Wednesday, November 10, 2010

380 - My Little Professional GOD!

My head hurts. I open my eyes to some kind of tent.  My mouth is fikken dry as if I’d been blowing glass clumsy as an apprentice.  I blink and my eyes are full of crud, the corners of my eyes and the corners of my lips crusty.  What happened?
How did I get here?  I should… be looking for work in the city.  I.. remember that. I turn my head to one side and see an amazingly beautiful woman sitting next to me. She’s… dressed as a Mahid… But… I know her.  She’s my wife.  “El…” I struggle to say her name.  Why is she dressed as a Mahid?

“Husband?”  She leans forward and holds a cup to my lips and I drink. She turns to the opening of this tent… this little, odd, colourful tent… and calls for a Haian by the name of Akminchaer.  Have I been hit upon the head?  Was there an accident?  I’m sore but I sit up, my hand to my head.

She turns her head and calls.  Haian? Raid Commander? He's waking up.  He's awake.

“Elsha. Wife.  Why’re yah dressed ‘s Mahid?  ‘m I seein’ things? Is it Jitzmi’thra? What’s goin’ on?”  She turns back to look at me, one perfect eyebrow rising.  I don’t remember how I met or merited such a wife.  But I am married to her.  I remember that. I blush remembering that.
“Joras. Husband.” She turns to the door and the Haian comes in.  I smile at him and he is startled. Right behind him is my commander... I recognize him.  But how can a fessas have a commander? That makes no sense.

Kaneka... yer m' commander... but I'm fessas.  It makes no sense, Kaneka!

He's at the door... it's too low for him to stand in the tent doorway and somewhere in me I realize it's a small tent meant to be used while flying.  Where do I know that from?

Joras.  It's all right.  We were all worried about you.

Was there an accident?  Haian, thenk yeh fer bein’ here!  I shake my head.  "This 's madness.  I’m sah glad tah see yah!  Everythin’s off… strange… M’wife’s dressed lak thet.  M’ head hurts. But ah know C'mander Kankeka. Whut happen’d?”

“Shhh.  Let me examine you, plis.”  My hands are bare but that is all right… glassmen sometimes must work with gloves off or risk setting their hands on fire. But not in front of Commander Kaneka and with a Haian… or my wife… I tuck my naked hands into my armpits.  I slow my breathing down in a way I don’t understand.  But I can make myself calm down really easily.

Kaneka stays, watching, arms crossed.  From outside I hear someone ask. "Did I hear that right?  Joras is awake?" and someone else say "Kahara bless, that's a relief." and "Thank the Ten."  People worried I wouldn't wake up?  I try to remember and vaguely remember falling, in the dark... but it makes my head hurt more. 
“So.” Akminchaer says as he looks in my eyes and examines my tongue. He checks my ribs which are sore… what happened, did I get a beating by rogue Mahid?  “Tell me your name and what you remember.”
“M’… m’name? Ser Haian… ‘tis Joras Enkasas, fessas, I hed work on Haiu Menshir but ‘m wife… Elsha… I were tah come ‘n look fer work in t’city… There’s a lot I don’ understand, ser…”  My voice was rising but I found I could control myself once I stopped talking.  I pulled my hands out and looked down at them… oh my, my bare hands… they looked right… they looked like my own.  They had all my apprentice scars on them.  I remember… I remember… glass.  The colour it turns just before it becomes perfect to cut out and onto a blow-pipe.
My wife is looking at me and I wonder that her face is so… calm… so…blank… I remember it differently.  “Elsha…” I feel very lost.
“So I am Elsha Enkasas, fessas.” She says.  But she isn’t speaking in the fessas accent.  I know that.
“My little professional GOD, nothing fits! Nothing is right!”  I claw my hands into my hair and the Haian and my wife seize my wrists and hold me, stop me from ripping at my head in frustration.  “What is going on?!”
Her touch is harsher than his, but somehow more familiar.  I’m panting, eyes closed, curled up on myself.  My head… the inside of my head isn’t right. “Breathe, Joras.  Sit and breathe.  I will be right back.”
The Haian lets go of me, but Elsha does not.  “Wife…my apologies for showing this unseemly emotion… but I remember you.  I remember you.  I… hoped that… hoped that when we were wed we would be blessed by the God. Blessed with affection.  I am sorry I… do not find that in myself yet… but you are beautiful and do not deserve a husband with festival mash for a MIND!”

