Wednesday, November 30, 2011

594 - To Honour My Friends

I was so happy, sitting on this beautiful horse.  She was so smoothly paced it was almost like flying.  And Minis had probably driven the poor stable staff to distraction that she'd be perfect for me. He was so wonderful… such a silly serin, thinking he was just being himself.

I looked at Minis and Gannara and Farasha, sideways under my lashes.  Fara waved at me, even as she talked to Gan and her finger talk said *cute*.

I could let go one of my reins to brush a hair off my forehead and sign back *yes both*. She smiled and Gan chuckled as if at something Fara said. *not fair* he signed. *teach*

Fara and I both signed back *yes*

I was so glad I’d seized hold of my fear when we were in Yeola-e.  Fara and I had talked about it privately before we left, before I’d even known we were going to be going to Yeola-e again, so soon.  It was just a talk about “Well, if you have the opportunity, and you aren’t in Arko… perhaps you can leave the bits of Arko at the border… and do what you really, truly want.”

Next thing I know we’re flying off.  I had not intended to insist on going, but what else was I learning relay and long-distance flying if not for such state visits?  Sneaking into Minis’s room had been… well, even if I were scared, I was less nervous than trying to do so in the Marble Palace… after all, there are no late night servants everywhere.

In the Hearthstone everyone truly went to bed, except the animals and the guards on the outer doors.  Not like the Marble Palace with the night staff everywhere, in every corridor and at every inside door practically.

I’d worried a little that the red parrot that had adopted Minis would shout an alarm, and had a treat for it if it got noisy, but it just flipped its head up from sleep, blinked at me, and ruffled its feathers.

I’d left my sleeping gloves back in my room.  It was as if I could feel the whole room against my hands, every breath of air, every breath that I took, or every sleeping breath from Minis.  He was lying on top of the feather beds and the quilts and pillows.  It was almost Arko warm in the room, moon and snowlight shining in, across the bed.  He wasn’t wearing sleeping gloves either, his head flung back, completely vulnerable, and I spent a bit of time standing and looking at the tender spot at the source of his neck, where his pulse pounded.  He whispered in his sleep and I didn’t hear what he said, but he smiled the way he’d smile at me.

He smiled in his sleep and sighed, and I was warm all over.  I did bite my lip but I wanted to encourage him.  He and Fara and Gan and I… we’d agreed… really.  He was just being so slow!

I put my memory aside for a moment, pulling the mare up so we could walk around the gigantic statue of an ancient wood-god, carved out of a lightning struck oak.  “That’s beautiful,” Gan said as we stopped to stare up into the ancient, riven face.  There were even some green leaves far above, like a blessing to a tree-god who looked dead.

Since we were stopped for a moment I let my memory go back to Yeola-e, like a dream.  It was in a foreign country, in the middle of the night, so it was somehow easier to imagine.  I slid into the bed as lightly as I could and put my head on his shoulder.  His arm, very naturally, fell around my shoulder and he turned toward me, gathered me in, both arms around me.  He kissed the top of my head and groaned in his sleep.

Just thinking about it… so dreamlike, his hand drawing mine up to kiss and nuzzle and actually suck on my fingers… all without waking up.  His eyes were open enough to make me wonder if he saw me, but I could only see the whites under his lashes, he was open and not speaking and his hands were a little clumsy wandering over my body.  I thought I should try and wake him, as if I were somehow taking advantage of him while sleeping, but when I called his name he didn’t wake.

I let my own hands run over his nightshirt, his chest and back.  If he did not wake at that… his one hand settled softly on my breast and I almost cried out, let out a gasp that seemed to inflame him as much as I was inflamed.  We burned… quietly.  I felt… his other hand on my hip, my own nightdress hiked up so it was on bare skin.  Oh, I was on fire.

He touched me between my legs and if he could touch me there… so could I.  I’d seen what he looked like… the night Farasha had showed me that pleasure for me was still possible…and when he'd kissed me... there.  As Akminchaer had said.  I shook and he…reacted to my touching him there… oh it was a wonderful dream… he did come on my hand and I looked at it and smelled it and it wasn’t dreadful.  It wasn’t waste.  It was seed.  Then his fingers moved again and I danced for him.  Even if I could not sing… I could dance.  Oh, oh, I was wet between my legs all over again just thinking about it.

Fara moved Miffed over to smile at me.  *remembering, question*

“I’m just having such a pleasant ride, Fara.”  She giggled and we set out once more, this time the two boys riding just in front.

“It is pleasant,” she said.  *nice views*

She meant the boys' backs and backsides.  I know she did.  I blushed.  We swapped riding partners once more, at the Secret Waterfall, and Minis got us all to stop at the Stone Garden.  I thought I could hear a rumble of some kind that wasn’t water.  Had Minis had another sculpture put up in the greensward?

“I borrowed Mil Torii Itzan’s mamoka for our picnic.  I thought it would be fun.”

“And very private,” Farasha said.

Gannara just laughed at Min who looked at him, nervous and annoyed.  “What are you laughing at, you wool-knot?”

“Nothing, you thin stick of straw.”

Minis sniffed and didn’t tease back as he usually did.  “Let’s leave the horses here, shall we?”  There were people to walk them back to the Marble Palace, and even rugs placed for us to step down on.

“Minis you really like to do things… grandly, don’t you?” Fara said as we walked around the thicket of thyme.

