Tuesday, November 23, 2010

389 - This Fiery Ichor

I showed my note to the guard stationed at the door to the White Corridor.  “You coming to take a piece out of the snake too?  He’s in the third cell.”  I nodded.  “Just tap twice.  I’ll check and let you out when you’re done.”
The smell hadn’t changed. It hit me in the face, rolling out around me, mingling greasily with the new scents in the Mahid section.  I stepped in and I could feel the door close behind me… the air pushing at my back as it sealed.  It wasn’t kept as acidly bright as it used to be.  But it was still the White Corridor, full of the forzak… an antechamber to hayel. The only question here, as always, was ‘How long will it take to die?’
I looked down toward the antechamber where the Black Corridor started and felt absolutely no wish to go down to where the Haians had been kept. I swallowed hard.  The bland oats my grandfather had suggested were staying where they were supposed to, thankfully.
The third cell was one of the closed cells with a sealed glass panel in the door rather than bars.  It had been one of his own.  This wasn’t meant as irony.  It was one of the most secure, that had originally been set up to his specifications.  I did look through the panel to check and make sure he was still locked tight to the table and slid the flap shut once more.
I felt… I started to feel cold inside.  …I was honoured to serve your Divine Father when the Former Spark of the Sun’s Ray was executed… His dead stone voice echoed in my memory.  I suddenly wanted to put him in the Lock.  But I didn’t even know if the Lock still existed.  I’d inquire of Chevenga and oversee it’s dismantling myself if I could.
The numbers posted on the wall outside told me the current combination of the lock, I dropped the flap over those as well and thumbed the metal wheels into place with the sound like the click of the Summoners claws.  The door opened under my gloved hand with a sigh.

