We continue Black Blossom, the novel that follows The Aphorisms of Kherishdar and The Admonishments of Kherishdar. It is a form of quasi-communal storytelling, as described here. Feel free to ask questions, converse or react as you wish in the comments; the Calligrapher and I are at your disposal, as time permits us both. And don’t fear… your questions are shaping the narrative. Read closely in the future and you may see yourself referred to there.
Black Blossom, Part 63
A Story of Kherishdar as Translated by M.C.A. Hogarth
shelv [ SHEHLV ], verb — to cuff; to discipline. In its original meaning, referred to literal corporal punishment, usually smacking the face or the back of the shoulder, though it was used only for warnings or light disciplinary action. Currently is used almost entirely to refer to verbal discipline.
It had litsilver blossoms in it, of course. And tea… not intentionally, but because in absent moments the brush went into the bowl, which was probably more often than I noticed. My mind was on the page, and yet I could not focus. The light was wrong. The tools felt too heavy in my grasp, and my hand was reluctant. I felt the strangeness of the world like an assault, and my shoulders hunched. To take tea in this place allowed me to pretend to normalcy. To make art in it was to expose myself to its dangers… to invite them to view my secret self, undefended. For the first time in years there were maledictions beneath my tongue, trapped in my mouth: I thought them, as protection against the taint, even though I could not speak them.
Shame was silent. I perceived his attention, though, one that reminded me of Ajan’s in its patience and its concentration. The proprietor, too, moved until she could sit somewhere that allowed her to see the brush.
Normally to be watched did not distress me. But this situation was anything but normal. To have my own tools fight me, to have the world itself fight me…
The sun moved, and I hissed as everything changed yet again beneath my fingers. The sharper light and harder shadows made mockery of the techniques that were so harmonious on the homeworld. But I could not back down from the challenge that Shame had not issued me.
Yes, you heard rightly. He had not issued it me, though he could have. He could have taken me by the chin and used that voice of his, that commands through timbre alone. ‘Do you fear, then,’ I imagine he might have said, or ‘are you without ambition after all?’
Instead, he had shown me his vulnerability. Faced with that uncertainty, and with his willingness to let me see it, I could not back down.
So I painted, in weak greens and silvers and grays and splashes of unsettled pale brown, thin as veils, so many washes. I painted flowers first, and no words, because there were no words in my head. I let the painting lead me… I believed him when he said there was an answer in it.
When I was done, I had a word. Qil: pure. Clean. Unstained.
It sat on the messiest ground I had ever painted, a thing of chaos, as if I had spilled paint and tea and left it in rings and spatters on a used table.
Almost I wept with frustration and anger, for having created such un-sense. But Shame checked my hand in the moment when I would have raised it against my creation.
“No,” he breathed. “It’s perfect.” At the flex of the muscles in my arm, he pressed, and I felt the strength in his hand. “Kava,” he said—peer, true peer—”leave it. It is perfect.”
“I don’t understand,” I said, my voice shaking.
“No,” he said. “That is how it is with true art. One perceives truth before one understands it.”
I flushed, but the praise only made me angrier. “It’s ugly,” I said.
“It’s honest,” Kor said. “About life and about struggling with all its complexities. Farren—” he caught my hands around the edge of the table, careful of my paint water and the drying page. His thumbs rubbed circles onto the backs of my hands until I started to relax despite myself.”Farren. Life is not always beautiful.”
“I know that,” I said, pained. “But I make it beautiful. That is my work. And this… this is ugliness. I have lost my way…!”
“Sometimes we have to lose our way before we are capable of a deeper understanding of it,” Kor said, his eyes intent on mine.
I drew in a breath to answer when two shadows, harsh and thin and gray, fell over us. I looked up to find Ajan bowing with an unmistakable air of triumph.
“Masuredi,” he said. “As you commanded.”
I could only stare in shock, for behind him… stood the fathrikedi. Alone, without escort or Guardians.
*bleary-eyed* Wrote 21 pages of this last night, and was up in the middle of the night to write 4 pages of notes, including some for a deleted scene. Someone, send sleep.
I note, some of you report my last couple of posts haven’t cross-posted to your friends-list, though you can see them at haikujaguar.livejournal.com. I don’t know how to troubleshoot that, because I see them fine… anyone have any idea what that problem might be?
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