Wednesday, June 3, 2009

56 - I am inviting you.

Kaita was totally silent. When we were out of earshot I said quietly. “Kaita, you might wish to use the Lesser Baths to get him cleaned up.” His suite was on the other side of the baths I had seen as my own until now. I left a trail of bloody footprints and splashes on the floor behind me.

“This one… this one thanks you, Spark of the Sun’s Ray,” she whispered and ran ahead of me as I walked down the middle of the corridor, slippers squishing. Good for her. She’ll get that sacrilege off him and he won’t be touched by it. I kicked out of my slippers as I walked and left them behind. I was starting to shake and couldn’t, mustn’t. I had to be stone. I set my teeth together and kept walking.

I let my silk robe slide off me, the heavy, wet weight falling off my shoulders, hitting the stone with a wet smack. My bedtunic had been drenched in a slash down the middle, now soaked up the clammy wet from my hair. I put my hands in the neck and tried to rip it, but it was too good quality and wouldn’t. I pulled up on the neck, started to panic as it constricted me, began dry sobbing as the tunic got caught and bound my bloody hair against my face.

“Spark of the Sun’s Ray,” I froze. Binshala’s hands. She began untangling me and I collapsed on the floor, snatching the bloody silk and linen out of her hands.

“Don’t touch me. Don’t get this blood on you. Don’t. Nurse, don’t.” I couldn’t keep myself stone. I couldn’t. I started howling. There were no tears. Someone… gathered me up in strong arms against armour, held me still. Binshala said something… to the guard. One of the palace guard, one of the big ornamental men in armor, when the Mahid were the real security. I couldn’t hear her, my arms wrapped around my filthy, mucky head. I couldn’t rock.

I could only think of the surprise along with the rage in the young man’s eyes as Father drove my hand and the dagger into his throat. Shefenkas… Shefenkas… always said he stood for Yeola-e, so Father had the man stand for Shefenkas. I still wasn’t weeping, just making these hoarse noises.

The guard, armour and all, carried me into the pool, just down to his waist and it was Binshala who unwound me from my knot, peeling my hair loose where it had crusted dry already, gently pulling my tunic off over my head. When I was free, the guard let me settle onto my feet in the water. Binshala was there, skirt and all too, a slave seized my soaked red and pink tunic and vanished with it.

The water all around me was red fading to pink as my hair washed out. “The pool will have to be drained and cleaned,” I said, staring at it. The guard saluted and sloshed away.

“The Spark of the Sun’s Ray needn’t concern himself. Let this one cleanse the exalted one.” The whole pool was tainted, I was the centre of red, but the whole pool was pink by now. I ducked my head under, shaking it to rinse all the way down to the roots. I had a sudden urge not to come up. Gods take me out of Hayel. When I didn’t come up immediately, Binshala who had her hands on my head, grabbed and pulled me up by my hair.

I didn’t fight her but came up coughing. She held my chin and gently cleaned my face and the cool, clean dampness of the cloth finally drew my tears. I didn’t sob. I didn’t say anything but the tears trailed down my cheeks, hot as fresh blood. “This one has sent a slave for Misahis,” she said quietly. She summoned two slaves who bundled me in clean white towels and carried me to bed. I shook so hard they summoned a third slave so they did not drop me. I lay, wrapped in towels, shivering in my silver and white sheets, listening to the murmur of voices in the other room as Binshala spoke to Misahis and the subdued click of the bath doors as slaves came and went to cleanse the big pool.

I kept trying to stem the hot wet flow out of my eyes since I hated the sensation and found myself rubbing and scratching at my hand to get the sensation out of it, the sensation of the knife sinking into flesh, the tug and drag as it cut his life apart. “Spark of the Sun’s Ray,” Misahis said. “Let me examine you.” I didn’t respond as he unwrapped me, but I didn’t fight him either. He laid a hand on my chest and then on my face and that was when I started to cry normally.

I clung onto his hand, curled around it and began to cry in a way that finally didn’t hurt. He climbed right up onto the bed with me and I crawled onto his lap. “Misahis… Misahis… I’m not hurt. I mean… not me. The slave is d…d…dead… The Ye…Ye… Yeoli m…m…an… F…F…Father made me kill him… He… He put the dagger in…my hand…”

My throat closed up, as though it had a coal burning in it. I couldn’t breathe. “Don’t force it, Divine Spark.” His hands, that had never, ever held a weapon, his mind who could not conceive of violence without distress, was so comforting. No Haian would or could ever hurt another human being. Then I froze. He was holding that hand that had just killed a man.

