The offices of the Imperial road services were in the second above street level, Imiriaenium Halls, of the bureaucratic side of the Marble Palace. Kallijas was above in the Highest Office. He had no interest in tormenting the man but handed his fate over to Chevenga, after hearing the story. I was prurient enough, and angry enough that I wanted to at least hear. I’d met Komona Shae Ranga-e on my visits to Vae Arahi.
Eosenas had been the assistant to the Governor of Yeola-e during the war, and had taken Komona as his slave during that time.
She was one of their monks to their All-Spirit and one of the gentlest Yeolis I knew. Kyriala and Laisa both liked her and they had gone down to the Vae Arahi grove with her. While Kallijas and I’d gone up to see Sukala, actually. I was shaking with rage and I didn’t even know her well.
I stopped and leaned against a pedestal with a bust of Idiran somebody or other, Minister of Roads some hundreds of years ago. I was just outside the office door in earshot. Eosenas was an under Minister in his own right and rated a private office.
The scrape of his chair as Chevenga entered without knocking, leaving the door wide open. “Oh, Imp...umm... Former...ummm Semanakrseye...”
“I want a word with you.”
Eosenas’s voice shook as he answered. I could imagine Chevenga’s look. “How can I help you, Ser?”
Another scrape. I assumed Chevenga sat down, probably to a spasmodic indication from the bureaucrat. A bit like looking up from work to find Muunas Himself bearing down on you from the sky above.
“I have a letter for you that I intend to watch you read. Here.” Rustle of paper. “It is from a former lover of mine... with whom you are also acquainted.”
“Oh? I hope he is well... How do I know him, Ser?” The crack of a seal being opened.
“Her. The letter will make that clear.”
A long moment’s pause and then a gasp I could hear out in the hall. It sounded as if Eosenas really needed to see a healer if he wheezed like that all the time. A gulp. "Are you... going to kill me, Ser?"
“Kill you? No. You didn't kill her.”
The sound of water trickling. From the sound it seemed like Eosenas had been about due for a visit to the garderobe since it seemed quite explosive as he voided himself.
Silence. I imagined that Eosenas, caught in the fires of Chevenga’s angry gaze, wouldn’t dare move. He may have dropped the letter out of his hands but I wouldn’t be able to hear that from out here.
“Besides...” Chevenga’s voice was almost gentle. That kind of calm from him would make anyone lose their bladder control. “It depends on what you do.”
“Ssseeerrr?” The man must be quivering like a leaf for his voice to shake so.
Chevenga repeated, very slowly and carefully, as if to a mentally defective person. “It depends on what you do. Our fate always depends on our choices.”
His voice barely above a whisper, Eosenas asked, “What do you want me to do, ser?”
“I? Doesn't matter what I want you to do.”
There was a confused silence from inside the office... Eosenas, you fool, it isn’t what you do for Chevenga... he wants you to react to KOMONA. To somehow see her as a person, not as a bed-slave that you had purified.
“I... don't understand...” Fool. Fool. Fool! The only way you’ll get any kind of mercy is to start thinking of Komona, not yourself or the Imperator Emeritus sitting in front of you.
“I'm not the one you harmed. At least not directly.”
“Maybe I should suggest something simple, like licking up you piss. Do enough of it and it stains the marble.” His voice was dry as the reservoir after street washing.
A rustle of cloth. If I were him, I’d already have been on my face sucking it up. Wet noises as he re-ingested his piss off the floor. I imagined Chevenga leaning on one elbow, just watching. “What I want? Tell the truth, it would be to slice off the tip of your dick, burn it to bloodlessness with a brand and then shove the brand up your ass and leave it there until it cooled. Closest I can think of, with the anatomical differences. But, alas, that would be illegal.” Another longish pause as his regard kept Eosenas pinned flat to the floor in the damp remnants he couldn’t lick up. A faint smell of piss crept out and under my nose, undercutting the beeswax sweetness of the floor polish. “I also know Komona would never want it, as you might gather from the letter. So, it matters not what I want.... any idea what does?”
“You think she wants your apology?” Terrified silence from Eosenas. It very much had the sense of the kind of terror of the frog already in the snake’s jaws. I was reminded of feeding my grandfather’s venomous pets. His career was over, his long term prospects for living were very limited, for an action he’d caused more than five years ago and probably never thought of again. I was reminded of my new acquaintance and former bridge thug, Entera. He’d certainly been quicker on the uptake than Eosenas was.
A sob wrung out of a man not used to weeping. “Sser? What... can I do for her... that...sshheee might want? Sser?” Tears are better, Eosenas. Not good, because they could be tears of fear for yourself, but better.
“Get a grip on yourself. You're not helping anyone.”
A bureaucrat came bustling down the hall, his nose buried deep in his papers. Head down he didn’t notice me and came right past. “Under Minister of Crushed Aggregate, this lowly worm begs the attention of the exalted one concerning the Korsardiana re-paving project... oh.” He looked up to see the little scene playing out in the office. A sniff as he took in the smell. “The exalteds are, um, busy. This one... Sorry Imperator Emeritus.” He was gone down the hall so quickly he might have just evaporated where he stood.