M. C. A. Hogarth (haikujaguar) wrote,

Black Blossom, Part 71: To Days’ Endings

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 71
A Story of Kherishdar as Translated by M.C.A. Hogarth

      We passed the night in peaceable slumber. Kor did not kick, for which he was saved the necessity of plying me with twelve apologies, massage, tea and citrus trifles. And I woke happy… but very, very sore. Sufficiently so that attempting to move my arm from off the mattress set off a string of bright, deep aches through the muscle, and the rest of me promised similar cruelties. The colony did not agree with me. I have since learned we have a word for that—morananil, something like “world travel sickness”—but it is not something I was familiar with then.
      “Just this day longer,” Kor said, noting the flinch I had hoped he would miss. He caught my hand and rubbed the threads of thin muscle leading to the wrist. “I’ll send the message this morning to the capital, to Thirukedi, telling Him what we know and that we need aid, and we will be quit of this.”
      “I so pray,” I answered, twisting my hand until I could thread my fingers in his. “But I will also let you make the arrangements for breakfast and bathe first.”
      “I’ll pull your bath when I’m done,” he promised, and kissed our joined hands.
      I did not rise until he came for me; further, I allowed him to help me out of bed. I have made jokes previously about being old and decrepit, aunera… but those had been intended as humor. At home I rarely noticed that I was no longer as limber or strong as I had been a decade ago because the world is kind and my work is rarely arduous. But on the colony I felt each of my years, twice the weight they should be, and sleeping only seemed to have made the situation worse.
      “It’s because you were lying in a single place for too long,” Kor said. “It will pass after you’ve been up a while. Enough for you to move again, anyway.”
      I murmured, “These alien worlds…”
      “And yet, they are ours,” Shame said firmly. “Shall I help you to the bath?”
      “No,” I said, “I think I’m fine now.”
      I know it seems as if I am dwelling on my aches and pains, aunera, like the worst of visitors whose conversation fixates solely on the pole star of his own miseries. But the issue is relevant—gods hear me but I wish it was not!—and so I feel constrained to explain it to you. We were all feeling the difference in the worlds, even if I was the only one to be quite so deeply affected. None of us were accustomed to the colony.
      So, I apologize, I do.

      I bathed carefully, then, letting the hot water serve as balm for my aches. Whatever salts Kor had poured into them seemed to help, for by the end of my soak I was feeling more myself. I was expecting to dress myself so I was surprised not to be left to it… or at least, I was until I saw who it was that awaited me. Ajan was standing at the bath’s edge with a towel and my clothes over one shoulder.
      “I can dress myself,” I protested, but without vehemence. I observed the form only. “This isn’t necessary, penokedi.”
      “Of course it’s not,” he said as he applied the towel. “I do it because it pleases me, and because I am in your debt to days’ endings.”
      Some of you are familiar enough with our way of speaking to sense that this is one word, and carries a specific meaning: tanshe. Some translate it as “forever” or “eternally,” but I feel this does it an injustice, making it sound too much like poetic hyperbole. Tanshe is a deeply personal and very exact amount of time: from the moment you use the word… until the moment you die. And you do not use such a word, aunera, unless you truly, completely mean it.
      “Ajan,” I said softly.
      “Osulkedi,” he interrupted, and lifted his hands, palm up. “Permit me?”
      “Yes?” I said, moved by the earnest appeal.
      He took my hands and kissed their backs, first one, than the other. And then rested his cheek on them, bowed.
      “I accept your debt,” I said at last, my voice very quiet. “And with it, the bond between us.”
      “Thank you,” he breathed, and pressed his brow to my hands before releasing them.
      As he stood and resumed drying me off, I said with what I fear was a hint of mischief, “Was it all that you dreamed?”
      And with matching humor, he answered, “Better to ask, was it all that he dreamed?” And then he grinned at me and whisked the towel off before handing me my robes and leaving me to dress.
      Truly, they deserved one another.
      And yes, I grinned to say it, too.

ahha [aa HHah], (noun / interjection) – responsibility; stewardship; care; maintenance; the out-breath of the universe. That which maintains the world, and which maintains everything else. The sacred foundation of all things.

***

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Tags: ai-naidar, black blossom, serial, writing
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