Friday, June 3, 2011

495b, 495c & 496 - I Cannot Be Here, I Require You to Speak Freely & In the Regent Imperator's Mail Packet

495b - I Cannot Be Here

Inensa raised an eyebrow and poured for him. “It is... the half that is not mine... of your parentage... and your name in the eyes of Arko... that I was thinking of.”

He accepted the eggshell thin cup from her glove and raised it to her with a slight smile.

She pointedly did not look at him as she poured for herself.  And took another tiny cake.  “You think, my son, I am being an over-protective mother?”

He blinked.  “Um…”  Is she joking?  Of course not.  She’s Mahid.  “Over-protective?  No.  I... am... pleased to have a mother.  Thank you.”  She is uncomfortable with me identifying with Mahid at all.  I’m still working out how much I want that half of my family, since I’ve been raised to think of myself as nothing but Aan.  And I was voted into position as Aan.  Politically speaking, the people of Arko want me to be nothing but Aan. 

He drained his cup and set it down with a click. “Mother, what do the other Mahid think of this?”

“Your grandfather favours it.”

“And as a Senior, this is correct, but that is the old way.  They are people of Arko.  For Mahid to be loyal to the Empire as a whole, they -- as individuals -- must be given the choice.  That’s one of the main differences between the old way and the new.”

“Oh.”  She looked somewhat taken aback and contrite.  “True.  Ahem.”  Has she been visiting Ailadas? “I don’t know what they think.  I suppose... they must be asked.”  She raised both eyebrows.  “And the women as well.  They are the bulk of the Mahid now.”

“Of course mother.  Then that is our --” No, she and all Arko need me to be Aan, not Mahid.  “-- the -- next step.”


Mahid have always been told what to do.  This is the wildest of what has been asked of them.  They will be given the choice.  Something that has apparently never been given them, at all, after their founding.

Minis’s hand came up as they were about to enter the training hall and he stopped where he stood.  “Wait.”  Amitzas and Inensa looked at him, puzzled.  “I can’t do this… I mean… I shouldn’t.”

“What do you mean, grandson?” Amitzas looked almost disapproving as if to say what now?

“I can’t present this to them or anyone else.  Everyone will think it’s because I’m like my father and want my Mahid.  And… they might tell me what they think I want to hear.  No matter what I say.  So their oaths might be suspect.”

“You are correct.  Anyone else this is presented to, by you,” Inensa said.  “Would immediately think of you and your father at the same time.”

“Not something I want.”  Minis turned to put his back against the wall and tilted his head back to rest against the stone.  “And for this… I can’t even be in the room.”

“I will present the argument, grandson.”  Amitzas tilted his head toward Inensa.

She nodded. “I will inform you, my son, of their choice, whether we should even continue.”

“Attend Mahid.”  That was all 1st Amitzas said when he took his place at the front of the training hall.  They had left Minis outside.

He let his eye take them all in. Next to Inensa sat Tesha.  Then came Selisa with her newborn, Iakobas in her arms.  The younger girls, Jorasa, Amitza and Eforasa sat together since there had been no demand to break up growing friendships.  Ruta, 2nd Inensa, Istana, Borasa, and 3rd Elsha, who had been a medic’s wife and an excellent assistant, also sat together.  Ruanna sat, somehow isolate, between the older mahid women and Joras and his wife Elsha.  Ilesias – once 4th Ilesias Mahid -- stood behind, in parade rest.  He was visiting, from his marriage in Yeola-e.

“My daughter and I have been talking about the future of the Mahid, whether we should request a future for the family, or let it dwindle.” He spoke deliberately and slowly.  “Many people would insist that the Mahid should dwindle, since we have been a symbol for terror for the past few generations.”
Elsha, heavy enough now that her pregnancy was noticeable even behind the voluminous ‘mother-to-be dress’, leaned into Joras and he put his arm around her.

“However.  We have considered that the Mahid could be an asset to the people of Arko.”  A group of Mahid did not startle.  They did not twitch and shift and look at one another.  At most their attention became more focused.

