Thursday, August 18, 2011

539 - The Sword is Drawn

Then Azaila lifted his hand, and the mirrors with their reflections were taken away.  “Stand up,” he said.  “There is another sword to take your leave of.”  He pointed back into the room where their State sword hung.

Chevenga rose smoothly enough but it was slowly, as if he had to be careful of every muscle stretch.  The room had had all its candles put out sometime in the past few minutes, I could see.  There was no stream of light from it at all and he walked carefully into the dark.  Surya, Skorsas and Kaninjer all rose to join Azaila, all in their formal best.  Kaninjer had his Haian formal stripes, that went to the floor. The asa kraiaseyel's stripes echoed the Haians' but whose white collars over black were narrower and only came down a little longer than heart high.

He was there for a while, long enough for me to switch from kneeling to cross-legged, and when he came back he had some of the ‘Gods-Touched’ look to him and Azaila beckoned him over once more. One of the mirrors was still being held there, by the elder.  “Kneel here, Chevenga.”  And they put him in front of the one mirror once more, with Kaninjer braced right up against him on the sword-side, holding firmly onto that arm, while Skorsas mirrored him on the shield-side.  Both of them were setting their feet as if to brace themselves against a high wind, if the high wind were to blow through Chevenga.  He was shaking in their hands.

Surya stepped up behind him and Azaila stepped back.  “Take deep breaths, Chevenga,” Surya said.  “Make your white line as firmly and clearly as you can.” This must be it.  This must be.  All the rest was preparation.  Getting him to a place where he can do this.  As delicately as if he were raising a butterfly on his fingertips, he laid his hand on Chevenga’s neck, right at the nape.

Chevenga gasped as he did so.  “I have to throw up,” he said, leaped up and ran.  Of course he’d know where the garderobe was here.

“Strength, Sheng,” Kall whispered, even if he couldn’t be heard.  When Chevenga came back, looking wrung out, they put him in the same position, though Skorsas touched his hair before he took his position.  

Surya held Chevenga’s head between his hands for a moment, forehead and back and he closed his eyes.  “Stay in the present, Chevenga.  Don’t close your eyes.  Breathe and make the white line.”  What white line was he... oh, yes, the core of white he’d told me about, running through the centre of every person, where the energy of All-Spirit, or Selestialis, ran. “I’m going to pull the sword out of you; you have to let it go.”

What sword was that? Not Chirel, not the St. Mother sword... he can’t have a sword in him... What?

Everyone waited while Chevenga fought for calm.  He’d be dehydrated by now he was sweating so.  “You already know what it feels like for me to touch it,” Surya said calmly.   “From my moving it in you. You are afraid you won’t be able to stand it and that it will somehow destroy you.  Don’t be. You can stand it, and it will not destroy you, nor anything or anyone else.”  Even though Surya was whispering I heard every word, clear as if he’d whispered it to me.  I was holding my breath, I realized and wheezed a breath in.

“Bring in the singing wind, too,” Surya said and touched Chevenga’s neck once more.

Chevenga fought for calm, fought for his centre.  Is this sword that Surya is talking about buried in his centre?  Perhaps that is why Chevenga cannot just find it the way he always has before.  Perhaps he must find out how to be centred without being clenched around some kind of spirit sword? 

“When I do it,” Surya whispered, “see it. Use the mirror; look in my hand.” He tilted Chevenga’s head forward slightly but only a little.  He could still see himself in the mirror.  “Tell me when you are ready.”

His face was ghastly pale. “I’m ready,” he managed to rasp out and Surya put one hand on his shoulder to help brace him.  “Keep you white line. Keep the singing wind. Relax; let Skorsas and Kaninjer carry you, let your life flow freely along all its pathways.”  A long moment and then Surya’s hand twitched and stilled again.

Chevenga, seize your breath, start counting it again, make the white line. I moved it barely a hair’s width,” he said. “Breathe deep, Chevenga. You’ve got to ready yourself deeper. You’ve lost the singing wind, bring it in again. Much stronger. Much clearer. Choose this, Virani-e. Claim your power.”

“Strength, Sheng!  Strength!”  Kallijas called, even as he and I both held our hands up to our temples hoping to call the Ten for him, for Their one-time chosen Son.  Reknarja had his fists held up just over his head, the Lakan princess, her fingers were delicate as flames as she gestured, drawing something down to offer the centre of the room, the Yeolis all around us had their arms and hands raised high. Our prayers rose in a multitude of our languages. Muunas, Soul of the Sun Itself, give him strength, give him courage. He stared at us, reflected in the mirror, as if confused by our love, by our hope for his success.

I could see him sink a little, see him ground himself deeper. “Relax,” Surya whispered. “Letting go is a giving, a trust. It’s an understanding, that life is not so hard. Relax, and let the life flow through you freely. Let yourself be light, and not stone, within.”

You need to dance with this Chevenga, dance with it not crush you... like Imbas... dance with the stone in your soul.  You know how to do this.

“No,” Surya said. “I can’t even touch it now. Virani-e, you chose this. Don’t unchoose it.”

His eyes were white all the way around the brown, looking into some Yeoli Hayel... or perhaps seeing his death rising as he struggled to give up this spirit sword.  “No, Virani-e… stay here.” Surya’s voice was loud even against the murmur of all our prayers. “Stay with us. Breathe.”

“S...s...urya....”  His voice was cracked and despairing, raging as tears broke out anew, his face must be almost raw with them.  “I don’t know how… I don’t know what to do.” The ritual faltered, limped to a stop and our prayers were undercut with the harshness of his breath, full of desolation and misery.

Kyashin kevyalin!”  The voice next to me was shocking in its obscenity and someone... Esora-e, Chevenga’s shadow father jumped up, people leaning away from him, moving or moved aside as he he ran to Chevenga.  Somehow he got around everyone without so much as brushing against them, seized Chevenga’s face in both hands and spoke straight into his face.  He was in tears himself, he faced us and I could see him, wracked with it all.

“This is my shit,” he snarled into Chevenga’s face.  I couldn’t see it reflected at all, blocked by Esora-e’s back. “My mother’s, my grandfather’s. I put it in you. Let it go, my son, my love, my beautiful child, throw it out of you. I give you permission.” His voice was iron and stone steady, even though he had tears on his face that were clear for me and everyone else to see.  “You don’t deserve this. I wronged you. I wished too much shit on you. I call it all back. You deserve much better, you deserve every good thing in life, every mercy, every pleasure. All the love I ever turned to anger, all the love I twisted in envy, all the love I ever kept locked inside and so denied you, I give you now, Chevenga. Let it go, love. Let go what you never should have had to take in. Let it go, Virani-e, as we all love you. Let it go and be free.” He pressed his lips to Chevenga's forehead.

As he did so, Surya reached and snatched at something in or on Chevenga and dragged upwards, as if unsheathing a sword buried in Chevenga’s spine.  “Virani-e, look,” he cried, as Chevenga jolted as though hit by lightning, Esora-e let go of him, hands opening like flowers unfolding, releasing him.  “Chevenga look! See it! Open your eyes! See it!”  Esora-e cried out, a scream as if a sword had been twisted in him. 

Chevenga's head was thrown back and he looked up to Surya’s hand.  Was there something there?  Was there a sword held up?  Something was there, something was there, gray and red and steel and dripping, smoking away like embers thrust upward from a fire. “Virani-e, see!”

Surya opened his hand and the ghost of a sword vanished and Chevenga collapsed as though his healer had pulled his spine out of his body, boneless and empty.


  1. Wow. Tear jerking.

  2. Yup. Still tear jerking, two years later. Reading Asa Kraiya now! =D