“I like to do things right,” he said and cast a glance at me and her and Gan.  “Especially if I want to honour my friends.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

593 - What's So Funny?

I met Ky at the Steel Gate, and offered her my comb as she stepped out of her chair.  She was dressed absolutely gloriously, in a green and silver outfit.  The silver embroidery outlining leaves over the green silk.  It wasn’t a dress though. It was the split style that people were calling Kyriala’s Ride… after her being in exile with me and riding… astride… all over the empire rather than being carried in a litter.  “Welcome, welcome, Serina, welcome.”  I was grinning like one of Mikas-as-fool statues.  Under the sunshade she looked cool and elegant as she always did, even in the midst of vile emergency.

Her fan, touching the tip of my comb was white and silver.  Her gloves were buttoned at the wrist with a row of delicate crystal buttons.  What was risqué about it was that they were gloves that could be removed at all, even if it would take great deal of time.

I suddenly found myself imagining a buttonhook slowly unbuttoning each one in my hands and I was blushing terribly.  I paced beside her as best I could, moving slowly so I didn’t pinch myself in my own kilt. Her ring was a coal carried in one glove, their rings weighting down my other hand.

“I came dressed for riding, as you asked, Min,” she said.

“I hoped we could ride out to the woods… to the statuary woods and have a picnic… I invited Gan and Fara… I asked…”

“Yes, thank you Min, that will be lovely.”  Her smile was secret, serene.  I offered her my elbow as we went up to the Marble Palace stables, hoping she wouldn’t notice how sweaty I was.

Nasty, along with Gannara’s and Farasha’s horses, Chatters and Miffed, were all tacked up and waiting for us.  “Minis, there are only three horses here.”  She glanced under her lowered eyelashes at me.  “I don’t think that I should ride in front of you out to our picnic.”

I coughed and Gan and Farasha grinned at us.  “Lovely idea for a meal with the four of us,” Gan said.  And Farasha poked him in the ribs just as he said, ‘We’ve needed to talk – hey!”

“Let me fix the problem of no horse to ride, Ky.  I found this little Serina and I thought you might like her.”

That was the moment when the groom led the fully tacked up palfrey out of the stable ramp and Ky caught her breath as the filly stepped into the sun.  Munnas bless I swear, the horse posed.  She was the exact same blond as Ky and her mane and tail flowed and floated.  Her forelock was a thick fringe and had incredible eyelashes over chocolate brown eyes.  The emerald chips in the leather twinkled but not so much as Kyriala’s eyes.

“Oh, she’s beautiful!  Surely you are merely letting me ride her… she’s the exact colour of your hair Minis!”  Then she buried her green gloves in the filly’s mane, their foreheads together while she crooned to the horse.  It snuffled her as she did.  Over the horse, the groom gave me a nod.  He’d fed her calming drops in the water bucket and a handful of soporific weed.

The one time it was completely possible to lay hands on a Serina, or a Sera, from a Serin, was assisting them onto a horse.  I took a deep breath and made sure my hands didn’t linger too long.  The slimey Ser, whose hands cling at such times, was a standard villain in knuckle suckers.

Nasty picked up my nervousness but confined himself to a couple of crow-hops and then a lot of snorting.  Gan grinned at me and Farasha was giggling.  I had no idea why. I was behaving perfectly normally.

I was going to ask all of them.  I had trothe rings that were very, very old Arkan designs.  Modern Arko had no symbol for alesinae and certainly not one for a woman.  Well not in the way that I wanted.  The glass artist had been bemused when I'd explained what I wanted.

We rode down the ramp, with Gan whistling and Fara took up an odd hand-clap that meshed with it.  It was a perfect day.  Ky on the palfrey, with her skirts flowing in the wind and her hair, braided tight on the sides and flowing down over the horse’s withers and rump making her almost part of the horse.

Even with all the soothers, the palfrey had spark and spirit but settled into the odd extended walk that could glide other horses into the ground and cover amazing amounts of distance.  Ky laughed because her step was perfectly smooth as we entered the shady park.

“I had to put my foot down that Ili not be allowed to come this time,” I said.  “He was very offended.”

“Nuni was as well,” Ky said.  “He threw a tantrum and my mother had to tell him that being the head of the household did not allow him to confine me to the house if he couldn’t go.  Technically he could at one time, but Firani-e changed the law back when he was Shefenka.”

“Oh, yes.  Well, I’m glad he didn’t.”  I would have had to re-arrange all of this to happen in the Liren household.

Gan and Fara were riding stirrup to stirrup and I straightened up from chatting with Ky.  We were nearly at the point where we’d have to get down because horses and mamoka still didn’t mix well and the last thing I wanted is the new palfry and Nasty and Chatters and Miffed stampeding through the statuary wood.

Up ahead we could hear the contented rumble of a waiting mamoka and everybody looked at me.  “I borrowed Itzan’s beast and the riding platform for our picnic.”

Gannara burst out laughing.

“What?  What's  so funny, Gan?”

“Nothing.” But he wouldn't stop grinning.


Sorry Guys... I've just spent the whole weekend packing my house into one bay of the double garage and just got back.  No post tonight.

My extreme thanks to Dave and Cat for the help. Three solid days of back-wrenching work.  I have come to the conclusion I have too much stuff.

Friday, November 25, 2011

592 - A Prostrated Collapse

I tried to let the frigid temperatures of flying home cool my overheated head.  I needed to set my household on it immediately.  The moment my feet hit the roof of the Marble Palace.

