Wednesday, February 29, 2012

638 - Increments of Infinite

The access to the Gods is not limited.  This is not a single tiny child’s loaf being divided up among millions so that every person obtains a single crumb, or some starve. This is as many whole loaves, each one to feed a working man, as there are millions.  Radas explained very carefully that the Gods, unlike mortals, understand both the infinite and the eternal. 

When it comes to Their regard, Their love, Narilla told me that it is as if there is infinite attention available for every individual.  Infinite love for the asking... every person, every animal, every vibrating speck of creation.  So for me to fear that the Ten loved that solas more than me was as valid as a four year old being afraid of falling off the Earthsphere because it ceased to like him.

It is a mortal thing to clip everything, physical things, feelings and happenings, everything into pieces. This not that. This much, no more. This is inside.  That is outside. This is above that. That is below this. This is named.  This is unnamed.  It is what defines us.  Mortality is an apportionment of time and one reason it is precious to us.  But it is also a weakness.  It raises the idea of scarcity and limits. If one person has this much, we believe there will be less for someone else. but that is a madness we inflict on ourselves. 

The Gods work in increments of infinite, as well as the reverse.

I held my breath.  He was Arkan. One of my people who I had learned to love against all odds, against all reason. “Do you know his name?” I whispered in an aside to Idiesas.

“Metkias,” he whispered back.  “Metkias Atimistas.”

“Thank you, I said. I had to remind myself that this man was one of my people.  An alien idea to the vast majority of Arko that I should belong to them. This was his risk to take but I wanted him to be safe.  Metkias could think what he liked of me, anything from hatred to merely upset that I was Aan, or angry that I would try to claim this power... it all didn’t matter.  It could not change what I felt. I wanted him to be safe.  On the deepest level he and I were brothers, separated only by the superficial influence of time, a miniscule klick in the eyes of the Ten.  His spirit... Ten, please keep my brother, Metkias Atimistas safe, as he attempts this most holy of tests.

He flung himself into the full solas prostration, palms and forearms smacking on the Marble, and when he got up it was with humility and grace.  The great broom that Anae held came to him and he danced her ten steps, cradling the symbol of the lowest work as if it were steel or gold.

The broom settled back into the Goddess’s hands with a click similar to the one when the Temple doors opened, thrumming up through the soles of the feet. He turned to Oas and the choir’s voice rang high, not singing in words, just sound.  The great stone lowered to the Temple floor, settling the last hand span with a boom that shook some of the watching, standing children off their feet.

I saw Metkias brace himself, set himself to do the impossible.  He tenderly laid a hand on the stone as if it were a horse he was gentling or a dog that could savage him.  He bent and positioned his hands to lift and his muscles hardened as his breath burst out of him in a long hiss.

It was impossible but my heart went out to him.  Then I saw it, the stone shifted.  It lifted.  A fingerwidth, three... a full palm high.  The crowd cried out, an incredulous shriek.  He lifted and the stone came up, held high.  He danced Oas’s steps underneath the stone as the choir chanted the holy work hymn.  The stone came down with another boom and Metkias stood, flexing his hands.  His tunic was soaked dark, almost transparent with sweat.

He shook himself out and straightened, staring straight up the nave into Muunas’s gaze.  Like a man reporting to a commander, he stood with what I saw as longing before his eyes dropped from the High God’s regard, and turned to the dekinae attending.  “I surrender the test.  This is where I must, in honour, cease.” As solas his God is Aras.  Is he somehow drawn to Muunas?

“All praise, to the attempt.  Praise the Ten,” the dekinas said and laid a hand on his shoulder to escort him to the door.

“Praise the Ten,” he answered, with the prayer sign. The crowd cheered him as he walked out in honour.

The drums began their wild pounding once more and every eye in the Temple turned to me.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

637 - He is God Touched

The Fenjitzae waited for an excruciating time though it couldn’t have been long, no more that a fraction of a tenth, but the doors did nothing.  The Temple did nothing.  A dekinas touched me on the shoulder.  It was my turn.  

I rose as best I could but still managed to stumble on thin air, tried to set it aside.  Faces all around me were a blur.  Kallijas was there, Virani-e, I could see his dark hair as I turned.  I was supposed to be meditating here and what was I doing?  My gut was cramping and I was worried if I stumbled?

The solas man looked nervous.  “It’s all right,” I said as I passed him to lay my hands upon the doors.  “Everything happens here under the eyes of the Ten.  No shame in that.”
There was a flash of emotion across his face, shame, relief, worry, anger then it was gone under calm.  He nodded.

