Tuesday, October 27, 2009

139 - My friend, under false pretenses

It was as though everyone went mad that Jitzmitthra. I hadn’t gone to my birthday dinner/breakfast on the day and I thought the food probably went to the servants. When Definas and I woke up on the third Diem 0, it was to see my whole household pour into my bedroom and set up for a casual breakfast. I peeked out of my bedcurtains, with the weight of the brocade draped over my head and neck and back. Everyone totally ignored me.

Definas slapped me on my behind familiarly and slipped out the other side of the bed from the steps, out from under the curtains. I followed him, still completely naked, trying not to be flustered by being naked. After all, it was Jitzmitthra.
We washed and I swam and he paddled and I splashed him.  

He grinned at me. “I hate to say it, Minis... I’m going to be gone later today... and so will everyone else. Iamis is going to write a note about it.”

I stood up and put my feet on the bottom of the pool. I couldn’t say goodbye... I couldn’t say ‘I’ll miss you.’ I pulled my hair back, the wisps that had escaped out of the fast braid I’d thrown it into. I’d learned, as I learned to swim, so my hair wouldn’t drown me. “Well. I shall look forward to the day we will meet again, then. When some sanity happens to seize us all.”

When things that could not be said openly were. He didn’t answer my bitterness. “Yeah. We’ll hope that day comes soon then. ‘Bye, Minis.” He sloshed over to me and threw his arm around my shoulder and I turned to hug him goodbye.

“Pass it on to the others would you? I’m sorry, I... I’ll write... I can’t...” I took a deep breath. I should have the strength to say goodbye to all of them.

“Hey, Sparky.” It was Ord, and the other two slipping in and closing the door on the impromptu breakfast being thrown in my bedroom suite. “We get to say goodbye, too. We figured we owed it to say so, since we could.”

I clamped my eyes shut as they all piled into the pool and hugged me as though they were all family or my lovers, kissing my cheeks. I could feel the urge to tears and the nausea. I hardened my centre, seized them every one, one at a time, and kissed them thoroughly. “The Ten Bless You.” I said to them, got the murmured ‘Ten bless’ back from them all.

“Yeah, Sparky,” Fil said after. “We’ll meet in Selestialis.”

And Ord said “I hate goodbyes,” at the same time. Tob had his jaw clenched tight as his fists.

I turned my back on them, threw my hands over my face, unable to keep my emotion in check. They sloshed away from me, dripping up to the stack of towels and, with a minimum of fuss, they were gone, letting me pull myself together. I had this awful feeling of doom. I will probably never see any of them again.


The rest of Jitz passed with me spending most of my time in the library, hiding from everyone. And since I had gotten so petulant that I had sent all of my companions away, some of the lesser Aitzas from Father's court came to dress me on First Muunas and witness my Ten Ten’s practice.

I attended Father and almost stopped in my tracks... One of Father’s attendants, waiting with a minor towel should He need one, was Ilian Kallen, offering me a bland smile over his men’s kilt even though I knew he wasn’t third threshold yet. He would only be seventeen, four years too soon. Then I realized, with a certain relief, that it was another of the multitude of Kallens, not Ilian at all.

I let my eyes skate over him as though he were slick as the steel faib floor. Father had me lay the day robe over his shoulders and I still needed help to do it. It was the topaz Sun Robe for my Second Threshold ceremony today.
Since I was the Heir it was in the Temple and for part of it I pricked hand... in the webbing between my thumb and first finger to make my blood sacrifice to Selinae, since I was leaving the time of childhood behind.

I could see Her smile reflected in the tiny, shining bead of red, a breath of a kiss on my forehead giving me strength that I hadn’t known I needed. A sense of comfort and love. I shook my head, light-headed for some reason, enough that the dekinas dared support my elbow until I shook it off.

The tiniest scrap of the ends of my hair were cut off... a few split ends really... and they were offered up to Muunas as I stepped up beside Father on the High God’s lap. “Behold, my Heir, Arko!” Father declaimed. “He is no longer a child, though not yet a man.” He rose up and presented me to the congregation, adjusting me in front of him to face them. I could feel his heat behind me and his smell hovering around me, his meaty, mushroomy smell covered with heliotrope, was almost enough to make me sick right then and there. He took his hands off my shoulders, standing behind me with his hands raised high to the crowd, framing me with himself and Muunas sheltering both of us. Where will I be next birthday? Will I even be alive?

I took a deep breath and began my second threshold speech. “Today I leave my childhood behind. I begin the road to becoming a man.” I had written all this out weeks ago for Koren, basing my text on Muunas Chapter Five Instruction to Sons, a perfectly conservative foundation. “I pray that I may honour my all powerful God, myFather, my ancestors and my country as I leave the perilous world of childhood behind me this day.”


