of places with my mom and dad. I’m sure I hampered their work, but I learned a lot from seeing them work. I hope that I can carry on their legacy while making it my own.

“I’m sorry if this message is as confused as the random notes that I apparently left. The people in the market keep distracting me. After my visit to Dair, I can definitely see that the city affects people differently, but have you ever noticed that everybody has their own distraction? A guy bumped into me on my way in here, and he was rubbing this ring on his left hand. I’m hoping that he sells enough today to provide for his family. I can see people now using their distractions in a certain way because of what they feel from around them, but they still have those particular distractions, don’t they?

“Right, I did it again. I got distracted by this place. Back to us. I appreciate the encouragement of your notes. I suppose even travellers need a bit of contact every now and again. I look forward to your next message. Please, leave it in Dair. I would like to visit there again.”

The light blinds me as I return to sitting in the pub. Kayn did very well with this message.

Though what was she talking about? How can anyone have a “particular distraction?” They’re moving too fast and competing for every step. What can she be seeing? I’m not sure about this.
Someone calls me from the back porch gate. “Ah, druid, I have a question for you.”

The man bounds through the gate and pulls up one of the vacated chairs from another table. He doesn’t ask anyone there if he can use the chair. The speed and focus on accomplishment is obviously driving this guy. Just the pressure to compete and expand is obvious.

He starts asking about how the market space is assigned. He never gives me a chance to answer before shifting topics to what he does. He continues by telling me about what he knows of the market and how successful he has been. The gloating demonstration that he belongs here shifts into criticism of his fellow merchants. He can see a market need that now one else recognizes. He is really the best merchant here.

What’s that he keeps playing with? He is holding a small, oval locket in his hand. Ah, there is a child’s drawing of a family, but the drawing is old and the edges have faded.

The merchant pauses for breath, so I ask if he inherited his business from his father. The man jerks his head back. “Yes, I did. My father constantly explored new merchandise and really brought some exciting things to market. I think this is why he was more successful in market than I am.”

We continue to talk about business and market space. He circles around to lessons he has neglected from his father, and the merchant acknowledges that he might just need to apply some of those lessons.

The merchant thanks me and flies back out of the gate toward the market. Then, the waiter appears and asks if I need anything else. I offer to pay for my breakfast and tea, but the waiter refuses to accept it. Another table calls the waiter over, so he apologizes to me and goes to help them.

I inhale deeply. I need to be refreshing my task list, so maybe it is time to get moving again. I can head back to Dair, leave a message, and get some new tasks. I might even stop by and see that kid with whooping cough on the way.

I place some money on the table and leave the pub.

A Commitment to Explore

Oh no, there are two tables by the back-porch gate, Squilla. There is only one tie-up though, and it happens to be near the only open table. Yes, Squilla, that does make the choice rather easy, but thank you for clarifying your guess. Since I now have to wipe your snort off that table, I will use it.

These canvas shades over the tie-ups look new. They will give you a bit of rest from the sun. I hope you have the chance to cool down a bit. I know the morning ride must have been draining. The weather is already hot this summer. Well, you just wait here, and I’ll go clean up that table. Let’s see if I can get a message to Ferdia before the meeting with another merchant.

That man nearly ran me over coming out of the gate. He never even slowed down to think about holding it open for me. He must be in a great hurry to get back to his booth.

Oh look, he is rubbing that ring on his left hand. His thoughts of family distracted him. I hope he sells enough today for their sake.

Now, that mess didn’t take long to clean up. I will just sit here and think until a waiter comes to take my order. Plus, I can put my back to the wall of the pub and look out over the whole market.

They set this pub up well. This wooden porch is strong and looks out over the whole market. A nice breeze cuts across the porch this afternoon, and the heat feels less stifling than when Squilla and I were riding in. It’s simply more comfortable here.

Wow, there’s the one o’clock bell toll. I do not remember hearing any of the other tolls this morning. I must have been in the city for two hours, and I can usually hear the tolls all the way in the park just inside Ceird’s gates. I have a couple hours before that merchant arrives, so I could get a message off yet.

