Monday, March 26, 2012

656 - Guest Post by Karen

A Guest Post from Ivaen Chevenga

Idis, cover him!

Excerpt from the memoirs of Fourth Chevenga Shae-Arano-e, Book XIII
compiled by the Workfast Literary of Yeola-e; Aletheya Athal, editor, Y. 1560

I let myself sink back into the world of the material.  He came into view as the flames shrank down into the floor, sitting on the God’s lap like a human flame.

“Behold, Arko,” the massive voice of the Temple said.  “Our true son.”

Do you believe in yourself now, Minis? 

The crowd raised the chant, Yesterday Minis, today Minis, tomorrow Minis, forever Minis, as he came down, moving liquidly like in a dream.  He went to his knees, pulled there by the chant, like my father had when the people had called him out for the Kiss of the Lake.  Then he went down all the way, into the prostration.  As ever, a sincere one is a striking sight.  I wished I’d thought of it and done it myself, after my Ten Tens; but he was an Arkan, given to expressing himself in Arkan ways.

There was a falter in the chanting, and the Fenjitzae on either side of him both leaned down to him, then someone bellowed, “Gehit!”  A Dyer, I would swear; part of the culture they have wrought for themselves is a certain accent.  There was a big laugh, as Minis got up, laughing himself.

Now he would be anointed, and Narilla began untangling the circlet of glass from his hair, but he was saying something insistently that I could not hear for the din, and then they moved towards the great doors.  I gathered he wanted to be anointed there, where everyone outside could see.  I heard the crowd outside send up a shattering roar as they saw him.  As the Fenjitzae began touching the oil to him, we who were close to him got up as one, to get behind him out when he went.  I was near the head of it, with Kyriala, Inensa and Kall.  Idiesas was an arms-length behind him.  I have it all vivid in my memory, where each person was, as you do when you wonder how things would have been different if someone had been in a slightly different place.

Myself, more than anyone else.  More than anything, I wish I had informally been part of the Honour Guard.  Formality forbade it, of course—I was a visiting head of state and former Imperator—but one can do anything, informally.  I could have been standing by the doors.  But I’d had no way to know beforehand the necessity.  Because a Ten Tens crowd outside is generally unarmed, and my mind had always been on what I was doing inside, I could not know my weapon-sense was blinded from certain angles if I were inside the Temple during a Ten Tens.  I had never had the experience of it being partly useless before in my life.

As I stepped closer to the centre of the golden floor and the outside crowd came into sight, just as the Fenjitzae were lifting the Imperial Robe to lay on his shoulders, a kill-dart not ten paces from the doors and aimed at him flared up all but blinding, appearing as if from around an obstruction, like a sight—I weapon-sensed the edge, then half, then all of the tube—as I moved.  I split off from myself, my mind frozen in asking what, how can that be!?, my body making my voice scream “Minis a dart MOVE Idis cover him!”

Everyone in the elite darya semanakraseyeni has been trained, from childhood by Azaila if they were in the School of the Sword, or relentlessly in adulthood by Tyirian, if they joined as adults: when Chevenga gives a fast order for which you can see no reason, obey instantly anyway.  He’s weapon-sensed something.  Thus they all do it instinctively, moving almost at the same time I speak or sign, and any number of lives and limbs have been saved by that speed in my wars.  Krero and Perha were right beside me now, for instance, swords drawn; I’d yelled in Arkan so they didn’t know what else to do, but they knew the tone.

But neither Idiesas nor anyone else in the Blessed of the Sun ever took that training.  Nor did Minis.

He stood still, startled.  Idiesas began to move, but only after the time it took him to think out how I could know and thus why I’d yelled, which was far too long, far more than enough time for the dart to snap out of the tube.  It came, etching along its path like a firebrand on the skin of my soul, straight at Minis’s chest.

Time slowed.  I heard myself yell “Kaninjer go to Minis!”, and I felt, like a sword in my guts, the dart bang to a stop in his flesh.  Now Idiesas, who was in command here, was yelling orders, “Close the doors!  Honour Guard to me!” and grabbing Minis, who staggered back against him.  Everyone’s bodyguards did their duty, Inensa getting between Kyriala and the doors, the Mahid women closing around them, Janirias thrusting Ili behind the feet of the statue of Oas, mine doing their best to keep up with me as I ran toward the doors, pointing.  “Idis it was just one no other he dropped it and ran that way!”  I used my battlefield voice; far louder than the cries of the crowd was a sound half-alive like the scream of a bird and half-metallic like a bell, except it was far more huge than any bird or bell could be, was all through the air instead of coming from any one place, and did not end, quavering between two notes as steadily as a machine.  I realized: it was the Temple.

