“Miss Betsy, Miss Betsy!” the little girl tugged at her teacher’s arm.

“Yes, what is it?” said Miss Betsy, indulgent but exhausted after the child’s constant barrage of questions.

“Why does our class have four Donalds, three Hillaries, two Marcos, and five Teds?”

“Well, you see, it’s because you kids were born in 2016,” said Miss Betsy.

“Why does that matter?” asked the girl.

“People often name their children after candidates they like, and there are an awful lot of candidates in an election year.”

“Oh,” said the girl. “I don’t like that. I wish our moms and dads were more creative.”

“Why do you say that, Berniesandersia?” said Miss Betsy.

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“There’s not much to tell. ‘Jai’ means ‘victory’ in Hindi and ‘Chandrakant’ means ‘moonstone.’ My family had been jewelers for a long time, and we’ve always been famous for grinding moonstones.”

“I’m sure you’ve heard me give my full name as Myassa bint Leya bint Raaheel al-Thurayya,” said Myassa, “usually when I want to piss somebody off.”

“Well, ‘bint’ means ‘daughter of.’ In most names you’d say ‘son of X, daughter of Y,’ or ‘son of X, grandson of Y’ but I decided to mix it up. So I have my mother Leya and grandmother Raaheel, which you will almost never see in a real name.”

“And ‘al-Thurayya’ means ‘of the Pleiades,’ which is fitting given where I came from.”

“What about Myasssa?”

“Well, it’s not the given name they slapped on me when I was born, if that’s what you’re asking. That name meant ‘chaste,’ which doesn’t really fit in with Dad’s obsession for grandchildren, but whatever.”

“So why’d you choose it?”

“Well, believe it or not, my family was actually descended from the rules of a tribe. Not close enough to actually get many perks, but we were well-off enough that we qualified for the honorific ‘sheikh’ for the lads and ‘shaykhah’ for the ladies.”

“You’ve lost me,”

“Well, as a shaykhah, it only makes sense for me to be known as Shaykhah Myassa,” Myassa laughed.

Jai, perplexed, turned the syllables over in his mouth. “Shake-a my-ass-a,” he said at length, comprehension breaking like dawn across his face before he collapsed in helpless laughter.

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“Gob,” said Eyon, for their hired sellsword goblin would answer to no other name, “why have Gullywax and I never seen your face?”

“Gob’s face is not important to the job,” came the reply, full of metal and echoes as it issued from the holes in the creature’s helmet.

“But what if you were to lose your armor?” pressed Eyon. “How would I recognize you?”

“If Gob were to lose its armor, Gob would shortly lose its life,” was the reply. “Recognizing Gob would be useless at that point.”

“That’s another thing,” said Eyon. “Why do you call yourself ‘it’ all the time? Why not ‘he’ or ‘she’ or something?”

“Master does not know about gob ways, so Gob will forgive him his ignorance and his insult,” replied the mercenary goblin.

“Gobs are given no names at birth,” said Gullywax, overhearing the conversation. “They must earn a name other than that of their species through their deeds and by asserting themselves over lesser gobs. A gob with no name and no followers is not considered worthy of even a pronoun.”

“How awful!” cried Eyon.

“Awful? Gob finds it awful that humans with no accomplishments and none to command by might, rather than by coin, are entitled to names. Gob history is uncluttered with names to remember, and Gob’s own family is nameless back to its most recent ancestor of consequence.”

“Is that why you’re a mercenary?” asked Eyon. “Is that why you’ve kept working for us despite how little we can pay and how little chance we have of succeeding?”

“No,” said Gob. “Gob will speak no more of it.”

The mercenary charged a short way up the road, out of earshot, muttering something about reconnaissance. Eyon was about to follow when the lad felt Gullywax’s hand heavy on his shoulder.

“Ho there, boy,” he said. “Tarry awhile. There is one more thing you must know about gob names.”

“What’s that?”

“When a gob is defeated, or cast down, or when one loses all its followers, it loses its name,” said Gullywax. “It is treated as if the bearer of that name has died until the gob does something to earn its name back.”

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