Thursday, October 21, 2010

365 - With Armoured Heart and Killing Needle

 Author's Warning!  Graphic Grotesquerie and soul violence!

I am dreaming.  I am remembering.  My Mother and my Senior, made me strip down to bare skin and examined me carefully.  No flaws would be allowed in the Imperator’s presence.  Not a rash, not a spot, not so much as an in-grown hair.  Mother wielded the razor, mercifully, efficiently, -- one would not want a blade burn or mark either -- with copious soap, to make me smooth and perfect as a marble statue from the neck down.
The Imperator picked me, out of the parade of possibles. I had been presented ever since my second Threshold two years ago and my Senior was considering I might be too old for His Gracious Presence.  I still looked younger, my breasts barely budded and small.  I was allowed to train hard to make my shape more boyish.
We were presented in the Hall of Light with its enormous, heavy, spinning panels that slid in their tracks across the floor, flickering and scattering light from every representation of water on their surfaces, every mirror chip lake or blinding sea.  The maps and scenes all around me I would have loved to see if I’d not been concentrating hard not to be hit by the moving walls as we danced before the Imperator. I’d never been allowed in here before.
The dress... when He chose me... a webwork of gold chains, thick enough to be called a dress, that gaped open here and there as I moved.  I and 15th Trina had been dancing before Him our hands scandalously touching as we circled around each other and around the Hall, the screens whirling perilously close as we moved.  One even grazed my heel... 22nd Matthas, had misjudged the speed of the moving panels and been hit.  He’d been carried out, gracefully, calmly, as if it were part of our parade, holding his lips closed against the mouthful of blood.  Though the Imperator might have liked it, had he showed that he bled. 

Rest he in Selestialis.
Gold is pain.  Pain that radiates like sharp spikes all the way down to my heels. The look on His face as He takes up the wedding knife is very Mahid. I bleed enough to thrill Him, not enough to die.  I have a pad of bloodstop hidden under my hair, at the nape of my neck.  Mother gave it to me just as I went into the Imperial Chamber. She is Mahid but I should preserve my life if I can.  Unless the Imperator wants it. We are stripped before the Imperial Chamber, washed four times, anointed with oil and prayed over by the Fenjitzas, who examines all of us minutely before he allows us into the Imperial Presence. He dares to be stirred in his passion, doing his duty. He is close enough to my skin that I can smell his excitement.
I am one of three that night and the Imperial body writhes in Its harness as we service It.  It is easier to be dispassionate about this a Holy service if one does not think of it as anything but an exercise in passion.  Three satellites moving around our Sun, suspended over the bed. 20th Boras is at His head, 5th Haras is in the straps under Him him, his body pressed tight to let the Imperial back feel him writhe, tongue working between the exalted buttocks. My toes are in the foot straps and I am impaled upon our Sun, rivulets of my blood trickling thin down his hips and flanks, curling round over his wobbling bulk. He reaches down and dabbles His fingers in it as I move up and down, smoothly as I can.  I am on fire. He smears my blood upon His lips and 20th Boras kisses the Imperial nipples and that thrusts Him into ecstasy bucking up against me and down against Haras.
He orders me off Him then and I am able to retreat to clean myself, use the bloodstop before returning, the pad thrust neatly into myself to not be visible. I am on fire and the pain is enough to make my breathing fast and shallow. I force myself to move smoothly, to breathe deep enough to not faint. That would be ungraceful, disrespectful to the Son of the Sun.
His Gracious Plenty is prodigious in his appetites, and all three of us are worn out before we are allowed to lower the pale, snoring, farting body to the bed and unharness it, our hands slick with the sweat old and new, of the Son of the Divine. We had licked him clean and He graciously allowed us to re-anoint him with his favourite scent. The taste and smell of Divine excrement and the oil of flowers of sun upon my tongue and lips had me setting my teeth to keep from showing anything but pleasure, joy and honour.
All the passionate emotions are easy to show, they are so close to pain. I am honoured beyond honour to serve in the Divine bed, transforming the daily-changed pristine gold sheets into a sodden, stinking morass every night for three eight-days. Although the Divine Son of the Sun did not use us directly every night, some nights He wished to see us... His chosen... doing what He wished, for Him to watch.
Twice, on the rolling, heaving, wallowing bed... the uncanny bed that moved so much like the Imperator Himself... He summoned my father to administer things to me... and watch the effect.  Once it is a drug that makes me mad with desire, overwhelming all my training and control.  Once it is Women’s Obedience.

