Monday, October 24, 2011

571 - She's Good at Keeping Secrets

Kyriala’s exhibition of her and her friends' tapestry works was a day before Kallijas and I were to do the Solstice Ritual, and three days before we were all slated to leave to be at the Yeoli referendum over whether they wanted Chevenga as semanakraseye after all his problems.

Personally I thought he would be happy either way.  If they didn’t want him, he’d be able to retire with honour and not have to worry about the whole Earthsphere coming apart if he did.  If they did want him, he’d dive back into being what he loved.  The referendum was around the time he’d be coming out of seclusion after his dramatic asa kraya ceremony, so I assumed we would see him.  He was likely to still be on that island, but I was sure they’d paddle him across the lake for that.  It was important.

Ky’s salon was crowded, with every woman of the Fortunate Fifty there… and Dyers and writers and a cadre of young men who obviously realized that getting to know mothers was vitally important for their marriage chances in the new Arko.  The Fenjitzas and the Fenjitza were both there.  And I saw Priest Itasas across the main ballroom.

She’d had to use the ballroom and the garden beyond, because the rumours of it had been circulating for the past two moons.  Minister Rafas was there and Assemblymen Ruantras Kolimnas, Tzimin Definas and Intharas Tahilas.  I was slated to have lunch with Tahilas and his family tomorrow after the ritual.

Ky had her tapestries set up in one room… the small ones.  And the darkened corridor for her Tunnel piece set up with groups of people to view being guided through.  People blushed and stammered and laughed nervously taking their gloves off to feel their way through, but still lined up to do so.

I laved my hands with everyone else in my group, Fish and Cream and Dub and Serina Irian.  A black curtain just a step inside the door blocked the light of the door opening and closing.

The tapestry must have covered both walls and the ceiling, since there were no echoes, but distantly I could hear someone tapping, as if on the bars in the Tunnel walls, a canary sang half way through… probably the one I’d given her. In the distance, as well, I could hear water rushing.  It smelled… like the Tunnel.  I don’t know how she did it.

Stone and iron and the mountain, the faint staleness and human beings.  Serina Irian coughed as the door closed behind us and shut us in the darkness.  “Oh, is it this foul?  Ew.”

“Please do not stop, Sers and Serina,” our guide said, in the exact cadence of the Tunnel guides.  “To not interfere with the party behind.”

“Serina,” I said.  “This is very mild but the breeze blowing through here is milder as well.”

“Well, I just refuse to ever travel so!”  She sniffed.

Ky had caught the dark.  She had caught the essence of the whole thing and as I put my hand out I swore I could feel the seams of stone woven into it.  When we came out the other end, we even reacted a bit like people did, coming out of the Tunnel.  Laughing.  Serian Irian began weeping just a bit.  Cream made a fart joke and all of us howling far more than the witticism deserved dried up her tears fast enough with disapproval.

I put my gloves on and accepted a glass of wine from the servant standing by the exit.  Also reminiscent of the true Tunnel crossing.  I was quietly trembling for a good tenth afterwards, it affected me so, so I spent most of that time quietly watching, and looking at other works in the display.

The new art exhibition also had several rooms of other artists, including Riala and Skala and others. I wouldn’t have thought of Riala’s pieces as ‘art’ exactly.  It started with a ragged classical Aitza’s dress and she said it was the one she had been wearing when the sack happened.  I had to set my plate aside because the rusty brown stains on it were not paint. The next four dresses were variations on Haian nursing gowns she had made for herself, representing her healing… then a half mended grey and black lace dress.  The gowns were hung all the way around the room until her current clothing designs were prominent, the Sack Dress and the gold and red Firebird dress bracketed the door.  I preferred starting with the ruin and proceeding to the rebirth but some people were circling her works in both directions.

I gave every one careful attention and then went to have a glass of wine and a pipe because my gut was in an uproar.  The fact that she would have the courage to begin her art journey piece with a dress stained with her own blood was enough to make me both sick for her and a little nervous of her.