My stomach twisted, even if I was not going to let it out on anyone.  I planned all day… in my head, in the air.  We didn’t relay, stopping for the overnight and I just couldn’t let go of Ky’s arm as I offered it to her.  Then I had to plan all the next day as well. 

I’d been letting my fear stop me.  Comb and fan be damned.  I was going to be the arbiter of the fashion.  The Fortunate Fifty would follow what Kall did, what I did.

I turned my head back and looked up to where Kall flew, next to Laisa’s wing.  He was whooping with laughter at something in a way that was just so unlike him.  I was so happy to see him so.  Her too.  She… yes, she was giggling too though it was harder to hear.  The sound just flowed back toward us.  I turned my head to look over at Ky who still had her smile on.  Oh my love.  Yes, I love you.

If she snuck into my bed that night… more strength to her for seeing what she did and seizing hold.  We had an agreement and it was up to me to do it correctly.  Itzan’s mamoka had been dyed red and gold and had been given his back garden for its home.  She’d liked it.  I couldn’t propose while flying… I wasn’t good enough to pilot a double, and neither was she and we actuall needed all four of us there… so… I’d do this mamoka picnic.


Dear Chevenga,

My apologies.  This fellow seems to have followed me home and I return him forthwith.  He showed up in the Marble Palace coops the morning after we arrived, much to the consternation of the pigeons.  Wish me happy, my picnic is about to begin.

I tied the note to the squawking, shaking parrot basket and handed it off to the wing courier.  The bird had followed us to Arko and not only did it know how to say ‘I love you’ in seven languages, it also knew how to curse in all seven as well.  Perhaps eight.


“So Sparky’s finally getting out of the garderobe?”

“Shh, don’t be so disrespectful.”

“I’m not disrespectful.  Chef Irinen has just had a prostrated collapse over the menu.  It's been changed eight times -- Flung himself right on the floor tearing his hair.  We all knew what it was about because himself’s chamberlain Antras came down grinning like a fessas tooth polisher advertising his work and then Sparky HIMSELF showed up and hovered for a while… before he rushed off to change his clothing for the third time.”

“That horse for Rosy… beautiful… I’ve never seen a horse given a spa bath before.”

“Hand brushed dry and combed into perfection, wrapped in sheets with a boy to catch the hind end leavings in a bucket so nothing splashes.  A necklet of emeralds and the leathers hand tooled.  It's not like he hasn’t been planning this since he were elected… the leather makers had some faint idea of what he wanted.”

“Heh.  Rosy’ll settle him down.  He’s ordered a barrel of scent to be combed into that monster.”

“Nice monster.  It’s very gentle.”

“Heh.  You fed that thing orange roots all night at the election party.”

“Yeah, I didn’t have to shovel up the results!”

“Sweetheart you work at the Marble Palace, you shovel stuff up all the time!”

“Who’s with the picnic party? – oh, shen, send out a boy with a basket… they forgot the butter, they can’t have rock-fish tails without butter!  They’ll be rambling for a bit, you take the straight route… run, boy!  Don’t ruin this!  Sparky’s depending on us!”

“Heh, I like working with Rosy’s staff.  Good people.”

“Yeah, good people hire good people or get good people.”

“Gef!  Tidy up your uniform, Silinen sprained his ankle in a rabbit hole – forzak gamekeepers can’t keep a greensward neat – you’re out there to serve when they get there…”

“What?  I’m allergic to the woods!”

“So stuff a paper up your nose and don’t drip.  Hop!”

Thursday, November 24, 2011

591 - Blush Me Red

As we got up from breakfast, Chevenga said “I want a word with you, Minis.”

“Oh, certainly.”  He was speaking as if it were important.  What had happened?  An emergency of some kind?  Or had I done something wrong?  I could feel my gut clench, tight around my happiness from my late night dreams.  I could see Ky’s face, worried for me.  I smiled at her.  If anyone could see through my sudden fear, she could.  I leaned over and whispered in her ear.  “It’s probably nothing.” She regained her smile and patted my arm, right in front of everyone!

“Of course, Min,”  she whispered back and her eyes twinkled at me. Min.  She called me Min.  Oh, I do need to MAKE a wonderfully romantic proposal for her, one that we’ll be able to tell stories about… I clung to that as Cheveng—Virani-e led me off to the study at the front of the house just off the family dining room and sat me down by the desk.  He leaned over toward me, looking at me seriously.

“Minis, why have you not yet asked Kyriala to marry you?”

I blinked.  This was the last thing I thought he’d be telling me.  It took me a click to shift my thinking.  I thought he’d been smiling at Ky and I courting at his table.  It… shook me.  “I... I’ve been waiting for the perfect moment... when we get back... I was waiting for Kallijas to ask Laisa... and didn’t want to step on their announcement...” I held out my one hand and pull the ring out of the glove pocket.  “I’m carrying the ring just in case.”

“Look, you don’t have to announce the moment you ask her.  You can keep it private for a time.  Can’t you see she’s in an agony of waiting?”

“Oh... um... er... well... um...” I was blushing and stammering as if he’d caught me shenning in the palace corners…  I was even kicking the floor with one foot as if I could pry up a tile. 

“Can’t you see you are in an agony of waiting?”

“She might say no, still... " Not likely.  That’s just my fear talking.

“Are you kidding?  She’s not going to say no!  Minis, she could barely keep her hands off you just now!”

