Monday, January 31, 2011

427 - Say What?

I sat on the boy’s side at Farasha’s caravan fire.  And it was almost enough to make me mad.  They might have thought they were talking over my head… the ignorant foreigner… but I was Yeoli.  We spoke with our hands. They might have hidden themselves from Arkans with this but not from Yeolis. I stared at Farasha and she looked away.  I could see that people would want to hide how they talked when the Arkans were in power and hammering-diamond repression was the rule, but now?
I watched, carefully, to see if I could maybe figure out what they were really talking about.
“Yes, Ser.  I was thinking of following my family in their business.  But I have a lot of foreign training that might prove profitable.”
“Ahem.  Of course.”  And his hands flickered.  Farasha’s lips tightened. She wasn't happy with what he said with his hands.
“Of course,” I continued.  “My heart’sbrother is campaigning to become the Imperator of Arko.  This, if taken in very carefully, might be a good thing rather than a detriment.”
I caught a flicker from mother to daughter, commented on by father and even little sister.  Altaf was sitting on his hands, grinning. I would be angry if I hadn’t really started thinking about it. I smiled as if I were clueless.  Any merchant would hide what he thought and felt.  Especially in front of other merchants.  Their information in hand was valuable.  It was how they survived all the years of Arkan oppression.
If Farasha was going to marry me, however, it would hardly be fair our children grow up with me not knowing this language.
“So you intend to see your heart’s brother settled first?”  Flicker of fingers. Ah. I think that motion means boy.  That boy, perhaps.
“Why, yes.”  I settled down hard on my seat bones.  “I would never want family to go off on their own without letting me know what was going on.  I’m still fixing that with my own parents… as I was forced to go off with Minis.”
I am not sure they like me.  They are worried.  That much I can see.  They actually are worried about me and my heart’sbrother.  I can see that much.
“Lad,” Ilias said. “Farasha tells us that you went to Haiu Menshir to be healed of that.” *Did they help him, or is he still fixated on Aan?*
“I did, and I am still speaking with a Haian-trained healer, a Yeoli, in the Marble Palace.” Gannara turned to Altaf, next to him.  “Do we do the dishes since the adults cooked?”
*He really wants to change the subject.*
*Wouldn’t you?*
*Did they make him crazy, love?*
“I made the dessert!” Yalda chirped.  “I don’t have to clean dishes.” Altaf slapped his head at her. *Don’t be stupid.*
“Don’t be silly,” he said just as Hafeza snorted.  “You are a guest, Gannara.  Guests don’t wash the dishes.” *What kind of question is that, Ilias? He’s not crazy.*
“My father would have said I’m a close enough friend to not be on formal manners, I insist.”
“Well, then let us get everything done and we can have tea or kaf or another piece of cake after.” *Good for him.*
There was a bit of bustle until everything was clean… mostly the big common plate and the drinking vessels cleaned and ready for Gannara’s bottle of wine.
“You’re pretty young for the two of you to be discussing marriage, lad.  Aren’t you?” *And a possible three or four with that Aan boy.*
“We are.  But Fara and I know we shouldn’t rush into anything.  It is just a possibility.”
*There.  Very sensible of them.*
*He’s just a youngster having sex with my oldest daughter! Let it stay fun and playful but marriage is serious!*
“I like hearing that Gannara.”
Farasha crossed to the boy’s side and cuddled up to him and he put his arm around her. Then he tapped her on the shoulder.
“I need to say something before we keep talking anymore,” he said, and smiled at Fara who winked back at him.
He jerked a thumb at his own chest, a sloppy, large version of their fingerspeak ‘I’.  Then he held out his hand in the Yeoli charcoal sign for ‘no’. Then he slapped his own head, the way Altaf had.  *I. Not. Stupid/Crazy.* “I don’t like being spoken of as if I were a stupid, repressive Arkan.”  And crossed his arms over his chest as if to say *End of point.*
Fara and Altaf both started giggling hard enough to fall over and Ilias glanced at his wife who smiled.  “Ahhhh.” He said articulately, fingers still.  “I suppose we should all speak out loud.  Unless we translate.  Good enough?”
Gannara signed chalk, and grinned.


Just to let y'all know.  The eyes are improving, slowly.  And I no longer have the raging headache so life is a lot better.

Thanks for your concern and good thoughts!

Friday, January 28, 2011


I have been in the specialist's office all afternoon, having been driven there in a snowstorm.

I cannot see, having been handed three separate drops to be dripped into my face four, four and eight times per day in the hopes that I not go blind permanently.

I am begging off tonight's post.  Sorry.

I have too many proteins floating around the aqueous fluid of my eyes to spend huge amounts of time staring at a computer screen, sorry.

I am typing this by touch and hoping it is good enough to explain.

Next week, if this continues... I will pull out the speech to text and see if that works for me.

Thanks bunches.

