They discovered that they did not mind having servants to do some of the fetching and carrying and tedious chores.
They also discovered that the complete lack of travel-readiness and the slowness of their progress made the two hangers-on more trouble than they were worth.
Amethyst continued her chattering. At that age her fangs were not yet fully developed and talking still came easy. Too easy.
Her main subject of discussion was the new point of view regarding the lack of clothing and how it related to the Creator. She wondered aloud if she would ever dare to—after about an hour of the non-stop noise her father growled at her harshly to be silent, and stay silent until she was required to respond to a question! She did not utter another word the rest of that leg of the journey. The twins gave Pyrite a few points of respect, finally, for that.
As the young men had learned earlier, Pyrite and his family were potters—the best this side of the mountains they had both decreed—and they looked forward to showing their saviors the excellence and artistry of their skill. They also both worried about the rest of their family, Pyrite especially. Although his wife and two sons were skilled, they were not as skilled as he. Krakold pottery, he assured them with pride, was treasured in homes even fifty miles away.
Worse, he and Amethyst had been returning from a sales trip with gold, silver, and some pots that had not sold. The wagon they had been riding had been lost, along with the young domesticated buffalo that pulled it, when the river took them. He had had the metals secure in a pouch tied to his belt and he left that with their family. But it was not enough to make up for the loss of the wagon, let alone that and the animal, and the pots lost to the river would have been worth some silver at least. He was very sad thinking of the hard times that lay ahead for them.
Feldspar, in his usual tone of sympathy, remarked that the ungrateful family had made that choice, not him, and perhaps they deserved whatever hardship resulted. He also pointed out that since their circumstances were due to their faithful following of their religion, the Great Condawk would certainly look out for them.
Amethyst did not notice the sarcasm in his words. Her father was more observant. He prudently held back comment.
Sometime after Shul had passed beyond the the highpoint of its journey, they arrived at the next village. As they had traveled upriver the watercourse had moved away from the Ironcut Mountains and there was plenty of room for a small town.
They proceeded with slow respect down the main street, as was custom. They had traversed barely fifty yards when they were approached by the fattest Riotori male the twins had ever seen. He probably did not outweigh them both together, but it might have been close. He was unusual in another way as well. He was openly, almost aggressively, friendly. For the most part, Riotori did not greet strangers with cheerful welcome. Gruff restraint was the normal reception for unknown visitors.
But this village greeter, whose name was Apatite, was atypical in his manner as well as his girth. His first words, however, were directed to the potters of Krakold.
"Pyrite! And your precious Amethyst! How fortunate we are to have you visit us again so soon after you brought us your wonderful wares! And with two impressive young men! I suspect that young women of Rackarn will be thrilled. But I see that you do not bring your wares with you, Pyrite. To what, then, do we owe this visit?"
The answer to that question, and the response, presented an unexpected challenge for all concerned.