That had me flash a smile.  At least our feet off one another… “Um... well... I’m not healed up yet... and I don’t want to offer her a damaged man for a husband...” That was the boy in me.

“Minis, she knows you and how damaged you are and she still wants you! Can’t you see it in her eyes?  Her smile?  She’s probably green with envy at Laisa for having been asked!  They probably go off for their girl-talks and curse you for not asking... or worse... more likely... poor Kyriala is wondering what is wrong with her.”

“NO... oh, Gods, no I wouldn’t want her to think any such thing... oh, Ten, I’m just such an idiot...”

“So quit being such an idiot and ask her.”

“Yes.”  I clipped the word off hard.

He looked at me under his brows.  “Unless you think that’s bad advice?”

“No.  I have a plan.”

“Oh.”  He was confused, I could see that. “But you said first it was because you were worried she’d say no, then that you didn’t want to hand her damaged goods...?”

“That’s my fear.  I know it.  It’s part of what has been slowing me down... I acknowledge that I’ve been moving slowly.  But Gannara and Farasha and Kyriala and I have an understanding but I have to do this RIGHT.  It’s the dance of comb and fan.  If I don’t do it right she loses face.”

He thought for several clicks.  “I think you are masking your fear behind propriety.”

“Yeha.  I really am.  And now I don’t want to make the big question an afterthought to someone else’s.”

“You maybe want to let her know that’s why you’re holding off.  In case she has worse ideas why, such as, you’re no longer interested.”

“Um... I’m getting to the point where I can get that Yeolis, who’ve been ‘rattling crystals’ before they’re fifteen, might think I’ve been so slow as to be catatonic.”

“Twelve,” he said.

I dipped my head, acknowledging.  “You were twelve, yes.”

“I didn’t mean just me.  I was about average.  That’s not why I’m saying all this anyway... it’s the looks I kept seeing on her face. The ones she has when you are not looking at her.”

“The ‘oh my Ten this boy is slow, eye rolls?’

“No.  The ones that are a mix of yearning and worry.”  That made me pause and think.

“I think we’re all right.  Um... I’m going to say she and I have... well... reassured each other...”  She must have been the one in my dreaming bed. Virani-e raised an eyebrow at me, grinning.

“You think?  You might want to make sure.”

“Um.  Yes.  I... should... Would mamoka-back be too Lakan?”  I’m blushing again.  How could I have this much blood in me?

“I don’t know... I don’t know her well enough.  How does she feel about mamokal?”  He got this planning, strategizing look.

“Mil Torii Itzan still has his mamoka... she liked it when we rode it the night of the election party.  She likes animals... and... hmmm.  I could speak to Mil the day we get home...”

“If he says no to that, I’m an Arkan’s uncle.  You were planning to invite him to the wedding anyway, I assume.”

“Oh, yes I couldn’t leave out any of the Fortunate Fifty... and Assembly and their families... Ky was saying that she... um... wanted a Jitzmitthra wedding...”

“And you have even a sliver of your mind thinking she might say no?”  He shook his head, Arkan style.

I drew myself up. “It’s not fear,” I said.  “It’s just nervousness!”  

He tried, and failed utterly to stifle his laughter.  “Right.  So long as you don’t let fe--nervousness control your actions.  You mean next Jitzmitthra?”

“Immediately after my third threshold birthday.”

“Oh right.  You can’t marry until then... but you can ask her anytime and be betrothed, yes?”

“Yes.  I will do it, second Fire come if I lie, the day we get home.”

“And that’s far enough away from Kall and Laisa not to seem like an afterthought?”

“Especially if I arrange to... oh Gods I’m already forsworn... I have to speak to Mil and get a fantastic meal on mamoka-back, even the Marble Palace servants can’t do that if we get in that late... not the same day... but the next.”

“I’ll take your oath as meaning you’ll start to arrange all that on the day you get back.  You know... you could take her into the woods... perhaps have the mamoka waiting...”

“Yes!  Oh, she likes Nasty... we’ll go for a ride.  There’s this wonderful palfrey that I’ve been wanting to buy for her, the exact same colour as her hair.  The mare could be a betrothal gift.  Better than jewellery.” I smacked myself in the forehead.  “What was I thinking?  I can arrange the romance rather than waiting for the perfect moment.”  I heaved a sigh.

“Absolutely... oh, you are going to be a four, yes?  Well, there’s plenty of room on the back of a mamoka for Gannara and Farasha... you could fit an entire eight up there if you were so inclined.”  He had his quirky grin on his face.

“Um... yes.  We’re together enough that... well... I’ll do it right.”

“Kyriala knows what she’s getting into?  Well, you said you all had an understanding.”

I nodded.  “Sometimes the girls are so far ahead of me, my head spins, especially anything to do with family.”

“All the more reason to let them drag you forward, kicking and screaming.”

I had to grin.  “Oh, please, no, please, don’t. Stop. Don’t stop.”   Virani-e started laughing, full throated and it broke high, leaning back in his chair. He smacked me on the shoulder and started to get up. “I expect a full and detailed report as to how it goes.”

“Um... of course... “

“Not that full and detailed,” he said laughing.

Phew...  “Oh, good.  Just enough to blush me red. All right”

“Yes.  That would be perfect.”