Hugs to all.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

426 - Yet ANOTHER Meet the Parents

I was light-headed by the time I finished speaking, seeing black spots in front of my eyes, but I made it down off the platform before I heaved again.  There was nothing left in my stomach and all I threw up was bile.
“Have you been drinking, boy?” Kazien’s voice from the platform above me, contempt in every syllable.
“No.” I managed to choke that out and swallowed a cup of water offered me by Joras, and then threw that up as well.
Joras rushed me into bed.  He was Mahid enough still to suspect poison, but the healer at the town hall, backed up by the North Gate Haian, believed it was an illness picked up on my speaking tour.  I had been exposed to many people and many young children. “Have you had the Red-Spot fever?” The Haian asked me.
“Yes, when I was still first threshold.”  I felt dreadful and couldn’t keep water or anything else in my stomach until they offered me ginger laced juice, or enough water, I didn't care so long as I stopped heaving. Assembly man Asimir was upset that I should be ill in his district as if the district were somehow to blame and I had to assure him I was certainly not upset by becoming ill there.  It just made me want to rip my hair out, but that wouldn’t help the headache.
After my gut settled down, so I wouldn’t throw up on my flyer’s shoulder, or the countryside below, I had lost a full day but I could ask to be bundled up and double winged on the end of the amoy, before they cooled, to the city, a long day’s flight away.  It wasn’t as if I had really gotten attached to the Liren manor but the words ‘home to my own bed’ worked a certain magic. Thank the Ten that  North Gate was the last speaking stop on my first circuit.
In the sideways light of the setting sun I could see Kazien’s entourage below us, on the road, their  shadows stretching enormous.  Our own wing-shadows flickered over his train of horses, and they checked, to look.  I closed my eyes, hoping I would feel better by the time we landed.
“All right, Farasha, I’m done… sorry that it took so long.”
Farasha reached to run her fingers through Gannara’s forelock.  “You’re getting shaggy around your face.  Why don’t I trim that for you before we go?”
“Yes, please.”
Farasha’s family, except for her and her brother, had been out on their caravan circuit and just come back into the city to settle again in their spot on Grass Lane.  “They’ll like you, silly.  You met them already, just before they left!  It’s not like you’re a stranger!”
“Yeha, but that was when I was just a friend… not someone you've made ‘maybe maybe maybe I’ll marry you noises at!’”
She leaned forward and kissed him.  “Don’t worry about it.”
“Is my breath good?  Any stains on my shirt?”
“You look and smell fine.”
“I’ll grab a bottle of wine to take to dinner.”
“Good idea.”
Like all Gybir, the dinner was set around a central ‘fire’ even though they had, in the city, replaced burning wood with a fire pot burning an alcohol gel.  Wood burning was prohibited inside the city.
Ilias, Farash’s father leaned forward. “Farasha, love, would you please pass the dvocous?” he asked, out loud.  *Is this a good idea, dear?* his fingers asked.
“Certainly papa.” Her head jerk answered simply *yes*. 
“This lamb is wonderful,” Gannara said, cross-legged, across from Farasha, on the boy’s side.
“Yeolis don’t prepare lambs like this?” Hafeza smiled at Gan even as her hands snapped, *I like him, Ilias.*
“These are different -- the apricots Hafeza,” he said. “Juicier.” *He’s too close to that Arkan boy.*
*Who might be important.* “I bought them in the main market here.  I didn’t even know they imported them from Nellas.”
*Father, stop it. He’s good for me.*
“I’d love to show my ashapapa this recipe,” Gannara said.  “Ashamama really likes cooking seafood more than inland.”  He wiped his bowl clean with the torn piece of flatbread, rolled it and finished it off.  He set his bowl down, his eyes catching Farasha’s over the fire bowl, clearly wanting to ask if there was something he was missing.
“I made Haian palmnut cake,” Yalda, Farasha’s youngest sister said.  “I like having the big oven.” She giggled.
*We’ll talk about this later, Papa.* Farasha snapped.  “It is nice to have a permanent place to come back to.  You can build things that don’t need to be broken down and transported.”  She smiled across at Gannara.  He shrugged and she nodded, certain there were going to be a lot of out loud conversations after this dinner.
*You’re so young, sweetheart.* “My favourite!” Her father said. “Palmnut cake!”
Hafeza smacked him lightly on the arm.  “Don’t eat too much or the horses won’t pull you anymore.”
“So, Gannara…” Ilias just smiled at his first wife.  He was her second husband, but Khalid and Shada were off on their own teaching circuit and would not be back in the city for moons.  “Do you hope to follow your shadowparents?  I understand they have a shipping company?”

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

425 - That Mezem-Maddened Creature?

