Examination, Experimentation

Yeva takes her entrance exam for the linguistics program at the University of Scalvoris.

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Examination, Experimentation

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Continued from here.
The soft hissing of sand pouring through the neck of the hourglass was a steady hum of noise, amplified by the utter silence of the emptied classroom. Yeva sat at a desk, reading over the instructions of her exam with quick eyes, her hands moving to swirl the quill within black ink and wipe away its excess. Pages and pages of questions were stacked before her. Some where multiple choice, most were short answers requiring precision and succinct, clear communication if she intended to complete the assessment before time ran out.
  • What is a lingua franca, a koine, diglossia, a dialect, a patois?
  • How does one distinguish between the different varieties used in a diglossic situation?
  • Define the concept of speech community.
  • What are the stages in the sociolinguistic development of the child? What attributes (linguistic and other) characterize each stage?
  • Define prescriptive grammar.
  • Discuss linguistic and non-linguistic manifestations of politeness.
Yeva took a deep breath and moved down the list. Now, looking over the test before her, she could understand why they doubted her. This test was not for the faint of heart, nor could someone with viewed linguistics as a hobby be expected to pass. Experts and extremists only. But they did not know her. Yeva was not just a dabbler - she was an ardent woman with a curiosity that surpassed life itself. She was a learner. An adventurer. A hero.

She said nothing, nor did she look at the Eidisi who watched her with crossed arms, still and waiting for a sign of weakness. For doubt.

He wants me to fail.

She continued to write her answers, script precise and clean. He can't stand the thought of not being the smartest person in the room.

The page had barely dried with her answers before she moved on to the next.
  • True or False: Mutual intelligibility is a very efficient criterion which is used to distinguish between language varieties.
  • True or False: The way a person speaks is influenced by the participants and the setting only.
  • True or False: Sociolinguists believe that speakers know not only how to form sentences but also how to use them appropriately.
More questions, more answers. Written, circled and explained.

Time continued to pass, but its sense was lost on the woman. Without windows to watch the shifts of suns in the sky and the bustle of campus hours, it was an abstract concept in such a still place. Her shoulders began to ache from sitting bent over and she paused, leaned back to reach towards the ceiling and stretch, spine arching. The Eidisi frowned, focused on her movements and expecting a remark. Was she getting tired?

"Almost done," she said, smiling rather cheekily. It looked like she was somewhere beyond the halfway mark, "Will you be signing off on my certificate, or-"

"No talking during the examination," he barked. Arrogance was not a trait the medic showed often but seeing the almost imperceptible glance at the timer pleased her. She doubted he had expected her to make it this far, let alone come close to finishing. Wouldn't he be shocked when she turned it in!

Fueled by the chance to finish before the deadline, the words flowed faster from the quill, hindered only when she needed to reapply her ink. Even at the end of the essay portion, she grinned and blew upon the lettering and then, pleased as a Rharnian peach, lifted her hand to signal she had finished.

He rose stiffly and made his way towards her, taking the re-stacked exam and moved to the desk. He began to read and the room remained silent, long after the hourglass finished its course, "So?" Yeva decided to break the silence, trying to read his face for any sign of her victory, "How'd I do?"

"Shut up," he didn't bother looking up, flipping through her work. His brow furrowed and he turned another page. Then another.

Finally, he lowered the test and stared at her.

Was that disbelief?

It made her giddy, hopeful. She tilted her head, Ancient Tongue flowing from her lips, "Surprised?"

He stood so fast, Yeva jumped. Oh no, she had offended him? Memory flashes of the little boy and his dolls made her shrink back, but the stoic man merely stormed towards the door with her test in his hand.

"Stay here."

He did not say where he was going, or why.

Yeva was left alone, the room feeling more like a cell with every passing break. Gods, how long would be just be waiting? It felt endless!

Eventually, he did return, appearing at the entrance like an apparition, "Come with me."

Yeva leapt to her feet. Finally, a chance to roam! She tried to joke, lighten the mood, "I thought I was going to go mad - So, did you..." she did not see her test and he did not look at her. Again, he walked quickly while her shorter legs struggled to keep up.

At last, they arrived by a series of familiar offices in a part of the campus she recognized. "The councilor?"

Why?

