Tuesday, September 7, 2010

338 - Case Closed

Perisalas Shefenkas paused by the Imperial Secretary’s desk.  “Good afternoon, I was called to see the Imperator?”

“Oh, yes, Perisalas, just wait one moment and I’ll send you both in.”

Both?  He turned and saw Matthas, in his guise as a minor fessas bureaucrat, his gloves clasped primly in his lap, sitting off to one side of the Glass Bridge door.  “Oh, hello, Matthas.  Nice to see you again.” 

“Hello, ser.” Matthas said.  “The rain we had the other day, was certainly unusual.”


“Gentlemen, the Imperator will see you now.”

The head of Irefas and I together?  This could be something big. Perisals thought.  There had been no sign of the Spark in Exile or any of his possible alias’s at the Gate or the lefaeti.  Perhaps Joras Mahid had remembered something important?

“Same place, same time... must be for the same reason... any idea what?” Matthas asked softly as they stepped out onto the gold carpet leading to the High Office.

“I theorize that it has something to do with my perview... either the Spark in Exile or renegade Mahid...”

“Makes sense and is more than I know. Thank you.”

In the office He Whose Timesense Is the Master Clock of The World waited... “Gehit, gentlemen,” he said even as their knees started to bend.  “Take seats; I have all of a tenth, and it need only be brief at any rate.”

They both sat, murmuring ‘Of course, Shefenkas.”

“You can close the investigation on the whereabouts of Minis Aan. He's here.”

Perisalas paused.  His mouth actually fell open for a fraction of a second. That pissing shennen little fikker, was almost the first thought that managed to surface in his head.  He closed his mouth and blinked several times, as Matthas spoke up. “Oh. Yes. In custody, Shevengas?”

“In effect. Skorsas is hosting him in the Imperial guest section. He turned himself in, and relinquished any claim to the Crystal Throne.”

Turned himself in?  Turned himself IN? “The only question that remains open,” the Imperator continued. “Is where his Mahid are, and he's agreed to help us catch them. He and they had an agreed-upon method of finding each other if they got separated, and he's said he'll use it to aid us.”

“I... we.... ummm... Of... course...” It wasn’t like Matthas to be quite so inarticulate but the circumstance was certainly unusual enough. Perisalas could feel his lovely logic chains just evaporating in the sun.  Just the Mahid. Oh thank my Steel Armed God, no more seven foot tall Minis’s on fire-horses on the moon.  Just... Mahid.   Mahid alone rather than Minis and Mahid.  It was one reason that Matthas had the highest job.  Perisalas could sit and be quiet and think and let Matthas talk.

“So we may interview Aan, Shevenkas?” Perisalas said. “I should like to tie up loose ends in my own files if I may.” Fikken turned himself fikken IN.

“You have all the information you need to do that... or is it a matter of wanting to know where he was and how he managed to elude you? I can tell you how he turned himself in: got himself on the audience list under the alias Minakas Akam, and waited for nearly six months. Came in here with the Imperial Book--do you know what that is?--and handed it to me, saying it should be in the right hands.”

He has the gall, the nerve, the sheer effrontery to get his alias on the fikken AUDIENCE LIST and just walk into the Marble Palace, right up to Chevenga.  RIGHT UNDER MY FIKKEN NOSE!

“Oh. Aras bless. The Imperial Book? Aras Bless. The sword as well? How would he have brought the sword in?”

“No, he left that at home and I sent someone with him for it later.”

“Well. It is good to know that a clear threat to the Empire is neutralized,” Perisalas murmured. Yes, I want to know every move the smart-assed brat did to elude me.  Calm.  Every move the boy made.  Better.  I shall have a clear mind if I do not allow unseemly emotion to cloud my judgment.

“That was exactly what he said; that if he stayed free he'd be a danger to the Empire even after he was dead. I think he'll be willing to talk to you about where he went if I ask him to. But no truth-drug.”

“Understood,” Matthas said.  He took no notes but he would have the whole conversation verbatim should Perisalas need reminding.  “Might we inquire about the younger brother?”

“I know where he is, too. Same house as Ailadas Koren, the tutor; you may verify that, but leave both of them be.”

“Ah. As you say, Shevenkas... He is... ahem... Ilesias Koren, then?”

“For now. If Kallijas wins, then he'll likely be Imperator when Ilesias reaches majority and can publicly relinquish the throne himself, which I think is the only way to head off the danger without bloodshed. If Kallijas does not win... well, I should not tell you more. You'll still be here, subject to truth-drugging at the orders of a new Imperator.”

Perisalas had to cough.  He is hardly treating the boys like public enemy the first and second. Why? “Certainly. Thank you, Shevenkas.” It is as the Imperator wants.

“Perisalas... Matthas... you know it's my policy that you may always speak freely... but I have a feeling it needs reiterating. Speak freely, please.”

