Monday, June 16, 2014

Minis as a Dyer...

... fleeing the Sereniteers...


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

(688) 27 - A Eulogy and a Speech



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.”

(a pause)

“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!”

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

687 (26) - Folded in the Classic Fessas Style




Atzana looked up as Minis came zooming up the bridge, her face compassionate.  She held up a note in her hand.  “Minis… you won’t want to see this, but you need to.”

“Thank you, Atzana.”  He took the elegantly folded little note, his heart sinking as he recognized the classic formal folds of a fessas death notification.  The tiny drop of red brown sealing wax broke with a crack and he unfolded it right there.  “It’s Ienas… the owner… the late owner of the Puckered Fig.”

She held out another note.  “This is from his eldest.”
He scanned it quickly, since it wasn’t formally sealed like the death letter.  “I’m sorry to cancel my noon appointment tomorrow…”

“… but you’ll be attending the funeral of a friend,” she was already nodding.  “The delegation from West Eastergate will understand.  I’ve slotted their meeting in right after dinner.  There was another cancellation then.”

“Wonderful, thank you, Atzana.”

“The Ungilian Ambassador was a half-tenth late." She threw a lightning fast glance over Minis's shoulder where the sound of the doors opening echoed. "Here he comes.”

“Give me a moment and I’ll be properly imposing.” He dashed a hand across his face, seals catching a stray strand of hair and pulling, giving him an excuse for watering eyes, as he glided into the Highest Office and settled behind the desk, breathing deep to compose himself.

Ienas, you were too bloody young to die! I thought you and I would go on together for years! Ten keep you… may you pour at the best guest house in the afterlife, my friend.  The letter had given no details, of course.  That would have been unseemly.  Even after the proprietor went on to pour for the humble professional God, the Fig apparently carried on; in style.

Even as the door opened for the Ambassador, and his entourage, in the back of his head Minis was already composing what he would say, should Ienas … now the sole Ienas instead of Ienas the Younger… should he ask him to speak.  Who am I deceiving? The Imperator speaking at a humble fessas funeral? They’d jump at the chance. Ienas will be laughing his ass off in Selestialis, I’m sure. 

I’ve still got a bottle of that Rho that you sold me, my friend and I’ll take the time tomorrow night to have a drink with Mikas for you.

Monday, April 14, 2014

686 - Let Me Open Myself




“… dear Chevenga, the Assembly is still arguing about limiting the population, so that even though I’ve signed Arko to your federation, it’s still up in the air.  This might change soon because it seems that the Gods have somehow taken a hand and we have not had any children conceived or carried to term in the city for just over a year now.”  Minis put the end of his pen in his mouth and nibbled.

“It seems that a short term solution will be for me to declare a religious duty of all Arkans who wish to have children.  The Fenjitzae agree with me.  All Arkans having trouble conceiving and wishing children of their bodies, rather than adopt, will need to do a holy pilgrimage to pray at the High Temple itself.  It will require a pilgrimage for every child and the holy requirement of  Arko is that every couple replace themselves.  Aitzas, who can afford more such pilgrimages and the possibility of more children should see themselves as moral beacons to the populous and not have more than two…  The lower castes will be able to avail themselves of Temple assistance along the way so that they needn’t pay for their food and lodging while they are enroute.  I believe that if Aitzas couples who wish to make their journey a sacrifice, and stay in the Temples and Chapels of the Ten along the way, will do so out of piety, and if couple can sacrifice at the Temples it is asked that they do so.”

“I shall be writing every other ruler around the Miyatara to warn them that this infertility seems to have been created by the ancients and we are struggling to find a more immediate cure than the Great Temple of Arko.  The moment we discover the source of this, and any other remedies, my healer and other already dispatched  healers from Haiu Menshir will have full access to anything we discover….”


Dear Kallijas,

"I heard from Kyrialla that you and Laisa may be expecting?  May I offer my congratulations?”  Thank the Ten it seems that being Arkan is not the trigger for this.


Dear Ilesias Mahid,

“The competition for what people are calling ‘The New Mahid Core’ will be beginning next month.  Shall we be seeing you as a competitor?  If so I would certainly offer you family space in the city.  Just so you don’t need to ask.  The city is filling up quickly for these games and you shouldn’t have to jostle with anyone for resting space!

Greetings from your relative…


Dear Reknarja,

I quite understand that you wouldn’t want to travel so far with your wife so recently delivered and the new baby.  Congratulations once more on her birth!...


Dear Sukala,

I look forward to seeing you again.  When you’ve finished whapping me on the head with your stick, you can point out to me the first of the young idiots who win the right to guard me and my family, who will be the first to haul water for your goats and weed your carrots!

My mother looks forward to actually meet you this time.  Well, ‘looks forward’ is not quite correct, but she has taken over the whole of the pharmacological gardens from my grandfather and would like to consult with you on alpine and harsh-condition plants…

Dear Muunas… 

How much Minis wanted to write that letter.  His pen hovered over the blank page and then he put it down, pulled his copy of the holy book out of the desk drawer and flipped to a blank page in the Mikas’s section.

