Friday, February 18, 2011

440 - The Unrelenting Tide Continues

There once was a man named Kin
Who committed an equine sin.
"Don't call me an ass,"
"Because my lovers eat grass,"
"This activity keeps me quite thin!"
There once was a perverted Arkan
whose lovers were more than just barkin'
his neighbors said 'no way'
his true love says 'neigh'
and horrid puns'r forever remarkin'?"

Boom, patta patta patta. Boom, patta, patta, patta, Boom!
You see this rancid old stud
an Aitzas... face covered in mud...
He'd be on the Throne 
like a shen covered stone...
Boom, patta patta patta. Boom, patta, patta, patta. Boom!
He's not even the stallion!
He's the mare... for a stallion battalion!
throw a shen foal
every day from his hole...
Boom, patta, patta, patta. Boom, patta, patta, patta, Boom!
There was a man fikked by a horse,
asked did he like it, answered "Of course!
I like it just fine,
Since breeding's my line,
A lifestyle I would much endorse!"
A man whose taste was quite coarse,
had to have sex with his horse.
When asked "Was it painful?"
Down his nose, looked distainful,
and said "I can take it as matter of course!"

A child's skipping song; 

KinKazien is snorting, KinKazien is snorting,
his horses are fed and ready to bed,
Foldaran is not very sporting!
A parody of the popular Arkan lullaby; 

Ten horny stallions to send Kin to sleep
and when the moon rises,
Ten lusty horses for Kin to keep.

Ten randy horses wherever Kin roams,
And when the sun rises, 
Ten studly horses to fik him at home. 
There once was an Aitzas named Kazien
Whose hunger for love was amazien.
When asked was it ill,
To wolf down his fill,
He answered, “Who, me? I’m just grazien.” 

Kin Kazien rode off to town,
a-riding like a pony,
stuck it where the sun don't shine,
and called it matrimony!
An Eminent man of the hour
Was reknown when amour was in flower
He went to great pains
In seizing the reins
And performed with a certain horsepower.

A Noted Political Figgure
When his urges were set in full Figgure
Would delight when his prayer
to be used like a mare
Was rewarded with small lumps of suggur.

AN: My thanks to Blue for the one limerick, and Karen for another! Thanks Kevin for the Yankee Doodle parody and two limericks. I may add more as people are inspired!  Either that or Dyer chants... your choice...

Our visitors are here tomorrow and Monday is Family Day up here, so if I am inspired while busy doing the social round I may... or may not post on Tuesday.  I may... or may not post the rest of the week, that is still up in the air.

Have a good weekend everybody

Thursday, February 17, 2011

439 - It Makes Life Weird

My mother looked different somehow.  I wasn’t sure what it was.  There was no sign of the mother stone but I did not expect it.  She might never wear it, for all that she had accepted it. She was, as always, dressed in her Mahid black and greys, but Grandfather had decreed that other colours were mandatory for the new Mahid.  So she wore a fichu of a rich burgundy with a tiny bright thread in it, a gold so fine it was almost silver.  That must be the change.
“Did you make the shoulder shawl, mother?”  I asked as I saw her properly seated in her chair.
“No, my son.  This was a gift from Serina Liren.  She and I exchanged several pieces of fancywork.  I made a cascading shawl of Mahid and Phoenix roses for her.”
“Oh.  That’s nice.”  I swallowed a little harder than I wanted to.  The idea of Kyriala and my mother sitting and sewing fancywork together and exchanging gifts unsettled me.  It made me feel as if there was quite a bit going on that I was just not seeing.  But it made me happy that they liked one another.  That was good.
She sat with me and we ate together.  I still hadn’t managed to find out what her favourite foods where, since Mahid were not suppose to have favourite anything, so I had bespoken a lot of the same things that had been served at my party, from the Marble Palace kitchens.  The fish and rice rolls and the spoons of black roe and spiced cream she seemed to like.  Then I escorted her in her walking circuit around the edges of her confinement. I admit I was somewhat startled at her brisk walk and I was reminded of the pacing of the big tigers pacing in a too-small a cage. Less than two eight-days, mother, and you will be free, either way.
“Gannara, I hate to criticize you...” ...but, he thought.  “...but, aren’t you spending too much time on that Aan boy’s campaign?  I thought you said you wanted to work more in the family business?  And I’m happy with how much you and Fara have been here...” but, he thought again.  “... but perhaps you could overnight with the family a little more?”  And not be sleeping with that Aan boy, he thought patiently.
“Shadowmama.”  Gannara got up and hugged her, answering what he thought her fear was rather than her complaint.  “I thought you said Minis wasn’t so bad.”
“Well... I worry.  I worry about you and about him.”
“It’s all right shadowmama.  I’m still seeing healers about what happened to me and I’m not... fixated... on Minis, all right?  I mean we saved each other over and over when we were with the Mahid.  It was us against them and we got to be close that way.”
She sighed.  “And if he wins this... you’re going to want to stay with him?”
“Probably.  Fara and Min and I have talked about it and decided that we cannot rush into any kind of decision.  After all, we all had wonderful teachers in how to be careful.”  He grinned at her and she huffed and crossed her arms at the compliment.
“Pff.  Don’t try to put me off with flattery young man.  I am simply trying to look out for your good, for your blood-parents’ sake and for yours.”
“I know that mama.”  She softened and patted his cheek.
“Good.  Then will you and Fara be staying over tomorrow night after dinner?”
“No, mama.  We’ll be going up to the Diamond on the Earthsphere.  There’s another gathering there.  We’re in the last days of Minis’s campaign so we cannot slow down now.  Besides, Kallijas offered to show me a few things.”
“Stubborn boy.”
“Just like my mama.”  He grinned at her again.  “And I did promise to balance these accounts for papa before I left today...”
“So I should leave you alone.  Pff.  Well.  I did say I was going to say my piece.  And I’m keeping an eye on Minis Aan, believe you me.”  Like all of Arko is watching him, mama.  I know.  You’re afraid he’ll turn out to be like his father, deep down.
I miss Minis.  Even if he is being a big poop again.  Do all the grownups think Nuni and I can’t hear them when they whisper like that?  I mean... it’s about the elections and its got something to do with sex and they don’t want Nuni and I to be ‘co-rrupted’.  So of course we had to try and find an uncensored copy of the Pages.
We tried the house copy but there was a big hole where there was supposed to be a picture and the butler gave us the ‘you two are being naughty’ look.  So we went out to Nuni’s friend’s place.  That’s Forever Faithful Manor and his friend’s named Metmondias, but even though he’s older and more mature than us, nearly second threshold... enough that he says he’s more ‘so-fisticated’ than us kids... the copy of the Pages that he had, had a big hole in it too.
So the three of us went to the Great Library and Metmondias tried to make like he was a lot older but they wouldn’t let him in past the Portal of Propriety.  “Young Serins,” the librarian said, staring sternly over the top rim of his spectacles at us.  “I am certain that there is nothing absolutely necessary for such young men to see.  Good day.”
We tried to buy a fresh copy of the Pages ourselves, but the vendor took one look at us and did sell us a copy... that had a hole in it on that page.  A couple of men we asked to buy us fresh copies of the Pages, laughed and told us we needed to ask our father’s permission first... and when we said we didn’t have fathers – ‘cause only Met did -- said we should go home.
We sat down on a park bench and talked about it.  Grownups were so poopy.  I was going to go skate and tried to talk Nuni and Met into a pick-up faib game but they really wanted to see the sexy picture all the grownups were hiding.
So we tried a few trash barrels but people were conscientious about being legal and all that and tore that page out before tossing their papers.  It was really frustrating.
We talked about it and figured that we made a mistake in trying to ask some Aitzas to buy us a Pages.  “How many coppers do we have left?”
“What with all of us?  Enough to buy another Pages... but that didn’t work.”
I don’t remember who thought of it but we figured out that we had enough to hire an okas to buy us a Pages and that’s what we did.  He grinned as he walked around the corner of the building and handed us the roll.  “Hev fun,” was all he said and kept going, casual-like, pocketing the chains we’d given him.
We giggled to ourselves and each other and ran back to Met’s place and went back into the back garden bushes and didn’t open the Pages until we were all under a big bush that had lots of droopy branches all the way to the ground.
We opened to that page and at first we were kinda disappointed.  It looked kind of like a really fancy Jitzmitthra costume on a naked man.  Then I asked, “do horses do sex like dogs?  I mean I’ve seen dogs jumping on each other and I asked Minis what they were doing and he turned bright red and Gannara just said they were a bitch and a dog making puppies.
“Yeah, they do...” Met said.  “I saw my dad’s stallion get up on a fence and the mare kinda helped him by backing up.  I wasn’t supposed to see and she wasn’t supposed to get... um... poked by that stallion but...”
“So...” Nuni said and put his finger on the picture.  “That hole there... leads to his...”  We three stared a little more and then we just had to giggle it was so silly.  “That hole is for the horse...”
We fell over laughing then till we peed our kilts and then we had an argument over who should get to keep the picture.  I lost because I didn’t really have a good place to keep it and Met’s dad inspected his room regularly so Nuni got it. His mama and his sister don’t snoop in his treasure box.  He said we could look at it any time we wanted to.
It didn’t make me feel anything looking at it... except it was funny.  I guess because I couldn't think of what sex with a horse might be like.  I couldn't think of what sex with a person might be like. I wonder sometimes about all this sex stuff.  It’s pretty important to grown-ups, but right now it just makes life weird.  I can’t even think of sex and me together... it doesn’t fit in my head like there's only enough space for fun stuff. I guess I’ll find out when I grow up myself.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