Perisalas spoke up, firmly. “I am not much given to cursing, Shevengas but my inclination is to be... rather more vocal than polite at the moment. I have the idea that I have been chasing this... boy... all over the Empire, at great expense... and he turns himself and his little brother in to us. It is a great irony, ser.” There.  Calmly enough said.

“If I'd known that I could have saved the taxpayers of Arko so many chains, I would have. But it's worse than you think, Perisalas. I actually had Minis to dinner at my place in Vae Arahi. He was in disguise as Minakas Akam and I ran into him in the library... I know him from his writing. I kept thinking he looked familiar--it was sending me up the wall--but I couldn't place him. He said”—Chevenga imitated a broad fessas accent--”P'raps in the Mezem when m' dad took me, sor?” Which was absolutely true.”

“Akam... the journalist? He took the man's name to hide as I recall.”

“There never was a Minakas Akam other than Minis. He invented the name and wrote all the articles. Now we know why it was he seemed to have so much knowledge of the Marble Palace and things Imperial.”

“Oh...” his control slipped, just slightly and he muttered under his breath “fikken kaina maruch... fikker...” Then louder.  “I see.”

“It gets even worse, Perisalas... Gannara Melachiya came with him to wait for him to complete the audience. You know where they were the sixty days before my second Ten Tens? Camped out in front of the Temple. When they were carrying me out of the Temple, Gannara touched the back of my head.”

“In the city I knew once we captured the Mahid... oh... fik me... excuse my language, Shevengas.”

“It's all right, I first learned that sort of Arkan in the Mezem. Can you believe it? I have you chasing him all over and he ends up right here.” Fikken, Shennen, piss-ant stinking Selestialis dump its commodes upon my HEAD!

“By all reports he is intelligent for an Aan... he did also mis-direct his own Mahid to the north countries... when he was much younger...” Perisalas said, remembering the Mahid grave along the river.

“Oh, he's very intelligent. Read Minakas Akam and you'll see it. You mean when he split off from them, he sent them on a wild goose chase?” Chevenga had a quirky grin, as if he were proud of the miserable brat, for some reason.

“Yes, Shevengas. According to Joras Mahid, he insulted the first of the Mahid enough to enrage him too much to think straight... and left the note with a dead Mahid, in his bed.”

“Really! They killed one on the way out? I thought their numbers were being thinned by attrition. We're going to need to know how many they are now... are they still in two groups?”

“The last that Joras Mahid knew is that there was a single group and another, independent Mahid who may or may not be out searching... who is trained to feign an okas...”

“Joras, that's the one you just caught after the Ten Tens, right? And who turned?

“Oh, yes. He was reported by an anonymous Dyer and Serina Kyriala Liren, who recognized him...”

“I think I know who that anonymous Dyer might have been.”

“Hmmm.” OH, MY STEEL PENISED GOD. “You think... Aan?”

“Well, tell me this--did he or did he not have to be a person who recognized Joras Mahid?” Chevenga grinned slightly. “And you know Minis was in the city. Unless the Dyer was someone he sent.”

“Of course. And hair dye is cheap.” Matthas had one hand over his face... chagrin... he tended to use more hand motions having been in Brahvniki so long, before he held this job.

“The herb-head kid who reported was paid by this Dyer with bright blue hair and a single nose-ring... on faib skates...”

“Not a bad disguise, if you want to be in disguise but not look like you are, these days. I'd put money on that Dyer being Minis. Especially if he skated well. He taught me how.”

“Truly? Hmmm. No reports of how well he skated, Shevengas but yes. Thank you for all this information. My final report will certainly be more complete.” COMPLETE IN EVERY FIKKEN USELESS DETAIL.

Chevenga made the Yeoli brush-off sign. “I'm just guessing. You want the truth in detail, ask him. It's as I said, I don't think he minds you knowing now. It's all over; he's done with fleeing.”

Perisals felt the unnatural urge to beat upon his own head with the palms of his hands.  And just as naturally suppressed that urge along with the urgh to scream “Aigh aigh... forzak that fikker!”  Those unseemly reactions could just... sit there for a time.

“Shevengas... I was apparently much closer to apprehending this boy than I perceived.... had I had somewhat more budget or manpower I would have likely caught him much earlier than now!”

“Perisalas, it is as I said in answer to your requests, directly or indirectly; there were other things that were higher priority, such as rebuilding Arko. I understand your frustration; you're a conscientious one, who always wants to do his best, and you weren't given the resources to do quite that. But I have conscientious people in every other department as well.”

He bowed his head and said nothing for a time but at last, feeling the press of time, the words did burst out.  “Will you tell me the truth? You didn't want him caught all that badly, did you? Did you expect him to turn himself in? To do the right thing for Arko? He's an Aan!”

