Monday, December 19, 2011

Solstice and Elves

The Solstice it is coming, the egg is in the nog.
Please give a friendly man a friendly little dog.
If you haven't got a friendly dog, a friendly cat will do,
If you haven't got a friendly cat may the Ten bless you!
Ten bless you, Sers, Ten bless you!
If you haven't got a friendly cat may Ten bless you!
The Solstice it is coming, the lights are on the tree.
How about a turkey leg for dear old me?
If you haven't got a turkey leg, a turkey wing will do.
If you haven't got a turkey wing may Ten bless you!
Ten bless you, Sers, Ten bless you!
If you haven't got a turkey wing may Ten bless you!
The Solstice it is coming, the cider's in the keg.
If I had a mug of cider I wouldn't have to beg.
If you haven't got a mug of cider, half a mug will do.
If you haven't got half a mug, may Ten bless you!
May I remind everyone of the lovely little 'donate' button!

My husband is here from Tulsa and we will be working on Immigration papers all week. Blue is here too, and Cat has just graduated from art school and is now an Artisan Blacksmith, so the apartment has a full complement of elves and I shall be very very busy and  not be posting lots, over the holidays.  I'll get back to a more normal schedule in the new year!  Cheers!

Friday, December 16, 2011

605 - Condemned to Hayel

Perisalas Shefenkas looked down at the letter lying on his desk.  It had been sent over on the run from the Pages, from Intharas’s desk. Under the desk his one hand scrubbed over his thigh. The floridly hand-written letter was excessive in both the size and shape of the letters, with trailing tails on many individual characters, and the language.

Manifesto Revised

It is with a heavy, heavy heart that True Arko Shall Rise announces that the unfortunate child, son of Kurkas Aan, having been corrupted in mind and heart and flesh, is unsalvageable and must, with regret and sorrow, be sent on to his unfortunate reward in the afterlife.

We, the staunch defenders of the True Arko did, at one point, attempt to save the wretched, most miserable of boys from those who would mis-teach him.  And our strina, martyred dead extort us to press on, to continue our most holy mission.

However, we cannot answer the exhortations of our dead. We will defend the True Arko to the limits of our strength, to the ends of our flesh, to the utmost of our abilities.

We grieve the loss of our chance to save the ill-omened Minis Aan, who is forzak though no fault of his own; we pray that the most Exalted of the High Gods shall have mercy upon the innocent – though besmirched, sullied, tarnished and defiled.

The way shall be cleared for the more innocent child to learn correctly, or we shall send the last scion of the sacred Aan line.  The Crystal Throne shall be emptied of despoiled, ruined and degraded men placed there by the feckless, worthless, feeble and feeble minded mob.

We will succeed in destroying the gangrenous rot that infects the True Arko, by whatever means necessary.  Arko for Arkans.  Women restored to their proper place. Foreigners out. Arko for Arkans! True Arko, return to the truth before the Empire is again destroyed by Fire and all of us shall be condemned to Hayel!

Signed by the Unomas of True Arko Shall Rise!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

604 - I Take Every Advantage

Kyriala sat on the mat wearing the bright blue split-skirt thing Riala designed for her, with her old Socks on the floor next to Bella.  Her tiny white dog sat between my big black bitch’s front paws, looking like a toe ornament.

Gan sat up on one of the dog-washing stations with Tanifas’s tinies on and around him, while Farasha sat in one of the padded chairs with the cats.  Other than Altras, who lay draped around the back of my neck.  I had not let Doof sit under my chin because she kept biting Altras’s tail and digging her big bird claws into my chest.  She was sulking above, a spot of red and gold, up against the gilded ceiling beams.

Tanifas had a shaved great hound before him and rubbed a cream along his spine, filling the kennel with the scent of peppermint.  “It seems to me that you're making good progress toward what you want,” he said.  “So officially you will be two couples with Gannara being acknowledged as Minis’s alesinas.

“At least until the bill allowing female alesinas goes through the Assembly,” Farasha answered him.

“How are your families taking this?”

“My mother is ecstatic, but she’s confused by a Jitzmitthra wedding--” Ky turned to look at me, smiling.  “I didn’t want to wait until after the year started.” Her eyes twinkled.

Gannara laughed.  “As if no one is going to figure out that we’re going to celebrate the whole rest of Jitz with no rules and regulations choking up this one.”  He twitched a thumb at me.  “Slacker.”

“Feckless squawker!”  I grinned and scratched under Altras’s chin, getting a heavy purr.


“I love you too, you hairy wen!”

“Minis.”  The great hound under Tanifas’s hands writhed over onto his back to get him to scratch his belly.  “How have you been sleeping?”

I blinked innocently at him.  “Since I proposed to everyone, like a baby.  Well, I have some nightmares and some weird God dreams but doesn’t everybody?”

“No, Minis,” Tanifas said gently, ran one peppermint scented hand over his own nearly bald scalp. “Your nightmares and your divine dreams are focused dreams, and point out to me where you are still injured.  Are you still recording them?”

“Um, yes.  Just writing them down is soothing.  I quit sweating and shaking while I do that and it lets me get back to sleep.”

“That sounds like a lot more disturbed than ‘sleeping like a baby’ to me,” he said dryly.  I could see my loves nod or sign chalk around me.

“You’ve been sleeping quieter than you used to,” Farasha said.  One of the golden cats, with eyes the same colour as her fur bumped up under her chin.