I laid my hands on the cool steel of the Temple doors and felt the building pulse under my hands.  I told myself I shouldn’t think of a building like a horse.  Surely it would be rude to imagine petting the doors reassuringly?  I opened my mouth and called “Nuyuzer!” It was like a weight of gold on my tongue, more real than normal words.

There was no immediate response and I thought, crazily ‘What happens if it doesn’t open at all?’  Then I felt the tingle in my hands, the rumble under my feet and with an enormous click the doors opened.  I stepped back as they swung towards me.

As my guard stood around me, Idiesas to my right, the sensation of being swept along by something greater than I welled up and my chest was filled to bursting with it.  I was running toward the edge of the cliff and my hang-check was in the Gods’ hands.  My tipped-back head let me see one of the Temple crystals scintillating above as though more than light rushed through it.

The crowd surged into the newly opened Temple as we stood to one side, letting the people flow past us.  The pretender and I.  He was watching me, covertly glancing sideways under nearly closed eyelids and I felt like an absolute innocent, eyes wide open, wanting to see the faces of the people who would be closest to me when I did this ritual.

Some were talking excitedly to their friends and family as they filed in.  Others looked as though they were half in the spirit world themselves.  Some reminded me of Sukala with their open faces, while others were screwed tight into the middle of their skulls with either their pain or their rage.  Or their fear.

Where had that thought come from?

The noon chime sounded just as I stepped to my waiting mark and everyone... Virani-e included, cupped our hands to our temples and sang the noon prayer. The mass of voices thrilled me deeper even somehow than the feeling still tingling through my hands from the Temple doors.  Rich, quavering, soaring old voices blending with the deep rumble of solas and Aitzas men, used to cadence-song.  The eerie high descants from the women flying above, all melding into something far greater than any one... or any few voices.  I felt tears spring to my eyes.  The prayer said ‘We are Arko’ more than any other declaration I could think of.

The men’s and boy’s choir, hidden up above, took up the last notes of the noon prayer and sang the ancient call to the Imperator and in turn their voices were joined and then superceded by the great glass instrument in the Temple wall, played by the water pouring through it.  An unearthspherely sound.  Odd and Godly.

The Fenjitzas sang and said the invocation afterwards and then the pounding of drums began, hammering against my body like a fist of sound at first.  Then it steadied down to one enormous drumbeat.  A heartbeat.  Slow and steady and almost more felt than heard.

The Fenjitzae led the solas pretender to the starting point, and stepped back to give him room before the gigantic statue of Anae.  His head tipped up and up and he gazed into her face, his own face filled with light.  He is God touched.  I can see that. They speak to him.

Monday, February 27, 2012

636 - Nua yu zer

The Fenjitzae and Dimae’s guard waited for me when I stepped out of the bedroom suite before Rim dawn the next morning.  Kallijas was there and with him Virani-e who nodded encouragingly as I stepped out of my love’s supportive hands and into the hands of the Goddess’s guards.

They pulled my nightclothes off me, re-enacting the myth of the man turned into a stag.  But instead of me becoming beastly, they led me to the elaborate, all morning washing and dressing ritual.  I would be ready, barely, by the Chime of Noon.

I was anointed with a scent for each of the Ten, and then washed. I had to hold my breath for the heliotrope. I was certain that Virani-e would have had to fight to endure that.

I felt as though I was raw and tender as they held a loincloth for me to step into. The ritual sandals were next and the rings on them made them awkwardly heavy.

A gold headband held my hair off my face.  Fenjitzas reverently placed the Imperial Seals, from Muunas’s lap, onto my hands before I paced the sacred way that Imperators had walked to this ritual, from time immemorial.

I stood, breathing deep and rising on the pump of my breath.  There were more people than just Kallijas and Virani-e and my family behind me now.  I could hear them breathing.  I felt unreal and my skin felt... clear as glass, scrubbed clean of every scrap of possible worldly dross.

The Steel Gate opened. My loves were with me.  My friends were at my back. My guard was with me.  I felt encased in a bubble of silence and expectation.

I stepped down to the first step down and caught a whiff of roasting beef from the outdoor ovens.  My feast.  Either way.  Either for success or for funeral.  Very practical.  In my head, Mikas laughed.

I paced the length of the raised bridge for the second time in sixty days.  Last time for my wedding, this time for my wedding to the Ten.  If They would have me.  I stopped, pierced by the thought.  I hadn’t, for some reason, even thought of that in all this meditation time.