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

590 - Over the Breakfast Table

Kyriala had this enormous smile on her face this morning.  So did I.  I kept catching sight of myself in various reflections in the Hearthstone.  I tried to tell myself that it was just our joy at Kall and Laisa’s announcement of betrothal but... was it because of the dreams I’d had the night before?  Had she dreamed too?  Oh… she wouldn’t have dared… would she?  Oh… oh… I thought to the night before Gan and Fara went away… and… well… it could be my memory of her sighs and moans that fueled my dreams… couldn’t it?

I kept catching her smiling at me and turning away just as I looked up and I kept looking away just as I saw her turning to look at me.  And smiling.  She wouldn’t have.  She couldn’t have.  I… raised my fingers to my nose.  There was no hint of the scent I’d found on them.  Smelled like…almost like… no.  There was no way that Farasha was here… did all girls smell like that… um… I… Ky was very casually dressed, with her hair gathered up in a classic ‘tendrils falling’ that absolutely had to have Skorsas’s hand behind it somewhere.

I’d put my hair into a solas braid, though longer, since I’d learned to tie it back to train with Kall.  I loved visiting Yeola-e.  This morning I was able to watch the best in the country train with Virana-e, Kallijas, his teacher Azaila and the students at the school of the sword, along with Kall and my guard… The best warriors on this part of the earthsphere.  I was no-where near the calibre to join that lot.

“I know you don’t want to, Kall, but the winds should be good enough for you rise this afternoon.” Niku was saying.

Kallijas had this goofy look on his face, blushing like mad, and he and Laisa had hidden their hands under the edge of the table and the cloth so they could lock their newly-allowed fingers together surrepticiously.  Ky, next to me, smiled again and I caught a whiff of her… her perfume surely but she didn’t wear perfume to breakfast… under the table her foot nudged mine.  I found myself blushing and nudged back, trying not to show anything and somehow we ended up with our feet wrapped around each other.  We had bare feet because we were flying and slippers were not necessary at the Hearthstone, even in the depth of winter and suddenly the room was even warmer.

“I… we have to get back.  We’ll have our families waiting for us on the Marble Palace roof, I’m certain.”

Laisa smiled.  Her hair was still in a solas style braid from her training this morning.  She was able to train with the younger students at the School of the Sword.  I had to keep reminding myself it was all right that she was better than I was at sword work.  She wasn’t going to ‘take’ anyone’s attention away from me.  She was just going to marry Kall.  Or Kall was going to marry her.  They’d be here after I ascended.  I… really, really needed to ask Ky soon.  I glanced over at her and found her smiling at me again, her foot warm against mine.  It was as if I suddenly had more sensitive feet and my vile organs stirred.

I refrained from cringing, and did my best to remember the dream from last night and the scent of roses.  If Ky had snuck in while I was asleep, nothing wrong or bad for either of us would have happened.  I just hoped that… well, if she was smiling so much....

“Minis, you are just staring at your breakfast,” Virana-e said.  “How’s the stomach?”

“Oh, fine!”  I shook myself, glanced at Kall and Lai and then at Ky before shoving a spoonful of fruit into my mouth.  “Mph… was… um… I was just thinking.”

He had a hand across his mouth, smiling.  “Ah.  Well that’s good.  Oh, shoo, you silly bird.”  He took the young scarlet out of the dining room.  “This one has to learn that no pets are allowed in here with the food.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

589 - Roses and Fanilas in the Bed

I know that I am dreaming.  I am in the Hearthstone Independent.  If I could open my eyes I would see fleeces and feather pillows and feather beds and the edges of Yeola-e style bed boxes.  I would see the glowing, warm walls, the stones built thick with hot water running through.

The glass windows instead of scraped parchment, scraped vellum to let a watery, transluscent light through the openings in the walls that let the cold in.

I am buried in the feather beds and the pillows and the fleeces.  I am dreaming of things like myself naked in the midst of the Yeola-e Assembly.  Or running over the mountainside trying to find Sukala.  Or trapped in a Yeola-e mountain cave trying to dig my way out with my bare hands… or use my holy book to dig out the dirt entombing me under the earth.

I smell roses.  I turn away from them and fill my nose with the smell of sheep.  The smell of the oil in the sheepskin, the smell of the fat.  The smell of the living animal.

My eyes open.  I saw roses in the atrium.  The glass enclosed space that had jasmine and roses of all kinds… Mahid roses.  Gold roses.  Sun Roses.  Blood roses.  Selinae’s roses.

I lie under Selinae’s roses, my skates on my feet in the Marble Palace looking at the moon rising and I feel my betrothed’s arm around me.

I whine… I should not.

I should be a strong man.  I should be invincible before my beloved… an old dream of Kyriala in my arms… and no Kallen to ruin it.  Her hair and her neck and her skin and her hands…

Oh Ten.  Her hands.

I kiss and kiss and suckle her hands.  I kiss the tender skin at her inner wrist.  I hear moans and I moan.  I am dreaming.  I am allowed to dream and taste the scent of roses on my tongue.  I kiss and I dream.

I want Kyriala.

I want… love.

If it is Gan or Farasha or Ky… How dare I?  Muunas do I dare?  Mother Selinae?

Do I dare?  I smell roses.  I feel warm and loving skin under my bare hands.  My hands stroke and touch and it is as if I can taste with the ends of my fingers and find there are glorious slick and hot and wet feelings on the tips of my fingers.

