“All right, Mas, not too tight ass,” Resh said, grinning. “Show us this big old snore-echo you grew up in!” His hair was the same mass of flames standing up away from his head, streaked bright red, matching his earrings. Both ears on either side were fringed in red glass flames, some fixed, some moving. No ‘Imperator Elect’ shen from him. He’d roll up and spit in any Aitzas's eye and then skate away like a fiend.
The others were a little unsure of how it would be. After all, they’d known me as Sinimas, or Mas, since no Arkan would call another a sin. Ashi, tough girl, with eyes lined with black eyeliner like a pleasure boy and spiked jewellery all over, spikes woven into her Aitzas long green dyed hair, kicked him lightly in the back of his skate with hers, making him slide forward. He didn’t wobble though, just kept grinning.
Was this allowable? How should I... what should I... The campaign was over but could I just let things go like this? “Ilesias Aan, come along there are enough cream cakes and daities that Nuninibas won’t have eaten them all,” Ailadas broke in. He had Sera Eren on his arm, guiding her, and held his antique old scholar’s comb toward Ili and whisked them both off to the party going on downstairs in the entry hall behind the Steel Gate. Grandfather was over under the awning, sitting with and talking to mother.
I was over-thinking this. Especially if it seemed too easy. If my Mahid grandfather could indulge in Arkanherb... what was I worried about? “Hand me your herb-pipe, Resh and I’ll tell you the best skate routes through the place!” I put my thumb over the side of the blue glass pipe then let the draft in. This time I was going to enjoy this. Doob handed me his flask and then, Dyers all, they started hugging and thumping on me, as if they were Yeolis or aNiah.
Two of the youngest of my messenger friends, Fish and Cream, started whirling circles around us; Fish pounding on his un-drum... a drumhead on a stick handle and Cream-- as pale all over as if he’d never seen the sun, rapped on his glass drum.
Tonight.... who cared what I did? I threw back my head and howled and yipped the messenger yell that cleared the way for us as good as any fancy whistle.
Security was going to hate us.
Resh and Doob hoisted me up and swooped me off on their shoulders but that was awkward, but Atz and Gili came up with a couple of poles and they put me on that instead and I balanced on them as if I were on a chair. We were all laughing by then and I remember bits and pieces.
... "Criminal hooligans! Stop this travesty! Guard that young man ran over my toe..." Not likely with you stamping your foot like that, it would be broken if we hadn't just jumped over you...
...The Long Gallery... zooming under the disapproving noses of my ancestors... every spiral ramp that I ever chased Ailadas up or down.... they took me even down stairs... just enough to jolt my teeth together and giggling like maniacs we followed my companions and my route around the Hall of Serenity. We sat on the desks and I stood up and made a mock-tearful confession of the ‘Great Key Heist and Sausage-dog Robbery’ to all and sundry, and swore most solemnly I’d never lead such a trail of barking destruction through their sacred and most revered precinct ever again.
... Some of the skateers... even those who had chased me... joined us... We peered into one of the kitchens but were chased off by the knife-waving chef... "Get out or this one'll cut you into dyer sandwiches! Those one's scrotums would make very small drums..."
... Whirling around the Round Hall... we did pick up some overly wildly excited dogs chasing us... and laughed and laughed...
... we skated by the groaning food tables set up for the public in the main hall, zipped past a cheering Nuni and a snoozing Ili on Sera Eren’s lap on top of Ribbons... we scooped up a share and fled with our ill-gotten gains to lie under the golden roses in the atrium below the Imperial section.
All the gloves were off and people were dancing on their skates as well as drumming... the tingling skin of palm and fingers... catching fire and carrying the beat in heart and head and between the legs... And Gili sang... he'd been one of the castrati Mezem boys choir and had an unearthly sweet voice.
Into the quiet after his voice faded, I looked around at the rainbow headed wreckage lying all around me and said. “Thank you. Thank you my friends... you were my friends even as I lied to you....”
Ashi interrupted me. “Shut up Mas, don't be tight ass. You’ll start being a good good man-boy tomorrow, covered in gold, dripping in gold... Empire’s gone piss gold... all over you! You can stop vomiting words out your mouth tonight!” She pushed a gold-dusted orange delight into the mouth she was talking about, filling it up and gluing my teeth together. “You need to go, flow, not slow, pick up your rosy posy chicky quicky...”
I glanced around wildly... had I missed my time for picking up Ky? There was no bead clock, I couldn’t be late. I spun, slapped hands all around and ran... still swallowing the sticky confection, unable to say anything while they whooped and hollered me on. “Woo Hoo! Run Mas! Fun Mas! Come back after the fancy, chancy formal! We'll party you, all the crew, to the Temple tomorrow!" -- The ceremony was noon tomorrow, where Kallijas would take up the seals... and I'd take my gloves off... "Whoo! Wheeeee ooooooo! SiniMas! MiniMas! Min Min Min!”