495c - I Require You to Speak Freely

“I have heard some sermons that preach that we Arkans deserved not only to lose the war, but deserved the sack.  Carry that idea to its logical conclusion, then the Mahid deserved death most of all.”  The sensation of grim and despairing acceptance flooded the room.  Joras’s face reflected the most mulish denial.

“Joras,” Amitzas said mildly.  “You do not agree with this assessment?”

“Those who were unable to adapt to change died, Senior.  The Mahid, as I am finding in myself, are far more than mere mechanisms built by the former Imperator and Imperators before him.  If our attempt to do our duty mindlessly, doomed some, these Mahid, by their very presence, shows me that they are capable of mindfully doing their duty… with intelligence.”

Amitzas looked at him for a moment, to see if he would shift, or back down, then nodded slightly.  “Your thinking is good, I believe.  Mahid, as mindless, unthinking and insane weapons of a single man, are dangerous and, as has been shown, untenable.  The bulk of the Mahid were dragged down by their unthinking obedience.”  He looked down at them all staring up at him, the tension singing high in the room.

“I am convinced that the Mahid should continue.  The skills which we have honed and refined over the Ages are something that might be of value to the Empire as a whole.”

He waited and it was as if the silence grew deeper.  “I present this idea to you all, to find out what you as thinking Mahid wish to do.”

This time there was a ripple through the group.  This was so far beyond anything that had ever been presented to them it over-rode the usual responses.

“I require you to speak freely,” Amitzas said.  “Will you swear to the greater good and glory of the Empire?  Will the Mahid continue, swearing to the Empire’s Glory, rediscovering their integrity, and without sacrificing their integrity to one man?  Anyone who will swear so, may stand.”

The whole group began to rise and he made a hissing noise that froze them all in their places.  “I repeat, Mahid, thinking Mahid.”  Half of them made to sit down once more, half rose all the way.  Then those on their feet sat down just as the other half rose.

“Ssssssst!”  That froze them once more then, as one, they all sank down.

Inensa rose from her seat.  “I intend to serve.  I will swear.”

Eyes slid sideways to look at the Mahid in the chair beside, one way, the other way.  Ruanna shifted and looked down.  “I am sworn,” she said.  “I want… things to stop changing.”

Joras stood up.  “I will swear.”

His wife stood up as well.  “I will, also.  Not just because my husband has sworn, but because in this new kind of Empire, I may do more than say ‘yes, Senior’ or ‘yes, Imperator.”  Joras grinned down at her and put his arm around her.

One after the other Mahid rose, each one giving their reasons for being willing to swear.  At the end, only Ruanna remained sitting.

“Ruanna, you are a faithful Mahid and we honour you.  We are grieved that you will not be proceeding forward with the rest of us.  Retire with all honour.”

The rest of the Mahid watched, in silence, as she rose, slowly, hem of her gown shaking, showing how much she quivered.  Her face was a complete mask, as had been proper, as she paced out of the training hall past Amitzas who did not turn to watch her go.

496 - In the Regent Imperator's Mail Bag

e 82 56 / Ar 10 51

Dear Kall:

I am sorry to take so long to write you back—you received my pigeon dated S 33 I hope? I’ve been out of touch with everyone but a very few.

Yes, Niku went to Ibresi, with her two of my children. We had been meaning for her to visit, but the way it happened was after a bad fight instead, & she left it unclear whether she’d return, so I signed consideration, which is the first step in a Yeoli divorce, & means the spouses must speak to each other in the presence of a good intermediary.

But then I had the memory of being stream-tested come back to me, & tried to kill myself again… sorry, Kall, a thousand times sorry. Sometime when we are together I will try to describe how I felt… by way of excuse, sorry again. Surya anticipated it, though, & had good people on me. He had me declared incompetent in court, sequestered me in a house up on Haranin & did very intense healing work on me until I was over it. I have had very hard times in my life, but this was one of the hardest. I have to be careful when I think about it even still.

