Wednesday, June 8, 2011

497b, 497c &498 - Chevenga's Mahid Leter, pt 1 & 2 & Abominable, Wicked and Loathsome!

I checked the daily mail packets from Yeola-e faithfully, telling myself that it would probably take some time for Chevenga to get back to me on this, after all, his going asa kraiya was consuming him, as it should.  That way he had a chance to stay alive.  His answer arrived on the tenth day.

Dear Minis:

[I glanced over the family news and personal bits to go over later, for myself.]

With respect to the Mahid…  my thoughts and feelings, as you might gather, are many.

First of all, the idea might well die in Assembly, no matter how attached to it you are, and you will have to accept it, for all you will be Imperator.  That is the nature of rule by the people.  I have sometimes found it hard to swallow myself, and I was raised very strictly to obey it.  You were raised to expect absolute power in your adulthood.  Reconciling yourself to the Imperatorship as it is now might be hard.  Forgive me for saying what I have said more than once before, but I know how it is: it comes up anew with each issue.

Well, yes.  There would be enough debate going on in Assembly over this issue that the branmoy over the Marble Palace would be much more powerful, no doubt.  It’s up to the people of Arko, whatever I want.

Second, I wonder whether it would be best, and might go over better among the people of Arko, to let this idea rest for fifty years and then revisit it.  Torture, executions and all manner of other atrocities performed by the Mahid are fresh in living memory for the people of Arko, and dreading Mahid instinctively is natural for Arkans.  Fifty years from now there will be two generations of Arkans who have never known that, and might be more welcoming of what you envision.

Again, it’s not up to me.  It is something that the Mahid themselves have requested. 

If you feel, ‘But it can’t wait!’ I suggest you ask yourself why you feel that.  This truly has nothing to do with me, except that my mother and grandfather asked me to help them with the project.  I cannot be emotionally involved in this.  If it is something personal, to you or to the living Mahid, it should not be a consideration.  Arko is ruled by the people in the people’s interest now, not in any one or even few peoples’ interest.  The Mahid may fervently wish to serve as you describe, and yet it still may not be the best thing for Arko.  Understand, I am not saying I demand you and they abandon the pursuit of this now—I have no power to do so, for one thing!—I mean, those who are urging it should examine their motivations very very carefully, and be very honest with themselves.  I know you have come to think of them as your family, and so you want to raise them, and of course they want to raise themselves.  But they and you are both sworn now to do what is best for the people of Arko.

Always for the best of Arko.  I understand that.  Of course you’ve only seen the evil face of the Mahid, and I was raised with them.

Of course if you can convince the people of Arko via the Assembly and in public consultations that such a renewal of the Mahid is a good idea, there is no conflict. It’s not whether I can convince anyone.  I don’t think that will be an easy thing to do.  Their taking the oath you have told me about is helpful in that respect, but I think there will have to be public truth-druggings to confirm it all.  Yes, of course they will want to truth drug everybody down to the Mahid horses… if that were even possible… which reminds me I need to ride Nasty again soon. Their reporting to Assembly rather than the Imperator is good—the Mahid Committee could become a permanent committee, to which they report.  I suggest also making it explicit that such Mahid would be held to the same law as all other citizens of Arko.  Torture and murder are illegal, no exceptions.  True.  I like the idea of a permanent Mahid committee, that reports regularly to Assembly.  I shall give these ideas to Mother.  

I am realizing the pull to align myself with this idea, this want under my breastbone.  But it is NOT a good idea.  There is no unbiased way for me to approach this so I must pass on all these ideas, and then leave them alone.

It means that I must let someone else do with this what they may.  Present to Assembly, or not.  It must become something I learn to be neutral about.  I have an enormous bias toward Mahid, and must recognize it, and control it. 

497c - End of Chevenga's Letter


-- Sixty Mahid means increasing their numbers… it sounds like you are proposing some sort of competition—how would that work, and how would it avoid the appearance of glorifying the Mahid, since membership in their body is the prize?   I don’t know yet because it is a proposal to be worked out by what Assembly wants. Would those competitions be perpetual, so the Mahid ceases to be a family but becomes something more like an elite military unit, in how its number is maintained?  (The risk there is of internal divisions between “real” Mahid and “upstart” Mahid.)  For all the positions you mention, sixty seems like too few; are you envisioning expansion?  Again, that all needs to be worked out according to what Assembly wants.  It was a number Grandfather proposed to begin with, a minimal number and possibly less threatening.

I ask all these things because I anticipate that the people of Arko will have fears, even if all the checks on the Mahid that you mention are put in place.  They will have fears that in the future these checks will be gradually relaxed, the Mahid will gain numbers and power, revert to their previous ways, conspire with the Imperator to abolish Assembly and return to autocracy.  Remember, the rule of your father is what they knew for most of their lives, and what they know Arko is used to, and in part drawn to—as those who openly urge it demonstrate.  Remember the fears that were expressed to you during the campaign, that you are your father’s son and will revert to his ways; this is bound to inflame them.  I will confess that on reading the notion of Mahid renewed sent a shiver of the most visceral fear through my own heart; to envision with you the Mahid as heroes I had to fight down that fear in myself, with some effort.  People will feel such things, and you will have to reassure them convincingly to persuade them.  I’m sorry to have stirred up such fears in you my friend.  I shall have to reassure you if Assembly ratifies this.