438 - A Tell-All Book Deal

I am dancing with a flame.  I catch the strand of sunfire in my arms and we are dancing a falisas. I am worried that I cannot dance well enough and it stiffens me, and I stumble and trip right over into the fire.
It washes around me and vanishes and I tumble into darkness.  I fall and and fall and fall and I cry out but there is no air.  A silver disk grows in my sight, the Goddess’s Eye but it gets bigger and bigger until it fills my sight.
I tumble in my fall and the disk is above me now as if I were somehow whirled around and flung down falling back toward... the Earthsphere.  It is a blue and white marble out of a child’s box.  If I am dreaming of the Gods then Aras should be ne—
I am snatched out of my fall and tucked under a massive arm.  “Don’t try and second guess the Gods, boy.” It is Mikas and he is in an enormous faibalitz bowl, holding me like a disc.  He skates silently, no clicking of wheels or rumble of hard rubber.  His face... I can see His face and He winks at me as He floats up in a perfect flip shot, His feet flinging us up over the edge of the bowl and He hurls me toward Kyriala, who is somehow wearing skates and on my team.  Benthasas Mennon leaps up and intercepts me, flings me to Adamas Kallen.
Kallen  hurls me down the bowl and I can see the opposing goal isn’t a normal slot.  It’s the edge of a heading axe.
I was caught by the bed, flung out of the dream.  I was sleeping alone again, down in Anoseth, the unseasonable rainstorm keeping me grounded. If tomorrow wasn’t flying weather I’d hire a space on the stagecoach back to the city.  From Anoseth it was almost as fast.
The dream made it obvious that I was worried about the election, no surprise there.  I was scared I was going to mess things up, that’s what I thought the Muunas part was... and Mikas?  Who knew about the trickster god?
Kyriala and Monnen... my jealousy of the man was not right. If he offered for her, she should be free to choose him, if she wanted him. I had no rights over her.  I was her friend.  And the opposing goal being a headsman’s axe, well, that was obvious.
I got up and opened the window over the city and the port, and rubbed my eyes.  I wasn’t going to sleep again immediately and the self sex thing was right out of the question.  I turned around and realized I had enough room at the end of the bed to do each separate God for the Ten Tens if I limited my arm movements and pulled in the sweeping motions.
That would help me get to sleep.  I prostrated myself and started. Don’t try and second-guess the Gods, boy.
Saddled with Kazien? What people are thinking
by Tiraias Sentas fessas, Pages Staff Writer

Your intrepid writer, always keen to display the mood of the city, went out upon the streets of Arko and asked these questions:
"Pardon me Ser/a/in/a, but I'm doing an article for the Pages, finding out what Arkans generally think of Kin Immen Kazien's sexual predilection."

"So what is your opinion of his... habit?"