There were a lot of people in the park this morning. Maybe that’s why I didn’t hear the bells. I just got caught up trying to get here. We definitely moved at a faster pace than getting to the city, and we moved at a sprint compared to Dair.

Ferdia must have spent so much time telling me about the shrine so that I would notice that difference. Dair was a very peaceful place, and I can appreciate the order’s work there. That long knave did exactly as he said it would.

Still, I cannot imagine why he did not tell me more about himself. What we bring into the environment affects us.

Look at these merchants. Each one of them has a thousand different distractions that really motivate their work. Like the guy playing with his wedding ring. His family will cause the treatment every customer receives no matter how sales are actually going.

I wonder what that merchant will bring with him today. He sounds like he just wants a bigger booth, and he mentioned a repayment plan in his letter. I hope he proves as better prepared than Seamus as he sounds. I know he has some distraction though, so I wonder what he will bring with him.

How about this one, a few steps behind the pub? He keeps knocking things over and waving his arms at the other booths. He over fills his merchandise to show he wants a larger booth. That concern limits what his customers can see and buy. So, his distraction of wanting a larger booth is the motivation.

That could well be the guy coming this afternoon. Then, he would bring trying to keep up appearances. Our discussion will be about him showing me that he is as good as anyone else. Such actions will reveal a lack of belief that he is as good as others. Appearances are a major concern to many.

But, this guy behind the pub is not my appointment. Most people I meet take the day off before arriving. They prepare all day, so I will wager instead that I have never officially met the guy coming this afternoon.

Oh, hi. No one has waited on me yet. I would like a sandwich and a house ale. Thank you.

Now, where was I? Oh yes, I remember. Life is lived in the environment, and we respond because of what we bring into it. Ferdia failed to mention any of that. I am confused about what he intended to tell me in his message. I am glad for a name and the help with leaving messages, but I still lack any idea of what to say to him.

Does he want some kind of mutual cooperation? Or just to make sure that I am okay? I must have seemed like just another person with a problem.

Though, he did tell me about his family and how he got into his work. Well, I could tell him that and maybe a bit about people. That way we will exchange a bit.

I don’t know. This could just be a correspondence thing. We will exchange messages, and that will be all. I would appreciate someone who could understand the struggles of traveling around. He would be good for that, and I think he would appreciate that too.

I keep getting distracted by watching the lives of the merchants. That one on the other side of the pub’s porch keeps wiping down his booth and himself. He has some very nice inventory, but he gives the appearance of a dirty stall. People must be as concerned as he is then about the actual quality of goods. There’s his distraction. We just bring all that with us.

Huh, yes, thank you for bringing me my order. And you brought a flower for the table. That was very thoughtful. I will not need anything else for the moment.

I guess they get these flowers from the park. I don’t see anyone selling flowers like this. Besides, I think I passed a bush with similar flowers on my way this morning.

Squilla and I moved so much quicker through the park than Dair. All the short bushes frame the city’s interior well. I can chart my course quickly and move faster. In Dair, everything was blocked by the tall trees. The trees limited what one could carry with her.

So, I could include that too. He did show me something. I will tell how I got started and get him to look at the life around the pub. That sounds like a plan for this message.

Yikes, another bell toll. I missed another toll because this one says three o’clock. My next meeting will be here any minute. But, I have to get my message out.

I wish Ferdia had given me more an idea of what to say, but at least he did give me an idea of how to say it. Now, if I can just focus on those ideas. I’ll close my eyes, focus on this seat, and maybe answer his invitation.

New Places, Old Path


Look, Squilla, we are back in Ceird County. The fields always seem so lush in this part of Riocht. No wonder they provide most of the food for the kingdom. I expect we will have a much better trip this time. From his letter, this merchant only wants to expand his booth in Ceird City, and he even hinted at a repayment plan. Maybe this guy has a better idea than Seamus.

