Tuesday, May 31, 2011

493 & 493a - A General Inquiry & One Page of the Mess

Selinae 27th 50 Y.P.E.
Marble Palace, Arko

Dear Chevenga,

I hope your fight against the Summoner is going well.  Hayel, I pray for you every day, Ten hear me.  I’ve been following in the Pages what the scribblers are ferreting out.  I do not doubt that there is ten tens of tens more than they are reporting, or allowed to see.

Ilesias is well, though complaining bitterly about the amount of scholarship demanded of him, since he would much rather ride or swim or train, or just hang about getting into trouble with Nuninibas.  He just peeked over my shoulder and said ‘I do not!  Tell him I’m a GREAT scholar!  I just learned long division and five articles of Enchian and all those irregular verbs!”  I promised faithfully to do so.

Ailadas and Trathila… Trathila Eren, solas, if you recall, the lady who made friends with me while I was a Dyer... they were married two days ago.  I was his bemas and am pleased to say that the elderly lady who was Trathila’s bema managed to organize a fairly decent soirée for them.  They are now in their moon of seclusion though they both laughed and said they hardly needed such a thing at their ages.  They sent along their greetings before they retired.

Chevenga, it came to my attention during the preparations for the wedding, (how do I put this?) a certain criminal element is resurging in the city, one that was somewhat restrained previously by random periodic truth-drugging of certain portions of society.  I understand that you struck that law in your time, but it is now being debated in our Assembly whether it should be reinstated, simply to try and control the organization of the criminal element in the Empire.  The ethics of such a law seem very (if I chew on the end of this pen much harder I shall break through the reservoir and get ink on my teeth) controversial and less than clear cut.  I am interested to hear your thoughts on the matter.

I have found a good healer here for myself.  His name is Tanifas.  You’d like him.  I wouldn’t venture to say how the clearing up of the mess in my own head is going.  Right now I am placing it in his competent hands.

You know, of course, that Kallijas is doing as brilliantly as we all thought he would as Imperator.  I am often in the booth behind the mirror, to observe audiences, and learn.  I was in there yesterday when there was an audience… an incident… that you will probably not believe.

The name on the audience list was A. Kallen.  Neither Kall or I could imagine what Adamas would need an audience for so we were very surprised.  You’ll never guess… well, perhaps you will.  The person who did the prostration to Kallijas was Abatzas Kallen.  That man knows no limit to his gall!

Kallijas, in audience chair, not even safe behind a desk, kind of froze and left Abatzas on the floor for a rudely long time… but I was surprised that he even said gehit at all.  If I had been him I would have been tempted to leave him on his face through the whole audience.

But he did let him up and said.  “Abatzas.  What do you want?”

I’ll spare you the grease, oil, and duck-fat larded speech Abatzas made but I nearly fell over choking or laughing when I realized what his point was.  He was offering his services as a decorated general, to Arko, seeing as there was a derth of experience at that command level.  He was taking the solas, Toras’s attempt at your Circle school, as evidence that the Empire was desperate for generals.

Imagine me sitting in the booth just behind and out of the way of the guards who were themselves itching to howl either with outrage or laughter I wasn’t sure which.  Kallijas sat like a statue, both hands on the arms of the chair with the sleeves of the robe fallen over them so I couldn’t see if he were about to break the marble arms under his grip. He was as still as if made out of marble himself.

Of course, Abatzas was oblivious to any nuance and made his florid speech about his illustrious service to the Empire.  “This most wretched, modest worm would ever be submissive to You Whose Honour Is Legendary, and am most humbly, abjectly, ferverently -- yes, that's what he said -- at the command of our beloved and obviously desperate Empire… and Imperator’s service.”  He even used the word… for which there is no direct Yeoli equivalent, implying sexual service!  I thought Kall might break teeth his jaw was clenched so hard!

He didn’t reply immediately and the tension was so thick I could have cut it with a fingernail.  Abatzas, ever blind, quivering on his knees, straining as if he would have bolted forward to lay his lips on Kallijas the instant he gave the word, even had the temerity to hitch forward a tiny fraction as if he could not restrain himself.

This kind of stupidity was so far past pathological I was dumbfounded.  “Abatzas.”  Was all Kall said.  Quietly.  If I didn’t know better I would have said it was calm.  “That dismal worm may approach but not touch.”  I didn’t even know he knew the Imperial accent so well.  It was so perfectly enunciated that anyone more intelligent would have been bleeding from the edges of the words alone.

Abatzas scooted forward with this hopeful, eager, slobbering look on his sweaty face and when Kall moved it was so fast I missed it because I was blinking.  He had Abatzas by the hair, dragged up close to his face where he’d leaned forward.  Kall was white with rage.  “How dare that one speak of its service to the Empire?  Wearing the false rewards earned by other men?  Blind and deaf to the keening destruction it caused, the blood shed, the solas mothers of Arko weeping a sea of tears?  It is worse than merely ignorant, but willfully so.  It single-handedly nearly destroyed me, requiring my salvation at the hands of Arko’s then greatest threat and enemy for he had more sympathy for a warrior under a criminally stupid man?  It DARES?”

By this time it had finally sunk in to Abatzas’s thick head that perhaps he had gone too far this time.  He was leaned back against his own hair clutched in Kall’s hand and he was finally, finally showing some understanding.  He didn’t dare say anything, pinned under Kall’s glare.  “And it has the temerity to offer its mouth to me after spewing the expression of its own cowardice into MY mouth?”  He shook Abatzas slightly then let him go so he sprawled backwards on his butt, and wiped his hand distastefully on his kilt as if he’d gotten filth on it.