The Mahid founding charter is interesting indeed.  “Earned the right to the name” means they were not born into it – back then there must have been some form of entry by merit.  And their first loyalty is clearly to Arko, not to the Imperator, though they must protect him and other leaders… and places holy, interesting.  Mahid Temple guards?  I thought that was fascinating as well.  It seems their mission originally was mostly guarding but perhaps military also, but there’s that intriguing mention of “investigative”… sounds almost like the Sereniteers and yet it could be spying too.  You might point out that there is no mention of torture here.  I think this document might be one of their best assets to win Assembly over to them.

The only way this is going to be welcomed is if you can convince people the Mahid will be on their side now, no longer against them.  As they used to be.

You have Kallijas’s opinion and mine; I suggest you (or Amitzas) next approach people who have a good feel for the tide of public opinion, and try it on them.  Those Assemblypeople who are in closest touch with their constituents… the Fenjitza and Fenjitzas…  Intharas and certain of the other editors… ask Amanas who else if you do not know.  I shall.  The regular luncheons I’m having with the various Assemblypeople will certainly include more of these consultations.

With respect to the training and raising of Mahid—I wonder whether you are speaking of training or raising, and note you mention Mahid children; does this mean it will be children competing for places in the Mahid contingent?  At an age in which they have enough understanding to truly choose?  It could be argued that by such an age, it is too late to instill deeply into a child the devotion that makes for unimpeachable integrity and unshakable loyalty.  It may also be argued, I think, that allowing freedom of expression and flexibility of thinking might prevent that thorough loyalty from developing.  I thought I mentioned someone had to be eighteen to compete… even Mahid by birth children, not that there will be many, with only two Mahid men to form any families.  Oh, I forgot to mention that to him.  My mistake.

To me personally that is a very interesting question at the moment, and in fact your Mahid/semanakraseye analogy has flesh in my life right now, as the Chevengani Mental State Assessment Committee delves into my own raising, forcing me to examine it myself.  In many ways it was very rigid, and the more conservative Yeolis contend that it had to be to produce someone as loyal to Yeola-e as I am; yet I have seen people who did not have the semanakraseyeni upbringing show loyalty to Yeola-e enough to sacrifice their lives.  As I recall it was more my blood-father’s teaching and influence, before he died, that inspired adherence to the principle of semana kra in me; but as I’ve learned very well both from Surya and several people either on or testifying before the Committee, I may not be recalling my childhood correctly or completely.  I throw open this question to you, and I hope you’ll forgive me, without offering an answer.  To be honest I hoped you would have some answers for me.  It’s something I’m going to sit down with Grandfather and talk about.

I have to admit I greet the idea of Mahid renewed with mixed feelings; I know, however, that what I suffered at their hands biases me against them.  It is said that a person who has been tortured can never look at the world the same way again, and certainly not at those who inflicted it.  But I am not alone in that; many Arkans have suffered it; in fact, it might be useful to your endeavour to do a full accounting of Mahid misdeeds in living memory, if that is possible, so you know precisely how many people are in my shoes, or know or are related to someone who is.  I shall pass that along to Grandfather.  He would have those records.

You ask my opinion generally, without specifying any aspects, so I’ll answer further than I have: you did not touch at all in your letteron the matter of foreign relations, or how Mahid renewed might influence Arko’s ability to continue at peace with its neighbours—which surprises me.  I would say that citizens of other nations, especially those who have suffered Arkan occupation, will be harder still to convince that this move is benign.  There are people in Yeola-e who’d be calling for armies to be mustered, the alliance to be rekindled and me to take up the sword again just on hearing this.  The Mahid’s utter loyalty will be given, as you write, to the Empire of Arko, no one else.  It is something that will have to be presented with great care… perhaps the foreign ambassadors would like to see these competitions, the challenges proposed to be personal guards, the ethics debates and such.  Perhaps if it is a regular competition, it will give our allies a way to keep track of our commitment to being a good neighbour.

Would you take up sword against us again, Chevenga?  Against me? For reviving a family in Arko?  Is that not truly an internal matter?  I did not need to consult with you on this but did out of my own concern, out of our friendship.  I shook my head.  I was buying trouble where none yet was.

You do not have to win the votes of foreigners for this; and yet Arko’s power in the world is responsibility to the world, and when Arko has abrogated that responsibility before, the world has bitten back.  I suggest a good deal of work to keep the embassies abreast of how exactly this will be done, so they understand it poses no threat.  Good idea.

With respect to Kallijas’s suggestion of letting each Mahid stay with Sukala for a moon, I think this is an excellent idea, especially for the existing Mahid.  He is serious, yes?  So am I.  Oh he’s serious.  So am I, having met her.  She would straighten out any kind of nastiness or craziness in a heartbeat.  Any other Yeoli sages presented with rock-headed Arkan young m – people to straighten out… they might be delighted at the opportunity.

