Monday, November 22, 2010

388 - I Knew Where He Was

The afternoon sun sparkled through the roof slits and off the flat crystals in the roof of the Lesser Baths making the cavern go from deep underground to a desert oasis hidden under overhanging cliffs. I looked at it with new eyes, seeing the genius of the designer truly for the first time.
I had the sling on, so I had only my feet in the hot pool, my kilt pulled under me. I could feel the cool stone under me pointing out how thin the material was.  Especially since I no longer wrapped myself down tight.  It was unusual.  I had not even thought of my vile organs very much since my session with Surya.  But they hadn’t much stirred.  I paddled my toes in the roiling water.
This room… had seen so much of my life.  My unknowing, unthinking childhood.  I could see, in my mind, Binshala standing on the steps of the pool, her skirts sodden, waving a scrubbing brush at me.  And before… Disarsha… she had held me in the water, holding me floating in the warm water.  There were echoes of my singing to myself and my tantrum screams at the cavern ceiling.  The water lapped slightly, from my waving feet, stirring the clear water.  I had messed in the water when I was little, forcing it to be drained and scrubbed once.  And the blood tainting it, the time I’d stood soaked in blood, trapped in my clothing, drowning in Yeoli blood…  I shook my head.  A lifetime ago.
And now.  I was still alive.  And back in the Lesser Baths.  Chevenga spouting water and leaping into the deepest parts… when he was called Karas Raikas, by my command. He swam like the dayanal—hammer push into my gut to save me from the ocean… he was like that… when he came to the city.  He’d rapped me hard in my centre, to push me away from drowning in evil.
And now he was lying, struggling to recover from his fear… his fear of the world knowing what he truly was… the wound made manifest the struggle in him between his life and his death.  He would recover from this.  He had Surya.  He had all the people around him, now ready to reach out their hands to help, to catch him.  We all knew now and could add our voices to the scales inside him, though we could not save him.  Only he could save himself.  He must choose, perhaps the oddest position on the Earthsphere for him… the embodiment of semanakra forced to choose for himself alone.
Unsurprising, I did not wish him to choose to follow his vision to and through his untimely death.  My eyes went over to where I had knelt, and prayed like an ordinary, undivine boy, the plea to Muunas that I never harm someone like that ever again. 
Chevenga, I do not understand where you are. It is as if you’d suddenly revealed you’d been fighting a deadly illness your whole life, alone. But now that you have a chance to save your life you are telling us?  How could you have hidden this from us?  Your friends? Having my father scrape it out of you so your greatest enemy knew and none of your friends did? It was so backwards.  I’d want to be a little angry for letting me go on so casually, so ignorant of how precious your time was.  If you’d died, I would have been angry because I would have cherished my time with you more. I suppose he might be afraid of that anger from people closer to him than I.  Truly, I thought he had nothing to worry about.  People would be more glad to hear he was fighting it.
The Gods were here in the Bath with me.  There were little niches all around the walls with tiny images of the gods hidden in them, as if the Ten were there, over and over, spying on or watching over the bathers. A half buried sunburst rising out of the rock as if it were either burning out or hiding itself.  A tiny white mule peeking around a rough amethyst.  There were hundreds of images, all in different phases, and aspects.
Muunas… you commanded me to try to win the Crystal throne.  I will do my best… I was empty, hollow.  My guts were void, squeezed dry.  Surya’s words to me.  “You need to feed yourself.”  “You should not impair your function.  That is doing less than your best and you swore an oath.”  Where had that second piece of advice come from? I didn’t remember.
My feet were getting wrinkled and if I kept this up I would convincing myself that I didn’t deserve to eat, much less run for the Crystal Throne.
I heaved myself up and dried my feet.  I’d best go talk to Akminchaer… he’d be able to give me a list of what would be healthy for me to eat… that wouldn’t make me fat or tired, and might ease my aching guts if I had to vomit again.  All the echoes of bile in my throat burned a little.
His office… was two floors up from the Onyxine level and right against the cliff face.  There wasn’t anyone in his wait-room so I knocked.  “Akminchaer?”
“Enter.  Oh, hello.  No you may not take off the sling yet.  That will be tomorrow…”
“I understand.  I had another quick question if I may?”
“I hev time, come in, please.  Sit down.”
“I was hoping you could help me with my diet.”
He turned that ‘I am so listening to you,’ look on me.  “Are you gaining or losing weight unusually?”
How do I explain this?  “When I was a child I got stuffed overweight with enormous amounts of rich food laced with poisons and toxins, tended to vomit most of it back up again when my father tortured someone in front of me, had it sweated out of me with a brutal physical regimen…”
No… I could perhaps tell Surya this, but not Akminchaer… “Um… when I am nervous I tend to vomit… at one point my throat felt burned most of the time.”
“How much?”

“It varies, with stress.  I’ve lost three meals this eight day… three years ago… a number of meals every eight day. Last year, once or twice in the year.”
“Ah.  So it is entirely stress?  Let me give you remedies for that.  And perhaps some digestive ones.”
“Oh.  Thank you.  Should I worry?”
“No, no. You would have another source of stress.  You seem to be making up the nutrition you’ve lost… else you would be overly slender.  Do you weigh yourself?”
“Um.” I hadn’t thought of it.  “No.”
“Let us do that.  Use my scale here… I shall record your weight and we will keep track for a while to reassure you.”
He had a scale with marble weights.  As he placed his weights, I watched the pointer move to the centre… “There.  See?  A good weight for a young man of your height with some muscle.  Nothing to worry over.”  I stepped off the pad of his scale and he chose a brown bottle and used the pipette to pick and choose from his remedy box.
“I am going to be going into a very stressful time the next few moons.”  That is a bit of an understatement.
“Ah, I shall add…” and he did.  But of course… as Haian… he didn’t understand what I wanted.
I’d go to my grandfather and ask for a list of minimums I had to consume.  That way I would not short myself with ridiculous, hurtful emotions.  Perhaps he could recommend things that would not hurt me coming back up, since I knew I would lose them.  When I won the throne, I’d have to get some kind of healer who I could tell all of this shen.
My stomach rumbled and I considered.  Was I hungry just because I had emptied my gut?  Or because I should eat?  Or just because I needed the food?  Who knew.  Perhaps a small dish of iced milk or iced kaffir would help settle the situation.

And I had a relative in chains… that I needed to speak to. Second Amitzas was still captive.

I went down to the Mahid quarters.  The room assigned to my mother -- its door was open the requisite angle.  Mahid are not used to privacy.  It is one of the maxims.  There were women clustered in the training hall.  I heard the murmur of voices and a slow, halting recitation.  “The… loy…al… loyal men and wo…men… u n d er… under…” I peeked in to the hall and saw Joras attending on a group of readers.  They looked up and then my mother bent her head back to her book where they had apparently been learning to read.
Joras made to get up and I shook my head at him. He nodded and settled back down to continue his little reading class.  I withdrew.  I knew where 2nd Amitzas lay in the dungeons as truly as if I were a magnetic needle and his bound body a lodestone.  I didn’t want to.  I didn’t. But I knew where he was.

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