“That’s not saying much,” Gan said.  “It means he’s much less likely to smack me in the chest with an elbow.”

“I only did that once, and that was on Haiu Menshir when I started poking around in all this stuff,” I retorted but I was only half listening.  

What Tanifas had said was still rolling around in my head as I realized I’d been diminishing how often I was still sleeping and eating badly.  “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t wake you all up.”

“Stop that, Minis.” Gan got off the ledge and moved over to the empty chair, shedding tiny dogs who stayed behind and looked at him, panting.  I sleep just as badly and wake you all up enough too.”

“It is a good thing that you are saying things in your nightmares, ‘Nara,” Farasha put in.  I nodded.

“The silent ones are still the worst for you.” I said, turning my head to get the most rumble from Altras.

“So all of you are spending time together, it is obvious.  I am also assuming that you are being very proper.”  Kyriala and I both nodded and Fara snorted.

“Too proper for pre-marriage partners I think.  We should all be sleeping together to make sure we won’t drive each other crazy with our nighttime noises.  Nara and Minis and I all know but Kyriala won’t know if my whistling snores will keep her awake, or the boys’ dreams.”

Tanifas sat back and sent the great hound off to snooze in his kennel down the hall. Kyriala spoke up as the click of the dog’s paws faded off to an enormous ‘whurf’ as it settled down.  “I tried to explain, Fara.  We can’t do that.”

“No,” I said.  “No one would take Ky seriously if even a hint of that got out.  The one party… we were lucky.”

Tanifas leaned forward intently.  “Farasha, your people are always very close, cheek-by-jowl so to speak, ‘m I right there?”

“Yes.  People sleep in the caravans in inclement weather and it’s as tight as a ship.”

“Hmmm.  Your people and Gan’s have good reason to carefully vet your partners.  The Niahs and the Yeolis – more than ship crews -- grew out of close-living people.  “f you all realize that sleeping together i’nt necessary, should some sleep things keep awake or piss off your husband or wife or alesinae you can go sleep in your own separate bed.  It doesn’t mean anything about your partner.  Not rejection, not anger, nothing.  It just means you need to sleep.”

Gannara and Fara looked at each other and shrugged each in their own ways.  Ky and I smiled.  “The place is big enough that everyone in the marriage has their own private suites,” I said.  “People would be very interested if all four of us slept together all the time.  And this is just sleeping together.  Nothing else.”

“I suppose it’s all right, then,” Farasha said.  “I just think it would be a good idea of Ky knew what she was getting into.”

“I think I can deal with it.  We’ll work something out once I am supposed to be sleeping with Minis.  The Assembly is going wild right now since they’ve started calling you ‘First Concubine’ and arguing if a woman can be an alesinas.

“My children I don’t want in line for the Crystal Throne anyway,” Fara said and Gan signed chalk.

“And we all know that whatever formal titles Arko plasters on us, we as a family, are together as a four.”

“You’re doing well,” Tanifas said.  “I’m here to listen to any problems you might have, you know.”

Gan, by now, had another big golden dog leaning against his knees to get scratched.  The pack was calm and all of us had the various animals just being with us.  “We know, Tanifas, thank you.  You have the better of us since the pack just tells you if we’re doing all right!”

He laughed.  “I use every advantage.  My advice to you all is keep on this way.  It is not that long till the wedding.”

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

AN: Just gotten on now...

I've been driving around all day and could not write a single word.

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

603 - Absolutely Effortless

The office of the Chamberlain was a hive of activity, with the underservants holding their notebooks or swaths of flowers and bolts of fabric.  Even as a pair left with a glass statue carefully wrapped on a litter another group came in with a stack of bound volumes for review.

Tenii Sal Faren, the Chamberlain of the Marble Palace after Skorsas, signed before nodding the book away.  “We are going to have to be very creative with this people.  Put that down and listen.”

He rose to his full, imposing Aitzas height as the room settled, people setting their burdens down or slipping in from where they had been dispatched. As the officers of the service crews of the Marble Palace quieted he paced back and forth at the front of the room.

“We have a challenge before us,” he said.  “Nothing that the Marble Palace cannot take in stride, but it will stretch us to our limits. Each of you to your limits.”

“You may have heard in the rumours that the Radiant Mirror of the Light has requested a Jitzmitthra wedding.”  He paused for the wave of discrete whispering to subside.  “I may now confirm that this is correct.”

“The unofficial, non-existent birthday of the Spark of the Sun’s Ray Elect will be the non-event of the past century and you all may be sure we will make it a memorable non-extant celebration, whereupon the exalted will be free to marry.”

He nodded at the front row of the watchers.  “You have a question, Kishanas?”

“Yes, ser.  I heard that the affianced Luminous Reflector of Selestial Joy was proposing a Diem Gustatorial Wedding?”

“Yes.  I have been speaking with the bema and the bemas and we are conspiring to create the most spectacular of wedding clothing that may, with impunity, be spattered, bedewed, sprinkled and splashed with all sorts of food without damage.  The formal, official wedding clothes, shall be ceremonially worn on Muunas First as the Fenjitzas and Fenjitza re-bless their stepping through the wedding arch but the true wedding clothes are certain to require a herculean effort to clean.”

“Does this mean we’re going to do a ‘Washing of the Streets’ Ascension?” The voice from the back was almost plaintive and Tenii wheeled to cast an icy blue stare in that direction.

