Chapter Two

As Káne and Liri neared the school grounds, they saw a mass of people streaming toward the building. Usually there was only a trickle of people coming to the school at any given time, even in the afternoon; some people only had afternoon classes. However, since every single child in the village had attended the coronation procession that morning, all the students were coming to the school at the same time, and it seemed as if every single person in the village was trying to cram themselves into the building. The only time when everyone had come to the school at a single time had been when the school had first opened—the authorities in charge of the school had wanted to make sure that everyone was settled properly—and that had been years ago.

"Well—what did we have?" asked Káne. "Is it something simple enough that I can finish quickly?"

"Oral essay on the predominance of black over light, taking into consideration the mortal and immortal darknesses," recited Liri. "You can make Crystal-illustrations to help explain what you're saying. It's for a combination class of Communication and Belief, just after Main Break. I suppose you could do it. We've both got free class time for 24 harannia today, and I'd help you." Not to mention literally writing the essay for you, but that's a minor oversight, thought Liri.

"Thanks. Why didn't I hear about this earlier? Or did I just forget?"

"You missed the end of Communication class yesterday. Where were you? Anyway, I suppose that's why you'd entirely forgotten the coronation as well. The assati announced it at the end of class. At least you knew that we have the combination class today—you did know that, right? Good. Oh, and the assati Kalliye is teaching the combination class—she'll most likely be lenient if your essay isn't quite finished. And from what the assati yesterday said, I don't think the essay is all that important anyway. You should probably start right now—take notes, or an outline, or something. I can record it."

" We need to get to class. What've we got today?"

"A temille for Vannire, and another temille for foreign culture. It's Culture Day, or some such thing. Then our first break—the other one's after the class—and then 48 harannia on Parrava. Main Break is after that, and after that—"

"—there are two temillei for the combination class—"

"Yes, so everyone can share their essays." Liri grimaced in distaste, and continued, "I won't have that class, because I've got two lectures on Teal and Gray magic, a temille and twelve harannia each. Well, I will have the class tomorrow, but I can work on my essay tonight. Anyways, today, you have another break, but you said yesterday you wanted to work on that Orange-magic class we have tomorrow. And after that, lectures on Yellow through Green magic, each a temille."


"Well, the Green lecture is optional, but we have that one project..."

"No. We have it mandatory tomorrow, I can go then."

They had come to the swarm of students in front of the school gate. Jostled by protective barriers set up by the more advanced students, Káne and Liri grumbled about the overuse of magic. Though being somewhat of a hypocrite herself, Liri still showed enough sense to make one around both herself and Káne. Káne admired the spell and copied the structure, saving it to puzzle out later.

Navigating the complex hallways and paths formed by the positions of the many elven bodies in the hall, the girls proceeded to their first class, which taught about Vannire, the country. It was not, under any circumstances, interesting, except if you wanted to learn about mavannire imports and exports as taught by an assatu who himself thought the subject was incredibly tedious and outdated. Káne and Liri started on the essay by beginning an outline on paper. Adults did not often use paper, but for those less proficient in magic, it was both inexpensive and useful, and therefore much used in schools.

Though Liri had not told Káne, their current class was a repeat of the class last terruvya; the assatu had probably wanted to put it deeper in his students' minds, but it only resulted in a waste of time. Half the class looked as if they would fall asleep, trying to pay attention, and the other half was not even bothering to look at the teacher, instead communicating through Spirit Crystals or otherwise doing things that would have bother the assatu, if he had cared to look up from his drowsiness at the raucous class. But there were other thing that Liri had not told Káne.

Since the class was repetitive, Liri did not bother taking notes, or paying any sort of attention to the assatu, except to check whether or not he was looking in their direction. Only the fact that this was a repetitive class kept Liri from paying attention—and besides, she wanted to pull off the joke. Káne did not notice anything about the class either way—she never noticed, or even tried to pay attention—and even if she had, she would still have dismissed the class as a waste of time. Káne could not understand how Liri managed to pay attention as long as she did, much less remember everything. Káne did not believe in note-taking.

The next class, taught by the assati Tarrilya, was a hard class to finish any work not related to the class. Tarrilya was taller than most elves, and with her long, dark black hair pulled out of her hair in a turban-like formation and eyes like ice, she was the most forbidding assata in the building. Everything about her was sharp—even her handwriting was straight, as if to stand up straight in the critical eyes mássati. Her clothes were always black, with nothing to indicate that she indeed intended it to be for clothing purposes, and not those purposes connected with dust rags. There were not decorations whatsoever anywhere in her life.

Káne could not imagine why the school would take her as an assati—though she certainly did have good hearing. Three days Káne had learned not to call the assati a rissi right outside her classroom, even if she was in the middle of a large group of shouting students. Most students suspected that some sort of invisible magic creatures wandered around the school and enforced discipline.

The essay did not go well in that class, though a few sentences managed under the fierce glare mássati would have been considered quite an accomplishment if anyone had dared to talk during the class. The classroom, predictably a somber black, was not helpful to the essay. There are two types of darkness—the darkness that encompasses everything and the darkness of the Void. This felt much more like the latter.

