"I mean it, you lazy..."
He stumbled out of bed. School. He hated school. Why did he hve to go to school? The world was passing him by. Could he fake a sickness?
"I'm up, already!"
"Lyre is going to miss school, Lyre's gonna be late for school, the teacher is going to get Lyre..."
"Ma! Do I have permission to strangle my bratty younger brother?"
"Maybe later," came the voice of tender maternal concern. "Right now, you gotta get to school!!"
Pretty soon Lyre was truding along on the road to schol. His little brother was skipping along next to him, chattering annoyingly and unceasingly.
"Lyre, how come we call things the names we do? How come we call the world Tu?"
"Because it's its name, stupid. Just like your name is Chiuria."
"Why is my name Chiuria?"
"Because Mom and Dad named you that, why else?"
"What does 'Chiuria' mean, anyhow?"
"Brightness. As if you could be bright."
"The reason I'm asking...I had a funny dream last night, with a weird name."
"I dreamed of animals like nothing ever seen before."
"Like I care."
"One was a giant animal, twelve, maybe fifteen feet tall. It was all grey, with short, stubby legs on a massive body. It had tremendous ears, like the sails of a ship."
"What makes you think I care?"
"But that wasn't the really nightmarish part. It's nose---it was long and flexible, like the body of a sea serpent."
"You have a sick imagination, Chi."
"And its name was even more ridiculous! It was called an--"
"Why are you deluded enough to think I give a--?"
"Elephant," Chiuria finished.
Despite himself, Lyre grinned. "That is a stupid name..."
"Now you see why I was asking about names?"
Through the clearing in the trees, came a booming, throaty voice, that spoke of plains and stampedes.
The other students turned towards the latecomers. They were sitting on the grass, on logs and on tree stumps. The teacher was in front of a large tree.
The teacher's arms were crossed. One of his front hooves was pawing the ground impatiently. His beard flowed down, coarse and scraggly, like a horse's mane. His eyes were dark and liquid, his nose broad and strong with wide nostrils. His hair chest flowed down and joined the hair of his lower body. Silver showed in some of the strands of hair, proclaiming him to be an older centaur. Of course, only older centaurs have the maturity to be teachers, anyway.
"Late again, boys? What is that, the third time this month? I hope you have a good excuse. We're going to have a geography test today."
Oh, great, thought Lyre. Another boring geography test. I get to be tested on all the wonderful places that I'm not, like Elvish Isle or the Mad Musician's Isle or...., Lyre sat down in front of his teacher.
Nothing ever happens to me, Lyre thought.
(For what happens next, go to A SHORT QUIZ.
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