“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.”
IMPERATOR SUPPORTS MINIS AAN FOR CRYSTAL THRONE!!!
“… 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…”
KALLIJAS AS REGENT; AAN RUNNING FOR IMPERATORSHIP
“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…”
SHEFENKAS LAUDS SON OF OLD ENEMY
“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…”
HAS HE GONE MAD? MINIS AAN IS THE BEST CANDIDATE?
“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…”