The Haian excuses himself and he and Kaneka step outside.  I hear the Commander send someone for Min.  That name catches my attention but my wife... She… she lays a finger across my lips.  Entirely improper. It shocks me and I stare at her. I see… I see the faintest hint at the corner of her mouth, the tiniest softening. How do I know it’s the broadest smile I’ve ever seen on her face? “Sh.  Joras. You remember your name and mine.  That’s good.  That is wonderful. I am pleased… to hear you wished the proper blessing of affection from the Ten.  If I may be so bold, so improper, so do I.”
I straighten up and fold her in my arms and wonder why she stiffens.  A frail woman would not crave her husband’s comfort?  Then she relaxes and puts her arms around me in return. My hand on her waist curves around and I freeze.  I… know… she… “Did I not know?” She looks into my face and simply shakes her head.
“This makes no sense. I know myself as fessas but I have an Aitza to wife.  A… A child… on the way… And my wife… is dressed as a Mahid.”  I look over at my pillow for some reason and find a silver buckle… a Mahid buckle. “I?  I am Mahid?”
I cannot be.  "My hair is the wrong length, my accent…” I stopped, realizing that though I’m speaking as freely as a fessas… it is with Aitzas accent.  “Wife?”
I hear the voices coming. The Haian and another fessas voice. Elsha moves as if to pull away from me and I let her go.  I don’t know how to interpret her look.  Is she surprised that I just let her go when she wished? But if I am Mahid… I wouldn’t have considered her will, her wish.  But I just don’t remember being Mahid.
I recognize the fessas boy who ducks into the tent, he’s my cousin… who I’ve been searching for, for a long time… he’s here!  “Cousin Minakas! Tell these people… tell ‘em! Tell ‘em I’m not… I’m not… M…M…Mahid!” He stares at me, and then at my wife sitting next to me on the bedroll.  I flip the edge of the bedding over our joined hands. She didn’t let go completely when I released her from the hug.
“Ser,” she says.  My heart is sinking at her tone. She sounds flat as a Mahid. But she is speaking without being directed. She cannot truly be Mahid, can she?  “The First Wife commanded these ones to cease fighting.  This one’s husband… was with the exalted when the shining one brought the elite in.  This one obeys.  This one’s… honoured husband… is that one sworn?”
“Yes, he is, 1st Elsha,” the boy says, equal to equal but with… the Imperial accent.  His name isn’t Minakas if he is speaking like that, no matter what length his hair is.  “He is safely sworn.” He’s not my cousin… unless I am Mahid but… but…
“And is this possible for this one?”
I look between her and the boy who HAD to be the Spark of the Sun’s Ray in Exile… sworn to the Imperator.  Like I am.  “I… really… don’t remember.”
He sits down opposite us, cross-legged on the floor and looks in my eyes.  “Joras, it will be all right.  You protected me from rogue Mahid, kept me safe as best you could.  You risked yourself and I am grateful. However you are, will be perfectly acceptable, Joras Mahid.”
I bury my face in the one hand, realize it is bare and snatch it down behind me.  “Sorry.”
“That’s all right.  Joras you took a dart of Accedance and a stun dart in the fight against the rogue Mahid… I think this has messed things up in your memory.  It will be all right.  Please don’t try to force it.  You’ve taken a beating over the past few days and I’m just happy you’ve woken up.  I didn’t want to lose you.” I found myself looking at him intently.  It is reassuring to hear him say that.  I feel better hearing him say it’s all right.  It is all so confusing.  Had I sworn to Shefenkas right after the sack? Or had I been with the renegade Mahid?  I don’t remember being Mahid at all.
“Elsha…” I turn to her.  “I don’t remember being Mahid!  I remember how to be a fessas glassmaker… I remember… I wanted to make you a necklace, a gift on our wedding… I… didn’t, did I?”
Her eyebrows go up.  “No...”
Min stands up. “Elsha, I shall see to your swearing… if you and Joras need any help… oh tomorrow… Joras you will be flying to get back to the Marble Palace.” His eyes are twinkling.  “Perhaps your wife can describe it… we flew here… to this camp today, so now that you’re awake you’ll be able to see it tomorrow. Perhaps you will remember it.  I think you liked it before, but you didn’t tell me, so I’m guessing.  I’ll let Akminchaer in again and leave you to get settled into your head again.”
“Thank you…” I pause, not knowing how to address him.  As a fessas? As an Aitzas? As a Mahid?
“Why don’t you stick to Cousin Minakas?  It is accurate enough.”  He smiles at me, at my wife and me and goes out.  I turn to stare at her.
“You really don’t mind that I don’t remember being Mahid?”
She looks down but shakes her head, the corners of her mouth turned up, very slightly.
I stepped out of the tent and took a deep breath.  I was so happy Joras was awake but it was distressing to see his confusion.
The dismay on his face when we told him he was Mahid had hurt.  He remembered only being fessas the ebullient man he’d trained to be to spy.  The ‘normal’ man.  Happy.  But… But it would not have been honest if I’d lied to him. I’d bitten the inside of my lip, looking at his bewildered, lost blue eyes.  The bread roll gurgled in my stomach and I swallowed hard to make it stay put.
