"That isn't fair!" complained Taisa, refusing to go back mounted. "I won! We won!"
"Yes," said Gawa, walking beside the girl along the same trail they used before, "but that wasn't enough."
"But we were better than all of them!" replied Taisa.
She has spent so long at my side, thought Gawa, and she still doesn't understand.
"That is what you think, Taisa. The benti see the things differently. If you don't prove..."
"I know, I know," the girl interrupted. "But how will I race with the people of my own age? They don't let me do it, because they say I am too small, but I don't understand that. War is dangerous anyway, right? It doesn't matter if I am big or small."
Gawa didn't know exactly what to say. She had already foreseen that the girl wouldn't be sucessful, because of the same reasons the watchers pointed out. But she also knew about the rules of the zivar, since she was living among them for a long time. There were an exit for that problem, as Andara — Taisa's mother— showed the benti many suns ago, but it was an exit that should be found, not simply given.
However, Gawa should help the girl. Suddenly, looking to the two walls of tall grass that went on forward, she had an idea of what to say.
"The grass..." she began, " the grass grows from the earth, from nothing; it just takes some rain, and suddenly the grass is tall, very tall. Sometimes, taller than an adult of your people, and in some cases even taller than an adult of mine. Except, of course, when it's cut off."
"Yeah, I guess you're right." Taisa seemed confused. " So what?
"The grass needs just some water, and then it doesn't stops growing," Gawa continued the speech. "If grass can grow so much, don't you think that you could grow, too?"
"Gawa," Taisa said as if she was explaining something to a kid, "I am not like the grass. People need time to grow, just like the benti. One can't grow so fast."
If the benti sighed, Gawa would have done it in that moment. The zivar were more intelligent than the benti, but Taisa's head was hard as a rock.
"I know that, Taisa. I'm not talking about you growing taller, I am talking about you growing... inside."
Taisa stopped walking.
"Growing inside?" She was visibly upset. "Do you also think that I'm not good enough? That I'm not ready?"
"A good soldier has many qualities, Taisa." Gawa tried to keep a kind voice tone. "And I know that it's hard to understand this now, but you don't have all of them. But don't—
"So that's it!" Taisa was furious. "You couldn't become a war benti and now you want to blame me for that, just like you blamed my mother!"
And then she resumed her walk, fast, without looking to her friend. Five steps after that, she was facing the ground.
The words were too strong, even for Gawa, and now her left foot was pressing the girl firmly— yet without hurting her— against the dirt. She lowered her beak until the ears of a petrified Taisa and said:
"You have no idea of what you're talking about, girl."
And then she entered the green wall, leaving behind — for her own good — a confused and scared girl lying on the ground. ns 126.96.36.199da2