Goat-Mad, a Story of Reiassan
Author's note:

June 2016's Patreon theme is Reiassan, the fantasy-and-steampunk setting for my web-serial Edally Academy and for many other stories, listed here.  A short description of the world can be found here on the Edally site. 

The story below is set on the continent of Reiassan, in the nation of Calenta, at a time at least a century before Edally Academy is set. 

~ ~~

“Can we have a goat now?”

When Latezya was nine years old, she spent every spare moment of her school break cleaning out the outbuilding behind her family’s home.  Before her parents had bought the house, the old building had been a stable.  Now that it was theirs, it served mostly as a junk room and home to the wild weasels that ran rampant through the city.

She sorted, hauled, and stored or disposed of the various debris filling the space; she scrubbed the floor and the walls and gave them all a fresh coat of paint.

“We don’t have time to take care of a goat,” her mother, a wizard who wove the sira-forces of magic, and very much in demand, told Latezya.  “You should be focusing on your sira.  You should be able to do something by now.”

“We don’t need a goat, here in the middle of Lannamer,” her father, a scholar at the Lannamer University, scolded her.  "There are carriages and riding-beasts for rent practically on every corner.  Why aren’t you paying more attention to your studies?”

~

“Can we have a goat now?”

When Latezya was ten, she convinced a nearby stable-master to give her a job.  She shoveled out the stables, groomed the goats, fed them, cleaned their tack, and learned to take care of the little carriages visitors liked to rent out.  In return, the stable-master taught her to ride — first on his old, tame goats and then on the backs of the high, proud Karsekarzlen beasts — and how to drive the little buggies, how to determine basic ailments in most goat breeds, and how to convince a goat to go somewhere it didn’t want to.

“If we get one goat, we’d need to get two,” her mother told her, “and that is more time than you should be spending on the beasts.  You need to focus on your sira studies.”

“You have the stables now,” her father clucked, “and that should be enough.  You should be paying more attention to your grades and less to goats.  We moved into Lannamer to get away from the farm.”

~

“Can we have a goat now?”

Latezya was eleven, with callouses from the shovel on her hands and thighs like iron from the riding.  She had earned a place in the prestigious local academy where her father had gone, despite the fact that her sira-twisting was subpar at best.  

“Now is the time for studying,” said both her parents.  Latezya said no more, afraid they would tell her to stop working at the stables.  

She studied harder than ever.  She focused on her sira, although nothing came.  She learned what to do for a newborn kid, how to milk a goat, and how to get a team of goats across water.  In school, she learned the biology of goats and their bloodlines, the history of goats with her people, the Calenyena, and the name of the goat the first Emperor had ridden into his last battle (Lepezzya, the Bitrani word for madness, because the enemy had liked to say he rode with madness, and so he did).   She got top marks in all her classes — as long as she found a way to related them to goats.

At a loss to teach her geology, her teacher, who was rather fond of the girl with her tunics embroidered like goat-tack and a single-minded focus on all things caprine, took the class on a field trip.  In the hills beyond Lannamer, wild goats still roamed.  Smaller than their domesticated counterparts, with longer, sharper, horns, the beasts had no respect for anyone, but, like any goat, could often be bribed close enough to see with a little food.

“And class, what type of hill formation is this?”

Goats!” the class shouted.  

“Yes, there are…” The noise made the teacher look up.  Instead of the one or two brave beasts she had hoped might come close, she saw the point of the herd — the very pointy point of the herd — as the goats barrelled down the hill en masse towards them.    No, she corrected, as she and most of the students attempted to hide behind their carriages, barrelling down towards Latezya.  

Even the sira-blind could see the magic pouring out of the girl, and even the mindless could tell that she was calling the goats.  And every single one of them came calmly to her, lipping at her hands and gently head-butting her.

“Can I have a goat now?  Urm… Maybe two or three?”  

Latezya’s parents stared in awe at the small herd that had followed her home, jockeying for position nearest her and filling the entire roadway.  For once, they were at a loss for words.


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