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Thumb One's Nose and Upset The Applecart
Cowgirl Nymph
rix_scaedu
This started out as a response to the Thimbleful Thursday prompt "thumb one's nose" and then I added on the prompt "upset the applecart" and I've still come in over word count at 976 words.

“No,” said Cory firmly. “I’m not going to Eastbridge or joining the Army now. Dad and I agreed that we’d discuss it when he comes home.”

“His replacement was killed and that war’s gotten hot again, so your father’s posting’s been extended,” said his grandfather patiently. “You’ve finished school and now it’s time to take your next step.”

“That next step can be university until Dad comes home,” replied Cory.

“Young man,” his uncle sounded a lot less patient than his grandfather, “until your father comes home we’re your responsible adults and you’ll do as we say. No lollygagging – the commencement ceremony is in two days’ time. We’ll pick you up at eight thirty in the morning, and if you’re not dressed ready to go, I’ll dress you myself.” The older, larger man’s glare was a threat in itself.

At the appointed time on the appointed day, Cory was on a Tribal-flagged ferry crossing the Northwest Strait and more than technically no longer in the same country as his grandfather and uncle. Two days later he was in the Northern Tribal Alliance’s capital and enrolling in university. He assumed a local style patronymic and spent the time before classes started doing intensive work improving his grasp of the local language.

His uncle found him at first snowfall. Cory and his study partners, Tatarra and Rudvig, were crossing the main quad on their way from the library to their dormitories and they first thought the three men were associated with the big dinner in the Main Hall that night. “You’ve had your fun, boy. Now it’s time to come home.” His uncle’s voice wasn’t quite loud enough to echo off the surrounding walls. People who were associated with the dinner looked around.

“Not until Dad’s back.” The two large men flanking his uncle moved forward.

“Make this easy on yourself and come quietly,” said one just before they grabbed at him.

Cory dodged. Tatarra screamed and hit at one with her book bag. One thug off-elbowed Rudvig into the ground as the other dodged the book bag, extended a flexible shockstick with a flick of his wrist and swung it at Tatarra. Rudvig wasn’t moving but Cory pivoted, grabbed the arm holding the shockstick, and broke it across his knee. The second man moved to support his colleague but now Cory had the shockstick in his hand.

“How much do you really want to try that again?” Cory’s voice was trembling, maybe from adrenalin.

“You think you’ve been clever?” His uncle’s words were laden with sarcasm. “The Tribal Alliance’s laws regarding minors are much stricter than ours. I just have to go to the nearest police station, show them my papers, and you’ll be in my care, on a plane home by dawn.”

“That rather depends on him being a minor, doesn’t it?” The new voice floated across the open space, charming, erudite and lightly accented because it was speaking Cory’s native tongue, not its own. The owner was tall and male with shoulder-length dark hair and dressed for a formal dinner. “And why didn’t you do that in the first place? As the Ekkanru Lawspeaker and Lorespeaker, I can assure you that age isn’t the only method of attaining adulthood.” He smiled genially. “There’s trial by combat, for instance. In front of competent witnesses. Such,” he looked over his shoulder, “as the participants in the Tribal Leadership Convocation.”

A solid body of people, mainly men, stood outside the door and down the steps of the Main Hall. Some were on their phones, talking. Several others were filming. There was a lot of whispering going on, and some note passing.

“So, young man,” the Ekkanru Lawspeaker and Lorespeaker turned to Cory, “who are you?”

Cory didn’t turn his eyes from his two assailants and didn’t lower his acquired weapon while he answered, “Cory surl Henrix.”

“No grandfather’s name?” There was a sense of raised eyebrows in the question.

“He’s one of the people who want me to break my agreement with my father.” Cory risked a glance at Rudvig. “Uh, my friend needs an ambulance.”

“Being arranged,” the Ekkanru assured him. “So, what is your agreement with your father?”

“That he comes home again from the war.” Cory’s voice was grim.

“Ah,” the Ekkanru nodded. “One of the high magics indeed.”

“Magical thinking!” Cory’s uncle snorted. “Ridiculous in this day and age.”

“Oh,” the Ekkanru turned in place to face the older man, “are you so certain that this agreement isn’t central to your brother’s mental resilience? What would you do if knowing that his son is waiting for him is what’s keeping him alive and sane?”

“That’s nonsense.” Cory’s uncle was scathing in his dismissal.