“It has until the count of ten to remove itself from my presence when I give it leave to go, and it shall recognize that I intend to point out to the Minister of Serenity that a certain retired general of Arko should have been brought up on charges of malfeasance, incompetence, abuse of his position and power and perhaps even criminal incompetence and treason against the Empire, years ago.”  Abatzas was white as a bleached sheet by this point, two of those charges alone were capital crimes, and flung himself on his face.  “Gehit.  It has my leave to –“ Abatzas was already moving and had reached the door by the time Kallijas said “—go.”

He sat there a moment longer and then just said to his secretary who peeked in to see if he were ready for the next audience, “I need a moment, please.  Would you please ask someone to get me a ginger cordial to clear my mouth?  I’ll be in the garderobe.”  He wasn’t the sort to vomit… not like me, and he was out again and scrubbing his hands just as quickly.  He’d left the robe behind on the audience chair and I took the cordial in to him.

“I wanted to kill him, Minis,” he said quietly.  “I just wanted to strangle him with my bare hands.  But that would have been the worst of excesses.”

“You did the right thing, Kallijas.  He should have been charged years ago.”

He nodded and drank his ginger, staring out the window off into the distance.  “I very nearly lost control of myself.”

“But you didn’t, Ser.”

“True.  I pray the Ten don’t throw me such temptation again.”

I couldn’t say what the Gods might do.  “How many Kallens can there be?”

He actually laughed.  “Also true.  Thank you, lad.”

He’s fine, Chevenga.  But you will probably get a letter from him about all of this too, full of self-recrimination at his own reaction. Though it is not my place to comment on a grown man, I believe he would have been inhuman if he hadn’t reacted.  He is far too hard on himself.  Most people would have dragged Abatzas out to the High Office and flung him out the window.

I’ve filled this page both sides and from edge to edge and this bit at the bottom, swearing I’d just do the one sheet to keep it light for the winger.  Next time I’ll not jam the letter into an already over-full packet.

Hoping you are well,


493a - One Page of the Mess

The mess… her father came down and gazed at the fog of  drifting dust and ash.  “How… unexpected.”

There was no one else in the archive, everyone barred by her father’s word, above.  No doubt craning their necks, oh so discretely trying to see.

“Did… when did this occur, honoured father?”

“Hmm.”  He paused, then continued as if he had merely paused for breath.  “To speak entirely honestly honoured daughter, I do not know.  If I did not know better I would hazard a guess that Meras  would have sent someone to destroy the books when it became clear that the city would fall.  But, daughter, you might notice that even though the room was sealed… the soot and dust are thick upon the shelves.  My supposition could be flawed.”

They stood looking at mess for a longer moment.  “Honoured father.”  She spoke up.  “Might I request assistance in recovering what I may?”

He turned to look at her.

“You think something might still be worth attempting to salvage?”  She stood looking at the blackened mess covered with the fine grey dust.

She nodded.  “I do.”

“Then you have permission to bring in who you will, to attempt this.”  He turned to begin climbing the spindly staircase.  "I advise you to limit your assistants.  It is the Mahid archive, after all."

“Thank you, father.”

“You are welcome, daughter.  You may not thank me shortly, given the work you have requested.”


“The damage wasn’t as bad as it appeared,” Atzana said, leaning over her desk  under the skylight.  Inensa straightened up from where she leaned, placing both her hands in the small of her back.  “I’m happy that your father gave us permission to work on these.”

“Yes.  But I do not read the most Ancient of Arkan.”

Atzana rubbed her own eyes.  “The Spark of the Sun’s Ray Elect can puzzle some of it out.”

Inensa sat down and rubbed her face with her hands.  “Indeed.  He is quite busy being his tutor’s bemas, writing his own papers…”

Riala had her head down on a near-by table, carefully away from the glass-covered table-tops protecting the re-constructed pages and the bits and pieces of scorch assembled as best it could be guessed.  “We’ve been at this for days and days.”

“And we have things mostly sorted out… now all we need to do is read them…”

Inensa stood up.  “I shall send a note to inquire if my son has time, now that that marriage is done.”


“I think this is a list of some kind.” Minis said, laying his pen down on the filthy, ink-spattered sheet of paper with scribbled bits of words all over it.  “I think… it is, perhaps a list of virtues?”  Wiiraband…?  "Ah, 'We are a band of brothers." 

Minis squinched his eyes shut, let them fall on another bit of text when they opened, instead of trying to force them.  Wirrloiel.  "We are loyal." Wirronrab?  "We are honourable."  Wiif korech.  "With courage."

Wiirkomitd tordooti. "We are committed to duty.  Or our duty."

Minis put up his hands and massaged his temples with the heels of them.  Wiirispekfu. "We are respectful."

Thee Mahid’ve urnd therite twote nam.  Theenam Mahid weelbi hildas riprisintatifof thee kooalities…  "The (Mahid) have earned the right to that name.  The name (Mahid) will be held as representative of the qualities..."

He pondered the next odd phrase. “Let me just do my best to translate… all right?”

Inensa poured him another cup of kaf, slid a plate of sandwiches toward him.  “Eat first.  You’ve forgotten to eat while you unraveled that page.”

“Yes, mother.”

“Excellent, my son.  I just need to know what it means, not word for word.”

Minis swallowed his mouthful of kaf and stared down at his page.  “I think… I think it means…“Those qualities and any faithful Mahid, doing his or her duty, will do their utmost to uphold the ideals.” The list I puzzled out before,” he said.

