Saturday, November 6, 2010

376 - Four Beads

“Ilesias, your teacher and classmates will be coming soon and you still have to have your breakfast.” It was early, but Ili was up, ready to keep hunting for his pet.
“But Gan, Jia’s still missing!”
A knock at the suite door.  “Who is it?”  I went to answer it.  One of the Marble Palace servants stood outside, with Jia wound around his gloves and pulling on the silver barring on the man’s belt. He looked vaguely familiar to me but then I was just pretending I’d never seen any of them and so far no one had connected me with the little Chevenga given to Minis.  It was years ago and I’d been a little boy.
“JIAAAAAAAA!” The little cephalopod dropped off the servant and slithered over to meet Ili’s joyful scoop.
“Ser, good morning,” the servant said quietly just as if Ili were not dancing around with the domoctopus, squealing as if his pet had been lost for weeks instead of overnight, behind me.  “These ones’ found him wandering in the Imperial section yesterday afternoon and upon inquiry amongst ourselves believed he belonged to this suite, ser.  These ones’ apologies for having taken so long, ser.”
“No, no that’s fine.  I’m Gannara and you are???”  I was speaking to him equal to equal just like Ch’venga.
“Antras, ser.  Imperial section of the Palace.”
“Please come in.  Can you tell us…”  I winced at a particularly piercing noise from Ili.  He was old enough that he didn’t do that much any more but sometimes…  “Excuse me, ser… ILI!”
He stopped and looked at me.  “You have time to take Jia to breakfast with you and then go to your next tour with your class.  You may take Jia… with permission… to the baths later.”
“Yes, Uncle Gan.”  Just like that he calmed and darted into his room to seize his pen and tablet and out the main door down to the dining room.  He was responsible enough that I could trust him to go down to the Steel Gate to meet Gian and the other children coming in.
“You were saying, Ser Antras?”
“These ones’ found the little pet in with a kaf party… The serinas, near the Aviary noticed him.  A sleeve dogling found him and the Fenjitza… being of wide experience, knew what he was and called these ones’… the servants... to find his owner. He was never in any danger and to be sure, ser, he was very entertaining below stairs.”
“Oh thank goodness.”  I sat down at the table.  “Ilesias was distraught when we found the door opened.  Jiaklem’s tentacles are very strong for his size.”
“He’s an engaging little creature.  Ser, might this one inquire? The young ser?  He is the grandson of the once Imperial tutor, Ser Professor Ailadas Koren?”
“Ah, thank you ser.  The former Spark’s servants remember the honoured tutor with some fondness. Would the gracious ser pass on these ones greetings to the Professor?”
“Oh, certainly!”
He had never sat down, and now nodded.  “These ones thank you, ser.  Good morning.”
“Thank you again, Antras!”
Outside the suite door, Antras straightened his cuffs and then his belt where the domoctopus had disarrayed it.  He recalled Ilforas’s words from the night before.  “He’s in the suite with that journalist… Minakas Akam!  I swear. So I understand how someone so young gets his stuff published!  His teacher is the old Spark’s tutor, Ailadas Koren!  All in each other’s pockets I tell you!”
“Of course,” Forfafas had chimed in, in the break room, holding a piece of fish from the kitchen for the domoctopus to snatch.  “That might be, but they do understand that guests should tip.  They're fairly tidy, too.  Not terribly demanding like that Copper Mountain Ambassador fellow.”
Minakas Akam. Spark… you wouldn’t… would you?  Of course you would, boy.  Divine boy, but boy still.  

He checked to see that Horomas was attending on the Spark of the Sun’s Ray, Itanevanas Shefenkas. Then went down to the Gold kitchen break room, where he had a reasonable chance of catching some other people who needed to know what he’d found out.
He poured himself a cup of kaf and settled into the over-stuffed chaise.  It had seen better days but was not much changed from before the sack.  The dish-boys clattered in from their shift and out again, after they had changed their sodden gloves.  “Erel!  How are you?”  Antras called as his friend came in, right on the fall of the bead.
“Fine!  How’s Dur?”
“Heh.  Fantastic and getting better every day!”
“Oh, you beast!”
“Erel.  Have a cup before you go on shift.”
His friend looked at him, one eyebrow going up… then both.  He poured himself a cup of kaf and settled down next to his friend. “You obviously have news for me, Ahn… quit being a sex-boy tease and tell me!”
Antras set his empty cup down and waited for the cleaning crew and a single upper servant to leave the break room before he turned to Erelas.
“Sparky’s back in the Marble Palace.  So’s the Ember.  And He Whose… etc. knows.”
Erelas nearly dropped his cup but managed to put it down on the battered kaf table. His eyes were white all around.  “You… you’re joking, surely.”
“Mikas’s flying white ass’s left testicle….” Erelas’s voice was hushed as he swore. “Tell me this is a joke… please?”
Erelas got up to pour himself another cup, another group of servants came in, a half hand of interior gardeners, four cleaners and a full dozen kitchen staff.  “Later… I’ll explain, Erel,” Antras said quietly.
“You’d better, my friend.  Shall I have dinner with you and Dur?”
“That would be a good idea.  Day after tomorrow?  We’re all off shift then.”
“Good.  Yes.”
“See you then.”
I was wondering why I hadn’t come up with a lock on the little devil’s tank, next day when I was in the Sulsirias corridor.  A sudden flood of people… warriors, half clad, solas in armour and half armour, servants… Shouting.
I flattened myself between two statues and the crowd passed me. They were carrying…. Chevenga, flat in their midst. He had a sword through him.
He has a kevyalin sword in his chest! An Arkan fikken straight sword in his chest… there’s blood all over him and all over them and a trail of blood half a wide as the corridor… how can someone have so much outside his body and still be living... he's lying on his side... I can see the bloody point... it's all the way through him... shen shen kevyalin shen...
The Haian accent was clear, cutting under the calls to clear the corridor. “Hold his head, keep it still, run ahead and tell my apprentice to prepare the surgery... Get Morchaer or Sinsaen...”  It was his healer, Kaninjer.  He said several more Haian names, “any three of them, from their rooms, Imperial emergency…” 

