Monday, October 18, 2010

361 - Like a Cloth to Wipe Away Bodily Functions

A while later, after they’d been in the Lesser Baths for a while, and Minis was swimming back and forth across the pool, Farasha and Gannara sat on one of the chaises watching him.  She glanced at me then turned to look at me seriously.  “Gan, is Minis going to be okay?  I feel like I should have known him better before all this happening in one day...”

“He’ll be fine.  He’s just beating up on himself again for not being good enough, probably.”

“I can honestly say I have never been so flattered, then.  As I said, I assumed that you were looking for two more members of your four because you are so close.  But I didn’t know his mind at all and I didn’t think we’d need to worry about it for a long time... but it seems that he finds me very tempting.  Am I imagining this?”

“No.  He likes girls more than boys.  He wasn’t kidding when he said he’s not your typical Arkan.  And he’s still desperately in love with Kyriala even if he thinks he’s lost her.  It all doesn’t need to happen now.  He’s... look... the fat guy and the Mahid messed him up sexually... like... you’ve been helping me... he... he’s going to go see a healer the Imperator recommended... it’s just that I’m glad the possibility is out in the open...”

“It’s all right, Nara… Gan…” she smiled as she used both short forms of his name.  “You’re healing up too.  Take a breath and take your time.” She reached out and stroked his arms, his hair.  He leaned into her cool touch.  Her hair, still wet, coiled down over her shoulders and he pushed a strand or two back from where they stuck.  “Gan...” she said softly.  “If he is not able to marry... if he is not capable of marrying you, and being your husband, will YOU be okay?”

He looked at her... then across at Minis still plowing through the cold pool... “Yeha.  You know... it’s too bad things got so... damaged... and he’d be the first to encourage me to start a family... he keeps saying shen like ‘I’d make a good uncle.’  Um... yeha.  Sadder maybe but...”

Fara laughed just as softly.  “I’ll think about making you a daddy... some day.”  She leaned in to kiss him. “Oh... yeha... Fara... I’ll look forward to when you decide to ask me... or not...  You’d um... “ he looked down at his erection.  “You want to practice a little?  There’s those nice quiet rooms where we’re staying...”

“That sounds perfect.” She laid her hand on him and he stopped, shuddering, his eyes closed. 

“W…wait…” he managed, and she took her hand away, grinning.  “Min!” Gan called across to Minis.  He had to call twice more before Minis stopped and tread water, listening.


“Um... loincloth on the door, right?”

Minis looked at the two of them and Fara thought that he’d be red if he weren’t cooled down by the water.  He smiled a little.  “Oh... sure.  You two have fun...”

“We will!” Gan seized Fara’s hand.


It was a nice enough little house.  I had to smile because it was just up the street from the house I’d bought for Ailadas.  I sat, on the edge of the chair, with my hands knotted in my lap, refusing to relax into the soft seat.

A white-painted staircase near the front door led up to the second floor, the plank floors were simple and there were no thick rugs.  A Haian grass floor cloth lay on the floor in front of the heater, flanked by a couch and two soft chairs.

A huge window full of plants was behind the chairs, showing the street, shutters open.  There was a little bird-cage hung from the wall next to me, with a miniscule bright blue bird in it, twittering and cheeping and singing.  My heart thundered in my chest, even after the workout I’d had this morning with Kallijas

At least I was still singing with it... and wanting to dance all over the room because a man like Kallijas was willing to be a Regent for me... teach me... and Chevenga-- father of my spirit -- was backing me.

And then Gannara and Farasha spring the idea on me that they would be willing to marry me. My brother in spirit and Farasha... wild woman that she is... the idea is terrifying and thrilling and horrific and enticing all at the same time.

The inner door clicked and a shakey looking older fessas came out with a Yeoli man carefully holding his elbow.  “You need to get more sleep, my friend...” the Yeoli was saying, equal to equal.  “... We are getting there.  I’ll see you next month then, shall I?”  The man sank at the knees and Surya, without any apparent effort, scooped him up into his arms.  “It’s all right.”

“Oh. Yes, Surya.  Next month.”  The man said, muffled into the side of Surya’s neck.  What am I getting myself into here?

“Why don’t I call a pair of chair-bearers for you?  Get you home safe.”


The Yeoli... he had a blunt, honest face, with a mass of red-brown ringlets that reminded me vaguely of Manas the Wolf... nodded at me as he carried his patient to the door.  The chair-carriers seemed to be waiting, perhaps they knew.  Did he always knock his patient’s over like that?  My heart leaped straight up and grabbed me by the neck.  Oh, Muunas.

The murmur of voices in the front hall was quiet and I could just see the bearers scoop up their burden and trot down the street, heading for Durakis Street.  The outer door clicked and then he came in and closed the inner door.  He nodded at the glasses of water he had set up for anyone to take.  I had put one in front of me but not done more than wet my lips with it.  “Min?  If I may be so bold... you need some water.  Please, help yourself.”

