Thursday, September 29, 2011

565 - Just Together





“… a group of extremists, claiming the name “True Arko Shall Rise” attempted the kidnapping of the Spark of the Sun’s Ray Elect. 

Their stated intention was, according to the written manifesto they were all carrying, should they fail and be martyred, “To free the Spark of the pernicious and invidious teachings of foreign daifikas.  To hold Him safe and help Him understand that we, the Arkans who can see the decay, the disintegration of the traditional Arkan way of life, are His true friends.  We are His true teachers and would have re-trained Him in the restoration of Arko the Empire in all its glory, freed Him from His delusional training.  

We hold no ill intent, but only the highest good of the Empire and regret the deaths of the innocent guards upholding the evil doers teaching the Spark foreign, corrupt ways designed to bring the destruction of all Arko and the forzaking of millions.  Rest they in Selestialis, for they are misled, and martyrs to the most holy and sacred cause; the restoration of Arko's glory.
We, the undersigned, commend our spirits to the Ten, secure in the knowledge that if we do not succeed, we will be welcomed into Selestialis with open arms, for having tried.  Keep heart, Arko.”

The Marble Palace is pursuing all information on these attackers and the Spark of the Sun’s Ray has yet to comment on the entire incident.

Memorial services for the guards killed in the attempted kidnapping are being held in the Marble Palace Hall of the Fallen and the public are invited to attend, to honour these men who have given their lives in defense of our  recently voted in Spark of the Sun’s Ray Elect.
Two days later, after the Pages had come out, the public viewing of my honoured dead took place. They had died in defense of the people of Arko’s elected choice and so deserved all honours as far as I was concerned.

In the Great Hall behind the Steel Gate, the biers were laid out, and the public were allowed in, to pay their respects.  I stood behind a carved screen on a gallery four floors above, and watched.  I had work to do, that had not been much relieved by me finishing my attempt at Leaves and Laurels, but I needed to see this.  

I had been the first to leave offerings in the morning but now I stood above, and watched.

People were lined up to pay their respects and the line moved steadily past the biers, with pauses as people left notes and greenery, glass funeral trinkets, and some flowers, mostly red and gold.  A glass Tempilion played, echoing eerily and solemnly off the galleries and pillars. 

At the end of the day, as the sun set below the Rim, I walked, on foot, at the head of the procession from the Marble Palace, out the Main Gate.  I would see my honoured dead buried in their families’ grave plots outside the city.  I was guarded by the elite and the biers were carried on the shoulders of the Marble Palace guards.

Joras was buried in the tiny Mahid plot, where I stood with Grandfather and all the Mahid women and girls, to witness.

We, all the families of solas and Aitzas alike, sang the proper responses to the Fenjitzas, who sang the rites for all the dead, from the tower pulpit in the centre of the burial ground.

Next year, it would be the women’s duty, to have Joras's bones exhumed and brought into the Marble Palace crypt with the other Mahid dead.


Kyriala did come to dinner with just me that evening.  We raised our wine glasses to Joras's memory before we sat down to eat.

I had to say I was enjoying the relative freedom of only three meals per day, and not having to dress and attend a full court for each one.  Chevenga had changed that.  “I have an Empire to run!” he’d said.  “Five or six full court meals?”  Antras had told me what he’d said when he reduced it and made breakfast informal and not mandatory; something necessary if the Imperator was to train at all.  Kall and I tended to train in the mornings, with Laisa and the elite, then we’d have the meal with everyone together. It was wonderful.

Ky and I were quiet for a moment, then I held her chair for her.  We sat and talked and reminisced about things.  She was going to be displaying tapestry works of hers, including “Into the Tunnel II” just as wildly risqué black on black on black piece as the first one. Just like the first one, people would have to walk through the darkened hall and touch the whole length of it.  Even if they were in complete darkness, their hands would have to be naked to ‘see’ the artwork.

“Didn't that dirty your tapestry up, the first time?”  I didn’t like the idea of something she’d spent so much time on being besmirched like that.

“Well, I shall ask people to wash and dry their hands immediately before walking the hall.”

“And they shouldn’t take their wine glasses or their canapés, even in their other hands,” I insisted, last time someone had spilled their wine on it, somehow.

“Well, yes, no food or drink.  I want to re-create the feeling of the Tunnel and a glass of wine -- aside from the possible mess -- wouldn’t be like the dark under the mountain at all.”

I resolved to go to her show and gathering.  “Ha, you should have groups of people, line them up, and have someone guide them through.  That’s more like under the mountain.”

“That’s a good idea.”

We were able to talk as if we were just friends, like the time we were on the run.  The servants set our dinner on one of the balconies of my suite.  They were being even more unobtrusive than usual and that was astonishing given how good they were at it normally.  They just mysteriously disappeared after the dessert course was placed, and the wine-glasses refilled.  But it was so quietly done it was as if they all had some kind of errands that took them mysteriously elsewhere. I would have to thank them all later, for giving us the most privacy they could.

“So, Gan said he had to go down to his family again and Farasha is with the Spinners and Weavers guild supper?”  I set my glass down and leaned on my forearms on the table.  She smiled at me and gently waved her spoon with the chocolate pastry and lemon ice on it at me before putting it in her mouth.  I couldn’t stop staring at her lips as she licked a scrap of chocolate icing off the bottom one.

“Yes.  We haven’t had much time just talk to each other.  Just together.”

“Even if there’s mourning there, it’s still good.  We should do this more often.”

She raised her glass to me and I tilted mine to touch the clear glass lips together with a high, musical 'ting'.  “Yes.  We should.”


A note: Coming soon! I shall be presenting a series of re-written posts about the Great Mahid Debate.  So if you find what looks like an older post with an odd number, that's what it will be.

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