Squilla, those snorts are awful. Yes, I am aware there is another reason for travelling this hot road this morning. You also know I have likely been away too long. We received no messages since we have been away, so I have likely missed out.

Well fine, you just be that way. We will see what we find today. You really should have suggested visiting the shrine earlier.

Huh, these trees certainly come out of nowhere. I suppose that is a testament to the work of the order. Though judging by the fields, they had plenty to work with. I guess you could grow anything here. Now, how do we get into Dair?

Good eye, Squilla. This canopy does a better job than the clouds at cooling things this morning. Why have we never visited this shrine? In other regions, folks have given tours of their shrine, but no one has ever brought us here. The oldest shrine in Riocht, next to the capital’s, and we have never made the time to visit. So, at least we get to correct one error today if not more.

I really expected more side paths. This one is just straight and long. Still, a calming effect does settle in the longer we go. The mix of magnolia and spruce is pleasant. The pointy leaves with their flowering friends really feels like a place where life comes together.

Oh, Squilla, look at that spruce tree. It must be the Dair Tree. I wonder if it came from my family’s land. The trees along the back-garden look a lot like this one. Although, my trees are not as big or as full as this one. Of course, no one from the order has cared for my trees. No wonder, that group was charged with caring for the shrines.

Those must be the prayer rags. I have heard much about them, but I have never hung one. I guess they work a lot like the letters I receive. People have a problem, come here, leave a message, and then the local druid comes by and selects the ones with some possible solution. Though, I must have some experience with them given the random messages received during my last few visits. How does all that work? I cannot begin to imagine. They have been encouraging on occasion though. Yes, fine, Squilla, on more than just an occasion.

Okay, Squilla, I will leave you here at the opening to the Dair Tree area. Looks like the warm spring already gives you some weeds to eat. Just neigh if anything starts to come down the trail.

Oh, now I see the side paths. I should remember that these shrines are set up so people will leave the rags at the central tree. That must be why I did not see any trails off that entrance trail. Still, I see people have left their rags there anyway. I wonder if that creates any more work for the druid here. I guess that it depends on who is in the area.

My goodness, there are so many prayers hung on this tree. Let me see. If I recall, the blue ones are for medical issues. I would have to go beyond creativity to come up with a medical issue.

Hmm, what about a white one? I could pitch a greater unity between the politics of Ceird County and this druid. Yeah, we could move him into more official channels, and maybe visitors would get a tour of this shrine like in other counties. Plus, he could likely get some recognition for work done on occasion.

No, on second thought, this county seems to have a druid who uses the current set up well. Official channels would only add extra burdens which seem unnecessary to how things function here.

Okay, I could definitely see several reasons for using a green one. I could offer money or ask for help with my money decisions. I will present an offer of patronage. The druid here will have to respond because of my rank. Then again, I am setting up for a very specific meeting which might very well make this guy uncomfortable. Same goes for asking for help. Such a request would cement the view that I am just another petitioner. Do I simply want to be another task?

Well, let me think.

Oh, Squilla, you scared me. Is there someone coming? No, you just want me to think about the pink ones. Yes, I do remember what those are for, and you’re right that pink one might be the most appropriate. However, many of the pink clusters look undisturbed. That would suggest leaving those alone, Squilla.

Just let me think. I will just have to get creative in order to get noticed.

Although, even if I am recognized, I have been away from this county for weeks, so I have likely been forgotten by now. I received messages regularly when I did my last tour here, and the voice seemed to build on past messages to me.

Very likely, I just seemed like someone else with a problem. And, the voice never reached out to know more. Likely, he was just leaving random thoughts along the way. Maybe he was just leaving messages out of a sense of duty or venting knowing that it was unlikely anyone would receive them. After all, there are less prayer rags here than I have seen in other shrines, so this druid must be dedicated. Or maybe this guy just takes better care of Dair.

Still, he did seem to leave messages based on problems I was having. Could I have left something like a message for him? How could I even do that? I think Dad mentioned one time that we have family in the order, but they never came around. I could just be interpreting those messages in a certain way. Possibly, I am merely projecting my ideas like those who write me letters.

Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself. I just need to figure out how I am going to leave this message first. Looks like there are some low hanging branches, and maybe I could leave a piece of my skirt to stand out from the rest. Let me see if I can reach some of those branches.

Hold on, what is this? A piece of grey fabric has fallen among the roots. Well, grey is not a prayer rag color, that I recall. I suppose someone tore their garment trying to hang a rag. I could at least clear the trash.

Oh, I can’t see. Wait, this is that rush feeling I got with the other messages. Could he have already left one for me? That seems out of….

“Hello, my name is Ferdia.”

No, stop right there. Give me just a moment. There’s a circle of root that looks comfortable.

This will do nicely. Now, I can take my time. Okay, go ahead.

“Hello, my name is Ferdia. I’m sure you’ve figured this out by now. I am a member of the order and am the druid for Ceird County.

“I hope you are enjoying Dair Shrine. I find it a very comforting place. The long history and trees provide a welcome resting spot for all kinds of travellers. The trees are tall, and their limbs shade the area nicely.

“Plus, the history here runs as deep as the roots. I sometimes imagine that the trees feed as much from that as the fertile soil.

“The shrine is a great place to reflect and lighten one’s load. The space is open and quiet; it really provides a sanctuary like nowhere else in the county. The bustling expectations of the city are blocked by the plants, and the constant duties of the farm fall from one with the long knave. I think that knave was one of my mother’s finest pieces of work. So, the shrine really ensures people truly bring only what is most pressing on their minds to the Dair Tree. I secretly think Dad appreciated that focus when he went looking for tasks among the rags. Dair Shrine really is unique for its relaxing environment.

“Anyway, if you are hearing this, I have received many messages from you on my rounds. You sound like life is a bit complicated at the moment. Otherwise, I don’t know how I am getting your messages outside Dair.

“Still, from your messages, I imagine that we are in very similar lines of work. I’m wondering if there is some kind of mutual help we can provide each other. I know the life of traveling and trying to help is tough, so I wager some form of mutual venting could be useful.

“However, your messages have been confused and random. If we are to continue, make a choice to leave a thought (or several thoughts), focus on what to leave, and just let the thoughts flow. This way your messages will come with greater clarity.

“If you would like, I suggest we can begin a kind of correspondence through these messages instead of just stumbling upon them. So, go to the public house in Ceird, sit at the first table inside the gate to the back porch, and leave me a response. I should be along eventually and find it. I have some other tasks along the way, but I always seem to have a job or two in Ceird.”

My vision is clearing, so that must be the end.

Well, that was really short, and it pretty much just confirmed everything I already knew. Although, I like having that confirmation. And, I have a name. That is useful. But, why is he so interested in the environment? I mean he told me more about this shrine than about himself. How is that helpful? Oh well, he did offer some pointers on the message thing, and that is nice. I have a bit better idea about that. How was he still receiving messages when he left this? Though, I do not know when he left this message. And, he has given me a way to get back in touch with him. I guess this turned out better than I expected.

At least, I have a day’s ride ahead of me. Maybe I can come up with something to say by the time I reach Ceird. I think we can build on this correspondence idea. I will have to introduce myself too. Maybe I can even encourage some looking at the people especially in Ceird.

Although he must have left this message a while ago. Maybe he has already given up on getting my response. He has probably already completed his Ceird task, failed to find my response, and has moved on. I mean how long is he going to keep going back to the same spot?

Well, he does have to come back here every so often. So maybe he is a person of habit. Maybe he picked that place because he goes there often. He mentioned being a fellow traveller, so perhaps he will understand the passage of time.

Okay, I have already covered all that before. He gave me an invitation, so I ought to answer it at least. I should get Squilla and just see what happens.

