Back down the entrance hallway they walked; then left, right, right again, and down a small flight of stairs to a creaky, dusty old door. The wefnin opened the door for them and coughed slightly as the dust settled in his throat. From inside, a raspy voice croaked out slowly in Tzinaldir, "No visitors without appointment; and knock next time!"
A tall, thin man clad in a dust-covered gray robe appeared in the doorway. He squinted down at them behind a large pair of glasses perched at the end of his long, thin nose. Rather than appearing pleased or reverent at the sight of the Yng, he appeared annoyed.
"Another of those marinsiifeuudsiiwifir. . ." the man said, and he and the Yng began gibbering away in Tzinaldir. Niz looked hopefully at the wefnin, but he did not look back. Niz sighed and turned to watch the rapidly ascending conversation. He knew that all wefninir were required to take a vow of silence. Even if the man did know what they were saying, he would not be able to tell Niz until he was released from bondage. Which could take years, for all he knew, Niz reflected.
The argument broke off abruptly. The tall, robed man stood annoyed, his left hip jutting out slightly and his face skewing to the left. The Yng lifted his eyebrows at the gray man but smiled as he turned to Niz. "This man is Linsiing, the palace's siingwinpurf."
Niz flicked his head to the right to show he understood. "He is to improve my Tzinaldir?"
At this, Linsiing squinted his eyes and shook his head back and forth. Again the Yng raised his eyebrows at him. Turning back to Niz, he craned his neck upward thoughtfully. "Yes, some; but he is also to teach you Delkein, a language commonly used by farmers and ranchers."
Niz blinked in surprise. He'd never heard of any language being used in Tzang other than Tzinaldir. The word Delkein sounded familiar, but the concept was just beyond his grasp.
The Yng smiled reassuringly and threw his arm around Niz's shoulders. "Do not worry, Niz; Linsiing is a good teacher, and I'm sure you will learn quickly. There's just this small obstacle before you are ready to defeat the keuymig once and for all!"
Niz smiled slowly. The Yng sounded so sure of Niz; he couldn't let him down. "I will do my best."
The Yng nodded respectfully and turned to walk back up the stairs. Each wefnin nodded at Niz and followed their master.
When they had left, Linsiing coughed scornfully and walked back to his little room. "Well, come on, min."
Niz bristled. After such warmth and courtesy from the Yng, he was not prepared for this man's uncouth ways. "My name is Niz," he said coldly, following the tall man in.
The man only coughed scornfully again. "Sit there," he demanded, pointing at a dusty, rickety table. The table was covered with melin bark and kuutz leaves. Two chairs stood on either side of it, and Niz sat in the unoccupied one.
Linsiing muttered to himself as he sifted through the storm of papers on his desk. "Keluit!" he cried softly and pulled out a thick bundle of melin bark. "This is the most complete work I have on the Delkein language," he said, giving the murf to Niz. "Bring your eyes to it while I tidy up."
Niz stared at the unreadable symbols at the top: Kord Makaran Soorash Bad Mana Purdof* He sighed resignedly. "I'll never get through this."
"Not with that attitude, you won't."
Niz jumped and looked up. Linsiing was standing behind him, leaning over and staring intently at the murf. Niz looked back down. "I can't understand any of it."
"Well of course not; you can't even speak Delkein, let alone read it," Linsiing snapped. Before Niz could offer a rude comment, he pointed at the first symbol in the line. "That symbol is a 'k'."
Niz flicked his head to the right, but a bored expression sat on his face. "'K'."
"Right and the next one is a 'u'. Then 'r' and 'd'."
Niz sat still for a moment, playing the letters over in his head. "Kurd."
Niz closed his eyes in annoyance. "What does 'kurd' mean?"
Linsiing squinted haughtily. "I'll tell you when we're done translating the letters. Now, the next one is 'm'."
Ten minutes later, Niz had the phrase memorized. "Kurd makaran suuras bad mana pirduf."**
"Yes." Linsiing smiled slightly, but his face was twisted sinisterly. "It says, 'The Legend of Makin and Siras.' Does that make sense?"
Niz closed his eyes in annoyance again. Linsiing was playing with him. He knew he was much smarter than Niz. Niz wished he didn't have to take these nombarg lessons. But then he saw the Yng's face in his mind, and he couldn't let him down. Niz was a warrior, and warriors didn't give up. He opened his eyes and looked at the symbols. Suddenly it dawned on him, and he realized he could read it and it made sense.
"These two words," he said, pointing at the symbols for makaran and suuras, "must be the Delkein words for Makin and Siras. And these two," he pointed at the words kurd and bad surrounding the two names, "must mean the two words inside of them are connected by 'and'. The last two words are 'of legend'." Niz leaned back in his chair and smiled proudly.
But Linsiing only squinted and shook his head ferociously. He grabbed the murf and stared at it intently. Finally he threw it back on the table. "How did you know that?"
Niz jumped slightly at Linsiing's ferocity. "It. . .made sense. . ."
"How could it have made sense?" Linsiing fumed. "How would you know about kurd and bad? That form of and is unique to Delkein!" Linsiing sat in his chair and leaned on the table, his head still shaking furiously. After many minutes he said, "You may go now."
"Go now!" Linsiing screamed.
Niz jumped out of his chair as fast he could and ran outside. The door slammed behind him, but the rotten wood only made a small "thwuk" sound as it hit. Niz lifted his shoulders up and down bewilderedly. He had no idea of where to go now. But it was obvious the lesson was done for today, so he climbed up the stairs and set off in search of the Yng's room.
* Obviously I can't upload the real letters I've created. So pretend that's unreadable!
** When you translate, you have to fudge a little. Things don't always translate cleanly through. For example, the Tzin do not use the "sh" sound so "soorash" is translated into "sooras".
Sorry, I forgot to put a dictionary on the first chapter; here's one for both chapters so far.
How to pronounce words:
a - ah, like in father
d - same
e - pronounced ay, like in day
euu - pronounced sort of like ew but not so harsh; like the end of Andrew
f - same
g - pronounced like j or the word giant
i - short i or short e; ir is prounced like er
ii - long i like in lion
k - same
l - same
m - same
n - same
ng - pronounced like g in goat, but more nasal
p - same
r - same
s - same
tz - prounced ts, like the end sound in coats
u - prounced long o, like in for
uu - prounced oo, like in moon
w - same
y - long e, like in street
The Tzin language is missing some letters and sounds from our alphabet, most notably b, th, sh, and ch.
Delkein - a language (more to be revealed as the plot progresses)
fiingpak - four day period
guul - glory
keluit - aha or eureka
keuymig - nightmare
Kralpiin - an ancient Tzin hero
kuutz - a low, large-leafed plant whose leaves can be used as paper
marinsiifeuudsiiwifir - someone who wants to be something they can't be
melin - a tree whose bark can be used as paper
min - dirty word for dwarf
Mirfdop - palace; capitol
murf - similar to a book; generally lots of bark or leaves tied together with string
Nuke - (pronounced noo-kah) the language of the Numarf dwarves; not a Tzin word
siiwinpurf - teacher or professor
Surmguuledsangsuul - the Valley of Glory; the most beautiful and loved part of Tzang
Surmyngsurmguuledsangsuul - the full name for the Emperor of Tzang
Tzang - the land of the Tzin Empire
Tzinaldir - the language of the Tzin people
ukwuud - wood from an uk tree; a very hard, fine wood
wefnin pl. wefninir - generic name for servant
Yng - the short name for the Emperor of Tzang