I hear Kyriala’s ecstatic moans and I am inspired… oh please. Oh please Muunas let my beloved be happy…

Roses.  I am buried in roses.  Mahid roses.  Selinae’s yellow roses.  I open my mouth and am filled with the sustenance of the goddess.  I feel how hard I am and I can hear, in my dream, Surya’s voice… “Accept.  Take it in.  Enjoy.  You are allowed.  To heal you must allow all the sensations to pour through you, into you.”

I cry to the Ten and am enveloped in hair and hands and flames.  They are all there and I cannot, must not stop my body’s reaction.  I would diminish Them if I did.


I wake with the pallid mountain light pouring in my wide open windows.  My room smells of sex and roses and I struggle out of the tangled mess of my bedding in the Hearthstone Independent.

Something makes me stop and I raise a pillow to my nose.  There really is the scent of roses in my bedding.  I collapse backwards into the bedbox, arms spread.

I could have sworn that it was fanilas in my sleeping place.  But the fading warmth of the pillow and the deep, rich scent of Selinae’s roses driven deep into the pillow’s fibres… makes me wonder.  Was someone else there last night?

Was someone in the bed with me?  I cannot tell.

My damp and awful nightshirt is somehow not so awful.  I lie, awake, thinking of Kyriala’s eyes for some odd reason.

Monday, November 21, 2011

588 - Mind the Trug

The traditional Arkan carry chair… one carried by bearers on foot as opposed to this wildly modern idea of an express chair… was trotted up and set down carefully in front of the Itrean house.  

The Itreans had not moved from the familial home, though the miniature and the plinth before the house had been replaced by a sculpture of a winged horse poised with only one hind foot upon the ground.

A servant set a small carpet for the passenger to alight from under the sunshade but instead was handed a traditional, calling kerchief.  The servant disappeared into the house and shortly returned to re-dust the landing carpet and hold the ceremonial umbrella that was a miniature of the grand sun-shades of the Marble Palace.  Miniature and very old fashioned now.  A number of copper chains were carefully placed in the chair’s payment box so delicate female gloves need never come near the bare hands of the bearers, while the Sera in question waited.

“The Mother of the Mother of the Regent Imperator invites the honourable Grandmother of the Betrothed to the Regent Sun…”

“Excuse me, young man.”  The elderly woman gently interrupted.  “Thank you for being so polite.  But might my honourable friend be in the back garden?”

“Why… yes… the Sera asked this one to escort…”

The elderly woman stepped out.  “I’m too old to stand on ceremony, young man.  I’ve been close friends with Damiana Itrean for more than thirty years.  You’ve done your best.  I know my way.”  Askala Si Rusa brushed her gloves over her good Temple dress and stepped smartly up the front steps, her closed lace parasol acting as her cane.

The grandly named back garden was still the kitchen garden, though an elegant little table and chairs had been set under the old pergola under the feather lindens.  “Dami… this ‘un should speak up now –“

“—oh hush ‘Skala-mi.  There’s no one but us here to be offended.”  Damiana had changed her gloves and managed to mostly tuck her dirty gardening things in the trug thrust under the steps.

“I brought my gardening gloves in case you had another case of blond mint taking over again.”

“After we have kaf.  Ska… let’s sit… my new servant that my boy hired gets so upset if I don’t let her do everything for me.  I’ve been sending her out to buy me certain hard to find things.  It gives her a sense of pride when she finds the thing I’ve asked for, and gives me some time to do for myself without giving her conniption fits.”

“Good of you, Dami.  The whole Marble Palace staff is going be trying to take this wedding over, hmmm?”

“Nice of the young people to do the heavy work.”  Damiana poured kaf for them both and expertly added her friend’s sugar and spicing before offering it to her.  “Can you just imagine, Ska?  We would never have thought that we’d become related so late, hmmm?”

“Well, we’ll just have to let the youngsters know what’s what.”

“Your son will huff quite a bit Dami.”

“Yes.  But he’s always been like that… even when he was in his toilet clout.  Once he calmed down he’s always a good boy.”

“I never ever thought… not even when I lost my first husband… remember?  You told me to cry and then get on with it.”

“I was less strong, and more foolish in those days, Ska.”

“Well, you were the one who smuggled me out to the woods when my father was too heavy handed with his stick.”

“Ah, well.  Long time ago.”

“So, Dami… is it harder than you thought, getting the aitzas back?”

The elegant little kaf cup was set down a trifle too firmly.  “The honour, never.  The nonsense, all the time.”

Ska sighed.  “My Laisa is going to be so happy in that wild wilderness with all those wool-haired folk.  At least she’ll have your Kallijas to lean on.”

“Lai has a sensible head on her shoulders.”

“As does Kall.  Dami, shall we go do some weeding before your girl comes back and fusses about us getting our gloves dirty?”

“Let’s.  I have a dozen cuttings to bring around to you tomorrow if you like.”

“Oh, yes.  I’ll get the house welcomist to start making up our lists for the wedding.”

“Dimae and Selinae bless, my bones hurt.”

“That’s what younger knees are for… to run up and down all these stairs.  Mind the trug.”

Friday, November 18, 2011

587 - Aras's Verse of Conquest: 83

It was very late in Chevenga’s… Virana-e’s house, even though technically he did not own it, his spouses did.  Kallijas and I and Kyriala and Laisa and all our entourage were staying another day so the family could celebrate Kall and Laisa’s betrothal.  My gut was uneasy and the height of the mountain was making my head pound.

