Page three of our interlude, with art by the talented Adam Prosser.
In Rashadi culture, the ninth birthday is when a noble male child is expected to begin assuming adult duties. (It is of course a graduated process; the Rashadi are not stupid about such things and no nine-year-old would be given serious responsibilities immediately. It is very much an apprenticeship in one or more of the noble professions, which can include diplomacy, scholarship or soldiering.) It is, accordingly, a big to-do. Of course, Rayana isn’t male – but nobody was going to tell Jandal different.