Reaching Out

Look, Mansit, Dair seems to have fared well since our last visit. Usually, that indicates some very traditional visitors to the shrine. I always enjoy coming back here. The canopy shades the warming, spring sun pleasantly. I don’t see the usual clumps of rags here at the entrance. Also, the evidence of people looking for their favorite side trail from the knave is absent. Of course, all of this could merely indicate that people have stayed home this winter. Though, it wasn’t a particularly cold winter. Anyway, I wonder what the Dair Tree looks like then?

I’m already at the main tree. I know the entrance path is the same as always, but it really felt shorter this morning. Do you remember Mom telling us about this center spruce tree, Mansit? Yes, of course, you do. I think Mom enjoyed the connection to all her predecessors by caring for the shrine’s main tree. I wonder if she felt that caring for the roots stretched her all the way back to Riocht’s founders.

Don’t look at me like that, Mansit. I laugh because I can see her smiling broader caring for Dair’s tree than her working at any other task. I imagine that smile arose from such a connection.

Well, my little knapsack may be light at the moment, but there appears to be plenty to fill it. I’m going to tie you at this tree by the main path. The weeds are already responding to the warmth and rain of spring. I see plenty of them around the central tree and the entrance path. Help me out and eat some of that while I search for a new set of tasks.

Always I find myself conflicted here at the start. I hear the call to certain rags while sensing Dair’s call for attention too. Maybe I can let the call for maintenance to the shrine guide me to some assignments. Perhaps, I like coming back here for just this sense of conflict. That conflict between Mom’s care for the shrine and Dad’s care for the people.

Oh, there’s a couple of chipped roots on the Dair Tree below that cluster of rags. I can repair those roots by putting my hands here. Then, I must see the bark recovering the roots and surge my breath through the roots to reconnect the bark. Yep, that looks good.

Now, what about this cluster of blue rags? Three of the five are from members of the same family in Ceird. They say Grandma is sick, and no one can help her. Okay, that seems like a first task. I’ll take the oldest sounding voice and visit Grandpa.

Thank you, Mansit. I didn’t even think about clearing some of the branches, but I did almost hit my head on that one. That’s a good question. I’ve snorted about that too on our recent visits here. I mean I’ve received those random thoughts from the same voice for months now.

Obviously, she’s not very intentional about these notes, so possibly life is just really tough for her. Do you remember, Mansit, what Cacey said when we were in Gort? Yes, I agree on both counts that he has made a splendid recovery, and I can’t imagine traveling that far all the time. Sure, we do a lot of traveling, but she seems to cover the whole kingdom. I can certainly imagine leaving random notes myself if I were that busy.

Okay, Mansit, I found a couple of rags here, so I’ll go visit the side paths that branch off around the Dair Tree to see what folks left there. Dad always liked to work clockwise, but I have ended up on the other side. I don’t suppose counter clockwise will hurt. Already, there’s a cluster, but those are pink rags. I try to stay out of romantic issues.

But, there’s some blue ones. These sound like a child with whooping cough. I’ll try to remember this one. If I find something else in the area, I can come back for it. Kid might be fine by the time I get there anyway.

Well, most of them are pink on this path. I think I will try the next one. I don’t see anything in the first few feet here. Hold on, there is a grouping of white on opposite sides of the path. Sounds like an inheritance dispute in Tog. Amazing that both sides found the same space. Doesn’t sound like they would have come at the same time. Solving that would be good, so I will grab one of each and tie them together.

Now, I shall check the next path. Oh no, lots of green rags here. Money disputes are dangerous to help. Sometimes folks get the idea that the order has some ulterior motive there. None of them sound that interesting. Wait, here’s a couple or three reports on a bad boss skimping wages. In Ceird of course, well, that could be worth investigating.

Onto the next path. There lies a very worn pink one. Let me see. As I thought, there is no more message here. The rag is too faded, and the prayer was left too long ago for even the shrine to preserve it. Well, I will add this one to the fire later.

