Wednesday, November 24, 2010

390 - From the Mouth of God's Son

I was in full Minakas mode next day, spectacles, conservative robe and gloves.  As a boy I could have my shoulders bare but my kilt was full, rigid front panel and all. A rack of three pens strapped onto my bicep and a brand new notebook, so new I hadn’t even cracked the cover.

Akminchaer had let me remove the sling since all I would be doing was standing and taking notes.
Ili was with his class in the orrery.  No one had mentioned its existance to his teacher, Gian, until Ili had.  Then, when the young man had found me and politely requested permission to show the children he’d almost been stammering.  I’d had to tell him I could not give that permission but passed him up to Skorsas and the visit had been quickly arranged.
We were all in the Luminous Resplendent ballroom, one of the smaller ones, with a dais set up with a full table at one end. The bead clock was glass and gold chiming every bead.   Intharas stood in the good light of the window right at the front, a fessas --- woman??? – with her notebook in gloved hand, looking attentive.  Now everyone was going to hear the truth… when the rumours where tearing around the city on wings of fire.
The other writers, trying to pump each other for information about what this might be about, the murmur and mumble over water and juice glasses, I didn’t know by sight. By byline, certainly. To be honest I didn’t recognize anyone from before the sack when I haunted the Pages, either.
As the girl... the woman reporter... moved over to the table with the water glasses, I stepped up to Intharas and cleared my throat. “Ser Intharas?”
He turned, grumpily.  “What the fi-oh, excuse me.  What can I do for you, young man, and while you’re telling me that do you think you could point out the drinks steward?  I seem to have misplaced him.”
I could see him look me up and down and take in my bare shoulders.  I could almost hear him wonder where my nursemaid was.  “I wanted tah introduce mahself and thenk yah fer publishin’ me.  I’m Minakas Akam, sor.  An’ ah think t’ drinks steward fell inta the garderobe sor...”

“Ah, so you’re Akam.  I’d heard you were young, but it’s a pleasure to see it confirmed.  Shows promise, what?”  I held out my silver hip flask.
“Since ay can’t produce the drinks steward, sor… If the honour’d sor’d like ta taste?”
His eyes flickered from the flask to my face, a trace of a smile on his craggy face.  “Why, I’d be honored, ser Akam, don’t mind if I do—hrkk.” He blinked as he realized I had it filled with Silken Gloves.  That part of Yeola-e had certainly maintained their new distillate.  “This is excellent.  Where’d you buy it?”
Of course.  “A gift from a friend, sor, outa Yeola-e.  Please... keep it.”

“I believe I shall, thank you.  Kindness for a kindness:  I may, at some point during this, inform you of the termination of your employment with me.  I do not mean it, it is just my little joke.”  His habit of screaming that someone was fired.  I had to smile as I nodded at him.

“So I’ve heard, sor.  O’ course, sor.”  He was being scrupulously polite.  Very unlike him, but then I’d only seen him in the Marble Palace once before, when I’d had him to dinner.  He had a slight tic beside one eye. I was going to cling to my place near Intharas, even as the girl… the woman reporter came back and cast a jaundiced eye upon the hip flask in Intharas’s hand, then glancing up at me with a ‘who in hayel are you,’ look.
When the exact bead for this writer’s presser fell in the clock, Chevenga came in, with two others. I recognized Krero, in his full gear and Surya.  I tried to see him as if I didn’t know him.  He looked about thirty-five, with frizzy red-brown hair, slightly stocky, dressed pretty plain, calm-looking face.  No hint at all that he had the kind of gift that would turn most people’s guts to water.
Chevenga looked like the Summoner was at his shoulder… he was pale, shaky, moving like he was headed for the executioner’s block.  He didn’t meet anyone’s eyes, as we crowded to the line specified by Krero.  He didn’t smile or greet anyone which was so odd I was starting to wonder if he’d had some kind of drug-mindstorm like that which had affected Joras. Has he been knocked out for surgery too often?
He took the middle chair and Surya sat down close.  Krero stayed standing, he had a glass of water that he put in front of Chevenga, who took a swig from it as if he craved it.  It looks like water. Probably full of remedies.

