Friday, March 4, 2011

444 - I Am a Monster

I didn’t sleep at all the night before election day.  Farasha was down with her people and Gannara had started out the evening with her and come up to be with me.  I lay and listen to him breathing in the night, staring into darkness.  It was almost the dark of the moon and her face was too low to shine past the rim, so there was only faint starlight.
After today, it will be done.  Chevenga’s back from Yeola-e, safe, with those awful, insane people who tried to arrange his death taken care of; either dead or committed to psyche healing.
And there will be no more speaking tours, no more debates with Mil, or Kin, or Adamas.  I’ll still have to talk to the writers.  Show a brave face no matter how awful I feel. This is it.  After today, Arko will have a new Imperator.
Chevenga is going to try and talk me into coming up with a way of running... Ili and I both... if I don’t win.  My grandfather and my mother... will not run.  They’ll do their duty.  Grandfather will probably swear and mother will take the needle. But... if Adamas wins... he will try to enact 14.8 on me, and though I won’t run, I won’t just submit to beheading, for Ili’s sake.  I’ll fight him in the courts.  That could go on for years.
It was just true dawn, the city still in darkness and lamplight when I skated out to the Marble Palace, with Joras on my heels as escort. An orator was already in Presentation Square.  “Murderer!  A boy... a child filled with evil!”
I braked in front of him.  He stood on the main oration step with boys, paid to hand out pamphlets to the literate waiting below him.  “This is the kind of boy who seeks to win the Crystal Throne?  Hayel bound!”
This was very different from Adamas’s usual oration against me.  One of the boys scurried up to me and handed me a pamphlet.
On the front of it, a drawing.  A man, cradling another across his lap, obviously grieving.  A heartwound in the dead man.  A sword cast onto a floor and fighting chains clasped on their wrists.  I was going to dismiss it as an old Mezem drawing until I saw the Mahid in the background.  Obviously Mahid.  And the face... I knew it.
My hands started shaking and I felt faint.  I remembered.  When I’d made... the one okas fight the other... and... kill his own brother.  I was going to faint.  Breathe.
“I had to thrust a sword into the heart of him who came from the same womb as me, else bereave our parents of both of us. Then, once I was healed enough of my own wounds to speak, I had to tell my mother, and my father, what I had done.”
“I kept this secret from anyone but family for five years, suffering this wound in silence.  But now that Arko is free and the former Spark of the Sun’s Ray who did this to me and my brother and my family, is seeking election to the Crystal Throne, I must speak.  I must reveal my pain.”
“He forced me to kill my brother, for no reason, other than he could.  I must speak the truth so that all Arkans understand what an evil, forzak, monster, this perfidious villain, Minis Joras Kurkas Amitzas Aan is.  He is no less evil than his father before him.  Who brought the might of the world down on all of us.  He is his father’s son.  I know.  On the soul of my poor, slaughtered brother.  By my stained and shamed hand.”
“Do not vote for this boy, this demon in human flesh.  Save yourselves and do not vote for him.”
The two young men... surrounded by Mahid.  My father saying ‘Have fun!” the glorious, sickening, ugly and self-satisfied feeling of spectacular destruction roared back into my memory. I could barely remember it, the freedom of just destroying things, the nauseating and sweet ruin of every good feeling... I was drowning in it.  I was in it again.  How could I have ever thought it would let me go?  It was part of me.
How could I forget this? How could I not remember?  The dark and sensual feeling as someone else’s agony washed over me, leaving me untouched, or leaving me satiated?  That devil madness of knowing one was already forzak? That nothing mattered? That you could truly do anything no matter how disgusting or horrible because you were already lost?  That sensation could take the nightmares I had had and turn them from something fearful to something as intense as orgasm, and as satisfying.  How could I have forgotten?
I wanted to put that kind of illness, that kind of insanity, on the Crystal Throne?  Adamas had timed this perfectly.  I couldn’t win the election with this taking the city by storm.  And it knocked my own confidence out from under me, bringing me crashing down in ruins, the way my father’s statue had been pulled down in the sack, leaving me lying in the rubble.  I would lose and would end up in my nightmare.  The Gods had to be telling me that.  It had to be foreknowledge.  What else could it be?
The orator was still bellowing the story but I could barely hear him over the ringing in my ears, in my head.  My eyesight had gone dark gray.  I couldn’t see him or the boys or the square.  A hand touched my elbow.  “Serin?  Minis?”  Joras.  His voice was concerned.
I took another deep breath.  I’d forgotten how evil I was. I was a monster and had known it. I am a monster, still. How could I forget that? I had to show this to Kallijas and to Chevenga.  They had to understand why and how I had cost us the election.  And why I couldn’t fight Kallen when he won.  Why I shouldn’t. I had to somehow prepare myself for what would happen.

This was too big for tears, for hysteria, for breakdown.  I felt how much I had let myself hope, by how much the ruin of those hopes hurt.  High God, forgive me. I yanked the Mahid face up over the mess I was and tucked the pamphlet into the folder I carried.  “Thank you,” I said to the boy.  “I’m all right, Joras. Let us continue.”

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