Chapter 7:

The Fighter for the Gold, Part I

Desert Company

Flock. Sway. He revealed his shan, a hand fan, and waved it three times. Folding his legs in a delicate position, he sipped his morning green tsaa. This person was in one of the lecture halls of Pengjau University. He sat facing the giant chalkboard filled with papyrus Renhua notes of various subjects, the palm wood desks and chairs neatly tucked except for the one the man was using. The morning sun brightened the oriental windows, giving the desks a warm shade of brown.

He listened to the radio on the shelf, which played in the background.

“Emperor Khomi Miyuyno of Azutami has issued a warning against As-Z̆onghu̐a on Khoyor 14th, stating to withdraw its naval forces from their ports, inciting military intervention against the eastern country. Azutami is also blaming As-Z̆onghu̐a for the Khoitan led terrorist attacks on Dyak-ar-salaam that happened two days prior. For now…”

“M’ lord, there is a- Apologies, but art thou going on thy studies again?” The man’s right-hand man slid the door open, with a tiny bit of shock.

“Mr. Khouw, I request no more than ten minutes.”

“Yessir,” Khouw bowed, and slid the door shut as he entered. “Thou know'st that thy father would be mad at thee if he caught thee in your studies.”

“I am aware, but father is nothing more than a loving parent who wishes for his sons to take his place,” The man closed his shan and tucked it in his blue robe. “The Laoyuang House is dear to me, but it is second when it comes to the books and the tongue.”

“M’lord, he has already chastised thee on frequent occasions. As second prince, what shall thou be rather than taking on the Laoyuang House?”

“I wish to be the speaker of the common tongues, a translator. Studying the world languages of Renhua, Buhang, Azu, and Khoit, even to the extent of the classical languages of Nippong, Renyu, and Kataga,” Kwazhak answered, with swift timing. Khouw placed his hand on the desk.

“One can understand the common tongue, but regarding Buhang and the classical language… Those skills will be rendered useless in the current politics.”

“That is where one is wrong, Mr. Khouw. The speaker of common tongue does not choose their languages based on geopolitical status, but rather establishing ties with the people.”

“The Buhang people are already a menial factotum that muster our lands and nation. Petty laborers will assimilate within their target nation cohesively.”

“The Buhang are people who wish to escape the corruption of their own nation, and yet we treat them as sub-human. The Buhang are the same as us Azu and Z̆ongren. We colonized the indigenous lands of the Khoitan tribes and unified them into our nations of late. Everyone is human. As for the classical languages, they hold importance in the channeling of sahar spells, for one who knows Renhua and Azu find their protostances of Renyu and Nippong more potent.”

“The gardener speaks of wisdom, yet bears no fruit. Let me test thy skill of the tongue,” Khouw proposed, eager to challenge him.

“Very well. Proceed in Tav.”

Khouw took to the board and grabbed a sturdy piece of chalk, taking it and writing on the board. His penmanship matched that of an educated student. After writing, he asked Kwazhak a simple yet bearing question. Khouw had written on the board in Renhua, ‘There have been opposition groups against the Dineh Kazaàd in the decade. They will continue to rise if time permits.’

“I request to gather one’s thoughts and translate these terms.”

“Mr. Khouw, I humbly offer my gratitude for giving such an opportunity to examine my skills,” Kwazhak stood up from his chair, and nonchalantly walked to the chalkboard, minding his footsteps as Khouw handed him a piece of white chalk. Then a flurry of white came about, as Kwazhak wrote with such passion it could’ve been mistaken for using sahar.

Azu: ‘Kono toonen Dinee Kazaàdo ni taishit no hantai soshik ga ari, jikan ga susundara nariagaru.’

Buhang: ‘Meron Dineh Kazaàd na opposyong grup sa itung dekad. Dadagdagan sila kung mayrun oras.’

Khoit: Arvan jiliin khugatsaand Dineh Kazaàd esreg sörög khüchnii bülgüüd baisaar irsen. Zaman khugatsaa yueti ted össöör baikh bolno.