The Eidisi opened the door, waiting for her to step inside.

A sense of unease began to creep up her spine. Was something wrong?

"Did I pass?"

He smirked, "Congratulations," his words sounded cold as ice, amused but not celebratory, "You've been accused of cheating."

"What?"


Yeva felt as if she had been backhanded. "But that's insane, I-"

The Eidisi pushed her into the room and slammed the door behind her.
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Where the Eidisi Proctor had been an aggressively petty and domineering presence during her entire exam, the councilor was an entirely different matter. There was an atmosphere of calm clarity, and tea was set out for the student as well as the councilor on a neat little tray. The tea set was exquisite on her desk, with fine lettering and runes drawn upon the rims in fanciful designs.

The councilor herself was, perhaps, not the kind of person most would expect of one who dealt with the most troubled of the university. She wore a practical, scholarly robe of course, and unassuming cosmetics. Her hair was dark and skin a shade of olive. Yet the one feature that drew people in were her sea-foam green eyes. She'd dealt with many an errant student, able to put them at ease and get to the bottom of matters with a mere glance of those eyes.

She folded her hands on the desk, as Yeva was shoved into the room. The councilor gave her a smile, "Please, have a seat young lady." gestured toward the chair in front of the desk. "Help yourself to some tea and biscuits, if you'd like."

Whether Yeva indulged in the refreshment or not, the councilor would fold her hands once more and give her a friendly smile, "Now, tell me your side of the story. How did your test go?"

She didn't interrupt at any point, nor did she rush the student to answer, but only calmly looked at her with a warm expression. She was used to getting the truth out of people in many ways, but clearly thought this was the most effective avenue for finding more about her charge.
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Re: Examination, Experimentation

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The Eidisi's rough dismissal was not something Yeva had experienced often. She was a kind girl; charming in a disarming sort of way, and so few were so callous without reason and certainly not so immediately. The medic was certainly not without her faults but she imagined that for whatever reason the man was so irritated with her must have stemmed from a lack of respect. He must not have thought her serious. Just a young woman with fanciful dreams and a without the scholarly backbone to make a stand within his field. Now, suspected of cheating?

Yes, he must not have respected her at all.

Yeva's brown eyes lingered on the closed door, a crackle of nerves stirring in her stomach. She wrung her hands and turned, but the aura that greeted her her in comparison was like night and day. The woman behind the desk was lovely, tanned with an warm olive coloring and had eyes of electric green. She smiled at Yeva and did not rise to welcome the woman, but motioned for Yeva to take a seat.

"Please take a seat, young lady."

"Yes, ma'am."

Yeva stepped quickly, not sure how much trouble she was in and tried to remember her manners. It was difficult controlling the urge she had to speak immediately. There's a misunderstanding! she wanted to say, I've never cheated in anything.

"Help yourself to some tea and biscuits, if you'd like."

"Oh."

Yeva looked at the tea set and the beautiful runic markings decorating its surface and the toasted treats poised delicately on the plate beside it, "Thank you... This is a lovely set. Arathanaka or...Ze...karian?" she tilted her head, trying to pull the name of the other runic languages in Idalos. There was always hone, but she had no experience there. In Rharne, she always believed it was rude to refuse a drink, and a snack to nibble on might give her something else to focus on. It hadn't helped that with all her waiting, Cassion's boon had begun to gnaw against her stomach, reminding her that it was long past time for lunch. The redhead reached for a cup and carefully began to pour the fresh brew, watching the liquid nestle inside the white porcelain. The steam that wafted upwards smelled herbal... Yeva added a sugar cube and a splash of sweet cream, her miniature spoon tinkling softly against the sides of the cup.

She set it aside and placed a napkin in her lap - attempting every formality she knew - and then looked up at the councilor who had waited for the little ritual to be complete before smiling.

"Now, tell me your side of the story. How did your test go?"

"It went..."
Yeva considered the question and then nodded, "It went well..."

The memory of the trial replayed in her mind, "It was different than my medical certification exam... Not bad, just different." Yeva sat back in the plush armchair and tried to relax, "I hadn't quite expected to take the exam same trial, so that caught me off guard, but I didn't mind or anything. I was actually very pleased. Although I swear I wouldn't cheat."

