Monday, October 17, 2011

566 - They Hold No Business Hours

Kallijas and I were in the Verdant Imperial Garden room having a late evening talk.  It was nearly midnight, though Kallijas was so much happier early in the morning.  I was happier staying up late. He told me that might change as I got older, but for now he would have been able to tease me about it every morning when we trained.  Bella, who had decided that I needed a pack member present and that pack member was her, leaned against my knee and I scratched her neck while we talked.

“Ch’venga called it well,” I said, referring to the letter he’d sent me about the Mahid debate.  “But then he basically put the Assembly together in the first place.”  Kallijas was drinking some kind of Haian stuff instead of kaf or wine.

“Hmm. As usual he offers excellent advice, in spite of his own strong feelings,” he said quietly and set his empty cup down.

“I noticed how he was instructing me… speaking for his people, not himself.  I mean, he is actually friends with some Mahid.”

“Yes, he’s speaking on behalf of his people and several other foreign nations as well,” Kallijas smiled.  “The great political dance that he’s so good at.”

“Well,” I found my tongue locking up a little, so looked down and poured a little more wine for myself.  Bella pointed her nose hopefully at the table of pastries and then sighed and laid down when we ignored her. When he and I finished the day like this… and I cherished every one we had time for… we served ourselves or each other, to be just the two of us, without the omnipresent servants. “I was thinking about that.  I mean, I’ve met Reknarja... and I like him. He might like to see the competitions my mother proposed.  I wonder if we opened up the selection of Mahid as something for the foreign dignitaries to witness... so they can see we aren’t setting up torturers and crazy Aitzas fighters?”

“That... that is another good idea to consider if we reach that.”  He smothered a yawn, tired, not bored of what we were talking about.

“I can see where foreigners would think restablishing the Mahid is a threat, Kall, but is it my bias, my acknowledging them as family in any way?  Or is it because I understand they were working under orders, doing their best to obey? Or do other Arkans see the Mahid as only the terror in the street?”

He paused as he thought it through in his careful way. “The terror in the street... yes.  You must remember Minis, that people saw only that face."

I nodded, slowly.  I had a much more intimate view of them than regular Arkans.  "I suppose you could attribute your hopes to familial bias," he went on.  "But I don’t think you're the only one who will see the benefits of reestablishing the kind of Mahid who can think as well as serve. Maybe it's best to acknowledge the bias and leave the outcome up to the Gods and Arko. We won’t know what they will conclude until we ‘get a feel for the war-horse we're riding’ -- as Sheng suggested, in fact.”

“I... I’ve been keeping my distance as much as I could.  My mother called me to consult on various things... but they voted amongst themselves, to pursue this.  I’m thinking that there is no way on the Eathsphere that people will believe I’m not behind this, until I let myself be truth-drugged over it.”

“Then you've already recognized what you must do. Be as neutral and unobtrusive as possible, but be honest with yourself about what that truth-drugging will bring out."

I had to sigh and actually got up to pace a little as if I could somehow flatten out my spikey thoughts by treading them down.  Bella didn’t follow me with anything but her nose and eyes.  “Intharas will have a field day, of course.  But that will be typical of things.”

“Maybe. But Minis, I, um, I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with caring about your family. You're doing everything properly, in spite of your strong feelings, even by asking these questions about your bias and and your impact on the process.”  He leaned on one hand, elbow propped on the armrest of his chair, watching me. 

“Oh good.  I’m feeling like I have been chasing my own tail about this... Tanifas says that people need me to be Aan, not Mahid, but I’m both.  I’m still nervous of my sire’s tendencies coming out in me, am I feeling too much?  Not enough?”  Oh Gods, I sound like a child!  I sound like a total second thresholder!

Kallijas looked uncomfortable as if his comfortable chair had sprouted an upholstery tack in a tender place. “I think Tanifas probably knows what he’s talking about. You are thinking things through. And I think after knowing Sheng, I can say that as long as you're still striving to think the right things, and you're uncomfortable of the right kinds of things..." he paused and I looked over at him.  "You talked with Surya and have your own healer as well,” he added. “A person can feel a lot and it can still be all right.’

I sat down again, relieved.  Bella pinned my foot with her muzzle as I did.  “It is what you do with the emotion, both Surya and Tanifas have said that... though Tanifas says that if I overthink things he’ll send me out to take the puppies for a swim to get my mind off the exercise wheel I’ve put it on.”  I had to grin at that.  The kennels had pools for conditioning the dogs and Tanifas did not swim, so sent me in.  It was amazingly calming to learn how to calm a panicking animal.

“Yes, I'd trust what healers say and how -- exactly -- they say it.” He smiled back at me.