Gods, am I good enough for You?  Is anyone?  How can anyone be good enough for You? I hesitated on the bridge and I could hear the crowd murmuring as they watched me.  I took another deep breath and walked on.  The fodai was enough.  The Gods approved the fodai.  Therefore I should trust that They wished me to be here.

At the top of the Temple steps... newly gleaming, clean and perfect, one man stood.  One pretender.

I looked at my toes as I stepped into the Temple portico.  I raised my hands to the pretender.  He was a solidly built man, a solas whom I didn't know.  He smiled as I touched my hands to his and murmured the traditional words “May the best man rise for Arko’s sake.”

He nodded at me. I found that every detail of the day, every mole and hair and wrinkle on the pretender’s face, ever touch of breeze, the feeling of the loincloth against my skin, was magnified a thousand-fold and it was almost too much to bear.  I touched my hands to his idea of what the Imperial seals should be, gave him the prayer for him and for Arko and turned to look out over the crowd.  I knelt down because it seemed the thing to do, as he stepped up to the Temple doors and raised his hands.

The crowd held its breath and it felt as though the breeze across the square, that had been like the breath of the spectators, wandered up the steps and through my hair before rushing on to play in the Fenjitza’s light hem and chew on the end strands of the Fenjitas’s silk belt.

NUYUZER!” he cried.  He would have heard Virani-e say that word to open the Temple twice before, if he'd been in the city to see.  There was a long pause.  In the silence, a child cried in the crowd and was hushed. More silence.

NYUZER.”  He tried again.  This time the silence was so deep I thought I could hear the ends of my hair tapping against my back in the wind.  I even heard the man take a deep breath as the Temple stolidly refused to respond to him.

He paced a step or two, I heard the chains on his seals clink as he shook out his hands as if this were a difficult training session.  Another deep breath.  The crowd sighed and swayed forward.  He must have turned to the doors for his final try.

NUA YU ZER!” He tried, for the third and final time.

Friday, February 24, 2012

635 - Absolute Best for Arko

I knelt in the Imperial chapel again this last day before my Ten Tens.  It had been a day of answering correspondence mostly, and sitting for the Assembly.  There was a wrangle going on about a new proposal for the Empire Road Sereniteers and who exactly was going to fund it and how much, but it did not have to be resolved on this day, so they had adjourned with a recall to the debate in three days.  After I, or someone else, Ascends.

Kallijas had actually clapped me on the back when the chamber had emptied, and gone off to be with Virani-e, who was back again to see my Ritual of Ascension. Since it was the fasting days before, there was no Imperial chime and when other people sat to eat during the day, I went to chapel.

By now I could slide fairly easily into the clear and almost empty hum of openness, when the loudest think in one’s mind was the soft sea roar of breath and blood.  It was like sitting on the beach on Haiu Menshir, or on a dock at the Tor, or below the Rock in Hyerne, listening to the waves talk.  Watching the Presence flame would remind me of the motion of the dayanal in the bow-wave of a ship, or the glittering flash of flying fish hurling themselves into the air as if they could catch the sun and pull it down into the dark blue water with them.

I was starting to feel the meditation and the prayers like flying.  Not like being flown.  That was different.  Children are carried into the Selestial Realm.  Adults fling themselves into the blue around the Sun, or the black dusted with stars.  The motes of dust suddenly became endlessly fascinating in their dance of heat over the Presence light and I could see, could realize more than see, that the walls and the floors, so solid to the focussed eye, were really as insubstantial as the dust.  It was a strange, drifting feeling, as if my edges were as insubstantial as the walls.

Was this how the Ten saw us?  Whirling bits of glorious star dust momentarily held together by a thought?

The door below opened and I could feel the air pressure change before the blundering bit of noisy dust that happened to be Doof was carted in, wings flailing, clinging to Bella’s black and earthy back as she galluped up the stairs.

“Minis!” the bird shouted, and I blinked.  “Come come come now!  Fikken! Kyashin’ Fak n’ kakr come down!  SHEN!  Dinner dinner, Doof wants some dinner... dinner dinner.  Doof wants a manolo! Doof wants a fikken manolo!”

Bella sat down next to me, sending the bird tumbling down to catch herself, the tips of one flailing wing snapping across my temple as she stopped her fall and flapped up to settle on my head.  “Well.”  I coughed and managed.  “I’m certainly not meditating now.  Dinner, Doof?  Dinner, Bella?”

Sending the animals up to get me was a creative way of safely getting me out of the Chapel, though people could come to the hall outside without harm.  It was only people who had to worry about being Imperial line, or God-touched, to be safe in the room.  Animals didn’t care.  I reached up to scratch Doof’s chest and she nibbled my fingers.  From the feeling of my gut and centre, it was probably after dark and someone wanted me to get a meal into me and a good sleep before tomorrow. “TE AMO!” Doof yelled.