“On the contrary. One of my PhD theses was on mental resilience in warriors and you’d be surprised.” The Ekkanru smiled sweetly.

Well, it should have been a sweet smile and fortunately there was an interruption from the crowd on the steps before anything else could be said. “This impromptu session has reached a decision!” It was a ringing voice and the older man who owned it wore his hair in braids bound with metal rings. “It is the view of the Combined Chiefly Councils of the Northern Tribal Alliance that the youth, Cory surl Henrix, has demonstrated by feat of arms in the face of attack and threat to his companions that he is fit, ready, and capable of carrying out the part of an adult in this world. These assembled Councils therefore recognise him as such and direct that he take up those responsibilities in truth.”

Cory’s uncle opened his mouth to speak, then closed it again, the thought that, yes, they could do that obviously running through his mind.

“So,” said the Ekkanru Lorespeaker and Lawspeaker cheerfully, “now you just need a clan, a tribe and a totem.”



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Wow! Moar plz: Cory, setting...

(Dr. Whom, who always tries to pronounce unfamiliar names, notes that the spelling wavers between Ekkanru and Ekkranu.)

I will fix when I get home. (I'm supposed to be writing Nai...)

(quick search-scan)... Yup, "Ekkanru", through and through. I'm just as glad it wasn't supposed to be "Ekkranu", which reminded me every time of ekrano, Esperanto for "screen" (noun).

"One of my PhD theses"... :-D Oh, you don't mess with this one in his own areas!!!

Oh yes. He can be a fun guy. :)

I like his evident mood through all this.

Fascinating.

Is this in the same 'verse as the young woman who saw the spirit raven?

No. There are two other pieces in this world and I cannot find them.... :(

That they both revolve around northern universities in territory under the control of native tribes makes it easy to try to stack them together. No "the war" on in Riggi's 'verse that I recall, though.

What was in the other two pieces? Nothing else is ringing the same bells for me.

1. A girl whose boyfriend has gone off to take part in the rebellion/counter attack and has left all his money with her - he drops back in to pick up some stuff he doesn't want her caught with if things go badly.

2. A group of girls are stopped at a military road block in the middle of nowhere and then find that they've been locked in the building they were escorted to.

I found the stories and tagged them! Margasa is the link.

Did! Thank you!

From the comments there ... "this is towards the end of the 16,000 words I've written in this universe"

!!!!!

Which I thought I had backed up when I had to get a hard drive replaced and then it turned out that the backing up hadn't saved where that document and a whole lot of other things were saved. :(

D'oh! Well, some stories survive a re-draft ...

Yes. But there are some characters whose names weren't written down anywhere else....

If they have strong opinions about their names, you'll find out when you try to rewrite them?

ooh, intriguing. The promise between him and his father! And why are his male relatives so determined to send him to the armed forces?

Because it's what their family does. :) And the war isn't going well at the moment and Leading By Example, and...

I find I love this one even more on re-read.

War... War never ends. >_> I wonder if these gathered tribal leaders are planning to recruit him.

At the moment they don't know who he is, aside from a young man who can more than hold his own in a fist fight and worry about his friends at the same time. They don't know who his uncle and father are (aside from uncle being an [expletive deleted], they've just come from a fairly jovial and potentially boozy dinner...

In the morning, when they wake up, and more facts are available, they may begin to ask questions.

Cory's clearly had some amount of combat training -- which makes sense given him (likely) being groomed for the army in an ongoing conflict. I suspect his uncle and grandfather even encouraged the training. The goons had no warning?

But if that conflict is endless, which it certainly seems to be, an agreement like that may be critical for dad hanging on, especially if he gets injured and comes home alive but in more than one piece. (And that assumes no actual magic involved at all. With actual magic, if Cory has any sort of training, or is the anchor for one of his father's enchantments, who knows.)

I'm curious to see what the agreement actually is, and how this on-the-spot declaration of adulthood plays out.

In Cory's case, the unarmed combat training he's had has been a father and son thing. So yes, the rest of the family weren't aware just how good Cory is at that sort of thing already, so the muscle wasn't warned - they might have done things differently otherwise.

Not an eternal war in this case, but one that Dad disagrees with, even if he has to fight it.

Also, it doesn't come up here, but Cory's flight was pre-planned with adult assistance in case of a number of eventualities...

Aha! Much is made clear!

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