How can someone lose so much blood and still be alive? I had a glimpse of his face… so similar to mine… white as paper, white as chalk, white as the marble behind him, surrounded by dozens of people yelling at him, calling to him, extorting him, his eyes closed, focused on the mess through him… some kind of Haian thing of wheels and clamps to keep the sword steady so it not move.
Why keep something steady inside someone’s chest why not get it out get it out get it out???
The blood was getting all smeared around and stepped in… “Aigh! What happened?  What happened?”  Nobody paid me attention... Chevenga...  I couldn’t see oh kyash.
A brown Haian hand adjusted a glass pure-air mask over his face… he cannot be dead or they wouldn’t do that…
After they passed I followed after as close as I could. They carried him behind the Imperial clinic doors and closed them in everybody’s face.  Behind me I could feel that everyone and his family was filling the corridor behind me.  I didn’t move. Shen Shen Shen.  A lot of them were journalists and they were trying to find out what happened.  “Accident training on the MP roof” was the rumour going around.  

Others, behind me were saying “Him?  Have a training accident?”  “Not possible.  Not at the level of training he’s at.” “Impossible.”  

I didn’t let myself get pushed back. I was near the wall, near the door.  I heard it all.  It has to have been an assassination attempt.  Minis please get your ass back here safe… Everything is going to Hayel in a push-cart…
The door opened and this Yeoli woman stepped out.  Everyone locked eyes on her and she held her hands up until everyone was staring at her.  

“I have spoken to several people who witnessed it,” she said.  “The semanakraseye-Imperator was training with the Arkan and Yeoli elite on the Marble Palace roof, and he had an accident... he was sparring... I don’t want to say with whom yet, but that person is in the process of being truth-drugged by Krero Saranyera... as far as anyone could tell, there was no intention to hurt Chevenga on the part of that person... they are friends... but it has to be done just to be certain, you understand--”

“How badly was he hurt?”  “Is his life in danger?”  “Where is he?”  She held up her hands again, didn’t say a word until everyone shut up.

“He is hurt badly enough that he had to be rushed into the surgery.  His life is less in danger now than it was before he was brought to Kaninjer’s care.”  She was the picture of calm. A little pale but very professional. “He’s in here, in the surgery--” There was a babble of questions overwhelming anything she might say and she out-waited them. “One at a time please!”  She called on someone, I didn’t recognize who.

“In what part of the body was he wounded?”

“In the chest.”

“In the lung?”


“How fast did he go down?”

“I don’t know...  though I know he stayed up long enough to put his arms around... the person whose sword it was, and order everyone else not to harm him because it wasn’t his fault.”

“Is he still alive?”

“He is in surgery so until we hear otherwise it is safe to assume so.”

“Who’s working on him?”

“Kaninjer of Berit and two other Haians, I’d have to get their names for you.”

“What are his odds of surviving?”

“I can’t say, the healers haven’t said, as they’re too busy working on him.”

“It seems odd, he’s never had an accident in training like this, has he?”

“I don’t believe so but I am not sure, I don’t know the whole history of his war-training.”

“What sort of move was it?”

“I don’t know.  I didn’t witness it myself.”

“How deep into him did the blade... was it a sword?”


“How deep into him did it go?”

“He was transfixed.”  The silence in the corridor could strike one to stone, it seemed.

“Em... his family, Niku and so on, have they been informed?”

“I would assume someone is doing that.”

“Can you go in and find out how he’s doing and come out and tell us?”

“Not yet.  I’ve been told to wait for four beads, that it’ll take them at least that long for the surgery he needs.  In that time it is best for him that the Haians not be disturbed while they work.”


  1. AAIII is about all I can get out about Chevenga - aiii!

    Antras can see into the present. I am so glad that he made it through the sack.

  2. Heh. Many of the Marble Palace servants did. And below stairs sees a lot of things.