It is unusual for Him to keep me so long.  The Son of the Ten usually chooses boys and prefers to spend his seed in them, rather than in the bloody passage of a female.
The Divine Son has a box of precious glass toys that he uses upon me when he is satiated and unable to rise.  He raises each image of a man’s organ and gazes through its clear, clean glass before he places it inside my body.  Some were normal size and shape.  Some were of animals’ organs. Some were shaped like hands, and fists. Sometimes one. Sometimes two. Sometimes I am required to accept three at one time.  All are perfectly clear glass. All are hard.  All are cold.
After He choses a new set of concubines, I am carefully sequestered.  My father stitches my injuries, using his most perfect hand so that I not be scarred and I am wrapped in silk and sent into bed, should I be Divinely blessed.
That blessing made the agony, the disgust, bearable. I am almost awake. Why am I dreaming of this? Why am I remembering this?  I remember I felt no different at first; not for more than two moons after I conceived. Then I begin to feel the Blessing.  I remember the feeling of being filled with life.
I remember my body changing, growing with a possible Divine Child.  I am kept as carefully as a glass statue. I dream of Selinae holding me, rocking me in Her hair. I am the Vessel, the Cup. I am given only blue around me to see, only male servants, only male animals around me, given food that is considered ‘male’.  Even though it is mere superstition and the thing decided by the seed of the Divine Sun, it is still our tradition.  The only female thing allowed around me while I nurture the Spark is my mother.  My father monitors my progress, how well I do and even allows me into an outside garden for gentle exercise. I am carrying a possible Coronet Regal.  The Spark of the Sun's Ray, 17th Kurkas, was 8th Anina Mahid's child, but I might have the second son.
The morning nausea becomes a familiar friend.
In the dark of the night, in the moonlight, my limbs are desperate, aching to move, waking me.  So, in my bedroom, I dance and sing to the Spark, the little butterfly growing in me. It tickles me inside and if it is female I imagine a butterfly with black wings... another Mahid.  Or if it is a boy... a butterfly with gold wings.
It is madness.  The madness of pregnancy I tell myself.  I am incorrect to do such things.  If it were male and chosen, I would not be allowed to touch him again, an eight-day after his birth... He could be accepted by the Imperator as His son. I was a ferment of life, bubbling up and full of strange emotions, strange sensations.  No wonder the breeding are hidden away.  They are improper in all ways.
I weep, incorrectly, in the dark, thinking this baby will be my son for only one eight-day.  I cradle my belly and hum and sing to him.  I... realize this incorrectness must be what love is.  I recite every poem I had ever heard to him, dreaming in my belly. I dream that it is a girl and just another black butterfly. I wake and say ‘That is just my fear,” out loud.
I learn that the Goddess is still there even when her eye is closed, the Dark Lady, the one who cares for all Darknesses... all Mahid... all blood and pain and fear. Lady Shadows who binds up and cares for  hearts safe inside the darkness of a human chest.  These thoughts are all breeding insanities.
The birth is three days.  I begin labour before Jitzmitthra and since the Midwife does not think he will be born before the days that do not exist, I take to my bed and hope he will be born on the most prestigious of days afterwards...Muunas the First.  

I try and stop or slow my birth-working enough but my body disobeys me. The Masker cuts me open wide so the baby may be born without smashing his way through my scars.  It takes all my strength not to weep when he is pulled free of my treacherous body on Diem Wards Back. Feet first. Mikas must laugh.
The baby is barely free of my body when the Divine Son throws the doors open and comes to view him.  “Yes."He says, his voice booming in the birthing room, loud, echoing.  "“I recognize this child as mine!  Rejoice, All Arko! The Sun has thrown off a new Spark! His name shall be Minis Kurkas Joras Amitzas Aan!  He is Coronet Regal before all Arko!”  As proper He anoints the baby with a drop of his seed, drawn from a glass plate, over his forehead, to cleanse Him of me.  The Divine Sun draws His fingers back and suckles them clean of my blood and his own semen. 