“What do you think?”  Ky came up behind me, with her glass and plate.  She wore a silk trouser-gown in a very bright blue, with a dark blue pattern worked into the fabric, somehow a complement to my white and blue kilt and shirt. She had a white feather fan, with silver spars and her hair was twist-braided with blue and white glass beads all through.

“I was overwhelmed with the Tunnel.  You captured it so well I shook for a while afterwards.”

She smiled at me bright enough to put fizz in my wine.  “You did?”

“Truly.  Was that the canary I sent you?”

“Yes, it is.  Have you seen the rest of the show?”

“Mostly.  There’s one or two rooms where I avoided the worst of the crush. I think… Riala has more guts than most male artists in the city… except the famous and elusive ‘Banaksias’.”  I didn’t understand her smile this time.  It was more secretive.

“Why do you think Banaksias is male?”

I swallowed my wine a little too abruptly.  “Oh.  Well.  Um.  I suppose you’re right.”  I’d never thought otherwise, and just assumed.

“Since you say you’ve missed some rooms you just have to see this one. Come over here.”  She led me to a room that was completely crowded with people and I had avoided it, taking one look at the sea of heads and deciding I’d wait till later.  The glimpse of the walls had been intriguing but not enough to make me take my security into the midst of such close quarters. Idiesas had a couple of strapping young men from the elite at my back.  The room was a bit more empty now.

Ky led me into the middle and my jaw dropped.  It was Banaksias’s work.  All of it.  Walls, ceilings, floor-edges, door frames.  The crowd milled in the middle of it all trying not to erase the chalk.  There were angels drawn as if they were of every race on the Earthsphere all over the ceiling, at one point the very idea would have been blasphemy, that Selestialis’s messengers could be anything but Arkan blond and pale skin and blue eyes.

There was a golden tree under assault by devils on one wall, and all of the devils were blond.  Nothing obvious there.  Rats with greedy men’s faces adorned the floor or joined the demons, either helping them or chewing on naked red tails, or devouring their own till they were turned into little wheels.

I had never thought I’d see blond crows or hawks with curly hair, the winged creatures taking part in the struggle.  And a very different Arko spread on the walls on either side of the tree, the buildings were familiar landmarks but built out of Arkan bodies.

“How on the Earth..?  How do you know Banaksias?”

She smiled quietly.  “That’s the same question all the writers are asking me.  My brother has given permission for the show to be open to the public next week.  He’s agreed to hire watchers so that nothing gets stolen or broken, and Minister Rafas kind enough to say he would notify the Sereniteer patrols in this part of the city.”

“You are going to have most of the city come pouring through here to see this! But you never answered my question.” Forzak, she’s good at keeping secrets!

She smiled wider and accepted a hot chocolate bun from a servant.  “I know.”


  1. Ky!




    I was going to say I want to go to that art show, but really, I just have. Incredible.

    And Riala... I never realized her dress designs (and their popularity) had a political component; that the dress's themselves are a political statement. The Arkan equivalent of wearing a Pride t-shirt, or maybe more of an Anarchy t-shirt, at least to the old guard Aitzas.

    I like Riala.

    But Ky!! Minis better hang on tight!

  2. Heh. You're right, he'd better!

  3. Ha!! I suspected Ky of being Banaksias from the start!

  4. You guys think Ky is Banaksias? Oh cool.

  5. OooOooh! Oh oh oh!
    Ok, I did a little digging back and 310 is the one where we got a glimpse from the artist called Banaksias' own viewpoint
    and I seem to recall there was even a poll as to who we thought Banaksias was (I believe I voted for the Okas girl originally), and reading back over it I definitely think the Masker is the one. She will have opportunity to go all over the city unnoticed (which the okas girl would be mostly unnoticed in the lower quarter but obvious as boots on a cat in the upper) also Maskers have had their own secret schools so she would be educated enough to make all those political and historical references (although some aspects of the general humor of the artist does lean me towards the child, it could still be an adult with a young sense of humor).
    And yes Riala is awesome... she should have her own book.

  6. As long as you wear the right clothes and carry yourself in a certain way, *anyone* can make themselves invisible- Especially in a society that doesn't see women or lower castes as anyone to notice.

  7. Blue suggested a cool way for Banaksias to come out. Things will develop shortly.