“Come on, you two,” I said, getting up.  “Let’s go downstairs.”

“DINNER!” Doof shrieked as I reached up and offered her my forearm since she tended to slip and rake people’s scalps while scrambling to catch herself.  Tonight it was Fara waiting for me downstairs.

I smiled at her and she kissed me, her lips snapping my attention to how real and solid they truly were.  “Doof is right... without all the swearing –“ “KAINA MARUGH MENIREN!” she interjected. 

“And a good sleep tonight.”  She didn’t know the danger I would truly be in.  She hadn’t been in Arko when Chevenga had done the ritual, and had only seen the Regent’s Five Tens which wasn’t deadly.  I mean, she knew because she'd asked and knew because Ky and Gan were worried, but she didn't have the gut knowledge of it that they did.

“Dinner,” I agreed.  “And then one more ritual practice... as a prayer.  And a good sleep.”

“We’re set to cuddle you into submission.”

“You don’t need to fuss over me so.  You know... even though I’m worried it’s not hitting me in the stomach the same way.”  It didn’t feel so visceral.  It was as though the meditation put a sheet of glass between me and the more painful of my physical symptoms. 

“We like fussing over you,” she said, threading her arm through mine as we went to the Topaz dining room.  I tested the thought.  If I succeed, good.  If I don’t... that’s good too.  I’d be sorry for one thing... There was the twinge of pain.  I’d be sorry for everyone’s grief, after all the love they’ve given me.

I’m feeling strange and detached from the earth. Light, as if I’m preparing to fly off into the Stars ahead of everyone else.  I shouldn’t do that.  It would be a waste if I were to die now.  Kallijas would have to be Regent for Ili if I did... unless Ky... um... unless Ky were to be a mother already, unlikely as that was.  Then he’d be Regent for the unborn baby, if it were a boy.

Silly.  Unlikely that the Gods would want me home so soon.  Home, what a nice thought.  Home instead of Hayel.  Have I lived a good enough life these past few years to escape damnation?  Selinae and Muunas alone know. I will certainly find out tomorrow.

Whatever happens, will be the absolute best for Arko.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

634 - The Half-Way Mark

I’m picking through trash.  Bits of broken gemstones that look as though they have been pulverized with a hammer I gather together with a damp fingertip and sweep into a tiny box for use as dust.  Perhaps it will be useful, perhaps it can be set into glass or used to polish other stones.

There are soaked and burned books everywhere that I gather up carefully and set together.  Some of the charred pages are bloody as well as burned, or soaked with liquids I don’t want to think about.  Some are sodden with... something. It is going to take a lot of work to fix these books, if they can be fixed at all.  Why do I keep them?

I don’t know.  They have been precious to me.  They are part of me. I will have to take them to the conservancy.  Is there a conservancy here?

I am digging through an enormous room full of mounds of stuff.  I can’t see the edges of this cavern, this palace. Faibalitz skates, some broken, some not, some so small I can hold both on the palm of one hand.  There are toy swords and real ones, knives, a heap of Mahid knives, two or three bloodied. Armour.  Mahid armour, padding.  A Yeoli gauntlet lies pointing into space.

There are platters and plates of food... wasted, rotting.  I shovel things into a pit in the floor.  Where had I found a shovel?  Of course everything is in here.

More gems, seemingly fallen down.  I look up and stand, struck speechless with the glory I didn’t see over my head.

The stars shine in the ceiling, gems glittering in the light.  Figures picked out in enamel and gold against the Selestial sky.  The faded outline of the fat guy looming, shadowy.  I see the stone where his image had been, dominant, smothering everything else.  But he is vanished away, his image fallen into the mess below, like the image of the cliff Eagle, all the gilding peeled away.

There are crowds of people up there now.  Kallijas, Virani-e, my mother, my baby sister, my grandfather, Mahid girls... everyone around me. Gannara and Farasha and Kyriala.  Their images are the freshest, the closest.

I feel Ky’s breath on my ear, my neck.  I turn and look at all the work I have to do and sigh and open my eyes.

It is half way through the night and I am lying in the Imperial Chapel.  I blink and pray my apology to the Ten.  I hadn’t meant to fall asleep.

I wasn’t asleep long.  My arms are still above my head, I am on my face still.  Bella is lying outside the Chapel snoring.  The presence light casts a warm light over my head and the lamps outside, in Muunas’s Eyes still glow softly.  “Muunas, forgive my frailty.”