I lit the candle and opened my holy book to a passage that Radas had marked for me, the last time we’d spoken, and settled into the feathers and wool of the bed to try and get to sleep again.

The silly parrot had learned how to open my door and was perched on a stand built into the headboard so it wouldn’t shen on the pillow or anyone’s head on the pillow.  It pulled its head out from its floof of feathers, gave me a dirty look and tucked its head to go back to sleep.

 Aras’s Verse of Conquest: 83 If you remove the slave chains of words from your people, refuse to tolerate among you the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, I will lift you up.  If you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then will the divine light rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday’s regard.  Muunas will guide you and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be restored; you shall lay the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the rebuilder of streets for the children of the divine to live in.


Sorry for the short post guys.  A convention this weekend and I'm running late.  See you Monday! 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

586 - Awwwww Gian!

Nuninibas is being a dork.  He’s saying that my brother is being bad by waiting so long to ask Kyriala to marry him.

I kind of agree with him but there’s no way I’m going to let him say stuff like that so I yelled at him and he yelled at me and we got to pushing.  I don’t know who said what first but we ended up rolling on the floor, with some of his friends and some of mine around us, yelling.

Gian pulled us apart, along with a couple of the palace guards.  “Boys!  Boys!  Stop, stop, stop! You are friends!  What brought this on?”

We both started shouting our stories and Gian stood there looking stern with his arms crossed and there was a lot of shouting from our friends until we all got kind of talked out and kind of slowed down.  My throat was the most sore part of me.

Jia’s hiding under the silver chaise and his Flapper too, both hanging on to each other, tentacles and wings and eye and Jia turned the same shade of pink as Flapper.

All the noise eventually went away. “So Nuninibas as I understand you were concerned that Minis hasn’t asked Kyriala to marry him yet?”

“Yes!  It’s not fair!”

“He shouldn’t say bad things about my brother, or call him names!”

“I just said he was a little slow!”

“That’s not nice!”

“It’s just time, I’m not talking about if he’s smart or not!”

“Well you didn’t say!”


He never raised his voice.  We stopped.  “Nuninibas I would like you to tell your sister you’re putting pressure on Minis through his little brother.”

“WHAT? NO I WASN’T!”  Nuni turned bright red, almost as red as uncle Kallijas.

“Nevertheless I insist that you tell your sister that your concern is getting a bit… obtrusive.”

I had to smile.  But Gian turned around and saw before I had a chance to change my face.  “And you, young man.  You are going to tell your brother and the Regent that you were willing to trade fisticuffs with the person you call your best friend.”

“Awwww, Giannnnn.”

“Shush.  Both of you should be aware that your brother and your sister will appreciate your keeping yourselves out of the affair.  Besides.  Minis is highly unlikely to ask anyone anything in the middle of the Regent and Serina Si Rusa’s wedding.”


“I’ll take your words on that.”

“Yes, Gian,” Nuni said.  “Yes, Gian,” I said.

“And you both will not be allowed to be together for a whole eight day, since you were not being very friendly to one another.”

This time we both went ‘AWWWWW, GIAN…”

“No, awwww Gianning me.  Serin Liren… thank you for visiting the Marble Palace.  I’m sorry your visit was so short.”

“Ahem.”  I looked around and saw Ailadas leaning against a doorpost.

“Not you too!”  I said.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

585 - The ORF


- by Kafiris Loren
Risae 8, 50 Y.P.A. Arko City

Two days ago, contrary to loud predictions of an enormous loss, the female Mahid team held the Flying Dulis to a zero zero, with opened goals. The historic match was played in front of an exclusive and appreciative crowd.
It seemed at first that the Dulis would, as predicted, roll over the women, with the first goal opening, but the Mahid girls slid a disk past the unsuspecting Teshan Buren.  Both Buren and Tesha Mahid, as goal keepers presented an astonishing display of skill.

The Dulis dominated the first set and clearly expected an easier game.  Team Captain Saras Trenen said, “We expected a score of ten or more against an unopened goal, at first.  Our coach told us not to hold back and we didn’t.  I’ll admit I was surprised the way they came out in the second set.  Fast, hard and I suppose we should have realized that they were letting themselves play like Mahid men.”

The second set was as startling and bloody as some of the more famous Mahid men’s.  The women used their speed and their agility to excellent effect and the much theorized ‘female wiles’ to deliver at least one hit that laid Trenas out for the set and for the next game as well.  “I’m still seeing stars,” the captain said.

The Mahid women’s captain, Jorasa, was equally blunt describing the check that sidelined her for the game.  “He hit me with authority and dispatch,” she said with typical Mahid stoicism, then a momentary smile startled.  “As if I’d been smashed with a war hammer.”

Coach Arenen expressed his pride in his team in glowing terms.  “They showed some of what they can do.  Give them enough time and a second string and they’ll be in the High League in the next five years, mark my words.”  This reporter is curious to discover the secrets of play that the Coach is hinting of, but Arenen declined to say.

Other Mahid, who were in the audience also expressed their pride.  “They do their brothers and husbands and fathers proud.”

The Dulis’ coach, Feniras Trenas, was reticent when asked if the Dulis would play the Mahid women again, but there are rumors of other solas teams wishing to test their metal against the team some brand new fans are starting to call the Onxyine Razor Fans.

Watch this space for news of the ORF’s next game and next opponents.


