Notes from Sinimas’s notebook:
Imperator Speaks at Humble Publican’s Funeral – something like that Intheras… change it if you want…
-- The famous owner of the infamous ‘Puckered Fig’, Ienas Aratin, fessas, was laid to his rest with the most illustrious attendance.
He Whose Will is the World, wearing Mikas’s regalia as a Publican, spoke movingly of the tolerance and diligence of the man, his capability and his social awareness. Then, He sacrificed a glass of spirits to Mikas, and to His friend. “…I am certain he is pouring the best Selestial spirits, for the best, in the City in the Sky.”
Ienas Aratin, son of Ienas Aratin, fessas:
“My father was a phenomenal person. He dealt with pub fights and after-Mezem crowds, he dealt with people breaking his mirror and breaking the city he grew up in. Whatever disaster loomed he took it in stride and even turned it to his families’ advantage when he could. He was indomitable when it came to the Puckered Fig and every single one of his staff.
His partner and friend Dorn Pitkaras, fessas, and his family join me in mourning my father, his partner and his friend.
“He and I didn’t always see eye to eye when, as a boy, I ran away from the very idea of being a mere ‘booze slinger’ or ‘booze hound’ as I said when I wanted to be egregiously insulting and the world taught me that sometimes the hardest thing, the most noble thing that one can do, is just pour and listen.”
“The city came through our Fig and we served. He served. And my father taught me the meaning of courage, despite my absence during the Sack. He managed to shield the family and the families of all the staff. When I asked him how he could just give away his livelihood he looked at me and said “It’s just things, son. It’s just liquor. It can all be replaced. You can’t just replace people.”
“I realize now, what he meant. I speak for my brother, away in my wife’s homeland, for my mother, for my sisters and my own wife and family, and for all our patrons who came to the Fig not only to drink but to talk to my father… we’ll miss him in a way that is like recovering from an injury. It will take time for us to heal.”
“Dad, I’ll miss you. I already do. I will be proud to be a ‘booze hound’ like you till the day I join you and we can argue about how the place should be run in the City in the Sky. Until that day, may our wine never sour, may the beer be cold. May the liquor be fiery and the herb smooth.”
The Speaker of the Assembly called a short recess to let Minis settle onto the throne after the funeral. There had been a note on the daylist of speakers that the last one required the Imperator’s presence since it was to be addressed to Him directly.
Minis sniffed at the speaker’s name listed. It was Ilian Kallen, elected to Parkside Ward in the city, an Aitzas Ward but not very prestigious. He had not been very outspoken in Assembly and Minis had been able to mostly ignore his existence, acknowledging him as ‘Assemblyperson Kallen’ when forced to by the protocols. Despite his very public snubbing during Minis’s campaign for Imperator, he’d somehow managed to get voted into the smallest of the Aitzas wards as its Assemblyperson. Perhaps he was finally acquiring, or hiring, enough smart people to make up for the family deficits, Minis thought snidely.
The afternoon was full of fractious argument, mostly about the Federation of Nations that Chevenga had proposed, without any kind of resolution and Minis was beginning to hope that they would not extend the Assembly to allow Kallen to speak, but the latest round of debate was finally remanded to committee and the Speaker struck the bell and announced ‘Final Speaker of the Day’.
Kallen rose slowly, trying for solemnity and only managing a kind of stuffy pompousness. Minis sat up straight in the Crystal throne, giving him his obvious and undivided attention as was proper. The Crystal throne was suddenly all made of edges.
“Assembly, Speaker, Imperator. It is with the most grave of words that I come before you all. We are being subjected to the most heinous cover-up, a downplaying of a threat not only to Arko but to all mankind. The most holy of men under the Imperator, of course, the Fenjitzas has been silenced, along with that brazen hussy… excuse me, the most holy of women, the Fenjitza! We in the city have had NO children conceived this past year and all we get from our most trustworthy source of information, the Pages, is vague warnings of a minor illness! Who has silenced all these worthies? I would not point fingers at any in this august ruling body.
“I am certain that no man,” he paused for a sip of water before he continued slyly. “… or woman in these hallowed chambers would ever deny their constituents information that is so crucial to their lives.” He raised his eyes slowly up to where Minis sat, seething at the implication, and paused for just long enough. Someone must have written this speech for him, coached him how to play it.
“This disastrous illness that silently stalks our fair city.” He savoured each word as though it were Niah chocolate, standing with his hands in his gilded sleeves. “Unspoken of. This plague, this scourge from the hands of the Ten Themselves, this pestilence! This is what I speak of!”
“Let me elucidate, to my esteemed colleagues! We have not been informed of the extent of the sickness, the overwhelming threat to our Empire and, in fact, as I said before, to all mankind and something must be done before we all pass away from the face of the Earthsphere!” Someone must have taught you to pronounce the big words, Minis thought, savagely, though his face stayed calm.
“Something must be done to right this bane on Arko. The curse of childlessness has touched everyone, of all classes, even our adored Mirror of the Sun has not escaped this pandemic!” Minis’s hand, hidden in the sleeve of his robe tensed on the arm of the throne and a red mist crept in from the corners of his vision. How dare you bring Kyriala into this?
“Even the most High suffer as we do,” Ilian said, unctuously. “I am certain there is an answer in our hands. Our beloved and most esteemed Imperator has been adamant in His avowal that He is our voice to the Ten Gods and has reinstated ancient and venerable protocols.”
“If we, as a Nation, cannot stop this then it is incumbent on our most beloved Imperator to petition the Gods directly that we not be the last generation of humanity on the Earthsphere. You Whose Will is the World, save us! Have mercy on us!” He drew one hand out of his sleeve and snapped open the distinctive gold cloth.
“I call on the Imperator, in his compassion, in his mercy and in justice, to undergo the Ordeal and petition the Gods for all our sakes. Endure… and ask our Gods for help. ” He raised his fist, cloth clenched in it so the whole assembly could see, as if shaking his fist up to where Minis sat and his voice rose to a shout
“Mercy! Have Mercy on us and speak to the GODS! Mercy!”