Monday, August 2, 2010

314 - That Horrible Boy

Linasika Shae-Ara stopped at a kias, one of the street vendors in Arko who had an alcohol burner grill for his sausages.  “Tisha, do you want a sausage? Or some latas cakes?”

“No, no, can you just get me some juice?”

“Certainly, love. I’ll be right back.”

Tisha sat down in the front row of the Fire-Fountains, the one row that was never obscured by fog, and pinched the bridge of her nose with the fingers of one hand.  The crowd in front of her was like a small town that had sprung up the instant Chevenga had spoken, had let the Arkans all know he was going to do that fancy ritual of theirs the second time.

Vendors set up around the presentation Square hawked sun-shades and trinkets.  Artists did fast portraits in chalk or in charcoal for people.  Pets ran loose around the people camped out.  Musicians played in various corners of the square.

“Here you are Tish.”  He handed her the juice and sat down next to her.  “The kias owner was glad to sell during the day.  Apparently a lot of people don’t eat or drink during the day before this ritual of theirs.”

She nodded, half absently.  “Lin, we are going to find him.”

“Yes, we are, Tish.  I imagine the day we wrap our arms around him again.  He probably looks like Sanha by now… San was shaving by the time he was fifteen.” He gazed off into the middle distance, not seeing the Arkans camping in the square in front of them.  “He’s just writing these ‘nice nice’ letters and I just imagine some Mahid asshole standing over him with a knife, telling him he has to write well of that kevyalin kyash-eater’s son.”

“Oh, love.”  She set her juice down and flung her arms around him.  “Perisalas said they weren’t with Mahid any longer.  He thinks Gan might be in the city.”

“He’s been saying all kinds of things, for so long,” he said.  “We were so close on Haiu Menshir!  He left the same day, just before we got there!”

“That awful boy must have persuaded him.  Even though he claims the Mahid were on Haiu Menshir, I find that very hard to believe.”  There were children running or skating through the crowd camped in the square, Dyers pounding on their drums or ringing simals, singing.  A tiger-stripe headed boy… blond and dark red almost a purple… with tattoos showing now and again as his vest gaped open, skated by.  He was a little awkward on them, a little new, but since he was a Yeoli boy that was perfectly understandable. 

“Look at that.” Lin waved at the skater.  “What are his parents thinking, letting him get so Arkanized?”  Tisha signed chalk, agreeing silently.

“In the letters he’s writing, Gannara sounds happy.”

“They hurt him, Lin.  I can hope the Haian was right in saying he was on the road to healing…”

“But then why does he keep running away from his own family and staying with that… that Aan monster?”

“I don’t know, love.  Perisalas is doing his best with the funding he has, but once Chevenga gets this ritual over and settles in as Imperator again, I’m going to get on that blasted audience list and fikken light a fire under his kilt if he doesn’t do more to find Gannara!”


The Temple was almost clean. Gan, in his skates and the yellow silk boy’s vest, sat next to me on the mat and we grinned at the fessas girls bringing their parents’ water next to us, just after rim sunset.  Like most people camping out, we were sharing in the Imperator’s fasting during daylight, before the ritual.

“You said it was sixty days from when they closed it, right?”


“We’re almost there, then.”  Gan pulled a handful of his hair forward.  “I don’t like the tiger-striped thing… I’m going to cover up the blond stripes with the red.”  I thought it looked spectacular on him.

“I’d be disappointed if you did.”

“Maybe I should grow out a moustache…”  Gan was shaving every day because he had to.  I was shaving once every few days, hoping I would have to.

“You’d have to shut up long enough for me to plaster your upper lip with bleach then.”

Fikken idiya,” he said absently.

Kyashen jerk.” I answered.


The day of the ritual everyone was up at true sunrise rather than rim-dawn.  People kept filtering off to the public baths because the urge to be as cleansed as the Temple, as cleansed as the Imperator was strong.

I was full of a quivering tension as the Steel Gates opened with a trumpet fanfare and a boom.  We were all on our feet, and everyone was silent as the eight man carry chair with a sea of gold and silver threaded presentation sun-parasols throwing blinding light emerged from the Marble Palace.  It was hard to see Chevenga in the middle of them, the Imperial robe just as blinding.  I found myself squinting, trying to see his face.

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