‘No, the word would be osvithir, not zhannir’, corrects Lulu, gesturing to a separate page of the scrolls.
Faisal digs his claws into the wooden desk in frustration. “How can a language have so many different words for running away? Is this not the tongue spoken by dragons?”, he grumbles.
The female stands and stretches, taking a deep breath. “Yes”, she replies. “But this is the dialect used by the Sootscale tribe. There are some variations.” She pauses and fixes him with a serious look. “I still do not understand why you feel this is necessary.”
The warrior pushes back from the scarred desk and begins pacing the floor. “If I am to be burdened with leadership of this land, then I must make more of an effort to be inclusive of all of its subjects.” He pauses and returns the upadoc’s intense scrutiny. “And as we are married, I would extend you the honour of being able to communicate in your language.”
Lulu’s fists drop to her hips in an increasingly familiar gesture. “Why do you insist on maintaining this foolishness? My father tricked you with a ceremony that you did not understand! No-one would consider this a valid union! Why will you not speak out and correct this matter?!”
Faisal merely shakes his head. “Trickery or not, the union was approved by Dawnsister Scarlet, and therefore reflects the will of The Sarenrae.”
The female kobold throws up her hands in frustration. “You were there! You must have seen that she was just as confused by my father’s obfuscation as you! She had no more idea what was being agreed to than you did!”
“Perhaps”, acknowledges the warrior. “But the Dawnsister is far wiser than I, and has undoubtedly puzzled out his intent and meaning by now. That she has not spoken out about the matter can only mean that she, and The Goddess, approve the match. It is undoubtedly part of my penance and I shall not oppose her will.”
“Why are you following so blindly?”, Lulu growls. “She can make mistakes. Do things for her own petty reasons. You should make your own decisions!”
She takes a step forward, fists clenched in frustration. “What happened to you? Where is the strong, arrogant, decisive warrior that Mikmek went on about? The force of your will was supposed to be fearsome to behold. The human warrior who used to lead this Duchy would never have acquiesced to all of this!”
The paladin mere slumps into the large chair before the fireplace.
“Yes. I was once that man. I strode about this castle, secure in the understanding of the world and my place in it. Believing that I knew the truth of Her will. I railed against many of the Dawnsister’s decisions and actions, argued about the Proper Forms, and made decisions without, or against, her advice.
“But I was made to understand more about the reality of my life. I nearly fell into the service of True Evil, through my own arrogance. My fate hung in the balance as The Eternal Light and True Evil both laid claim. All of my past deeds, good and bad, were brought forth, examined, critiqued, and dissected.
“This was no mere review of the major events of my life. I relived every tiny event, every little favour and offense, every minor triumph and transgression. I relived Deirdre’s murder, Talreth’s death, Majid’s Cleansing, everything. All in minute detail, including from the perspective of other participants. I saw and felt and understood the true impact of my actions and words in a way that you cannot imagine, and it was a supremely humbling experience.
“So, no, I am not the same person that Mikmek may have told you about. And I continue to struggle to overcome the arrogance that has causes so much pain for so many. And I know that I shall fail, but that will not stop me from making the attempt.
“I defer to the Dawnsister because I have caused her unnecessary pain through my ignorance, arrogance and inaction. I am unable to correct the damage that I have done, but I shall strive to avoid causing more harm. Her guidance is offered to me in kindness and compassion, and I shall respect that forevermore.”
A long silence lingers in the room after Faisal’s speech, the two kobolds lost in their thoughts. Lulu crosses the room to stand next to the chair, placing a claw gently on the warrior’s brow-crest.
‘Assalamu aleikom wa rahmatoh Sarenrae wa barakatoh, zawjy’
Faisal turns in surprise, looking the female in the eyes. She smiles gently.
‘You are not the only one who believes that a spouse should be able to use their own language.’