This one originally posted August 28, 2014. It takes place in Reiassan and comes with footnotes.
::You know how to do this. You know how to win this.::
“So does everyone else here.” Liezhta strapped the talking stick to her back – talking stick, ha, her ancestors had possessed a horrible sense of humor – and tried to ignore its whispers.
It didn’t work, of course. Ever since her aunt had passed down the family goat-crook (and what family had goat-crooks they passed down? Liezhta’s of course, the family that produced more goat-wives and goat-husbands than any other three families on the mountain), ever since she’d first wrapped her hand around the ancient, twisted root-wood stick, the blasted thing had been talking in her head.
::You have several advantages that nobody else here has. One, you have me.::
It turned out the stick was an ancestor – or, at least, that was what it claimed. There was a family member named Ketkez or Ketkezhie, long back in the history, who had been, not a goat-spouse, but a herder and breeder of goats nonetheless. And, if such a thing was possible, the few notes in family records suggested Ketkez/hie was the type of person who would, given an option, live forever to nag their descendants.
::In another sense, you also have me; you have the blood passed down to you. Your family. You’re strong, fast, and clever::
“But I’m working with an unknown team. It’s only me from the family.” Liezhta checked the lacings on her boots, checked the braiding on her hair, and settled her hat snugly over everything. She’d have to stop arguing with a talking stick soon, and get on with it.
::And that’s a pity. In the old days, the whole family would compete, and we almost always won::
“Well. This is the new days.” With the way things were going, they might not even need goat-wives much longer. But for today, there was the race. She waved at the others, gathered by the shallow sledge. “Hello.” Liezhta bowed, while in her head Ketkez/hie grumbled about changing times. “I’m Liezta, and I’ll be your third runner in the human goat race today.”
Information Liezhta does not have, but is useful for setting here.
Liezhta is pronounced LEEZH-tuh.
ZH stands for the buzzy sound of the “s” in our words “pleasure” or “casual”.
Ketkez/hie is pronounced ket-KEZH-(ee)
A root-wood shepherd’s (goat-herd’s) crook might look like this