During the break, enough progress was made on the essay that Káne thought it stood a chance of being finished for the class. Only a few paragraphs were left to write, but the cues were unfinished. Still, Liri and Káne only needed to make three or so more illustrations.

"I can't believe I'm helping you with this."

"You ought to believe it. You are helping me with this. It doesn't matter whether you believe it or not, you still are."

"Yes, but..."

"But what?"

"Never mind..."

"All right. Could you work on that illustration of Vensi? I'm finishing Yáretá."

Liri sighed. The joke was all well and good when it was confined to a single person, but when she had to involve herself more than got to be a bit much. But it will be funny. Concentrate on that. Not on the illustration—I can do that in my sleep. It will be funny...I hope.

In the class maparrava, the assatu thought that they were working on the translation he had assigned, so he was not angry with them when he saw them working. In fact, he told the entire class how wonderful they were to be so enthusiastic about school.

Neither girl was amused.

Finishing the writing, Káne began to memorize and make cues for her oral presentation. The girls had nearly completed the illustrations—Liri was just finishing up the last one, which showed an animated diagram that showed the differences between mortal and immortal darknesses.

During Main Break, Liri and Káne finished the essay, and though Káne did not have the essay perfectly memorized, she could go through it by the end of the temille without stopping for more than a kadassa at a time, and there were only a few stops throughout the entire recital. Going to the atouhillei for kêmira, the two girls finally relaxed, if only for a small time.

After the temille-long Main Break, the girls split up to go to their different classes. Both were nervous. Káne was worried about her essay. Was it good enough? Would the assati Kalliye notice how much of it was Liri's work? Were the other students' essays better? By how much? What if she forgot her essay? There were too many questions for Káne's comfort. Over a few short harannia, she had gotten herself completely worked up over something that, in the back of her mind, she knew, really would not make much of a difference.

Liri worried about the joke. Would it go off well? Would Káne forgive her? She, also, worried about something that seemed unimportant. And anyway, it was too late to take it back.

As Káne entered the classroom, she did not feel the normal tension that comes from presenting in front of one's peers. Maybe her classmates had made theirs all perfect. Maybe hers was so bad that even Kalliye wouldn't look at it. It was just so bad, maybe...

The assati knocked three times on the door, and everyone made a mad dash to get into his or her seat. Two knock...and the door opened. Kalliye, one of the nicer teachers, let the class know when she would enter. Most breezed on in, expecting the class already to be seated and behaving, and some even handed out punishments for students out of their seats when they entered.

"Eiššemópa lúrra ailôdanasâ! Welcome to this combination class. I, Kalliye, will be your assati for this class!"

Kalliye was an elf with long, bright, and golden hair. Her eyes seemed to laugh, and she was always smiling. Her face looked as if it reflected light, as her hair did. She was buoyant and very energetic; Káne suspected she had only recently graduated from her school. Kalliye seemed to find something good in nearly everything and everyone. Her students often came out of her class happy and energetic; it was as if they had taken some of the energy mássati of which Kalliye was so full.

"In our class today, we will be focusing on the sages, their gift of tongues, and how they can remember everything in their complex—even by their standards—language. We'll start with a review of their language."


Wasn't there supposed to be an assignment? An essay of some sort? Perhaps the one that she had worked all day on?

Liri. She had told Káne about the essay; nobody else all day had mentioned it. Either Liri was wrong, and had lied to her—or maybe just been confused—or she was right, and there was an essay. But the assati started asking questions about the sages' language around the classroom, and the assata was always right.

So why had Liri lied to her?

"Tekiannasá Káne? How many noun-numbers, cases, and genders do the sages have in their language?"

She jerked up. Vaguely remembering this from another combination class, she said hesitantly, "There are fifteen numbers—zero through twelve, a collective, and an unknown plural. Um...twenty-four cases, and twelve genders."

"Twenty-seven cases. But good job. Tekiannasá Aularo, can you please calculate the number of possible endings that the sages can add onto their nouns?"

She would have to wait to find out. On her next break, she would use her Sprit Crystal to send a message to Liri and to find out exactly why Liri had lied to her.

Assata (feminine assati, masculine assatu): teacher, honored person; Parrava, borrowed as is into Tessiya.

Temille (pl. temillei): hour; 72 harannia; Tessiya and Parrava.

Mavannire: of Vannire, from ma "of" and Vannire (prepositions are added directly onto the noun in Parrava); Parrava.

Terruvya (pl. terruviaya): an elven week of twelve days. The elven calendar had 30 of these terruviaya, and had five days left over, celebrated at different days throughout the year as holidays. Parrava and Tessiya.

Mássati: of (a/the female) teacher, from ma "of" and assati "female teacher, honored woman". Accented it on the a, and not the á, which is long but not accented. Parrava.

Vensi: goddess of evil and the darkness of the Void; Ritáas.