“In combat, in defense, in their lives, the…” (these marks mean Mahid, even if they don’t seem to.  I’ll just continue writing them down as such…)  “…shall strive to uphold those qualities, and teach their children in those exemplary virtues.  The vision of the dedicates – (this means something like dekinas, something sacred… or a higher sacred than mere priests…) of…” (a name… a Mahid name I think) “…shall strive to to uphold the tradition of excellence in its investigative and protective mission through a dedicated, highly-trained, diverse, family-oriented workforce that promotes holy professionalism.”

The mission of the (Mahid) is to guard the infrastructure and lawful systems of Ark Co., (this is an old old spelling of the name of the Empire) to preserve the integrity of the Company (Arko), and to protect the CEO  (I cannot make this word mean anything... pronounced keeio perhaps?  But it is always written in the odd way...), visiting CEOs (perhaps it is their sign for Imperator?  No -- visiting keeios... must be a title of some kind of official --) and government officials, and designated places holy to the followers of the company of saved souls.

"Then there are bits missing in the middle and what appears to be instruction to the Mahid."

"The (Mahid)’s ranks close against the dark, and with calm, firm steps face the holocaust that burned the sin out of the world.  Those fallen, in Heaven (Selestialis) send their spirits to march within the ranks of their still struggling brothers."

"Be a defense of hope and safety for Ark Co. (Arko) when they see the (Mahid) troops rallying to save them, to stand between them and the fallen (forzak) hordes who brought the Wrath of God (Gods/Muunas) down upon us all.  (Mahid) stand prepared for the Fire, stand prepared to be the first and last bulwark against sin and defilement."

"Then another hole... and a piece of text from Muunas's Book."

"We are a superior race, by the grace of the Ten and thus are responsible."

He paused, looking at the last readable piece of text.  "This isn't in the scriptures.  "We take responsibility for the hard choices and our power requires that we be reliable and conscientious for those who we are answerable to.”

492 -The Thug of Time

I am surrounded by the sodden bodies of my erstwhile compatriots.  My men, my young stags, roaring and bellowing me on to my wedding… Did you notice, oh young companions, and older scholars who should know better… that I have watered the wine in my cup?  I am not so drunk as I appear, perhaps from the wafting fumes of breath from no longer attentive companions, overcome with the best of Mikas’s Great Experiment.

Your first wedding, you dream of one last run with the stags... the second, one is likely to wonder if one is at a point where one will be stuffed and mounted over the mantlepiece like one -- serving as more of an ornament to fertility, than an actual producer of same.  Not that a flash of tail goes unappreciated… but with the rack goes a modicum of decorum.  What looks spritely on a yearling, looks foolish on an old bull.

I nearly thought ‘does a modicum’.  Even in my inebriated state do I note that Fradas, the couch philosopher, somewhere rules.  Fradas… the God-talker who could draw out satyrs and cannibal centaurs out of infested people’s minds as they lay upon his couch -- instead of on the city walls -- and then slew them… Some said he was a man and the creatures he slew were illnesses and not real.  I suppose there is a cruel fate for those who would encapsulate the acts of the Ten as those of human frailties and foibles.  The Gods punish them and transform them into philosophers, or book critics, or gourmets… or just let them grow old in times too interesting for their ancient bones.  What a bounty to place on another’s wedding, what a burden to chain to a fellow partner in a harness more suited to the young.

The young companions put under the table, by so little drink, and those more my own age parallel sharing their dreams with so much…  I am being the spectre of philosophy at my own wedding night before party…

A practical man would note this of his companions, and make sure the fine wine the next day was perhaps a little more watered down... THAT is a second wedding. The new lioness should have roars, not snores.  She might forgive the enthusiasm of cubs, but why should an old lion have to apologize on their wedding night? In a second wedding he should know better… and I do.  Oh indeed, I am not as inebriated as I seem.

Else I should not be able to pronounce the word ‘inebriated’.

Did you know, oh Spark?  Now Spark Elect… that the difference between inebriated and intoxicated is usually merely the price of the liquor one becomes impaired upon? You very well recalled my last attempt to instruct you in the appreciation of Risae’s Disgust and Mikas’s Great Experiment, as you quoted it back to me.

I’m drunk enough to be repeating myself.  At least somewhat.  Let us hope the rest of the audience will be too drunk to remember my redundant soliloquy tomorrow, including yourself, oh Spark.

We praise the vine.  We even praise the hops and the grain. Yet we so seldom declaim odes to spirits of liquor, touched with fire, touched with ice. Perhaps they are too earthy for such poesy.  Spirits. Such as these last, two, tiny glasses filled with liquid fire. The finishing touch to the ancient art of making the groom too hung over to do more than be steered about the chapel floor next morning so he not embarrass his bride, the wedding party and guests; yet not too hung over to hurl evidence of his belling staggery the night before over the prelate’s slippers.

Too often the young horn themselves, with this.  And yet.  As I’ve said.  I’m not so drunk as I have been before.  I am, in my age, used to the late nights of lost sleep, but rather than lost, because of my age, merely temporarily displaced with my spectacles.

What injury this drink can do me, is slight, when considering the battery and assault each year has inflicted.  The drink is rather now an old, consoling friend, poking one in the shoulder, rather than the rough treatment each year brings to mug another chain of time from one’s ever thinning purse of life.

Enough maudlin philosophy!  Before you fall upon your face, oh Spark, let us cap the night and you may roust me tomorrow with as much cheer as your role demands!  I shall be surly.  I shall complain as is required, when I and Trathila shall, with much amusement, watching our young attendants keep every moment of tradition clearly, painfully and unnecessarily alive for us, clasp our hands inside the ring box; as if it were not merely a formality.