“You are being too hard on yourself boy.”  The voice in my ear makes me jump.

I sit up and look around and see the Pressman sitting in one of the few pews in the Chapel.  I don’t need any of the clues to know who He has to be.  I put myself on my face before Mikas.  “Oh get up.  You and I have talked before.  Get up.”

His bluer than blue eyes are... compassionate?  I see that as I sit up at his command.  “Isn’t this what I am supposed to be doing?  Meditating on my coming ordeal?”

He snorted.  “A young man, new married?  Surely your bride must have something to say about it?  I wouldn’t abstain, were I you.”

I hadn’t really been abstaining, I thought.  I... well... we... had sort of overdone things the first week.  “I was kind of sore so I backed off, Oh God.”

He laughed.  “Very snide, boy, I like that.  Good for you.  But you didn’t go back to something more balanced.  If I didn’t say anything My own Lovely Bride would be upset with Me.”

“Thank You for coming to speak to me, oh Professional One.”

“Do you know it is truly Me?  Or are you dreaming?”

I opened my eyes once more.  Bella snored outside the Chapel door, her nose on the threshold of the door.

I didn’t think I was asleep.  But then all sorts of things like this were happening as I meditated in the Chapel.  I got up from the floor where I lay, my hands over my head, padded in my bare feet and genuflected once more before closing the door behind me.  The lights in the Muunas’ Eye windows were almost out of fuel.  I snuffed them, one at a time, so the image of Muunas on the outside of the Marble Palace must appear to be winking, viewed from the outside.  I looked through the one window at the crowd camped in the square, waiting for my Ten Tens.  It would be thirty days.  The Temple itself was half clean.  I could see the white coming through the black, even in the late night lights of the city.

Kallijas and I were working hard to make my assumption of full Imperatorship as smooth as possible.  We’d managed to reach an equitable tax solution for the once-brewing rebellion on the north-east coast, and signed off on a rather major report from Perisalas.  One of our shipyards had been slipping shoddily built quinqueremes under Imperial charter.  He had seen to the correction of that little problem.

Everything else from now on should be... I hoped would be... small, day to day running of Empire stuff.  Thirty days.

Bella nudged the back of my knees and I dropped my hand to her head as she moved up next to me.  Thirty days.

I petted her and we went downstairs.  As I opened the door, a boy jumped to his feet... ah yes, his name was Kirinias, one of the new Pages in my household.  “Good evening, Kirinias, I hope you weren’t waiting too long.”

“No, Ser... Minis, ser.”  He offered me the tray he carried, but not hurriedly enough to spill.  I took a glass of water and smiled at him.  He was a relative of Antras’s.  “ um, Ser Antras said that I should offer a second cup if that would please.”

“Yes, it would.”  To be honest, the fasting during the day wasn’t that onerous but it certainly focussed my mind on the absolute abundance around me.

“Thank you, Kirinias.  Good night.”

“Good night, Ser... Minis.”  He’d get it soon enough.  He was a good boy and tried hard for his Uncle.

Thirty days.  I was certain I could hear Mikas's ghostly chuckle in my ear as I crawled into bed with my loves who made space for me with sleepy, welcoming murmurs.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

633 - I'm Listening

When Kallijas withdrew so did Kyriala and I.  Even though it was midnight, the servants were already laying out the raised walkway, all across the square.  I wouldn’t be able to set foot on the ground so she and I would walk across that together.  I couldn’t properly escort her, with her on the ground and I even raised up a handspan, even fan to comb.  It would be ungraceful and Tanii and Skorsas both would have been mortified to present anything ungraceful.

They strapped me into the wedding armour and threw the final veil back over Ky’s head, and pressed our wedding regalia into our hands.  The Imperial sword on my hip was the old one, not the be-jewelled nose picker still in its display case.

Just inside the Steel Gate I was met by Ky descending the steps, with Fara as her attendant and Gan as mine, and we touched the ridiculously ornate fan and comb, as if we were still unmarried though the whole city had seen us in Ten Angels fountain.  I could barely see her smile through the veil.
I leaned forward and whispered ‘I love you,” and she smiled wider.

“I love you too.  I’d marry you a dozen times if I needed to,” she said.

“I would too but I think that many wedding nights would kill me!” I managed to hiss back as the Gates were opened with a boom that I could feel through my feet.

