April 19, 2018

Q is for Quail (and Tij)

        “What about us?”  It was another boy.  “We’re just us.  We have no one else to take care for, and we take care for each other so we travel so well as anyone.  Right?”  He turned to the girl beside him and she nodded.
“He can see for me, and I can reach out for him,” she said, and Svarnil realized that the girl’s large eyes, though turned toward the people who were talking, were focused on nothing.  She must be the blind child Jiriya had mentioned, and her brother was the one with the stricken arm.
        Oru was considering the two children carefully.  “How old are you?” he asked.
        “Nine years.  We are born together.”
        “And what are your names?”
        “I am Quail,” said the boy.
        The girl, however, looked suddenly disconcerted.  “What’s Tij?” she asked her brother, and when she felt his shrug she said louder, “Rika, what’s my name?  What do they calling tij in Common Speech?”
        “I don’t know,” Hedgehog answered, “But you must not go back there.”
        Oru said, “You are called Tij in your language?  Can you describe what you’re named after?”
        The girl smiled shyly.  “Little sand-color animal, jumping very big, digging deep burrow.  Long tail with…” She made a gesture.  “Um, fluff on end.  Big ears, long legs in back, little arms in front.  That one.”
        “Ah.  We call those jumprats.”
        “I am a rat?  My name is Rat?”
        Her brother crowed, “Now I call you Rat!  Rat, Rat!”
        “No, tij is different, more like little funny hare, maybe.  Not rat!”
        Jiriya said, “We know a jumprat isn’t really a rat.  That’s just what we call it here.”  When she saw the girl’s disappointment, however, she said, “There’s no reason we can’t call you Tij.  You don’t have to translate your name into Common Speech, do you?”
        “Good.  That’s right.  You can be Quail, Pir, but I am still Tij.  Just like the dog.”
        “A dog is named Tij, too?” asked Nulif curiously, for he had been making friends with the two sight hounds while the others talked.  He was rubbing their silky ears while their tongues lolled and their feathered tails swished happily.
        Quail laughed.  “No, our vikuri is name Wind.”  He pointed at the dog whose pale creamy fur darkened to charcoal brown along her head and back.  “But she still have to be called Abri because she cannot listen in Common Speech.”  At the sound of her name, Abri looked attentively to the boy.  He reached over and rubbed her chin with his good hand.
        Now Oru said, “Tij, we appreciate your offer, but how can a blind child be a guide?”
        The girl turned her face toward Oru and answered, “I am not blind from end of Akuv, I am always blind.  I never needing eyes.”
        “But,” Oru began, but Quail had already jumped in to support his sister.
        “Tij guide us away from Akuv when dust cloud making everything dark with it.  When everyone blind, then only Tij can see.”
        After a moment Oru nodded slowly.  “So, Tij and Quail, you think you can travel with the Vizier’s expedition back to Lothvana, back to the site of Akuv?  You can keep up with us and help us understand what we see, even though you are not very old and you’re blind and maimed?  Do you understand what you’re offering?  It may be upsetting.  It will be no easy jaunt.”
        “What is jaunt?”
        “A trip for amusement.”
        “Oh.  Yes.  We understanding.  Right?”
        “Right.”

        Quail and Tij from Ruin of Ancient Powers, sixth book in a high fantasy series for middle school-or-so through adult (excerpt
from Chapter II: The Postponement of Two Weddings).  More information here, or “Look inside” at Amazon.

[Picture: photoshop sketch of Quail and Tij by AEGN, 2018.]

A-Z Challenge, all posts for the letter Q

2 comments:

  1. Quail reminds me of one of my grandsons. The picture of him, I mean.

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    1. That's funny - I drew on a picture of my kids for this, so maybe my son at that age resembles your grandson. (I'm not as happy with this illustration, actually, but there's a limit to how much time and effort I could put into it.)

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