Is Your Heritage
Section I: Episode 20
December 9, 2014
The Academy was the centerpiece of Ieik, the greatest and most important aede around, and by far the largest. Most of it stood three floors tall, with several towers jutting above, and a host of underground rooms below, all of it held together upon a vast basement and in turn holding together the society around it—for these rafters and nails and blocks, and all the living contents within them, were the most essential bonds of the people of the Village of Sourros…the lifeblood of the Ieikili people, their heritage and community: The Academy was for children!
In the Ieikili tradition, all the youth of the village lived here, from birth till demonstration, and it was the highest responsibility of the Ieikili people to raise them into adulthood, together. Here there was no ownership of offspring, no lottery of family fortunes. There was only the Academy, and its provinces of nurseries, playgrounds, fields, workshops, classrooms, laboratories, halls, clinics, offices, boiler rooms, dormitories—everything. The bonds of parent and child were harnessed here. Adults considered all children their own, having been shown their whole lifetimes that it was so. And the children, they bonded not with their biological parents or whomever else they shared a lineage, but to one another, and with their adult mentors, for whom there were many names.
It was a different creed from what most of Relance followed, but the Ieikili swore by it. Everybody here shared the same roots. And that taught something more elementary, as Galavar explained to his friends while they wound their way through the Academy's seasoned, furrowed corridors.
"It teaches us to respect each other as mates," he said. "Lineal ties set people apart. I belong to this family. You belong to that one. Thus war is inevitable, and so is every prejudice that precedes it."
So he had been taught recently, and he was eager to show his new learning off, even if the rest of them had attended the same lessons.
"Here we are, four best mates. We're the most important people in each other's lives. We weren't forced to be together. We grew into it. This is where we belong. In another land, we would probably never have met."
"There is still conflict, though," Boon said, walking astride Galavar. "Different personalities need to clash. Rule of life."
"Yes," said Agram. "I know plenty of people around here I hate."
Miatysacis agreed. "If anything, the strength of our foursome shows how flimsy our bonds with most other people are."
"It's inevitable that we'll like some people more than others. But even with the people we dislike, still we ultimately reconcile our differences as mates and not strangers," Galavar countered. "And even when we can't reconcile those differences, we accept that we all belong to the same tribe. There are no family feuds here, no sectarian conflict. We don't even have political parties! Even the Empire cannot say as much."
"I wonder if it only works in small places like Ieik," said Miatysacis.
"We already know that individual families don't work in the rest of the world. Look at the nations!"
"That's what I mean, though. You're quick to speak of them as strangers—the same mindset you just claimed to abhor."
This paused Galavar, and before he could reply Boon piled on.
"We've replaced 'family' with 'Ieikili.' If it can work for the whole world, just one family for all Kindred, who knows?"
Galavar was taken aback by the skepticism, until his education caught up with him. He had espoused the popular position. By their upbringing, his friends would be tempted to criticize it. Skepticism was healthy. It still frazzled him, though, and he resolved to strengthen himself.
He said, "I wish we could gather the Sovereigns here, as our guests, and show them how we live. Perhaps they would take our ways home with them. Then we would have testing grounds for our ideas."
Boon laughed. "It messes with something too dear. Their people would rebel. You can only change the parts of them outside their Iai Laron."
Iai Laron, the "inner workings." The part of the self that wasn't a mask, that didn't change by situation or circumstance. The immalleable self, source of character and conflict alike.
"That still leaves plenty of room to persuade them."
Boon shook his head.
"Would you raise your children as your own just to see if it works better?"
"No, but only because I know it doesn't."
"You're too sure," he scoffed.
Agram, who hadn't said much, changed the subject.
"We're coming up on a turn. I'd like to go to the Library."
"Now?" Miatysacis said.
"We already talked about this," said Galavar. "We'd miss Recitations.★ We're late as it is."
"But Recitations isn't mandatory, and we all know how it goes. We've still got a couple of hours before Recollections."
"We said we'd go at lunch."
"But with Castings, lunch won't last long. And then we'd have to wait till midafternoon to even get started."
"You're taking this seriously," Boon told him. "I respect that."
"I'm taking it seriously too," Galavar said. "I just don't want to miss out on so many services. They're enriching."
"And, you don't want to say it," Miatysacis added, "so I will, which is that our absence would be noticed. You want to look good."
"It's not about looking good…"
"There's nothing wrong with wanting to look good. That shows self-awareness and self-serving social posturing."
"You make it sound so—"
"And I'm with you. I'd like to go to services. Boon?"
"I'm going to services."
"I think you're in the minority, Agram," Miatysacis said. "But if you'd like to go to the library yourself, you'll get all the credit for whatever you find while we're away. It's what you want. I think you should go."
Agram balked, and scratched his short blond hair. "It'd be so much more faster with all of us."
"Yes it would," she said firmly, "but that isn't going to happen right now."
Ever since Miatysacis had read Tagarti's The Noble Ego, she had been like this. She refused to let anyone stop her from doing what she wanted to do, and insisted that others do the same of themselves. Absolute self-determination. She justified her continuation of rule-following and good behavior as social self-service.
They were all itching for emancipation. This was the hour of life for it. The boundaries that had served them so well for all these years were melting away, like eggshells, and like eggshells the mates were pushing and pecking to escape as soon as they could.
"I'm going to go to services," Galavar said with finality. "Nevertheless, Miatysacis is right. You should go to the Library, Agram. And tell us what you find when we see you at Recollections."
The gears in Agram's head turned around for a while, before finally he answered.
"I guess I'll go to services too."
Galavar expected Miatysacis to say something, but she didn't.
Recitations, Recollections, and Castings are some of the services held in Ieik on the Day of the Dawn. Recitations entails the reading of various relevant texts, both historical and interpretive. Recollections is a special ceremony that you'll see later on in the story. Castings involves the ceremonial disavowal of the creedal destruction that led to the Wars of Dissonance. Of the three, Recollections is the most important, as you might expect given its attendance mandate.
O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!