Krero crossed his armoured arms over his chest and said, “We’re going to do this in an orderly manner; the semanakraseye-Imperator will make a statement without interruptions first, and then we will open it for questions, by turn; raise your hand and I will call on you in order.”  Which was kind of weird, because Chevenga usually spoke for himself, instead of having Krero run things. Surya was whispering in Chevenga’s ear, laid an arm around his shoulders.  Chevenga signed chalk once, twice.  He took another swig from the water glass as Krero sat down.  Then Chevenga stood up and clasped his crystal.

I’d never seen this before, never having attended at Marble Palace press conference before.  I was starting to realize why it was called a presser.  If that fellow behind me shoved any closer I’d have to marry him.
Chevenga had brought this practice from Yeola-e.  Or re-instated it from Arko’s distant past, I would argue… His oath before writers.  “In light of how far what I say will reach, in the human witness of the writers of the Press and the spiritual witness of All-Spirit and the Ten, I swear that I will speak and answer all questions with truth clear and complete and to the best of my understanding, second Fire come if I am forsworn.” He repeated it in Yeoli.

He rattled it off pretty fast, but his voice was weak and shaky and so quiet that the people at the back might not hear it.  Then he sat again, and the room, that had been very quiet before, grew so still it might have been a painting, all of us with our pens poised over noteboards.

“At this point in Arko’s history, I never meant the attention of the people of the press to be drawn to something personal of mine.  I would much prefer we were speaking of the election, the policies, the promises, the possibilities.  But something personal to me has become public in the form of a rumour and I feel I must address it, and I must address it honestly.” He clung to his water glass as though to a lifeline and sipped as though his throat was getting dry every other word.

“I hope you will bear with me… it’s a very difficult thing for me to talk about, I have only told very few people in my life.  I… ask for your patience if I’m seized by emotion, if I have to pause or pause too long, or if it chokes me up… I certainly never expected or intended to be speaking of it publicly, and wish I didn’t have to… but here we are.

“I’m sure most of you or all of you are aware that when I was seven, my father was assassinated… backstabbed by someone who wanted revenge for something he did in a war.  His corpse was brought back into the Hearthstone Dependent courtyard, and I saw it there… I didn’t understand at first that he was dead, I thought he was asleep and I went to him, to try to wake him.  I was pulled back, and my mother put her hand over my eyes… in that moment I saw… I had a vision… I saw a corpse again, but it was not his… it had black hair, and more scars, and was different in other ways, but about the same age… he was twenty-eight when he died.  When I was up in my parents’ room afterwards, I realized that that corpse had been my own.

“My mother… has the gift of prescience… (so that is where he got this seeing the future thing) she was very very nervous for several days before this, she knew something terrible was about to happen.  I have inherited it to some degree… it’s part of how I anticipate the movements of enemies and… other military or political things… so it didn’t occur to me to interpret this any other way than that it was a momentary view into the future.  I felt it with certainty… I knew, I didn’t doubt, that it would be for me as it had been for him… from then on I counted my years as no more than thirty.  And I planned my life, as much as I could plan it, accordingly.

“Though most people don’t know it, this is something that has always been there for me… it very much shaped my life… certainly shaped my schedule… for those who wonder why I am always in a hurry it’s, you know, trying to fit in as much as I can.  I wanted to do more… I wanted to love more… to make up for it.

“I told my mother when I was eight... I told two young women in Vae Arahi, each time I was in a relationship and we spoke of marriage, I felt obliged to tell them.  In Arko I told Kurkas and some number of high-level Mahid involuntarily under truth-drug… I told Alchaen on Haiu Menshir during my healing… I told Niku when we reunited on Niah-lur-ana, since we were planning to marry… I’ve told Kallijas and Skorsas since then, and judged that two of my children were mature enough to tell, Fifth and Vriah… and that is everyone I told up to… about the equinox.  I thought it was best to keep it secret.