The first okas family I saw arriving in the city during Jitzmitthra were the first zephyrs presaging a storm. There were fessas coming in now, sprinkled in amongst the flood of okas. I wanted to tell them they didn’t need to fear the oncoming Yeolis. Chevenga would have them well in control and he was – despite the beginning tales of atrocities cropping up in the Pages – not going to slaughter innocents. I wish I were innocent.

The refugees all came to the Presentation square. Everyone seemed to feel safer having come to the centre of the empire. I sat on my balcony and did my work from a desk there. Father hadn’t come out, not wanting to see the world hammering louder and louder on his refusal to attend. Antras came into my rooms and cleared his throat. It meant he had something for me. “Out here,” I called to him.
The packet he handed to me was somewhat the worse for wear. “Spark of the Sun’s Ray...” He looked terribly uncomfortable. I nodded at him encouragingly. “The courier... might be unable to pass along any more letters for the Spark. That lowly one informed this lowly one that the latter’s solas nature may over-ride the will of his exalted patron... whoever he is...”

Of course. I should have seen it coming. “Thank you, Antras. Thank you very much.” Tzanas is going to try and fight. He’s warning me that he may not be able to resist trying to fight. He’s too honourable. This could be my last packet from the front.

There was a letter in the packet that I recognized by the handwriting. It was sealed with a plain blot of wax, not the blue/green Yeola-e country seal. I put my hand over it, nonetheless, leaning back until Antras was out of my rooms. Things were terribly quiet without my companions and I’d managed to order my servants far enough away. I cracked the seal.

“Dear Minis,” 

 I closed my eyes, so happy to have him address me so, so unhappy that I had been my Father’s monster to him. I started again.

“Dear Minis, No, I don’t hate you now as much as your father – not at all. Why would I?” He doesn’t remember.  

“You are not at fault for what he has done.” You don’t know. You don’t know, except in your bones and flesh. That night came back to me in a horrific wave of memory, making me break out in a cold sweat. I swallowed hard and continued reading.

“With respect to your offer – I do not doubt the sincerity of your oath but you expose yourself to too much danger to strike against your father. You are too young yet to attempt to assassinate the Imperator.” I could do it. Perhaps I should do it for you. I’d die in the attempt but Ilesias would be safe... I didn’t want to die. I so wanted to leave it up to the grownups. But father wasn’t doing what he should. I re-read that line “-- you expose yourself to too much danger to strike against your father. You are too young yet to attempt to assassinate the Imperator.” Could I be so easy on myself and just give it up, trust Chevenga to do it all?

“You offer yourself into my hands as if I would want you captive, imagining that for some reason I hate you – but I don’t, and don’t know why you would think I do.” You don’t know the evil Father pointed out to me, in me. You think better of me than I am. “You seek to offer yourself in exchange for the Empire as if either you or the Empire were a commodity – which neither are. I have no desire to possess you, or to possess Arko; I have only the mandate of my people, to seize control of it by force of arms on their behalf.”  
Of course. Semana kra.

“I am not even mandated to change that plan in any way without their approval as expressed in the vote of the Assembly of Yeola-e.” I had to trust him to do what his people wanted. He would not waver from that. I rubbed my hands over my flushed face, mourning the solas who would die trying to stop him.

“So I suggest you stand pat for now but keep yourself apprised as you have been doing, and don’t worry that either you or Ilesias will be in danger if things work out according to my and my people’s plans.” 

I could hope. I could hope that I could take Ilesias and Kaita and Binshala... and my close servants if they would come and hide in my secret room until the sack of the city was over and Father was dead at Chevenga’s hand. That was what was coming. The fire of the Gods was going to burn us off the face of the earthsphere and Chevenga was Their hand.

“It must have been hard for you, as a friend of mine between the time of my fiftieth fight and when you learned I was free of Arko – no worries now, I am well, and still your friend, insofar as you can accept me as such given what I am doing, and wish you absolutely no ill. Consider yourself in receipt of a hug by letter if you accept one.”

Fond respects, Fourth Chevenga

I folded my arms around the letter as if it were the hug itself, rocking a little. Oh, Chevenga, Semanakraseye Yeola-e, your people will not bear me living I think. And if you ever remember, neither will you. My friend, under false pretenses. I cannot let that go, I cannot steal your friendship with that falsehood between us. I hope I will be strong enough to tell you what I must, one day. I hope I will be strong enough to lose your love.

1 comment:

  1. For all his love, I think that Minis doesn't actually *know* Chevenga all that well. Though to be fair, if you haven't forgiven yourself for something, it's difficult or impossible to imagine that anyone else would or could.