Yáretá: goddess of darkness and the darkness that encompasses everything; also mother goddess; Ritáas.

Maparrava: of Parrava, from ma "of" and the language Parrava; Parrava.

Kadassa (pl. kadassya): 5/72 of a minute, or 4 and 1/6 seconds; also 1/12 of a haranni; Parrava.

Atouhillei: a large group of rooms somewhat like a cafeteria, in which students can study. From ato (pl. atou) "food" and hille (pl. hillei) "room". (This word only means "an enclosed space" and not "space".). One can get food here; the food is paid for by tuition in most schools. Parrava and Tessiya.

Kêmira: the second main meal, equivalent to American lunch. The ê is accented and long. Tessiya.

Eiššemópa lúrra ailôdanasâ: literally, "I want you to have a good afternoon". From aorist (present tense) would/willing you of the irregular verb eišuni, "to have, experience"; then lúrra, "good"; and finally, the objective of ailôdana, the time after the middle of the day, or "afternoon". Parrava adjectives come before the noun. Parrava.

Tekiannasá (base tekianna): vocative form of tekianna: student, young person, much like meiya. Parrava.

Noun-numbers: the number of things a noun describes in Medatifisi, the language of the sages; a sage expression.

Pronunciation of Accented Vowels

Káne and Yáretá are originally from Ritáas, the language of the goddesses. These deities used accent marks (in elven representation; they did not use our form of writing) to create diphthongs. An acute accent (as in á) adds an i to the end of the vowel: ai, pronounced "eye"; a grave accent (as in ) adds an e: ie, pronounced somewhat like "yay"; and a circumflex (as in û) adds an a: ua, pronounced somewhat like "wa". A dieresis (as in ï) adds an o: oi, pronounced "oy"; and a macron (as in ā) adds a u: au, pronounced "ow". Diphthongs are stressed more than unmarked vowels; Yáhayarúh is accented on the á and the ú: YAI-ha-yar-UIH. Therefore, Káne should be pronounced KAI-ne, and Yáretá is properly pronounced YAI-ret-AI.

In Parrava and Tessiya, only the acute accent and circumflex (again, in elven representation) are used. However, these accents are not used to create diphthongs. The acute accent marks length without stress, while the circumflex denotes both length and stress. For example: tekiannasá has an acute accent on the last vowel: the last vowel is long, but it is the first a that is accented. However, ailôdana has a circumflex over the o, which makes the o both long and stressed.

Pronunciation of Unaccented Vowels

The unaccented vowels in most elven languages and Ritáas are pronounced the same. A list of pronunciations, shown below, will help those who are interested in speaking these interesting languages.

"i" is pronounced "ee", as in "eel".

"e" is pronounced "ay", as in "air".

"a" is pronounced "ah", as in "gnaw".

"o" is pronounced "oh", as in "know".

"u" is pronounced "oo", as in "too".

Pronunciation of Consonants

In elven orthography, some letters do not have a direct correspondent with letters in Ritáas or in other languages. To save time for those who wish to give the correct pronunciation, a list of troublesome consonants follows.

ð is pronounced "dh", as in "that".

þ is pronounced "th", as in "thing."

č is pronounced "ch", as in "charge".

š is pronounced "sh", as in "she".

ž is pronounced "zh", as in "vision" and "azure".

ñ is pronounced "ng", as in "sing".

ŋ is pronounced "ng", as in "sing", but farther back in the throat.

c is pronounced "k", as in "kill", even before i and e.

g is pronounced "g", as in "gill", even before i and e. Like ŋ, it should be pronounced farther back in the throat than ĝ and ñ are.

ĝ is pronounced "g", as in "gill", but farther up in one's mouth, nearer to the teeth than g.

A Note on Elven Languages

Parrava is nearly the same language as Tessiya; the main differences are not in the words but in the grammar. Parrava has cases; therefore, its word order is freer. However, Tessiya has no cases, and though in both Parrava and Tessiya the usual sentence order is VSO (verb, subject, object) with head-final noun phrases, the rule is followed far more strictly in Tessiya. In Tessiya the preposition is a different word from the noun or pronoun it modifies. Also, in Tessiya, the plurals are less complex than in Parrava. Finally, the endings for habit, doubt, and possibility have been lost in Tessiya. There have been some phonological changes. These are minor and irregular, but gaining popularity in this time period. Since they are not widely recognized and have certainly not yet reached Káne's town, I will not put them in, as they are not relevant to this account. However, it must be said that Tessiya and Parrava are slowly moving apart, and will soon (as of this writing) become separate languages.

A/N: The notes on languages is meant to be semi-serious and taken as part of the story. It is supposed to have been written by someone with a sense of the superiority maparrava, with neutral feelings toward Ritáas, except that the goddesses are correct and very, very powerful, which of course they are. The word "elven" in the pronunciation paragraphs can be changed to "English" to suit the audience. I think I am correct in assuming that none of you is an elf. And please, don't go ahead with the "Assuming makes an ass out of you and me" line. It's very tiring.

© Maria Traxler 2004