"And how do you think the discovery of it will influence his prospects of being elected Imperator?"  I obtained a number of thoughtful responses…
Falusas Skoras, fessas said...
"I'm not surprised in the slightest. The moral fibre of Arkan society has been rotting from the top for at least a hundred years, as our Aitzas allow themselves to sink deeper and deeper in a slimy morass of corruption and degeneracy. Why do you think we fell to the barbarians? This is nothing. I've heard stories of Aitzas doing it with house-donkeys, chickens, melons, even slow-moving tubs of cottage cheese. Horses? Faugh. Old gloves."
Iin Sar Sotzetrin, Aitzas said...
"I happen to know Ser Kazien personally, and I assure you, he is an honest and honourable gentleman and would make a fine Imperator. What a nobleman does in the privacy of his own manor is his business, and his alone. It has no bearing on the performance of any public office he might hold. In my opinion the worst blight upon Arkan society is the unprecedented prevalence of scurrilous publications, read by lower classes and those of the weaker-minded sex -- people who have no business being literate at all! -- who slaver over any perceived scandal and want nothing so much as to bring down one of their betters."

Lora Sanetas, sola said...
"I wasn't going to vote for Kim Immen Kazien as Imperator, but now I am, absolutely. The worst flaw afflicting Imperators throughout the history of Arko has been lack of humility. Ser Kazien will never have that trouble, as long as he lives.
Akatzen Sammas, fessas, said...
"Look, I don't care about Kin Kazien's predilection or prospects, I just want you miserable hacks to quit with the puns! O my little professional God, I've never seen such an orgy of verbal bottom-feeding in my entire life! Don't you people have bun-fights to cover, whereby you could raise the level of the national discourse?’
Merakas Hammen, solas, said...
"Look, I think Ser Kazien should bow out of the election. That would simply be horse sense. Hahahahahahahaha! I know that one's good enough to go in the paper! Make sure you spell my name right, M, E, R, A, K..."
Several foreigners declined comment, though with high good humour.
Tirikar Ririasaj, Enchian, said...
“What you Arkans will do to yourselves and your poor animals!  Honestly.”
Ninema Risten, Aitza said...
"My opinion? Disgusting. Sinful. And I should hope no one would dream of voting for the shameless scoundrel. You think everyone's laughing now? Imagine how the barbarian races would laugh and sneer at such an openly ridiculous Imperator! He demeans us all, before the ten and all earthsphere!"

Jyanina Veravenga, Yeoli said...
Atziras Mutas, okas, said...
Don' know mucha this. 'S pretty funny tho. This 'un ain't votin' fer no horse's ass, nor asses’ horse, neither.
I came in on the stagecoach from Anoseth, tired, jostled, and not in a good mood.  Kallijas would be back later tonight, since the rain had faded once we got away from the coast.  He would be up at the Marble Palace and tomorrow morning we had scheduled training – he was still being gracious enough to teach me – and then a breakfast with the Guildmasters.
It was the last two eight-days before the election and I had to take some time to visit my mother.  The Kazien Horse scandal wasn’t showing any signs of fading yet.  People had a lot more plays on words to get out of their system, and at an Aitzas, at that.  One whom, it was now coming out, was not the best, nor easiest of masters.  His valet had just signed a tell-all book deal about working for the Kaziens.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

AN: Apologies

I am not feeling so hot tonight and have no words for you.  Sorry.  

I am going to have visitors from the states as well in the next litte while so my posting is going to be very very irregular, if at all.

Assume a week hiatus for next week, ok?

Man on the Street Interviews

Tir is going out into the streets of Arko to interview people about Kinky Kazien and his Horse Scandal.  Please let me know... in the comments... what you (as Arkans) think about all this...

"Pardon me Ser/a/in/a, but I'm doing an article for the Pages, finding out what Arkans generally think of Kin Immen Kazien's sexual predilection."

"So what is your opinion of his... habit?"

"And how do you think the discovery of it will influence his prospects of being elected Imperator?"

Monday, February 14, 2011

437 - The Privacy of One's Stable

Imperial candidate constrained in a delicate position!!
Kin Immen Kazien’s Horrid Vice Revealed!!

by Tiraias Sentas fessas, Pages Staff Writer

[Tir--I’m editing this as if I believe it.  If this is some kind of insane fikken prank you are so fired your ass will be leading your teeth. -Inth]

[Second Fire come if I lie, boss.  I was there.  Though with you it’s got to be Four-thousand and Second Fire come -Tir]

On Anae 12th, a servant of Kazien’s household, to wit, his personal valet of thirty years’ service, Lindan Foldaran, gave a crowd of writers, from the Pages and elsewhere, access to his erstwhile master, while he was in mid gallop, shall we say, of his predilection.

We were guided into the basement of the Flying Horse Manor and to a cross-passageway.  “That way,” Foldaran said, indicating the passage one way, “Leads to the stables.”  He opened a door large enough to let an animal into and in the room beyond was Kazien.  At least I assumed it was Kazien for I could not immediately see the face of the man strapped to an extremely sturdy, padded bench in the middle of an elaborate cage.

He wore a head-piece shaped like a horse’s head, complete with bridle and reins lashed hard to his ankles and a luxuriant horse’s tail strapped to his hips. (See the accompanying illustration.)  “Foldaran!” he cried, and we recognized the voice immediately as Ser Kazien’s.  “How long does it take to fetch a [adjective deleted] hors...”  We had, every one of us, been stricken silent as we took in the scene before us, but we must have made some noise.

He froze for a moment in shock, then yelled out, “Help!  Help!  Arrest that man!  He hit me!  He tied me up here... he’s doing this to ruin my campaign!” among other things.  But while he tried to convince us that he was not there by his own will, Foldaran calmly called, “’Ware stallion!”

He had gone down to the stable, while we gaped, and released one of the priceless studs.  Rather than bolt for the paddock or simply stay in the stable as one might expect, this matchless beauty of an equine creature, bred for centuries by the Kazien family, trotted calmly, eagerly and rather... routinely to the room with the cage and the man. He was not being led by Foldaran.

There, to our stunned silence, the animal immediately sniffed, nuzzled, and then performed... as stallions perform, biting into the shoulders of the headpiece, that was obviously padded just for that purpose, to protect delicate human skin from large jagged teeth.  The Imperial candidate screamed as if he were in agony, but a glance between his legs from the front belied that.

After the horse had dismounted, Kazien avowed that it was normally his valet in this position, not him, and he normally just preferred to watch... but Foldaran offered immediately to be truth-drugged.  “I have lashed my erstwhile master down upon this bench every second day for nearly thirty years,” said he, “and released him after he’d had his fill.”

What Ser Kazien said at that point I must request my readers to imagine, since persons of now delicate sensibilities read, and I would never pour such filth into their eyes. Suffice it to say that Ser Kazien did not agree to be similarly truth-drugged.  In the meantime, Foldaran led the stallion, docile with happy satiation, back to its stall, and released another that was fervently aroused. He did exactly the same as the first, completely unmoved by either noise or audience.