“Ch’venga should be done his asa kraiya time just in time for this referendum they’re having again whether they want him as semanakraseye.  Do you think we can swing the time to be there for their count?  Or are there too many crises happening in Arko?”

I can see the flicker of longing cross his face.  He missed Ch’venga and the rest of the family desperately, but didn’t think he should indulge himself in that.  “Well... it is a very significant moment...”  Young Kallijas knocked at the door and peeked his head around the door before coming in.  As many times as he did this, he always had to check and see if he were interrupting anything.

“Dad, Spark -- um, I know, Minis -- sorry… I’m ready to go off to bed.  Good night.”  He gave the correct bow to both of us and then accepted a hug from his father – such an un-Arkan thing. 

“Good night my son.  Sleep well.  I’ll see you on the roof in the morning.”  The boy gave me a quick grin as he turned to leave.

“’Night, Young Kall,” I said as he slid a pat over Bella’s head and headed off.  Ili was long in bed.

After the door closed behind him I pushed my argument. “Both Laisa and Kyriala wish to come... and they can both relay.  You could show Laisa Yeola-e at the solstice...?  Give her fair warning if you ever decide to offer her the split ring?” Gods, he is easy to tease...

“Err, I appreciate the effort to think ahead, Minis, but I don’t think my personal concerns should be the deciding factor. We should make the decision based on what Arko wants.  And considering where we should best be, whatever outcome of the count.”  You want to be so proper.

“Foreign relations are significant and must be maintained, oh my Regent!  And other foreign emissaries will be there. Arko has a lot of fences to mend with the world and the best thing, in my opinion, is to participate in such significant and peaceful meetings.”  I sipped my wine to hide my smile.

“Yes, I agree, which is why we will not just go flying off to visit friends.”  The look he bent on me was stern.  But I knew he was being stern with himself as well as me.

I straightened in my chair and put an attentive look on my face.  “Yes, ser?”  I put my best ‘innocent under the sun’ expression on. “I think that an eight day away from the city itself would not be the end of the world, we could surprise him, and be supportive either way, and still be back in plenty of time for the next ceremonial we must do.”

Kallijas sighed. “All right Minis. We'll begin planning in case we are able to attend. If no emergencies arise and the government can spare us both, then we will go for the sake of peace and Arko.”

“Thank you, Kall.  Thank goodness for the moyawas.  We’d be almost a full moon or more on the road and we can now talk of making the trip in an eight day.”

“Thank the Gods,” Kall corrected me, gently. “So, Minis. If I may ask... well, how is your progress with following the Gods’ instructions to you?”

My teasing mood collapsed and I pulled my foot out from under Bella’s nose. “I... um... well.  Um... I’ve been very busy with trying to finish my doctorate... as unsuccessful as that was... and I... er... haven’t.” I could feel my shame burning on my face.

“There is nothing more important,” Kallijas said.  His face was solemn. “Or I wouldn't have asked something so intimate.”

“Um.  Yes, of course you wouldn’t pry, but you’re the Regent and my spiritual health is your concern.  I’m sorry to have dragged my feet.”


I turned away from his look, still shamed. “I just don’t know... I’m thinking that if I just walk into the Temple I’ll get stuck with some dekinas like my old teachers who made me afraid of the Ten.”  I found myself  staring almost blindly across the room.  “I... they... I believed I was forzak for years, Kallijas.  I don’t know... truly how to approach the Gods at all.  I... Ch’venga put me in the Imperial Chapel the once... and I’ve prayed there a time or two since... but... you don’t overcome years of fear so easily... Can you?”

“I'm sorry that was your early experience of the Gods, Minis... You ask me... if I can overcome my fear of the Ten?”

“I was speaking in general... can one do so, so easily?”

“I'm in awe of the Ten. I believe I always will and should be.  But I know that my moments of fearing for my soul -- because of something I'd done... well, I always blamed myself in those situations, more than the Gods.  After all, who was I to presume to blame a God for anything?”

I nodded, finding myself examining a whorl of hair on the top of Bella’s head.  “I will go into the Temple to inquire...” Kall waited politely for me to finish, in a way insisting that I finish the thought.  “I may as well go now. It is not as if the Gods hold business hours.”

“And,” he added, as gently as he’d wished his son good night, “It is my sense that the Gods have great mercy for their children, especially when they are afraid and approaching humbly anyway.”  I could hear the approval in his voice though I couldn't look at him.


My thanks to GV for her assistance playing Kallijas.  Thanks!


  1. Eeeeeegh, it feels so weird to read this! I need some distance. XD Also, fantastic edits! =D

  2. Heh, thanks GV! You were great.