Thursday, December 30, 2010

407 - We'll Limit it to Three

I put my eye to the peep-hole as Minis got up.  There were holes all along this hallway, right behind the tapestry and Ili was to my right, solemnly sworn not to giggle, and Ailadas on his right.  I could feel 1st Amitzas right behind me, like a painful smell.
“You are sworn not to giggle, Ilesias.” I reminded him, and he whispered.  “Yes, Uncle Gan I promised.  I wanna see Minis announce this!”  He stood on a chair so he could see through the fancy peep holes. We were all just at the door where 1st Amitzas let Minis’s mom in.  I suppose since he’s the only Amitzas Mahid I could stop calling him 1st.  He told us we could all see the announcement without getting tangled in the faib clutch and have people worry Ili or me or anybody.  They’d be after us all soon enough when Min made his announcement, more than the women… at least the Arkan news scribes.
The Yeoli ones would at least think the women have something interesting to say and I warned them, and Farasha did too.  We’re all going to be in the light as the people around Minis.
Min and Kall would make their first speech from Presentation square tomorrow… with orators announcing the time, and handing out the little embroidered patches of red and silver phoenixes the women had made a lot of.
Farasha was telling me she didn’t think they’d made enough, so they hadn’t stopped.
Ili was being quiet and Ailadas was not clearing his throat as we all watched Minis get to his feet.  He looked pretty calm for someone trying not to lose his lunch.  All it did was add to his classic Aitzas pallor which was good.  It made him look even less like his floridly red dad.  And no birth mark on his cheek.
I went light headed as I got up to address the writers myself and took a deep breath not to waver.  The faces of the writers came clear again as I did, out of the gray fog and I made myself smile at them.  Smile like you’re smiling at Gannara.
I had to think a moment before the words of the truth oath came back to me.  I was not used to hearing them, or to saying them.  Even though I had just heard Chevenga say them and Kallijas as well for one horrible instant I forgot them.  But as Kallijas had done, I raised my hands to my temples and said “In light of how far what I say will reach,”  Oh my Great God… please and oh dear…  “… in the human witness of the writers of the Press and the spiritual witness of All-Spirit and the Ten,”  Hear me, oh Ten.  I swallowed phlegm on that one, hopefully not noticeably.  “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.”  Dear and Vengeful Gods help me.
I lowered my arms and felt the moisture squish under my armpits.  Skorsas would be so unhappy. This shirt would be ruined.  Just like reciting to Ailadas… or my father…  “Thank you, Kallijas... and Chevenga.  Gentlesibs... I come before Arko in the hope that I might be able to serve the Empire in a way that my line did, at one time.  I hold Ilesias the Great as my Arkan example of excellence in Imperators.” Link that Imperator, to me, in their minds.

“I fully support the direction the Empire has been led and the Vodai has been thoroughly approved of by the Ten.  Anyone who witnessed Chevenga do his second Ten Tens knows that.  There are historical precedents for every Arkan to be able to understand the vote in their bones and blood.”  From here it gets easier. I can talk about the historical stuff, instead of me. “I do not approve of the Empire that was my childhood and I would prefer to see my beloved country’s continued divergence from the time of my father and my grandfather.  
“Let me tell you about something I hold to be very important to Arko. Not many people know of an ancient custom in Arko, banned in 273 of the Present Age.  This custom was known as the Ordeal... where the people of Arko could call an Imperator to public account.  If sufficient people gathered in the Square... waving gold cloths in their hands... the Imperator would offer himself to an ordeal by thirst in the Temple.  The people witnessing this rite could release him from it by showing a black cloth.  In our history, two unpopular Imperators were removed from office by the people this way.  Other Imperators repealed unpopular laws and reformed their characters.  It was a means by which Arko the people could speak direct to the Son of the Sun and when it was destroyed by Tatthanas Aan, we were lessened as a people.” 

I could almost guess which writers would be grilling me about this one by how studiously they bent over their notebooks.  All of a sudden I felt less sick and more like this was what I was born to do.  The next breath eased my gut and the muscles of my middle.  “I would like to see this and other ancient customs that improved Arko, restored.

“I know that I was not restrained as a child and understand that I will have to prove my reformation of character from then. I will do my best to answer your questions, Gentlesibs.”  

The length of my speech was good.  Somewhere between Chevenga and Kallijas, introducing myself.  For a boy it was proper. I sat down and had a sip of water.  At least I no longer felt as though I was about to explode.  It felt… almost normal to be under their eyes.  I realized that Ailadas, in getting me to stand up and recite and the classes on oration… they would stand me in good stead. I hadn’t even thought of my oration classes in years.

