Thursday, March 22, 2012

654 - Get the... Interview

“You’re here and not here.  The Ten won’t let me out.  Don’t I need to go out?” It felt like I was buzzing in his ear like an air-dragon.

C’s shoulder was steady in this unsteady, unreal place ... like a rock in the rapids, something to cling to.  He didn’t turn his head to look at me, but he was looking at me, somehow.  “No, you need to stay here,” he says, utterly calmly.  “You’re safe, don’t worry.  You’ll know exactly where you are going in a moment.”

“Safe? I don’t remember.  Did I do my Ten Tens?  I don’t remember. I remember getting ready this morning, but nothing after that.”

The Arkan seer... Soira?  I couldn’t remember, she was staring at me.  She could see me.  Her hands were up over her mouth and she looked from me to the High God and back as if she were praying.  I wanted to tell her she didn’t need to be frightened.  There was nothing to be frightened of, here.

“Yes, you did them, and the Gods declared you Their true son.  Don’t worry, all is well.  They are right here with us.”

Sukala could see me too.  She grinned her ‘boy do you have a lot to learn yet’ and ‘serene, life is a joke’ smile at me.  She didn’t look worried. “Having fun?” she said.  “I think so,” I answered.

The Fenjitza waved at me as if at a falcon that had slipped its jesses, as if to lure me or to tell me not to go anywhere, and she called the Fenjitas’s attention to me.  He gave me a look that was stern but not angry or upset particularly.  Concerned.  Hey, if the Ten let me out of the Temple I bet I’d go straight on to somewhere else... at least I think so.  Um.  Shouldn’t I be more concerned about that?  My body gets concerned, and frightened and does awful things to itself out of fear.  It’s good that there is no fear here, at least not close as a spouse or an alesinas.  When I think about it I can feel faint echoes of fear but that’s almost more rising off other people’s spirits, like a scent of sweat raised by a body burning hot, with fever, with work or with exertion of some kind.

“All right.” I said to Virani-e.  “As Ili says ‘that blows’ that I can’t remember the greatest religious experience of my life!”

“It’ll come back,” Virani-e said.  “Healers have ways... think of Surya.”He wasn’t there but I was sure that if he were he’d be seeing me too.

“All right.  Hey, look at that lightning ball... it’s amazing.  I really think I should go have a look. Ky’s calling me.”

“Yes, go.  I’ll talk to you later.”  There was this sense of being surrounded by love like I was still a water-lion swimming in it; a vastness and an all-encompassing feeling.  It was like being loved by something so big that I was a tiny seed in a wheat field to It, but I was known as myself at the same time - and loved for being myself.

“I love you, Virani-e.”

“I love you too, Minis.  Imperator.  My son-in-spirit.”

That made me wiggle with embarrassment but bask in it too as I flipped over, off his shoulder and my glass wings zipped me up to this wall made out of lightning bolts.  I wasn’t frightened at all and dove into it and everything went even more strange.


Exerpt from Intharas’s Journal:

We were right at the bottom of the Temple steps with a perfect view.  A naked as a fikken baby new, squeaky-scorched clean Imperator who’s just been through one of the most shen-eating fikken dangerous rites in all Arko is standing there, grinning like he’s a madman – as well he should – and been declared that the pup did it.  The Temple itself says he’s the one the dog-mothering Ten want and there’s Shefenkas yelling as he steps out onto this side of the Temple columns that there is a dart and there’s this bright red, killing-feathered dart standing in Minis’s chest.

I’ve seen enough venomous darts in my day that it was kind of obvious.  I’d never heard of anybody surviving one of those.   

Guard Captain Idiesas is already moving sparked by Shefenkas’s bellow I’m sure, bulls past the Fenjitzae, knocking them aside like feather-weighted ten-pins, drags the kid inside and lays him down and that’s when the shen really started spraying off the high-speed cart wheels. 

The Temple is making this roaring, shrieking noise and it was like crabbed tendrils of light poured up the columns on either side of the Temple door and then there’s lightning flying everywhere.  I just saw the trailing edge of the Imperatrix’s sleeve where it was burned off as the Imperator was enclosed in a ball of lightning fed from the Temple columns.

Damiana’s noteboard hit the ground, though to her credit her more valuable pen did not.

Roras is droning in an undertone, as he keeps scribbling... a rumble of curses almost a monotone in my ear. “... dog mother of the fikken Ten just when we thought things were going to settle down some to something approaching normal the fikken, shennen, kevyalin, dog nosed relative of a diseased knot-camel and a flea-ridden, sun-addled, viper bitten, water-brained child of siblings shoots the new Imperator and thinks he’s going to fikken, shennen, get fikken praised...” Roras had a way to go before he mastered the fine art of invective but he was certainly working on it, and with an international flair too.