As the second stallion was led away, a writer from the Brahnviki News asked, “Would Ser Kazien care to comment on his current chances to win the Crystal Throne?”  Again, Ser Kazien’s response cannot be printed in a respectable publication.

Shortly afterward, a small detachment of the Marble Palace guard, led by Guard Captain Kreras Saranieras, lassoed the event, corralled the remaining stallions (I remind the gentle reader that Ser Kazien has eight uncut male horses kept separated in his stable, as was revealed during his disastrous fete) and herded us all off the estate.

I ventured to ask the stern-faced Captain, should his presence be interpreted to mean that the Imperator was aware of what was happening here?

"He is," Kreras gritted, his face taut and grim.  "It is by his order I was sent to call a halt to this, and liberate Ser Kazien."

What, I asked, was the Imperator's reaction to this revelation?

"You will have to ask him that.  I do not pass on what he says in private."

The Imperator, He Whose Hand Holds the Reins of the World, confirmed that he had sent the unit on the double and commented only, "I won’t judge a candidate on personal matters. Arkans may judge for themselves when they vote."

Kazien's rival for the throne-by-election and son of the late Imperator, Minis Aan, quipped with an entirely straight face, "Should Arko decide that my honourable opponent is worthy to be Imperator, I am reasonably sure they won’t have to worry about the verbal influence of his lovers.  His worst worries now must be the straw-ballots."

Mil Torii Itzan interrupted party preparations to comment, "I... I am shocked... I am speechless... I... I am in abject pity for my poor friend Kin."

Adamas Kallen and Kallijas Itrean are out of the city on speaking tours and are unavailable for comment.
I asked Saeririas Norben, whom Ser Kazien employs to manage his campaign, how he felt this revelation would affect his employer's prospects of victory.

He had not heard about it, and when it was explained to him, simply refused to believe it, and thus no comment was immediately forthcoming.  However, his resignation was tendered the next day.

No sign of the Kazien family has been seen outside the Flying Horse, even though it is the height of the Celebratory Season. Ser Kazien has quietly announced that he has cancelled several speaking engagements.
Kazien Unbridled!

Candidate Vows to Continue the Race!
Not the Mane Event?
Apparently the singular event of Arko voting in a new Imperial line is not the mane event according to Kin Immen Kazien who did not pause in his regular assignations with his team of trained stallions.  Indeed, he did not shy at the verbal fence but seized the bit in his teeth and stoutly denied any wrong doing whatsoever.  “I have harmed no one in this.  What I do privately, as long as it does not step outside the law, is truly my business!  And no one else’s.”
It seems we are to keep government out of the privacy of one’s stable.
“One might say his political career has stalled.  Despite the favours he's curried, the race has left him at the starting gate. Not to geld the lily, but one might say his aspirations have been cut short, and those of a more daring nature can look to our rival publications for more detailed information about his stud book.”
“While many will await the more personal interpretation of the faces in his memoirs, we can only hope that the candidate in question is not the sort who kicks and tells. A political war-horse may be put to pasture... and a dark horse candidate, who perhaps wishes things had been a little darker, indeed.”
While not the first politician to have his career undone by the revelations of a sex-boy, he may take some satisfaction that, as he drives his carriage around the town, to a chorus of laughter and whistles, at least he knows that his boys are pulling their share of the load.
Lacking in horse sense, Kazien continues his steeplechase for the Crystal Throne...
One worries now if the ballot boxes will be stuffed with straw - or less appetizing contents.  Oh, the ballot-counting could get dirty, indeed...
Inensa dropped the Pages upon the floor and wiped her gloves together as if dusting them clean.  But her expression wasn’t one of disgust.  Not even the habitual blankness, but rather a slight softening, as if a smile were lurking, waiting to burst out if she ever chose to release it.
She smoothed her skirt and rose to pace decorously out to the Mahid training hall gallery and stood, looking down at the Mahid women below.  It was slow and decorous, the rigid dance-like exercise allowed.  Her own muscles and bones ached for lack of movement.  She tucked her gloves into her sleeves and walked her circuit.  I shall exercise as much as I can.  For this child in me, I wish for the right candidate to win.  If I do not swear, two of us die.
These modern children.  Faib skates.  Swimming.  An Aitzas man... she cut off that thought.  Voting.  A Mahid who acts like a fessas and his wife who professes her wishes.  Her wishes.  Reading. I am allowed to acknowledge my father. A Mahid writing poetry. I may acknowledge my son, at least for a few more days. She did not raise her hand to touch the motherstone she carried in the dress pocket.  Unsworn... uncommitted... she could not wear it.  It would not be proper.

She walked the limited route she was allowed.  She made no attempt to go elsewhere except in her mind.
That corridor leads to the gallery where Mahid women could be hidden and yet watch the faibalitz games.  Not anymore. There is no Mahid team, and possibly never will be again.  The tradition and honour died.  I remember my son, roaring through the Mahid quarter on his skates.  No carpets to trip him. I felt the tug of that speed of his.  Perhaps... one day... perhaps... no. 
I am bearing.  I am too old to learn such wild things. I recognize this breeding madness, the wish to dance in the dark, to sing to this child. To imagine.  All so unMahid.  But who is to stop me?  My father if I speak it.  I hold my silence.  Breeding madness, nothing more.

But that crude man has removed one more impediment from my son gaining the Crystal Throne.  One less barrier to him attaining his birthright and, if I may be allowed so selfish a thought, perhaps I will not need to die.  I... and this child... will not need to die.
My Great Goddess, Mother of all Arko, I pray to you as a mother, for my son, and for the new child I carry.


My thanks to Kevin for many of the articles excerpts and puns and to Karen for more puns and giving the main story that inimitable Intharas touch! And to Toast for suggesting more puns.

I would like to do a Pages article, a Man on the Street piece.  If you care to be an Arkan, let me know in the comments what your reaction is to the Horse Scandal! 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Premium Content!

To see the pencil sketch I drew of Kin Kazien, constrained in a delicate position...   donate to the cause.

I will send you the .jpg.  Tell me the correct email address to send it to.

It is not for the under eighteen set, that's for sure.

