Section I: Episode 19
December 4, 2014
After Galavar had finished helping Miatysacis juice the tart gorayners, the two of them went for breakfast. Through the vast kitchen they walked, back toward the equally sprawling refectory.
"I've heard there are secret passages in this kitchen," she said, as they passed by a suspicious case of dinnerware shelves that stood in front of a bricked up archway.
"Secret implies the intent to be hidden," said Galavar. "Who would have the need? This place is the opposite of a shroud. This building is the paragon of learning in the East of the world. I expect there are abandoned passageways all over the Academy, but I think it's more likely that they were built for very particular reasons that have long since been forgotten."
"Surely. This is an ancient aede.1 The corridors can't change their shape, but people's purposes for them can change. It's like the heliclators up in the Dormitories. Nowadays we mainly use the Blue Heliclator, and the Not Blue Heliclator has become a bazaar, but long ago our counterparts would have used the latter exclusively, for only dignitaries could use the other. I've met kids here who have never been in Not Blue. Perhaps in another thousand years it'll be boarded up and forgotten."
"Still, whether they're purposely hidden or simply forgotten, wouldn't you love to explore all the little parts of this place that nobody sees?"
"I would!" he admitted. "And my favorite is that legend has it there are lightning tunnels underground somewhere. I'd like to see those."
"Long ago the Empire experimented with lightning. We tried it here too, and it didn't work."
"What would one use lightning for, other than killing people and starting fires?"
"Everything. Plowing. Weaving. Milling."
"That's ridiculous. How could anybody mill grain with lightning?"
"I don't know. But it sounds like fun."
"Apparently it didn't work out." She laughed. "I'm not surprised!"
"It didn't work here. In the Empire it worked, but it wasn't efficient."
"And how do you know this?"
"A friend told me."
"Galavar, do we believe everything we're told?"
He dipped his head.
"Only the fun stuff?"
"Have you seen any entranceways to these supposed lightning tunnels?"
"No. I've asked around, but nobody knows. There are a lot of tunnels in Ieik. It's not unreasonable."
"We should nose around sometime."
"That's the Miatysacis I know!"
They egressed back into the refectory, and headed for the large buffets, sturdy stone tables that held basket upon basket of flatbread, interspersed with jars of creamseed butter. It was nourishing food, but bland. They each took a plate and helped themselves. Miatysacis grumbled.
"I haven't eaten any yet and I'm already bored with it."
"Let's find some friends and divert ourselves while we eat."
They found Agram and Boon eating at the group's usual table. All together the four of them were close friends, and Boon was Galavar's closest friend of all.
"Tastes like disappointment, doesn't it?" Boon said, his mouth smacking from the dry butter.
"The sele," Galavar said.2 "Let's be grateful."
Boon laughed, and continued smacking.
"I'm with you, Boon," Miatysacis answered.
"Word spread that the River talked to you and Ornithate last night," Agram said.
"Yeah, what's that about?" Boon added.
"Orni and I asked Sourros a question immediately before he spoke. We think he was answering us."
"It was so perfect."
"It sounded pretty cryptic to me."
"Me too," said Miatysacis.
"Not the words themselves. The timing."
"But how often do you think people are asking things of Sourros?" Boon countered. "My guess is many times an hour. Maybe it was a coincidence."
Boon had a good-natured manner when he spoke. He was always in good cheer, even when under siege and strain. He always had something meaningful to say, and always had his own point of view, and Galavar loved him for it. One thing Galavar had no stomach for was pushovers, and on that count Boon was unassailable, howsoever unassuming his manner.
"It may have been a coincidence," Galavar conceded. "It did get us an interview with the River, though, and the River asked Orni and me to investigate."
Miatysacis got interested. "How so?"
"Sourros' words suggest action. Jahvoy wants us to figure out what action. He's looking at it from the viewpoint of all Ieik, and we're supposed to look at it from the viewpoint just of the two of us. But I'd love your help, if any of you are interested."
"I sure am," said Miatysacis.
"Me too," said Boon. "If I help you out, maybe I'll get to meet the River myself. Or have Sourros talk to me. Then I'll be the chosen one."
Agram was a much more somber person, equal to Galavar in seriousness but without the playful side. He was the shyest of their foursome and didn't talk much unless it was one-on-one, but he looked driven as he spoke.
"We're going to need to visit both libraries, and talk to all kinds of elites—maybe even the Meriters. I wrote down Sourros' words. We'll have to reference them against everything that—"
"You're planning this all out already?"
"I sure well am."
"Let's save it for tomorrow," Galavar said. "We have so much to do today."
Agram shook his head.
"There is no better day than today. Sourros spoke on Dawn's Eve deliberately. The first trial is today, Galavar. Whatever it is, it's today."
"You're sure of that?"
"But we can't miss services," said Miatysacis.
"We don't have to…but we can't waste any time." Agram stood up and grabbed his plate. "Come on."
Galavar objected, "Saysh and I just sat down."
"Surely Sourros didn't mean for us not to eat," Miatysacis complained.
"Relax," said Galavar. "No one wants to figure this out more than I do, but let's take things in their due time. It won't do to be solving problems when we're hungry. Besides, you haven't congratulated me yet on my stellar performance in the relay yesterday."
"You eat glory for breakfast? Real congratulations don't have to be asked for."
"Well, if you weren't all so rude I wouldn't need to ask. Honestly, I uphold the honor of our people and I don't even get a huzzah from my best friends?"
"Huzzah, Galavar!" Miatysacis cheered.
Her tone was half mockery, but neither was it insincere. These were the sort of friends who didn't need one another's praise. Yet it was always there, unspoken, like the desert wind.
Aede, a building or other development.
The sele, a shortened form of "the sele of the [time of day]," which in the above context conveys encouragement, positivity, and gentle chiding.
O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!