“Good Assemblyman,” Kin Kazien said.  “I can certainly speak first, or last.  It makes no difference to me.  It may arrange things as it sees fit.”
“Ser Asimir,” I said.  “It would be both just and appropriate to my age for an adult to speak first.  Please, let me defer to my elders and speak second.”
Kazien sniffed at being referred to as an elder.  “Quite proper, young Serin,” he said.  “Very obvious.”
“Obvious, Ser?”
“You are being too polite for a young man, Serin.  It is obviously a put on show for our good Assemblyman here.”
“I’m sorry you think that, Ser.”  I wanted to kick him in the shins as hard as Ili could.  “Ser Asimir?  I would like to  make myself a bit more presentable, if it is not too much trouble?”
The Assembly man had noticed, I was sure, that Kazien was speaking down to him and I was addressing him as equal to equal.  People were still startled by that in the Imperial accent.
“Of course, Serin.  Ser Kazien, will the exalted be willing to speak at the next bead’s fall?”
“Why yes, good Assembly man. That will suit me perfectly.”
For some reason the look he gave me was venomous.  Had I even been too polite for him to dismiss?
From Sinimas Menden’s journal:
I witnessed the two opponents face off, bristling at each other politely.  The old Spark had come in, scruffy from his flight and sat down to talk to the town’s children.  He has said privately to me that they are the future voters of Arko and he thinks it is as important to speak to them as well as impressing himself to their fathers’.
Now he’s in a plain, dark blue silk and white kilt and looks very much the elegant young man, sitting behind his rather imposing opponent, next to the Assembly man for North Gate, giving his careful attention to the speaker.  He wears only his silver chain with a number of small, personal tokens on it.
Kazien stands up front, striking an impressive pose.  He looks every inch an Imperator, the wind catches his hems and his hair, flaring them around him like a halo of red silk and blond.
“Arkans, hear me!” Is how he starts.  Very strong.  “I, Kin Immas Kazien, am the absolute best candidate for Imperator of Arko.  My line has been here into the Past Age and we, as Kazien’s, have held manor houses in and around North Gate for this entire time!  We’ve been good shepherds of the district.
“We Kaziens have been Aitzas from the time the word was conceived and from the time it meant shepherd, guard and protector!”
“I have been taught how to be the overlord here, in peace and safety.  I know how to do this.  If you vote me in as Imperator I will take my training, all my teaching and apply it equally to the country!’
“Alternately, you may look at my opponents!  A party planning man, a man known for the intelligence… or lack thereof in his family, and a corrupt, decadent stripling of the old order destroyed by invasion, war and blood.
My honourable opponent, present here and now, I may point out… is a child.  He plays with your children. He is only second threshold and not capable of upholding an adult position and responsibility, like the Crystal Throne.  He is a child...he thinks like a child, and will act like a child.  He is a child of a tyrant, and perhaps the worst thing one can give him, however civil his tantrum... is a throne."
The candidate tugs his shirt straight as if he were girding himself for battle.
“Speaking of my honourable opponent… it is better to be a braying jackass than a jackass on wheels... the bluntest of the old hobbled with the tawdriest of the new.  One watches it for the inevitable peril of the crash than the expectation of any prolonged stability.
“The donkey is steadfast, sturdy and not skittish, loyal and not unpredictable,  hard-working and not pampered... and his opposition is both obstinate, and keen-eared. They do the labor with a fraction of the feed, and do not wrap themselves in the trappings of pompous appearance, and regal stature. What better creature to emulate a proper public servant?  What finer beast with which to associate a truly democratic society?
Yet my inestimable young opponent did so greviously abuse such a poor animal in the fleeting attempt to amuse another child, his younger brother.  Abuse I say.  Abuse and torment for a shameful public display for the amusement of the ignorant masses. Who else would take such a sure-footed animal and mount him on wheels to try and pass it off as progress?”
“And his barbs… they should not only deflate him in public, their sources can be just as readily borrowed from the Archives...One imagines the speechwriter minions scurrying through the texts, fueling an Age of Enlightened Slander with words too old to be considered dangerous, but still carrying an edge for a snowing mind, and considered witty for those hearing it the first time!
“The Arkan public cannot know that this child… this stripling… is not merely passing off the fatuous wind of his own, wasted, ruined, destroyed ancestors as his own words.  And if not them, then the insidious, too liberal words and ideas of the man who not only conquered Arko and drowned this boy’s father in blood…”
“Ask yourself.  Can you trust the son of the man murdered by the conquering king… the Mezem-maddened creature, blood crazed and corrupt enough to drown his rival in blood… who trusts said murderer?  Who believes the father-killer is the good man?”
He goes on in this vein for long enough that the crowd is muttering, uncomfortable with the ugly images Kazien is spinning.  While this is going on, Aan is sitting, listening, truly his face is tensely held still but neither pleased nor furiously upset.
Aan’s lips thin and his pallor grows more and more green as Kazien winds to a thunderous finish that makes him out to be a sickly, retarded child of a played-out and wasted line.  There is moderate applause when Kazien finishes and turns to Minis, hand extended, as if to say ‘Top that, boy.’ 
Minis stands slowly, and the crowd quiets.  The boy looks green as grass, ill.  He twitches the smallest of smiles and says loudly and clearly, “To some of the things I have heard on this stage today, I have only one opinion.”
And then he vomits upon the stage at his opponent’s feet.
He raises himself and calls for a wet cloth and wipes his face with it, all the while ignoring the empurpling of his opponent’s face.  He takes two steps to the side, so as to be down wind of his opinion, and begins his speech as if he were perfectly healthy, though looking somewhat wan.
“Sers.  Seras. Serins. Serinas.” He turns and hands the cloth to  someone else on the stage.  “Ser Kazien comments long and extensively upon my youth.  I may only say that it stands in my good stead because the youth of Arko have the greatest ability and opportunity to learn.
“We are not hidebound in immovable tradition until the outside world comes and shatters that tradition with the stroke of a sword.  I have good men… good adults… to guide me into an honest and honourable Imperatorship of the new Empire.
I know that people possibly feel that age could be a problematic factor, but I don't feel that my opponents are such doddering fools that Arkans need to be extremely concerned.
“I did, indeed take a house donkey and fed it treats enough to bear faib skates and my little brother.  Some might say this is a childish prank, but the dedication necessary to train a recalcitrant, obstinate, stubborn little beast speaks more of my good will than of my abuse.”  A wag from the crowd shouts “And the donkey too?!”
Minis laughs himself which almost stops one wave of laughter and starts a different one… “why yes, a lot of children are.  I was.  But yes, ser! The donkey too!  And I should not care to compare the voters of Arko to an animal more often known for its pig-headed, inflexible, adamant, persistent, headstrong and mulish ideals.
While Minis is speaking Kazien is attempting to quietly edge away from the mess at his feet, his nostrils pinched tight together almost more against the laughter roaming through the crowd as against the stench.
"Oh, that Mezem-maddened creature you spoke of?  The man who conquered Arko... you must mean the one by whose actions you have hope, however slight, of becoming Imperator of Arko?  The man who actually arranged for you and I to be able to exchange words upon a public stage and let the people of Arko choose between us?  The man who was voted into the Imperatorship a second time, by the people of Arko?  He Whose Will is Now Give to Us, the People? Him?"
He left a certain amount of time to allow Kazien to answer if he would. He did not.
“My speeches are not written by anonymous scholars from the depths of the archives but by myself!  I feel that I should speak from my heart, from my soul...“ He pauses and gazes at the crowd that starts to laugh as if they can guess how he feels.  He shakes his head sorrowfully at them.  “Within the bounds of propriety, of course.”
“Though the Holy book condemns the son of a corrupt bloodline, it also forgives, and gives the children of those who failed a chance at salvation… more than a chance, a blessing, a gift, of freedom from corrupt blood and past sins.  I refer you, Ser, to your priest, to the Chapters of King Dafidas, to the Songs from the Prophets and the Chronicles of the Lost, where Muunas promises us… fallen Arkans… not only the right but the blessing of rising to Selestialis once more, despite what our fathers did to have us cast from the stars!”
“No one knows, Ser, better than I what my father was truly like.  No one knows better than I how exactly not to repeat his errors. His errors were my daily life and he was a daily example of what not to be when I became Imperator.
“Not only was I trained in how not to be Imperator by my father, Ser, my training by my teachers was in how to be Imperator, from the Ritual of Ascension onwards!”
“I watched my elders, Ser, and wished for a champion like the man who has agreed to be my Regent until I can grow into myself!  A man of integrity, rather than the venal, back-stabbing, plotting, scheming Aitzas who wrangled to get their sons into my company and into my sire’s company to give them a better place in the tiger-pit that the Marble Palace court once was!”
“If I am elected, Ser, I will not have any such people near me!  If I might quote Ilesias the Great, to his son, out of Idylls – “My beloved boy.  Surround yourself with men who smile at you with a whole face, not merely with their lips.  Beware the smile that never reaches a man’s eyes. Men who will sell their integrity for status have no wholeness to begin with and as such are not to be tolerated by a wise ruler.’”
“Men may rule well enough, out of indifference, out of sloth, out of sheer inertia.  But they will never rule better than ‘eh, good enough’.  To be a true shepherd one must think, guide, be guided by his flock for they know where the best fodder and forage is, and have courage to stand for them against the weather, the rain and storm and cold.  He must have courage to rescue the lamb from the cliff’s edge.  He must have the will and courage to stand against the wolf pack.
“Don’t tell me, ser, how to recognize the wolves, ser.  Any man, any Aitzas, who has stood in armour… any solas protecting the roads... any fessas or okas who has fought the flood.  Any man or woman of any caste who has fought drought, famine, banditry, graft, high taxes for no return, they, Ser!  They know the wolves.  An Imperator’s job, Ser, is to fight the wolves, Ser.  Not to be one.”
“Vote for me as Imperator, Arko, and I swear I will never -- Never! -- be one of the wolves you fight every day, that tears at your children’s guts in the winter. Thank you all for hearing me.”
Kazien merely raised his nose as if Aan had thrust something noisome under it, as Minis bowed to him, and to the crowd.