Are you aghast? Oh Spark, you are young.  Let me advise you.  When the thug of time comes calling faster each year, you no longer waste what chains of time you have.  Enough again!

To the wedding!  To my wedding.  To our wedding.  And I hope that forzak cat is minded to let me sleep in the same bed as my wife…

Again, thank you Kevin for all the lines and all the help!

Monday, May 30, 2011


No second Monday post.  I'm unfortunately still one behind.  I'll see what I can do...  mea culpa.

491 - It's not about me?

I skated over and come to rest beside the elder Ienas, surveying the mess on his patio with a sanguine eye.  “I shall have to stop coming to your establishment, Ienas.  I seem to be a harbinger of destruction for you.”

He cast a look at me.  “Beggin’ the exalted’s pardon and thank the Blessed and Most High Ten fer that, but this ain’ about the exalted.  Yeh jus’ happened to be here when the flippin’ thing went down.  Excuse m’ language.”

I smiled, almost automatically now.  “Stinkin’ right, your forzak language is awful.  But understandable under the circumstances.”  Even as my mind tried to wrap itself around that odd idea.

The son’s caste accent was much less pronounced, his learning foreign tongues had softened and blurred it.  “As m’ father says.  I recognized several of those bullies and they’d come before to try and force father and Dorn to pay security… mostly against themselves.”

They were, indeed, telling me it had nothing to do with me?  I must have blinked foolishly as he went on.  “Those villains!  They’ve been terrorizing the whole district!”  I could see the same look in his eyes that I could catch glimpses of in either Chevenga’s or Kallijas’s eyes.  The look of a man who has seen a true battlefield.  Real blood.  I wondered for a moment if what I had seen with my sire gave me a fraction of that look, then I shrugged.  It wasn’t important.

“Are they?” I’d missed the Pages articles on this.  I felt, again, like there was a whole other world under the one that I was familiar with… like the night I’d walked alone to the Mezem and been offered work out of the shadows and been chased by two boys for the lace on my night clothes and when I had become a fessas scholar, and then again when I’d been a Dyer messenger.  What was civilization after all, layered like an onion, or a pasta bake?

“The Serenity’ll get ‘em,” Ienas Jr. nodded firmly.  “With the truth drug.  What I seen – “ his accent became much more fessas as he got more fierce – “what I seen… Arko are better off fer truth drug an’ the Wool Hair Imperator made it useful fer more common folk and ferretin’ out such like, rather than jus’ fer hisownself.”

He stared me in the eyes as if testing to see my reaction to such plain speaking.  People really didn’t know how to react to me at all.  “You’re right,” I said. Ailadas glided over on his old skates, robes and hair flapping, eyes bright behind his spectacles.

“That was brilliant!” He said not coughing at all.  “Absolutely exceptional!” He stopped expertly – of course – and a whooping, cheering spatch of fans and players and old team-mates swooped around the lot of us as the Sereniteers showed up and hauled the unconscious and dead criminals away.  Joras had managed, in the midst of jumping, fighting, screaming bodies and uncertain light to dart a number of the thugs and completely miss all of the guests.  The thugs he had darted were the lucky ones, or perhaps the most unlucky ones for they would be hauled away and truth drugged.   My other guard, Rias Kanakas, an elite solas, had just struck to kill any one of them who had come near me.  Sensibly that had only been two of the thugs.

“This,” I said to myself, quietly in the midst of the old guys celebrating their victory, for victory it indeed had been… “raises a number of questions.”


“Shefenkas did indeed make it easier for these ones to use truth-drug to catch criminals like this, but He also made it possible for those vile ones to arise this time as much as those ones have,” Minister Rafas explained to me in his precise way after he had taken my statement.

“How so?”

“Well, there always had been a policy of randomly truth-drugging certain of the city population.  Certain neighbourhoods, certain groups within the city.  Some social associations.  There was a list of types where these ones would occasionally find the seeds to organize violent crimes.  Truly, Arko was, and to this one’s pride, remains one of the only countries on the Earthsphere that this one knows of that has tiny guilds of criminals, unlike elsewhere.  The Zak are notorious for the size of the organized criminal element.”

“And how and why did that stop?  Was it the sack?”

“No, it was the former Imperator-by-will of the Ten.  The exalted one did not tolerate random truth-drugging of individuals.  Something that Yeolis hold to very strongly.  The Most High said it was a violation of those ones rights.”

I didn’t even say ‘I see.’  I’d come across the idea many times in Yeoli writings and I’d never really been able to reconcile the individual rights idea with the collective action/submit to the will of the group.  It always seemed like a kind of paradox that Yeolis could maintain simultaneously in their heads.

“Shefenkas struck that law,” Rafas concluded.

I nodded and thanked him and went off to think.  Should that particular law be returned to Arko’s books?  Would violation of the individuals’ rights in question justify the suppression of the organization of violent crimes in the Empire?

Of course, with bar owners like Ienas and his ilk the organizers of protection rackets would not have an easy time of it and the owners working with the Sereniteers, with truth-drug, should be able to handle the sprouting tumor in the body civil.  Hmmm.

I went off to do some research before I sat in the Assembly.  If Kallijas did so, I thought it behooved me to do so as long as I could do my continued education and other work.

The random truth-drugging had really been desultory at best.  Father hadn’t cared so it had only been diligently pursued by good Ministers of Serenity, and those had been few given that the post had gone to people less than trained in some cases, just whatever happened to strike the fat guy’s fancy if the position came up. 