“Yes,” I husked.  “I’m Min.  Umm.”  He was right.  My mouth and throat were dry as dust.

“I’ll be right back.  Give me a moment to tidy up.”

And he didn’t think I’d just run straight out the door when his back was turned?  I just sat and drank the entire glass of water.  I didn’t want the last third but made myself drink it. “Come in.  Come in.  Chevenga mentioned you had some Haian healing.”

I realized it reminded me of Zinchaer’s room.  Surya used Haian incense. Even the fear I felt was familiar.  “Yes.  Only a short time, though.  I had to leave.”  I wanted to just stand and cling to the doorframe rather than go into his healing room.

It had been the sacred room of the house, with the sun-slit shining through a piece of bright, multi patterned cloth tacked over it, making the brutal afternoon sun a tolerable thing.  The walls were covered in bumpy sea sponges and his table was a low, mid-calf height wide mattress.  A pair of soft chairs sat to one side. Surya sat in one of the chairs.

I shut the door behind myself and went over to the other chair.  Time to take a deep breath.  “My name is Minis Aan, Surya.”

He gestured for me to sit down.  “Oldest son of the old Imperator?”

I sank down into the chair but couldn’t let myself relax.  I nodded and signed chalk.  “Yes.”

“And obviously Chevenga knows.  He told me you would be coming to see me.” I nodded again.  The table behind me was as obvious to me as if it were on fire even though I didn’t turn my head to look at it. “He told me nothing of why you have come to me, though.  Perhaps you'd first like to ask me questions?”

That was so like Zinchaer I was able to relax a little.  “Chevenga told me I needed to speak to you about something that happened between us, years ago.  I'm... not so sure anyone can... do anything about that.”

“He told you you needed healing... do you not think so yourself?

“I thought I had... I don't know.  I thought it was all right the way it is... I could deal with it

“If you think you can deal with it, which is to say, live despite whatever it costs you, I'm sure you can.

“It needs to be better than living with the cost... I'm... I'm... f--frightened of facing it, to be honest.”

He poured tea for both of us. Another Haian thing... it was the same kind of tea they used in the University.  “You don't have to, if you don't want to.  It's just a question of whether you want to consider living with the cost. If you are fighting with something inside yourself all the time, it saps your energy, and takes away from the joy of life.”

“Ah.  That explains some things I didn't understand about myself.”

“How so?”  He was very soothing to be with, very comfortable.  “Tell me about it.”

“I though it was just how I... how I am.  A tendency to look on myself in a tired way I supposed.  A leaning towards thinking of myself as dark. As my father's son by nature and having to fight it.”

“So what you think you are fighting is the darkness in yourself.”  I waved my hand, brushing it off, such a tight gesture after watching all the Yeolis wild waves.


“It may be, it may not be.  I can tell you in a moment, if you give me permission.”  Oh. This was his gift... the seeing auras thing.  I flinched my eyes shut for a moment, fighting the bolt of fear the idea of someone else truly seeing into me all the way gave me, opened them up and looked at him straight.

“I give you permission.”

His gaze went unfocused in a way I was only used to seeing in a warrior about to spar, not a healer about to heal.  I was as if I became only a small part of a bigger me and he was looking at all of me, spread much further around my skin than I had known.  He can tell you things you didn’t know about yourself, Chevenga had said.  ‘He did that to me, I can’t tell you how different it was.  It can be the exact opposite of what you think.’ I tried not to tense up any more than I already was.

“You think you are fighting a wish to do evil in yourself.  You are actually fighting...” I held my breath.  “...the belief that you will. You are full of fear... that you will spread darkness through the world.”  I nodded but he wasn’t finished.  “You would not have that fear if you were truly inclined to do so.”  He looked around the area over and in front of my heart.  “You are afraid it is you won't be able to help it.”

The accuracy of it took my breath away.  I had to breathe and gulped in a lungful of air.  “I do see darkness... you did do things that you regret,” he said.  “The important thing there is that you have come to regret them.”

I managed to whisper a ‘yes’ out of a constricted throat.  “I'm afraid of not being able to help it.”

“I want you to tell me about your father... specifically about what it is about him that you are afraid you have inherited.”

I had to look away and ended up staring, fascinated with a loose bit of stitching on my left glove in my lap.  This felt as though I had just stepped into the next session with Zinchaer so much... I found myself reacting many of the same ways.  The room was safe after all, and it had been a sacred room before that.  A good place.  “My father...I'm full of hatred for him and I try not to be, after all, he is my father.  He... he never cared about me or anyone else...he...He was an empty man and tried to use other's pain to fill himself... to make himself real I think, and never knew it, never saw what he did.”

“You think he did not know he caused pain?”

He knew.  He enjoyed it.  He was very aware of how to hurt, but I don't think he ever bothered to think why he did.”

“You think he did not see the pain of others as being truly pain?”  That was it exactly.  I blinked a bit.

