Wednesday, December 1, 2010

393 - I Walk the Corridors

There were a few more questions, variations of earlier questions which Chevenga patiently answered all over again.  I caught sight of the writer for “Selestialin Adored” the rag for the Enlightened Followers.  They were a cult who worshiped Chevenga as a God Manifest even more fervently than most Arkans... they even had Yeoli and other foreign members I'd heard.  They followed every breath of Chevenga’s they could.  They’d been set to pillory Idiesas I had overheard, earlier as we had all been gathering, which had been stopped short by Chevenga’s defense of him.
The man had the wildest look on his face as he was realizing they’d have their Selestialin, their Divine Savior, for years; just after having found out that they’d been about to lose Him.  As Krero called an end to questions and Chevenga smiled at us all, even shakily, as he got up… I scribbled a note for him to talk to him later if he had time just before he left for Yeola-e.
I really wanted to talk to him about all of this, but he was going to be running to try and outpace the wings of the Pages.  It was odd.  I’d gained and lost him several times now… was I getting used to it?  I was just so relieved he had Surya.
…time will take care of him for you… the hateful words echoed and I wanted to scrub my memory clean.  Father’s words and even though he’d written them I’d heard his fruity, oily tones in my mind as I read them.  …no… I answer his ghost.  The comfort you took to your grave is false.  Chevenga is going to beat you, in this too.
Krero and Surya had escorted Chevenga out the door to one side and the servants were showing us all the big double doors at the other end of the room.  I hung back and watched Intharas give his junior a look as she asked him something.  Considering how much he’d imbibed she was probably concerned that she’d have to carry him back to the Pages.
Intharas sniffed, put his nose in the air and marched out in front of her, step steady.  I had to smile. The rustle of writers leaving was fading, as I held back even more and a servant appeared at my elbow.  “Your message from the Imperator, ser.”
“Thank you.”
I was able to stop by the bas relief sculpture of an elephant head -- a creature like a shaved mammoka, with a double domed head -- holding up one of the row of columns leading down toward the Steel Gate, to crack the seal and read it.  “In the G.B –” The Great Baths he meant.  “—in a tenth.”

The columns were dark blue lapis with gold filials and bases, rising, soaring to the gold and white ceiling.  Skorsas was with Chevenga, who lay in the hot pool, sitting on a shelf as deep as he could without getting his dressings wet.
“Minis…”  His voice was recovered somewhat from the presser and he looked somewhat more relaxed in the hot water. Surya came in and slid into the water next to him.  Yeolis… I had to look away.  He was nude.
I settled down on the tile next to his head.  “You did really well.”
He waved his hand, brushing it off.
“You wanted to talk to me?
“Yeha,” I said, not even realizing how much Minakas’s turn of phrasing had crept onto my tongue.  “I’m sorry… I need to talk about something to do with election.”
Both Skorsas and Surya knew me… and knew what was going on.  I could speak in front of both of them.
“Eh… go ahead lad.”
“I was thinking that my living in the Marble Palace while I campaign would not be a good idea.  It would be seen as favoritism… I should rent or buy a manor outside as my own… so I’m not seen as campaigning FROM the Marble Palace….”
“That’s a good idea.”  The knot in my gut loosened.
“I’ll look after it while you’re gone then…” He nodded, eyes closed.  He looked absolutely beaten. “That’s all I needed to know.  I’ll leave you alone then.”  He signed chalk.
I glanced at Surya and Skorsas both and they nodded.  “Ser… Skorsas… if I might speak to you, later.”
He nodded and I got to my knees, grabbed Chevenga’s shoulder with one hand and tried to pass some strength to him.  No matter what I felt, he was falling to bits with revelation.  “Thanks for your time, my friend.  It will be all right.”
He signed chalk again, his head back against the elegant tiles meant to pillow it. I got out like a stink dissipating.
Gods.  Gods.  I needed to do something.  I needed to do…. I could do nothing.  Ili was safe with his class… Gannara with his family… I couldn’t really show myself to rent out a manor yet… but I no longer had to hide that I was Minis Aan.  I could.  There was no one hunting me any more.
2nd Amitzas was in the dungeon with the advocates wrangling over his execution.  The Imperator had called his hounds off.
No one was hunting me anymore.
I could talk to Joras.  I could talk to my difficult Grandfather and Senior.  I could talk to Kallijas… my co-runningmate and impeccable champion… I shuddered a bit and went out for a walk.  It was going to be very hard to live up to Ser Itrean’s standard.
I took a deep breath. My back was to the cold marble wall between two statues. I couldn’t remember what they were… ancient heros, goddesses… tragic figures.  Humans that’s all I noticed.  I didn’t have my skates.  They were packed away somewhere... I'd have to dig them out but I wasn't sure which of my trunks they were in.  Later.
I couldn’t do anything right now… I walked.  I jogged.  I walked.  I walked up the spiral, the horse spiral to the roof and then down again to the stable and up to the roof and down to the stable till I lost count.  I ended up sitting on a bale of hay, my head leaned back against a stall door wondering if I could do another circuit.  I needed my skates.
The horse in the stall snorted over my head.  There was a mixed bag of animals in the loose boxes and I looked up to see the horse stick his head over me.  “You know horse,” I said conversationally.  “You look like a Mahid black.  You’ve got the scars around your mouth.”  I gently thumped the back of my head against the wood behind me and he reached down and snuffled my hair.  

“If I didn’t know better you’d be Nasty and I should have come upon you trying to kill some Yeoli stable hand and have to heroically stop you. But that would only be if some writer of knuckle-suckers were writing this story.”
He whickered at me.  I checked my shirt pockets and found a single hard candy Ili had given me a few days previous.  I unwrapped it and offered the hairy tidbit to the horse above me.  “But you are a gentle boy, aren’t you?”  His big flat teeth crunched far more loudly that one small chip of sugar warranted, his ears flopping goofily. I got up and dug my gloves into his mane, put my forehead against his while he leaned into me.
The horse leapt back at the scream, tearing chunks of  his own hair out, strands in my fingers, his nostrils flared red all around.
“What did you do that for?” I said angrily.  “You’ve scared him!”
The Arkan stableboy was staring at me.  “Ser...”
“Just… go away.  Let me talk to my friend here.”  I held out my hand to the boy’s inarticulate protest.  The horse blew and blew and blew and I told him “Equus. Cease Assail.”  If he was Mahid trained he’d recognize those words. His ears came forward and he snuffled my glove.
I rubbed his nose and his head came down more.  I rubbed his forehead.  “This idiot has had more pain than any stupid horse deserves since he was Mahid taught.”  I leaned my forehead against his once more and he leaned into me again over the partition, blowing greenish slobber onto my shirt.  “Just… leave us alone, all right?”


  1. Ohhhhhhhh it is Nasty!!! It has to be Nasty Cus you are a Good Knuckle-sucker Writer :D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D

  2. I can't fool you, Innie! Of course it's Nasty!

  3. Most animals remember those who are good to them. :) (People are animals too, except that the ones who forget that tend to be the ones who act most like one.)

  4. Heh. Yes. It's amazing how they remember. Or never forget someone who hurt them.

  5. Why is it "Horse" here when it was "Equus" in the earlier chapter?

  6. Oops... I change it...