Saturday, November 21, 2009

155 - Going to the Lock

--- GRAPHIC WARNING --- some images will be very disturbing

I was told to wash in the stream afterward and found out why Chevenga thought my baths were warm. My teeth chattered and Gannara rubbed me down hard to try and warm me up after. My stomach was still upset enough that it felt like a solid knot in my middle as I was bundled into a fresh set of padding and back into my armour. I was not going to be allowed rest from wearing it until the sun went down.

“You will be living in armour for now, Spark. It is a war and you are late to begin the training. You will wear this until you no longer notice. You will wear armour until it is like your second skin. You will be allowed out of it to dress for dinner, and to practice your courtly manners with your betrothed but that will only be for the last bead after dinner.”

Amitzas wore the Mahid armour, in onyxine just the same as the rest of their uniforms. I would not have thought he would be comfortable in it, having been a city Mahid rather than a field operative, or a battle-crow, but he seemed completely at ease in it.

I swallowed my simmering anger as best I could. The histories said that Ilesias the Great could wear full plate as easily as if it were spider-silk. Chevenga, I was sure, was the same. I wondered if our champions… the men who had won the Champion of the Rejin medallion and title wore armour like that.

“Yes, ser.”

Wearing armour constantly like this must be the way Amitzas learned to be comfortable in it and he was teaching me the way he was taught.


I sat, staring down at my plate, so exhausted that I did not want to eat the fried bread presented to me on the Imperial porcelainware. 2nd Amitzas’s voice came from behind me. “You will eat, Radiance of the Sun.”

“Yes, my Mentor.” It wasn’t as if I didn’t have a lot of practice forcing food and I cut it into as many pieces as I could to make it easier to swallow.

“Your lesson this evening will be with me, Spark. I require that you apply yourself to the food with more alacrity.” I turned around to stare at him, then checked and turned back to the congealed grease on my plate. Probably some other inventive form of physical conditioning. He can torture me in the name of training.

“Of course, my Mentor. I am finished. Mirror…” I addressed Kyriala and inwardly flinched at my wavering tones. I really, really wanted my voice to settle down. “If Milady will excuse me.” She rose as I did, bent her knee to me.

“Of course, Spark of the Sun’s Ray.” Her voice was so lovely compared to 2nd Amitzas’s dead one. I found myself wishing she’d at least look up when she spoke to me. I felt suspended between the two of them… He was all darkness and she was silver… or white… or gold… I wasn’t sure. My head was hurting again and I was being fanciful.

2nd Amitzas very properly escorted me back to the cabin. He didn’t seem to notice Gannara, who had become my shadow. Thank the… I was thankful that most Arkans tended to not see the slaves in the background until something was required, and then they’d better be right there.

“Stay outside, slave.” 2nd Amitzas commanded. So much for Gannara becoming invisible. There was a silver and black book on the chair and he picked it up and sat down. “You will require the Imperial book, Spark of the Sun’s Ray.”

I would? I fished the Imperial Book in its silvery wrapping out from under my pillow and sat down upon the bed with it in my lap. “This, Spark of the Sun’s Ray, is the Mahid Book that matches and elucidates the Divine Book. 1st Meras entrusted it to me and I will be instructing you with it as a reference.”

He flipped it open to a marked page and looked up again. “This is regarding the first silver page in the Divine Text. Turn to it.” I crossed my legs to support the weight of the Book and paged past the first, now almost blank pages, past the golden ones, past several plain pages to a silver one.

There was an image on it that reminded me of a room in the Marble Palace that I had never seen used. It was a plain, dark gray marble with a metal and glass box in the middle of a pool of water. There was nothing else in the room but a double handled mechanism to one side, and a throne facing the glass and metal-bound door. This image, in the book, seemed to be of the box… or the door of it.

The words on the page were not in any kind of Arkan that I recognized, but 2nd Amitzas spoke up. “This is The Lock. It is the means of execution for Imperial treason and Imperial treason alone.”

