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Mar 24, 2019 2:48 AM
stevenchainsaw & imrainai in caravaneer
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"Yeah, I know him. Haven't seen him recently. He used to come around a lot, but ever since the neighbor died... well. Not much here now, is there."

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"Oh. Hmm. I'm sorry to hear that. Thank you anyway."

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"Mhmm. You could ask up at Lintu tribe, though, they might know. If anyone does, anyway. Could be Drekar got him."

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He nods thougtfully, although the best that can be said for his knowledge of Drekar is that he's pretty sure he's heard the word at least once before today, and of Lintu that he may have heard it as many as three times.

"I haven't been there before; do you think you could give me directions?"

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"To Lintu? They're north of here. Not always in the same place, exactly, but you'll see the tents, don't worry. Takes about a day - maybe less, young guy like you, but you might want to spend the night here anyway. And then maybe you wanna take some insects with you. Gotta pay, if you want more than what you ate there, but Lintu'll buy them off you for more, they like 'em."

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He takes a moment to work through the logic of this suggestion. Money is a medium of exchange of value under conditions of scarcity. In much the same way that Nick is grateful to be fed because of his finite supply of food, this person wants to receive some value in return for a more substantial amount. But if the Lintu will give Nick more money for the insects than Nick has to give away to get them, where is the extra value coming from? Why don't the Lintu have all the insects and the man have all their money? Oh—it's the travel time. By transporting the insects a day's walk north he's supplementing the concrete value of the food with the invisible value of the trip. That makes sense.

"Thank you, I think I will do that."

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"Good! Good. I'll sell them to you for a good price. Fate knows I've got too many around here for just me. Ah - I dunno that I have much in the way of overnight accommodations here, but you're welcome use the neighbor's old place for the night."

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"I could do that. I'm sure it'll be fine."

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"All right! I'll see you in the morning, son."

The neighbor's house is completely empty, but it blocks the wind, which is nice because deserts are actually pretty cold at night.

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It is, in fact, fine. He came prepared to sleep outdoors, and is therefore equipped to appreciate having walls.

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In the morning the old man gives him his price for the insects and assures him that Lintu will pay him about twice what he bought them for. 

Lintu is about a day away, as expected. It's a collection of brightly-colored tents and flocks of sheep and goats being watched over by men and women wearing similarly brightly-colored clothes. No one stops to greet him on his way in, but no one blocks him or seems to be avoiding him in particular, either.

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...hmm.

He's not entirely sure how to find someone to sell insects to, or someone to ask after Olaf with. Maybe it will become obvious as he proceeds.

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If he wanders around the camp for a while without talking to anyone, then eventually someone will notice that he doesn't seem to know where he's going. This someone is a girl who was previously shearing sheep.

"Hi!"

- oh no how does communication work. She looks around to double-check that there are people to run away to if she somehow totally messes up this interaction and it explodes. There seem to be people.

" - do you, uh, do you need something?"

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Nick belatedly realizes that he never got the other fellow's name.

"Um—the old man in the empty town south of here said that the Lintu might like some insects, but I don't know who to, um, sell them to. And I'm looking for news of my friend Olaf but I don't know who to ask."

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"Oh you know Cricket! Cricket's cool." There's no reason in principle that a Drekar person couldn't know Cricket, and this person is in fact probably Drekar, but they're supposed to be nice to Drekar anyway. That way only predictable bad things will happen, and not really even very many. To them, anyway.

"If you wanna sell things to people the market is over there, only it isn't now because it's the wrong day of the week, but if it were Monday it'd be there. Evan the merchant is over there in that tent - he won't buy insects, that's if you want to buy a knife or a metal canteen or something. Or you could talk to Kukul? He probably knows where people are, Kukul knows - not everyone but most people. Around here, anyway. And some people in other places, even. His tent's over - I can show you, it's a ways."

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"That would be very helpful, thank you."

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"OK! Sure thing."

She would make conversation on the way over, except that actually if he wanted there to be conversation then probably he would be the person deciding that it should exist, and if he doesn't then maybe that's because making conversation would be annoying and she should restrain herself.

She does show him where Kukul's tent is, though. You can't knock on a tent, so she calls his name.

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In a few moments Kukul appears. He's short and heavyset, probably in his forties or fifties. He looks Nick up and down. 

"I don't think I know you."

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"I would be somewhat surprised if you did," he agrees. "I'm Nick. I'm looking for someone to sell some of Cricket's insects to and someone to ask if my friend Olaf passed through the area recently."

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"No strangers in the past few weeks, sorry."

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"Well, thank you anyway. What about the other thing?"

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"The insects? Sure, people here love them. If you're in a rush I can pay you for them now, though you might get better prices selling them to people individually. The camp people all gather on Mondays, but it's very informal, they won't mind if you go up to them individually and make an offer. Could be more time and trouble than it's worth, though, if you want me to take them off your hands now I will."

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He turns to Karakul first. "Would you like any?"

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Oh, is she still a part of this conversation? She sort of figured she was done playing an active role in this conversation and was mostly hoping that everyone would forget about her so they wouldn't remember to tell her to go away.

"Oh! I mean - yes? But I don't have any money. Or anything, really. You could ask my dad, maybe. Or Isur, his sheep aren't doing very well right now - I guess I could probably tell you the people who probably want them and can probably pay..."

She probably shouldn't, she's supposed to be working, but they don't get very many visitors and it's not like she's going to get to go anywhere any time soon.

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"That would be very helpful! Thank you!"

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