July 24, 2018 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
Turn Your Back on Those of False Faith
He’d already had more than enough excitement for the day, probably, all added up, for his entire time at Edally. But the day wasn’t done with Saydrie yet.
They had split up for no more than a few minutes, Enrie and Taikie lingering behind after Textiles class to talk to Kekla about something while Saydrie walked ahead with Tesdes and Riensin. Then Riensin and Tesdes had gone off somewhere else – and in that moment, which couldn’t have been longer than a few heartbeats, he’d been ambushed.
If he were a warrior, like the ones in the War Strategy class, he’d be dead. He was, Saydrie had to admit, not cut out for that life at all.
At least this was “just” his countrymen and women, fellow Cevati Bitrani.
From their expressions, Saydrie’s wasn’t so sure he wouldn’t have rather had a Calenyen arrow through the gut.
“Are you still consorting with the ridiculous trollops?”
“It’s not like I was trying to consort with Udammadu and Ruzarrie,” he protested. “They just… they follow me around sometimes. Well, Ruzarrie was relatively new. But Udammadu, I can’t not talk to someone in my own House though!”
Why was he even defending himself? Probably because Piadro was tall and imposing and older, and he was very good at following people who looked like authority figures.
He really ought to do something about that.
“Not them.” Falivia stepped forward. She looked even more severe than she had at the beginning of the year, and her Bitrani had gotten that strange drawl that people in the far south used. “Your ‘team.’ We’re not beholden to the Calenni authority any more than we absolutely must be. There’s no reason for you to fraternize with them.”
“Did you just call my friends trollops?” His voice was low and he knew he sounded angry. He wasn’t angry, however; he was furious. “My friend, my team?”
“They are not,” Falivia explained, “proper Bitrani women. They are not the sort of person you ought to be associating with.”
Saydrie felt a steel in his spine he was unused to and a chill in his chest. “I am not in the habit,” he told them, all of them, no longer caring how bad this was going to make things, “of asking for permission for my associations. Not since I was a child still following my mother around have I done so, and I don’t believe I’ll start again now.”
“You don’t think the Three and the priests will frown on your associations?” Piadro managed to look patrician and dubious at the same time.
“I wasn’t going to ask the priests,” Saydrie retorted, a little surprised at himself. He redeemed himself in his own eyes a heartbeat later. “Truly it says in the Book of Tienebrah, One’s companions are not one, for we do not become the mud by stepping in it, nor do we become the goat for herding it.”
“Don’t you quote the Books of the Three to me,” snarled Piadro. “We all know you’re a traitor and an apostate and nothing that you say will change that. You’ve turned your back on Bithrain, on your people, and on your gods.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. Saydrie imagined, for a moment, one of these self-righteous people writing a letter to his mother explaining all their accusations.
He considered his mother and what she would do to people who thought that her darling son, one step away from the priesthood (in her mind, at least), was an apostate.
“I have turned my back not on the Three, not on my nation, and not on my people.” He bowed to them. “But I turn my back, as it says in the book of Reiassannon and the writings of the scholar Leoniarinio, on those who would lead me down a road of false faith and lies.”
“You’re saying I have false faith?” Piadro’s voice rose up in pitch and volume. “You say I lie!?”
“Are you saying….” Falivia’s voice, on the other hand, had dropped down low and dangerous, “that you think we are the danger to your faith?”
“I am saying,” he answered carefully, “that I am turning my back on you before you lead me someplace I don’t want to go.”
Physically, he was making a very bad move. He knew that as he turned around. But still, he turned his back on the little group of Cevati Bitrani.
He wasn’t actually turning his back on anything, not in any real sense, he told himself. He was just…
Turning his back on the most strident Cevati Bitrani.
This was going to come back to haunt him.
A hand dug into his shoulder. A voice snarled in his other ear.
“You don’t turn your back on Bithrain, child. Do you know what happens if you do that?”
He had a feeling he was about to find out.
“I am not-” He was yanked around to face the Cevati Bitrani “-turning my back on my nation.”
Please don’t let them ask what his nation was. Please don’t make him have to come up with an honest answer.
“You don’t turn your back on me, either, you miserable little Calleni-sympathizer.
He saw the fist coming and decided to take it, although he did close his eyes.
He was thus a little startled when it didn’t connect.
He opened his eyes.
There was a pipe in front of his face, a connector of some sort attached to the end closest to his eyes. A few hand-spans from that, Piadro was shaking his hand; from the looks of things, something between shock and pain was keeping him from talking.
Taikie dropped the end of the pipe down to a guard position and stepped forward. “I don’t think,” she said, in a tone that would have been sarcastic in anyone else but from her sounded like she was considering a point from a book, “that the Bitrani faith is that different from the Calenyen, is it?”
“As far as I can tell,” Saydrie answered, in part because it kept Falivia from saying something, and in part because it was usually easier to just answer Taikie, “the books are the same, and much of the interpretation is the same. Some things change in interpretation.”
“So the part of the book of Reiassannon where it says that enemies are good to send to the fires, but to send your allies there was dumb?” Taikie frowned. “That part of the book, it’s still correct, right?”
“Yes, it is. Did we have that reading in a class?” He scolded himself as he said it – that wasn’t kind – but she didn’t see offended in the least.
“No, but I was reading up on it for, ah. For a private project. Is it time to leave?”
“It’s time to leave.” Enrie stepped up on the other side of Saydrie. “They don’t look like they want to talk religion, Taikie.”
“Why is it that nobody wants to talk religion with me?”
“Because you turn it into a device and cook your tea on it?”
“That wasn’t – well, it wasn’t exactly religion. It was philosophy!”
Enrie was, Saydrie noted, also carrying, quite casually, a piece of pipe. Hers seemed to be sharpened.
And, he also noted, the Cevati Bitrani were backing off.
He smiled at his friends. “Let’s go talk somewhere more quiet, why don’t we?”