Dear Ten…

I am lost.  We were connected so closely.  My people… who voted me in… suffer and I am helpless in the face of it.  Let me open myself to you, help me or my people find some kind of remedy…



Thursday, April 3, 2014

685 - Who Swallowed the Sun?



The cleansing room behind Risae’s head in the temple was full of the sounds of the cascade that always ran there.  It was too messy and chaotic to be part of the Great Temple vistas but was, as everything in this section, dedicated to Risae.  It made the men uncomfortable to be housed here and Minis had been a little plaintive about it.  When the Gods had told him they all had to sleep in the Temple, he’d assumed that they’d be in Muunas’s Dominion.

Kyriala found it soothing to sit by the cascade, though not in it.  The Fenjitza had been having them in Risae’s cascade so often, especially since the attempted poisoning, Ky was joking with Gan that she and Fara would be growing fins like fish soon.

It was early morning and she’d been feeling restless and agitated for days it felt like.  Uncomfortable and twitchy, and hungry.  Hungry all the time.  She’d tried not to give in to it but Narilla had just smiled and offered her more fruit.  It was nearly time for them all to rise and get cleansed again before going off to the daily round.  Her welcomist would already be waiting to speak to her about her first meeting.  It was breakfast with Ana and the others of the Voters Feminine.  Her stomach growled again.  That had woken her up and she was feeling so hungry she was almost nauseated.

Fara came yawning in and sat down next to her.  “Good morning, sweetheart,” she said and dropped a casual kiss on her neck, something that she would never do in front of anyone else, for Ky’s sake, as Imperatrix in Arko.  The men were still raving in letters to the Pages editor about her having an alesina. At least that’s how they were interpreting it.

“So.  How many white beads this morning?”
Ky looked away.  “I almost don’t want to look.”

Farasha slung an arm around her shoulders.  “Don’t you go feeling guilty, if you’ve gotten pregnant before me.”  Her period had started and finished more than an eight day ago.

“But I know you want children just as much as I and Minis do.”

Fara laughed.  “In twenty years do you think that even a year will make any kind of difference? And if you are pregnant, then your child will be ours too. It’s not a competition, Kyri!”

Ky ran her hand along her belt.  Seven red beads, her fingers counted off... "Thirty-eight, thirty-nine." Another white one. “Forty days…” she whispered.

Fara seized her around the shoulders… “Good! Good!  It’s too soon to tell for sure… Narilla and her priestesses have been smiling an awful lot and that’ll just go on.  It’s just twelve days so we won’t know for sure…”

“Fara… I’ve been twelve days late before. Twice.”

“This time we’re in the Temple.  I have a good feeling about this.”

“Should we say anything?”

“Yes.  But only to the men, hmmm?”

Ky laughed. “And all of Arko will be speculating about us in a tenth because he’ll be beaming like the sun landed in his head!”

“Who had a sun land in their head?”  Minis came in, unknotting his belt. “Gan’s just coming.  He said ‘A half-tenth more!’ and buried his head under the pillows.”

“I’ll go dig him out.  The family’s got three ships expected in at Fispur and he needs to get down there.” Farasha squeezed Ky’s shoulder and smiled.

Minis took her place sitting next to Ky and he tried very hard not to stare at her beads that she still held.  He tried but his eyes kept slipping.

“Yes, silly,” she said and leaned forward to kiss him as he pulled his gaze back up to her.  “Twelve today.”

“Muunas bless,” he whispered. “Muunas bless.”

“Another eight day and we’ll know for sure.  Then… we will be able to announce it if I don’t lose this child…”

“Don’t say that. There might not be a child yet.”

“If there is…”

“If there is…” She counted on her fingers. “We’d be able to tell people on the first of Mikas.”

Gan and Farasha came back just in time to hear that and he started to laugh.  “So appropriate!”

Minis jumped up and flung himself through the cascade and then wrapped his sopping wet self around Kyriala. “Oh, oh, Muunas, Mikas, all Ten praise Ten prais- aghpfth!” He sputtered as Gan hit him in the face with a splash of water.

“Oh, All Spirit! Will of Knowledge!” They grabbed each other’s hands and jumped into the cascade all at once, slipping, holding each other up, laughing and laughing.  

“You’re right,” Farasha giggled.  “He’s grinning like he swallowed the sun!”

“Oh, Ten! Oh, Kahara!” Minis sat down with the cascade splashing off his head in all directions.  “I have to not let anyone know until Mikas one!”

“You can do it.  Think of sad things.”

“Oh, Ten, I have to run. The Assembly opening is in less than three beads, and there's that horrible Quad bill they're debating.  I had no idea that there were any of the Prophet's followers left much less elected to Assembly... there's a reason I never liked Hazkinabas...  and I have to get through an Imperial breakfast!”

“The soap from Narilla… and you need to walk slowly through the blue-light veil!” Gan dragged him back into the cascade by the wrist.  “Soap is quick…”

“Oh, Muunas, oh Ten, oh One!”

Kyriala still felt somewhat guilty but Fara’s soapy hands shook her slightly.  “Our children,” she whispered. 

Ky smiled softly, them more widely.  “I might be grinning like I swallowed the sun, but right now I'm hungry,” she said. “And I need to use the garderobe.”