*Note: Ship of Jirth is a continuation of an earlier story, People of the Sky. If you want to read more you can find story starting here
I was taken into the strange metal object, Priest of Jirth kept insisting it was a ship. I had seen ships, they looked nothing like it. The inside smelled wrong. A feeling of the world pressing down around on me, made me start to back out. Two of the armor wearing ones grabbed and hauled me further in. Priest of Jirth walked behind. “Be calm, Teacher of Einlari.”
My breath came in gasping waves. I fell against the hard, metal wall. I let out a cry as my lungs burned, my throat was closing. A felt a prick from my arm. My lungs filled with air. I laid against the wall in pure relief.
“Are you calm now, Teacher of Einlari?” I could see the Priest of Jirth kneeling beside me.
I nodded, bracing myself against the wall I stood up. My knee was aching with throbbing pain. I had overused it. “My knee.”
Priest of Jirth stood up with a fluid grace, I was growing used to it. “Do you have a physical aliment?”
“I have an old knee injury.” I motioned to my right knee. “I forgot my cane.”
Priest of Jirth stared at me for a bit. “Cane.” It bobbed its head. “Cane, yes, we will bring you another one.” It stepped away.
The hallway seemed strange to me. Lamps were recessed somehow into the ceiling and shining with eye stinging brightness. The walls had a strange, dull, metallic appearance. I could see a few recessed shapes, similar to doors, but there was no way to open them.
Priest of Jirth motioned to me. “You must see Doctor of Jirth. Doctor of Jirth will have suggestions to resolve your aliment.”
“Oh, it is only because of injury I had as a young girl. It is old age more than anything.”
Its skin flushed blue. The color was new, I pondered briefly what I could mean. “Jirth may have ways to lessen or cure the problem. Doctor of Jirth should get you a cane.”
Cure old age, I thought to myself, how would that be possible? They flew ships in the stars, perhaps old age was nothing. I followed, as more Jirth passed us. Some of them dressed as the Priest of Jirth, others like the warriors. There was some who wore different outfits. I wondered if the outfits signified anything.
Priest of Jirth stopped. It ran it’s three fingered hand over a small panel next to one of the recessed doors. The door slides open. It stepped inside.
I stood at the doorway, my mouth gaping open. The walls were in thousands of colors, large black panels hung on the walls. Large clear barrels lined the walls, and flat white platforms filled the center. The only thing I recognized was a white cabinet on the far wall. Another Jirth was there, it wore a tight fitted white long shirt.
My companion took a long stride to the other Jirth, bowing deep enough it’s robe pooled around it. “Doctor of Jirth, this is a primitive from the planet. It will be Ambassador of Jirth. It has a joint aliment. I wish to examine.”
Doctor of Jirth motioned me over.
My throat worked up and down as the metallic taste of fear filled my mouth. I counted until I felt the fear fade. I forced myself to ignore the insect features of the doctor. With a few ginger steps I made my way to it.
It stared at me with more brown than black eyes. “What is your title?”
It bobbed its head. “Sit there.” It pointed to one of the platforms.
I climbed on top of the very high platform up. I managed. I brushed stray strands of my hair out of my face.
Doctor of Jirth moved in front of me. In its hand was a small, slim device about the size of my pen back home. It ran it up and down. “You have many old injuries. You ache in the morning?”
“Oh yes.” I laughed. Every morning made me wish I had just stayed in bed. “I feel better after I move around a bit.”
“It is as I thought. You have a chronic disease. You are not very old for your people?” He took a thin, round disk of his belt and was writing on it with a circle with a point on it.
I gave a grim smile. “No, not really. Only forty – five summers, but I was injured in a cart accident as a child. My bones have ached since then.”
“I see this, yes. You must be a scholar. You have bone wear consistent with sitting, and writing often.” It’s three fingered hand moved in quick, sharp movements. It ran it’s finger’s down my arm.
I fought the urge to fidget. The local doctor often yelled at me for my inability to sit still. “I write all the time. Not as a scholar exactly, I am the local administer of the town. My job is keeping track of yields and resources in the area.”
Doctor of Jirth didn’t seem to be paying attention to what I had to say. It went back to writing on the strange circle object, with the strange circle pen. It stopped and walked over to one of the large black screens. It lit up with a skeleton displayed on it. He tapped the screen and it moved the picture around.
I tamped down the urge to go examine the magical picture closer. It might be dangerous. The doctor moved the image around, making small parts of it much larger. He was using some invisible magnifying glass. After a few more moments of examining he walked over to the cabinet.
“Teacher of Einlari, do you know what that object is?” Priest of Jirth’s voice shattered my thoughts.
It had been so quiet, I jumped at the sound of its voice. “No. I mean perhaps. It is a moving picture. It seems magical.”
Priest of Jirth shook and its spots darkened to black. “No magic. It is technology. You have carts and irrigation on your world. Imagine, before things existed, they would seem magical.”
This was true enough. I read about other people in other parts of the world. As far as farming, our people were the most advanced I heard of. I wonder what they thought of our animal driven mills and stone canals to water crops. “I understand what you mean. There are people now, who don’t have the same technology as we do.”
It moved closer to me. “There are other people in your world. Do you know what language they speak or what they call themselves?”
Thinking about it, made me frown, I was not as familiar as I would like with other countries. “There is only one other language I know. Gelinil from the far south. They call themselves the Geli. They are the closest people on the mainland to us.” We lived on a large island in the ocean. I studied the maps of the known world while I was in school. Once, I had dreamed of traveling, but my life took me on another path. I almost laughed, thinking how much had changed.
My thoughts were interrupted. “You take her to her quarters. In a week, we might operate. Many of her aliments could be cured. I am not certain, I must study her physical structure further.”
I stood up. Priest of Jirth motioned for me to follow. And, I walked onto even more strangeness.