“But what about you?” Katie asked. “You are a long way from home. What is home like?”
“The doctor in ancient cultures and technologies speaks,” Lockhart teased, but no one begrudged the question.
“Longshan culture is what it is called in the future. Of course, we just call it everyday living. We live all around the Wei and the He Rivers, and trade and grow our grain and fish, and now that I’ve given Fuxi a fishing net, the fish can no longer outsmart him. Not really any soft metals yet, but I have tried some pictograph writing that even Fuxi can understand. Got to make it simple, you know.”
“Do you live in a village, a town, a city?” Katie asked.
“Village is the limit. We have some primitive, what is the word, irrigation?”
“Mostly we have floods, so life is hard, but there is not much we can do about that until just about Yu’s time, ages from now.”
“Yes. Let me think.” Nuwa was quiet for a moment. “Shao Lin—no wisecracks. I live in Xi’an and marry Chin Lo.”
“So you get to be Lin Chin?” Boston asked.
“Chin Lin, but I said no wisecracks. Well, I recall Lin was having trouble with nomads in her day, and did something about it. The result was the beginning of the Hsian Dynasty. That did not take hold until her son, or grandson Huang Di came to power. She was gone by then, but I remember, somehow, the Shang dragged him into a war with the budding states along the Yangtze, probably hoping he would lose. The result was he ended up with a good chunk of China to rule, covering the He and Yangtze Rivers.”
“Yeah, but it wasn’t a compliment in the south. It was because he ruled the Yellow River and they thought he should go back there. But let’s see, Yu was his grandson—no, great-grandson. Yu the Great, and he took the empire and first divided it into the nine provinces, and he started keeping some kind of records, carving on bones, as my poor pictographs had become stylized, even back then, or by then. Yu also built causeways, built up the riverbanks in places, and built the first canals, all to drain off the flood waters when the rivers overflowed their banks. It was far from a perfect solution, but it helped.
“Things went down hill and the Shang eventually took over. They lived in their Shang city, sort of like Washington, and they made everyone pay them tribute like taxes so they could live in rich luxury while the people suffered. That went on for way too long, but eventually they got overthrown by the Zhou. I was a woman then, too, during the overthrow, I think.”
“You know the impossible exam question, tell the history of China in ten minutes? I think you could do that.”
“Not really, but to be honest, I shouldn’t be saying all that out loud. You never know who might be listening in. Besides, you will meet Lin some day. Say hi when you do, but don’t tell her about anything I just said about her future children.”
“I will, I mean I won’t” Katie said, as Nuwa laid down and put her back to the fire.
Katie and Boston came up, and Boston watched the hoopers bounce off. A few even said “hoop, hoop” as they bounced. Katie had the next question.
“So how did you and Fuxi get together? History is kind of vague on that. It talks about a flood, and you being brother and sister.”
“The He floods all the time,” Nuwa said. “My father died hunting. Fuxi’s mother died in childbirth, both common events in this day. So my mother and Fuxi’s father got together, and we became step-brother and step-sister—but in this age we were simply called brother and sister, and you know brothers and sisters don’t marry. But the big flood came. Fuxi was about sixteen. I was thirteen, and everyone died or got swept off, downriver.” Nuwa paused to sniff before she shrugged. It was the normal way of things, not some terrible tragedy like it would be in other times and places. People grieved their losses, but not for long. They could not afford to be children about it, even at the age of thirteen.
“So you two—weren’t there more people that survived the flood, just not from your village?” Katie asked as they began to walk and follow the crowd
“There were plenty of people around, but miles away. We were alone. I thought we might climb the mountainside to see further in the distance and try and catch sight of where there might be people. Fuxi kept crying and said that we were the last two people in all the earth. We came to a shrine in the wilderness, and he fell on his face and cried out to the Di, and the Di came and told him that we should marry and replenish the earth. Not what I had in mind.”
“What do you mean the Di?” Boston asked.
“Di or Ti means exalted ruler, or power, or god on high,” Katie offered
“Shorthand for the gods of the east,” Nuwa said. “I don’t know who decided we should marry, but probably the Shang-Di, the god king himself. He once told me I could take my turns in his jurisdiction, but he would not make it easy for me. I think making me marry Fuxi the dimwit was his way of sticking it to me. I mean, I sort of gave myself away in the flood. I was thirteen and just opening up to the Kairos in me. It was the hoopers that saved me and Fuxi from the waters.”
“And he saw, and took advantage of that, you think?” Katie said. Before Nuwa could respond, Decker came riding in from the flank.
Be sure to return next Monday and Tuesday for the second half of episode 3.7 Roland and Boston have to decide between elf and human, and the wolf has to run extra fast to catch up.