A letter from Ebru, dictated to Keti

It’s clear that Keti is used to much more flowery language than Ebru lets her write: she translates stock phrases literally.

‘Turenay’ happens to mean ‘bath-town’, called after the medicinal springs and bath-houses; ‘ver-‘ means ‘dawn, morning’, ‘Solay’ (the Valdyan name of Aumen Síth) means ‘gold-town’.

The commander of the Order of the Sworn probably spells his name ‘Morin’ himself, but ‘Maurin’ is the way he’s likely to have pronounced it when he introduced himself, as he’s a native of Ryshas.

Ökgelen Ebru, at the School of the Spirit in the town of Bath, to her esteemed father Ökgelen Ersen, fighting the Khas with Prince-with-the-Lynx Reshan in the Southern Plains. And also to her uncle Ökgelen Tanu.

Dear father and uncle,

My friend Keti is helping me write this because I am still learning to write. She says that Prince Reshan will read it aloud so it will be as if I am speaking to you. Uncle Tanu will be able to understand it and translate it into our language. There are no signs for the sounds of our language or I would have written those.

I am happy at the school and have many friends in my own class and more advanced classes. The Prince and Uncle Tanu were right to send me here. I have found out that I am good at languages and defense but not so good at using my spirit as a spiritual body. And I am learning to fight with a stick longer than I am tall. It is much easier to handle than a sword, and almost as easy as a knife or bare hands.

I have also found what the gods want me to do with my life when I am done at the school. We went to the town of Dawning, Keti and Keti’s intended mate Arin and my friend Khora and Khora’s intended mate Aidan (who is the brother of the king of Valdyas and can drive a horse-cart) and I, to pray at the temple of Timani who is called Dayati in the City of Gold, where Keti’s family comes from though she was born in the south of Valdyas as they have been expelled by the Khas. I offered some mare’s milk to Timani and sat in her presence and she told me that it was time for me to become an adult and she was giving me to Ankanen– at least I think she did not mean Arhanan. Their names here confuse me and the name of Arhanan is never spoken, but Senthi the language teacher told me what it is.

There is a temple of Ankanen in that town and Arin and Keti took me there, and I spoke with the chief, Maurin, a fighter priest, who said that he will have me as fighter novice when I have passed the first test of the spirit. He said that there are temples in other towns closer to the Plains but there was great similarity of spirit between me and Maurin so I should like to learn in the temple in Dawning. I would entreat your blessing for this venture. I shall come home after I have passed the test of the spirit and I implore you to let me take the test of adulthood and give me my marks, so I can come back to Ankanen as a woman(1).

I hope and pray that you and my mother and my brothers and sister are well. And that the war against the Khas is going well. There are no Khas yet in the town of Bath but you can trust that we are training to fight in case they come this far.

Greetings and my love,

Ökgelen Ebru

(1) Physical and psychological gender on the Plains are orthogonal: Ebru was born physically female but is socially more male. Not quite a trans man, like Veh; she uses female pronouns in Ilaini, for one. There are actually four sets of pronouns in the Plains language(s?) to handle this.