Wednesday, October 21, 2009

135 - Fall of Empires; An Analysis

I couldn’t continue hiding in bed, however much I wanted to but I eased back into my studies and my ceremonial duties. I had another missive from Sinimas. The city he reported from was so far into the Empire that I cringed. “There are rumours of mysterious ‘flying monsters’ in the Alliance, or ‘flying mechanisms’ of some kind, though these are patently mythical, there is something odd about the persistence of these stories. Perhaps these tales are merely to affect morale.”

There was no return letter from Chevenga, so I assumed the two missives had crossed enroute. At least, so I thought. I couldn’t even say I hoped for an answer from him as much as dreaded one.

I looked up from my balcony chaise and down into the Presentation Square, with a pounding headache. Below an okas family stood, looking around the Square as if they’d never seen it before. The wife had two children clinging to her skirts and a babe in arms and had a pack on her back. The husband was carrying most of the rest of their worldly goods it looked like, and a fourth child against his neck. They probably never had seen the Square before. I wondered where they were from and why they had brought their whole family to the city.

Tob came in, with Ilesias pick-a-back. My brother had a hand over his mouth but was giggling through it. “Hey Tob, hey little brother.”

“Minis! I missed you!” He slid down from Tob and trotted over, climbing up on the chaise and then onto my chest. I folded my arms around him and cuddled him, even as he wiggled and caught me in the gut with a knee.

I rolled him over next to me before I tickled him. “Missed you too, Blob!”

Then he laughed hard. “You’re a BLOB!”

We went back and forth with “I’m not… you are…” a few times before he threw his arms tight around my neck. “Minis! Come ‘n swing! Come now. Come come come!”

“Ah, no, little brother. I have to finish my reading for my tutor, Koren.” He held his breath, about to throw a tantrum when I poked both my fingers into his bulging cheeks. “You know better. You’re a good boy and a prince… and I’ll play with you later, I promise.”

He wavered between throwing the tantrum and giggling at me for making him burst the air out of his cheeks. I blew a raspberry at him, making a fart noise and he settled on the good natured giggle. He trusted me to keep my promises.

The hound that had adopted Ilesias came trailing in. “Here, Guts.” I’d suggested to Ilesias that he call the dog Stomach, or Gut, and he thought Guts was funny. The dog laid his long snout on us, panting his fetid breath. “Go play with Guts, will you, Ilesias, while I read? You can play here.”

Tobeas was waiting, just watching and as Ilesias and his dog rolled off to wrestle on one of the silk rugs raised his eyebrows at me. I smiled at him and waved him over.

“Did Silasas get everything straight?”

“Yes, Spark of the Sun’s Ray.” The fiction that I had sent him away, having grown tired of his company, still held. I had not seen him off to maintain the story, giving him the same protection as his supposedly disgraced uncle. I had wanted to say goodbye, but restrained myself. I would send my farewell gifts and my letter to him later when no one would notice.

I took a deep breath. “I’d like you to go out to one of my manors… near Sififar, near the Lakan border. There’s some accounting problems I’d like you to look into… as long as it takes.”

“Spark?...” he hesitated. “Is there something that the companions should know?”

“No.” I waved at my bookshelf. “Would you give me Kurias’s ‘Fall of Empires; An Analysis? It should be on the second shelf from the top.”

The look he gave me was ironic but he didn’t press. “Here it is, Spark. This one will gladly straighten out the problems on Sififar Manor… and this one is sure all the rest of the companions will be able and willing to oversee all of the Heir’s ‘distant’ problems.”

I let out my breath. “And if the Gods are merciful then everyone will be back in the city before the winter.” He hesitated as if to ask the questions I could see in his eyes, then thought better of it.


This time my skating route took me vertically down the spirals and along the hallway past the main stairs down to the Mahid section and along to the lift… then down again… over and over again. The Pages had begun reporting the North-Eastern war again, a few stories in the back pages but gradually increasing. Anyone with a brain knew the Yeolis were bringing the war to us. I skated around again.

Once, I paused at the balustrade and considered going down to visit the Haians, jittering from foot to foot, the bearings in my skates clicking. The clenching in my guts was enough to convince me it was something I couldn’t easily bear. I’d have to go down again when I could.

I had no Jittzmithra costume this year. I wanted to be a Mahid… onyxine, silver buckle, no need to show any kind of emotion but that would have been too… no… Father might take offense if he were told and someone – some Aitzas cultivating the old versus the new -- would run to whisper in his ear the moment they found out. They would twist it to make it mean some kind of disrespect and the Divine Sun would scorch me again.

The first day of Jitz I just spent most of the day on my balcony. I trailed down to the kitchen to grab a loaf of bread and some fruit for the day. It was madness, wilder than I had ever seen it. There were more fights… the Sereniteers were hauling more bloodied and beaten drunks in than I could remember ever having seen.

That night there were a dozen ‘Eagles in Flames’ dancing across the square, the harbringer of doom and in the early hours, since I couldn’t sleep, I stopped counting ‘Summoners to Death’ in a half a hundred variations and there were more devils in the streets. People were dancing with madness this year. I heard distant laughter but it sounded more like someone in pain.

I went to hide my head under my pillow and planned to try and ignore my birthday since the official celebration of my second threshold would take place on First Muunas.

I got woken up out of my nasty sleep by a squeal, a pretend bray and a weight landing on my side, hands pushing on the bump of me under too many covers. “Fun Birfday, Min! Birfday presents! Joyf’l birfday!” I was so thoroughly tangled in my bedding I had to fight my way free and stop Ilesias jumping on me. I couldn’t help it. After I clawed my hair out of my face and caught him mid-jump, I started to laugh. I laughed so hard my stomach hurt.

Ilesias was dressed as his donkey, white ears with black tufts waving over his golden fluff head.


  1. I love the donkey costume!

    As for the Fall of Empires ... *sigh* Being a historian always makes it awkward to read the news. You can see too much.

  2. thank you! Minis is going to wear that pendant for a long time!

    Kind of a pointed comment on Minis's part but then he gets that way sometimes...

  3. Oh, oops... spoiler... re pendant... I moved that...

  4. I heard distant laughter but it sounded like more like someone in pain.

    the first 'like' and 'more' should be reversed and the second 'like' should be deleted so that it reads ...

    I heard distant laughter but it sounded more like like someone in pain.