Friday, February 11, 2011

436 - Kazien Touts Good Breeding

I was able to doze in the Express chair on the way back to the Diamond on the Earthsphere, but I found myself irritated that the trip was so quick.
Atzana had my afternoon filled up with my various engagements; I’d be meeting Kallijas for another joint speech at the University in the early evening.  Then I would be having dinner with the Firefighters of Arko.  The Sereniteers had a gathering tomorrow and I actually found myself looking forward to those.  The men… and now some women… who did that work tended to be more down to earth and easier to talk to than the delicate, toxic Aitzas.
The next day I would be doing a day flight down to Anoseth and do my speaking there.
I shut my fan with a snap and slapped it down upon the desk.  “Skala… please tell me that we don’t need to hire another crew of poster hangers down in Fispur?”
“I’m sorry, Kyriala.  They were hired away by Kazien’s people offering more chains.”
“All right.  Let us hire women and girls to hang out posters for us there.  Kazien will hardly deign to hire them.”
“I suggest we get Dyers, Ky.  There have been some confrontations between poster hangers… Kallen’s people have been threatening ours.”
“I’ll make another note of that to the Ministry of Serenity.  Tell all our people to avoid confrontations if they can avoid them at all.  We don’t want this to escalate any more.”
Skala made a note on her paper.  “Itzan… he’s been having his orators hand out fancy biscuits with his device stamped on it.”
“I see.”
“Banaksias has been drawing caricatures of all the candidates.”
“I need to see them all, before they get scrubbed away.”
“All right. The city workers are actually leaving them alone so people can see them.  You need to get away from that desk for a while, Ky.”
“Thank you, Skala.”
…excerpts from campaign speeches…
“Mil Torii Itzan for Imperator?  The man wishes nothing more than to have access to the Marble Palace for a venue for his notorious parties!”
“Aan?  A devious, nasty boy years ago, a devious, sly second thresholder now, who has preyed upon the Imperator’s fragile state of mind! His sneaking subtleties hidden under a disingenuous fa├žade, he lies in wait for any unfair advantage.  Mahid trained, Mahid and Aan engendered.  His father’s blood runs strong in his veins, the Aan madness turned to violent asceticism.  He has fooled even the Imperator, our beloved, called-back Shefenkas.  The Imperator has just recently revealed the source of his brilliant madness, his delicate balance of greatness and insanity!  Itrean is a simple-minded sword buck who follows the strongest man near him.  Not the kind of man who can lead an Empire!  Born solas, solas in spirit for always!
“The rumours of Kazien’s private proclivities abound and I, Adamas Kallen, shall not stoop to speculate on what kind of disgusting, vile, perverse things my esteemed colleague may be indulging himself in, in the stygian privacy of his own, fortress-like mansion.  It is his right and his privacy to befoul himself in any manner he wishes.”
“My esteemed and very, very intelligent cousin may call upon me, Abatzas Kallen, in my brilliant capacity to vouch for him in every way.  The Kallen family stands behind our bright hope and we will support him in every way we may.  He is modest and seeks to stand for the highest of high offices without our help but we are certain he will enlist our brilliant, brilliant talents once he wins the Crystal Throne.  After all, Itrean was a stinking traitor who should have died at my command, in the last war, and it is obvious that his integrity is questionable and who could trust a man who so easily spread himself for the man who was then Arko’s greatest enemy? Rather than trust the easily turned Itrean, and the insane young Aan who set aside his closest companions at a whim, I recommend my cousin, Adamas Kallen.”
“My esteemed colleagues are at some pains to paint their competitors in a harsh light.  I wish to show Arko who I am, not who I consider my opponents to be.  Let us, after all, be positive in our recreation of ourselves!  It is too easy to speak ill of another man.  Let me instead commend my colleagues for presenting themselves as willing to take on the difficult and daunting task of being Imperator.  Especially so if one is intending to do the office justice, rather than indulge themselves in the mere prestige of the position.”
Poll, chalked upon a public notice board in Agora Celestia, Anae 11
In the lead: Kin Immen Kazien
In a tie for second place: Kallijas Itrean/Minis Aan and Adamas Kallen
Third: Mil Torii Itzan
And, scrawled underneath in a variety of hands… Fourth: Keep Shefenkas! Anybody but these dastards!  My house donkey! Horoken the Accursed! Throw them ALL out!
Things got uglier in the campaign.  In Marsae there were fights and a near riot at one point when all the sets of poster hangers converged on the same part of the city and broke some heads over who over-postered the other.  Kyriala had started hiring Dyers on skates because they could move faster, even with a roll of posters and a bucket of wash glue.
There were a dozen injuries reported, teeth knocked out, a broken nose, minor concussions.  Kallijas  flew out to see to our campaign people and to speak personally.  He also had a quiet word with a number of solas in the garrison there, who were suddenly much more prominently visible, assisting the Sereniteers in the port town.
It was on Anae 12 when I had two tenths to myself and was working on my next campaign speech in my head, in the Baths at the Diamond, when Antras cleared his throat at the top of the Main Bath steps.  “Serin Minis?  I have heard a rumour that it is important you hear.”
“Really?  Hold on a moment.  Let me get dry and tell me.”
I could almost ignore myself, the feeling of water pouring off my body as I walked out of the Bath.  In private I didn’t wear what was becoming standard Arkan bathing costume.  Since my party, others of the Fifty had been ‘re-discovering’ their old family baths.  It was odd how modern many of them were.
I wrapped a towel around me like a cape and sat down on the bench.  Antras had the oddest look on his face, as if he truly wanted to burst out in laughter but was being restrained by his training.
“I have it on good authority, Minis.  A colleague of mine, who worked for the Kaziens…he just told me that he and his family are about to retire in style and you won’t have to worry about Kin Kazien winning the Crystal Throne.”
Both my eyebrows went up.  “Really?  What did he just fall over dead from a brain burst?”
“No, no, nothing so…unassailable.  His rumoured proclivities have just been revealed.”
“Oh. My.”  I could almost not imagine.  “Revealed?”
“To the writer’s of the Pages.  Kazien’s valet himself is revealing him.”
“Or has already.”  Antras’s lips twitched and he took a deep breath as he gained control of himself once more. “Every second afternoon, apparently, Kazien has his little tryst.  He has a suit… and a form… that allows him to be safely… um… mounted… shall we say, by his own stallions.”
“Mounted…?”  I blinked and my mouth dropped open as I realized.  “You mean… he’s making himself mare to…”
“Oh. My. Great. God.”
“And now everyone will know what his ‘secret vice’ is.”
I couldn’t help it.  I tried.  Some.  Perhaps a hundredth. A little.  My breath burst out and I fell over laughing so hard my ribs started to hurt almost immediately.  And my laughter finally broke through Antras’s control and he smiled.  “A… a… a… mare… to… but a horse… but they’re quick… but… oh my…”
“And we now know why he had so many stallions… that disrupted his dinner party the other night.”
I was almost howling with laughter.  “Oh, oh… and why he had to climb onto his own mantel to get away from…”
“His problems began mounting from that moment on,” Antras said drily.  “It was a warning from belowstairs that he rein in his desires.”
“Stop… stop… oh how blinkered we all were! The Fifty have been gossiping about what Kazien's 'thing' might be forever and now... now... What chargers he has saddled himself with!”
“This will whip up feeling against him, certainly.  Fodder for gossip and everyone will be taking it out for a trot.”
“Stop... oh please... I have to think... people are going to ask me about it and I can`t... um... seize the bit and say anything disrespectful... hahahahahaha oh oh  hahahahahah.”  It took me a long time to laugh myself out and I was limp on the floor by the time I could pull myself together.
“Kallijas is going to blush so hard he’ll turn purple and perhaps faint once he hears. I can see the Page headline now... “Kazien Touts ‘Good Breeding’ In His Campaign.”  Antras snorted.