The profiles of those picked to be interrogated had very little rhyme or reason to them, mostly going on Sereniteers’ gut feelings and the questionings had periodically removed some of the organization, knocked it down, but never managed to eradicate it entirely, ever, as far as the records I could see.  People seemed to want to take advantage of the least problem in society and try and shove a pry-bar of some kind into it, for only their own good.

I told myself not to be cynical and went off to sit in Assembly, still thinking about it.  I knew what Chevenga thought of the idea but perhaps I would write him about it to get his reaction on the ethics of not-quite random truth-drugging for the greater good.

Friday, May 27, 2011


My apologies for not posting today.  I simply must take the boys to the cottage which has no internet... so I shall either sneak out to town during the weekend, or post twice on Monday!


Thursday, May 26, 2011

490 - Patre'll Take Care of Me

“You mark my words!  I’m a fessas I am!  The Patre will have me an’ my buddies out o’ here affore we can get transferred tah Marble Palace lock-up!  How was we to know that there’d be a stinkin’ Mahid there!  It was just a party fer some old fart’s gettin’ married!

‘Course we had ta show the lot of uppity shop-keepers, ‘n food-making café’s an’ wine bars that they couldn’t tell los Familias NO!  They need tah pay up their protection money nice and quiet and nobody gets hurt.  Nobody’s business gets turned away.  Nobody gets careless with torches.

“You know.  Wave a pot of cooking fuel around and one little torch and people in the city get as excited as an old lady whose underskirts are afire.  Or her yappy dog… I done that.  Forzak.  So excited.  It’s like you farted in the new Regent’s face… ‘course He, Whose Hands are Bare only for Two Years, ‘s a good enough warrior tah kill yah all His ownself.  Like the Wool Hair ‘fore Him… ah…An’ nobody says Him who snots Sparks were goin’ tah be there, neither.”

Patre he say… ‘you an’ Bubas an’ Jubo an’ yer boys go pay another visit tah that uppity Fig asshole.  Catered party so’s no Immortal stickin’ his nose in and I don’ believe that fessas mercenary’s that good, more talk ‘n show with them brass beads an’ fake swords an’ fancy foreign whore o’ his… set a small fire or two, blame ‘t partiers.  Smash thet fancy-ass mirror worth more’n my house… who does they think they is?  Patre he say… Fig owner’ll pay up fast enough.

“Tell ‘im his women ain’t any safer ‘n his bizness.  Tell ‘im his pukin’, stinkin’ grandbabies ‘ll ‘get lost’ on the way tah them weird-ass wagon schools.  Fig pays us… eve’ybody pays up.  Bizness ‘ll be real good.”

“Jubo an’ I… we goin’ tah have us a real good time…  they jumped us from behind last time.  Smashed us both with chairs, put ‘em ‘cross our necks and sat down till the Sereniteers came.  Thet was ‘the Gate Division’ an’ Patre had us out same night. He’s got good pockets, Patre has an’ he don’ like anyone messin’ with his boys… those Sereniteers who’ere dumb enough to arrest us got jumped by a couple of ‘thieves’ and got messed up some just next night.  Interestin’ coincidence huh?  Say, hev I seed you before?  Nah? Let me tell yah.  Some lock-up the Marble Palace ‘ll be.  Fancier ‘n any I been in.  I won’ be in here much longer, Patre, heh, him and me are tight, yah know?  Even if I’m a fik-up, says he, he’ll look after me.”

“So Jubo an’ I… well we an’ the boys got a little likkered up first and I was goin’ take a rock tah thet forzak mirror and we make like we’re robbin’ the joint…But they won’ keep still! Huie got a crossbow and got his-self clipped with the edge of a table somehow and goes down.  An’ the whole lot of em… Dyers.  An’ faibalitiskai we’re surrounded by forzakin’ idiots on skates whippin’ all over t’ forzak patio thing an’ then somebody grabs wooden plates and they’re hurlin’ ‘em like faib disks – ‘s how I got thet bruise I tell yah though I ducked right quick – even t’ old gimp’s on skates… worth more’n my sword an’ I stole it from the best…an me boys ‘r going down an’ some Dyer whips by and jams a drum down over Jubo’s head an’ Serin Fancy Ass-Boy Spark-Shitter gets up and he’s on skates so’s I can’t take the underground rEward fer assassinatin’ his ass and his fake Mahid… there’s just the one… he’s got his kit, that dang blowgun ‘o his and hit’s lights out…”

“An’ I tell yah!  Patre ‘ll have me out ‘o here before they can truth drug me… Heh, yeh got a rope.  Yeah looks like shirt rags… she’ll give way ‘fore one good pull. An’ there’s no window tah bust bars and climb out… hey… wait… you…HEL-- ggggkkk….”


“… suspect was found deceased, suspended in his cell, from a rope apparently made from the rags of his shirt.  Death was ruled to be a suicide to escape truth drugging.  Sereniteers Parkalas Marn and Hineas Lodas were reprimanded and suspended without pay for an eight-day, for not keeping a close enough watch on the suspect pre-drugging.”


“One suspect survived his cell to be truth-drugged, and it appears that there is a developed network of underground villains calling themselves the Families, mostly made up of okas and fessas thieves with senior officers who are solas and a disenfranchised Aitzas whom they call ‘Father’, along with more than one foreigner who might be a new-sworn citizen of Arko.

“They are focusing mostly on the importation of seriously addictive drugs and their use in the snatching and control of children for child brothels, extortion, theft, arson, illegal excision of seven-year olds, assassination and the violent assault, maiming and murder of citizens in the course of hair theft.  It is unknown at this point if the assassins in the city are working for the Families voluntarily, or are under duress and fighting them.