Author's Note: My thanks to Kevin for a healthy chunk of Kin Kazien's discourse.
My thanks to Karen for some of Minis's responses and the wag in the crowd shouting about the donkey!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

424 - Learning to Campaign

“Those who would deny other people freedom;  freedom to read, freedom to vote, freedom to express themselves, call their own freedoms into question.  You Ser, are free to express yourself without fear of the wrath of the Imperator falling on you or your family.  You, Ser, will not have to fear having your children flung off the Rim if I make a mistake and you catch me at it.  That is freedom and that is the kind of Imperator I intend to be.”
I said that in Marsae.  I knew it because the Pages reporter assigned to me, Sinimas Menden, began collecting bits and piece of my speeches.  I did not think they were terribly quotable.  They were just what I saw needed to be said.  People needed to know I had some kind of core, some kind of integrity.  I had to show people who I was or they would never vote for me.
“My reputation?  Is terrible, my personal honour, however, is intact.  My reputation I built as a bad child and I am now committed to building my reputation as an adult.  I am only second threshold but I have chosen the men I intend to emulate and will build my reputation on that basis, one act at a time.”
I had my childhood flung at me about as much as I expected.  I got used to it.  Shame, apparently can only burn so long.  You keep answering the same and the accusation finally loses its sting.
“I intend to have a very long memory for kindnesses and decency. I also intend to cultivate a very short memory for attempts at personal injury.  Even in a public and open Arko any one may attempt to call me names, but saying a person is a jackass does not automatically confer hooves, ears and tail.  Saying it louder merely causes people to wonder exactly who is the one braying, the speaker or the listener.”
That got a big laugh in the hall where the fellow flung the epithets ‘jackass’ and ‘house donkey’ at me.  It was actually in White Creek.
“The last war was not a good war.  In history I have never actually seen a good war.  I also have never seen a bad peace. A field of corpses is certainly very peaceful.  But not helpful to anyone.”
“I am not attempting to please everyone.  That is the key to failure, not success.”
“Some of the most intense and complex ideas can be expressed in simple words, single words. Horrific ideas may be simply said. Tyrant. Ruthless. Evil. Hate.  Words that can be freely flung in any campaign to win people’s hearts and minds.  However, people are smarter than that and there are other, greater ideas; simple, single words that can be used in their place.  Freedom. Hope. Mercy. Justice. Duty. Honour.  Let me work for you towards these simple words and away from the first set.”
“You, ser, say I am merely a glove upon Chevenga’s hand, or Kallijas’s hand.  At least I can pick, clean, decent, honourable men to be models for me, to draw me toward their ideals.  Shall I ask, Ser, whose glove you are?”
“You ask me about peace and freedom as if they are separate things.  They are one and the same because no one is at peace if they do not have their freedom!”
“It is sensible to test a method by trying it.  If it fails, admit it and try something else.  If it succeeds, cling to it like to your hope of Selestialis!”
“I must appear sensible, sober, calm and wise, all of these things.  But one of my hopes at being a good Imperator is to have a healthy sense of humour.”
“A hero is someone who understands the responsibility inherent in his freedom.  You, the people choose who will govern you.  You, the people have the power to take up one of us… myself, Kazien, Kallen, Tori Itzan… and present that man to the Ten and say ‘We want this one to guide us, to be first among equals.  Thus you… every one of you is, in my eyes, a hero.”
“The vote substitutes election by the masses for the appointment of the corrupt and venal few.”
“If I am voted in as Imperator, by you, it is your responsibility to speak to me… and to continue to speak to me.  It is my responsibility to listen.  I swear, as Imperator I will listen, with care and commitment to my people, Second Fire come, if I lie.”
“A new war, Ser?  War is fear hiding behind courage and honour.  Do the Seras’ of Arko need more blood poured out uselessly on the land rather than flowing in their sons’ bodies?  Arko has nothing to fear, Ser, except what we ourselves make.”
I spoke on presentation platforms and farm carts, from village halls and in some cases when there was not enough space in the hall, from a stump brought out to the common ground in front.  I was lucky that it was high summer in Arko and I and everyone else could better bear sun than cold or rain.  And the wing made things tremendously easy for we could travel as the crow flew instead of having to skirt lakes and rivers and such like.
When the wings spiraled down to the Town hall or the new landing fields we drew crowds.  We were the latest dancing bear come to town.  My security detail -- all those that Joras had hired, including the three zealous solas who had tried to turn me in, were concerned but I insisted on letting people close.  I made a point of talking to the children.
They were not voters but their parents were. Proud fathers began bringing their sons to the lines my security set up, presenting them to me, probably so they could say… whatever happened… that they had spoken to me personally.  The little girls were not so brought forward but I often could include them by asking them about their pets and their new lessons in reading. 

Joras was actually appalled when, a time or two, I sat right down, heedless of my dignity, cross-legged in the grass, to talk to a circle of children who wanted to hear about my little brother and how he got lost in the sewer pipes. Or how his pet domoctopus saved him from a big spider there.
It was at Nurim Hill that a young woman leaned forward across the line and handed me a child… a baby.  I was so startled that I almost dropped the infant but took it… him? Her? I couldn’t tell.  Thankfully Ili had taught me how to hold a baby without snapping its neck.
I found myself with a very confused child on my arm so I tickled the end of his nose with my hair to keep him from screaming.  He grinned at me and I managed to smile at his mother.  “A boy?” I had to ask.  “A fine, healthy child.  He’ll do you proud one day.” I managed to hand him back to her without dropping him and all of a sudden others wanted me to dandle their children as well.  

Aside from the occasional smelly one, it wasn’t a problem really and I began carrying a largish round harness bell that I could pull out to distract possible screamers.  It was as if I could hear Binshala at my elbow. It is only baby pee, Spark. It washes off.
I could not help the sneakingly smug thought that Kazien or Kallen wouldn't touch these lower caste children.  Honestly it was more fun than handling the epithets that were sometimes flung out of the crowd by people testing how much they could say, not understanding perhaps that they could… and should… say anything they wanted to.
Assembly servants sometimes were there in their home cities when it was close enough to the city for them to fly out and I ended up often sharing whatever platform was offered with them. Which was fine. I got to know them better afterwards, as well. 

Arko had elected a lot more solas and fessas to Assembly than okas.  And, surprisingly few Aitzas, until I thought about it and realized that most Aitzas held it beneath them. I could talk to the solas about training and the fessas about how I had lived as a fessas while in hiding.
It was at my last speaking stop, at North Gate, that I found I would share the platform with one of my honourable opponents.  Kin Kazien would be there to speak his piece as well.  He had ridden out of the city, rather than wing, and I found him at the Town Hall, speaking to the local servant of Assembly.  