By pigeon message from Yeola-e:  REGENT IMPERATOR CHOOSES BRIDE!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

584 - Touch My Razor Fan

The disk soared up, just beyond her reaching glove and Irenas reached past her with his long arms, snatched it and came down.  Rather than take advantage of his eight-stride safety, he snapped the shot to Mirenen, their second enforcer who bore down on Amitza.

He didn’t hesitate, thinking he’d be able to roll right over her, not seeing her grin behind her helmet bars.  She ghosted sideways and somehow, as he roared past her, he tripped over… something… and she had possession. His chin hit the steel with a crack but the whistle was silent.

So strange to hear the cheering in high women's voices.  There were far more women in the seats than usual.

Amitza passed to Elsha, Elsha to Eforasa, Eforasa to Borasa, Borasa to Elsha just as Trenas launched out of the penalty cage and Irenas soared up, out of the bowl and settled on their bench so they could not be whistled out for too many men in the bowl.  Trenas soared down toward Elsha who crossed her feet and zipped up the opposite wall, with him on her heels.

Borasa set up and Elsha, on the bottom of her arc, turned, skating backwards.  He nearly checked but she actually smiled sweetly and thrust the faib disk into his reaching gauntlets, just in time for Borasa, falling off the wall like a lightning bolt, knock him sideways hard enough to send them both pinwheeling over the floor.

Knuckles out boys.  Knuckles out. The whole hall was full of the chorus of approval, the check song, the women’s descant almost drowning out the main melody.  Men’s voices whistled disapproval, and even went so far as to lose decorum and shout.  Meet my razor fan, boys.

Whistle and the disk was scooped up and returned to centre.  We do not expect to win.  Holding them.  Keeping them from just skating away from us is the victory.  They have years of training.  Zero/zero with goals open is the victory.

Borasa bounced up, skating over to second defense’s slot, while Trenas, on hands and knees, coughed.  It took him a moment to climb to his feet.  He shook his head skating to his slot opposite Elsha.  No emotion on his face. She let herself catch the tiny signs of approval from Jorasa, the only one on their bench.  Coach smiled at them.

Next play the disk got away from them and Trenas hit Amitza but only glancing, and when she went down her one skate accidentally hit him just over the knee, inside.  He still managed to pass to Buren who soared up and shot.  Tesha, in her goal sweep, knocked it clear with her blocking pad, tipping it off the thinnest hair of pad, off the end. Hold them at zero my sisters.

Eforasa scooped the errant disk and broke away toward the Duli defensemen. She went up left, then back to the right, Elsha zipped past her, behind, crossing her pattern and quietly grabbed the disk handed off, leaving Mirenen, and Kamen chasing the wrong player.

She dug hard and went up and just as she turned in the air, the disk sliding out of her hand for her shot, Trenas hit her, from below and the world wheeled.  Steel, tuck head, fringe of singing, yelling faces, steel, wham, elbow, ow.

“WHISTLE!” Coach was shouting at the referee but the red shirt was ignoring him.  “WHISTLE, WHISTLE WHISTLE…”  The chant was taken up by others who had seen that the disk had been clear of her hand.  No whistle and the redshirt scooped the disk to centre.  Elsha, having been hit, faced the Trenas, as checker.

He had a bloody tooth as he grinned at her and she shook out both arms, showing him that he hadn’t hurt her.  “Set, Ser and Sera,” the redshirt said.

Up the second time and this time she threw her body up hard as all her unseemly emotion drove and her fingers brushed it first, knocking it clear of his grab.  Knuckles out.

Eforasa was on it like stink on a skunk, tucked hard and swooped up, arcing down toward the defensemen.  Elsha saw the pass coming back to her and Trenas intercepted, tucking the disk under his arm, meaning to keep it, setting up to bull his way all the way down the steel.  He dodged a check by Borasa and she saw her chance. Touch my razor fan.

She spun low as she came down the wall, an extended foot sweep.  It was slow and he jumped over it but as she spun, her hair somehow came loose and in her arc whipped out and wound around his knee, pulling him right off his feet as she came upright on her skates.

Whistle.  “Sorry!  Accident, Referee!” She held up the two broken ties that had secured her hair under the helmet.  The redshirt repeated the whistle and gestured her off for a thirty klicks, and the crowd, men included flapped their lips at the referee.  Accidental hair trips were allowed in the High League and Solas League both.  Coach was nodding approval.

Time was suspended as they lifted Trenas out of the bowl by net, both teams sitting on their benches, breathing hard.  Coach thumped his comb on his palm at her and she grinned.

She hid that grin in behind her lips as she soared up to sit in her penalty cage.  For thirty klicks… she cast her gaze at the time-keeper.  The second set was almost over.  Zero to Zero, goals both opened… one injury… she tested her elbow with the fingertips of her other hand.  Sore.  Not broken.  Thirty klicks would let her re-tie her hair.  She’d lost a few hairs ripping the ties but it was worth it.

Jorasa, next to the penalty bars, gently thumped the side of the stall, approving, passing on the team’s approval.  Knuckles out, boys.  Knuckles out.  Touch my razor fan.

“Teams come.  Teams come now!”  The redshirt called them in.  Borasha facing Mirenen.  They went up, Borasa made the catch, took her eight strides, poised to pass and the game whistle sounded. Victory.  The crowd went wild, screaming, jumping, even waving gloves in the air.  Gloves... as many as a ten hit the steel bowl from fans in the seats.

Touch our razor fans.