Khæli had no specific recollection of learning to read or do
arithmetic. There was always the expectation that she know how. These
were simple skills, necessary skills, the basis of and the basics for
communication, for business, for survival. And thus, despite the
pleasure of hearing a tale, a joke, or a song, language always seemed
to Khæli to be functional, not fanciful.
Until she started her training as a priest.
days were spent immersed in prayers and recitation. But even with the
rote and repetition of her lessons, words no longer seemed merely
practical. They became magical. Words gave the young priest power.
One incantation healed; another destroyed. One word strengthened her
allies; another wrought agony upon her enemies. One could shield from
harm; another slowly inflicted it.
For as long as she could
recall, people had pressured Khæli to tell her story. That it was a
tale she didn't know and couldn't tell made the story — or, rather,
potential story — a burden; to struggle with the words to explain
this, a chore in and of itself.
But her training as a priest
demonstrated words could give her strength to step into the world
rather than simply make her recoil into herself. She smiled with
satisfaction that she now could weave the words to make people
literally spellbound. She stood taller with a certain bravado knowing
that language could wreak pain on others and bring power to herself.
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