He looked impeccable in his dark red satins, with cutwork hems and cuffs dotted here and there with tiny gold sequins. I was still in my flying leathers and considerably more aromatic from flying all day.

He was taller than I.  Obviously broader across the shoulders with a small paunch of presence.  A man's fleshier build, to my gracile one.  He was fashionably smooth faced and had hair all the way down to his mid-thigh, also perfectly combed. I felt very scruffy and wind-blown.
He raised his nose and smiled down it at me, his smile never reaching his eyes, like most nobles in my father's court who were being polite without liking.  “Serin Aan,” he said slightly emphasizing the fact that I was merely a second thresholder.  Good day.  I trust you had a good flight?” Now why was he putting that slight sneer on the word flight, as if it were somehow lesser than riding a good horse?
“Very good, Ser.” I said as calmly as I could, standing as tall as I could without taking a poker up the backside. A short memory for injury, I thought. A good sense of humour, I thought.
“Sers,” the organizer, Assembly servant Porapas Asimir, solas, said.  “Which one of the exalteds would care to speak first?”

Monday, January 24, 2011

423 - A Lust Crazed Beast

I could feel Gannara smile against my head where he was leaning as I stared at Farasha.  “As you can, Minis.  As you can,” he whispered to me.  His hand moved softly against the silk on my belly. Surya said… Zinchaer said…  I quivered all over my body as Farasha put her hand on me, her bare fingers on the soft skin of my… penis… my hands were…their hands were… I… I…
I burst out wet as in a dream and couldn’t stop couldn’t control it… She’d just touched me and… I was all wet and it was getting cold almost immediately and I was sobbing.  I cried wetness out of me top and bottom and it was wonderful but too fast and grieving all at the same time. “It’s disgusting I shouldn’t I …” She put her fingers…they were dry but smelled of me, over my mouth.
“Shhh, Minis. It’s all right.  You haven’t hurt me… you haven’t hurt Gannara.  You just came, that’s all.”
Gannara… he just let her talk.  Her people… they were teachers.  She was going to be a teacher as well… They hadn’t let go of me, except to produce another handkerchief from a night table to wipe us all off.
“It’s… it’sss all right?”  I managed to pull in a sobbing, breath, over surges of tears trying to come out of my throat.
“Yeha, Min,” Gannara said from behind me.  “Nobody took anything from anybody.  Nobody made anybody do anything against their will.  Farasha and I have been talking about it with Surya, about us and about you.  My Haian on the island kind of mentioned this to me, too.”  His hands tightened a little on me and shook me a little.  “Do you hear us?”
I had to turn more towards him. It wasn’t Rim dawn and I didn’t have that much time… but they seemed perfectly happy holding me between them, holding each other too.  “It is love, Minis.  Not domination, or use, or abuse,” Farasha said. I had someone’s hair caught in my eyelashes and had to toss my head to get loose.
I nodded but couldn’t find a smile in me, yet.  And my arms were full so I couldn’t wipe my face or blow my nose.  “I want to sit up.  I’m all snot and it’s getting itchy.” They’d wiped up my semen so I wasn’t itching there, just my face, as I scooted up to sit between the pillows and they sat up too, in the dim morning, so we were a circle of three, knee to knee to knee.
We all tied our hair back but in the night it often worked its way loose of the ties, and the three of us all had hair tangled together.  I was still crying, almost without realizing it… not sobbing but the tears kept right on.  “I’m not surprised, Minis,” Gannara said.  “You’ve been wound so tight and now you’ve not been tying yourself down so you can just get erections when your body needs to… I mean sometimes it’s just because you have to pee, sometimes it’s just because.  Not because you’re a lust-crazed beast – “  Farasha giggled and broke in “—not like some lust-crazed beasts I know.”
“Oh stop.”  Gannara was unpicking a long curl from where it was caught with mine.  He was careful because of the fragile extensions.
“He knows I’m joking, don’t you Minis?”  She couldn’t toss her head because she’d pull our hair and the three of us started laughing that we had to sit still and un-pick ourselves from each other.
It was funny seeing her tease him like that.  It was good to know that their being together was normal enough, fixed enough, that he could be teased.  And she knew it.  “You know this is too good to be true,” I said.
Gan snorted.  “No, it’s not.” He contradicted me.  “It’s normal… maybe not for Arkans but for most of the rest of the world.  It’s sex and you’re an age where you’re going to want lots of it.  So you’d better get used to it.”
“I… suppose.”  For some reason that idea made me squirm.  “I suppose I wouldn’t be lucky enough to have a low sex drive?”
They stared at me and then just fell over laughing, a tangle of arms and hair and they rocked the bed with it.  “It’s not funny…” It was Gannara who pulled me over into the laughing knot of them, I think, and they just held me.  Because I wanted to be held.  Because I… it was all right that I be just held?  It was hard to see but not hard to feel them laugh or smile, against their chests and bodies as if we’d been wrestling, not having… having… sex… I pulled another deep breath and turned my face to one, then the other to kiss them.  Innocent kisses but still kisses.  I caught Gan on the cheek and Fara on the chin and she giggled.
“You need a little more practice… but not this morning.  I have to study for my investigations and scrutinies.  They will be coming up just after your election day so I’m going to be a busy woman.”
“And I promised Skorsas I’d roust you out of bed to catch your wind before Rim Dawn, so…”
I wiggled out from the pile we’d somehow become.  “Last one into the cascade is a sheep fikker!”
“Ceiling squirter!  Hey… I guess I am…”
He hit me in the face with a towel so he could slide into the cascade booth first.  “Hey, no fair!  You have more time than I do…!”
I pushed on the door and he let it go so I staggered in, past him.  “I’ll take second cascade.  You’re right, you are a ceiling squirter now!”  I threw the soap vaguely in his direction.
Then, of course, I had to be the very adult version of me and fly off to my speaking tour.  It was the oddest thing.  During the day I was trying to be as old a second thresholder as I could be and at night, in inns and manor houses and once or twice the tiny little flying tents when the weather was against us, I would go over what Surya had said and what my loves had sent me off with, as if I were a much younger boy.
I looked down at myself and did my best just to see those organs as… organs, not vile ones.  I wouldn’t despise my arms or my legs or my stomach.  I should not despise those parts of me either.  That’s what Zinchaer had been trying to tell me.  And Surya had repeated when he came back to Arko with Chevenga.
My penis… it wasn’t at fault for what my sire had done.  And of course it was sensitive.  It was supposed to be.  It was pale and sparsely fuzzed around its base with hair now and it didn’t really look like my father’s when I looked at it.  I bit my lip and raised it up in my fingers to look at it, pulling the skin down to expose it. It looked tender, the head of it a darker pink.  I hid it in its shroud of flesh and it hardened a little but then subsided again as I didn’t keep playing with it. Lines from my illicit Haian book came back, using Haian terms to describe the various parts.
It was difficult just to look and touch without judging or hating.  “Surya will get you to do a lot of difficult things, but only as you can bear.” Chevenga telling me that came back to me.  Difficult was right.
My sack wrinkled up as I tensed muscles inside, and that whole part of me twitched.  I couldn’t see it as beautiful yet.  It looked more pathetic and a little ridiculous.  I gingerly slid my hand under the sack and hefted it, trying to see it just for what it was.  Part of me.  I couldn’t celebrate it yet, though that was my goal.  And I had people to help me with that goal.  I was just not allowed to go down the ugly paths in my head any longer.
I stiffened one finger and poked myself as if I were poking a recalcitrant child. It twitched.  “You… just keep behaving yourself.” I said.  “And we might just get along after all.”