Click here to read this from Chevenga's pov...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

435 - My Uncivil Reaction

“Surya Chaelaecha?” The guard made an ostentatious showing of officiousness, winking at me as she re-read the note detailing my new appointment and informing me that Surya had moved his work space into the Marble Palace.  It was about time, especially since he had come out as Chevenga’s current healer.  Anyone could have struck at Chevenga by hurting or killing Surya.  I would bet a gold chain that Krero was much relieved at the healer’s change of address.
I recognized the guard and she knew me but asked the questions anyway.  “Minis Aan, to see Surya Chaelaecha, as a patient,” I repeated, patiently.
“The servant will show you in,” she said and gave me my letter back.  I didn’t recognise the servant, but there were a lot of new ones being trained.  He was a little older than I and grinned at me as he nodded down the hallway.
“Serin Aan.  The exalted might know the way better than this one,” he said, cheerfully.  “The honourable healer is in the Suites of Plenty and Serenity.”
“In the Imperial wing, of course. Might I ask your name, Ser?”  Equal to equal seemed safe to a young Aitzas Marble Palace servant.
“Oh.”  He didn’t quite have the unflappable face of the Palace perfectly yet, and blinked.  “Serin, this one is Mikras Tor Elas.”
“Thank you, Mikras.”
Peace and Serenity were perfect for Surya and the innermost chapel room had been transformed into his healing room as if he’d taken the one from Bright Street and transplanted it directly here, with a few expansions in size along the way.
It was interesting to see that the ways behind the walls were blocked off all around the suite and I assumed every possible spy-hole was probably filled before the sponges were applied to them.  It looked and felt very Haian and it had the sealed and muffled quality that meant it was completely quiet to anyone outside.
“Hello, Minis,” he said.  “Sit down, have some tea.”  He looked serene as always, Red curls, warm eyes.  Square hands.  He was barefoot.  I found myself fascinated with the hairs on his big toes.  I didn’t know you could have hair on one’s toes.  Father might have, but he would have had them shaved, not exuberantly twisting like that.  I didn’t want to think of Father.  Not here. Not now.
I had only had one other session with him since announcing my candidacy.  I’d been out of the city, speaking for much of that time, and he had his hands full with Chevenga, back and forth to Yeola-e.  Keeping him from running himself onto any other swords, of any kind.
I was trembling inside like a jolted cup of water, so sitting down with a cup of tea first was a good thing.  I had settled myself and wrapped hands around it and nearly dropped it when he quietly said, “So tell me how you are feeling about your genitals?  What has been happening since I asked you not to wrap them down tight?” What, no chit chat? No... the weather’s been lovely and hot, first? I told that whiny part to go away.
I sloshed hot tea on my gloves, set the cup down, quickly and wrenched the wretched things off.  I'd been wearing gloves to make it clear I was not anticipating the vote.  “Um.  Well.  I don’t hurt.  There.  I mean.”  The organs in question suddenly felt twice their normal size, an ungainly lump sitting at the joint of my legs, in danger of getting pinched.
“Good.” He could see, but of course he would want me to tell him to see if I recognized what was going on.  “Any erotic dreams?  Any playing with yourself?”
“I um looked at myself the other day.  It didn’t seem so dangerous.  It was just kind of there.  Not scary. And... um...”  I really didn’t want to tell him...
“Have you had any kind of sexual experience with anyone?”
I wanted to sink into the floor.  I wanted to dribble away between the cushions.  “Gan and Fara... they’ve been letting me cuddle with them... They’re a couple and...”  I gulped.  “Um...”
“Deep breath, Minis.  You can say anything you need to, to me.  It’s safe with me.”
But you might think less of me.... part of me wailed.  I told that part of me to shut up.  I had a sudden bead of sweat break away on my back and roll down my spine.  He was not going to be slow and circumspect, like an Arkan.  Yeolis.  They just belted these things out.
“Fara and Gan... um... they held me... and Fara... um...” I took a deep breath.  “She touched me and I, um, came.  Like, one real stroke... maybe two... and and and I cried.”  I looked down at my fingers knotted together.  “I cried because I thought I’d hurt someone, or I’d soiled them... but they weren’t... mad.”
“Good for them.”  I managed to pick up my teacup and take a sip.  It was cool enough now that I didn’t scald my tongue and I found my eyes tracing the vague patterns in the sponges insulating the walls. Is that a face?  That’s a puppy.  And that’s a quinquireme.  Anything but think of what he was asking me.
“All right, Minis.  Take several deep breaths for me.  That’s good.  Now, lean back in your chair...”  His voice was soothing and reminded me of Zinchaer.  “They weren’t angry.  Because there was nothing to be angry about.  Gannara and Farasha were there and I talked to them ... and last night I had a dream that wasn't a 'sweat-soaked fight to the death', but, umm.. something nice that's all I remember.
“Are you attracted to Gannara?”
I try not to choke on my embarrassment.  “I was still... erect and it felt okay... Yes, I'm attracted to him, but I think he's naturally more attracted to girls... he was in Yeola-e, once he got over his nightmares... and my Father wanted me to be attracted to him so I fight that.”
He nodded.  “That’s natural.  It sounds like you are working through that between you.  If you want help with it, make an appointment with the two of you.  I’m certainly willing to help you there.  And with Farasha as well.  What about girls... do you ever look at one and feel something?
I blushed so hard I thought I would pass out.  “Um… Fara… um Gannara… um…I'm not supposed to be as attracted to girls as much or more than boys...  You know...”
“Ahh,” he said, with the slightly distracted look he got with examining auras.  “… you're attracted to them.  It's not a matter of what you're supposed to be attracted to you... but your nature.”
Might I be able to pray that the floor would open up and I could be quietly swallowed up?  I really wanted to be somewhere else.
“Think of the sexiest girl you've ever seen,” Surya said to me.  Even as I was gaping at him I couldn’t help but remember Serina Puriren from the bath… and Farasha’s breasts when she sat up with Gannara… Even a Yeoli fisher girl wearing nothing but a loincloth, soaking wet out of the sea at Asinanai, net slung over her shoulder.
"What?"  Inside I was gibbering to myself.  Why does he want me to… oh shen.  I’m hardening and I promised I wouldn’t hurt myself and I can’t in front of Surya…
“The sexiest girl you've ever seen,” he prompted again.  “ -- think of her.”
I put my hands over my groin, turned sideways to try and hide my uncivil reaction.  That didn’t work so I pulled my knees up and curled into the chair, knotting around my penis rising up to his suggestions.  "I guess..."
“Imagine... she suddenly looks right at you.  Very desirously.”
