Tuesday, March 8, 2011

446 - Judge of Arkans on Earth

“Then…” He said slowly.  “Why?”  I fought not to go on my knees again.  Perhaps I should. He was Son of the Sun, Ultimate Judge of Arkans on earth.

“I keep telling you I’m evil,” I said to the darkness behind my closed eyes. “I keep trying to warn you about me.  I’m not lying.” I could feel the tears force themselves out along the edges of my eyelids and I tried to call them back, to forbid them.  One or two caught in my lashes.

“No. I know you better. There had to be a reason, Minis. What was it?”

I opened my eyes again, his intense look swimming in my barely suppressed tears.  If I’d ever thought his gaze was intense before, that was nothing compared to this.   “I thought... I was lost... corrupt, forzak beyond all saving after... after...” I had to lick my dry lips.  “Nothing mattered... I would go to Hayel no matter what I did. So I didn’t care.”

“No matter whether they went to Hayel? On the Earthsphere or beyond?” I flinched and buried my face in my hands.  “Minis… after what?”

“After... after...” I managed to drag a deep breath into my aching chest. “After Father made me…” I couldn’t say it.  I struggled to force it out. “After Father made me....r...”  My tongue locked up solid and I put my hands over my mouth.  At that moment I saw some understanding dawn in his face. “I still can’t say it to you.”

“What you wrote me the letter about.” I managed a nod and closed my eyes again. He laid and hand on my shoulder and I leapt sideways, out from under it and almost stumbled against a statue of a nymph holding a sheaf of flowers.  I grabbed onto the cold stone garlands to not fall on my face. The edges of the undying flowers cut into my grip.

“Please don’t touch me right now!” I found myself turning my head away, looking past a painted marble face, at a vein of gold in polished green.

“I’m sorry, lad. You were out of your head, weren’t you?” I heard him whisper behind me. “Remember how it was and tell me.”

“Nothing mattered,” I said at the statue, quietly. I could feel the stone, rigid and cold under my hands even through my gloves.  I was glad there were no balconies around this part of the Marble Palace. I was afraid I’d find the height too tempting.  I imagined the lovely splash of colour I would make on the white marble, like the sprays of blood flying from my father’s slippers as he kicked the Mahid to death.  “I was forzak, evil, vile, the Black Spark who burned all he touched. I was rot and gangrene wrapped in satin. Malevolent, immoral, sinful, no matter what I did.”

“That’s out of your head,” he said, firmly. “Minis, here is my question, and it’s very important. When did that end? When did you stop being out of your head? When did things start mattering again? They did sometime. The youth who came to me with the book is sane; so is Minakas Akam. Else I wouldn’t be recommending you. So: when?”

I took a deep breath and leaned my forehead against the heroically proportioned, perfect cheek. “I was... It was… Solstice Fest that year… right around then... when...I heard I may not have ruined you.  When I heard you were somehow still there... still you. I started hurting again. Things started mattering again, when I realized you were not destroyed.”

“Winter solstice? Same year?”
I nodded without looking up, breathing deeply as I could. “You were alive and free. And the Temple Ritual somehow meant more...” I coughed, spitting the words out like phlegm.  “As if the words the Gods spoke to bring the Light back… meant something again. I don’t know. It was like waking up out of a nightmare.”

He was quiet for a moment and I could turn to look at him.  His eyes were turned thoughtful and inward, considering. Then they came up to lock on my face once more, resolved. “Minis... you’ve got to tell them the truth,” he said.

I wasn’t sure what he meant.  I already had our orators admitting my fault in this.  “I didn’t remember this clearly...I don’t remember much of that part of my life. I can’t know what else I did then.”

“No matter, you’re just accused of one thing, and they don’t have time to accuse you of another, at least not with a print run of any significance. You have to tell them the true reason you did it.” I blinked at him, confused. “That it was madness, and you have to admit exactly what drove you to it.”

“What, that I thought I was already lost to Hayel?” I couldn’t tell Arko the city that.  Or what my father had made me do.

“Yes. And why.”

He truly wanted me to tell everyone what had happened in the middle of the night in the Imperial bed.  I couldn’t stop my shocked gasp. “I can’t tell them that! I can’t shame you like that!”

He threw his arms wide.  “I don’t care about that!  Arkans and everyone already knows I was raped sideways and backwards and more times than you could count; I’ve never hidden it. You can’t shame me worse.” There was a flash of sickness in his eyes, quickly suppressed.

He felt more than he was letting on but was still willing to be open, to help me win the throne, save my life... “I can’t even talk about it without breaking down... and they don’t want that for an Imperator… Gods!”

You’re not talking... that’s what you’ve got orators for! And if you’re under truth-drug you won’t break down.” I bent forward around my gut with my hands clenched in my hair.  I heard some of the extensions tear out but I didn’t even feel the pull on my scalp.

“It would be ever so much easier just to cut my own throat now. It would save ever so many steps!” The sarcasm was the best I could do to speak.

He grabbed me by my shoulders, wrenched me upright and, nose to nose with me, said, ““Minis Kurkas Joras Amitzas Aan! Think of your fikken people! Arkans right now are voting for that overstuffed brainless turdknot on a sheep’s ass because they’ve heard this and they and their children and grandchildren and untold generations are going to pay for it with Gods only know how much of all that is sacred to them with Kallens on the Crystal fikken Throne because you—won’t—do—what—you—have—to—do!!”

When he let me go, I did sink to my knees, arms wrapped around my head.  “I’m sorry… I’m sorry for yelling, lad,” he said. He was right, of course.  If he were willing to be so exposed, how could I do any less?  And Miksas... I would have to somehow make it right with him.  “You’re...” I gasped in air again.  “...right.”  I struggled to compose myself.  “I will… I’ll write the oration… arrange the truth-drugging.”

“And I can confirm it—” he said, helping me up off the floor with a hand under one of my elbows.  “I don’t remember it at all, but I know, and they’ll still believe me.”

“All right.” I managed to look up from the floor as he raised me.  He held out his arms to me.

“You keep offering to hug me after you find out all these horrible things I’ve done.” My whole chest hurt and I looked down again, trying to hold myself together.

“And you won’t let me, because you killed one man while you were taken with madness?” he said. “While I was taken with madness, I sacked a whole city. Come here.” I unfolded as slowly as a muscle uncramping.  He tightened his arms, hard, around me and I quivered.  After all this, he still loved me, somehow.  He still managed to like me.

It was only for a moment, though. “Now move,” he snapped letting me go.  “Call in your people… do you want me to help?” I shook my head, no. “I’ll have my own missive, I’ll write it in the office and send it, in a tenth.” That was all he should do.

I managed to give him a broken shard of a smile and ran.

His note, that arrived even as I was arranging my truth-drugging, the relay oration of that truth drugging, and the new oration, was simple and to the point. “What Minis says was forced on him and on me by Kurkas, I confirm to be true. Understanding these things as I do, I credit that he did as he is accused today in the temporary derangement that comes of torture.”

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