Friday, January 21, 2011

422 - Figging Welcome

The Puckered Fig was now often the locus of political argument. Good for business.  I’d relaxed my ‘no politics rule’, at least outside on the patio, since people arguing tended to drink a great deal more… and my bouncers did know how to spot the drunk who’d decided that fists would more rapidly make his political point, and haul him off.
The orator hired to speak from the step was being shouted at by a number of amateur orators, who'd been dragged into debate rather than oration.  A Kallen orator, of course. A Kin Kazien orator, wearing those colours, waited his turn. A Kallijas/Aan orator had just finished.  Who would have thought, the Aan pup running for Imperator?  I wondered if he still remembered how to tip?
How in Hayel the Yeolis managed this kind of chaos I don’t know but it certainly brought in custom. I stopped a couple of kids from bringing their argument inside. “You… SERs… have a right to your opinion.  Outside this door the exalteds may yell and scream and shout to the sky the incredibly exalted’s opinion!”  I pointed at the letters now painted on the brick at the threshold. “No political opinion inside this line.  It leads to fights and broken furniture and wasted drinks.  Even this lowly one has been hurled into that horse-trough right there, for breaking this one’s own rule.  What may this one serve the exalteds, to lubricate their honoured debate?”
“I’ll have a white of some kind… our table…” he waved.  “…and I’ll have the Zak Dark Malt,” his friend said.
“Certainly, sers.”  I went back to the wine safe.  “Kris!  Your break is over!  Get your cute but lazy ass out there!”  I handed the tray off to the young man now.  He was doing well and his mother and siblings were prospering.
“Sure, boss.”
I’d not liked what official orators were saying on the speaking step so I’d set up another speaker’s box for others to get up and out-shout that son of a bitch dog if they didn’t like what he spouted.  Then they could come back and lubricate their throats with a libation at my Fig.
Kaj nodded and smiled at me as I came back inside. There were a stack of various Pages publications on the shelf by his seat.  The Pages itself and the dozen or so other Arkan publications, the new ones being printed by the Brahvnikian Press in Zak and Enchian. I pick up the copy I’d set down.  Business was good enough that I had enough waiters so I didn’t have to run and run.
I didn’t immediately notice my new customer.  As blond as an Arkan, with braids aitzas long.  Hundreds of tiny braids all over his head, caught back in an ornamental knot at the back of his head.  He had an odd, narrow mustache that fell down either side of his mouth, braided like his hair with a couple of gold beads on each end.  Do they clack together when he sneezes?  He wore the most exotic bright white silks I’d ever seen, worth gold chains if I were any judge of such things. A couple of worn leather scabbards sat strangely over that silk. His blades crossed over his back.  A good mercenary, then.  He had a tattoo of an eye under his right eye, and some kind of shining flower tattooed just under the men’s-knob in his throat.
The woman he was seating had silver hair but was as young as him..  Pretty thing I thought. I got up and headed over, Riji fading when he saw me move to deal with the nose-bleed high, self-made, exalteds.
Gold-bead moustache held her chair for her and she settled slowly.  Her gown was green and gold silks fit for an Imperatrix.  She… perhaps… I had to look away.  I was still old-school enough not to stare at a breeding woman.  Both of them were burnt dark as okas by sun and wind.  She had something that looked like finger covers – like claws -- of wood, with gemstones and brightly painted, over all ten fingers.
As he turned toward me there’s something eerily familiar about him and I slowed down.  Something about the way he tilted his head toward me, shifted his feet… something.  It wasn't polite to stare but I couln’t take my eyes off his thin, hard face. It was a face I should have known… past the strange hair and moustache.  He was exactly my own height and looked me straight in the eye.  What? But…But…I thought… he left… he ran away… he… he’s dead…
“Hello, Father.” He said, standing straight and tall.  Ienas? But… but… the last time…

That last fight. I'd hurled him out of the Fig onto the street and he’d screamed at me that he would rather die than become a shennen stupid winebar owner and I’d screamed back at him that he might as well go die then, because if he didn’t obey me he better not come home...
Even as I stood flat-feet staring, realizing… slowly… that this tough man… this prosperous mercenary with haunted eyes and a… my eyes snagged on the Arkan wedding ring on his finger, filled with… my eyes fell to the woman with her finger-coats up over her mouth… on her finger… a wife?  A breeding wife?... this man…was my long banished, run away son, Ienas… named for me… There came a shriek from behind the beer taps and Tila, skirts hiked up in her hands so she could run, came tearing across the Fig, her hair coming loose from her kerchief.
“Oh my boy!  Oh, Ienas Ienas Ienas!”  My Tila… my quiet Tila… who wept when the young fool left, who watched as I smashed every wine glass I had in my rage, then…  She flung herself upon this young man with old eyes, in public.  “My son, my son! My boy!”  She was weeping in public, clutching both of his cheeks pulling his be-rowed and decorated head down to kiss his forehead and cheeks… she’d been hanging around too many Yeolis… and aNiah… or Dyers…
In front of my customers… my regulars… my staff… in front of the Ten… and, and, and… oh, fik it!  Who in Hayel cared? Dorn and a half dozen of his waiters crowded in from the Gourmand and I didn't give a flyin' fik anyway.
“My… boy?” is finally what fell out of my mouth.  “Iennie?… My… little Iennie? Ienas?”
He had his arms folded around his mother, looking over her head at me, blinking as if he expected something entirely different, then rolled his eyes at me in a way that struck me right to the heart.  He was my Iennie.  “Daaaaaaad…”
The woman giggled as her… man… her tough as nails husband… whined at me like a second thresholder!
Fik it!  I flung my own arms around this tall stranger who was... who long lost son.  What was all this water standing in my eyes?  “Ienas.  Not Iennie anymore. Ienas. A grown man’s name!  Oh my professional god!  Oh Ten!  I… we… thought you were dead!”
He was muscular hard under my arms.  I folded Tila and him into my admittedly squishy… somewhat overweight chest.  I... wouldn't rather be dead than a wineshop owner, Dad, said he. And then it was a wild babble as if we weren’t properly reserved Arkans but some crazy barbarians who showed their silly emotions out for everyone to see.
“Da… Mama… this is my wife, Helfig, she came with me here and we’re going to—“ “—I see, I see you don’t need to—“ “Husband, of course you see it’s as obvious—“ “Welcome home, son… You… are you… will you stay?”
He pulled back away from me and I could finally see the fear in his eyes, that I never understood before.  So much anger… like the Lakans say… “So much blood under the bridge.”  “Dad…if… if you want me.”
“Ienas…” I didn’t know what to say.  I had disowned him… thrown him out… I… couldn’t…  Tila reached up and put her hand over my mouth.
“Of course we want you home, son.  You’ll be looking for a home of your own, surely with your bride… Helfijk.” I started to smile as she tried very hard to pronounce the woman's name without spouting an obscenityI’m ready to be a proper Grandma and the Fig needs a few babies on the floor behind the wine-counter to learn the business!  Ienas, husband.  You know that’s what you want if you have a single sane or sensible thought in your head.”
What was I to do?  My son broke a smile as his mother spoke so rudely to me… in public yet!  The water spilled out of my eyes and I said, “Welcome home, son.” And “Yes, my dear.”