The woman hadn't accused her of anything, so she took a sip of the tea and decided to let that be the last of her defense. She was innocent, after all. The additions to the tea had added a sweetness, but there was a subtle bite in its aftertaste, "I went into the examination room and I did everything as requested. I left my belongings with-" Yeva paused, "Well, I don't really know his name, but... I left my things with him. I took my seat, I used the utensils provided, I never left the room. I... I did finish a bit early."

She wasn't sure what the woman had heard, but this was her version, "I was... maybe feeling a bit smug, I'll admit. But - It wasn't that the test itself wasn't challenging. It certainly had questions that I felt could be tricky, but I was rather hopeful I had caught them all. Some of the phonology section, for example." Who had written up the exam? Yeva would have liked to meet them, "Afterwards, he reviewed some of my answers. He looked at me and..."

Her voice trailed as she mulled over the recollection of events. She had taken his silence positively, and with his eyes the color of the cream in her milk, Yeva had not learned how to read them, "Then he left."

She ate one of the biscuits, reminded of her hunger and took another drink to wash it down, "When he came back, I was brought here."

Meeting the woman's bright eyes, she rotated the teacup in her lap and furrowed her brows with sincere concern, "Am I... Am I in trouble?"
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The woman's eyes lit up in delight when Yeva tried to pronounce Zekarian. She leaned forward, holding her chin propped up by the elbows, staring into Yeva's eyes. "Now, wherever did you hear about Zekarian runes? You must be one well-read young lady." Yeva would note that the woman didn't drink or eat from the biscuits. She just seemed satisfied to watch as her charge took her fill of what was on offer.

She listened patiently as Yeva told her side of the story, nodding along with the points that were appropriate, and shaking her head whenever Yeva mentioned the word 'cheat'. Finally, when Yeva finished with the query, whether she was in trouble, the Councilor sighed, and leaned back in her chair. After a moment's consideration, she smiled at Yeva. "I don't believe you cheated."

She waited for that to sink in, and then gestured for Yeva to take more tea and food, if she wanted it. Then the councilor pushed up from her chair, and walked around the back of her office. She looked at the wall, which held all manner of strange characters written in languages that Yeva might recognize, but couldn't quite place. In fact, the more Yeva looked, the hazier the room became.

"You see, I have a theory. Death does something to a person. Take the Eidisi for example..." Yvithia said, and then turned to Yeva with a knowing smile. "Ahh, but that isn't a secret for just anyone. Let us see, how much better you understand, in just a few moments..."

And then, just like that, Yeva fell with her face forward on the desk, dead as a doornail.

















She awoke to a trance-like state. She was awake, but not really. She felt strangely disconnected from herself, as if... She'd felt this way before, during her time as a ghost. Was she dead?!

The voice of Yvithia, and it could not be mistaken now, as she wished herself to be known to Yeva, "Welcome Yeva of Rharne, to what we who meddle in reviving mortals call the space between life and death. You're not quite dead, but also, not quite alive. I'm keeping you from slipping back into final judgment. I hope you appreciate such accommodation, given your recent fall."

"Now the way out is simple, and should be no trouble for one such as you." Yvithia's voice echoed with a pleasant tone to Yeva's hearing. "You've only to pass the exam you only took moments before. But the questions are different this time."

"Some of them may come from faces you recognize, faces of those you left alone long ago." The face of Azrael, the avriel flashed before her mind's eye, then was gone. Then the old woman who gave her the rose, and finally Friell. Many more besides, but they all seemed to melt into each other in the moment that the vision was presented to her. "Should you pass, you may return with my blessing. Good luck, Yeva of Rharne! I'm routing for you!"

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"I didn't think you cheated," the woman said, and the tension in Yeva's body seemed to melt away. She smiled and watched woman rise, all the while enjoying the meal. The office itself was well maintained and information lined the walls, languages Yeva had glimpsed and others which struck no chord of familiarity. She finished a cracker and began rubbing her fingers together to rid themselves of crumbs, eyes searching for a napkin while the woman began to speak. Spotting one beside the saucer, slender fingers reached out and seemed to still, suspended in air. Confused.