“The Familias appear to have acquired the unregulated and underground child brothels in the city and in Anoseth, at least.  Suspect knew very little other than this.  His specialty was extortion threats and arson.”

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

489 - Excerpts and Crib Notes

…excerpt from doctoral paper number one:

I contend that societies go through closing and opening cycles, not unlike a lock, where an entire society goes through progressive changes either tending to the repressive – thus, closing – or the progressive, becoming more open in its cultural attitudes.

Not only in the laws, where there are increasing numbers of laws and rules, but also an increase in the severity of punishment for breaking those rules, but in entire cultural attitudes.  In other words, a closing society becomes more rigid and harsh.

In a closing society there is a general trend toward a more rigid and frightening Mahid, while in an opening society that particular sub-class of Aitzas concentrates more upon the achievement of perfection of a sort, and it becomes a valuable reward rather than a horrific punishment to be married in to that clan.

The Imperator, in the historical record, is often a clear sign of whether Arko is entering a closing or opening phase.  Appellant names bestowed show that people clearly see this, at least in hindsight.  ‘The Great’, ‘The Feckless’, ‘The Frugal’, ‘The Rigid’… people in our current times are beginning to refer to Sixteenth Kurkas as ‘The Baby’…


I was lucky in that I found a hand-written sheet tucked into one of the thick, heavy, etiquette books, apparently cribbed by someone else who wanted the basics for how to be a good bemas.  I inwardly blessed the long dead man who had wanted crib notes for a wedding.

I’d done the right thing by organizing the men’s party which would be two days from now… the women supposedly had a party as well but that was to be organized by the bride’s bema so I didn’t have to worry about it.

.           see that the rings and appropriate locks are delivered to the jeweler
.           keep custody of the finished rings until the appropriate moment of the ceremony

There were ancient things like seeing that the groom’s men’s arms were in good repair and well presented, and that their horses should have been properly groomed.  I didn’t think there would be a lot of horses in the small Marble Palace Temple.

.           have custody of the ring box so that no one could tamper with it

That was obvious since it was seen as a funny wedding joke to have the side of the box fall open at the right moment and let everyone see the groom’s hand clasping the bride’s hand, putting the ring on her finger, or her putting the ring on his finger -- symbolic of the wedding night.

.           organize the wedding feast
.           see that the horses or the carriage the new-wedded couple leave in is only minorly tampered with
.           discourage a shiffarias…  -- that, I could see.  I’d want to kill someone who howled under my wedding night bedroom with pots and pans and noise makers and drums…though of course there was always some of that but mostly for first marriages.

It was up to the bride’s bema to display the couple’s bloody sheets next morning… though not for a second marriage... thank the Gods.  Since this was a second wedding for both Ailadas and Trathila I did not have to have custody of the wedding knife and the betrothal box.  No wonder a bemas’s coat was designed with a multiplicity of internal pockets!  He had to normally carry everything, presumably because the groom was either too hung over from the night before party… oh, that was aside from the men’s party, a more intimate affair… or too freaked out with the whole wedding thing to actually think.

A note on the bottom of this crib-note sheet said “… remember to grab him over the elbow and steer him into place… he missed his mark eight times in a row last rehearsal…”

I had to smile at that ancient groom who could not think… I’d be that out of it I was certain.  The officiating priest had things to carry, the bride’s bema and her ladies had things to carry… including the layers and layers and layers of cloth over the bride.

I’d seen the outside layers of an Arkan wedding dress before.  I’d never realized there were ten in all, the inner one dark red… only the groom saw that one.  The outside was white with red gems, red lace.  Each layer in was more and more red.  The veil was either white or silver to honour Selinae, if the caste of the bride and the pockets of her father allowed.  In this case I was responsible for the payment of two veils, the outer one white for Dimae, the inner one silver for Selinae, since Trathila was changing caste and marrying up.

It was very strange that the bemas should be buying the outer protection for the bride, I thought.  Oddest of all was the gate in the temple that the couple would pass through, once they were first married.  It gave me the shivers because it looked frighteningly like the Lock.

Which was still untouched, in its place in the Marble Palace, but turned into a storage closet that sealed delicates away from air and moths.

The Wedding Gate was usually painted like metal, but in the Marble Palace it was actual metal, with the central door and locking wheel in the centre.  The newly married waited on the other side… even if the gate stood with no walls on either side but ranks and ranks of flowers… and the officiant priest opened it for them to walk through together.

I was tremendously relieved.  I knew I’d ask Riala or Skala to design the head-to-toe veils. I had a thought for what I could give them for a good wedding present… a library.  I would endow a library. They’d both like that.  A public building and I planned to have one built onto their house on Bright Street, symbolic of that public one.

All the rest I could handle.  It would just take some rehearsal.  I should ask Kyriala about some of the details.  She’d be able to advise me what was most correct, most appropriate.  She had an eye for such things.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

488 - Cast in Glass and Boxed

The door of the reading room opened and I ducked behind the stack of books in front of me, not wanting to be seen by whoever it was coming in.  If they didn’t notice me or what I was studying in a moment they’d be up to their noses in their own research and not paying attention to anyone else. 

There were hundreds of books on wedding etiquette.  Hayel there were hundreds of books for every castes’ weddings, and tens more for mixed caste weddings where the bride was marrying up! Though those were all either old or ancient, and I'd had to go through the Portals of Propriety to get them.

Thank the Ten there were very few men who married up, rather the women marrying down or there would be even more books on that!  And then there were the changes over the years.

