Friday, January 7, 2011

412 - My Naked Soul

I’d skated across to my new abode, almost as wild as when I was a Dyer messenger, Joras and the rest of my guards – hired by Joras in the couple of days since I’d hired him... three of them the solas who had attempted to arrest me -- on my heels.  One thing, they all had to know how to use faib skates.
It was just so much faster than getting the horses tacked up for back and forth across the city from Marble Palace to Diamond on the Earthsphere. Chevenga hadn’t asked me to give up the Imperial sword but I had left it in the Imperial Chambers that afternoon.  For me to carry it right now would seem presumptuous.
The sword I did carry at my hip was an anonymous piece of steel with plain brass and leather hilt, one-handed, heavier than your typical Aitzas nose-picker and more useful if I should need it.
I hopped up the two steps to my new welcoming room, nodding at everyone waiting for my first interviews and stopped at Atzana’s desk.  “How is it?  Everything all right?”
“Yes, Minis.”  I was following Chevenga’s lead and getting people to call me by name though it was hard to get some of them to break their sense of propriety. “You have time to settle yourself, your first interview is in a half-tenth.” As I begin, so I continue.
“Thank you, Atzana.”  She looked just as unruffled as when she’d been in the Conservancy and smiled as I wheeled off to rip my sodden, wrinkled shirt off and don a clean one.
My interviews were all afternoon and I think I spent the most time explaining, over and over again, why I’d turned myself in, with 14.8 looming over my head.  Apparently people hadn’t really thought it through enough in the presser, perhaps they were so shocked.  Now they were asking.
It was all the variations on “I saw Ch’venga’s second Ten Tens.  I could see the problem for the Empire if I, and Ili, stayed hidden.  And turned myself in because anything else would not have been right.”
Sera Liren graciously invited my household to sit to dinner with the family, seeing that Nuninibas wanted to be close to his new friend Ili and she wanted to make us feel at home, ostensibly.  I really think she wanted a genteel place to grill me, herself, regarding my intentions toward Kyriala, who didn’t say much but watched us and smiled a lot.
“Sera Liren… I am so happy that your inestimable daughter has graciously offered to manage my campaign.  She is a God’s Gift that way.”
“Oh, you are not wrong there, Serin Aan –”  “Minis, please.” “—of course.  Minis… but you speak to a fond mama’s heart there.”
I had to clear my throat and look at ‘my household’.  Gan was right there, of course, and Farasha and her little brother, Altaf, who is a few years older than either Ili or Nuni.  He thinks he’s being surreptitious slipping bits off his plate to his hound under the table. I still haven’t met her parents and I’m nervous about that, too.  A later worry… maybe.  If… when I win.
Then Ailadas, smiling a lot more than I’ve seen before.  He’s been helping Gian with Ili and now has taken over Ili’s tutoring, over Ili’s protests.  Gian’s class is too public but they will be coming up here quite a bit.
Beyond him was Atzana and Laisa Si Rusa whispering behind their fans between courses. Grandfather said he might come out of the Marble Palace sometime.  I think he’s just being careful because people are so afraid of him.
Kyriala was talking to her mother softly on the other side, her mouth covered up half the time with her fan.  Now why was I wasting time watching her mouth?  I shook it off and addressed my food.  It’s good and that made it easier to eat.  A mouthful of one thing, chew ten times, swallow.  I shouldn’t be treating this as fuel like a Mahid.  It deserved better.  A sip of water, a mouthful of something else, a third of the way around the plate.  Chew ten times.  I need food.  I need water.  Another sip.  I cannot starve myself from nervousness.
“Sera Liren, this is delicious.  My compliments to your house and your chef.”
“Thank you… Minis…”
In the same Chamber, that of Internal Presentation, the Marble Palace servants had set up three couches on the dais instead of the table and three chairs of this morning.  The writer’s chairs were all the same.
Krero described a truth-drugging procedure for everyone who had never been truth-drugged before and, of course, for the writers to describe should they so wish. I quoted from the Pages article:
A truth-drug questioning must be done with great care. It’s not as simple as ask a question, get the flawless truth; there are many ways the information can be ruined if the questioner doesn’t know what he’s doing. 

A person under truth-drug goes into a very passive state;his will is not his, and so he cannot speak what he chooses to, as he usually can. What that means in practical terms is several things.