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Author's Note

2nd Update: I will have a post tonight.  Perhaps short but I'm working on it. 

Update:  Things are getting better so it looks like I will be able to write Friday's post... just not to put it up right after midnight tonight....


Dear readers,

I'm sorry that I am unable to write Friday's post.  I'm fighting iritis and cannot see the screen well.

I hope to have things under control by Monday but all bets are off.

I'm off to drip some drugs into my eyes....


421 - Oh Ten, Why does my body react?

I set the letter down on the desk and laid my head upon it.  Definas... my friend... had survived the war.  But he was not himself any longer.  He had been badly injured in the battle of Fispur and was now living in the protracted duration lodging in Berit in Haiu Menshir.  His father wrote that Def did not often recognize the family, or friends and he asked that I not visit, at least right now.  It might upset Def because he often felt that he should know people.
It was late.  I had given interviews all day long, even through meals.  Kallijas had flown off to speak at Irniran and I would be leaving tomorrow before Rim dawn to start a talk-tour to Marsae and then looping back north along the edge of the mountains and back down to the city.  We would be back for Kyriala’s big salon/party where all of the Fortunate Fifty would be invited.  Including my opponents of course.  Guildmasters, the fessas heads of merchant houses, the Fenjitza, the Fenjitzas, the various associations of voters.  And anyone who could wrangle an invitation.
By then the garden should be repaired.  Probably not the old baths renovated but I could not have everything. That just depended on what they found buried under the folly.

Gannara and Farasha were sleeping and they had told me they wanted me to wake them up and crawl in with them when I was done.  This little office was across the house over a small enclosed courtyard on the other side of the house, away from the torn up garden.  I had talked to Ky about possibly restoring her Great Grandparents’ hidden legacy.  I’m always re-building baths…
I jumped up and pulled off my shirt.  Def was as good as dead to me.  He’d… he’d…
I had found that most of my companions… the six who had been my friends, were dead, of war or illness. Sil had been squiring his father against the Yeolis, both dead.  Ord drowned on the Miyatara. Tom and his family had left the Empire entirely and disappeared. Fil had been with Definas, and died at Fispur, both of them had lied about their ages and the desperate generals had just ignored that, sent them onto the field. Tob was living… actually an under-officer, fighting in the North with the 103rd Rejin.
I went into the cascade just off the bedroom suite, closed the door tightly and just stood there under the flood.  It was late and the cistern on the roof above held a great deal of hot water.  I put my forehead against the cool tile and prayed for them all.  Thinking about Def and standing in the hot water made me bless him once more but I wanted to hate my own body when my vile organs stirred.
How could my body react like that?  I bit my lip.  I had promised Surya I would not abuse any part of me, but how could my body react so?  Was it the water? The soap? My remembering the last time I ever saw Definas? I looked down at my… self… my penis, standing up now.  I couldn’t touch myself, the way Surya said I might consider trying, and as I stared at myself, it began to soften again, drooping like it was disappointed.
I dried and bound my own hair back. Gannara and the mane artist had shown me how to keep all the extensions so I didn’t end up looking like a mangy dog.  I could not touch myself… to please myself yet… but I promised Chevenga I would heal that way.  I also had to believe Surya that it was possible.  By that time I was completely soft again and able to dry myself quickly without setting myself off again.
Gannara and Farasha sighed and folded me between them, Farasha sliding over me to let me between them.  Her casual brushing of her breasts over me as she moved got me warm all over, not just between my legs and I had to lie still again as I settled once more.
I’d have to deal with that soon.
I woke slowly and gently.  There was someone breathing under my ear, the soft, even breaths stirring wisps of the hairs there.  There was somone’s hand lying warm against my belly. It was warm, even hot through the silk of my night shirt that was rucked up high over my thighs.  The silk coverlets had worked over the two on either side of me, leaving only my feet covered.
Someone else’s hand – bare hand.  Bare skin… but it lay innocently on my bare thigh.  A soft snore from that side.  Gannara’s hand lay on my belly.  Farasha’s was on my thigh. I came awake even more, my breathing coming fast.  It was still dark.  I’d have to rise and start my trip. I didn’t want to wake them up.  I just… wanted to lie there.  They both wanted to cuddle me and in the cool of early morning their hands were lovely and warm and loving.
Um.  Farasha… was… her fingers moved and um… my mind suddenly focused entirely on exactly where her bare hand was on my skin, as if her fingers were outlined with heat and… well… um.  Gan stirred as well and his hand on my belly made a little circle before stilling again and I was torn between the two sensations.
My… I… um… vile organs weren’t just stirring.  I was so hard I hurt.  I caught my lower lip in my teeth and tried very hard to lie still.  I must have quivered a little though and I caught the glint of Gan’s eye and then his teeth as he smiled.  I had to look away and found myself looking at Farasha’s sleepy smile on the other side, her teeth bright against her skin, the colour of kaf with just a dash of heavy cream. Her hair was a tousled mass and the shirt she wore for sleeping… silk as well… was pulled tight to show her nipple on that side, that it was hard.
Gannara… I could feel his whole body against my other side.  He was hard too.  And… he was not Chevenga.  I knew that down to my bones.  He was just himself, pale Yeoli with eyes almost as dark as hers, his hair falling in a black mane of ringlets.  I had two amazingly beautiful people pressed against me, both sides.
“We have, perhaps, half a bead before we have to get up,” Gannara whispered in my ear.  Neither of them had let go of me.  “Minis.  If you say so, we’ll let go, hearts’brother, no hard feelings.”
Farasha nodded.  “We want to help, Minis.”
I was quivering all over, trying to keep breathing and my breath jumped into a gallop. I was so afraid and it felt so good all at the same time.  Just like Def had done… he… they… were offering to help me… offering me the choice.
“I…”  I swallowed hard.  “I… um… d…d… don’t want… you to let go.”