Such are my thoughts on the matter, scribed fairly fast on receipt of your letter.  If I think of more, as often happens with time, I will write more.  I hope they are helpful.

In peace and friendship,
[his signature – the abbreviation 1Vi4Che]  Virana-e.  The Vi stood for Virana-e… the Yeola-e word for integrity.

First Virani-e Fourth Chevenga Shae Arano-e

Of course this whole proposal is going to set the hooped cat in the middle of the pigeon cote.  I actually thought you were a sort of friend of Grandfather’s.  Albeit a very odd and awkward one, since he was commanded to torture you and did, but then allowed himself to save you, in the middle of Hayel.  I also thought you liked Ilesias… even Joras a bit, for all that you didn’t have time to get to know him, truly.  

For all that, you were comfortable with my mother, I thought. The bulk of your experience with Mahid were with the crazy killers my father made... as was most of Arko's, if they had any kind of contact with Mahid at all.  Living memory is powerful, and they must not lose sight of that.

I went up to the pigeon cote to scribe a quick ‘Thank you, Virani-e.  Longer thanks coming later.  M.A.’ and saw the bird into the air myself.  I’d write that letter later today, but a quick return on his courtesy would be most polite.

498 - Abominable, Wicked and Loathsome

“Fellow Assembly Sers and Seras.”  -- There were actually four women elected and sitting in the Chamber and Assemblyman Asimir was careful to address them as well.  It was fairly obvious how progressive the speaker was, whether he noted their presence when he began to speak.  Grandfather, though conservative, was unfailingly correct and had addressed them as well when he presented the Mahid idea to the Assembly. 

I had decided I would attend as was normal, since my absence would be more conspicuous than my presence, in the face of this delicate proposal.

“With this discussion of Mahid," Asimir said.  "I was put in mind of a consideration I had during the election campaign.  When the then Candidates were in my district to speak, our local security was, of course, adequate but it was difficult and a strain on the population.

“It was a relief to actually have the Mahid, Joras, present in the Spark Elect’s entourage.  He advised me, politely and immediately, on a loophole in my security that he had noticed.

“When the Spark became ill it was Joras Mahid, in his capacity as protector, who took control of the situation and had ascertained in a very short time that there was no danger of poisoning of either of the Candidates present.  He was the picture of the best of Mahid efficiency… unusually, with a very warm and personable manner.  He did not accuse, he did not threaten, he did not bluster.  He did his work and then actually reassured Candidate Kazien’s security that there was no threat. 

“He intervened to assist in calming down the chief of Candidate Kazien’s security and support the district.  I quote:  “Trinathas Gaman, solas, please lower your voice.  There is no threat that the local security missed.  Let me show you my investigation that you may be assured of that.  Serin Aan has become ill, possibly from the strain of the campaign, or perhaps he had been exposed to the illness through the various children he has been dandling in the course of our tour.  You may speak to the Haian who treated him as well.”

“It was his inherent authority -- as a Mahid -- that carried the day.  In his concern and zeal, Candidate Kazien’s security was preparing to truth-drug a dozen people, unnecessarily.  But he, on a Mahid’s word and expertise, examined the evidence and the issue was quickly resolved.

“Arko should not let that kind of training and expertise lapse.  We have our elite solas, but when it comes to personal security, Mahid are unsurpassed and have been for centuries.

“Thank you.”


The Voice of the Chamber had to actually raise his voice to call for order and to allow the various Assemblymen, on their feet calling for time to speak, to be arranged in their order of precedence.

“Peace!  Concord!”  The Voice of the Chamber was on his feet to make himself heard and no one was.  It went on for too long and finally he looked up to Kallijas, who nodded and rose to his feet.  Of course the Crystal Throne was above and everyone, no matter how intent he was on getting his word over someone else’s, could see.  The motion of the Imperial robe alone was enough to catch people’s attention.

Silence fell in the room.  “I do believe the Voice of the Chamber wishes to speak,” Kallijas said in his deep voice.  He did not raise it.  “I thank you for your careful attention,” he said and sat down.  The Voice spoke up immediately, into the silence.

“The Right Honourable Jaran Festen, first.  Then Assemblymen Irsten Arzten and Assemblywoman Sioshe Irennen.  Others, please… we will send Pages around with a list…”

Festen was a man with enormous voice and presence.  To be honest I did not like him.  He moved to the speaker’s platform like a qinquireme moving into ponderous place.

“Imperator.  Honorable Sers of Assembly.  I cannot believe what my ears are hearing!  Arko should recreate the vile, hideous, dangerous and crazy clan that everyone down to the house-mice feared!”

“Are the people of Arko, who are asking for such traditions to be carried on, to be recreated, as crazed as the Black Dogs of the Imperium?  The authority that Assemblyman Asimir mentioned that Joras Mahid wielded, was that of the simple terror the average person held of that depraved, wicked, abominable and loathsome clan!”


  1. I'm forcibly reminded of one of my wife's pathology professors, who commonly declared student solutions to presented problems to be "sinful, vile, and morally repugnant."