Thursday, April 21, 2011

468 - The Dog Man

“… your honoured grandfather is in the solar with the ladies and the Haians, Serin.”

“Thank you.”

I had gone down to look for grandfather and was surprised to find the Mahid quarters all but empty and the servant having to re-direct me.  Haians?  I know that Akminchaer is still here but there is more than one Haian here?

There were actually three other Haians, apparently visiting Akminchaer… and my grandfather, looking very odd in his white and pale pale blue over-robe sat with them.  Theyd seemed very comfortable, sitting in the dappled sun.

The solar’s upper windows were all open, making the highest trees shiver and wave their leaves, making the place a sunny, pleasant one instead of the sun-scorched oven under glass that it could have been.

The Mahid women, with my mother in their midst sat at the other end of the room where the light was somewhat less flickering and embroidered or sewed or did something else archane with fabric and thread.  They looked up at me and nodded though no one smiled.  That was something that would take considerable time.  That must be the reason for the extra Haians.  Grandfather is probably inquiring how to re-make the Mahid from them. Perhaps one of them would be a good healer for me?

After I’d made my courtesies to mother and excused myself, I headed over to the shadier side of the room.

“Good afternoon, Grandfather, Akminchaer,  gentle healers…”  I made my voice light, inviting introduction the way my etiquette master had torn his hair out over so many years ago.

“Diriminelan…” one younger man said, nodding as if he were Arkan.  A fairly new graduate it seemed, he still had Haiu Menshir all over him, bright and shiny.

“Somenochaen…” the young woman said.  But she looked as if she’d come to Arko from somewhere else.  A tiny blue diamond was tattooed next to her one ear.  I could not think of a country where that was ritual, but it would have to be to get a Haian healer to accept a tattoo at all.

I nodded at both of them.  “We met once, Spark Elect,” the last Haian said. He was an old man but in the Haian way it was nearly impossible to tell exactly how old he really was.  “You may have been too young to remember.  I am Shilenen.”

“I’m pleased to meet you all, Diriminelan, Somenoshaen, -“ the best my tongue really could manage. For all I prided myself in how well I said Chevenga’s name the way Gannara did, it still had the softness on the first syllable.  “…and Shilenen.  I actually do not remember but I am pleased to be able to greet you again.”

It was not surprising, truly, that the broken Mahid should gather here, in one of the brightest rooms in the Palace.  After all, how does one fix a shadow if there is no light at all? Of course, perhaps, they were finding out that living life as a shadow of someone else’s wishes didn’t meet the promises made and implied to them?

Polite murmurs… I decided… I’d been going to ask just my grandfather but I had inadvertently found a panel of healers to inquire about another emotional healer for me.  “Haians, Grandfather, perhaps you would have a moment to give me some advice?”

The Haians just nodded.  Perhaps they were just used to being besieged with questions whenever they came to the mainland.  Probably more questions in the more ill countries of the mainland when I thought about it.  Grandfather settled his hands more firmly under the handkerchief covering.  “Go ahead, grandson.  I have the wit and ability to tell you if you are asking incorrectly.”  Of course.

“I had access to a Haian trained Yeoli healer by the name of Surya, who has currently reduced his practice to attend the semanakraseye of Yeola-e.  He asked me to search out another healer since he was leaving Arko.”

“A specific kind of healing?” Akminchaer said.  “I can continue to do physical help, should you require it.”

“Ummm.  Healing emotions... traumas.”  I cringed inside as I said it, thankful that no servants were in earshot or the Pages would be full of stories of my ‘instability’ in the next issue.

“Ah,” Shilenen said, hand on his chin.  They all looked thoughtful.  “Very sensible.  My specialty is heart and blood-flow though, not emotional.”  Heart?  Whose heart is giving out? I put that question aside for later.

They were all physical healers, except Somenochaen, who was still studying because – as she said – she was shifting fields of study and was not yet finished her courses for emotional support.

“Shilenen… who was that student of yours on Haiu Menshir?” Grandfather asked quietly.  “The one also studying under Zinchaer?”

Zinchaer?  My Zinchaer?  Oh, it would just be too much of a coinc—“

“He is an Arkan, Amitzas,” Shilenen said.  “But he is of a low caste as you see it…”

“Hmmm.”  Grandfather looked down at his knotted hands then let his eyes take in the whole room as he thought.  “It… seemed to me… that he was a very proper young man when I met him. Anyone under the age of sixty would be a 'young man' to my grandsire.  Might he be considered good enough to assist my grandson here?”

His turn of phrase had them smiling and there was a burble of Haian that I didn’t understand, as flowing as the sea, sometimes hitting the reefs protecting the islands.

“Yes, Amitzas.  We consider him good,” Shilenen said, in Arkan, finally and  Grandfather snapped a nod.


“Yes, Ser?”  I’d almost jumped as he turned his attention to me with the same precision as always.

“Could you bear a caste-less space within the space of a healer’s office?”

Could I? That would almost be like having Chevenga back when he was in the Mezem… blind to caste and class.  “I think that would be tolerable, honoured Grandfather.”

“Good.  I actually spoke to Alchaen and Surya before they both left…”  Alchaen had left a long time ago.  Had he really been thinking so far ahead?  “The man’s name is Tanifas Kainkuras, okas.”

Okas?  Okas?  That is craziness.  How would an okas, even in the new Arko get Haian training? And be considered good enough for the White Lightning Snake to recommend? “Yes, Ser.  Where?”

“Here in the Marble Palace.  Go down to the kennels and inquire.”

What? The kennels? What? I don’t understand. I nodded and said, “Thank you for your recommendation, Grandfather.”

Diriminelan smiled at me.  “Tanifas was actually in a class with me.  He was part of the once Arkan Governor’s entourage.  He was his hound keeper and it was noticed that he had the touch, the gift for healing with his hands.  He studied as long as the Governor was there… and asked for and received permission to stay on afterwards to complete his study.”

After the Sack.  A dog-man? And… my Grandfather actually saw him? Enough to recommend him?  Surely the world is backwards, upsided down and inside out.  A dog-man? Kaina – kuras, a dog-keeper? That’s what the name means.  A dog boy to heal me? Some part of me wanted desperately to be offended.

Then it caught my fancy.  The Mahid had always been referred to as the Black Dogs of the Imperator. He was probably joking with me… somehow.  He couldn’t be serious.

“I suggest you inquire after him, grandson.”

“Of course, Grandsire.”  Surely he is joking… but how? And why?

Hope everyone has a good Easter Weekend. (Or Oestara.)  And after this, I'll be back on Tuesday.  Ciao! 

My sincere thanks to Cat Fitzgerald for helping me create Tanifas Kainkuras, and for role playing him to bring him to life for me!


  1. How wonderful a jest that is so far from a jest, yet funny none the less.

    :) I am a happy reader.

    Happy Easter and Blessed Oestara

  2. Hugs! Thank you. May your spring be gentle and fruitful.