Notes continue for The Story of Jasmine:
As soon as Ahearn excused himself from camp, he headed straight toward the Lair of the Wichtleins, a disturbing tribe of people who were not above cannibalism. Ahearn had encountered tribes like this before in this primordial forest, when he traveled with his brother, Aiden (it seemed) ages ago. Through Aiden, he knew a lot about what to expect. His brother told him the Wichtlein tribes exercised a strict code of conduct and were comprised of three or four extended families.
Ahearn was fortunate to remember what those tribes loved and what they feared. Wichtleins loved to trade. Deep down, they were all mercenaries. Ahearn needed to think of something they were willing to trade for. If he had something they wanted, they’d fall in and act as any other merchants would and barter.
His brother Aiden was the first to negotiate a deal with the Wichtlein clans on behalf of the Dockalfarians. It happened in the northern part of this dark forest. In exchange for sacks of thick wine fermented from the fruit of a koaklula tree, Aiden bade them collect information. Essentially, the ever-curious Witchleins were recruited as spies. That’s how The Dockalfarians received every scrap of news, including what was happening in neighboring lands.
Once Ahearn was shuffled in front of the chieftain, the chieftain spoke, “I do not have a contract with you. You are not a person to me.” The Wichtlein code had a litany of phrases and formal declarations they would go through, always ending with “… You are not a person…” Aiden advised never to wait until after the recitation ended.
So Ahearn jumped right in, interrupting them immediately, “But oh, I AM a person AND a friend to you, Chief Solshigtr.” Ahearn was just as masterful at word inflection as Rogan. The chieftain was startled that his personal name had been spoken, and involunarily backed away. Ahearn looked at him cooly and without emotion. He excelled at this. Fortunately, he knew enough of the Wichtlein’s language to catch the chieftain’s name. Knowing and using the Chieftain’s name properly was imperative for Ahearn’s success.
Deciding to take things one step further, Ahearn repeated his words again, only this time, more slowly, and in their coded language. He only knew this important greeting phrase because his brother made him memorize it. For years, the phrase served as the brothers’ secret password. It was a password still, of sorts. Ahearn recited it beautifully in combination with the name of Solshigtr.
Ahearn remembered something Aiden always bragged, “Only persons of wit and cleverness will survive their first meeting.” Ahearn shuddered to recall another thing his brother warned, “there are never any hostages.” Since Aiden’s success, the Dockalfarians discovered that lawyers and merchants had the best instincts to deal successfully with these ritualistic cannibalistic tribes.
Success would be his only if they asked him to bargain. To survive the meeting, it was vital Ahearn use their codes to his advantage. To them, only Wichtleins were persons. They could never eat a person. The only ones outside their tribe who could achieve person status were negotiators/traders. To receive recognition to negotiate meant one was a person. Hence, Ahearn meant to win person status, determined to be categorized as “not meat” to these savages.
The Chief informed Ahearn they had been aware of them long before they entered the woods. “Friend, Solshigtr,” Ahearn answered, “I know you believe that I have nothing to bargain because my life is already yours.” Chief Solshigtr nodded and smiled.
“But,” Ahearn continued, “my bargain is to save your lives not mine…”
© 2018 DARLENE