Yeva's brow furrowed and she tried to sit a bit straighter, feeling dragged downward as her limbs began to go grow in weight. The medic rolled her shoulders, lright palm touching her stomach, quietly clearing her warming throat. And then that warmth turned into a tickle; a scratch. The medic flexed her jaw, a shadow creeping on the outskirts of her vision as the rhythm of her heart increased. Badump. Badump. She felt lightheaded.

"You see, I have a theory. Death does something to a person. Take the Eidisi for example..."

Her vision continued to flicker and the counsellor's words sounded muffled, far away.

Yeva grasped at them, tried to speak but her mouth watered and she felt sick, "Wha...." she tried to stand but her legs wouldn't move. Logic screamed dangero and yet the word refused her. It floated, just out of reach while her body continued to failed and her voice sounded like a stranger's, "are you...saying?"

She struggled to breathe and looked up to see the academic's smile.

"Ahh, but that isn't a secret for just anyone. Let us see, how much better you understand, in just a few moments..."

Yeva slumped forward with a clatter and her vision went dark.
***

Yeva woke up, staring at a grey expanse above. It was without color, void of life. Yvithia's voice greeted her, soothing her soul to a state of consciousness, "Welcome Yeva of Rharne, to what we who meddle in reviving mortals call the space between life and death. You're not quite dead, but also, not quite alive. I'm keeping you from slipping back into final judgment. I hope you appreciate such accommodation, given your recent fall."

The revelation processed slowly, Yeva sitting up in confusion.

And in a single moment of cruel clarity, the redhead jumped to her feet, looking at her hands, touched the spiritual imitation of her living body. At once, she combusted into flames. The Beneath! They were in the Beneath!

"No!" she screamed, closing her eyes. This was another nightmare. It had to be.

Yvithia's voice continued to be pleasant and the events of the trial flashed for the redhead. She had taken a test. She was safe. She hadn't cheated. But that didn't mean she hadn't been in trouble. The Immortal explained the rules.

"Now the way out is simple, and should be no trouble for one such as you...You've only to pass the exam you only took moments before. But the questions are different this time."

Yeva looked up at the stranger, smoke rolling from her mouth, seeping from the corneas of her eyes. Her red hair shifted between curl and flame and her skin color blackened like ash. Her emotions overwhelmed her and her body twisted and morphed, hardening as the parts of her body were consumed by ectoplasmic fire, her transformation to a flame atronauch complete. Everything the woman said up until this point ran through Yeva's mind.

Death. Eidisi.

"Yvithia," the ghost accused, hot coals burning where eyes had once been, "Why?"

Had she somehow angered the entity?

The Immortal explained the rules to the challenge, the reward for successful completion of this test a return to Idalos and a blessing. Yeva now understood the emotion wrath and was ready to explode when the first images of Azrael played before her. The old woman and the rose. Friell.

In a blink, Yeva was back in her mortal form, gasping as she was reminded of humanity. They weren't dead, she rationalized. This was another trick. This wasn't the end. She could get out of here again. She could do it. Memories came and went, flashes of what could be forgotten if she wasn't careful. This was just a test, every hero went through tests. This wasn't the end! IT WASN'T!

She just had to focus.

Yeva glared at the Immortal, waiting for a familiar face to come forward "What is the first question?"
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"It's not the end for you Yeva, this is just a temporary trance. You're not quite dead. Yet. But in a sort of limbo, if you understand." Yvithia compelled Yeva to turn around and look behind her. Although whether she did so or not was her choice. Regardless of her action, she would hear the voice from behind.

"What was our Lingua Franca? Our first, to find common ground and understand each other? How was it that a young Rharnean red-head came to the aid of an avriel. How did we first breach the language barrier?" Azrael, the avriel asked her. If she turned, she would see him there. He didn't look dead, to her eyes. And through the ectoplasm, she could sense his life force. So he wasn't dead. Then why and what was he doing in the Beneath, and with Yvithia? "How did you first convince a wild avriel to let you treat him, how to be a friend, and how to love a human?"

Azrael blinked a few times, as he held out his hands to her, waiting for her answer. Once it was given, he'd move onto the next line of questions. "What Koine, and what Diglossia did we have at our disposal, that a friendship blossomed?"

