Every Arkan knows that the Imperials Seals, gracing the hands of the Imperator… or the Imperatrix in this case… have a very specific meaning. Most do not know that even the four slender chains attaching the rings to the bracelets used to have meaning as well.
Of the symbolic nature of the Imperial Seals the meaning of those four connections have been the ones least taught in this past generation. It might be that the Former Imperator would be writhing in his afterlife should He somehow know that the Yeoli “vodai” is actually re-teaching Arkans the meaning of one set of the Imperial Seals chains.
On the right hand, the chain on the thumb-side - from ring to bracelet means the Imperator’s connection to the Ten. The chain on least-finger side – the Ten’s connection and blessing showered down from above.
On the left hand the thumb chain used to symbolize the Imperators connection with the people, while the least-finger chain the people's connection with Him – or Her – I am remise perhaps using the term ‘connection’ for the term should truly mean ‘beholden’. Just as the Imperator answers to the Gods, and they bestow guidance on Him, should the people answer to the Imperator and He bestows guidance upon them. So far, nothing outside what everyone knows.
Sisaras the Heretic, in his ‘Sheep’s Rebellion Against the Shepherd’, makes the point that the Ten must in some way depend upon the Imperator’s and the people’s prayers, else why would something like a God or a Goddess tolerate the endless supplication? Therefore the Ten receive something They need from us.
Just so, should the people receive something from the Imperator. It is not merely obedience and fear on one side and limitless power on the other…
I scratched the last line out, then put it back. This was the crux of my argument and I had to make it very clear. The ink on the page gritted and I raised it up and blew the sand off, brushing my lap desk clear at the same time. On the beach, sand got everywhere.
The farmhouse kitchen, with its long, scarred table, was hardly a mansion and it had taken the Mahid women and the boys days to properly clean out the smell of animals, since the barn had been part of the house.
The wind and rain howled outside, pounding on the wooden shutters, while inside the room was lit brightly, not only by many of the farmwife’s beeswax candles, but by the alcohol lamps from the Imperial set. Not a drop of rain was able to force its way inside the snug shutters. The family had built well, and had indeed fought with more vigor than 2nd Amitzas had anticipated, for barbarian sympathizers.
The Imperial china sat well on the snowy linen that hide the rough hewn table, and there was ample room for the twelve most senior Mahid along the one side and their wives across from them. 2nd Amitzas sat next to the empty chair at the head of the table, the place set for the Spark as if he had merely gotten up for a moment and had not yet come back.
At the foot of the table, a second place sat empty, though there was no place setting before where the Mirror would have sat. The two rows of Mahid sat absolutely still, the remnants of their meal just cleared away by the boys. Joras was the only one moving, as he turned a page of the Book and finished the verse he was reading aloud. “… ighty slaughter as the sin of the many was purged in blood. Muunas stretcheth forth His hand and take up the sword to defend the righteous from sin or corruption.”
“So does the lesson end.” 2nd Amitzas intoned and nodded at him and he closed the book carefully and re-wrapped it in its silk.
He smoothed a scrap of the Pages out in front of him, heedless of the ink smudging the cloth. It would be washed even though no Mahid would be so sloppy as to drop grease upon it. It had been used. “I have decided that the Spark of the Sun’s Ray, in his pique, has led us astray.” He picked up the story that had been cut out. “This Aitza social nonsense is quite out of date, but contains useful information. The Mirror of the Radiant Light is in the city. She is mentioned a number of times but this was an article about her ‘re-launch’ into high society. No doubt her family looks to find her a husband.” His one finger tapped the page gently, then stilled.
There was no stirring from the other Mahid, they sat as precisely as a number of statues, their attention carefully on him. Behind, at the stone sinks, the boys finished cleansing the Imperial dishes, a task too delicate to leave to the women.
“I am considering the fact that where there is one, there is the possibility of another. Our safe-homes and hidden places around the city are compromised, I am assuming and we will consider how to approach the problem. It may be that we will find a loyal Arkan vessel, what the barbarians consider ‘pirates’, and this will give us both secrecy and mobility. Seniors, consult with me if any sailing training was included in your curricula.”
“Joras, as trained to pass as fessas, it is likely you shall be our eyes and ears in the city.”
“Yes, First of the Mahid.”