"Surya... please... don't ask me..." I squeezed my eyes shut against the ideas Surya raised in my head, but couldn’t help it.  All the beautiful girls… the harder I tried not to… Kyriala barefoot in the grass…. The Haian boys, lithe as seals diving off the docks on Haiu Menshir… The harder I tried not to think of them the more they crowded my memory.  Kyriala’s fingers on my neck as she cut my hair, feather soft and trembling.  The feel, the heat of her waist, muscle flexing under my hand during a falisas.
I could barely hear Surya ask, “What do you feel?”
"Not only is Farasha a girl, but she’s a Gibyr and with Gannara and Kyriala is… I freed her and she should have the best to marry and I’m not a good prospect for any girl to sleep with… as if I stink like my father and and and ... I want... I want... I need to... oh Hayel!"  I grabbed a pillow to hide behind.  "I can’t… Surya why are you doing this?"
“Breathe.  Breathe deeply and feel what you are feeling.  It is not evil.” I was now sweating all over me.   “Does this feel perverse to you?
I was staring at him as if he were 2nd Amitzas resurrected. At least my eyes felt stretched out so wide. "Yes!  No!  I don't know!"  I glanced down behind the pillow as if I could make my penis lie down again just by looking.
Surya shook his head.  “This is not perverse in the slightest.  It is totally natural.”
I quoted Gannara at him. “You mean like I rise up and down sometimes just because, or because I see a pretty girl or I have a full bladder?”
“Exactly.  Do you get angry at your eyelids for blinking?  Or command where your tongue lies in your head?”  Of course I was instantly aware and uncomfortable with both these things and had to shut my eyes and have a sip of tea to settle thoughts of where my tongue sat when my mouth was closed.  Surya waited for me to resettle myself.
“It's totally natural.”
I looked up at him and asked the first question that sprang to mind.  “How does anyone get anything done?” He laughed right out loud and I had to smile.  “I can’t think of anything else!”
“You learn to only pay attention when you and your penis are in accord.  When a healthy young woman or man wants to play with you that particular way.  What any healthy young man feels, and what his penis does, when he imagines the person he desires being interested.” It was so overwhelming.  “He makes sure he releases the urge regularly so that he can think about other things in between!” Surya sipped his tea, still smiling as he explained.
“Oh.  So I’m a little…unreleased then?”
“Yes.  And why you came so quickly when Farasha touched you.”  He looked my aura over again.  “You've never played with yourself even once.”
“No.”  The idea was disgusting.  It cooled me down enough that I finally softened. I sat up straighter and pulled my clothing smooth. My gut unclenched. Then I looked up at him, realizing.  Is he going to make me…he wouldn’t would he? He isn’t… oh, shen.
“I have an assignment for you,” he said.  I swallowed hard once, then twice, my throat somehow dry as dust, even with the warm liquid. My one hand was clenched on the pillow as if I were drowning and it was a log or floating plank. 
"Yes?"  I managed to say without squeaking.
“I want you to bring yourself to climax. Once you've done it once, you'll know how. Then you'll be able to do it whenever you feel the need.” He nodded, reassuringly at me as I stared at him, horrified.  “This is very normal, trust me. The strong sex urge settles down when you get older.”
“It won't make me go blind? Or mad? Or become a sex addicted maniac?”  Like my father.
I wondered if he had to suppress a smile, but his face was still calm.  He took up his crystal in one hand.  “No, it will not make you go blind.  Or mad. And you will not become a sex addicted maniac.”
I took a deep breath and nodded once.  “I’ll try.” At least he isn’t going to make me…
“You can do it here and now or later by yourself, as you choose.”
“HERE!?”  I nearly shrieked.
“Or later by yourself.”
Breathe, breathe, breathe... “If I don't succeed by myself, I can get talking through it later?”
“Yes.  But let me give you some suggestions for talking yourself through it. It depends completely and utterly on what's in your mind. So if a thought of your father wanders into your mind... drive it out. Return your mind in a very disciplined fashion to... that girl, or another girl who has attracted you.  I suggest being very creative.”
Surely the room was spinning?  I swallowed hard.  The idea of trying this in the Liren household… Kyriala’s home… with Ili and Nuni who could run in at any time, or the pets.  I remembered the sounds of Gannara and Farasha making love in their room… next to mine and… and… I wouldn’t be able to try.  I didn’t want to lock myself in the garderobe.
“May I… um… I don’t know if I can… in front of you… Umm.  Can I try this in private while you're here?  I don't think I can do it... by myself...”
“I have oil here that you can use.  And I will be right over here, in the next room with the door open so you can hear me, and I cannot see what you are doing, since you are Arkan.  I understand.”
He moved over to set a vessel of oil on the table next my hand. “It's not perverse?  It's not wrong?”
“No,” he said calmly.  “Minis, how do you suppose the human race would continue, if no one did it?”
I blinked.  “People... people do their duty?” I said weakly.
“All-Spirit... or you would say, the Gods... are loving... and so they made us so that we would enjoy what we must do.”
I looked under my cushion as if my groin were a Lightning snake, coiled in wait under a rock.  “I need... um... I need to hold on to myself when I do this, right?”
“Yes, you need to hold yourself, and rub up and down... get a little massage oil and spread it over your penis.  I don't recommend olive oil it's too thick and gets sticky too quickly... you have to try this and that to see what feels best.” He laid a towel next to the oil.  “You might want to put it between your thighs when you touch yourself.   The cloth is to clean up with, afterwards.  If you like, I can show you.”
“NO, um no, no, that’s all right.”
He went on as if I hadn’t interrupted him.  “Above all, you must enjoy yourself.  You must take pleasure.” He smiled then.  “Healer's orders.”
I nodded, slightly.  “And you’re going to be in the other room so I can call you if it all goes… um… wrong?”
“Yes.  The other room is also proof against sound so I will leave the door open.  I will also speak you through the beginnings of it, until nature takes over.” I nodded again, silently and he smiled at me and went into the other room, quietly.  I stared at the oil for a moment, then down at myself.  It was massage oil.  It wouldn’t hurt me. 
I couldn’t move for a long moment and when I reached out my hand was shaking.  I dropped the cushion on the floor beside my chair, pulled back and sat with both hands in my lap.  I… needed to… flip up my kilt… and…
The oil on my palms was warm and smelled a bit like Haiu Menshir.  A flower they had there that was very soothing.  I rubbed my hands together but couldn’t make myself reach under my kilt.  Healer’s orders…
I put my right hand up under my kilt and caught  and held my breath when one finger touched and I froze.  It felt… too good.  It was frightening.
“How are you doing, Minis?” I jumped, my breath quivering as Surya called from the other room.
“I... uh... I don't think...  Surya... I can't…”
“Imagine this girl in your mind,” he saild calmly, evenly.  “Imagine her undressing herself."