The air crackled, as I’ve heard it does before lightning strikes; Idiesas laid Minis down just inside the doors and Kyriala slipped Inensa and dashed ahead of me, shrieking his name.  There was something strange about the way Idiesas laid him down, I thought; it was hard to think, suddenly, as if the noise was sending spikes into my mind, which made me want to draw Chirel.  I felt my hair all over rise.  He was locked rigid.  Like a cold corpse.  The reality that he must be dead and my heart’s begging that he not be warred in me.  All my weapon-sense was fading, I realized; I could barely sense Krero and Perha’s blades.  It’s the Temple.  Something told me to look up at the two columns of the great doors.  Around the heads of them there was a sudden glow, like purple-white fire.  Like something living, it gathered itself into one purple-gold bolt of lightning from each column to where Minis lay with Kyriala holding him, and formed a dome of standing lightning-bolts around them.  Saving him, as it saved me from a mortal wound.

What is needed here is calm, though you do not feel it, the wiser voice in me said.  The inside crowd was in pure panic; next they’d be trampling each other.  I held out my arms, yelled to everyone my voice could reach, “It’s all right, he’ll live, he’s being saved, it’s all right!”

Go into the state.  There is one who needs it more than any other.  It was easy, when I had just been in it so deeply.  I had learned how to do it while I had no weapon-sense in a forest near Terera.  “There is not even the thickness of skin, between you and Us.”  Above the dome a tendril of more subtle light, light I only see because I am in the state, forms a silver spiral upward from Minis’s body, its end flying erratically like a confused insect; the further away it flies, the fainter the trail of light joining it to his flesh becomes.  It streaks down, darts straight to me, hovers for a moment on wings like a dragonfly’s, except they are Arkan glass, then alights on my shoulder.  “Chevenga, what is happening?  Where am I?  My chest is burning. You’re here and not here.  The Ten won’t let me out.  Don’t I need to go out?”

It is Minis’s soul.  If he goes out, he is dead.

Of course he is the one who needs calm more than any other.  “No, you need to stay here,” I say evenly, remembering how it was, all those times, for myself.  “You’re safe, don’t worry.  You’ll know exactly where you are going in a moment.”  When the Temple has done what it must do to make his body able to sustain life again, he will be drawn back to it.

I do not hear his words through my ears, but through my mind.  He seems younger, like a child again.  He does not know what is happening.  “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.”

“Yes, you are safe.  Yes, you did them, and the Gods declared you Their true son.  Don’t worry, all is well.  They are right here with us.”  I see other people see him, those who can: Sukala, Narilla, Radas, Soraia.  Some of them have soul words for him, all saying, in their different ways, “Stay.”

“As Ili says, that blows that I can’t remember the greatest religious experience of my life.”  You did not do it for yourself, I want to say; but that subjectiveness is a good sign, a sign that he is still bound to his body.  Flesh alone cares about losing things.  I should speak to him as if he is alive. 

“It’ll come back,” I tell him.  “Healers have ways... think of Surya.”  I was never supposed to remember my stream-test.

What he needs, I see, is the same thing he always needed.  I gather my intent, remembering him as a child in the Mezem, so desperate and so open that in a way he freed me, reminding me that for all my helplessness in chains, my love still had power.  As a man, gaining pride, he lost much of that openness, but now it is back, entire.  I call to the Ten, and to All-Spirit, and will love to him, as vast as it can be when one links oneself to the Divine while loving.

“All right,” he says, in answer to what I said about regaining the memory.  “Look at that lightning ball... it’s amazing.  I think I should go have a look...  Ky’s calling me.”  In forgetting that fleshly life means fear and loss of this freedom, he is drawn back to it by fascination, and love. The curling line of silvery light between him and his body brightens.

“Yes, go.  I’ll talk to you later.”  He will awake to terror; to gird him against it, I intensify the intent of love.

“I love you, Virani-e,” he whispers.

“I love you too, Minis, Imperator, my son-in-spirit.”  He leaps off my shoulder, the glassy buzz of his wings deafening for a moment by my ear, and zips along the light-cord—the life-cord—soaring in an arc over the lightning-dome then diving like a mad winger into the top of it.  I make my material vision fade, intensify my spiritual vision so that I can see through the eye-searing bolts.  He streaks back into his own head through his brow.

My sincere thanks for Karen's Chevenga/Virani-e's point of view.


  1. LOve It. Love it. Love it.

    Perfect in every way.

  2. Thank you very much. We aim to please.