Friday, December 17, 2010

400 - Phoenix Rising

Inensa looked the most stony I had ever seen her, even when I had been under her wardship.  “Thank you for receiving me, Sera Inensa.”
“Of course, Serina Liren.  As far as I am allowed I welcome your visit.” She rose, like a paper doll unfolding.  “Would the Serina care to come to the solar?  I am working on a tapestry.”
“Ah. Yes, I shall.  Very appropriate.” If I wish to be close to Minis I need to be close to this woman, though she makes my guts clench. I never knew her... never saw past the stone face.  I remember her iron fingers upon my wrist.  She is incredibly strong for a woman. I believe it is the Mahid women's training.
We walked to the end of the Mahid section and she spoke to the guard who called someone to escort us, and, because of Inensa, locked us into the brightly lit room full of chairs and tapestry frames.  “They don’t need to lock you in, do they?”  I said it as I sat down and she settled in front of a partly finished piece.
Her face just didn’t change. I knew exactly why I was here and I would not waver from my plan, but I so wanted to shake her to make her react.  Not that that would work anyway. You have no power over me but what I give you. No 2nd Amitzas to force you to hurt me.  So I understand from what Minis has said.
“It is proper.  I am unsworn and thus unsafe.”
“Hardly unsafe when your Father is surety for you.  And your son.”
She took up a thread of gold and held it to what seemed to be a Phoenix rising, laid it down and picked up a strand that was less reddish, then another, set them both down, staring at them.  If I didn’t know better she was unsatisfied with them. Is she frightened of me?  How is that possible?  Surely she is restless for some other reason?
“Once-Radiant One, surely you, of all people, know that I shall be proper as I can be, in the midst of madness, to my last breath.”
“Of course.”
“Once-Radiance…” She picked up the skeins of thread and held them up to her design, one after the other, set them down again.  She folded her hands together in her lap.  “With you, I did as I was trained, as I was told.  Trust me when I inform you.  I was much less brutal than I could have been.  My deceased husband gave me leave to beat you to bring you into line, up to and including breaking bones should that be required to bring you into line. As long as I did not mar your skin permanently.”

My gut knotted and unknotted.  How nice.  She could have hurt me seriously and refrained.  Her eyes now were exactly as they were then.  Showing nothing.  If she had broken my bones, I was sure, they would not have changed then, either.  She looked away from me, down toward the tapestry and her hands.  They were not the graceful, open hands required of an aitza, but clenched around each other, hard.  She took a breath and they relaxed, opened as if she had not a care in the world.  A Sera's art and skill.  That she pounded into me.  I took a deep breath and looked away myself.

She could not be stone behind the stoney eyes.  Where would Minis have learned his feelings?  I remembered the glint of satisfaction in her eyes when she nailed 2nd Amitzas in the face with the snow... her husband.  My mind snagged on that.
“Deceased husband.”
“2nd Amitzas Mahid was executed before me –” was she hesitating, even slightly?  “And my son.  Yesterday.” That is why she is speaking so freely. He’s dead.  Break my bones?
“Excuse me.  Rest he in the God’s Will.”  I could not make myself offer the proper wish for Selestialis.
“Thank you.  Rest he in hayel.”  Her voice was as calm as if she had not just been entirely shocking.  “Selinae forgive me.”
My own hands were clenched in my lap.  I was glad the man was dead.  I was glad the rabid dog was dead and I was very, very surprised that Inensa just said it, out like that.  I breathed deep and let my knotted fingers go... just as she had.
“Sera Inensa…” I paused… not certain what to say.  “… I am appreciative of your reticence when it comes to my person…”  Minis was chewing himself up because he needed a mother and I had wanted to find out if it was even possible for her to be that.  If not… I wanted to know if I could minimize her presence.  But it seemed that I might have an ally in assisting Minis to win his desperate election.
“Serina,” Inensa scooped the offending skeins of thread into the basket upon the floor. “My widowhood is the most astonishing gift from the Ten and I pray upon my face daily in both thanks for it and forgiveness for the fervency of my relief.”
Oh my.  I did not even suspect.
“Well then, Sera, might I add my prayers to yours for your deliverance from bondage.”
A fraction of a nod.  “Thank you, Serina.  You are kind.”
Kind?  What did she even know of being kind?  She was Mahid.  “Perhaps we may work together then to assist Minis to success?”
One elegant eyebrow rose slightly.  “I?  Certainly, Serina.  However, as you saw.  I am confined. I am unsworn.  Should you devise something that I should be effective at, I shall endeavor to complete such tasks.”
Of course.  “Sera Inensa, Once Minis is begun… once the announcement of his candidacy is accomplished… I hope to have everyone on his side willing to assist.”
“Oh yes.  Once-Radiant, I was impressed by the way you seized  the initiative when I was present.  Might I be so bold to suggest that small patches… of a Phoenix rising perhaps… might appeal to the women?  Perhaps to sew them upon clothing like a bit of decoration?”
What an excellent idea!  And something we could do in advance… “The two colours for the two men, the red and the silver would lend themselves well to that.”  I had brought something along, just in case this talk went well.  From my sleeve I pulled a folded packet usually used to keep embroidery silk clean.  Part of Minis’s hair lay coiled in it.  “Perhaps the image you are working on could use some truly fine gold.”
“That is actually the perfect shade for my work.  I shall have to finish my image quickly.”  Her hands were gentle as she accepted the packet.  “Is this from your flight?”
“Yes.  He asked me to dispose of it and I am.”
“Ah. Yes.  Thank you, Once-Radiant.”
“My friends call me Ky.”
“Am I your friend? If so, please feel free to use my given name…” she paused. “Ky.”
“Might I see your design, Inensa?”


  1. Oh. My. Professional. Little. Goddess.

    Ky dancing with a dragon in her den - perfect setting for her poise and titanium composure.

    Only in Arko would a complete solar include locking doors...