“The Marble Palace will not fail in this!  We have carried on through every disaster, through Imperial whim and dream and desire.  We have carried on through war and famine and crisis and sack!  If I hear one… one person voice any doubt that the Marble Palace staff is capable of Selestial miracles, I shall insist on reviewing that person’s fitness for their post!”

“This will require miracles!  The actual Ascension will be on Diem Wards Back and the officiants… in the middle of the Ten Angel’s Fountain... will be the Marble Palace kennel master and the animals of the Mable Palace, probably including the new pestiferous flying monster that insists on shenning at every opportunity!” Someone in the back groaned, but the sound cut off under the Chamberlain’s piercing stare.

“This is going to be the wildest non-existant set of festivals we’ve ever had to do,” someone said solemnly and then someone snorted, two more smothered outright laughter, and then with a sound like steam escaping under the lid of a boiling pot, one of the head chefs began laughing and that set everyone off.

Everyone but Tenii.  For the longest of moments he stood, holding a stern expression on his face but in the face of his staff’s laughter, couldn’t hold it and his lips curled.   

“Indeed.  Something that should have been simple… rags for riches, back to front and upside down, is going to need the most careful of planning to make it all appear absolutely effortless.”

Monday, December 12, 2011

602 - I Am Grateful

Reknarja, Crown Prince etc.

To:  Minis Aan, Spark of the Sun’s Ray Elect etc...  [All the appropriate titles... if this were written by my secretary – my welcomist you would say – it would be perfect, but since Sukala’s cave and subsequent letters I am assuming you don’t mind if they are here in spirit if not in actuality.  If not, let me know and I’ll certainly put them all in next time.]

Dear Minis,

Thank you for asking after my family.  My father is doing very well, though still somewhat bemused by all the changes after my brother and I came home from Arko.  His hints of ‘perhaps you should set a wedding date’ have all turned into ‘how big a nursery will you need in the Tor’?

Jaliala sends her best and says that she will look forward to beginning a correspondence with your betrothed, Kyriala.  It will be interesting for the whole lot of us to travel to your wedding and coronation as per your invitation... Jal loved the roses pressed into the paper and the silver ink...  She tells me she will be the first Princess of the Crown of Tor Ench to travel to another country in such a State visit and that a wedding is the absolutely most appropriate reason for her to do so.

It is indeed interesting -- I am, in fact, grateful -- to be the favoured son, since this whole mess with Jakanarja started.  Just between you and I and the iron staple on the High Tor Gate, I think he’s happier than I’ve ever seen him.  He and Kelaepo have been braving the wild blasts of hot air from both Father and her Mother and he is currently living in the Hyerne palace, defying the conventions against men.  He is not terribly pleased with the other women’s attitude towards him, but they are certainly talking marriage and perhaps alternating between the Tor and the Palace at Thenai.

Personally -- and this is just a feeling on my part -- I think they’ll end up on the border somewhere, until Kelaepo makes her bid to become Queen when Segiddis retires.  They are aware that him being her first husband and her being his first wife will make her attempt very much harder.

I have been very good and not inquired how relations are between him and her other husbands.  I’m still reeling myself, honestly, though I must admit they are fierce warriors.  In fact I wonder if that is what drew him to her in the first place.  I admit that I am very much happier with my near perfect wife, a most excellent Princess, but perhaps Jak was put off by the rapacious delicate flowers who hurled themselves at him shamelessly for the past few years.  I’ll have to write and ask him.

It seems that Siavenka... hmmm Viranahay now... is spreading the brightly coloured crap monsters around.  Did your new pet actually maredai-  um... crap on the statue of the Fessas God?  The Pages story made out that it was a good omen, since it was the sort of trick He would appreciate; were they just putting a good face on it?

Oh, before I forget, the outcrossing of your Mahid horse that you sent me have produced a lovely line of foals out of my personal horse... they are the most amazing coats that are stripped gold and black on legs and face and neck, with a buff body and while they are not as big or heavy as your Dulis, have incredible staying power.  And of course they will be very flashy if that coat pattern persists. We shall have to see how that line develops.

Your friend,



Exerpt from the Pages – “...the affianced of the Spark of the Sun’s Ray Elect remains reticent on the identity of the elusive artist, Banaksias.  Says she – “My brother, the lord of the Manor Liren, granted access to the one room in the Liren manor .  I, personally, have no idea of the identity of the artist in question.  It is entirely possible that some person gained access to the room with my brother’s blessing and I am grateful to the bottom of my heart that Banaksias graced my show with their work.”

She went on to say, “Perhaps if other Aitzas families would consider opening their homes to the public for shows of an artistic bent they might find that artists otherwise fearful of reprisal emerge from the faceless mass and cast a light upon the realities of life in Arko the City.”

Friday, December 9, 2011

601 - His cheeks Are as a Bed of Spices

We put our hands back in the box and Sas handed me the wedding ring.  I took a deep breath and began to recite, as if to my priest --  Selinae’s Answer to the God.  Selinae help me.

1:  “Oh, Thou, my beloved.  Thou art white and pure and clean, and greater than ten thousand stars upon the veil of night.  His head is as the most fine gold.”  He really is that handsome.  But I started to stutter a little when I continued on.

