- Intharas Teren’s journal
“... end up with my ass in the gutter and I don’t reeking, shennen care! I pay you to get me to the Marble Palace as fast as you can!” We’re blasting through the demonstrators in the square, with their gold kerchiefs and their chanting, but even they aren’t crazy enough to block an express lane.
The bearers are doing their best, I realize it. And there’s no hope of catching a single messenger but I have an image to uphold. I fling another couple of links of tip into the box and I’m out of the chair almost before they’ve stopped.
The ceremonial parasol - even after sundown, how silly is that? -- has barely moved before I’ve trotted past it and inside. “I’m bidden to He Whose Will Is The World’s.”
I’m vibrating with curiosity but I can’t rush the protocol. To be honest it’s never gotten as bad as the Seventeenth Old Fart, what with Gold Bottom Yeoli busting everything into bits and putting back some of it.
The Young Fart isn’t in the Highest Office. Not sure if it’s a bad sign or a good sign. It’s also pretty late. Late enough for the Nosy chimes to be done.
I’m a-twitch and he’s sitting at his desk with a stack of documents at his elbows. The Imperial Whites are laced up to his chin formally and he looks up at me Mahid blank as I go down toward the prostration.
I get the knee bent, as usual and he interrupts with a ‘Gehit’, also typical. Nothing different. He’s so fikken casual I smell an even bigger hidden chamberpot. Now, as I said, Papa Teren raised no fools and I figure that if I’m in for a pony I may as well go for the biggest fikken horse on the block. “So, may I offer my congratulations?”
He stares at me. Then he stares at me some more. The silence is thick enough for me to hear the clock’s streaming sand-sized beads rustling as they fall. I’ve faced down more dangerous men than you, boy. He stares at me, cold and Aan crazy.
Just as I’m starting to consider that maybe, just maybe, I’m wrong and this is something else entirely, the piss-cutter kid breaks into a smile wide enough to shove a grain barge through and starts laughing. “I should know better!” He howls, pounding on the desk. “I should know better than to try and out-casual you, Intharas!” He’s laughing so hard that he’s sliding out of the chair and catches himself on the chair-arms, seals chiming.
I flip open my notebook, eyebrows raised, pull the cap off my pen, pointedly, as he keeps laughing. I may let the edges of my mouth curl upward, just slightly, but I won’t admit to smiling. “Might this one inquire of He Whose Pranks Aren’t Very Funny,” that just sets him off again, just as he’s starting to catch his breath.
The Imperatrix comes in at that point and I get up to give her the ‘Eyes Away’ genuflection. The other two are with her and I give them the nod.
“Minis I told you he’d never fall for it,” she said, serenely, and settles on the gilt chair to one side. “Intharas, may I offer you kaf?”
Muunas’s flaming left testicle she’s beautiful. I’m glad that she didn’t start the veiling women nonsense of a generation ago. “Imperatrix, I would drink road sweepings and hot water if you offered it to me.” Let no one say that I can’t be diplomatic.
As she pours, the sprout pulls himself together. “We were trying to hold off announcing, till the first of the month, but one of our guests realized our secret and innocently announced it in front of the staff...”
“So you noted me so that I’d be able to ride the Pages of the lip...” I’m scribbling but manage to accept the cup without fumbling. “Thank you. Special Edition. The Empire is going to want to know.”
It’s odd to see them, still, so equal. Hmmm. The two alesinae are even more touchy-handy, smiley, glowy than usual. But they’re about to get the families’ first child. Note to self, follow up on their kid situation.
“Our Ky should be due in the month of the Flail, or the Loom,” Gannara said. “My wife is expecting our first child two moons after." There goes the need to follow up. Two kids, wham! Just blurting out women’s stuff like that. I hadn’t figured out how to ask with the women right there.
“Very auspicious,” I say. The alesinas's kid being born in a High God's moon while the new Spark of the Sun's Ray... hmmm. It was starting to look like the sort of joke my Professional God would appreciate.
“The Fenjitzae say we should continue to sleep in the Temple over the winter.”
Pisspots. Good news... even if it isn’t a cure for the rest of us... I’ll follow up on the ‘pilgrimages for children’ that are starting up. That’s at least a partial fix. Ten be fikked. Arko’s having a new Spark!
“Is there anything you’d like to say to Arko in this special edition I’m going to be printing tonight?”
“Let me just say that We are hoping that this is a positive sign that the Ten have heard our prayers. May Arko prosper.” He takes his wife’s hand. Right in front of me! Shocking.
“If I may...”
“Gehit. Sorry I tried to tease you..." I shrugged. Young men. "... and go on, Intharas, you have a paper to print, I realize...”
I have to get him to write about his own reaction about becoming a father, given that he’s got weird ass crazy for flesh and blood background. Special Edition! I’m composing in my head as I trot down to the front gate. I’ll send Roras back up in a few beads with a ‘What if’ spin on it... that’ll get the people’s word into the New Spark Edition. You never know, it might make those syphilitic, pustulent whiners moaning ‘Mercy, Mercy’ under his windows go away for a while.
Jema was saying the other day that Ilian Kallen hired them. - note to self, follow up. Wouldn't that be a kick in the teeth for the honourable Assemblyperson if that were true?