Kwazhak gently placed the chalk back and cleaned off his hands with neat patting. Khouw stepped back in marvel.

“Forgive me, m’ lord. For I have mistaken thy ability to comprehend such translations,” Khouw fell to the floor on his knees, with a sincere fifty degree bow.

“Fret not, Mr. Khouw, I was delighted to practice my skill in translating,” Kwazhak responded as a frank smile drew across his face, content that he was able to translate. He listened in on the class radio as Khouw took notice of the time through his pocket watch. It was half past noon.

“More radicalized protests against the Dineh Kazaàd have started to increase in number as rumors spread about the abhorrent horrors that take place in the annual tournament. In Azutami and As-Z̆onghu̐a, these insurrections are more frequent due to the availability of mass media.”

“Hmph. The governments do not want to stain the Dineh Kazaàd’s name, censorship is a must,” Khouw followed the words of the radio, “In exception for Azutami, angering the Khoitan nomadic tribes is extremely precarious, as seen in the latest Khoitan terrorist attack in Dyak-ar-salaam.”

“An ancestral tradition yet considered atrocious in today’s era. Should those traditions be cast aside for the modern, developing world? Well, the ten minutes have ended,” Kwazhak replied and raised his hands towards the radio. He focused his mind, his soul on the radio. He could feel sahar racing through his mind and body, through his vision and in the air like an itching tapeworm. The radio turned off.

“There has been a letter for one to receive. Shall we head out to the ZYJ?” Khouw took a slight bow and made way for the door. Kwazhak nodded as he followed Khouw out onto the hallway.

Kwazhak Laoyuang was a tall man; but was considered average for he was a Z̆ongren, with fair light skin and pure black hair tied into a bun, his blue baggy robe and dress played with the afternoon breeze. He carefully calculated each stride he would take with his black leather boots.

“I assume it must be another arranged marriage proposal from my father, that if being the case I would happily decline,” Kwazhak exclaimed, chuckling.

“You want no place in the Laoyuang House, but none in the cupid’s house?” Khouw questioned, opening the door once they had reached the edge of the school.

“The cupid’s house has no use, it will be the damnation of when one becomes entitled to take care of a partner.”

“Perhaps if a partner could share the interests in learning the languages of the land? Or someone who knows Madam Thoj?”

“...” He stopped and placed his fingers on his chin to ponder the thought. “Hah, I’ll think about it, Mr. Khouw.”

As they strolled onto the main street of the lustrous Lāoyuàng ‘Aimag, it was a marvel, similar to the bustling first world of all the Autónoma level cities. The city reflected in a great brown and beige, the gabled roofs ubiquitous in every single building and tower marked its dominance as the cultural metropolis of the world’s architecture. The polished stone walkways, the Jade Laoyuang Palace, decorated with gold and precious stones, the lack of squatter settlements and favelas, all combined in the painting of a worry-free urban district. From the view of the elite Pengjau University, they could take in the view of the Takaí-Hăi Sea to the east and west and the Nabaek strait to the south that separated the country from its southern half on the lower continent. Blue skies, even the clouds were in awe and parted for the shining sun. The unpolluted indigo waters that blessed the sandstone cliffs and beaches attracted many tourists during the summer months of Zurgaa and Doloo.

After walking a few blocks down, they arrived at the Z̆ongren Yúu Jú, the ZYJ, or referred to as the Z̆ongren Post Office. They went inside the building and immediately went to the inbox room for the elite, and checked Kwazhak Laoyuang’s label. There they found an esteemed letter, which Khouw handed to Kwazhak to open. Using a paper knife, he opened the letter, minding not to break the envelope, and instantly noticed the Al-Wa signature on the bottom. It was written in Azu, and it only took the emblem and the letter’s handwriting for Kwazhak to realize who the sender was.

“Kiyomiya ‘L’ Lojuno, what does he want me to do this year, perhaps?”