One thing I decided in that time was to renounce the stream-test… never to do it again to any child of mine, & in fact dissuade other Yeoli parents. This is confidential now, because I must be very careful how I do it, including not starting now while people have it in their minds I’m out of mine. (I haven’t read through everything that has been written about all this—if there’s anything you’ve read that particularly struck or concerned you, ask me & I’ll tell you whether it’s true, to my understanding.)

So I sent a pigeon to Niku, to that effect. It had been in the back of my mind that our quarrels, that became so much worse after it came clear she was carrying another pair of twins, were underlain by our disagreement about that, &her dread of doing it again. If I let her know my change of heart, she might revise her opinion of me; so I hoped.

She came back with Vriah & Roshten on Ar 4, &… well, let’s just say, it was a sweet and intense reunion. We are all right now, I am sure.

After Alchaen assessed me yet again, and the judge questioned me, on her requirement that I swear never to attempt suicide again, & if the urge comes, to do certain things, which I swore, I had the incompetence ruling reversed two days ago, &was reinstated as ceremonial semanakraseye yesterday (you can’t be s’seye when you are incompetent). My half-year medical leave has been renewed, also. I moved back down to the HI this morning (answering letters was the first thing I started in on, & I’m answering yours before any other in the stack).
That’s the bones of it; I’ll tell you more, if you want, when we are next in person, though as I said, anything you really want to know, ask in a letter. I love you, I miss you no less terribly than you miss me, & I am sorry for whatever pain I have caused you.

On reading your mention of “the Kallen incident” I found Minis’s letter. Oh my great All-Spirit that Encompasses All Deities! I wanted to laugh my guts out in the sense of puking all over my nice office floor. At the same time… I have seen many amazing things in my life, & this was a mere Imperial audience, but I still have to count this as one of the most amazing. I would NEVER have imagined that Abatzas would come to YOU offering his services (his brilliant, brilliant services) as a general. If you’d predicted it would happen, I would have told you to get off the Arkanherb. It even surpasses the Mezem Director trying to talk me into starting it up again after I came back.

You’re flogging yourself too much—again—my love. You mean to have him charged, so telling him you will is fair warning, not purposeful frightening. (Though I hope you had or will have him arrested before he skips town.) Rub his face in your rage? I don’t blame you. I hardly can, after what I did to Kurkas, & to Arko, in mine. Even if I had never done these things, though, I still would not condemn you. You didn’t pick him up & fling him out the window, you didn’t make him suck you (you are blessed), you didn’t make him eat your shit, you didn’t even hit him. He should be thanking his GNG that he got out of your presence so unscathed. Don’t feel filthy just because you have a human heart.

Tell Minis it doesn’t matter what mean, paltry people will think. You’re never going to satisfy them anyway.

You are right, when you ask if Laisa will fit in with the family, I think of her character & her caste does not even enter my mind. A solas was good enough for ME!

I certainly like her well, and everyone else seems to. Including your parents. I think she would be good from what I know of her from sparring. Even if I hadn’t, I would think she would fit just on your say-so. Does she have a clear idea of what she’s walking into—including leaving Arko for Yeola-e? Is she all right with sharing you sexually not only with me but with Niku & Skorsas? Have you written them or are you asking me to speak to them about her for you? What would be best is if we could all meet; shall we arrange that? (I am stuck in VA until the Committee is done its work—but best she visit here anyway; if she can’t bear the thin air, for instance, we must plan differently.)

Seems you need something, so here it is:

Just breathe, Kall. You’re doing fine.

& I love you. I know these things now at a level I never could have imagined before. I have so much to share, when we are in person next. Happiness, we need only choose… it seems unbelievable, doesn’t it? But I am learning the truth of it, & if I can, anyone can. I love you more than I can describe, more than this thin page & these ink-scratching could ever convey. My heart contains the vastness of the sky itself, in the form of love for you. Breathe that, Kallijas Itrean.

A touch of my two sword-hand fingers, from your



My thanks to Karen for the title too as well as for writing the Chevenga letter, terrible handwriting and all!  Well, I fixed it now...  

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