I couldn’t put a stern face on, and Gan was carrying my helmet so everyone could see the wild grin on my face.  I didn’t care.  We paced across the square with as much stately grace as we could manage.  Well Ky did.  I managed not to fall over my own feet.  Up the stairs and through the open Temple gate, around to the wedding laefeti up to touch hands inside the fancy box emblazoned with sunbursts, and through the Wedding Gate itself.

With me being in the Imperial waiting period... that had always been a mourning period, before, I didn’t have to be challenged and declare myself Imperator.  That would have been seen as rude before the Gods, before my Ten Tens.  So we walked through the Wedding Gate hand in hand and I stopped to pull the veil back so people could see her and we exchanged the most solemn kiss we’d ever done so far.

I could feel her giggle against my lips just as I pulled back before I started laughing too.  We smiled at each other and we got the quietest cheer for our wedding, so far.  Of course it was Muunas the first. We walked back to the Marble Palace, still hand in hand.

As we stepped off the Temple steps onto the raised walk, behind me, I could hear the ponderously smooth sound of the door closing.  The Temple cleansing bell sounded and the black coating began pouring down from the golden roof.  I didn’t need to turn to see the black glistening trails pour down the white walls.  Ky’s hand tightened on mine.  “You should sleep a little before Rim dawn,” she said to me as she nodded to the crowds lining our walk.

“Listen to her, moron,” Gan whispered, behind me, just as Fara said, “You’ll meditate better if you catch up on some sleep.”

“Yes, loves.  Yes, yes.”  I would lay my head down and I knew I was tired enough to sleep the last few beads of the first night.  “I am listening.”

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

632 - I Am But A Man Once More

This Jitzmitthra end, the washed and overflowing streets and the fountains and drains of Presentation Square full of lights, Kallijas stood, all but naked on the Balcony.  He wore the head dress of the Wine Dragon and a loincloth.  The soaking wet and soapy crowd splashed in the newly cleaned square and danced as the candles, in their fanciful little boats, drew the light through the city and washed the last burning little sins out of the city for another year.

At midnight, the city bells all began their solemn tolling, the first from the Marble Palace, all the others joining in, synchronizing all through the ten strokes, until they were all chiming that last stroke as if they were one gigantic clock.

On the first stroke, Kall took the dragon head off his shoulders and handed it off.  On the second stroke held his arms up for the plain white robe that covered him from shoulders to feet.  By the fourth stroke his hair had been combed into a perfect fall down his back.

As he was transformed, so was the crowd, drying themselves as the water level fell to mere dampness, donning their best white robes for the new day and the new year.  They put aside the silliness; drew themselves into solemn order.  I drew on a plain white cotton robe.  I would be wearing nothing fancy for the next sixty days of my fast.

Ky stood next to me in her white silk, close enough to hide the fact that our bare hands were clasped together.  She smiled at me on the fifth stroke, pulling her hand free, to cover it up with her white glove, withdrawing into the cool, distant, elegant Arkan lady.  Antras finished combing my hair out and on the sixth stroke of the bell I nudged my foot over and touched hers, even as I tucked my hands into my sleeves.  She smiled at nothing but didn’t pull her foot away.

On the eighth stroke they laid the Imperial robe on Kall’s shoulders for the last ceremony he would do as Imperator.  On the ninth he took up the libation cup and on the tenth sounding of the clocks of Arko he poured the libation and held the empty cup to the crowd, who murmured their calm approval, whistled if they were still a bit overenthusiastic.  A proper, staid, sober reaction welcoming in the new year.

“Welcome Muunas, again to the city of Arko.”  Kallijas’s voice boomed out, deep and mellow as if he were singing the holy words.  “May we as a people, as an empire, be worthy of Your kind and just regard.  May we rise ever higher.  Until we, once more, have worked our way out of sin and into the light of the Selestial and starry Realm.”

He set the cup into the Fenjitzas’s hands and placed his hands together, the Imperial Seals flashing the light of the lanterns, the light of the city.  “It has been my singular honour to have served Arko as regent for Minis Kurkas Joras Amitzas Aan and I am pleased to present him to you in stout health, ready to serve you as you requested in the great vodai.”  I stepped forward as I was supposed to and received the polite, subdued applause from a proper Arkan crowd.

The rest of the family, with us on the balcony, added their smiles to it.  Virani-e’s face, as he watched Kallijas put off the Divinity of the Imperatorship, was full of grace in memory.  He had always been divinely touched, I thought.  But having such a place in the world must forever change you, as profoundly as when a child is born, or a wedding day, or a funeral – those things available to all men.  Being a priest or a dekinas, opens one up every eight day to the presence of the Ten, or daily and being granted the position of Imperator means the possibility of not only being a voice for all Arko, but a conduit for the divine at any moment of life.  Terrifying.  Awe inspiring.