"Pulling her gloves off."

"Imagine her undressing you.  Running her fingertips over your chest.”  I was hard again before he’d finished speaking.
It felt slippery and when I touched, trembling, it sent shocks all up and down my body in a way that hadn’t happened when… I wouldn’t think about that… shocks… and the oil… I seized myself as if I were plunging my hand into a nest of snakes and groaned because it was almost too much… too hard.  I bit my lip and eased my grip. I was hot, in my palm and my hand felt good, too.  My penis quivered in my hand, jumping. I thought of Farasha touching me.
“She runs her tongue across her lips at you.” 
“Aigh!” That startled a yelp out of me, and a slip… I found my hips moving, beginning to thrust into my hand, my hand sliding up and down, so… naturally.  Healer’s orders.  I remembered the soap… with Definas and how he took control of me.  The pounding cascade and the slick bubbles he grasped me, like... this... ohhh.  I can... too and he...
I found myself remembering every detail of Farasha’s breasts, her nipples almost dark as chocolate, swollen where Gannara had been sucking on them.  Oh.  That… that… was good.  I imagined Gannara sucking on her nipples and her hand on me….
Slippery, hot and I tightened my hand just a fraction. “OOOhhhhhh…”
“Good, Minis. Imagine her full, firm breasts, how they taste under your tongue.”  I needed more oil and my other hand joined the first.  Def holding me tight so I couldn’t hurt him, making me take pleasure… oh, oh and Gannara and Farasha making love… oooh, perhaps they would let me watch them… perhaps… I imagined Gannara moaning and Farasha sighing... he'd feel something like... this sliding into her... maybe... perhaps...they would reach out and let me... I was close, so close and I felt the panic rising up, fast as the good feeling the one I wanted.  Oh no. Oh no… I caught my breath and my lips tight in my teeth...
“She gives herself to you,” Surya said from the other room.  The thought caught me and tumbled me over the edge, everything went completely white for a moment. 
“AAAAA!” I believe I cried out and felt the thin spurt of fluid.  Not gushing like a horse, like in the knuckle suckers but… but… oh. Oh.  That… felt… good?  Yes.  Good.
I wanted to shrink back into myself but realized I was lying half boneless, it felt like, in my chair and didn’t want to move.  “Oh. Oh, Gods. Oh godsss.”  There were tears on my face.  “I… suppose… every time it gets easier?”
“May I come back in?” Surya asked.
“Oh, oh, yes.”  I sat up and seized the cloth he’d left me, for after and I had to remind myself not to be rough.  My… semen wasn’t grotesque.  It was just a little milky fluid.  It didn’t even smell bad.  I smelled mostly like the oil I’d used.
I was shaking, panting.
“Is it bothering you, that which came out of you?” He settled back in his chair as I folded the towel around the mess.
“Yes.” He held out his hand for it and I gave it to him as if it were a shen filled cloth.  He folded it open and merely looked at it.  “A healer could tell a great deal about you from this.  When you have children… this will be how.  This is part of the stuff of life itself.”
“Sseeds.. of life...” I said, and realized it didn’t really feel that sticky.  It was just a little mark on the cloth.  “It does feel good... but I don't like the smell or feel of it.”
He folded the cloth over again.  “That's because of what your mind links it to.  Have enough happy experiences with it, and that will change.” He got up and put the cloth in a basket, a laundry basket I realized, and put the lid back on it.  He came back and poured more tea for us both.
“You've done well, lad.”
“Thank... thank you.” I managed, looking at the floor.
Surya held out his arms offering a hug.  “If you want one.  If you could use some comfort. If you need arms to help pull yourself together.”
I was a little skittish but let him hug me.  He enveloped me as if I’d done something hard and he was proud of me. I was still leaking a few tears.
I buried my head in his shoulder. "I feel like I'm being rewarded for doing something... dirty,” I said.
“Have you harmed anyone?” His breathing was even and deep.
“No.” I heaved a sigh and relaxed again into the lassitude I’d been fighting.  “No, I haven’t.” After a few moments just being held, I asked. “Surya, do you always wring people out this way?”
“Yup,” he said straight away.  “If they need it.”
“If I do this more, won't I be just as tired as before when I was fighting it?”
He laughed. “I suggest trying it.”
“All right.”  I yawned, a jaw-cracking yawn.
“Good, excellent.  You just bask, just let yourself feel the good of it. You’ve earned it. What you are doing takes great courage.”
I was already sleepy and muzzily asked, “Really?  It feels so good.  As if it’s too easy for me.”
“Was it easy to start? As I recall, you were scared shitless.”
I tried to answer him. “You're…” but a huge yawn interrupted me.  “…right...”
“Go rest, now. I’ll send you back to the Diamond in a chair.”
“Thank you, Surya."
I barely heard him say, “You're welcome.”