For anke‘s continuation (won in the drawing in June) of The Goat-Bride.
This story is set in the early days of the Callennan life on Reiassan.
The book landed on the table with a meaty thump.
“This is not the way it will be.” The Emperor of the Callentate of North Reiassannon-land, Eszhettozh, son of Emanek, stared at his second eldest grand-daughter. “This is not the way it should be.”
“This is the way it has always been.” His grand-daughter stared back at him, her gaze as level, her voice as firm. She set her hand on the book of their people’s stories, as if to draw strength from the síra of a rock or tree.
“And this is not how it will be this time. You are my heir. Your mother and your sister and brother have died. You are the next child of my eldest daughter’s loins. This is the way it is.”
“Then allow my mother’s brother to inherit. I will go to the goats, to be their bride. Such is the way it has always been.”
The stared at each other, the grey-bearded Emperor and the long-braided young grand-daughter, alike in stubbornness, alike in calm.
This is the way it has always been, said the girl, knowing full well that the first Goat-Bride had argued, instead, this is the way it will be now.
This is the way the road goes now, said the Emperor, knowing full well that his throne had been built on tradition as well as on arms. And they glared at each other, knowing full well that both could not win.
“I will go to the goats.” ’s voice did not crack.
“Then who will be Empress in your stead? I will live long, but not even the mountains live forever.”
“My mother’s brother should be Emperor,” the stubborn girl repeated. “He is next in line.”
“The grandmothers will not stand for another male. They have declared it so.” Some forces even the Emperor of the Callentate must bow to, and the elder women of the Tribes (even if they were no longer Tribes) were a force the way the ocean and the rain and the mountains were forces. They could not be budged quickly, and to try was to waste energy better left on learning to traverse their whims.
The Emperor did not expect to find his own granddaughter such a stony force as well. “Your mother’s brother cannot become Emperor,” he repeated. “You are my heir, and cannot go to the goats.”
“I will be a Goat-wife. The gods have witnessed it.”  did not stop her foot, but she nodded her head firmly. “The sword and the goat shall be my home and my family. Someone else must rule.”
“But you are my heir. You must take the throne.” Back and forth they would have kept going, neither more willing to bend than the rock they stood on, had not the youngest of the Emperor’s advisors stepped up.
“The Callentate has many children. Let the Emperor’s third child take the throne.”
“She is old,” dismissed the ancient man. “She will not rule long.”
“Then her third child, who is a girl. Let her rule.”
Emperor and grand-daughter goat-wife shared a look. “Your first child cannot inherit. Your first child’s first daughter cannot inherit. Let your third child’s third child take the throne.”
“So let it always be.” They had come to a place where they could smile, and they did so, like the sun lighting on the ocean.
And so it was, until the days came for change again. But that is a tale of another day.
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