His wife confused me even more. She wasn’t showing anything but she was not acting like a perfect Mahid any more.  Was it because she understood that the Mahid she knew was gone?  Mother… what had the women talked of in private?
Ten, be with Joras, please.  He’s done his best. Thank You for his wife being there for him… I would never have thought, in all eternity, that a Mahid woman could be so supportive. I hoped my mother was as flexible, but… if she were proper… she should hold her silence, cling to her oaths, as long as her husband was alive.
Kaneka was over by his tent, with people coming and going.  I joined the line and stood there, just trying to let the warm evening air help me calm down.  Over the field I could hear the cattle lowing to each other and saw the twinkle of fireflies over the grass and into the trees as though the pasture was sprinkled with green, twinkling stars.  “Ser! Might this one hev a word?”
He nodded and waved me over. “You don’t need to be that formal, Min.  How can I help you?”
“1st Elsha wishes to swear.  She’s with Joras and he’s awake, though very confused.”
“That’s good, he had guts to go in with you.” He smacked his hands together. “I’ll see to her swearing.”
“Thank you, Kaneka.”
“Minakas!”  Forlanas called me over.  “You forgot to finish your dinner, come on, lad!”
Oh. Yes.  He smiled and thrust another mug of beer into my hand.  “At least have another beer before you bed down… it will help you sleep.”  Equal to equal.  Caste speech was falling apart like wet paper.
“Thank you, ser.” I said and sat down, my elbow draped over the tree stump.  I felt so tired.  I could just see my mother sitting at the door of the tent. She was barely lit by the little campfire, so I couldn’t see her face.  I didn’t have a hope of getting her to speak to me as long as her husband was alive.  I’d just keep talking to her as if that were not the case.  She is such a stranger to me.  I am just going to have to watch for all the tiniest clues.
“Your mama is one amazing seamstress,” Kamana-e said as she sat down next to Forlanas and me, stretched her boots to the fire.  “Did you see all the things the women had made?  Tesha Mahid showed me.  They all seem kind of lost and confused but they haven’t fought us.”
“The men… are like venomous snakes lashed tight to a stick,” Forlanas said, sipping his beer.
“Yeah… but one of them… was the one who put his initials on our Beloved.”
Forlanas whistled. “And he didn’t have the nerve to use his poison tooth? Aras’s Charging Horse-flops.”
We spiraled down to do our landings on the roof of the Marble Palace, in groups of five.  The city was under rim-dark and the street-lights twinkled blue/yellow against their dark background.  The more blue house lights made me think of fire flies.  The gold tips of the turrets and the gold eagle on the tower blazed still in the true sunset.
I was so tired, even though I had only had to be flown home, I was seeing things with a nimbus of lights around them. Joras had actually laughed almost hysterically when we’d launched this morning.  And my mother was not speaking to me.
The prisoners were sent down in the first landing waves and we circled in the tower of air over the city a number of times before my flyer, Nava, flung us down to the Marble Palace roof.
I was standing, buckled in the harness, my clavicle making it impossible for me to twist to unhook it myself.  I had to wait for Nava’s help or the support crews helping everyone so the next wave could come down quickly and safely in the dim light, when someone said… “We’re telling everyone as they come down.  The Imperator is healing up.  There was an accident but He Whose Regard is our Sunrise will be fine.”
Suddenly the kicked-hive buzz of voices on the roof made sense. All around me I could hear the elites saying things like, Chevenga, have an accident? A training accident? No, it's not possible. No way. There's someone fishy here. Not him!"

“Go over to talk to the secretary over there… she is waiting to tell you all at once, once everyone is down.”  They released me gently enough and I walked over to the roof gutter, braced my slung arm with my good one and lost the contents of my stomach into the drain.  Let them think it was air sickness.
We had to get Chevenga to talk to Surya to keep him safe, to keep him away from that raid, and he still managed to get injured badly enough that the first thing people had to tell us, ‘He’ll be all right’.  From over my shoulder I could hear.  “…We’re telling everbody as they come down…”


  1. 1ST Teaser -

    So Mahid women are more flexible than the men? Elsha seems determined to follow her proper husband, even if it is off the edge of a cliff.

  2. Heh... That is proper... And she's... more appreciative of him than she has let on.

  3. Eee, I love this. XD I was thinking how awesome that would be, even if it was a kind of wild idea, and now you're making it real! ~squee of joy!!~

  4. I really like that Joras has an opportunity to experience life as someone other than Mahid and that his wife cares for him. It would be nice is some of them actually had a shot at being happy. Of course, some of them should have very nasty things happen to them as well (grin)