"We care not for the customs of other villages," responded Pyrite. "They are heathen and godless, and refuse to honor The Great Condawk with prayers or sacrifice. We of Krakold know our good fortune comes from the Will of the Creator, and any misfortune is due to a failure to acknowledge the Creator's blessings."
"How then," Gypsum asked, "do you explain your misfortune of being swept off the bridge into the river?"
Amethyst answered at once. "It was no misfortune! The Creator provided you two to save us! It was only a test. A test of our devotion and of your courage. And all of us passed that test."
"And now there will be a great reward for the two of you," continued her father. "You have saved our lives. Therefore our lives are yours. You must stay here and continue your obligation to keep them."
"No we don't," answered Feldspar in his usual blunt manner. "We are on a journey to other villages beyond this. We have much to see and many long weeks or even months of journey ahead of us. We will not be staying in Krakold longer than overnight."
"But sirs," Amethyst replied with distress. "If you discard our lives, you proclaim them worthless. No one will sell us food or drink, or allow us under their roof. Not even my mother and brothers, who probably believe us dead, will welcome us back into our home if you declare our lives worthless."
"That's a load of—"
Gypsum quickly interrupted his brother. "That goes against the teachings of our village. In Groakpod, if you were truly grateful you would not force us to stay where we did not wish, and your lives would be clearly worth much, since we worked so hard to save them."
Pyrite's answer was pragmatically grim. "You are not in Groakpod. You will be in Krakold, and our customs will rule. If you cast our lives aside you will be seen as shirkers of your obligations. That is considered an offense against The Creator, and the punishment may be death. However, because you saved our lives in the beginning, they will probably only keep you until you agree to stay and fulfill your obligations. We will be your servants and you will be responsible for our health and safety. That is the Way of The Creator."
The twins exchanged looks of aggravation and worry. Feldspar suddenly stopped. The village was in sight on the other side of the river. They could see also the precarious bridge that offered unsafe passage across the water. The others stopped as well.
Feldspar shrugged off his pack and made it clear that he would not travel farther right then. Gypsum, by habit and calculation, shrugged off his pack as well.
"But our village is just ahead," cried Amethyst. "Come! There is a warm meal and shelter!"
"No, there is imprisonment or even perhaps death there," scolded Feldspar. "What you offer us is far from any kind of gratitude. We will not enter Krakold under the customs you have described. You go, return to your homes with our blessings. We surrender our obligations to your family and your village. It will up to them to decide what your lives are worth. We will decide the value our own lives hold for us."
Gypsum stared at his brother with admiration and awe. Never before had Feldspar put so many words together at one time. If he had not heard it himself he would not have believed it.