2: “His eyes are the eyes of dove by the river side, His skin as though washed with milk, and fitly set. His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: His lips are like lilies and sweet smelling myrrh.” I couldn't help looking at his eyes and skin and cheeks and lips as I said each of the words and I got more and more flustered and hot.  I took a deep breath and froze.  I can't say the next bit!

The Fenjitza prompted me, softly.  I couldn't look at her, or at him.  I looked across my beloved's shoulder at a bit of gilding and told myself this was like sparring anyone the first time.

3: “His hands are like gold rings set with beryl: His belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires.  His legs are pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold. This is My beloved, oh Arko.”  That was the hardest part.  This had only been said in modern Arkan, in public, once before when Shefenkas and Niku did it.

4: “Set Me as a seal upon Thy heart, oh beloved, and upon Thy arm, for love is stronger than our Summoning  Messenger. Yeah, Thou art the Creator of Love and Thy left hand shall cradle My head and Thy right hand embrace Me.”

Kallijas was blushing and I was so hot... I had never heard the Great Songs quite like this before.  I slid the ring onto his finger... even though with Kallijas it would have to be his right hand cradling my head and his left hand embracing me.  I was blushing so hard I was amazed that my dress didn’t burst into flames.

5: Who is this who comes out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke and roaring flame?  Perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, it is My Beloved who walks on pillars of fire.”

6: My Beloved’s countenance shines upon me and His Eyes create new worlds.  I raise My hand to him...”  I took my hand from the box and so did he and I laid my ringed hand in his, before the Fenjitza and the Fenjitzas.  “and We shall dance and sing a new life together.  I am become One with my Beloved, and our new creation shall be like sunrise and reflecting Our Glory.”

Kallijas formally drew me forward, putting his arm around me, and I settled against him as we stepped up to the Wedding Gate wreathed in red and gold and white flowers and gold chains with pendant gemstones.  Two priests stopped us and the dekinas demanded “Who would enter here?”

I could feel Kallijas’s chest expand, even with him being armoured as he prepared to give the traditional reply.  “I, Regent Imperator of Arko, Kallijas Itrean, Aitzas and Laisa Itrean, Aitza, my bride.” 

“The Imperator may not pass here without a declared Imperatrix!” the dekinas had a wonderfully horn-like voice and I pressed my lips together not to giggle.

The priests and priestesses came forward as Kallijas said “I declare Laisa, born Si Rusa, now Itrean, to be my Imperatrix, First among women!”  They looped the chatelaine of the Empire around my waist, the heavy ring of jewelled keys swinging against  my knees.  I bowed my head to the anointing oil and all through Kall didn’t let me go.

We stepped through the Wedding arch and the crowd began cheering.  I almost wanted to hide behind my fan but I was safe in Kallijas’s arm.  We nodded and waved and waved, smiling.  Kallijas let go my hand and caught up his comb, kissed the end of it and gently laid the transferred kiss onto my cheek.

The laefetas we stood on, to let us back down to the main floor, was solid, but I imagined it was shaking from the roar.  His father would be waiting to help set me before Kallijas on his horse, for the wedding procession around the city.  At least the wedding saddle didn’t have a high pommel.

I smiled into my fan, kissed the feathers and drew them daringly down the side of Kallijas’s face.  And that was when Doof, trailing a chewed foot tether, flew in the great doors, circled around and around the Temple mixing the various ‘I love you’s,’ with profanity and squawking.

600 - Let Us Sing

Daddy set me down at the bottom of the Temple steps, off the back of his old warhorse.  If he's not good to you, Puppyfuzz, I'll kick his ass, champion or no,” he whispered in my ear.

I love you too, Daddy.” I said out loud.  He couldn't see me smile but he'd be able to hear it.  He could feel me shaking.  I was trying not to shake.

I peered through the layers of veils.  I could barely see and desperately needed my attendants to steer me into place on the Temple steps, like a large ship, or a blind horse.  I could look down and see my own feet clearly but not much else.

It was hot and confining.  Kallijas pulled the top veil off and it was amazing.  It brightened up, and became cooler.  Oh, please take the next one off.

Even in the shade of the Temple portico it was a relief when the second veil came off.  The third, fourth and fifth were all various types of lace so they let me see and breathe at least.  Oh my goodness he's so handsome in his wedding armour.

The carpet under my feet was spangled white on dark blue and I remembered playing wedding with my friends, laying cloths out to represent this.  I could see Kallijas in his white and green and gold wedding armour, specially made for today.  His sword hilt, on his hip, was well polished and worn and his attendants were spread out behind him, all in variations of groom’s green.

Niku, in bride’s attendant silver, was right behind me, next to Sasilla, my over-zealous sister.  Sasilla was being good and not publicly holding her nose at having to be next to all my foreign friends, the conquerers. She had enough to think of, things to manage as my bema, and basking in the splashed over honour of becoming a member of the Imperial family by my marriage.

Sas caught me as I managed to stumble on the carpet nap and we traded a secret smile.  Sisters. 

Niku was whispering me things that made me want to giggle.  I could be shocked or I could laugh and laughing was a lot easier, and actually relaxed me.  Warrior humour.  It did calm me down.

We walked through the pattern and every time we stopped, Kallijas removed another veil.  The fifth veil down and I could see clearly.  The red and white sixth dress came up over my head more slowly and with more care on Kallijas’s part.  I smiled at him and he began to blush as he asked me quietly to raise my arms.  The choir sang each dress or veil off at each stopping point in the Temple.

