Tuesday, August 17, 2010

324 - "I'll Never Wash These Fingers Again!"

I managed to catch my breath in the shadow of the obelisk and I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the drawing of Selinae and Chevenga.  If the Ten never forgave, Selestialis would be empty.

My mind was thrashing around, trying to think of all the scripture about forgiveness and I couldn’t bring one complete to my mouth.  I’d have to think about that.

I emerged from my semi-hiding place, longing to run down to the lakeshore and tuck myself between the Griffon’s wings again, just to let all my unseemly emotions out, but I had agreed to meet the others here.

“Heya, Sin!”  Gannara looked as though he’d touched God and in a way he had.  “I bet my parents would never have let me see this if they knew what went on in that Temple!”  His grin was wide.

“You should close your mouth, you’re starting to catch low-flying birds,” I teased.


“Over-sexed moron.”

“Repressed self-flogger!”

“Boys! Boys!  Please do stop,” Sera Eren said.  “After all this glory…perhaps one of you young gentlemen would bring an old woman some of the feast?”  She’d found a crumb of space to sit at the obelisk and we all had our feast plates, made of wood so that we could let them hang from our belts by a strap until we needed them.  Sera Eren gave us hers and the three of us went to stand in the forming lines, though not the one where Chevenga was carving and serving, talking to all who came to him.

“I touched him!  Did you see?  It was when he threw himself back.”

“Be careful, you said?” I had to smile.  “After all he just went through you were worried people wouldn't catch him? You caught his head.”

“It wasn’t just me telling him to be careful! But yeah! I'm never going to wash these two fingers –“ he held up the third finger and smallest finger of his left hand. “—again.”  He kissed the two fingers he had displayed. He sniffed his fingers.  “You know… he really was on fire… his hair smells burnt.”

“Yes, He really was on fire.”  As if the Gods would pretend. 

 “Ch’venga’s trying to touch everyone.”

He was.  Everyone who He served, He didn’t let servants hand Him the plates either receiving them or giving them back laden.  He took them Himself, and just as often returned them with a smile or a word or a touch if He let go the carving fork, stuck in the fragrant beef.

If the Ten never forgave, Selestialis would be empty.

We got our food and went back to Sera Eren and Ribbons who was graciously receiving tid-bits of meat from everyone around him, a booming purr deep in his chest as he chewed.  I ended up feeding most of my meat to him when I thought no one was looking.  Even though it was good, my stomach was in grinding knots.

If the Ten never forgave, Selestialis would be empty.

Ili was singing in between bites and kept getting up to see the Imperator still carving.  “He looks like He’s having fun!”

“Yes, He does.”

Gannara leaned close to whisper in my ear, “Are you sure you’re all right? 

“No, I’m fine.”

His brows drew together, so like Chevenga’s when puzzling something out.  “There's some shen you're not telling me, else you wouldn't have bit your lip.”  I hadn’t realized he could tell.  I thought I had hidden that.

“Hey, that happened during the rite... It was a little overwhelming for all of us... I don't even remember doing it,” I lied.

He leaned really close, looking into my eyes searchingly and whispered, “Is it because he did  this... and you're not going to be able to?”

Shen.  “Gannara you're too damned perceptive... I want to go home and bawl my head off in private all right?  Can I meet you later?

“Are you sure you don't want me there? Oh, yeah, fik, I know. I look like him.”

“No! No, it’s all right.  It’s not that at all. It’s just that I won't be able to let it all out if anyone else is there…”

Gannara had grabbed my arm, staring over my shoulder looking as if someone had punched him in the guts.  “It’s… it’s… him.  It’s one of them.  Shen, shen, fikken shen! It’s Joras.”

It was all I could do not to wheel around and stare.  He’s not looking for a blue-headed Dyer.  Nor a flame-tiger striped Yeoli.  I tipped my head forward and used my kerchief to wipe my plate and turned… apparently carelessly.  He was right.  It was Joras.

I swallowed hard.  “I’m sorry, Ili, are you done?  We need to go home now…”

He started whining and Gannara knelt down in front of him.  “Ili, we just spotted a Mahid.  Let’s all go home now, all right?” He fell silent, eyes big.

“I’ll pay a kid to report the sighting to the Marble Palace… all he’ll be able to say is that a Dyer paid him… and I’ll scrub my head clear of dye tonight.”

I hugged Sera Eren and her frail old arms tightened around me.  “You need to run from something, boys?  Never mind… not my business.  Go on.  Ribbons and I will meet you tomorrow at the Gryphon.”

“Take care, Sera. Until tomorrow.”  We moved as quickly as we could without being obvious about it.  I could feel Joras’s eyes travelling across the square as if he were the sight on a bow preparing to shoot me in the back; a back of the neck prickly sensation that thankfully slid off.

1 comment:

  1. gah! Joras is creepily efficient, I had hopes that he was just half-assing his search and just telling 2nd Amtz "I yeah, I'm looking really hard, really really hard, I'm the looking-est thing you ever saw."