I shrieked and yanked my hand out of his, scooting away from him. “You don’t want to touch me. You don’t. I just killed a man. It’s wrong you should touch me.” And to my guards that came running in at my scream, “No. Go AWAY! Don’t bother MEEEEEE!” I had a screaming, failing tantrum like I hadn’t had in years. I hurled my pillows and comforters. I lost all sense of what was around me, the pressure in my head so great I couldn’t see. All I could see was red.

When at last I stopped, spread out in the middle of the stripped bed, eyes closed, Misahis hadn’t gone away. He was still there, but I didn’t have the strength to try and make him go away. I opened my eyes to a pinkish haze. That was appropriate. “Go away, Misahis. You can’t help me… You shouldn’t help me.” I closed my eyes again.

He sat down beside me, I could feel the bed shift. “Take this.” I opened my mouth automatically before I could think about it and being a Haian remedy would work even if I spat it out.

“I shouldn’t… why did you?” I heard the whine in my voice.

“Because I choose to heal, Spark of the Sun’s Ray.” Misahis didn’t try to touch me but sat close. “You have burst some capillaries in your eyes, Spark, and so your vision will be odd, though not for long. I am suggesting to your father that you have been… over-excited for your age and require rest for a few days.”

I didn’t think I had any tension left at all but hearing that I wouldn’t have to get up for a while, wouldn’t have to endure the formal meals, the formal lessons… I started crying again, softly, this time from relief. I hurt all over but I’d be able to be by myself.

“From what you said, I assume your Father made you kill someone. I do not blame your hand, Spark of the Sun’s Ray.”

I swallowed and realized my throat hurt. He slid a hand under my head and lifted it up as though I were ill, and offered me a drink. It was water but I was sure he’d put a remedy into it they called calming essence. He let my head down just as gently as he’d raised it. “If you are calmer now… just like when you told me about Ilian. Can you tell me what happened? Calmly, as if you were seeing it happen to someone else?”

His voice was so soft… and I was so tired. It was too hard to keep getting upset, though part of me still was. “Father had a Yeoli slave brought in from the front… a warrior… he had Meras hold onto him and then put the knife in my hand. He held my hand and the knife and killed the Yeoli, making like it was me, making me feel him die.” I quivered all over, feeling the upset coming back.

“Shh, shh, it is all right. You take a deep breath. That’s right.” He gave me more remedies and put his hand on my head.

I sighed and said, “I don’t have any more tears left. And it hurts because I want to keep crying.”

“You didn’t kill the man. You said your father held your hand on the knife.”

“I did say that. I mustn’t say anything against Father, Misahis, that’s dangerous. I like it when you talk to me, equal to equal but I don’t feel I deserve it right now…” I must have fallen asleep then because I don’t remember much more other than the murmur of his soft voice… just going on… It was an odd dream because I remember him telling me it would be all right. That it wasn’t my fault. I remembered the dream Misahis tell me that it would be normal to be upset because the man died but it wasn’t my choice or my responsibility. I woke up out of my doze, and curled up against Misahis’s hand again.

“I’m sorry I fell asleep, Misahis.” I felt a lot better. “Thank you for sitting with me. Thank you.”

“It is all right, Spark of the Sun’s Ray. I am concerned for your health.” He was smiling at me, those calm brown Haian features so soothing. I managed to take a full breath without my whole chest hurting.

“Still? Even when…” I choked up and he took me on his lap as he had when we spoke the first time by my fountain. There was no one else in my rooms. I had driven everyone else away with my tantrum it seemed.

“I do not blame you, Spark.” He picked me up completely and slid down off my dismantled bed, and as always I was surprised how strong he was. “Why don’t I take you down to show you my office while your servants repair the damage? You’ve never seen it.”

I clung to his neck and looked up at him. “You have your privacy. I shouldn’t –“

“I am inviting you.”

I could only blink at him. “Thank you, Misahis.”


  1. That one made me cry a little too. I'm so proud of Minis, his development. I wonder if he realizes that he has reacted as strongly against killing someone as his idol. <=)

  2. Thank you. He doesn't realize it at all. ;-) This one, actually startled me, when I realized what Kurkas intended... and I was writing it!