I was nervous even though I shouldn’t be.  I’d rehearsed my part half a hundred times and knowing Kallijas he’d probably paced this round more than what was traditionally called for.  He’d gone pale now, then blushed again, his beautiful face solemn, except when he looks at me and he has a smile behind his composure.  I love you so much.

He stepped onto the groom’s square, with Joras and I onto the bride’s, with Sasilla, and the tiny laefeti rose up, lifting us up way from the rest our attendants, up over the heads of the crowd, half way to the gallery.  I held my arms out to either side, under Selinae’s gaze and Kallijas raised his hands as if he were disrobing me of the last public dress and I wiggled my shoulders to raise it up.  It took only a little bit of motion on my part to work the dress up my body, as if it were him doing it.

Once the last dress floated down to the reaching hands of the crowd, the laefeti raised us to the wedding gallery and the Fenjitzae who’d come up from the Temple door to the lecterns while we were pacing the Temple floor.

We both stepped onto the gallery and my face was clear.  I only had the inner two dresses left, the red with a white edge that was next to last, and the inner dress that was deep red silk. My shoes were dark red silk as was my wedding fan, trimmed with red wedding feathers.  His comb was red crystal set with rubies and they clicked together as we turned to face the Fenjitzae.

The Fenjitzae read out the commands to the wedded partners and then Kallijas turned to me, to quote scripture, Muunas’s Song to Selinae.  This was the part that made him the most nervous, having to recite these most ancient wedding vows.

They were the most... salacious thing I'd ever heard an Arkan man say out loud to his wife.  And I had my part to answer him with.  I gulped, hopefully not too obviously.

Behind my fan, I slid my one hand free of my wedding glove, with Sas's help, and she held it for me.  Joras didn't have to do that since Kallijas's hand was already bare, except for the Imperial seal on it.

“Muunas: Chapter 10, Verse 10-15,” he said. His voice was clear and I warmed all over, listening to these beautiful, beautiful verses.

“10: My Lady is beautiful.  Her breasts are like the young harts leaping upon the hillside, to Her excited breath.  Her eyes are like elstralis sky and melt for me. My name is upon Her lips darker than heart’sblood, sweeter than honey.”

He put his hand in the box that Joras held for him.

“11: Her limbs twine about Me, white and pale and strong and Her hair winds around Me holding Us close. I kiss Her sweet lips and white column of neck and She cradles My passion in Her delicate strong hands. We dance and sing together and stars shake and suns quiver.”

I put my hand in the other end of the box and I feel his warm fingers clasp mine.  He gasps and, hidden, we twine our hands together.

“12: I shout My passion between Her breasts, holding the elegant cup of all Creation in My hands."  He stopped, so red he was almost the colour of my shoes.  The Fenjitzas, reading from the scripture prompted him.  "The rain upon my fingers is hot and joyous. I eat of the fruit of Her in ecstasy. Her golden apples burst sweetly against My tongue.”  He was supposed to be looking at me, but he wasn't, he was looking intently at the box with our hands inside.

I could feel his fingers shaking as he slid the glass ring onto my finger and we held hands.  My hands were terribly sweaty. He was blushed so deep a red I was absolutely certain I could feel the heat on the skin of my hand.

 “13: Lady of the fruitful moon My other Self, the eye of Light against the Darkness.  First steps of humankind upon Her breast led them closer to Me.  Cradled upon Her bosom I lay My fiery head in passion and peace and Her Glory reflects and amplifies Me.” 

He smiled and squeezed my fingers.  14: Out of darkness Her Glory shines bright. I sing to Her who I will graciously lay My heart upon, who holds all in Her flaming, silvery hair.  Good Goddess, My wife, the roses upon Her body more beautiful than the earthsphere’s flowers, shadows of those Divine blushes.  All praise to Beauty and Her strength to bear My Inferno and shine back Glory.”

We withdrew our hands and he took my be-ringed hand to raise it for all to see as he spoke the last words. 15: All praise to Her and She reaches forth Her hand to Me. Together.  Let Us sing, oh Graceful One, and shine.”

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

599 - I'm Hungry Now

Jia has a fancy scarf wrapped around under his eyes and over his tentacles, tied in a big fancy bow.  It’s green dots on silver. Little dots and he’s matching the pattern. It’s the same as my suit and I’m a big enough boy that I get to stand up with Kallijas.

I’m standing next to Minis and Jia’s being good.  Laisa’s grandmother said that the animals should come, as long as they didn’t shen on anybody.  Doof is tied by one foot to his perch in Minis’s room with the door closed so he doesn’t find his way out to the Temple and shen all over the bride.

I can see Nuni in the audience and he’s making faces at me to make me giggle at the wrong times, but I won’t.

Kallijas’s little brother is bemas, and he looks a lot happier with his big brother than he used to.  He has the fancy vest with all the tiny pockets in it to carry all the stuff the groom needs.  

Chefenga looks good as first attendant, though it's funny to see the black curls.  Skorsas is perfect next to him, and Niku is dark and the silver attendant's dress makes her stand out on Laisa's side.

I poke Jia to make him be still as the white and pearls and silver wedding dress that’s all over Laisa steps up to our line of men… though I’m still just a boy… Idiesas is behind me.  His armour is all green and white.