That’s another amazing thing about the notes from that voice. They can survive a week or more outside a shrine. I wonder then if the person has some unknown gift for this. Of course, another possibility arises: I could be just that attuned to the energies of the sender. I mean, at this point, I am probably looking for these notes unconsciously. I am so shocked by their consistency that I am likely searching for them without even knowing.

This factor may suggest that the voice is looking for mine too. After all, the voice did say something about using some thought I know I left after receiving one of the messages. Could indicate a search for my responses on her part, or at least receiving my responses.

But then why not come here? Surely every citizen knows about the order and what we do. I would think that knowledge would lead a person here if they are looking to communicate to one in the order.

What was that? Oh, the old, pink rag fell out of my pocket. That’s a good point though. What if the message is here, but I haven’t found it? She may have left a normally colored rag, and I failed to notice it. Nah, that would indicate much more intentionality than I have found so far. Even when I throw in the apparent responses, these are only hints, nothing concrete.

Well, I could leave an intentionally obvious rag for the voice to find here. I could leave a message, and it would last longer. If she were searching too, she might wander by and find it. That would be simple enough. I could use a piece of my cloak and attach it to the bottom of the center tree. If she remembers the legends for setting up shrines, she should look on the center tree first. I mean the founders set up the paths to give people time to think. They never intended for folks to leave stuff on the side paths.

Look at me. Now, I sound like one of the lot who posts things here for me. I am weighing every possible option for not only where I would look but also trying to predict where she will look.

Besides, this is madness. If she were as intrigued by random messages as I am, surely, she would have already been here. Plus, I can’t even guarantee that she received my messages. Also, if the reports from others are accurate about whom is possibly leaving these things, and I am counting on these being accurate. Furthermore, if they are accurate, she is very busy. So she may have more work than she can handle.

Yeah, I have already made those arguments to myself, yet here I am still considering the option. What could it hurt? I have to go by the Dair Tree before I can get to the next path, and I have plenty of duties to keep this off my mind. If no one finds it, it’s not like anyone else can hear it. I will need only a few minutes to get it done, so I wouldn’t waste much time. Plus, maybe I need to take the first step here. Let’s do it and see what happens.

The Dair Tree is really marvelous. It has stood longer than any besides the Capital Tree. Reportedly, the whole shrine sprang from this tree; though, obviously, magnolias must have been added since this is a spruce. Lots of roots break the surface too which is neat and a touch odd.

Now, I can just cut a little square from the back of my cloak. There we go. Then, I can say what I want. I will leave it right here at the front, and maybe she will wander by and find it.

All right, that’s done, so I need to get to finding the rest of my tasks and do the maintenance work before I rethink this silliness. Back to the trails then. I only have three more.

Property Concerns

I found this image at

I found this image at

The people trying to get out of Ceird block King’s Road into Ceird. I have not moved in at least an hour. A group of soldiers arrives to direct traffic.

I’ve never understood this set up. One of Riocht’s largest markets, but there is only one entrance and exit. Members of both groups yell insults to the soldiers for being late, yet we shouldn’t have needed them.

Finally, the grey, weather-beaten walls encompass me. They’re supremely functional; meaning they are tall, thick, and nearly impenetrable. I can hear the sentries marching along the top of the wall. Likely, they reported the mismanaged que, and I am grateful they did. The line of traffic moves very well now.

Mansit always seems to handle these moments better than I do. Folks constantly try to use my horse as a screen to advance themselves. He just slows or sidesteps to keep us moving at pace with the line.

I wonder where they go in such a hurry. Is their destination a place they want to go? I guess they’re off to their next sell or purchase. Most of them look like merchants. They push for their space. Well to expand their space because they already have some. Although I realize it is not much here. Like that woman in Gort, she had the whole house but just kept taking. She wasn’t satisfied with her own space and made others uncomfortable in theirs.

Now, Mansit and I pass into the common park just beyond the gate area to Ceird. More grey brick buildings stand on the other side. They make a very cramped skyline. King’s Road becomes the straight line through the park, and three or four roads branch from King’s to the various residence areas of Ceird.

