The biggest secrets are the ones people don’t go looking for. I reckon that if any young rememberer from the Plaza of Memory were to try, he’d be able to haul up from the deep end of Living Memory a few scraps about Fire-in-Water-Land. It’s a little island off to the northwest, or maybe the southeast, or maybe the west, at the very edge of the Mother Countries where the rocks fall off and the endless Sea of Creation fades out to the horizon. It’s seldom visited, and its people rarely leave it, although it’s a barren little rock hardly bigger than the Island of Green Pastures where once fair Op-Rendo stood.

They’re farmers of a stripe, the people of Fire-In-Water-Land are. Some folks call them humans, some say they’re giants, some litorians… and you get the idea. Maybe they’re sibeccai, set themselves up a Free State at the edge of all things. Maybe not.

They grow a kind of berry bush there, they do, a little blue-purple thing about the size of a giant’s thumb. Also they’ve got some kind of longhair goat or other, as I recall. But the berries, they’re the important thing. And they’re not magic berries, either. No nature-magic there, nothing like the Apple-Yards.

No, it’s different. You know beer, right? We all know beer. And wine, you know wine, even if you don’t drink it as much. Up in the Southern Peaks they brew the juice of a kind of reddish beet that grows in the ground, and it has a nice kick to it.

There’s a secret to the berries, a way to cook them and boil them and brew them — they call it stilling — into a sort of wine that’s maybe six, ten times as potent as anything we drink here in civilized lands.

In Fire-In-Water-Land, everyone is falling-down-drunk all of the time. They live like beasts, out in the open air, without houses or clothes, and they sleep in big lumps of straw that they share with their goats. The only things they work on are their stilleries, where they make their foul brew.

The aristos, they know all about it, on account of they’ve got themselves magic eyes for seeing and magic ears for hearing. Akashics, you know, they’re always going bip! and they’re a master-sailor or a master-doctor… they know how to still same as they know everything else. They keep it a secret, they don’t let on, because they know if the secret got out, peasants would be falling-down-drunk all of the time and there’d be no work done at all.

— Zully the Liar

SEE ALSO: Apple-Yards of Rrerrssheberr, Op-Rendo, Stilling


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