Tuesday, June 2, 2009

55 - A Nice Gesture My Son

[Author's Note: Warning... graphic content.]

Kaita took my brother off my lap and I slid down the steps, barely hesitating as Binshala offered me slippers. The quiet space in my suite was shattered just so quickly, Father’s rage howled into my bedroom like a rabid dog chewing through a door. “The infant Coronet Regal is demanded as well.”

So Kaita, carrying my little brother, and I followed the servant. He led us to the Throneroom and vanished. Father sat on the Crystal Throne, glaring down at the map on the floor spread at his feet. He sat, his chin on his hand, fingers curled over his mouth staring down at the black glass covering Yeola-e.

“Divine Father. I am here.”

He ignored the three of us for a long moment. “The barbarian whoreson!” He said as if we were in the middle of a conversation already. “I am pleased to see you two obedient!” As if we would dare disobey. As if Ilesias could refuse to come, not able to talk or crawl yet.

“The Yeolis are more than half conquered. We hold their plains, their source of grain, they won’t be able to feed what pitiable remnants of army are hiding in their mountains! And that whoreson is completely confident! Totally insane!”

He pointed at me. “Minis you are forbidden to associate with Shefenkas. He is unstable and a bad influence you your young and malleable mind.” The Imperial seal on that hand was shimmering, He was shaking with so much rage. “The Yeoli is inpredictable, uncontrolled.”

Nothing that I would open my mouth to. Even brother blob was quiet. I swallowed, quietly. Up as far as He was, He likely wouldn’t see or hear. “Meras!”

The Senior Mahid ghosted up behind us, from his post by the door. “This lowly one is present to instantly obey, Reflection of Muunas’s Mind.”

“Did you find it?”

“There are a number of war captives brought in, You Whose Whim is the Will of the World.”

“Well? Bring it.”

Meras bowed. “Immediately, You Whose Desire is This One’s Dream.” My gut was knotting and unknotting as though it were a lighting snake, coiling and uncoiling. Yes, but the lighting snake had its glands excised so could only strike and bite me over and over without me dying. While Meras was gone to get the ‘whatever’ we stood and Father muttered and raged, not requiring me to answer.

Meras came back half dragging a young Yeoli man in chains. He was barely old enough to shave and though he had black curls he didn’t really look like Shefenkas. But the breath caught in my throat anyway. It didn’t matter. He was a Yeoli. A black haired Yeoli. He had the pale marks of Yeoli warrior wristlets, just like Shefenkas. Oh Muunas. Meras dragged him to the map, over the black glass.

“Excellent, Meras! Hold him there. I shall condescend to descend.”

When He swept through the door He called me down to Him and I left Ilesias and his nurse behind… Father put one hand around my shoulders as I came up to Him. This close I could see the Yeoli man’s angry eyes. Beaten, bloody, starving and in chains he stared at us exactly like Shefenkas had stared up at me in the Hall of Judgment. He could be beaten, but his spirit wasn’t broken.

Meras had him on his knees and I could see the quiver as he pushed against the submission hold, no matter how much it hurt him to fight back. “You think you’re so free, Yeoli?” Father didn’t bother asking if he spoke Enchian, just spoke to him in it. “You’re Arko’s now. Just as your semana krash ay… or what ever spitting mouthful you call him, Shefenkas.”

There was a flicker of reaction at the name, rage. “Ha! Fool! He is a fool! And thinks he can still win, when he’s MY slave! My toy! Mine!” Father actually stamped His foot. “Your dagger, Meras.” He held out a hand, twitching His fingers demandingly. I cringed inside. It was very, very bad if Father would deign to touch a killing tool with His own hand.

He had trained, years ago. He had wielded the Eagle sword in His youth, but He had told me that once He became Imperator He didn’t need to dirty His own hands with such work ever again.

Meras switched his grip and the young man surged up against his diminished hold, Meras flipped the choke chain and hauled him down by main force, strangling. Father rolled His eyes at the futile struggles of the Yeoli warrior and didn’t move, His arm around my shoulders like an iron bar wrapped with a bag of lard, His other hand still imperiously extended.

With the captive all but unconscious, Meras pulled his dagger out from the same side and offered it into Father’s hand hilt first. “Shefenkas is playing games. Making bets, my minimal. He is being a child. Hear me, my son. Arko doesn’t play baby games.” He gabbed my right hand, slapped the dagger into it and with His hand wrapped around my hand and hilt drove it into the Yeoli’s neck over the choke chain, dragged it sideways to shower us both with hot blood.

I was frozen with shock, feeling the meaty pull on my fingers, the heat of blood pouring across my fingers, my gasp pulling it into my mouth and I couldn’t scream or spit. I couldn’t see for the blood on my face, in my eyes and Father wouldn’t stop, wouldn’t let go.

He kept plunging my hand holding the dagger into the body again and again, Meras holding it up for Him. “There! And there! I’ll do this to your people, Shefenkas and you can’t stop me. You’ll watch me! You’re not as strong as you think! You can’t beat me! Arko doesn’t play stupid games like arm wrestling! There! There!”

When He stopped, finally He was panting. He clutched my fingers around the dagger hilt, a clotting ball of red. “Well. Good. Just as I intend, so it will be. Drop it, Meras and leave it. We will have audience tomorrow with a reminder of My power under the Crystal Throne.” That was when He peeled His fingers from around mine. “There, my addendum. We certainly showed that Yeoli, didn’t we?”

I didn’t dare claw at the blood on my face or in my eyes. I couldn’t see properly and couldn’t bear to swallow or spit… I thought of something and leaned forward and spat out the blood in my mouth onto the body where Meras had dropped it. Father would think it contemptuous. Forgive me. I just couldn’t bear to take it in. Muunas, Aras take him up if he has no Gods to care for his soul. Help me. Help me. Gods take me away from this… take me to Selestialis, I cry to thee out of the depths of Hayel… Father laughed.

“A nice gesture, my son. Go on. Paint your brother with your fingers to share My victory. Go on. You run off to your next lesson. I will see you at Dinner.”

“Yes, Divine Father,” I managed to whisper without tasting anything on my lips. My robe was soaked with blood. The ends of my hair dripped. I turned like a doll and waited for Kaita to bring Ilesias down to me. I rubbed my filthy hand over his head, careful not to get any blood on his eyes or mouth. Thank you Gods Father didn’t think to make you nurse the blood off my fingers…
I was stone. I was metal. I was nothing all the way through. I could not crack, I could not break. Not until I was all alone… later. Later. I was stone. “Come along, Aitza,” I said to Kaita and walked away from the body Father and Meras had left, in chains, sprawled in his blood over the map of Yeoli.

1 comment:

  1. At least you warned us. It was bearable because of the warning. Ugh.