Mansit immediately takes the fourth branch from King’s with no direction from me. This is Dad’s Road. He took it whenever he had business in Ceird. He usually left Mom to care for Dair, the area’s shrine. In their own way, both showed me what it means to be in the order. Dad liked this way because it got him out of the rush and ended up running one block away from King’s and parallel down to the market area.

Dad used this road to move quickly through the city. He had only a short time to deal with the requests and get back to his family. Even when he started taking me along, he knew I would get bored quickly, so he still didn’t have that long. He wanted to get to places quickly to ensure he could spend as long as possible listening.
I remember Dad sitting in this one bedroom apartment for two hours just listening to some old woman. I never quite figured out what her problem was, but she thanked Dad for solving it. She gave me fresh baked cookies, so I didn’t think too much else about it.

Well, Mansit, looks like we will reach the public house after all. We’ve really had no trouble once we left the King’s Road. And the pub has one remaining tie-up.

Look that Ceird merchant nearly misses that other merchant who is clearly trying to find his way. That’s the competition here, Mansit. The Cerdian defends his turf from the invader. They haven’t even made it to market yet, and already the two compete for a presence in this city. I hope that merchant finds his way. For now, I must attend to this property dispute.

How does property even work in this place? I don’t see any reason that someone could claim ownership. So, it must all be leased. That would mean that I am going to talk to a tenant and a landlord. I must first determine their relationship. Well, let’s go through the gate and see what happens. Huh, there’s a current here, and what do you have to say?

Oh, you have never done such a thing. I know sometimes moments are tough, but try to focus on the cause, and the message will come. You’ve made a good start, so you just need to finish. What’s on your mind?

“So this trader did not actually want help. He just wanted someone to solve the problem. He wants someone to launch this new business for him.

“He must be very nervous about changing his business. He is likely wondering if he will still be able to support his family. Plus, this business has been in his family for generations, so he worries about how he will look to his family. He anticipates them being disappointed in him. Such a thought leads to an expectation of embarrassing his children. Then, he will doubt his own ability to provide for his family. If his fears materialize, he anticipates his wife finding a better man.

“Goodness, I can see reasons for wanting someone else to assume the risk. His burden must be heavier than I initially gave him credit. He brought that burden to me. I don’t know how he would trust me to execute his plan, but I should be humbled by him sharing that with me.

“Yet, I would need more information to launch a business. He even lacked enough planning to pass the risk. No one can do this for him because he is still unsure what he wants to do. The threat of current failure flows into plans and leaves those plans flat. I hope that he can find some direction to commit.

“Still, I did what I could do. I listened to the concerns presented to me and asked a few questions. In this case, I wonder whether that is all I could do. Maybe I learned this lesson before?

“Maybe this trader just needed some help getting his thoughts in order. Seamus appeared to be at the start of this journey, so he just needed someone to unload on. His mind moves in a dozen directions. He just needed someone to listen and provide focus. Though I could have just made his mountain taller, I hope my questions will give him some avenues to explore.”

Well, it seems someone else had a tough day. I should probably take that open table in the corner before people start to stare. The sun has already warmed things, so sitting outside should not be uncomfortable.

I wonder how old that message is. I don’t figure it could be left long ago. The message is not at a shrine, and the woman had little skill. Perhaps, if Maria had not held me up, I could have met the speaker here? Or I passed her on the road and just wasn’t paying attention.

Although, I can’t imagine people bringing all that with them to the moment. I mean look at Maria: She unloaded all her stuff in that house. Look at all these people too. They are crammed in here on top of one another, so they compete for their space even before they get out of their homes. I bet this trader is more worried about making a bigger shop and buying a bigger house to show up his neighbor than necessities.

But, the messenger is right about listening. After all, that was Dad’s lesson. Sometimes all we can do is let people vent. Instead of having a solution what if I could just walk in here like I did in Gort? Maybe this place already infects me with its cramp-ness? Well those should keep me thinking for the moment, so let’s face these people. They do so love my backdoor entrances.