The square is packed shoulder to shoulder and everybody sighs when Kallijas the younger escorts his new step mama, Laisa, to make her bows to the Fenjitzas and Fenjitza and they show her to Kallijas.  He looks really calm but he was just saying to Minis that he was scared spitless!  He’s just fooling.  He’s gotta be fooling.  Minis just smiled and gave him water with calming stuff in it from Akminchaer.

Minis is looking a little funny.  I guess because he’s thinking about getting married himself now that he’s asked Ky all right and proper.  She’s over with the bride’s women… all of them wearing silver.  We boys are all in green.

Kallijas takes hold of the top layer of the wedding dress and it's floating off over her head like she’s under a round sun-shield for a klick and because he’s other-handed the pure white layer glides off over to land in the crowd on that side, where it’s picked apart before it falls down below shoulder high.

I like that.  I’m going to like it better when its all done and we get to eat.  The public halls of the Marble Palace are all open and have tables and tables and tables of food.  Jia put a couple of tentacles on my head from my shoulder, adjusting his bow.  I guess he likes it.  The second dress/veil thing comes off and goes off to the other side of the outside crowd and Kall and Laisa step into the Temple.

A High Temple wedding.  Imperators and Regents only got to use the Temple once, but Chefenga changed that.  Anybody who makes a big enough donation can get married in the Temple. The wedding procession goes down the aisle on the carpet that raises her feet off the tile… she’s going to be Regent Imperatrix till my brother ascends.

This is going to take all day and I’m hungry now.  Minis puts his arm around me and Jia pokes me in the head again.  It’s an Imperial wedding and it's going to take all day all day all day.  I must have sighed.  I take a deep breath and stand straight.  I’m gonna honour my buddy Kallijas and his boy who’s bigger an’ older n’ me and he looks like his dad and isn’t slouching and sighing.

But I’m hungry now.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Book 8: Riven By The Sun 598 - My Mother is Determined

Riven By The Sun

Resolved: The Mahid Question to be sent back to committee for further public consultation. 

For – 327
Against – 99
Abstain – 12
Absent – 8


I sat, in my new swimming costume, a long shirt, with my feet in the water.  Laisa floated face up in the pool, braids trailing, eyes closed.  Ky sat next to me, also with her feet in.  There were a hundred swimmers in the Lesser Baths and there was laughter and a lot of shrieking and giggling.  Even if it was indecorus to run, people were certainly chasing each other in the water and the noise was almost enough to drown out the light occasional music from the musician’s gallery.

Doof was likely up there, sitting on music stands and eyeing moving fingers and strikers.  Bella and Eltras were likely making a complete mess of my bed, since neither of them cared for all the splashing.

Of course the musicians were used to the noisy chamber, and the composer was coming up with pieces of music that held up against the echoes and the cachophony.  My first swimming party had been very well received and Ky and I were now throwing joint parties regularly.  The first part would be louder and rather more boisterous, with most of the younger crowd coming then.

After everyone was worn out, the party would dry off and tidy up and decorously sit for kaf and cakes and philosophy and politics.  That would be when the more staid guests would arrive and heavy politiking would ensue.

Assemblyman Goree and his wife and his flock of children were all here… He was the chairman of the Mahid committee and he was speaking with Assemblyman Timen who was organizing the Imperial wedding for Kallijas and Laisa.  I’d have to talk to him a bit later.

This lobe of the pool was a trifle quieter and Ky and I held hands, hidden between us, our wet shifts truly not hiding anything from anyone but giving people the excuse to ‘not see’.  “I’m so glad I have my grandmothers,” Laisa said, quietly.  “I’d be perfectly overwhelmed if not for them… and Kallijas’s grandmother.”

“Oh?  They’re being that much of a help?  Aren’t they too old to –“ I gasped.  Ky’d poked me in the ribs.

“Don’t say a single word more, Minis Aan, if you don’t want to offend either of us,” she said.  “Grandmother was a tremendous help—rest she in Selestialis -- and Granny is still amazing.”

“I have no idea.  I don’t think I would have liked my grandmothers.”

Laisa stood up and wrung water out of her braids.  “You don’t know.  Mahid never showed anything.  You like your grandfather, from what this one can see.”

“Laisa, first names and equal to equal please!  How many times have I asked you?  You’re about to marry Kall.  You’re both so happy you are glowing and it just hasn’t gone away in moons.”

She blushed and sat down on my other side.  “Minis.  I still, still pinch myself when I wake up.”

“It will only be a few more days.  You and Kallijas are going to be tremendously happy.  And when I ascend and you fly off to Yeola-e I’m going to send you more furs than you know what to do with so you don’t freeze to death.”

“Why thank you, I’m sure Skorsas has closet space set aside for us.  I may move into the fur closet in the winter.”

“Are you ready to go into the eight-day preparation?”

She smiled sweetly… “They’ll be lying in wait to ‘carry me off’ formally, right after this party and my mother is determined to scrub all evidence of weapons training off me.  Kall laughed and said he’d still love me even if I came to him all soft and polished.”

“Of course he would!”  I said.  “Or you’d kick his behind!”

Ky twinkled approvingly at me and Laisa laughed.  “Hardly.  I’m going to swim over to the hot pool and then begin getting myself together for the discussion.”  She tipped forward into the water to splash us and we laughed.

