Monday, October 19, 2009

134 - A race that Arko has not yet begun

The days seemed gray to me. I put it down to still recovering from my illness. I saw the chained Haian one more time but it was in Father’s presence.

He brought his gold-chainer to me Himself and settled grandly into one of my bedroom salon chairs and kept an eye on the obviously dangerous healer.
It made me want to vomit all over again, holding out my wrists to him. He surreptitiously patted my hand adjusting his grip and I thought of the Haians in the dark corridor. Accept our healing… it means we still have some of our power… I nodded at him and patted back as he let go. Father’s robes spread around him like wings. I actually saw it more like a puddle of golden vomit with the Chevenga-slave kneeling in the midst of it, with Father’s hand on his hair, but I turned my eyes away.

I listened quietly as he told me the Haian word for the illness I had had and told me I could begin getting up again but my schedule would have to be lighter. He also told Father that I should not wear the heavy ceremonial robes for a while… that some kind of light-weight alternative should be found and I should be allowed to sit if it was necessary for me to do the ceremonies.

So I was up and had begged off the Street-Cleaner’s Honors on the first of Imbas when Silasas popped in to see if I was by myself. I had been cranky and ordered even the slaves out. I realized more and more how they were everywhere in the Marble Palace.

Dafidas tapped on the inner door connecting the companions’ chamber suites to mine.“Hello, General, please excuse my casual demeanor… I’m still not feeling well.Have a seat.”
“This one is most grateful for the courtesy.” Careful as always, he settled himself next to my chaise, dusting his pressed kilt carefully with his perfectly fitted and smooth gloves. He didn’t have a hair out of place.

“General,” I asked out of curiosity.
“How can someone so spit and polish have been so effective in the field? Kallen and his ilk try…”

This one can certainly address this question. When one has trained as long as this one has it becomes second nature to do small things to improve appearance. A matter of training. So false masters affect the appearance and do not realize how far they fall short.”

I snorted laughter.
“Right. The same way an Aitzas affects four collar pips and thinks no one will see that their training was much less.”

“Exactly, Spark of the Sun’s Ray.”
He paused a moment, obviously thinking. “Spark, is this one correct to surmise that fatigue is a major concern right now?”

I stared at him.
The whole court knew, including Silasas, so he must as well. “Yes.”

“There is a trick this one learned from a field Haian years ago.”
He pulled a hand out and pressed a spot on his own leg, just below the knee. “It has to do with energy flow. The Haian called it one thing… this one had a private name for it. In normal usage one may increase energy with mere massage. In emergency the point of a dagger may be used…. No deeper than the tip. It can restore energy enough for a solas to march all night long and fight at battle at the end of it… even without sleep.”

I looked very carefully at the point, looked up at him and put my own fingers on the same spot on both legs.
On my legs both points were very, very sore. “I… hope… I hope I never need the emergency.”

“It is to be hoped that the Spark of the Sun’s Ray never needs such measures.
But a useful bit of knowledge to a general, as well, since solas can benefit… if a battle must be won.”

“Let me guess, General.
This knowledge won you an important battle?”

He dusted his gloves together fastidiously and sat back.
“The action report would be in the archive. This far away from that war it would be open since it is no longer of any importance in the current situation. The Battle in question was at what the natives once called Mulkalenbak. It is now Tirailas.”

“I will read that, certainly.”
He had told me this instead of something else. I knew him well enough now to realized he had something he was holding behind his teeth. It was as if the words were fanged and clawed and poison barbed but it was even more dangerous to let them out than keep them in.

I rubbed the spots on my legs he’d showed me, before grunting up from my chaise and shuffled over to my desk, unlocked the subtle drawer – as opposed to the hidden – and came back with Sinimas’s papers… that I hadn’t yet burned, in my hands and sank down gratefully again.
Dafidas didn’t spring up to help me, or briskly lay hands on me with badly offered help, but watched quietly. I got the sense that if I did slip or if it looked like I would fall he’d be there in a heartbeat but until then he was content to let me look after myself. I found it oddly heartening.

“Thank you.” I had had enough lessons from the man that I thought I would perhaps begin to guess what he had on his mind. Dafidas… I have some truth to share with you.”

He looked solemn.
“Is this something that this one should see, Spark of the Sun’s Ray?”

“Something that… once you read it… will be confessed to the flame.”
As he took the pages of Chevenga’s speech it was as though a huge weight came up off my shoulders. I could take a breath and it didn’t feel as though I were being crushed flat.

"The Yeoli mob is currently debating over whether they should just take what their compensation formula lays out – you know about their habit of seizing land from an aggressive neighbour in compensation for being attacked --? Yes. Or, they are asking if they can conquer the whole Empire? And if they could... should they? They asked their semanakraseye, and that speech was his answer. I trust the absolute accuracy of that document.”

I watched his face as he carefully read through the speech.
Once he snorted, “… barbarian…” but I could see him nodding at various things. He took a deep breath when he straightened the pages and handed them carefully back to me. “Spark of the Sun’s Ray… this one has been endeavoring to tell the exalted one certain truths…”

“If you are going to tell me something that important, that dangerous, please eschew the title and please call me Minis.”
I had to interrupt him.

He blinked and actually licked his lips as though tasting the idea.
“M…Minis… this one has been attempting to inform the exalted one of how badly the barbarian alliance was… trouncing the rejins. This one is relieved to note that the exalted has other such… accurate information.”

I had to throw my hands up over my face.
I had hoped on some level it was just me being childish and afraid. The neck-drape that Binshala had arranged to help me keep the fever and chills away fell over my hands that I had fisted over my eyes. “Spark… Minis… this one dares to say…” He paused a long long time. “Might it be possible that the Heir might be able to inform the Imperator of this – and be heard?”