I couldn’t ask my mother, nor my grandfather.  Certainly not Ailadas.  It was his wedding after all.  I wasn’t going to ask Sera Eren… perhaps she would just laugh and tell me I already knew what I needed to know to be a good bemas.  And thank goodness they wanted a small wedding.  I’d already inquired about the small Temple in the Marble Palace itself, rather than the High Temple.  They didn’t want hundreds and hundreds witnessing their marriage, that much I knew.  I’d also sent down the request for the men’s wedding party to the Fig.  That much I knew, too.

I just needed to get out of this etiquette maze.  I closed the books and went down to the faib bowl to watch the training for a while.  The High League shared bowl time, since it was the only steel bowl on the earthsphere.  The smooth plaster walls of the training bowls gave people some approximation of the real thing but nothing beat training on the surface itself.  This late in the afternoon it was the Anoseth team.  Mother was telling me that the women were upset that there was no longer a Mahid team.  The Mahid’s banner had been turned to face the wall of the arena.

I settled into a front chair and watched and listened to the barely heard rumble, and click of bearings, the whoops and calls of the players as they practiced, with both the regular weight disk and the overweighted one.  Since I had not declared for a favourite team at all, I could come in and watch, since I was not seen as a possible spy for anyone.

The current captain, a fellow who went by the nickname Little Dubbi, for some reason that I had not followed, spun up off the end of the bowl, put one hand down and twisted to land on the edge of the bowl at the team seats.  He had a drink and towelled off before gliding over to stand just under my row.  “Heya, Susu! If you tighten up on that jump you actually have a shot at the goal!”
“Thanks, Dubbi!”

The captain and I watched as the player modified his jump and then his team mates swooped in to see how it could be blocked or countered.

“What brings the Exalted to watch us lowly ones practice?”  He asked me.  People still knew I was a fan of the game, of sorts.

“Just to watch, let my mind think of other things.  A friend of mine is getting married and I’m in the middle of doing bemas organizing things.”  I wasn’t going to admit I didn’t know what I was doing.

“Ten smile on ‘em.  Anyone we know to pass on our ‘grats?”

Even if the players were all Aitzas they were all sounding a little more like Dyers, now that I knew what Dyers sounded like.  Perhaps skates did that to people.  “You might.  He’s old though.  My tutor Ailadas, Ailadas Koren.”

Little Dubbi had been idly sliding back and forth as if to keep himself warmed up.  Now he turned to me and stopped still.  “Koren?” Oh, that’s right.  He’d been a faib player.  Hey… “Killer?” he continued.  I nodded.  …Maybe I should invite—

He reached down to catch up his whistle, as loud as an express chair whistle and blasted the play to a stop.  “GUYS! TEAM-MATES!  KILLER KOREN IS GETTING CAST IN GLASS AND BOXED!” When did  they start using the vulgar term for marriage?  “We’ve got to give him a good teams’ send off, don’t we???”

He spun on his heel and looked up at me.  “When’s the men’s party?” oh, ten.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Victoria Day

I should have reminded everyone... today is Victoria Day in Canada and I shall not be posting.  It's part of the 2/4 weekend {a pun on the twenty and four beers in a large case} when Canada switches over to summer.

If you have any ideas you'd like to see Minis write for Intharas... please pass them along... the editor is becoming politely testy...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Thank you!

Thank you all for the ongoing donations.  They are much appreciated and help my morale as well as my pocketbook!

Hugs!  And again, much appreciated.

Friday, May 20, 2011

487 - You Little Squirt!

I was sitting in the dog yard, the sun beating on my head, trying to work up the will to walk into the Marble Palace.

Tanifas had run me around with his pack and every time the dogs had started misbehaving he’d throw another question at me about what I was thinking or about something that would make me stop and stare at him wanting to ask how he knew.  “The dogs are telling me,” he’d say.  “You can’t hide from the forzak pack you know.”

So far he’d caught me ever time I started hammering on myself or telling myself things that hurt.  He was uncanny like Surya but in his own way.

It was quiet on the steps of the dog yard.  The wall of the Marble Palace loomed in front of me and it was unlikely that---


It was Ili leaning half over the Charoite balcony waving down at me.  Ailadas had him by the back of the kilt and half lifted him back out of sight, even as I looked up.


“Ilesias!” I managed to climb to my feet.  Ailadas is getting married?  But… but… he’s old… and… um… I… um… Ailadas is getting married.  “That’s wonderful news… but don’t you think that Ailadas would want to---“

“--- he said I could an’ I came right out here… I knew you’d be with Tanifas… an’---“

“Ahem.”  It was certainly amazing that Ailadas could project so well, even a cough.  “Perhaps my impending nuptials might be discussed with a trifle more discretion and a soupcon less volume?”

My little brother was doing well for a seven, nearly eight year old.  Really he wouldn’t be eight until later this year.  I had to smile.

“Ili… why don’t you meet me in the Bath and we can all talk about it there?”

“Oh, sure… hey Min are you going to be Ailadas’s bemas? I mean I’m really too little… but maybe he wants one of those stuffy old guys from the University but they’re so –“

“—Ilesias Aan!”  that was both Ailadas and I speaking together.  All of a sudden I wasn’t nearly as tired as I had been just a moment before. I only know the barest minimum of weddings.  My father wasn’t interested in weddings and in all the knuckle suckers they say ‘they got married’, with no mention of who really does anything… other than the bride and groom and the priest.