“For those who don’t know: I’m twenty-eight, or twenty-eight and a half to be more exact.

“Um… just after New Year’s, the equinox, a friend of mine who is a Haian came to me saying that she’d had a vision, that I should go to a certain healer, who was here in Arko, and… that it was a matter of life and death.  I hesitated at first but I did go to him, and...”  He paused to breathe and sipped his water once more.  And Surya beat you into submission and made you promise to try and live…

“I’m sorry, bear with me, this is the hardest part to talk about.” He paused again. I had never seen him so… upset.  “What he got me to understand was that what I had in truth was not foreknowledge… but something else… that could be cured.  I decided that if he knew how to do that, and he was willing—which he was—I should undertake the course that he laid out.  He promised me that if I followed every step of the course he laid out… I should be able to live as long as anyone else. So I am doing that.  Thank the Ten.

“How this came out though I never intended it to, was that I was explaining to four people who needed to know, why I had the…” he touched his chest where the wound was healing… “Accident.  I, um… let’s just say that the part of me that is… that has death in it… is resisting being driven from me.  I know you are thinking, that puts me in danger.  I know it does and I have taken some precautions to protect myself. Anyway, I was explaining to four people when I was in the infirmary in the Marble Palace, and I forgot that it is not well-secured against eavesdropping.  
I trust everyone I have intentionally told implicitly.  I believe I was overheard, and someone then brought what I said to the Pages.  I apologize for not being careful enough so that a personal matter is distracting from the election.”   

Oh Gods, do I wish it had not come up now.  Gods why?  When I needed him to be strong and there for me?  Why?  I don’t know Kallijas well enough to lean on him… I might devour myself from the gut in before I can even start… and I cannot be upset because it means I will have my friend longer.

 I took a deep breath.

“Once I am done here I am going to set off for Vae Arahi, though I wasn’t planning to and have had to alter my schedule, because I need to speak directly to my people about this, and not have it reach them just as a rumour.  I am going to try not to be gone for more than five days, and when I come back I will go back to work completing the constitution and helping with the election.  

Five days… five days from now? But there is the planned gathering tonight that Chevenga knows nothing about.  Six days.  Add a third more just in case.  Nine days? Ten days? I swallowed hard and kept my head down, scribbling in my notebook as if my heart depended upon it.

"I... I guess that is all...”  He swallowed hard and took another swig of water, it was almost empty and Krero re-filled it for him, acting as taster and servant both. “Questions.”


Author's Note:

My grateful thanks to:

Karen for her part in role playing Chevenga, Krero and Surya.
Cat, Capriox, Blue, Greenglass and Toast for their parts as writers of the various presses of the Fifth Millenium.  You put the yellow in journalism!

Thanks again for your generous time and help.


  1. thank you so much for this great information !! good work

  2. Chevenga r us... I had so much fun I didn't notice the time. I know, I know... being him going through such a grinder is fun? I plead insanity.

    Those who also read PA will suspect that Intharas was played by Toast. They will be correct. The others... well, you'll see.

  3. Now, why in the Garden Orbicular would they suspect that? He's behaving uncharacteristically here, sure, but I was certain I didn't allow my own idiosyncrasies to seep in.

    Well, I was certain, anyway . . .

  4. Toast, I don't think you allowed your own idiosyncrasies to seep in. That's not why I was thinking they'd suspect it at all. It's because PA readers, I think, are hip to your liking of the character because of the voice clips, etc.

  5. Errr... I'm pretty sure I didn't help with this! XD


  6. GV! Yes you were! Your name is on the .doc!

  7. Yeah, GV - we started without you but you did meet up with us that night...

  8. So? lol... I was just visiting! I played no part! hahaha...