Monday, December 5, 2011

597 - We Made a Mess

I laughed until I was wrung out and limp, lying on Gan who was just as limp.  The girls were leaning back against the walls of the gently rocking platform.

Fluffy grumbled and Bella had her big, fat, block head on my gut.  It actually didn’t hurt.  It was as if she pressed the hurt out of my stomach muscles and growled at it if it tried to creep back.

“You know, Minis, Gan, Ky… this just points out to me that we are thinking really well together.  I’m not sure its enough but I think it’s a good start,” Fara said.  She was trying to keep it solemn but then giggled, setting all of us off again. I lay on my back on the gently rocking platform, my lips relaxed and grinning hopelessly foolishly.

Bella still had her nose on me, and then groaned and shifted off, curling up next to us.  All was well as far as she was concerned. My head was on Gan’s stomach, who lay with his head on Fara’s feet.  She and Ky had their arms along the back wall of the platform, wound around each other, their heads together, watching us.

“I have to present the idea of a four to Assembly,” I said as firmly as I could with my gut sore from laughing.  “I don’t want any of my partners seen as lesser partners.”

“They might not like it.” Gan said.  “It may be too Yeoli, or foreign, to them.”

“I am all right with being your alesinas’s wife,” Fara said.

“That’s hardly fair.  You should be an Imperatrix co-equal with Ky.  Though they wouldn’t want any heirs from us.”

She laughed.  “No dark-skinned Imperators or Imperatrixes.”

“You don’t mind?”

Shen, no!”  She turned to kiss Ky’s inner arm where she could reach.  “I am looking forward to curly haired lighter skinned babies with this one.”  She tweaked Gan’s hair as he sat up and we wiggled into a closer knot as he sat up more and my head ended up on his lap.

“This is complicated.”  I was suddenly so relieved, my fear was gone and my whole body hurt with relaxation.  “We don’t need to be afraid.”

“No…” that was so close from the others it was like a single word.  The fact that all of us had gotten rings… creating a new tradition… growing out of the Arkan traditions… all four of us had chosen rings for everyone.

“I’m perfectly happy to have the Empire see me as your alesinas, “ Ganara said.  “Fara as my wife and Ky as your wife.  What happens behind our closed doors is none of their business, as long as we give them the heirs they want… and as long as we are clear on what we are doing.  After a certain point, everyone else’s opinion can go hang off the Rim.”

Ky nodded decisively.  “We are very like a four rather than two couples… but we work both ways.  And are all strong by ourselves.  We can trust each other to not fail…”

“I wouldn’t call it failure, as long as we keep everything honest… and we’re willing to talk… like the way Tanifas says the pack works,” I said.  “Though dogs don’t talk.  They just know.”

“I’m not sniffing your butt to find out how you’re feeling, love,” Gan said.

I grinned up at them all and poked him in the side with my thumb.  “I’m not asking you to.  Have I said in the last half tenth, Kyriala, that you’re beautiful?  My affianced wife.”

“Why, no, my betrothed husband.  You have been remiss and must make it up to me.”

“Oh, of course.  Kyriala you are one of the most beautiful creatures on the Earthsphere and I am so privileged you accepted my suit.  Now I don’t need to get skanking jealous of almost every male my age in your presence.”

“Why thank you, Minis.  You are one of the most beautiful young men… even if you are not third threshold you are a young man… it is my privileged to accept.  I needn’t be terrified you’ll fall in love with some other blond aitza flow-head.”

“As if!”  Fara snorted.  “The two of you throw words back and forth like a whipped faib disk.  My neck gets sore snapping back and forth between you!”

“Hardly,” Gan said and she reached to kiss him.  When he caught his breath he continued.  “You’re smart as a whipcrack and keep me from going off half-reefed, my dear.”

I stretched and my head rubbed up against Gan enough to make him twitch.  “Let’s face it… none of us are stupid… but us boys have a specific deficit in that department.”  That got everyone laughing.  Ky reached to hold a rock-tail piece over my face.

“You were so worked up, before, that you didn’t eat a single full bite.  Will you now?”

Now that she mentioned it, I was starving.  I popped my mouth open and she put the morsel into it.  And that was the cue for us to all start feeding each other.  By the time Fluffy had made her careful walk twice all the way around the wood, we’d made a little mess.

A few days later I recieved a very noisy air parcel, yelling in multiple languages.

Dear Minis:

The note was attached to a squawking, shaking parrot basket.

Thank you for the return of Kvas Venga Doof Fili, Doof for short, as there was much consternation among my household once it was discovered that she'd gone missing.

However, once she was back and we knew her whereabouts, we had a heartfelt family conversation about it, and decided that if she had such deep affection for you as she showed during your visit, and strength of will as to make such a journey to be with you, she really ought to be with you permanently.

So we present her to you as a gift and hope you and she may enjoy many happy years together.

Best wishes for your impending betrothal, if it is still impending, and much love from all of us,

Virani-e Chevenga

Friday, December 2, 2011

596 - Give Me the Lookers!

“Shush, shush, be quiet or they’ll catch us!”

“Well, give me the lookers!  To actually draw the pictures I need to see!”

“I need to write the story or the High Editor won’t buy the pretty pictures you draw!”

“Ow…ooch…It was my mother’s sister’s second cousin’s aunt by marriage who heard that he was going to ask her today and where.  So give me the lookers!  Ow.”

