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Four Out of Ten

Section I: Episode 37

May 21, 2015

The clouds had thickened—just plain, ordinary clouds—and Galavar took his lunch from the windowless refectory out to one of the observation aprices so that he could feast on the gray day.

Boon joined him. The mate had been more quiet ever since his sickness, and though he seemed to have recovered physically there was still the sense of a lingering ailment about him. Boon had even missed trigonometry class this morning in order to attend another counseling session.

"How did it go?" Galavar asked.

"Wish I could say I got something out of it." Boon rolled his head. "But I don't think I did."

"Well, you didn't miss anything in trigonometry. Cosecants. They're just secants."

"That simple?"

"Nothing to it."

"What did you get on your quiz?"

Galavar blinked.

"Ten points, right?" Boon prodded. His old smile returned.

"Actually…I got four points."

"Four points? That's a lot less than ten, isn't it?"

"It's not that the concept is hard! I was just thinking about other things."

"Ladies, maybe?"

"What? No."

"But Orni shared a deep experience with you, Javelin wants to be your lover, and Sulvajos tried to kill you. You have lady problems."

"That's an overly artistic interpretation of things."

"Not math…not ladies…so what you thinking about?"

"The referendum. I'm worried Jahvoy will lose."

Boon laughed.

"You're too young to be worrying about politics, friend. Have a few years off first. You can worry about politics when your beard turns gray."

"I don't have a beard."

"Even more years then. First you grow a beard, then it turns gray, then politics."

"He's a good mate. He deserves better than to be betrayed by cowardice and ignorance in the people—the people of Ieik, of all people. We should know better."

"Ah, but if what you say is true, and if he loses, then we deserve not to have him as the River."

"That's not very helpful."

"But it's correct."

Galavar sighed, and looked back out the windows. Under the clouds the village had lost its shadows, and looked like a different place. Galavar's imagination began to wander. He could see towers that weren't there, whole neighborhoods and then districts, a giant city. The closest he had ever come to seeing a city had been in drawings…or, perhaps, in his first vision on the Day of the Dawn—the legitimate one, the one that had issued from the first striking of the bell. All he had seen up close in that vision was parkland, but in the distance there had been a city all around him.

"Maybe you do something to help Jahvoy?" Boon suggested, more constructively. "Hand out pamphlets. They say 'Here is the voice of Galavar: Jahvoy Is the Best River. If he loses the referendum, Ieik is doomed.'"

Galavar chuckled. "I can have Orni draw pictures of more nefarus clouds and fireballs."

"Not fireballs. All your quizzes that you got bad points on, falling down in flames. The pamphlet can say 'This will happen to you.'"


"I bet Jahvoy got ten points on his cosecant quiz back in his day."

"He probably did."

Galavar watched the village for a while longer, then turned to Boon.

"You're right. I should do something to help him win the referendum. Any ideas?"

"Talk to the people who oppose him. Learn why they want him out, and then refute their arguments during the hearings tomorrow."

Galavar's eyes lit up.

"That's a good idea."


In Ieik, rolling one's head expresses the same ambiguity or uncertainty that shrugging does in our culture.

The Great Galavar: A Curious Tale
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O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!