Avalon 3.7: part 3 of 5, The History of China

“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?”

Nuwa Longshan village“Yes, that’s right.”

“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.”

“Yu?”

“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.”

“You are talking about the Yellow Emperor.”Nuwa Yellow Emperor

“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.

###

Nuwa Yak 2In the morning, Nuwa instructed her hoopers. “You need to go back out and around the group to give us warning if we get near anyone, or they get near us. Now, scat.”

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 Nuwa and Fuxikept 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.

moon 5

Avalon 3.7: part 2 of 5, The Geography Lesson

“I must say, this does not look like the silk road to me,” Lincoln said. “Are you sure we didn’t stumble on to the rock road?” They had to walk the horses all day because the terrain was rock strewn and the footing too uncertain.

“Well,” Nuwa responded. “We are pretty far away from home. I am sure you imagined taking a leisurely stroll along the He River.”

“It would have been nice,” Lincoln agreed

“Well, in this case, either we skirt the mountains—Tibet, where I believe the Pendratti are hold up in some underground lair, or we cross the Taklimakan desert. I suppose we could have looked in the Tian Shan, the mountains north of the desert, but the Di of the land do not fully control that area. The Tibet area also has much autonomy, but it is closer to home and the likely suspect.”Nuwa silk road 3

“Did you consider the Pendratti might have landed in the desert?” Katie asked. “They are reptilian, are they not?”

“Not enough flora and fauna to research, and too far from people other than the Qinjong, and they seemed to have made a pact with the Qinjong to supply people for their needs. The desert does have some strips and places where springs and winter melt allow for some surface water, but they will be my third choice for looking.”

“Tian Shan Mountains?” Lincoln asked. He was trying to work the database with one hand so he could keep the other hand on his horses reigns.

“The desert is minimally under control of the Di, and the Tian Shan are least under their control, sort of like Aesgard exerting some control over Russia, but less and less as you move out into Siberia. Siberia, in many places, is a bit like a no-man’s land. So it is with Tibet, the Taklimakan Desert in the Tarim Basin and the Tian Shan. The Shang-Di claims more than he can handle. The Tian Shan are mountains that really belong to Tien or Tian and his siblings, along with a chunk of Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Uzbekistan and other Stans.”

“Afghanistan?”

“No. At that point down the silk road you are getting into Brahmin territory, and he keeps edging toward the Indus Valley. It’s complicated.”

“Look out!” Roland yelled from the front. It appeared as if the whole side of the mountain was headed toward them. Conversation stopped abruptly as they mounted and road, dangerous footing for the horses or not. Katie grabbed Nuwa and hauled her up behind as she kicked Beauty into high gear. All of that loose rock was going to catch them, but at once it stopped, utterly and completely, like it ran into a damn.

Nuwa silk road 6Everyone looked at Elder Stow, but he shrugged. “I couldn’t get a screen up in time, and I have no screen strong enough to stop that.”

Nuwa got right down. “Tuti. Thank you.”

The rocks rumbled in answer and the ones out front crumbled into sand.

“I assume the Taklimakan has plenty of sand,” Lincoln said as he got back down, breathing hard, almost as if he had run that distance.

“Buckets full,” Nuwa said, but she was not paying attention. She was scanning the ridge.

“There,” Katie pointed and handed down her binoculars. Nuwa watched a small Pendratti ship take to the sky while a dozen or more Qinjong rode off on their ponies. She followed the Pendratti ship before she handed back the binoculars.

“I would say we are headed in the right direction,” Nuwa said, before she called. “Decker, Roland, Elder Stow! From here on you need to keep your eyes open for some kind of ambush.   Hoopers!” One hopped up to receive instructions. “Set your people around the group at a distance to give us warning if the Qinjong, Pendratti or others are coming near, or if we are going to come near them. Send your swiftest in the direction taken by the Pendratti craft. We may be near enough now that maybe they can long-sight where it lands.”

The hooper bowed and bounced off at a remarkably rapid pace. “I made them shortly after I made Friend, the first Hobgoblin, I mean Xiang me made them,” Nuwa mused. “It was like I made Friend carefully, like a fine sculpture, but for these I was sort of doing my laundry and threw the wet dirt at them.” Nuwa shrugged. “I think I had a bad marriage. I don’t recall, exactly. Then again, I wasn’t married to Fuxi the fish brained.”Nuwa fuxi fishing 2

“Why do you call him that? He has a good reputation in the myths,” Katie said.

Nuwa raised her eyebrows. “So I do something worth remembering and he gets the credit? It figures.”

“Not so, or not entirely,” Katie said. “You have quite a reputation yourself, and for more than just being a wife and mother.”

“I do? Well, don’t tell me about it because even if the legends are wrong, I don’t want to change it. I live in fear of knowing how history is supposed to turn out and then screwing it up. It is the law, you know. You aren’t supposed to tell the Kairos about things she hasn’t experienced. If anyone remembers me …” Nuwa laughed at the thought of being remembered in history.

###

“So where are we going?” Boston asked over supper. “Because as long as we are traveling with you, we certainly aren’t getting closer to the next time gate.”

“We are in a valley of sorts between the Kunlun Mountains and the Tibetan Plateau,” Lincoln tried to explain.

Nuwa silk road 4“No, we are actually on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau,” Nuwa corrected him. “The further we go, the more up we go. I will admit, though, in this place it now looks like a valley. But it will get difficult the further we go, which I suppose is why the silk road, once it got started for real, went around north of the desert by Tian’s Mountains.”  Nuwa chewed.  “One thing about Fuxi.  He is a good cook.”

“You mean we aren’t on the actual silk road?” Katie sounded disappointed.

“Not technically, but there is a way through, I think. Or Brama makes a way at some point. Anyway, it doesn’t start with silk and not much silk actually makes its way to Rome and Greece in the way far future. Not much, relatively speaking. I suppose more gets to India, but let’s be honest. Mostly the road is used to move slaves and drugs and sometimes armies.” Nuwa shrugged, like humanity could not help itself.