When I went to attend Father in the morning a few eight days later I had no idea it was going to be such a bad day. As He rose, and the servants used the large gilded hooks to draw back the glass studded gold chains so there was no chance He could be nicked, His eyes fell on me and his eyebrows drew down in a frown. The birthmark on his cheek darkened as his frown did. I froze.
“My Minimal. MY son.” He held out his arms and as I stepped forward to untie his night-sash, He shook His head. “You may not. Be still.” I put my hands together at the small of my back, knotted tight into fists and stood still. He was not going to let me touch Him today for some reason.
What had I done? I had been very careful. I hadn’t done anything unexpected or forbidden. I’d thought I was being like Father and couldn’t think of a single thing I had done wrong.
The bed servants were... oh. I made my face marble. The young Shefenkas-toy in Father’s bed... was ominously limp as they lifted him out of the Imperial bed to get him out of the way. Then I thought I saw his ribs shift, perhaps he was still breathing. I clenched my fists hard.
Father came back from the garderobe looking like thunder. “You, my son...” I tried to look attentive while the Yeoli slave was carried out like trash. “I tolerate a great deal of nonsense from you during Jitzmitthra, but it has come to my attention that you allowed the barbarian slave to treat you like his dog.”
He leaned down and put his nose next to mine, glaring into my eyes so close mine started to water but I didn’t dare blink. “Bad judgment.” He slapped me hard enough to swivel my head around. “Not like Me at all.” I almost fell. I couldn’t breathe.
That was years ago. He’s angry about that NOW? Why? Why now? I couldn’t look to see if I could pick up something from Father’s court. Did someone enflame Father against me? Perhaps they thought they could court or use Ilesias since he was still a child. Who was my enemy at court? Someone could be trying to get Father to erase me the same way he had my older brother. This all flashed through my head as I slowly turned my head back to attend Father.
He slapped me on the other side and I wondered if this was part of what he had done to the Yeoli boy as I struggled to catch my breath and take it without showing anything at all. Joras Mahid didn’t show anything either.
“Perhaps you are not sufficiently Mine. If you are capable of offering such SERVICE to my enemy, perhaps! Perhaps you are meant to serve, to be like the Mahid bitch I honoured to carry my seed!” I could feel my cheeks swelling with each blow, but swallowed everything and only gave him my careful attention.
“Today you will serve Me as you served him, to prove your loyalty and fidelity to ME.” He whirled around and left me standing, reeling, my head feeling like it was about to fall off.
“If you prove yourself well enough I shall be mollified and not require you to find out if you are more suited to being a Mahid rather than MINE.” He was being dressed as he railed at me and I couldn’t tell if there was some smugness in the attending aitzas. Metkias Faizkapas might have the faintest trace of a smile on his face. Mil Kallen, another of that vast family, perhaps too.
I struggled to draw a deep breath... did He mean He might not kill me if He were happy enough? This was so far outside His usual punishment, I didn't know what to expect. “This one is filled with joy to obey his Divine father.”
He stopped where Kallen knelt to lace up His sandals and stared at me as if He suspected me of irony. But in terror I meant every word. I truly couldn’t see Him clearly and the room swam. I took another deep breath and held it.
“Good.” Hmph. “Today you will be the cushion for my feet before all Arko, Minis Kurkas Joras Amitzas Aan. Come.”
I followed him blindly. Had He killed his sex toy? What was happening with Him? He’d never been this bad before. Would he decide to kill me today? What if He decided that I was like Sinimas? Would I go into the wall of the lost today?
He commanded me behind His chair while He ate. I stood, like a Mahid, ignoring the covert stares of the court. My face throbbed. My head throbbed. It was just as well He did not demand I eat because my stomach was knotted so tight it felt like a piece of wood in my middle. I could see the back of Kyriala’s head as she sat at her proper place. Thank the Gods she didn’t turn around to stare at me.
I could smell myself and hoped that Father wouldn’t choose to take offence at that next. I managed a full breath near the end of the meal, my feet beginning to throb in my soft slippers, as my face did.Father led me to the Crystal Throne bridge with a word, at least now less focused on me, but rather thinking about something else. Then He settled me on hands and knees on the hard, clear floor and settled His feet on my back.
"My minimal. Don't move."