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.”


  1. Hahahahahahahahaha

    Mmm, no...


    Naw, that just doesn't quite do it...


    There we go.

  2. Thank you, thank you. Abafatass Kallen is always good for a laugh. To quote the old joke, "Green side up, Abatzas! Green side up!"