Caution: Mahid Attitudes Articulated. Graphic Violence. Soul Violence.
2nd Amitzas tugged his collar perfectly straight. It was so satisfying. So… elegant. He was feeling good enough to almost smile. He stepped out of the tent and walked over to the naked prisoner suspended from a tree by both wrists. The pale skin of his back showed three old scars from a ten beaded whip and his head hung forward, his hair wet and darkened to a tarnished silver falling down in front of him. Muddy as well.
“Bring the Heir out to see the extinquishment of the Failed Ember of the Old Sun,” he commanded over his shoulder and reached to jab his correcting stick under the chin, to raise Minis’s head.
“Did you really think you would escape me, boy?” The blood on the Failed Spark’s chin had partly dried and partly been washed away by the omniprescent rain but he still had a mouthful to spit. 2nd Amitzas didn’t bother dodging the clot, ignoring it completely as it slid off his cheek, leaving a red smear. “Tsk. Before you die, boy, you will give me my due.” He turned his one gloved hand and dropped the teeth he carried into the mud before Minis. “Do not worry. Who is there to save you? Your betrothed?”
A wild scream from beyond the tents. “Though she is much stronger than I thought.” Minis twitched as if he could somehow get to 2nd Amitzas, eyes suddenly blazing hotter rage than before. “Did you actually like the chit? Perhaps we will let you see her, one more time before your eyes go. I will make sure I use her here before you, before she dies… or after.” He stared into Minis’s maddened eyes. “Perhaps we shall play a game and see how many Mahid can take her simultaneously, hmmm? Did you know a stab wound can be taken by a man?”
“Make sure they don’t blind her… I want her to see him,” he commanded and Boras went to pass on his order.
“No words for me, Failed Spark? No heroic defiance flung in my face?” It was all so good. He could allow himself to smile.
The Heir was brought out and 2nd Amitzas actually condescended to go to one knee speaking to the boy. “Ilesias. You see your failed brother. You and I are going to very properly send him to Hayel for defying your Divine Father’s will. You understand?”
No response from the child. “You are under my command, and will answer. You be a good boy, unlike Minis over there, and that will never happen to you. Do you understand?” The old man had said, years ago that the then Coronet was slower of mind than the Spark. He would have to take that into account when dealing with him.
Inensa shook him slightly to encourage him to speak. “Yes, First,” he said.
“Good. Now I have a gift for you. A new knife… see? It is only as long as my first finger and curved like a cat’s claw… and while the brazier is heating up, I will show you exactly how sharp it is. Do you understand?”
“Now, child. He was running away from his rightful guardian. He stole you away from your birthright. What he did was refuse a Divine command from his father, a sin. He stole you as well. Another sin.” 2nd Amitzas paused. Perhaps the knife was too abrupt a way to start the boy.
“I have had a change of mind. Before you begin with the knife… you may keep it... I would like you to try my whip. Not the big one though you may if you wish… my split stick to start.” That was better suited to a small hand. It did his heart good to see the pain in Minis’s eyes when he saw his little brother take the stick. Much better to teach the new Spark, by extinguishing the old. Defy me, will he?
He allowed himself the indulgence of an erection as he watched Ilesias walk up to where Minis hung, lead by Inensa, who set him behind his brother and withdrew.
It was that indulgence that woke him from his pleasant dream. He opened his eyes to the sodden tent roof above him, dim in the watery early morning light. Next to him, on the damp pallet, Inensa moaned and her twitch in her sleep sent an elbow into his side. A fault of hers that she not sleep more peacefully, but often fought in her dreams.
My great God. I was dreaming that I had him. That I had them all. He pinned Inensa’s arm down, drew out his aching penis, yanked her nightgown out of the way, and rolled over on top of her. He did not particularly care if she were awake yet. It took a long, frustrating, bruising time for him to achieve his release. He had to imagine that his deam was true and that the mouth he buried himself in was not his wife’s.
He had not been allowing himself sexual discharge in this chase. It had been giving him far more pleasure to draw bruises on her fair skin than allow his tension to issue. The dream was proving that this was, perhaps, not the best of tactics. It was building up too much anger in him and he would never do his duty if he allowed himself to be so enraged.
Forzak that boy. Forzak the lot of them for being so unpredicatable. He drew himself out of Inensa and wiped himself off. “Today, I shall find him, wife.”
“Yes, husband.” She pulled the covers up over herself. “Shall I ready the women to ride?”
“No. I must pretend to be a piss-ant impoverished Aitzas searching for his beloved, lost son. And I am annoyed at Joras who is a less than adequate teacher that I am not yet able to pass as a mere Aitzas.”
He pulled his clothing together and left her to do her woman’s things… make herself decent and presentable.
His second, Mathas now, waited outside with his usual report. “There has been no trace of the Spark of the Sun’s Ray, First Second.” It was misty outside. No wonder everything was this violent, wet green. It never dried out. Their camp was in a ruined castle on a crag overlooking the river and the next tiny little town below. Slate crags. The other side of the river was a solid mass of grapevines upon the hills.
“This is becoming preposterous, Mathas. This is the country inadvertently pointed to in the Spark’s note.” He could not assume that the Spark was failed, yet. He would have to be found and interrogated as to his intent toward fulfilling the Divine will.
It must have been his frustration coming out in the dream, desiring straightforward blood and pain rather than this hideous mystery.
“If the Second may comment?” Mathas asked. “With the First’s permission?”
They walked over to where the group of Mahid awaited him for their morning lesson in ‘passing as other castes’. They had not yet eaten, as he had not. The lesson would come first and then light food and the morning training. Like clockwork. Then the afternoon when he would risk searching for Minis, himself.
The other two groups, up and down the Rehenas river… however the yokels pronounced it in their guttural Arkan… were doing the same. Unless someone picked up a trace. In two eight-days they would all converge here and they would move to the next camp. Perhaps upon the Meinas River that joined the Rehenas just north of here.
“Proceed,” 2nd Amitzas gave him permission.
“Perhaps the Spark of the Sun’s Ray gave the clues to his direction of flight… as a purposeful misdirection?” 2nd Amitzas turned to face Mathas, aware that the other eight Mahid had all heard. He stood for a moment then his corrector flashed out and slashed Mathas across the face, once, twice three times.
He swayed on the fourth, the fifth staggered him, the seventh hit him in the back of the head, knocking him forward. The eighth strike put him on his hands and knees. The last two, one upon his head and one upon his neck put him on his face.
Mathas dared not fight back and 2nd Amitzas broke his first corrector and called for a second, focusing that on the Mahid’s shoulders until that one broke as well. Mathas was still breathing, though unconscious.
He dropped the corrector on him and stepped over. “The Spark of the Sun’s Ray, though very intelligent, Mathas, is not that smart. Good morning, Joras. How shall we begin our lesson today?”
“I was thinking of perhaps taking advantage of the situation, First of the Mahid.”
“Ah, yes. Proceed.” He sat down and stripped off his bloody gloves and a clean pair were instantly offered, as was correct.
“A normal fessas reaction to seeing someone… not Mahid… beaten would be…”