“One question at a time. Yes, I will tell you the absolute honest truth. No, I didn't want him caught all that badly; duty required it, but, by Arkan standards, duty would require me to do him harm if he was caught. I didn't expect him to turn himself in, else your budget would have been even tighter. I didn't know what he would do; he was just a kid, probably frightened, growing up now with Mahid influences... I didn't think I could predict it. You haven't asked me whether he and I were friends, but I think you want to know: yes, we were, and we still are. He has a good heart. He always did. I saw it when no one else, apparently, did. So it doesn't surprise me that he turned himself in. But I would have considered it just as likely that he'd try to disappear into a new life. I am not telling you everything... there are some things that are personal, between him and me, that informed these thoughts. But him doing the right thing for Arko doesn't surprise me at all.”

KAINA MARUGH MINIREN. A friend... he's public enemy number the first and your friend...

“Perisalas, speak freely, that's an order.” There was a snort of laughter from Matthas and Shefenkas scrawled a fast note while Perisalas wrestled with his sense of propriety. He handed the scrap of paper to Matthas who read it, palmed and nodded at the Imperator with a bit of a grin. It was the sense of time passage that finally overwhelmed Perisalas’s decency and decorum.

Kaina, fikken Marugh, Miniren... public enemy the first and your friend so I shouldn't fikken worry? I needn't get my clout in a kaina mothering knot about it?” The words finally overwhelmed his propriety.  He was breathing hard, through his nose. “Well. I can just...write it all out in my final report about this and then I shall do my best to forget about my failures! The next person I am to find... I shall.”

“We'll make sure it's no one that anyone above you doesn't want caught.” The Imperator and Matthas, his superior, exchanged a meaning full glance, a “that's-an-order” look at Matthas who rolled his eyes and nodded, sharply. “As far as whether he's an enemy of Arko, I've told you; you can speak to him. See what impression you get.”

“As you wish, Shevenkas. I shall be pleased to speak to him. He sounds like a respectible mind.”

“Very. You did not succeed but you did very good work and I won't forget that.” The Imperator stood up. “Thank you, and thank you Matthas also.” They went down in the prostration as he rose, before he could stop them.  “Gehit.  Go on.”

Pacing decorously down the Bridge, Matthas said thoughtfully.  “You know, I do the prostration in part just to bug him... you've got to love how he squirms every time.”

“Truly?” Perisalas paused for a long moment, they gave an encouraging nod to the supplicant going up to the Imperator on the other carpet.  “So do I, actually.”

Matthas let out a long laugh. “I wonder how many of us do? Hahahaha... You must be wondering what's in this note.”

“I was, but wondered if it was eyes only.”

Matthas handed it to him...and, scrawled in Chevenga’s super-fast Arkan, he read. “Mat – 1000 g. C. to P as appreciation, not treas. but Skorsas, show him this - 4Che.”

He stopped like he'd been punched in the gut, wheezing a little... “Wait, am I reading this correctly? A thousand? And G.C.?”

“Gold chains, Matthas said helpfully.

“A... a... oh. My... Aras bless. A... th...” He had to cough. “I... didn't expect that... I was just doing my job!”

“I think he feels bad for hindering you in it.”

“Well... well. That... ahem... sweetens any kind of bitterness I might have had! Oh. That... um...” He paused again. “It's too much for the minor frustration I suffered.”

“Well, notice he feels it's overgenerous to come out of the treasury.”

“He is giving it to me out of his personal fortune, yes.  He is a generous man and this is not something the Empire would thank me for.” For all that he suddenly wished to begin capering he clasped his hands behind his back, tilting his head thoughtfully toward Matthas as they emerged from the Glass Bridge.

“Has the honourable solas eaten?  The Sun-Chime Dining hall has an amazing late luncheon for the administration.”  Matthas took up his fessas persona immediately.

“Ah, I shall sit and have kaf with you, ser.  I  shall have to write an appropriate thank you letter.” To whom he did not say, in case of anyone overhearing.   “A very appropriate letter. I, ah, assume you would wish to come with me? I should like to speak to -- Minakas Akam -- immediately.”

“Oh, certainly, ser.  I shall be able to take notes for the ser.”  The implications of the Imperator’s gracious thank you were starting to become immediately real.  Perisalas, pacing gravely along, with his hands at the small of his back, allowed himself an internal jig.  From slave to wealthy solas in less than five years! I shall be able to press my suit immediately with Mapela’s father.  I shall be able to purchase an appropriate home for her.  I shall... think on this, very carefully.

1 comment:

  1. Poor poor Perisalas. He tried so hard, and in return he caught a bad case of bilingual profanity.

    I like the moderate fortune from Chevenga's own hands-very Cheng and a nice wrap-up too.

    "“Ah. As you say, Shevenkas... He is... ahem... Ilesias Koren, then?”

    “For now. If Kallijas wins, then he'll likely be Imperator when Ilesias reaches majority and can publicly relinquish the throne himself, which I think is the only way to head off the danger without bloodshed. "

    Huh? Ili as next Imperator?