“Ili was quite correct, Minis.  I would be very pleased if you would be my bemas. I have three gentlemen from the University I shall be asking as well as you, to stand witness and sign the papers.”  Which papers where those? The fat guy betrothed me to Kyriala and I'd never thought about it, just thinking I'd show up on the day of our wedding and do what I was told... We sat in the bubbling tub in the Lesser Bath.  Ailadas wore swimming costume and Ili was playing hurl the domoctopus into the big pool.  Jia was cheeping happily and fetching himself back to be hurled again, though he occasionally, randomly, changed the game to ‘Seize-the-boy-by-the-head-with-all-eight-arms’.

“I’m honoured, Ailadas.  Have you set a date?  Or Anything else?  I need to get into the etiquette books immediately. I don’t even know what to ask!

“Since it is a second marriage for both of us, we are resolved to keep it a small affair.”  He smiled a little.  “To be honest most of our long term friends are dead of old age.”

I was tempted to splash him.  “You have quite a few friends, I’m sure.”

“It won’t be a large affair so we should be able to celebrate it in the fall, or even earlier, though Aras is an inauspicious moon to marry.  She would prefer the first of Dimae.”

“Hmmm.”  I wasn’t sure what to say.  “Perhaps it would be a good idea to defer to her wish?  After all, isn’t marriage really more the women’s… um… purview?” Was it really the women’s purview? Who am I going to ask, my mother? She must know about Mahid weddings, not normal ones.

He grinned at me, for all the world like a boy considering his first bride.  “Heh, ahem.  Yes – DUCK!”

I went under but it wasn’t fast enough, or it just didn’t matter anyway.  Jia landed just over my head with a splash as I sank and latched onto me, so I came up with his squishy mass cheeping on my forehead, tentacles wrapped around my chin.  “Excuse me, Ailadas.  I believe a certain little brother needs hurling into deep water.”

“Of course.”  Ili saw me coming and squealed before leaping into the deep pool himself, his knees up around his chest, clasped in his arms, to drench me with an enormous splash before I could reach him.  I put my hands up to keep Jia from draping his tentacles over my eyes.

“I’m going to get you, you little squirt!”  It was funny.  I wasn’t the slightest bit tired any longer.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

486 - Fig for Hire?

“Ienas.”  I swear that my little professional god created me specifically to have fun with me. 

My son looked up from where he was making the last entry in our daily take book. “Yes, dad?” I let the letter in my hand flap open to show the fancy stock, the silver ink and the silver ribbons.  He blinked. “That can’t be real, so soon after we catered those big parties of his…”

“Oh?  And who didn’t believe me when I TOLD you the Spark of the Sun’s Ray likes the place?  That the Yeoli Imperator invited your mother and me up to the Marble Palace?  That we’ve been catering…”

He’s flapping his gold-beaded moustache ends at me.  “All right, all right, dad, I believe that you are beloved of the highest in the land… what’s the letter?”

“One of his closest friends… his tutor would you believe, is getting married and would we be so kind as to give him – Sparky Elect -- a price for the hosting of the man’s pre-wedding party!”

“Hmmm.  Sparky’s going to be witnessing for the man?  Be his bemas?”

“Looks like.  He says the invitation list is enclosed so we might have an idea of numbers and the kind of security we might have to hire.  NOT Shefenkas… who’s still in Yeola-e.”

He scanned down the list, his lips pursing as he reads.  “…most of the University history department, writers, a number of those foreign Gybr people… heh… the Regent Imperator’s dad and a bunch of other solas – who – I might add – were friends of the bride's first husband… so she did well for herself, hmm?  Marrying up?”

“Yes, son, that’s not as important as it used to be…”  We both glanced up at the wall of the office where his swords hung.  Not that we figured he’d ever use them and I didn’t say a single word about him paying a trainer somewhere in the city… A fessas restaurant heir who happened to have made his money as a mercenary out east somewhere so far away that it makes the Yeoli mountains look like pimples?

The office wasn’t just my book under the cashbox in my Fig any longer.  I’d moved into a back room of the Figgish Gourmand and did the books there.  That was also where our strong-box was and my Ienas was one of the fellows who delivered our daily take off to the Most Virtuous and Fecund Second Exchequer – wearing his swords.

Dorn was endlessly ribbing me about my ‘warrior son’ and I pretended hard that I was just tolerating it all, even as we shamelessly indulged in having someone in the business who could do that without charging a bond and half the earthsphere for money transport.  I mean, the Sereniteers do their job… but there’s still crime in the city.

Some gang calling themselves Losfamilias was trying to steal people’s money and charge innocent shop owners and business owners protection, as if the city didn’t have enough taxes!  They’re mostly pimply faced bully boys who think that if they can frighten people enough they can steal more.

When they sent four to try and scare Dorn and me, my son and the Immortal… in for an evening glass of wine without the woman and sproutlings with for once… hit them with chairs and then pinned them down with the legs… sitting on them to wait for my youngest to bring the Sereniteers on the hop.  Protection, Mikas’s double-ended butt plug!

“So we have a moon to plan it… it will be high summer and it will make us a beer-wagon load of money.”

A tap on the door and my wife opens it.  “You two almost done? It’s well past your late dinner.”  The grandchild is a lump in the sling that Ienas’s bride made.  Arkan women who are showing up more and more in public all the time with newborns were asking her all the time how to make them. Not for good, strong fessas women to waste a family’s hard earned money to pay someone to carry the babies for them.

“Coming, mother.”  My son.  I could just burst.  He picked up discipline and good sense from somewhere.  Not from me.  We just fought like hooped cats.  ‘Course I’m not going to say any such thing to him.

“My sera…” She smiled at me, twinkling that I was being so formal.

“Yes, my ser?”

“We’ve got another Sparky catering commission.”

“Good.  That way we can have more grandchildren.”


“Yes, dear."