“Hey, hey!  I fixed them! Quit yelling, even hissing, they’ll hear us. I re-ground the lens that was broken!”

“Shhhh… shhhh.  They’re leading the horses back.  We need to get closer!”

“We can’t do that, his security’ll lock us up for an eight-day… one writer who wouldn’t take no for an answer, and they said he was encroaching on reserved property!”

“That’s just a story, Irina!”

“It is the truth!  My brother delivers to the Marble Palace and you just shush Paflas!  Oh, oh, look there we have a perfect view of the top of that mamoka thing and the picnic they’re having just like I said!  Oh… Elegant and cool in silver, the Spark of the Sun’s Ray Elect rose to his knees, oh shen I broke my pencil!”

“I can see from here.  I’m going to be able to draw from what I saw before.  Keep describing what’s happening.  I’ll just dig this thorn out of my rear while you do!”

“Don’t be such a baby, nobody would think that anybody would be able to climb up here.  It’s a perfect view of this whole side of the greensward.”


Now I held my breath as she stared at me.  Then her lips curled up and she reached out her hand and laid her glove gently over my hand holding the ring.  “I will.”  She said and I could start breathing again.  “But…”

But? But? I sat down right there in front of her, the gentle rocking of Fluffy’s walk moving me back and forth.  I didn’t pull my hand back.  She'd curled her fingers around my hand so we were holding that hand… glove against glove, the ring between our palms.

She extended her other hand and opened it so I and Gan and Fara could see.  In her palm, were three rings.  “I wasn’t sure how to ask this… to say this… but I think… we should… can we all—“

Gannara started laughing again and fell right over, rolling on the floor of the platform and Fara was smiling, smiling…

She held out her own hand and had a different set of rings and even as he writhed on the floor, Gan pulled a jeweller’s pouch out and waved it at us, helplessly wordless, howling with laughter.  “I… thought… I went to… I got… rings...”

Fara leaned back against the platform wall at her back and just giggled, waving her closed hand and as Ky let go my hand I pulled out the rings I had in my other glove pocket. 

The rings I had for Gan and Fara. We all held our hands out to each other… everyone had rings for everyone else. I started laughing and fell over sideways into Gan and Bella rushed over and began licking our faces wildly.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

595 - She Like

I hung onto my temper with everything I had and took a deep breath.  Gan had no idea I wanted this to be so good.  He was just teasing me as if everything were normal.  Ky wasn’t upset.  She… and Fara both looked very happy.  The dog, Bella, ran along side me, her tongue hanging out and even she was grinning.

Erl was there to escort us to the waiting mamoka.  “Sers, Serinas.”  It would all be fine, I told myself.  They were all happy and the mamoka was beautifully turned out, as only Mil’s staff could do.  Not only was the gigantic creature’s fur dyed in Arkan coloured stripes, its trappings were red with bronze mirrors.  It had beads and mirrors braided into the fur around its enormous eyes.  It reached out its trunk to sniff, then made a huffing, rumbling noise.

The mahu, dressed in the same red and gold as his charge, bowed and said “Serina… she… Tzitky---Fluffy...”  Mil had gotten an enormous laugh when he’d announced her at his party, and re-named her since he couldn’t pronounce the full Lakan name.  “...she ask for see Serina’s fan.”

The tips of her trunk, that looked like two darkly coloured fingers, waved at Ky’s fan, hanging from her wrist.  “ is a she?  She wants to eat my fan?”

The mahu laughed... “No, Serina... just play.  She gentle.”

“Oh... well, I suppose.”  Ky unclipped her fan from her wrist and held it out to the enormous beast, who actually hesitated before reaching and taking it from her hand.  “She is very gentle.”

The mamoka... Fluffy... had astonishingly long eyelashes and she waved the fan before her face as gently as... well... as Ky.  Who laughed delightedly.  “Oh, you are very fashionable, Fluffy!  Just the perfect dress for the Fortunate Fifty!”

“Excellent tailor, Serina!” Gan said, bowing to the mamoka.  The fan paused and then the mamoka folded it shut, rapped Gan on the head with it as reprovingly as any aunty or granny and passed it back to Kyriala, who just giggled harder, as Fara and I just fell over.  Even the mahu was grinning.

“She like Serina,” he said.  “Ladder here.”


Fluffy sauntered through the forest, sunshine falling in bars through the cool green shade.  The Marble Palace... my staff... had outdone themselves.  The rock-fish in butter was melting but wasn’t mushy and didn’t fall apart off our eating picks.

The wines were perfect.  The beef perfectly aged and succulent.  I tasted everything but was so knotted I couldn’t swallow.  Bella... who wouldn’t stay with the horses but insisted on being boosted up onto the mamoka’s platform with us... after Fluffy sniffed her... came over and thrust her nose in my lap as I sat on my cushion.  I was stalling again.

Ky’s emerald and silver skirts puddled around her, with her hair, white and silver fan flashing.  I took a deep breath and pulled out the ring surrepticiously, ignoring Gan who nudged Fara, both of them watching with smiling intent.  Just wait, you two. I got up and, bracing myself against the swaying of the platform, gave her my most heartfelt bow, holding out the split ring to her.

“Most Radiant Serina... Kyriala Tathana Silfia Liren, would you gift me with the honour of being my beloved wife?  Would you bless me with your marriage lock?”


My thanks to Vicky Borean for the photo of Ky's fan, above.