“We’ll do it by turns,” says Chevenga.  “I’ve been taking note of the hands raised already.  Go ahead... Sisaria.”

“Um. yes, for the Pages...Imperator/semanakraseye, in this change of endorsement of your, excuse me, how may we....ahem for Serin Aan, yes, this is not an endorsement of a change in system? You mean this to be a continuation of the elected Imperatorship?”

“I’m not sure I quite understand the question, tell me if I do; you are asking me whether by endorsing a regency, I am abandoning the notion of Imperatorship by vote - yes?”

“Yes, I mean that by this act, You are not restoring the Aan line to the Imperial Throne, Your divine will is that the elections continue, even with the return of the previous dynastic line?”

“Well -- yes and no.  I think perhaps of a clarification of the Imperatorship, as it will be set out in the laws in the new Constitution, is in order.  Yes, it remains a hereditary position, but it is subject to some severe checks and balances, so as to prevent those things of which Kurkas was an excellent example.  The most direct limit on the Imperator’s power is the law of impeachment, which allowed the people to remove him from the throne by a national vote.  Arkans, of course, are now experienced in this procedure, having performed it twice now.  So, yes, the Aan line will be restored to the Crystal Throne, if the people so vote; but only so long as they behave themselves will they retain it, because a vote to remove the Imperator is possible.  Does that fully answer your question?”

“Yes, Thank you, Your Radiance.”  That title was a suck-up if I ever heard one. Chevenga politely chose to ignore it.

“Kafiris, go head with your question please.”

Thank you.  We haven't been properly introduced, Kafiris Loren for the Donkey's Mouth.  Serin Aan, you mentioned you support the direction the Empire has been led by the current Divine Imperator - does that include the expanded rights for Arkan women - to read, to vote, and so on?”

“Absolutely.”  Ky and my mother would kill me if I tried to take that away.  “I would be upset if someone suggested to me that either my female relatives or my friends should not be allowed the freedoms now granted them.  There is historical precedence for these rights as well.  Ch’venga actually restored them to the women of Arko, rather than imposed them.”

Kamias Sonas of the Pages was next recognized by Chevenga.  “A question for Ser Itrean.  There have been a number of cases in Arkan history in which a regent Imperator who became that on the understanding that he would cede Imperium to an heir, em… didn’t do so. What guarantee do we have that you will cede power to Minis on his crossing of the third threshold?”
You have the balls of a Tunnel pony, ser, to ask Kallijas Itrean if he’s a usurper or a liar. Kall looks calm, his hand visible on the table relaxed and open, but one of his fists, under the edge of the cloth, is tight clenched.

“Ser Sonas. I stake my honour and my word upon this.  I will only serve Arko until Minis’s majority and successful completion of the Ascension Ritual. I will then look forward to retiring and emigrating to Yeola-e to be with Chevenga.  Aside from the act of attempting to steal the Imperatorship from the people’s will, I would be forced to give up my sworn oath to my alesinas. I don’t do such things.”

Roras Jaenenem raised his hand.  “Roras, go ahead,” Chevenga said.  I think he put his hand on Kallijas’s knee under the table because I felt him exhale and relax.

“A question to Serin Aan.  I wonder if I may ask you to expound upon your father’s foreign policy... more exactly, his general tendencies in that regard.” If I were going to be revealed as a father hater, this would be perfect for me.  Hold my tongue.  Be neutral.

“My father was not working from accurate intelligence and believed that an aggressive and expansionist Empire was good. This is not a policy that inclines neighbouring nations to bargain in good faith.  Trading partners need to be able to trust.  We have had a rather sharp lesson recently in what happens when an Empire is too aggressive for her neighbours.”

Roras asked a follow up question, at Chevenga’s nod. “Serin Aan, you say your father, rest he in Selestialis, was not working from accurate intelligence; what was the reason that he wasn’t, as far as you know and interpret?”

I bit my tongue hard to keep the words “he was an idiot” inside.   “As far as I know my father, rest he in the Ten’s Hands, um, read only certain reports and listened to certain verbal reports.  Why he did so, I can only speculate.”

Roras raised his hand for a third question.  “One more,” said Chevenga. “We’ll limit it to three at a time apiece.”


  1. This is fantastic. <3

    -G. Veravenga

  2. Thank you, GG! And thanks to all the wonderful people who played the reporters! List of names to come at the end of the presser!