Over the next sixty days I would be thinking of all the ways this would change me profoundly.  I was standing at the gate of the Imperatorship and to be honest I wanted to run and hide under the bed.

Kallijas drew the left seal from his hand, and showed it to the crowd.  “The symbol of fidelity to you,” he said and placed it reverently in the Fenjitza’s hand.  “The symbol of fidelity to the Ten Gods of Arko,” he said as he drew off the right hand seal.

Instead of leaving them in the Temple, as had been done before, the Imperial regalia would stay in Muunas Triumphant’s lap in the Marble Palace.  He held out his arms and said “I am but a man once more!” as they reverently drew the Imperial robe off his shoulders.

A New Blog to Check Out

My husband, Michael, has begun a new story that I'm having a blast reading. Not just because I'm married to the man, either!

Dani Heywood is a genderless person in Bicentennial America.  But in this world, women could vote in 1876, there was only one World War, and Mankind first walked on the Moon in 1958.

Monday, February 20, 2012

I painted this last night.  Acrylic on canvas.

Today's portrait

This was taken today.

More Terro and Ninja

Terro and Ninja... early days

This was Terro and ninja, riding in the truck, in Cat's lap... We had a lot of trips that we just had to do at the time.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

631 - The Singer Drinks, the Drinker sings

The Diem of Purification of Thoroughfares Arterial dawned very quiet this year.  I peeled my eyes open slowly and gazed across the wreckage of our bed, all limbs and pillows and crumpled sheets and faces and hair. I was no artist of any kind, but I was seized with the urge to paint the beautiful lines of everyone’s entangled limbs.

Ky’s head was on Gan’s shoulder and Fara’s on his belly, His head was pillowed on my thigh.  We’d washed and played and smoked Arkanherb and made love as many times as he and I could manage, and the Fara and Ky showed us men to be easily vanquished there.  I had to smile it was such a beautiful memory.

Altras lay stretched along the narrow top of the headboard, paws hanging, and I could hear Bella’s snort from the rug next to the bed.  Doof sat on a chairback, fluffed and her tail trailing down.  Last night she’d been completely disgusted by our ignoring her in the baths and come back to the suite.  When we came back she’d whistled and reviled us as we giggled and fed each other with our fingers.

I was sweaty under where Gan’s head was, and stiff all over.  I managed to sit up without dragging any of the rumpled sheets over anyone, it was so warm, shifted my thigh and Gan groaned and moved to stuff a pillow under his head in his sleep.  I stood for a long, long time at the side of the bed and just drank in how beautiful my knot of lovers was... My wife, my heartsbrother, his wife.  It felt like my heart was expanding in my chest, so full of joy that if I moved it might spill out all around me somehow.

I tore myself away, finally, because the pressure from my body, to visit the garderobe, splash cool water on my hands and face, found a fresh silk robe that had mysteriously appeared just inside the outer door to the suite, along with a jug of fresh juice and clean cups on the table.  “Thank you,” I said to the empty air, “but you really shouldn’t do this in Jitzmitthra.”  There was no answer, of course.

I took my juice over to my desk and lowered my wonderfully achy self onto my chair.  Bella shambled out of the bedroom to groan down on my bare feet.

I found myself doodling trailing hearts and flowers and smiley faces all along an edge of paper and then I began writing.

Love... I am a fool and thus wise, this single word is my fortune. This folly, this indiscipline, thought experiment, this drunkenness, is the harp-song of the One who plays at folly.  My fortune, oh thou child of wisdom, is folly and I bid thee cherish it.

Love whole and full and let it spur you to great deeds and wild abandon.  Let wounded heart, cut by logic, hardened with sense, be watered and soften to allow the wildest of variations grow. Living variations might yet be better than any gone before.  Rigid lines of Creation limit. Let the Singer draw the art out of the science and teach the song.

Loss of variation means death.  Dry death knows no love. Dust, ashes, and life out of rot beneath a lens know naught of love. Weep loving tears and know that thou art alive, because thou lovest.  Love grows only in the beating divine hearts, the living, pulsing, red flow of human history.   

Love will save the most forzak soul, even from darkest, coldest, most airless of Hayels

Love deep.  Love true.  Love more.  Anything or anyone who bids you hate, is incorrect, a life withered.  Anyone who bids you love, listen to them. Anyone who tells you that their path of love is the only one, is mistaken.  Life loves profligately. Love is as infinite as the number of creatures who love.

The Singer drinks, the Drinker sings. Of life. Of love.