The kid... I still won’t admit I like him.  He’s an Aan.  It’s one of my religions to not like Aans.  The noise ws overwhelming and a bit like having a thunderstorm right on top of you, or a ten of  empty beer wagon towed by a score of draft horses each roll just past your head.  Don’t ask me how I know how that sounds. The kid, with a poisoned dart in his chest, had just been taken over by the Temple.  No one can reach through... Hayel no one can even see through the brightness just inside the Temple doors.  There’s drops of gold flying from the edges of the ball of lightning as things melt.

“Boss, how do I describe that?!” She’s gotten her noteboard back and in hand.

“First rule of breaking news:  write what you see.  EVERYBODY can see this; so it’s not like they’ll have trouble believing you.  Hayel, if they don’t read it tomorrow, half of ‘em will convince themselves they didn’t see it.”

“Lightning out of a column, boss?  Balled up on the tile like a snarl of lightning yarn with the Imperator and Imperatrix inside?”

“We get fifty or sixty reports of balled-up lightning a year.   And . . . have you ever heard the myth of Tesselas’ Coils?”

An aside from Roras “A man driven insane by Risae... learned how to call lightning... that was what the lightning tower was supposed to be, instead of killing all the fools who piled their broken mechanisms around the bottom. Some say his name was Iklas Tesselas.”

“Roras, you’re fikken fired for stealing my barnacle-encrusted gem of a story.”

“Thank you, Boss,” says he but kept writing, looking up and writing again.

The pup, damn her eyes, was still just standing there. “But... yes boss.”  She said just as I open my mouth to give her a gentle admonishment.  She looked mulish but started writing again, finally.

“I’m not saying this is the same thing, and neither should you, but if the man was inspired by Risae, then it’s easily possible the Temple’s version can do something a madman couldn’t.”

“Boss, as much as I’d like to stay and watch this,” Roras says.  “I figure I need to find out if the assassin survived the mob.”

“Fik, I forgot all about him.  Yes.  Go. The dyed whelp can write about lightning striking Aan; she’ll love the chance to wax poetic.”  She sniffed, making her glass nose ornament jingle but didn’t look up from her board.

This was truly unlike me.  Clean, sober, upright. Quiet.  Like I was fikken struck by shennen lightning.

The dart, coming out of the crowd just as the Imperial robe was about to be placed on Aan, was as shocking as lightning.  After all of the turmoil, after all of the ‘Imperator by Conquest’ and then the ‘Imperatrix Who Got Voted Out’ and the election and the Regency... who knows up from down from fikken sideways?  And if it was the Unomas behind this, who knew that crazy, self-named garbage eating dogsboy would go this far?  Would dare this much? If it was him at all.

Hoom. A whelp scribbles away, while the veteran newshound snoops the scoop on some dart-wielding poop. What remains for an old writer to do, but wait and see?  I raised my own note board.  “Talk to the Fenjitzae... after... whatever... is he alive in there?  If he is get the commode-scouring, scum lapping, smegma spewing interview.


Kafiras Loren:  senior writer for the Donkey’s Mouth focusing on subjects of interest to upper-caste women – scribbled almost illegible notes.

“Imperial Mother, steadfast and trained as only the women of the Mahid can be, was seen attempting to protect the Imperatrix but was thwarted by the woman herself as she evaded the Imperial Mother’s reaching grasp to fling herself into danger at her husband’s side.

Inensa Mahid stands, apparently calm, gazing upon the lightning wall separating her from her holy charge and from her son, as close to protecting the Imperatrix as is allowed by the Ten.

Meanwhile, the Imperatrix remains at the Imperator’s side, seemingly trapped but unharmed inside the - damn, is that lightning? Fire?  a dome of crackling light? - whatever it is that is struck repeatedly by the lightning arcing from the temple columns.  The noise is deafening even at this one’s distance, like the very world’s fabric is being ripped at impossible volumes, to the detriment of anyone’s ability to hear what is going on closer to the stricken Imperator.

The Imperial Pharmacist has moved to her back, a white column in his robes, as unmoving as his daughter as they wait to see the results of the Temple’s unprecedented activity, while the Coronet Regal elect is nowhere in evidence, whisked off to some place of safety at the first sign of attack on his elder brother...”

My sincere thanks to Karen for Chevenga's part in the first half. Tip o' the hat to Minis's father in spirit.

Thanks to Toast for Intharas's point of view and to Cap for Kafiras's.  Hat tip to the reporters of Arko! 


  1. That was great. I loved the out-of-body adventure, and the touches of humor in just the right places ("that blows" and the pen).