Believed, he meant.
Or perhaps he meant just that. He knew that Father did not hear what He did not wish to hear. “No.” My reply was muffled behind my hands and the cloth. “I’m not sure I would be able to say that.”

He shifted in his chair.
“Minis…” I could hear him, though I couldn’t see him. “The exalted says ‘not sure’. What percentage is likely that the Imperator would hear?”

I took a deep breath.
“Perhaps three percent.”

"And what percentage could be placed upon the Heir surviving the attempt?”

I was so tired. “Perhaps forty or fifty percent.” I dropped my hands. I had more energy and I saw how grim he looked.

"If the exalted were a general and had only a three percent chance of success versus a fifty percent chance of destroying the whole army... it isn’t worth it.
This one would not engage an enemy on a battlefield with such odds.” I could get up and I had to. I had to move. I turned my back on him and took a few steps away. I was stronger but it could be my upset. My heart was pounding.

“These are the habitual ticks...” I said thoughtfully, to say something. “Under stress, what do grown men do? They pace. It is how they run away from an insurmountable problem...When you cannot run... and are forced to come back to it ... like a dog to its vomit!” I wanted to hit something but there was nothing I cared to scar my fist on, or break.

“Minis.” He said quietly from behind me. “This one dares to say… the guiding mind must be always prepared to accept any information or what he protects will be destroyed.” The only thing he could have said more obviously is if he’d stood up and bellowed that Father was an idiot and killing us.

“I understand, General. I will take it to heart as I have been fortunate to have all your lessons.” I turned around, wrapping my arms around myself, folding the wrap around me… I was feeling weak again but couldn’t make myself sit down. I have to put myself in a position to have Father’s power. I have to be the one to try and negotiate with Chevenga, for Arko’s sake.

"I would rest my hope of Selestialis on them crossing the border, or perhaps they have already," I said quietly.

"How old is this information, if this one might enquire?"

"Perhaps a moon."

"The exalted is probably correct then. At the point the barbarian alliance crosses the border... it becomes a race. If Arko began stripping the western garrisons immediately, there might be a chance to oppose the Alliance force if the numbers are correct. It is a race that Arko has not even begun.”
I… would have to write… I was becoming dizzy and sat down once more.

Dafidas was very graciously not noticing my upset, looking down at his knees. “Spark… Minis… it is with sorrow that this one must inform the exalted that this one has been re-called to his home estate, and will no longer be able to enjoy the welcome conversation with the Heir.”

He had escaped my Father with a whole skin. Now he was being just as prudent and removing himself from harm’s way once more. “Oh. I am sorry to hear that.” My heart sank. It would be safer for him, and I would be happy for that, but I’d miss him and his lessons. “Perhaps you could accept a stallion from my stables? I have a lovely cream-coloured Nellan that might be a gift worthy of you.” And I thought of something else I had to say, even if it hurt me. The words caught in my throat.

“Why… thank you, Minis.” I covered my eyes with the cloth.

“General Pasen. As unfortunate as this might be… perhaps your beloved nephew should accompany my gift horse? And stay as long as necessary to see him settled properly?”

“This one…” I’d caught him bowing. He hesitated a long moment and then straightened. “Thank you, Spark of the Sun’s Ray.” He let himself out, back to the companion’s rooms. My breath wasn’t filling my lungs well. I was gasping dry.

Whatever I did, I had to get my friends as far away from me as possible.


I sent this letter out to Sinimas the same day but even sending this to Chevenga didn’t ease my breathing.

Dear Chevenga, Durakis, Semanakraseye d’Yeoli,

I cannot imagine that you and I could still be friends.
In fact I imagine you must place me in the same category as my Father in your mind. Given that, and that fact that you intend to conquer Arko… Would you consider trading the Empire for me?

Would you consider, given Kurkas’s death and my formal surrender to you, let my little brother, Ilesias assume the Crystal Throne?
If this arrangement would be acceptable to you, I would see it through. I would be willing to give myself into your hand – for whatever fate you decreed to satisfy the personal debt between youself and my family – freely.

Please reply through the writer who delivered this message into your hand.

Spark of the Sun’s Ray, Chip of the Effulgent Light

Minis Kurkas Joras Amitzas Aan


  1. “Spark, is this one correct to surmise that fatique is a major concern right now?”

    That should say "fatigue" above.

    "In normal usage on may increase energy with mere massage."

    That should say "one may" above.

    “The exaulted says ‘not sure’.

    That should say "exalted" above.

    And what percentage could be placed upon the Heir surviving the attempt?”

    The opening quote mark is missing there.

    "Would you consider trading the Empire for me?"

    This whole chapter has a great and terrible beauty. I am quite charmed by it, and it stands out in my mind as a favorite.

    Also, you expressed interest in having me post an excerpt of "Kyrus" over on my blog "Hypatia's Hoard of Reviews," but didn't provide details. So I drafted a post for 10/21/09 using part of the first chapter. I hope it's okay.

  2. Thank you... thank you! You always catch those late night blurry posts! And here I've been worried about the plot slowing down... (grin) I am tremendously relieved.

    As for the info for Kyrus... I thought I e-mailed you the information... rrr.. my mailer has eaten the info... you can get hold of me direct at and I think the first chapter is a fair grabber I hope.

    I need to get access to my web-page... rrrrgh. Just did the first sketch for what Kyrus Talain looked like.

    So please get back to me at the address above and thanks again for the feedback!

  3. SO much intensity... *gulp* So much... so much!

  4. I will do my best to not blow out your circuits. I guess I'm taking it back up to where I started... the explosion itself.