“You know, I think that might have been it.  Other people were never real to him.”  I thought of him sitting on the chair at the other end of the Hall of Light with the whole world dancing and sliding and spinning in front of him... or in the Orrery chair, with the orbs of all the planets whirling around him.  How could anyone have told him he was merely human?

“How do you mean, were never real to him?” Surya asked.

“... as if only his emotion was real... as if everyone else was just... toys, playthings?” I could feel sweat breaking out all over my body for some reason and my hands were shaking.

“Minis... take a very deep breath... right down to your guts, and slow.”  I did.

“Oh, yes, I remember.  Zinchaer used to tell me that.  He was my healer on Haiu Menshir.”

He got the odd look again.  “Ah, yes.  He must be one of the many Haians I see in your life.”

I felt as though there wasn’t enough air in the room though and tried again.  “Deeper, Minis.  You had war-training, yes?  Breathe like that.” My shaking lessened a trifle.


“Yes.  If I keep... doing this... I won't be able... to keep it all in... I'll disgrace myself... Sorry.”  Tears.  More fikken, Kaina marugh meniren tears.  I was full of shame that my father was so disgraceful, so ugly, so... small.  Shame for having been his son.

“Whatever you show you are feeling to me, Minis, stays within the walls of this room. That is the ethics of my profession. And I do not judge.”  He leaned forward and patted my shoulder, but only as much... as little as I could bear.  Where had a Yeoli learned to a feather’s weight how much touch an Arkan could bear?  “I can see it anyway. The secret of healing from these things is, in part, expressing emotion.”

I nodded.  My eyes were brim full but I dared not blink or they would spill over.  Of course since they were full of water anyway I didn’t need to blink yet anyway.

“In other words, if you cry... it's good for you. Chevenga is doing as well as he is because he's in tears at least once pretty much every session.  And yes, I have his permission to tell you case you were thinking that should not go beyond the walls when I am with him.”

“I know what people think of him. I know what people thought of me.”  I had to blink and the tears overspilled the dam of my eyelids.  “I've  taken that on.  Resol...resolved to prove them all wrong...  thank you for telling me that about Chevenga.”

“Here's what you need to understand: emotion is not reality.  It is only emotion.  I see it all the time.  People feel it all the time, whether they show it or not.  It only becomes huge when it is kept inside.”

“All right.  Emotion... I'm not good at it.  Kurkas was only the father of my body, not my spirit.  BUT I DON’T KNOW THAT.”

He ignored my shout as much as he’d not reacted to my tears, speaking directly to me, not to the emotion at all. “Spirits are not related by blood to each other, because blood is a material thing.”

“I've had enough Mahid training to suppress most things.”  I sat back, scrubbing my face with my gloves.  He offered me a kerchief.

“Not good at emotion?” He said.  It's something to measure against that of others?”  I could hear echoes of the way he spoke in things Chevenga had said to me before.  I had seized control of myself once more.

“No... I just...”  I shook my head.  It wasn’t important.

“So, to go back to something you said earlier, how do you mean, other people were not real to him?  Your father.”

I felt the rage roaring up in my chest as if it would burst out of my mouth like dragonfire or vitriol, or lightning snake venom.  “What more is there to say than that?” I managed, tightly.  “He used people like... like a cloth to wipe away bodily functions!”

“Give me some examples.”

I stared at him.  He wanted examples?  Something else Chevenga had told me about Surya.  ‘He’ll make you squirm, but only for good reason.’

“He appointed generals by how good a suck they were... he used men's death-throes to give himself sexual pleasure and release.  The more he could destroy someone before they died the better his climax...”  I was sick to my guts, wrapping my arms around myself as if to hold in my viscera that felt like it would burst out of my abdominal skin with the rot I’d swallowed so long.

“Deep breath, Minis.  Remember he is not here and never can be,” Surya said gently.  “He can be in your imagination; but you can banish that with a thought.”

I felt grim and cold all the way through.  “More than just my imagination... since I'm his blood, on some level he is here as long as I'm alive.”
My thanks to Karen for playing Surya in this and the next post!


  1. GreenGlass said...
    October 17, 2010 11:09 PM

    Vryka said...
    Thank you!
    October 18, 2010 12:12 AM

    Anonymous said...
    Hi! When i read this chapter it struck me that in Eclipse Court, things are really happening one at a time. You don't really expect any surprises. It is a nice and leisurely storytelling but would it not be nice if the story suddenly took off in a new direction? If one of those wise and well meaning friends turned out to be a bstrd, if Minis did something unforgiveable stupid or even unkind. The things that tend to happen on this planet...
    Just a thought.
    October 18, 2010 4:51 PM

    Vryka said...
    That's an interesting thought.
    October 18, 2010 6:06 PM
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  2. Stop that, you Anodized Mouse you! You'll give her . . . ideas.

  3. Ohhh, I have velly intelesting ideas...