Yvithia interjected though she wasn't there bodily. She observed, and Yeva could feel her presence everywhere she looked. "Communication is all about sharing, Yeva. But intelligence gives regard to what shouldn't be shared. Or shared selectively, for the greatest effect to the pursuit of your agenda. Answer, but answer him well." Yeva could feel the mirth behind Yvithia's voice, ]"Not all who share a smile are friendly."

Fury showed on Azrael's face as if he understood what Yvithia spoke, He shouted at her, "You should listen to me, Yeva. Listen to me, don't listen to the other. The Immortals use us as playthings, they don't care beyond how their ends may be served... What do you want from me?"

Azrael buffeted the air with his wings, tears streaming down his face in a fit of maudlin emotion.

"Such exquisite language, you could almost read his emotions on his face, couldn't you, Yeva? Now tell us, if you will. What was the first time you discovered lingua franca with a foreign speaker, whose primary language you were unfamiliar with. Was it really this one? Or another?"


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Sorry to see you haven't posted.


If you should return and wish to resume this thread, feel free to contact me. Otherwise, I'm taking this off my subscriptions for the time being.
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Yeva closed her eyes to fight the panicked tears that threatened to cling to her lashes while Yvithia explained she stood in limbo. When she gathered her resolve, the young woman turned as instructed to see the face of an old friend. The Avriel began to speak, "Azrael?" Her jaw dropped and she stepped forward, struggling to listen amidst her shock and the ectoplasmic barrier, "What are you-" she silenced, brow furrowing as he began a series of questions that began as academic and then slipped into something far more personal.

What was our Lingua Franca? Our first. how did we breach the language barrier?

"Um," she wracked her brain. Lingua franca was known as the language bridge between two different people who have different native languages. The general theory stated that humans communicate by using vocal organs and the whole part of the body. More recently, studies had been conducted to seek out whether non-verbal language could be considered lingua franca, "Body language," she answered, nervous making her wring her hands. Memories of Azrael cornered in a cave, bloodied and wild-eyed, and her slowly approaching, hands up, soothing whispers and slow movements. He had still swiped at her, tried to puff his damanged wings and wincing, a clear sign of warning, but she could tell he was too weak to fend her off for long. Yeva had been so gentle in her touch, "We had Common, but you barely used it then," Later, after an understanding was built and the vast differences in their language, and culture, became apparent, he had confided that he thought Common an inferior tongue when compared to the melodic complexity of Lorien.

As to the following line of questioning, she tensed, glancing at Yvithia.

"How did you first convince a wild Avriel to let you treat him, how to be a friend, and how to love a human?"

Her cheeks flamed and she felt a brush of guilt. Yeva had always suspected his feelings for her, but she didn't understand how these questions were pertinent to anything Yvithia could be interested in. It didn't make sense to her why an Immortal would care so much for her relationship with. He likely knew the answer better than she ever could, "I-" I don't know, she wanted to say, "You knew I wasn't going to hurt you... I suppose we wanted similar things. I've always wanted you to be healthy and happy. I just... tried to find common understanding. To know about you and your culture. You were so different from me; I thought if I learned about you, and gave that in return, we would be okay."

And now they were in limbo, stuck somewhere between life and death. Any trace of a smile that had ghosted her lips while she thought through the memories had started to melt away.

Could trust be a language? Was this her fault?

It was never her intent to make him fall in love with her, if she could be so bold as to accept his question. Yeva had only wanted to deepen their friendship. As for diglossia, and koine, those came later, in Athrt.

Koine applied to any modified language variety that has developed from contact between dialects of the same language or those typologically related. Athart's combination of languages qualified, "When you... when you started teaching me Lorien and Dahasin, I couldn't tell them apart. I always mixed the words," she had added incorrect gender suffixes to Lorien nouns, when such a grammar point only existed in Dehasin to refer to slaves, or unusual honorifics to the most random of words, "We made our own dialect. There's no name for it," Because it was private and a forbidden bastardization of tongues, one that could never be spoken in public. Yeva had worn the mask of a faux slave back then and such easy camaraderie would have offended the general listener. But alone, Yeva had freely experimented with language while he corrected her. It had deepened their friendship. He had laughed at her, teased her, and in despite her humiliation, she merely studied harder. Her perseverance and determination had endeared him to her.

