Zara the Wolf

Zara the Wolf by C. R. Daems Read Free Book Online

Book: Zara the Wolf by C. R. Daems Read Free Book Online
Authors: C. R. Daems
more soldiers, and the
time you would take building stronger walls would be better spent learning to compensate
in other ways, while I’m here to help.
    * * *
    The winter was a busy time for them and me. I found that life
as a slave warrior had been difficult but simple, while life as a settler was comparatively
easy but impossibly complex. Money was a perfect example. The Ojaza had no
money. They bartered for everything, either trading one thing for another or
providing a service in exchange.
    The settlers used coins: gold, silver, and copper. A gold
coin was worth ten silver ones and one hundred copper ones. That was easy. But
the gold and silver coins could be broken into pieces, and determining their
worth was subjective. Worse yet, nuggets of gold and silver could be used as
money. That required you to know gold and silver from look-alike metals and to
be able to accurately estimate the weight, which was another problem. The
weight of many things determined its price. Of course, that was also true with
the Ojaza; however, the number of items the settlers dealt in was beyond count.
    And then there were numbers. The Ojaza used hands as their
basic number. The settlers had a unique number system that used two-hands as
their basic number.
    "How do I remember all these numbers, six, seven,
eleven, twenty, thirty?" I whined several weeks into Ethel’s introduction
into numbers.
    She smiled in sympathy. "Like many things, you just
have to memorize them and practice using them. Most of us are taught them when
we are young and our minds open to new things. Reading, writing, and numbers
will require memorization and more importantly, using what you have learned. I
will give you books to read, which will help with reading and writing, and we
need to let everyone know to test you on numbers."
    True to her word, each member of the group, including their
children, took every opportunity to quiz me on numbers or asked me to read
something or other. The first moon … month, I went to bed each night with my
head spinning: five equals a hand, twenty-one equals four-hands and one;
thirteen equals two-hands and three … The second month, I realized I needed a
quiet mind like with the Ojaza, and I forgot about hands. That made the numbers
real. Ethel was right: the more often I read or performed sums, the easier it
    "How large is the Ojaza?" Dejan asked one night at
    "Two tribes," I said reflexively.
    "How many in a tribe?" he asked. I was tempted to
answer in hands, but forced myself to think in tens.
    "One … hundred."
    "Then two tribes would be two times one hundred, or … "
    "Two … hundred." I felt an honest sense of pride as
he and others clapped. I was making progress thanks to these people. I decided
to stay another four seasons … a year. Their world was very complex, and I
would need the time to adjust. If I left alone and before I had an adult’s
knowledge, I would be a rabbit in a forest of hunters—like sending an
untrained child out to qualify to be a warrior. I wished to be like the wolf I
had been named after—cunning. To succeed, I would need to be trained in
the ways of surviving in the civilized world.
    * * *
    Time seemed to fly. Although I had no specific duties, I was
always busy. I accompanied Dejan and his wife into town to bargain for
supplies. Elmo called me every time an animal appeared sick. He would talk me
through the possible causes and then begin to eliminate them one by one until
he arrived at the most likely. Part of my responsibility would be to help nurse
the sick horse or cow back to health. And he gave me responsibility for
grooming and inspecting the communities’ five horses. Bylun taught me how to
repair the horses' tack as well as clothes and weapons. Dana called me every
time someone was hurt, no matter how minor, emphasizing that small cuts can
kill if they are left untreated. I knew that from the Ojaza, as well as which
herbs to use, but she had remedies that could be

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