If he doesn’t understand a question, he cannot ask you what you mean; he will only go silent, or try to answer
it as best he can, and his answer will likely be confused,and worthless.So you must ask everything very clearly, and in such a way that only one meaning is possible. If you misinterpret his answer—and because he is only semi-conscious, he will often speak very quietly, and slur words—he cannot correct you.

He cannot say, “No, what I meant was…” So it is best to ask for clarification, and ask a question in a different way to confirm the answer, often.

You can’t do it like a court or Assembly cross-examination, you can’t confront him: if you say, “That’s not so!” he will not argue, because he cannot. All he can do, other than answer questions, is obey commands, so that if you command him to answer a question a certain way, he will, even if the answer is not the truth.

If he’s asked the same question again, without a command, he will tell the truth, contradicting himself; he’s subject to whatever was said to him last. So if you try to control his answers, you will get worthless ones.

If you are angry, the temptation is to run over him with words, as he cannot defend himself, and you have the satisfaction of seeing him lie helpless and silent while you rant, or make him say whatever you want. But you get no truth that way.

It’s a skill, an art. In Arko, at least among Arkans who do it properly, you aren’t allowed to question a person under truth-drug without having been trained in it, and apprenticing for a while to someone who is expert.

They’ll be in the stage suitable for questioning for about two and a half beads, though you have to start asking test questions again after two beads, just to make sure. Then it fades off gradually, over the next three beads. 

Oh, a bit more: All right, let me say this; under truth drug a person tells what he believes to be the truth. If he believes falsely, he will still say what he believes. He does not know it is false, so it is still truth to him."
He finished with, “One question at a time.  I reserve the right to intervene for two reasons, either to clarify a question or stop an answer that is outside the realm of this questioning, am I understood?”
There was nodding of heads all around the room.  Intharas and three other senior editors all had, as had been specified, brought vials of truth-drug they had, themselves, obtained with permission from the various courts.  They checked the seals on each other’s boxes… my grandfather was there to test the chosen vials.  He had test strips of paper that showed certain stripes.  He demonstrated on various of his own drugs.  A vial randomly picked from the boxes of truth drug… then the chose vials.  “Would any of the writers care to test if this is in fact, truth-drug?” He said, mildly.
“No, Pharmacist.” That was Intharas. He stared at the three of us with our arms bare.  “I pick which vial goes into whom?”
“That seems reasonable, Intharas,” Chevenga said.  Kallijas shrugged.  I nodded.  I was so ashamed that they would see me weep.  But I had to get through that.  I swallowed and didn’t lie down as the Pharmacist took up the first syringe.
“That one to the Imperator,” Intharas said and Krero stepped up to take Chevenga’s head in his arms.  “It’s all right, Cheng,” he said quietly.  Chevenga looked away from Amitzas but held out his arm, clenching and unclenching his fist.
“Go ahead, Amitzas,” he managed.  He had healed so much from when he was tortured by my father and my grandfather.  But he still tensed as the needle slid in.  Krero held him a moment longer and then he tapped out like a wrestler and laid himself down upon the divan.
“That one to the boy.” Intharas said, pointing.  I ignored the flicker of glances my way and held out my arm.  I couldn’t make myself smile.  I should have brought Gannara.  A hand on my shoulder and Kall was there, smiling at me. I smiled back and felt the sting as I looked away.  That was good of him.  Truth drug was surprisingly warm, coursing up my arm.  I hadn’t imagined it last time.
Kallijas patted my arm and went to his own couch, offering his own arm for the remaining vial of drug, the coolest of us all.  I watched the needle slide under his porcelain pale skin, tenting it up slightly, the dab of cotton afterwards.
Then I turned my eyes to the waiting writers and Krero’s craggy face and felt very alone in the midst of the crowd. Their faces were just as distant from me as though they were all Mahid and judgment was now in their hands.  It was as if I had just stripped my soul naked before them all.  I wouldn’t want to tell them I was frightened but if one of them asked, I would.


  1. Very kind & considerate of Kallijas indeed; I like that man. I also like the way that Minis both forces himself to eat and then scolds himself for just watching Kyriala's mouth. That was rather priceless imo.

  2. I'm glad I can show you Kallijas's character like this.

    And Minis is just eighteen going on nineteen with weird teachers all his life... what does he know? ;-)

  3. He knows that he doesn't want to be like some of his teachers & to look for better role models for himself. That's a lot to know at his age,

  4. Yes, true. He is smart and wise in his way. I think a good foundation to build on.