The line of questioning didn't feel wholly academic. A test of a different kind, "For diglossia, as I was able to better communicate-"

Yvithia's smiling voice filled the space, cutting in with a sort of cold delight, "Communication is all about sharing, Yeva. But intelligence gives regard to what shouldn't be shared. Or shared selectively, for the greatest effect to the pursuit of your agenda. Answer, but answer him well," The next words strummed the redhead's nerves, reminding her once again what was at stake, "Not all who share a smile are friendly."

Yeva looked for the Immortal but her voice seemed to come from everywhere, all at once. As the words played in her mind, it was Azrael's visceral reaction that surprised her. Despite the ectoplasmic barrier, he was snarling, wings flared in fury. His eyes found hers and he was reaching out to her, "You should listen to me, Yeva. Listen to me, don't listen to the others," he swallowed, and Yeva thought, amidst the anger, there was a glimmer of fear. Not just because of where they were or why, but because of what Yvithia was telling her, "The Immortals use us as playthings, they don't care beyond how their ends may be served..."

He took a deep breath and shouted into the void, "What do you want from me!"

In all her time knowing him, Yeva wasn't sure she had ever seen the Avriel cry, and yet his wings flapped and his head bowed. Tears budded and ran down his face with the force of mourning. She wanted to reach from him, and yet... he must have known what she was talking about. Why would she say such things? Why bring them here to discus these things, here? Her hands hesitated at her side and she felt a wash of guilt as doubt began to slither around her heart. Could their friendship be so easily shaken?

Even if Yvithia was doing this for mere entertainment, which felt unlikely given what little Yeva knew of the Immortal, trust took years to strengthen and moments to shatter. If this was a test of her knowledge, it was equally a test of her temperment.

"What is she talking about Azrael?"

He didn't answer her.

"Such exquisite language, you could almost read his emotions on his face, couldn't you, Yeva?"

Yeva was frowning now.

"Now tell us, if you will. What was the first time you discovered lingua franca with a foreign speaker, whose primary language you were unfamiliar with. Was it really this one? Or another?"

She would have to worry about him later. She still had to finish this test. Common was the lingua franca of Idalos, but Yvithia wanted to know about a foreign speaker, whose primary language you were unfamiliar with.

Was it really this one?

Or another?


Yeva racked her brain, chewing her bottom lip. Faint memories of her early childhood filled her mind, "There was..." Images and conversations flickered to life, "There was an Eidisi woman," More memories surfaced and she was surprised by how long it had been since she thought of these moments, "She taught me to read," Yeva was encouraged by this new discovery and she spoke freely now, "And to speak Ancient. She wouldn't speak Common in our lessons. I think-" she switched tongues, "She inspired me to continue learning languages. I always felt so smart," the admittance was embarrassing when answering an Immortal such as Yvithia, perhaps the smartest beings on Idalos, but outside of Viden, so few spoke the language with any degree of proficiency. It had been a great sense of pride for the young girl who felt so out of place in City of Lightening, when she wasn't particularly rowdy or passionate about a future of drinking. She grew up placing her self-esteem on how much she knew, and how fast she could learn. Her curiosity only grew, and her insatiability was the reason she had ventured out on so many adventures. Yeva had missed the Eidisi dearly when the instructor made plans to return back to Viden and went through a period of light depression afterwards, feeling once more misunderstood and alone.

That was the catalyst, the lessons that really sparked the excitement of meeting Azrael, of finding a new foreigner to learn from. The need to learn the secrets of messages locked away, her obsession with finding answers, that had been nurtured and developed. It was why she had been so excited when she found the cryptic message, hidden in the tavern, and why she had taken it so hard when her parents denied her. She had run away, and that was when she found Azrael in the caves. The start of everything, "She was the first."
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Re: Examination, Experimentation

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Communication was the province of Yvithia, and it was a broad domain. With such a broad domain, it touched upon many aspects of mortal-nature. Emotion leaked into it, as did relationships. However, Yvithia let Yeva maintain the illusion that her thoughts were her own to keep, for now. She didn’t want to muddy the waters or make the girl too anxious, afterall. She could probably think more clearly if she wasn’t aware that the Immortal was scrutinizing every ounce of memory and thought that flashed through her mind, afterall.

Instead, Yvithia went mostly silent as Yeva went through the motions, scouring her own thoughts and memories for the answers she was searching for.

