Monday, April 13, 2015

102 - Hastily Put Together

Megan stretched and felt the tightness in the middle of her back pop.  The scent of the formal dinner for the Ambassador was amazing but she couldn’t eat before this performance.  It actually made her feel a little nauseated.  Eat afterwards, I will. 

What was amazing was that none of her joints hurt her any longer.  She felt light and wild and full of energy that she hadn’t realized had been fast draining away.

The Temple had poured some very strange dreams into her head, and she hadn’t quite sorted it all out yet. It was harder because it was all in Arkan which she didn’t speak that well. She felt younger. She felt more fit.  She felt like she was in her thirties, not her sixties. She took a deep breath, then another, struggling to ground herself.  Bozhyeh moy, you Temple Bitches, you stirred me with a stick! Koru and the Bear help settle me!

She stood, hands against the carved marble screen, nails clicking against the stone and peered through the chips of light from the dining hall.  From her angle she could see most of the High Table, spread in the strange Arkan style.  The tables weren’t rectangular, but open curves so that the women could sit across but weren’t obliged to present their backs to the centre of the hall. The flowers were fresh and towered behind the diners so as not to impede anyone’s line of sight and the red and gilded plates laid for the dessert and cheese courses, tall rainbow cut fluted glasses, glittered like the fessas God’s dreams.

Minis sat in the Imperial Whites and the Imperial Robe, leaning on one elbow toward the Ambassador on his immediate right, listening.  The Imperatrix, in the curve across from Minis, dressed in white and gold, the scarlet line in her hair picked out in rubies and echoed in a line down the gown inclined her head to Farasha, next to her. She wore a wide gown embroidered with blue and green and scarlet books. The two women had their heads together, laughing over something that Gannara had said, just out of Megan’s sight on Minis’ left.  He wore traditional Yeoli clothing but made with near see-through red and cream linen instead of wool.

Matthas, in his costume, stood behind her at the top of the stairs, waiting for her cue.

I never thought I’d feel this comfortable with a hulking Arkan weird Mahid-priest looming behind me as an assistant. That She-Bear Clawed Goddess is wound through his head and She’s given me a sort-of leash for him. He’s getting some kind of access outside the Temple, through my manrauq.

Her manrauq was different now, somehow  She knew that she had to take this ‘patch’ this ‘vaccinox’ back to F’talezon, through Brahvniki, because the power that she’d always relied on, pulled on… now she realized that she’d had access to it, her whole life, like a person dying of thirst desperately sucking through a hair-thin straw.

This energy--her own--glittered green-blue all along her veins, echoing her heartbeat, singing like the crackle after a too-close lightning strike. Before she’d dragged it out of herself, like pulling up a golden hook-lined harbour chain through her body, taking damage and unable to heal the tears and acid left in its glorious wake and every spell was stunning. Now, with the change the Temple had wrought in her, she might be able to ride the tiger without it mauling her every time.

“You checked the anchors?” She asked him.  She’d set them herself, before the dinner procession had come in, and sent him out to check afterwards.

“Twice, Vitlak.” His voice was an odd meld of Mahid harsh and okas relaxed and it was that oddness that helped her tolerate him.  He wore a tight fitting blue suit, his hair dyed in a pattern of blue feathers, his sleeves cut to resemble wings with cloth of gold feathers and trailing scarlet plumes. 

They'd run through her brand new routine on the slack wire and the spinning rope a half-dozen times this afternoon, then she'd napped.  Who knew what Matthas had done? Gone back to the Temple and stuffed himself into a closet? She shook herself mentally. She could feel how solid he was, his fractured self cemented together with the Ten, like steel wire.

The musicians in the gallery struck up a strange, wailing, eerie tune, a Zak folk song on glass instruments, with slower time and tempo. They'd found out that an ancient Arkan piece was almost identical to the Zak and the musicians, once they'd stopped laughing, had told her it was simple for them to modify.

 A dance challenge. Just like a dance challenge.

“There,” she said. “That’s the signal.” She turned, jumped and he caught her, hoisted her up over his head and she spread her arms, also trailing gold and silver and copper wings, so that everything fluttered gracefully as he trotted down the steps and around middle of the dining hall and the slack-wire set up in the centre. He said I was light enough.  Shkai’ra or Shyll could have held me up like this... Rilla, we'll stick this manrauq patch on you and see if that fixes things. Concentrate. We only practiced this a dozen times this afternoon. Slapped together, vaguely good. 

He twirled the two of them in place, surprisingly gracefully, set her down at a wild skirl of glass pipes, and she stood frozen head down, arms artfully spread, back toe pointed sharply back.

She looked at her audience, focusing on the Fehinnan, from under her eyelashes and smiled to herself.  Dance on a wire. Here we go.


  1. Oh my this is warming up quickly

  2. This is thrilling. Scene, nicely set!