Minis screams himself pink and the Midwife lays him to my aching breasts and he takes my nipple as eagerly as if he knows me, as if hungry for life and as he does, my womb clenches.  The Spark of the Sun's Ray stands behind his Divine Father, his face sullen, his eyes angry.
I have an insane urge, to attack the Divine Sun, to rend his features with my hands, my nails.  This is incorrect. I choke it back. My son... His son... is safe.
I nurse him for the required eight days.  I am not to look him in the eyes while I do, either looking at statues and art works, or keep them closed, but again, deep in the night when he wakes and nurses, I am able to lie upon my side and we secretly stare into each other’s eyes in the dim light of the Nursery.  I know my son through his eyes.
The Divine Sun takes him and gives him to his first wet nurse and decides that He, Himself, will Honour me once more by accepting my milk into His Gracious, wet, large, mouth.  I am required to be naked and serve His Divinity at His call, for the summer.  I may, in the secrecy of my dark heart, as I look over the Divine Head, at the wet-nurse feeding the Cornet Regal, pretend that it is his little lips upon my breast.  It eases the ache under my breastbone, that should not be there.
And then 2nd Amitzas pleases the Most High, and He graciously gives me, to him, to wife and I am not allowed to even imagine that I had carried the Coronet.  Minis must be as though a stranger to me. But I watch him, in silence, in solitude, in duty his whole life, leaving him untainted with my femaleness, with my incorrectness. With an armoured heart, I watch you, my son. With an armoured heart and a killing needle in one glove.
Inensa opened her eyes to the dark of the night, to the even, smooth breathing of her husband lying next to her.  Am I awake all the way?  Yes.
She slid her feet out of the bedroll and gathered her sleeping braid up and coiled it around her wrist so it not drag.  2nd Amitzas’s eyes snapped open though no other part of him moved, and she whispered, “garderobe”. His eyes closed again.
The camp outside Jintila, was on the edge of the lake around the shoreline, hidden from the air and from the town. A cool wind blew off the water and Inensa looked at the cliff across the water that was so much like the walls of the city.  I am thinking... remembering these things because Minis will be joining us again.
I... believe this is an incorrect action, Spark. You are away.  You are free.  You should not come back into this black trap, this nest of agony and the remnant rot of the failed Divine Son of the Sun. A distantly remembered nausea shook her and she stepped over to the concealed slit-trench.
She wiped her mouth and walked out to the shore enough to put her bare feet in the cold water as if to clear her thinking.  She pulled up her belt in her cold fingers and looked at the march of white glass beads upon the end.  

A woman always had a belt of white and red beads, worn under her clothing.  It was one of her second threshold gifts.  Every day without blood she would move a white bead from one end, to the other.  When she bled she pulled a red bead forward instead until the blood was finished for that moon.  Then she re-set her belt for the next moon.
Her fingers counted off white beads.  Twenty-eight, twenty-nine, thirty... thirty-five... forty-five... fifty-nine...  “I have been most incorrect,” she said to herself.  “No wonder I am remembering my last pregnancy.”


  1. Auughh! I love and at the same time deeply horrified by the pieces of Inensa. Arkans are so so SO very fikked in the head, especially kurkas. Gah- the knife... and blood everywhere for over three weeks of sexual torture and aughh the glass things (ohhh I shouldn't talk about how I'd like to see broken glass shoved up him... grumble grumble) and the birth scene... imagining all the scars and cutting and scars and gah!
    She's a lot stronger or more patient or something than me, I'd've Killed some people long before this.

  2. Well... a body may be enslaved, and a spirit may be taught to enslave itself, but ineffable freedom is still available to human beings, even out of the depths of hell.

  3. We went at a WordSwap last night -- that's a gathering of writers from around the Huntsville, Ontario area, over dinner -- after Shirley wrote this scene, and after suitable warnings that we should wait until people had finished eating before letting her read it, she did, to some great reactions.

    In this group, Shirley and I are sort of like strangers in a strange land. There is not a single other person who writes sff, so when we talk about, say, world-building, they kind of give us blank looks. (They mostly do poetry, young adult and contemporary, although there's one who does gay male BDSM, but she never reads it to the group.) And yet they like our writing a lot and are intrigued about the scope of the project as well as our methods, from role-playing to Internet posting. I can't speak for Shirley but I always come away feeling encouraged.

    Anyway, I'm really glad you put this scene in here, Shirley, because it's actually psychologically crucial for Minis, it's beautifully written, by which in part I mean it's written to highlight the searing beauties in Inensa's life as well as the horrors, and besides it sets it up nicely for when she gets OWWWW! [Spoiler Forestaller v. 234.789 - mode "Keyboard Cattleprod™"] Ooooh, my fingers!