Chapter 6-11, Book One: Saydrie
The monitor had come down from somewhere in the north, escorted by two soldiers and walking as if she thought that the ground in the enclave would stick to her and ruin her boots.
The biggest building in the enclave was the Temple of the Three, but instead of that room, she had called them all into the town hall, every child of the appropriate age, past the changing of the voice but before the full adult growth had been reached. Not that most of them weren’t already taller than the monitor, Saydrie noticed, not without some rather unkind pleasure.
She had a list of names and read them off – or attempted to. “Genkee. Zadree. An- Tanton. No, I said Zadree.”
“That’s me, ma’am.” He bowed. He had studied Calenyen customs and knew that his bow was at least as good as a Calenyen his age would do.
She still sneered.
“Zadree is a girl’s name.”
“Saydrie is my name.” He bowed again. “And I am not a girl. I apologize for the confusion.”
His Calenyen was, of course, perfect. When the monitor had come to his mother’s brother’s enclave and count that there were children who could only speak Bitrani, they had broken up the enclave and spread them across the country. From what he had heard, his cousins had been sent to live with a foster-family on the East Coast, far away from anyone they knew or from any other Bitrani.
“Hrrmph. Sit here. And I suppose Genkee is a boy as well? How do you pronounce these names? What’s wrong with decent Calenyen names?”
Behind Saydrie, his aunt Siaffanna spoke up. “We were promised the right to keep our own traditions and our own names.”
The woman huffed. “Yes, yes, of course. I apologize for my misunderstanding.” She didn’t sound the least bit apologetic. Saydrie decided it would be impolitic to point that out. “Perhaps you could read these names for me, then?”
“Gianci. Anton. Heridano.” He kept going, trying not to sound too good at the names, even though he knew every child in the enclave.
They were a small town, by the lights of the big cities Saydrie had seen twice in his lifetime, a sheltered area where they could live within (as his Aunt had said) their own traditions, with their own take on religion and their own names. The rest of the world was Calenyena, but here in their town, they could dress like normal people and act like normal people.
When he was done, the monitor pointing to seats as he read each name, he handed the paper back to the woman. She, in turn, marched to the front of the room. “You each have a piece of paper and a pen on your desk. The question will be asked by us, or will be written on the board. Write the number of the question and then after it, write your answer. Put your name at the top of the paper, and the name of your village, before you begin numbering.”
Saydrie did as he was told. He wrote his name in very careful Calenyen script, because he didn’t want to get points marked off for handwriting.
He didn’t want to be the one to go to the school, but he also did not want to be the low grade that dictated that his enclave could no longer be an enclave.
The questions started out insulting. Like they thought that Bitrani students might not know the answers to basic mathematics or spelling questions.
As they moved on, the questions grew more and more difficult. Saydrie saw several of the other students put down their pens in frustration before they even reached 75. By the time they reached 95, they were discussing topics he had never heard of.
He did the best he could. He liked his home. If he had to succeed at an impossible test to keep his home intact, that was what he would do.
Behind him, one of the younger children was crying. He answered the last question and put his pen down.
Hopefully, he had done well enough. Hopefully he hadn’t done too well.
So Solace went and gave me two Books of all the characters, and thus is getting all the Edally ficlets ever.
This one takes place before Saydrie finds out he’s coming to Edally.