– I really need to stop saying stupid things like “…it’s as likely as He whose etc. is to drop Kallijas and support Minis Aan for Imperator…” My little professional God, what an eight day.
First He Whose etc. gets nine tenths killed and it come out that He’s always, at least since His first threshold, has had this death in him. He tells us and rushes off to Yeola-e to tell them… with a lung wound… a fikken sword having been stuck right through him only a few days ago…
Then comes back and I find I’ve been ignoring the wrong rumours… because it turns out… He IS supporting Minis Aan for Imperator.
Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be the editor of the Pages, I tell you. Drunken assed, semen-sucking, three-headed, four-thumbed, naked-handed dog mother of the crap-hole born mangy, rabid, foaming at the mouth and anus TEN.
Four reporters over this past eight day have passed on rumours that the Aan whelp is not only back in town but turned himself in to the Marble Palace… blah blah blah… and I told them it was as likely as Shefenkas supporting Kurkas’s get for Imperator.
So. There he is, the kid himself, thin as one of his aesthetic ancestors, sitting with Itrean and He Whose etc. cool as you please. And I’ve not only known the kid before, as one of my weird-ass radical freelancers Minakas Akam… and paid him for his bloody-knuckled piss-palmed stories!... I offered him an apprenticeship and he has the gall to turn me down and say he’s going into the ‘fambly business’ and can’t take me up on it.
Damn his eyes.
He’s as cunning and weasely as his work… talks a good fight… Shefenkas has been teaching the kid for years apparently. Sinimas Menden in point of fact, came and told me privately that the kid had actually hired him to run information for him during the Arkan war… to get more and better intel than his fikked up, pharmacopically addled, sperm-shooter, Kurkas.
I admit. I was mad. I stood up and let him have it… every word, every foul, vile thing that I was thinking I had the nerve somehow to get up and in front of the Ten and everybody, told him what I thought of him. And he has the nerve to take it. Shen.
The kid swallowed a little and had to fikken recover but instead of getting mad… that infamous Aan temper… he offers to let me… me and any other writer who cares to… question him under truth drug. Shen.
I don’t want to like that kid. I really don’t. I mean… visions of a barrel of red ink bursting over my press-room still haunt my nightmares. It could have been worse. It could have been blood if he’d really been a crazy shit instead of a… well, a naughty one?
So today I go to have a private talk with the boy, Rim dawn because my thoughts have to go in the next issue. Feh. It’s not like I don’t write to deadline all the time.
I get there and find the whole back garden has been torn up. Apparently the Master of the House and his new friend Ilesias Aan managed to find an old way into the drains under the city and were lost for most of the day and part of the night… and almost drowned in their explorations because the street was being washed. Note to self: send S to talk to the mother… get the details. Tell her to talk to the kids if she can…
So I’m all set to snarl at the kid, and find him still strung thin from his little brother’s adventure the night before… on the heels of us ripping through his guts with a meat fork, on truth-drug… Now, I’m a reasonable man. Distrust is a valuable and persistent trait that got me where I am today. What can this kid possibly say to dissuade me from a lifetime of being a suspicious bastard?
I get past his Gold-Chick with inky gloves… and they show me to this private little parlor, with the curtains half pulled to sort of hide the mess of workmen in the garden starting to put things to rights. Who’d have thought the Aan skin-tag would have had the guts to hire an aitza to be his secretary… and that little bitch Kafiris scooped us well and thoroughly on that one… Mikas’s anal beads…
The kid comes in, pale as if he hadn’t slept and would you believe it… stays on his feet like a boy to a man. Not like the brat at all.
“Good morning, High Editor,” says he, equal to equal but in that nose-bleed high accent of his.
“Shen on skates, boy, sit down. I'm not going to bite your head off now; I did that just yesterday morning and as you'll recall I hate to have to do work twice.” Selestialis dump its commodes, that gets a flicker of a smile and the kid relaxes enough to sit down across from me. He gestures at the kaf pot and the plate full of fried banets scattered with powdered sugar and gold flecks. Of course.
“Yes, Ser Terren... might I offer you something stronger than the kaf and pastries?” Heh, the kid knows my reputation well… he was the one who came armed with a flask when he was still pretending to be an ass-sucking fessas scribbler.
“I wouldn't say no to a Mishenmenik white if you have one. The fizzing wakes me up.” He nods and sends a servant to get the light, morning wine.
“My apologies for unseemly emotions last night, Ser Terren. Perhaps I should have mentioned the truth-drug makes me weep.” He’s worried about how he looked going under. I just sigh inside. EVERYBODY would be nervous going under the drug that requests and requires the truth. Second thresholders just make me want to roll my eyes sometimes. He’s reminding me of my own oldest boy, when he’s trying to be polite. Second thresholders, honestly, more touchy than the old Imperator, every one of ‘em.
“Nah, lad, it takes about a quarter of people I've seen that way. You remember that explosion at the cooking-oil refinery last year? Guy whose fault it actually was got killed to death, but they had to blame someone, and the poor floor worker who drew the short straw cried so much I thought he'd ruptured an eyeball when they put him under.” So I end up actually reassuring the kid!
“I... see... Poor fellow.” And you care? I thought. I can’t help my eyebrows climbing. I keep expecting him to start rubbing his hands together like a villain in a Piinanian Opera, revealing his true self to the audience… especially with that accent.
“Oh, that's grotesque. The accent makes me remember your da, and trying to imagine him speaking equal-to-equal makes my brain squelch out my ears. Don't stop, though I'd rather associate the accent with you than him.” I startle another smile out of him. It’s hard to think that that particular apple fell so far from the tree. Kurkas was nuttier than sweet almond butter and oilier than melting cheese, or melting smegma, but that’s beside the point. The kid doesn’t come across like that. And I am certainly not going to let him know that.
“All right.” The butler shows up with a lovely iced bucket of the sparkling white… not many people have much left of the old vintages. That vineyard got messed up during the war and is only now coming back.
“Anyway. This is supposed to be an interview, so I guess I should ask a question at some point. You've managed to convince me of your intentions now, and I respect that. But power corrupts, else I'd still be the saint I was at your age. If you win, what do you plan to do to not let it go to your head?” Yeah, we're all good friends here lad... Just try to come up with a satisfactory response while imagining an angelic young Intharas, I dare you!