I laid down the pen and re-read it.  Then I disturbed Bella and got up to tip-toed into our chapel, and fetch my Holy Book from the altar to copy this into the blank pages.  It seemed like something a Divine would say.  I had the image of Risae in my head and wondered. Mikas was often called the Singer. But Risae was certainly the least likely of the Ten, I would have said, who would praise love.

Ky and I, in the white robes, with Gan and Fara with us, stood behind Kallijas as he pulled the lever to release the cleansing water for the above Rim reservoir; to the cheering crowd out of the city.  I showed my loves what had flowed out of my pen that morning and they thought it was beautiful and told me to stop thinking I was not a poet.  We argued gently and teasingly about it all day.

Our wedding guests had a wonderful view of the city being scrubbed down to within an thumb-width of its life.  Reknarja’s princess particularly liked the soap fights she could see.


Happy  Valentines Day, everyone. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

630 - The Scars I Could Work On

Minis was finally, finally calming down. Fara and Ky and I dragged him out of the Imperial bed chamber.  It was funny but I still found Virani-e doing silly, sexy stuff like that uncomfortable.  We looked enough alike it was kind of like watching an older brother do kyash like that.

Min and Ky were so, so beautiful and Fara kissed and kissed me and my penis stood up just fine.  The Mahid hadn’t really done the same kinds of things to me.  I mean they didn’t really touch what I felt about girls.

We ran off to the Lesser Baths and we all threw off the boy’s robes and ran into the cascade.  “Did you see his face when he lost it?  Virani-e was so embarrassed!”

Ky hid herself with her hair, in the water, covering herself up with that blanket of silver/gold of hers.  Min’s wasn’t quite long enough, without the extensions he’d been growing out this past two years but he wasn’t quite as blushing red.

“It’s nice to know that those glass things work so well,” Fara said.  “My father thinks little ones could be made more cheaply with pottery instead of glass.”

“The problem,” Ky said.  “Is people’s opinions.  They resist ideas like that.”

Minis snorted.  “The pages article about this little debacle will make them the most popular thing.  Everyone will want them.”

We all had the giggles then, and I poured a bit of soap into my hands, sniffing the clean citrusy smell that Min and I both liked, since it had nothing to do with the heavy perfume the fat guy liked.  I really liked the hot water pouring down over my back and rubbed my hands together and completely didn’t notice them all giving each other signs.  My hands covered in foam,  I looked up just in time for Farasha to pull me far enough forward out of the water to not drown when she kissed me, holding onto my ears.  Min and Ky were completely in the water behind me and there was a lot of soap and I couldn’t tell whose hands were where on my back they just slipped and slid down my backside.

Someone slid... probably Min because Ky wouldn’t but then she’s well... fingers.  Between... Um.  I quit thinking around then because Farasha had one hand on a nipple and unlike Minis mine are really really sensitive and she grabbed me with her other hand, ran her thumb over my head and I was gasping air, mouth open, drops of water pouring over me, she let go and had her mouth on me now and I had to lean back against the other two held me out of oooh.  Ohh Fara has the most amazing mouth... and she pulled back to let the other two play with me a little and I got the shivers, even though the water was hot and when they felt me start to shake they turned it more into just holding.

“It’s all right Gan.  You’ve been working on this harder than I have –“ someone giggled, but it was with sympathy – “and you can do it, heartsbrother, husband,” Min said.  Something about that made me able to relax and when Fara took me in her mouth again... and I realized Ky had her hands on me too and wasn’t afraid, I was able to find my pleasure again.

“A... A... little like... stumbling... and it’s Fara’s... turn... next!  Aaaahhh. Oh yes, yes.”

I tumbled in my head, into my orgasm, held up by my loves’ hands.  Fara had one of my hands, the calluses I’d built up building her our caravan, Ky had her arms wrapped around me in a hug and Min had my head.  They weren’t going to let me go, they weren’t going to let me fall... oh, I think this ‘all of us together’ I wasn’t going to be alone and scared, and I had more and more family, and the holes inside my head were pretty small now.  I sank down onto my knees with my new family, rested my head in Fara’s neck, held onto everyone. The scars I could work on.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Long overdue Update on Terro

My cat Interrobang, or Terro, is a flying ball of crazy these days.  She smacks things with her 'not-paw' and gets very annoyed when her super powers do not instantly manifest!  She had developed this habt of diving head first into things and rolling on them.  This picture is in the summer before her fur covered everything up nicely.  She was also nursing her kitten.

More pics and news on that one to come.

Note the crazy eyes