Wednesday, November 19, 2014

691 - Sukala's Arrival


Minis put the cheap broadsheet down and would have put his face in his hands but looked with distaste at the smeary mess of substandard ink all over his palms and even on the cuffs of the Imperial whites, though it wouldn’t cling to the Seals.  It was a new ‘sensational’ Pages, printed out of Solengal, near the mountains.

He picked it up, gingerly, read a line or two, decided that the report on it being too crazy to be something taken seriously and dropped it back onto his desk and pushed away from it.  The clock chimed and he’d just have time to scrub his hands.
The Highest office washing room was tiny but sufficient, then he nodded goodnight to Atzana and pushed off across the bridge, skatewheels clicking.  It felt so good to be moving.

By the time he got to the roof landing, the wind had blown up, gusting wildly. He caught his hair in one hand to keep it out of his face, sheltering his eyes with the other, joining the lookout and welcoming committee staring up at the rapidly darkening skies.

It was strange how fast the weather had turned but instead of settling into normal temperatures it kept bouncing up and down with these odd storms and that played merry Hayel with the wing couriers.

“There they are!”

“You didn’t have to come up to meet her,” Idiesas said as quietly as he could.

Minis grinned at him.  “You think she’d not figure out I was hiding and come to very sensibly whap me over the head with her stick?”

“Er... well, no.”

The edge of that storm will just catch them... oh, mother.  You’re coming to meet Sukala as well?”

Somehow she was keeping her orderliness in the face of the wind.  He suppressed a grin thinking that her hair didn’t dare creep out of her braid or her sleeves indecorously wave at every passing breath.

“Of course, my son.” Her voice cut through the booming, shifting, wild wind running in front of the  bank of black clouds looming over the Rim.  “They’re a full day late because of the weather I suppose and I want to whisk my friend off to a warm glasshouse to look at exotic flowers.  That way she can scoff at me for treating her delicately.”

He let the grin out this time.  “I don’t even know how she does it. She’s still living in that cave.”

The wings that had been spotted spiralled down through shafts of setting sun and gloom of the onrushing storm and he could see Sukala’s wildly coloured clothes as bright as if they were a beacon light.

She was already waving, all the way up there and he could see, when a roll of distant thunder marked a lightning strike, that she laughed.  The storm was still on Finpollendias and not close enough for anyone in the city to see it directly.

“Ha! There’s my emotional boy!” She said as she stepped out of the wing-harness.  He ducked under the wing to hug her hello. Her shirt was an eye-searing red, with purple collar and cuffs, her pantaloons a clashing orange.  She wore an overvest that had green and blue embroidery on it that looked as though it had come from somewhere in Zak country.

“Just standing around weeping into my hands, Sukala. Welcome to Arko again.”

“I’ll keep coming, especially since I’m going to have lots of stiff youngsters to look after my goats.  I certainly need to help you pick out the good bodyguards!”

He offered her his arm, instead of her stick and they hurried over  to where Inensa waited.  He smiled and said “Of course. And I’ll make sure you have sufficient chocolate and sweet oranges whenever you come to do such hard work!”

She just laughed and tapped him on the arm, her ancient old face split with a wide smile.  “Inensa, you look well!  How’s Tesha?  And the stray girls who came back?”

Minis let her go and just had time to marvel at the contrast between  his oh-so-proper mother like a column of dark burgundy silk next to Sukala’s wild colours, before the latest clap of thunder sounded along with a direct strike on the ancient lightning tower and the roar of the first rain.  He rushed inside the wing-barn, but was still soaked, the women already on their way downstairs.

“Mother... I’ll just go put some dry clothes—“

She nodded at him, not taking her attention from Sukala.  “We’ll see you next bead, son. Do you have a dinner meeting?”

“No, Atzana didn’t need to schedule one tonight.”  Minis dripped a bit as he swept his bow, exaggerating to get Sukala’s laugh.  “I’ll see you lovely ladies when I’m not looking like a drowned rat.”