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


“Those patches…” I say as we turn toward the oak double doors.  “-- they’re a good idea, but I will take no more than one.  Only the one -- for our engraver.”

“Thank you, Ser.  Oh, might I ask you a question, Ser?”  I nod at him.

“Certainly!  Something you learn doing these interviews for a few decades – peoples’ questions are always more telling than their answers.”

“The literary award trust.  Did it come through the sack safely and are the awards for truth in journalism continuing?”  What in hayel?  “Two things... if the trust has come through then I must remove my pseudonym from the list of possible nominees.  And if not, then I pledge to see it re-established out of my personal funds, whether I win the Crystal Throne or not.”

Shen covered bananas.  What in… I’d completely forgotten the silly award… and that it was his shennen idea.  Writers are still doing back flips to get nominations for it… “It came through.  Still going strong.  Akam was in consideration for an award, but I'll kill that, worry not.” Summoner’s spiked tongue… he’s worried about that? Writers.  Weirdness wrapped in crazy.  He is so sentenced to weirdness - he's Mahid, Aan AND A WRITER, Selestialis dump its commodes, all in one AAAAAAAHHHHH.

“Thank you, Ser.”

“Okay, this one's not for the paper.  Is it true you invented Iron Fist?”  Kid has a good laugh.

“Oh no, Ser.  That came out of the worst present my father ever gave me... a thousand Yeolis and their land, near Asinanai.  I freed them secretly and they developed it with my factor pretending I still owned them.  It came into the city… still comes into the city with my old seal on the bottles.”

“All right, all right, have a laugh at the old sot's expense.  The Press rumour mill fell for your cover, well done.  I've kept you well over time, as is my right and privilege as most great and terrible scribbler in the City, but I can hear the line of my lessers chatting even through those marvelous oaken doors you're renting.  I'll pick up the badge from your aitza on the way out.”

“Certainly, ser.  Silken Gloves… It rose out of trying to get the wine to market faster, Ser. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have laughed.”  Note to self… shocking exposé on page five. “I'll tell you the whole story. It was for my twelfth birthday.” Kid’s still talking as he shows me out.  “Atzana, could we have one of those badges for the High Editor, please?”

The welcomist/secretary smiles nicely as she hands me one.  Nice idea.  The women are doing well… and are easy on the eyes, even with the occasional streak of dye.  Almost as nice as a pretty boy.

“The supposed manor house in my name probably was a safe house for smugglers.  But I never visited and never saw it so I don't know.”

We’re on the terrace just outside now.  I can feel the eyes of my underlings on us -- looking to see what I’m feeling.  Some are already taking notes, good for them… “So, how does whatever process fills the silken glove with steel make it faster?  I have some small experience with matters alcoholic, and I'm given to understand that the stronger it is, the more it needs aging.”

“They tried putting ice wine in old brand-wine barrels that had some brandy still in it so it is a combination of ice and heat distillation. Of course if it is aged in oak then it gets smoother.  Just between you, me and the button upon the garderobe door, Intharas, my first drunk was with it.  I tried to drink it... with my companions... in wine glasses when we first received it.  I vomited upon Meras Mahid's boots after they hauled me down off the Eagle tower.  I'd climbed up there and was throwing my jeweled buttons off the Marble Palace roof.”  Note to self… check on that scandalous little story…

“That must have been a ride.  If my first drunk had me wake up next morning with my head knocked in by the Iron Fist, I'd have sworn off for life!”

He’s walking me down the path, very companionable like.  He doesn’t even notice that weird not-Mahid fall in behind us.

“My father thought it was funny so I got away with it, Ser and I moaned my way through the whole next day as well. Spent a great deal of time in the cascade, throwing up and throwing down if you understand me.”

“Yeha, he was like that.  All jollity, turning people inside out.  But enough of him.  It pains me to admit this, Aan, but it's been a pleasure speaking with you."

“Thank you, Ser Terren.  Anytime.  Ser.  You bought my work.” Feh. Writers.

“And will, pray the Ten, continue so to do for quite some time.  See you at your next campaign speech, boy.”  Selestialis dump it’s reeking, pus-filled, gonorrhea dripping, dog-vomit filled commodes.  I fikken LIKE the kid.  He could be an Imperator and I’m going to see he gets the fikken, shennen support he needs from us.  Summoner’s spiked, menstrual-blood covered tongue.  I don’t dare ask ‘What next?”  The Ten might tell me.  “I have sworn off saying 'Just as likely that so-and-so will do such-and-such' FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.”



“… Itrean admits, in public, that he is not competent to assume the high and holy office of the Imperator, having been born to a more lowly station, elevated or not.  Yet what does the out-going Imperator by conquest consider adequate to the task?  The former Spark of the Sun’s Ray, son of the man He drowned in blood in the Sack.  The Brat.  The Aan who pissed upon every helpless head in the city, with black dogs at his back to cause murder and torture if his slightest whim were not immediately carried out to its last, insane nuance?  This is madness…”



“The sober young man in conservative dress, with a shy smile, withstood the full verbal barrage of the Press and then offered to submit to the same rude and abusive crowd of writers under truth-drug.  Kallijas Itrean and the Imperator agreed as well…”



“The Aan line has more than madmen and sinners… but warriors and saints as well.  Minis Aan exhibits the better qualities of his illustrious forbearers, the infamous temper of the family moderated to a fire in his belly for Arko…”



“Minis Aan will be the puppet, with the Shefenkas’s hand firmly thrust to the wrist into a place not normally displayed to decent public view.  Not to be crude…”


“The best candidate for Imperator, Kallijas Itrean, is willingly stepping aside – removing his family from contention… saying that he trusts the young man -- the second-threshold Minis Aan as a true Imperator. The man has been training the boy with other elite on the Marble Palace roof…”