Self-aware. Self conscious. Self induced.

Telling Tales 141

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The Order of Doing Things

The väki are the People and Sami was just a man, but he wasn’t about to let anybody tell him what he could and couldn’t do, not without a good reason and plenty of muscle. What he learned from the other neighbors, as he grew to know more about the väki  and what they could do for and against him, was that they were not a single force. They were not an army. They could be split up.

Every house he visited had a haldja, one of the väki who had moved in and kept an eye on things. Presumably they sacrificed something of what they used to be for something new that they would become. They weren’t servants or slaves. They still had their own will and could cause trouble, but the haldjas operated by different rules than the väki of the forest, or the väki of water, stone, or iron. Sami’s plan was to divide the väki from each other and bring them over to his side.

The first thing he did when he returned to the land he would claim as his own, he made a small house and he invited a haldja in. He dug a well and invited a haldja over there. He worked fields near the trees where his house was and invited haldjas there, too. Everywhere he could think, he invited one in until he was himself the only person surrounded by a veritable village of haldjasHaldjas have their own rules. You don’t say thank you. You do leave out food for them to eat, as well as drink. Sami followed those rules and bided his time until he could begin to break the rules of the väki. Not because he was opposed to them, especially not when they were the source of the haldjas that would make his work easier with their tricks that he called magic.

The haldja of the field helped him clear brush as long as he didn’t cut down every fifth tree. The haldja of the house kept the floors clean and neat. The well always had clean water and it was always easy to draw to the surface. Everyone looked at Sami’s growing farm and the land that he used and admired how he well he fit in. Many of the young women hoped he would court them and he eventually one he did and the wedding was as large and perfect and clean as anyone could hope for. The haldjas made sure that nothing went wrong.

By the time that Sami’s wife bore their first child, a daughter, Sami was ready to expand. He wasn’t entirely interested in breaking the rules for the sake of breaking the rules, although their arbitrariness had never ceased to chafe at him. Looking around, however, it was clear that having cleared four of out every five trees still left a great number that prevented him from better farming. “It’s been a few years,” he reasoned. I will clear again, and again I will clear four out of every five.” He smiled at his own cleverness. In short order, there was a great deal more land and a great deal more order and the trees that he left made more or less neat lines that divided his property and there was no magic in the air, only clever tricks.

The väki, on the other hand, did not smile at all.

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