Eventually, Yeva came to the topic of her reading tutor, who refused to speak common during their lessons. “Young children have fresh, malleable minds, as you may know. Not that it’s simple for mortals to learn a language at any age…”

“But it certainly would help you to learn from the eidisi, the unique grammar and flow of our own tongue.”

“Very good, you’ve passed this test.” Yvithia spoke to Yeva from wherever she was. Eventually, however, the faces and memories became hazy, until they morphed back into the images of the Councilor’s office. She was face to face now with Yvithia, the Immortal’s curious green eyes regarding her with apparent interest and unexpected warmth.

“Truth told, I’m impressed by your exam results. We’ve rarely found such a gifted prodigy among linguistics students from the Scalvoris campus. Your scores almost match the finest eidisi students in Viden.” She smiled thinly at Yeva, “I’d like to offer you an opportunity, and it’s entirely yours whether to take it or leave it.”

“There is a new language emerging out of Rharne. Just barely discovered, but soon to come into popularity again. This language is known as Gernevoir. It is an old tongue, dead, once spoken by the tribes that originally settled Rharne before its initial devastation in the wars between Ilaren and Faldrun.”

“It will reemerge, and I want you at the frontlines, as it’s distributed and spread. I want you to make this your mission, to spread the language throughout those territories, and as you go sprinkle a little bit of the influence of our ancient tongue into it’s development, as you go.”

“There will be gaps in grammar and vocabulary evident in Gernevoir, as people learn and uncover more about it. I want you to fill in those gaps, as instructed.”

“Does this sound like a good project for you, Yeva of Rharne?” Yvithia asked, tilting her head slightly. “Should you accept, I’ll gift you my mark. The choice is yours, as ever. With this gift of my mark, you will become my agent in Rharne should you accept.”

word count: 476
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Yeva
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Re: Examination, Experimentation

Yeva looked up at the sound of Yvithia's voice, announcing her exam results. And then all the memories, all the detail that had felt so real - the Beneath, Azrael, the faint fear of betrayal - faded away in a quick moment, leaving the redhead gasping as she gripped the same chair she had been sitting in. She was alive, solid, back in the office she had last remembered.. Colors were bright and vibrant, not like in death. In her lap was her drained teacup, saucer, and a spoon that went skittering to the floor as she jolted. To Yeva, reality felt unstable. How quickly you could be sure of your environment and condition, and the next have it completely changed?

Scared, Yeva pressed herself into the cushion with shaky hands.

It was real, she reassured herself, but almost in the next breath, doubt invaded her thoughts.

Or, was it in my head?

It was a test, cruel but effective. Yeva's eyes darted around the room, but they snagged on Yvithia's eyes, green like the miniscule specks in her own. Could it have been a dream?

"You want me to help you," Yeva managed, after processing the praise from the Immortal and trying to understand if she had justification for anger. Had she been tricked or hadn't she? "Rekindle the lost language of Ger.. Gernevoir?"

Her mouth felt dry and she sat forward.

If she understood correctly, she passed her exam and was now being offered a mission by an Immortal, directly, to restore a piece of history? "I- yes."

"Yes, I accept," A piece of Rharnian history. And she was Yeva of Rharne. A front leader in the rediscovery of a great mystery. An ancient language, and with it, who knew? It could be the start of something so much larger; the questions they could answer... Even with her own distaste for whatever had just happened to her, Yeva did not need to think about her reaction. This had been something she had wanted since she was a girl, always on the lookout to uncover some sort of hidden message. Feeling the itch of Cassion's scar when she answered, the pull to adventure was a flash of lightening in her soul. The click of a lock.

Disbelief and fear mixed with excitement, confusion, longing. On one hand, she wanted to do this. On the other... Azrael... the warning...

Yvithia was offering her blessing.

It did not matter whatever curious blend of emotions she felt, Yeva was not about to upset an Immortal who may have her questioning her very existence by denying.

"Thank you," she added, growing more confused by the sense of pride she also felt. She had been called a prodigy the the embodiment of intelligence.

"Where should I start?" Yeva had many questions and struggled to pick one over the other. She had to know, "And before, with Azrael... what did you mean?"
word count: 490
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