“What in the hells is the meaning of this!”, shouts the boy’s father as he bursts into the castle room, dragging his little sister by the arm. “I demand to know what you think you’re doing giving my little girl a weapon and telling her that she can become a warrior!”
Yeah! She’s just a stupid girl!
The High Priest instantly reacts to the intrusion, jumping to his feet with a long curved blade in hand. The boy watches in fascination as the medallion at his neck begins expanding at a rapid rate, within seconds covering the man in heavy plate armor.
That’s so cool!
The large man relaxes his stance before the armor has covered his body, and just as quickly the metal plates magically fold back into the unassuming pendant. The boy’s father stands in the doorway, clutching his daughter’s arm, mouth hanging open in shock, his anger seemingly forgotten.
I want a pendant like that!
The dark-skinned man steps closer and drops to one knee before the little girl. “What is the problem here, talib?”
The smaller man seems to find his voice again, shaking the small curved dagger that he had taken from the girl. “Just what do you think you’re doing, giving this to my little girl without my permission? She cut her brother with it, and could have hurt herself!”
Yeah! Girls should play with dolls and houses and stuff.
The priest stands suddenly and grabs the man’s wrist, twisting painfully. The blade falls from numb fingers and the larger man catches it with his other hand. “This blade is the sacred symbol of her position in the Holy Order”, he growls. “It is not to be touched by another without permission.”
The little girl’s eyes are as wide as saucers as the big man once again kneels before her.
“Explain yourself, talib. Did you injury this boy with your blade?”
She cut my finger! It really hurt!
Tears well up in her eyes as she shakes her head. Gathering her courage, she looks the dark-skinned warrior in the eyes. “He took the knife from me and was waving it around to keep me from getting it back. He cut himself when he was fooling around!”
I did not! It was her fault! She shouldn’t have had it in the first place!
When the warrior stands and gives the boy a questioning glare, he elicit little more than a mumbled, sullen response. He turns back to the children’s father and bows deeply.
“Ten thousand pardons, abbun-talib. I had assumed that your daughter discussed the decision with her family before presenting the request. It was my mistake in forgetting that your people do not understand our civilized ways. Please sit, allow me to explain, and put your concerns to rest.”
The man looks uncertain, thrown off balance by the sudden change from conflict to apology. He takes the offered chair and waits for the High Priest to sit as well.
The warrior turns to the little girl. “You may stand and wait, talib. Perhaps you can contemplate the wisdom of your actions while I speak with your father.” Turning back to the other man, he adds, “I defer to your wisdom in the matter of your son, abbun-talib.”
The man glares at the boy. “He can stand and think about his behavior as well.”
No fair! This is all fault!
“Very well. In Qadira, when a child is coming of age, she may petition to train with one of the holy orders, rather than beginning an apprenticeship or other schooling. It is considered a great honour, and only a select few are found worthy of this boon. Many choose to seek out the Dawnbrethren and become shepherds for the faithful, and others seek out the Feda-Ghazi to become Holy Warriors for The Sarenrae. Far less look to the Isha-Ghazi, the Night Warriors, as a first choice, but the dark ones often make their own choices.
“Your daughter has a sharp mind and a strong will, as I am sure you already know. Over the past year, she has sought out learning from myself, Dawnsister Scarlet, and the acolytes, and has proven a quick study. I was not surprised when she asked to join an Order, although I had not expected her choice to be the Feda-Ghazi. Nevertheless, I am honoured by her request and believe her strength and faith will be well rewarded.”
Strength?! She’s just a weak little girl! I should be the warrior!
The smaller man looks torn between pride and concern. “I don’t know about this, my lord. She is very young…”
And a stupid girl!!!
“I sympathize with your hesitation, abbun-talib. But please understand that I am explaining this not to gain your approval, but to help you accept what has already been determined. The decision to join the Order is a sacred one, that only the child may make, and that only the child may end. If the girl wishes to undergo the training, I will respect her wishes, and can only hope that your family will understand.
“But be reassured, she has many years of study and work ahead of her before gaining the status of feda-ghazi. She will learn how to handle her blade safely and respectfully before learning how to use it in anger. In time, I have no doubt that she will become a fine young woman, strong and respected, a source of pride for your family.”
The priest rises, again bowing to the smaller man. “Again, please accept my most humble apologies for the distress caused by my incorrect assumptions. I am certain the girl’s mother will also have questions. Please let her know that I am at her service in this matter.”
The warrior places the girl’s blade on the desk and turns to her. “Now talib, you will go to the shrine and find acolyte Jonas. You will tell him of your error, and ask him to find you a suitable task for penance. Once that is completed, you may return here and reclaim your sekukri so that we may discuss proper handling of the weapon.”
The girl bows to the two men and scurries out of the room, not daring to look back. The boy watches her go and turns back with his arms crossed.
“I’m older than her”, he whines. “I want to train to be a warrior too.”
The High Priest gives an indulgent smile.
“I think your father may agree that you need to grow up before you are ready for that decision.”