I looked up at him, sitting there totally upright, both feet perfectly parallel, perfectly flat, his hands exactly placed on that little silver book and my stomach knotted hard. “Imperial treason.”

“Yes. The last time it was used, I had the honour to serve your Divine Father, rest He in Selestialis.” He wanted to tell me. I felt the roaring of nausea in my throat. He’d enjoyed himself. I made my hands metal, iron, steel that they not shake. “That was thirteen years ago, Spark.”

I nodded as if I expected it. “That would have been for Seventeenth Kurkas, I assume.” I had my gaze locked on his face as if intensely interested while inside I had turned to water, to fire. He didn’t show a thing when I revealed I knew about my vanished older brother, probably assuming that Sixteenth Kurkas had told me.

“Yes, Divine Spark. The Lock works on a very simple principle. The condemned is escorted into the chamber and the door is sealed. The top valve is opened and the whole chamber is filled with water and the top air valve is sealed.”

“And the person in it drowns.”

“If the Imperator so commands, Spark. But more commonly the water is then forced out into the pool below where it drains.” I thought I understood that someone could be repeatedly drowned and revived, but 2nd Amitzas tapped the silver book with one rigid finger. “When the chamber is sealed and the water forced out -- by this pump -- The air is forced out with it. It creates a clear place that appears to be full of air but is empty of it. The person drowns as their blood attempts to follow the water and the air out of the chamber; generally out of their lungs, eyes, ears and other orifices.” The man actually began to smile, describing this. Was I hearing this? Was I having a nightmare? Why was I hearing this? 

He smiled more widely. “The flesh boils, slowly. Eyes burst. The process can be repeated a number of times because it takes a certain time for the tissues to be so coagulated that the criminal’s lungs become incapable of expanding or contracting.” My brother had been my age. Just second threshold.

“I --- see.” I actually couldn’t see. I blinked to try and clear the hideous image out of my mind. My older brother actually hadn’t had his throat cut as in my dream. This was so much worse. I managed to swallow against my dry throat, imagining the flesh of my body boiling as I struggled to pull in air that was not there. “Like… creating Hayel inside the chamber. Of course.” Show nothing show nothing show nothing.

“An initial taste of the traitor’s coming eternity. As an instructor I am pleased the Spark understands so quickly.” The smile had vanished from his face again and I was happy it was gone. “The protocols for such a death are safely translated here.” He gestured slightly with the book. “And the written translation of that page I understand is later in the Divine Book.”

“Ah. I shall have to read it, then. I am grateful for my guardian’s careful instruction.”

“It is necessary that the Imperator know all in His power, Spark.” He rose and I resolutely turned my eyes to his face, for he made no effort to hide the arousal of his vile organs that teaching me this gave him. I was actually grateful that I had eaten before. I would have something to vomit once he left.  

“Good evening, Spark of the Sun’s Ray. Until tomorrow.”

“Yes. Tomorrow.”


  1. Well, I'm charmed by the idea of being able to space someone right on the surface of a planet, but I wouldn't do that with a Mahid. I'd want him killed instantly and stuffed in two separate ditches; no point risking escape.

    Also, have the Mahid noticed that constant vomiting is going to bugger their careful dosage all to hell? Not to mention wrecking what's left of Minis' health.

  2. I am so glad you hate 2nd Amitzas. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy! He's just going to get more 'charming' as he settles into his role as a teacher.

    And yes, Minis is going to be stopped, but he and food are never going to be very good friends.

  3. They were a spacefaring culture at one time... now they have glass and really good hydraulics... yeah eww.

  4. Thankfully, due to the restrictions on the Lock's use, it will never be used on Mahid. Imperial traitors only need apply.

  5. "“Yes, my Mentor.” It wasn’t as if I didn’t have a lot of practice forcing food and I cut it into as many pieces as I could to make it easier to swallow. "

    Just nit-pickiness, I know, and I usually don't pick on commas (they have such varied usage), but I think there must be a comma after the word 'food'.


  6. Ah, torture by Bernoulli's and Boyle's laws. How fantastic.