I could see his pale body locked in place.  Someone had left the table three quarters up rather than horizontal.  For a moment everything went flat and strange.  I could not see him in the cell as anything but a chalk drawing, shapes flattened against a marble wall.
I took a deep breath and stepped in.  Others had been in this room before me.  He had an open gag that allowed access to his mouth but did not allow speech.  He’d been shaved all over his body, apparently with a hot knife and livid on his skin the Yeolis symbols for 4th Che She Ara were burned in, from neck to groin.  Given that Chevenga had tried to argue me out of this visit it was unlikely he would have gone to the trouble to have himself carried down to do this to 2nd Amitzas himself.  It changes you, lad, he’d said.
Someone else who saw 2nd Amitzas’s handiwork on Chevenga’s skin must have meted out some direct justice as they saw it.  If I were to follow that tit for tat logic I had the right to lay stripes on his back, a scar from a corrector on my face… right across the mark of Father’s ring… a beating at the very least. I closed my eyes and then opened them again.  He looked at me and his dead-snake eyes were the same as they always had been.
I walked slowly all the way around him. There were many people angry with this man.  “Second Amitzas Mahid.”  I sat down on the raised stool and propped my chin on my useable hand.  “I just realized that if everyone did to you what you did to them, you wouldn’t survive long.”  I got up again and went to the cabinet.  “I know exactly what I need to do.”
The vial was one of the first in the box, in its correct space.  I took it out and popped the lid with my thumb.  “You were the one who taught me this.  In that, you were an excellent teacher. You may comfort yourself with that fact.  Buuuuut…” I drew out the correct dosage into a syringe without a needle.  “Knowing you, you do not require self comfort.”
I set the syringe down upon the tray and unbuckled the sling.  I would need both hands to do this.  My gut was knotted tight and I could only remember that stare of his, before he hurt me, after he killed Binshala, before he hurt Gannara.  Some part of me wanted to take him apart thread by thread. “This can be administered on any wet membrane in the body, you taught me.”
His head was restrained as much as the rest of him. I pulled his lower eyelid down and gently dropped three drops onto the wet, red crescent exposed.  The blue of his eye rolled down as if he could look at the syringe and tell what I had begun to dose him with.  I repeated the dose in his other eye and he could not stop himself from clenching his eyes shut against the sting.
“The interesting thing is that you taught me, on that unfortunate man in the chateau, that the best way to administer a drug without breaking the skin, is in the anus.”  I unlocked the gears and tipped the table all the way around so that I had access and I pulled his pale cheeks apart and did so.  I left him head down while I put the syringe in the bin to be cleaned and washed my hands.  Then I went back out to the guard. 
“I’m assuming he’s been force fed?”
“Ay ser.”
“I require a meal for the prisoner.  I am going to see he has enough strength to survive till his trial.”
“His trial.”  The guard thought it through.  “I’ll send for something.”
“Thank you.”
When I unlocked the cell door for the second time his eyes rolled around toward me, the drug already working in him.
I flipped him around once more and undid the strap holding the gag in place.
“When you listened, Failed Spark of the Sun’s Ray, you were an excellent student,” He said after he had worked some saliva into his mouth.  Just hearing his voice made me light headed.  I hid that behind the Mahid blankness he’d taught me. “What have you administered?”
“If I were like you 2nd Amitzas, I wouldn’t tell you.  Accedence.  I am going to see you feed yourself, clean yourself, look after yourself very carefully.  You are going to be required to let your emotions out freely during that time as we talk, and then you will lock yourself back onto your own table.”
His face twitched involuntarily.  He was already losing control of himself.  “Excellent.  You would have made a brilliant torturer.”
“Thank you.  I think.”  I poured myself a glass of water and waited.  “Why would you compliment me like that?”
“Self-pride.  Anything you do to me, I will have taught you.  I’m prepared to critique you, though.”  He was almost mushy mouthed now.  His eyes were unfocused.  I didn’t trust it.  I certainly wasn’t going to unlock him yet.  He was probably faking how fast he was falling under the influence.  That was all right.
How did he manage to keep breathing?  He was so twisted around his own thoughts I was amazed he could still remember the correct order of inhale and exhale, or eat and excrete. He could argue that the sun was the moon and Muunas was a warthog and still think he was correct.
The guard arrived with the prisoner’s next meal, which this time wasn’t going to be administered by 1st Amitzas by tube.  I had him set it down.
When we were private again I checked 2nd Amitzas’s vital signs.  He actually tried to watch me as I moved around him but his eyes kept drifting to the ceiling, or the wall in front of him.  “2nd Amitzas… do you hate me?”
“Yes. No. I…” his voice faded.
“Keep going.  Speak your mind.”
“I… love you.  I hate you.  I hated your father.  I hate myself.  I love my wife. I hate my wife.  I’m smarter than all of you and if I can talk you around to unlocking me too soon I’ll be able to talk you into thinking correctly once more.  You all think this is torture? This is nothing. I suffered something like this when I was a boy in training… You had it soft… I was easy on you, you insufferable, insubordinate brat… I had to make you do what was right.  God would not forgive me if I did less than my best, demanded.  Demanded. Never ever ever ever ever doing… I do not know if there is a real me.  Hate me. Hate all of you for destroying me.  Hate Aan…”
I sat, listening, realizing that he was so easy to hate because I had never seen him as a person.  No one ever had.  He was mad… and my father had made him so.  I broke into his rambling.  “You love the Gods?”
“Don’t know.  I don’t know. I’m afraid of the Gods the Gods are like my Seniors.  The Gods are the best.  Therefore the Gods are the best torturers.  Obey and obey and obey and know that it won’t matter.  The world is hayel there is no Selestialis there is only lesser degrees of pain…”
I walked around behind him where he couldn't see me and put my hands over my face.  This was more than I wished to know.  This was raw.  This was naked. He was talking, spewing, ranting, twitching in his urgency to pour out the words I had demanded.  “Rage… my life is rage and my pain I am allowed, commanded, commended to share, to spread it is my function. It is all I am. I am torture. I am correctness and when they kill me they will find they need me…. I am –“
“—Stop.”  I couldn’t bear any more.  His voice went silent.  I went around to where he could see me but he gazed at the ceiling. His face… not Mahid for once, but serene.  I put my sling back on and pulled the cord tight.  It changes you.
I tested him carefully, since he'd admitted he still held out hope to corrupt me.  All signs showed good so I unlocked him and he obeyed perfectly, silently.  He fed himself, he washed himself, all with the same silent, serene face.  I couldn’t make myself talk either.  He calmly locked his own ankles and one wrist back onto his table and laid his other wrist into the other shackle.  I felt his arm quiver as I locked him down.  I had judged the dosage well enough.
“Open your mouth for the gag.”  He did and I strapped it into place and restrained his head once more.  I didn’t want to touch him any more.  He wasn’t a monster, to haunt my dreams, and torture me to death or obedience.  He was a naked, helpless man. I never wanted to see him again. It changes you.
I sat down one more time and watched as his eyes went from serene and unfocused, the skin around them tightening. They went from mere eyes to the silent, controlled non-ravening maniac inside a few heartbeats, even as I recorded his words.  The words forced out of him, that were his legacy.  He had given me some understanding.  A belly full of understanding.  My gut was full of words.
He was only barely human.  He had never been allowed to learn what human was.  “2nd Amitzas. You may not understand me but I give you certain things.  Your line of Mahid, as you know, is three times removed from mine… to allow you to marry Inensa… but you are still part of the family that created me.  I will pray for you.  You will not be able to stop me.”
He made a single noise at that.  Somewhat as if I had punched him in the gut.  Then he was silent once more, but his mad eyes were locked on me rather than gazing past.  “I have not forgiven you.  I’m still too small a person to reach that. I hate you still.  But I understand and perhaps one day Muunas will witness my true forgiveness of what you did to me.”  I had to gulp in a deep breath.  Silence.  Mahid harmed with silence where there should be sound.  Even… or perhaps mostly… their own. 
“And when you die  We both know you will not swear to Ch'venga.  When you are executed...when at long last you will have out-lasted your captors and died the proper Mahid you are… know that I am going to attempt to achieve the Crystal Throne.  Your mandate will be finished.”
I got up and closed my notebook with this...fiery ichor glowing inside and let myself out.  I was not inclined to vomit, but I had to go pour those words onto a different page, so it would be finished.  For me, as the guard let me out, I felt as though the Marble Palace had somehow grown lighter.  Or brighter.  I… would also go to one of the chapels… the Mahid chapel would be most appropriate, and fulfil my promise, to pray for him.

It changes you.


  1. You have all three responses from me. This is without a doubt a very horrific chapter that has left us readers in suspense while at the same time yelling HA!

  2. Thanks guys. This one actually knocked me for an emotional loop!

  3. ...... That is worse then the Obedience. *Applauds* Lady you astound me

  4. Dear Fan... I try... I believe the saying is 'don't let them give you to the women?'