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 81
A Story of Kherishdar as Translated by M.C.A. Hogarth
I rose immediately and went to her, concerned. “Haraa? I thought you would…” And then trailed off. Frowning, I said, “Did he send you away?”
“No,” she said. She stood with her hair parted in front of her shoulders, like a stole; she even folded her arms over the curls so that they remained flat in place on her breast. “No, osulkedi. He did not.” Looking up at me with her burning-ember eyes, she finished in a flat voice, “But I have some pride. If they do not even notice you leaving, then you aren’t really there, are you.”
This took me aback, for fathriked were often installed in rooms as living statues, and while you were aware of them, it was not always the intent that they draw your attention actively. I have heard that the point of such exercises is difficult to explain to aunera, but suffice to say that Haraa’s comment was… not something I would have expected from the mouth of a fathrikedi, and from her eyes she knew it.
“I’m sorry,” she said, softer. “I just… I can’t watch anymore. I can’t… be excluded, when I wasn’t before. They don’t need or want me there. I would rather be useless here, where I never expected to be useful, than useless there, where I used to be… the lord of Qenain’s only fathrikedi, for he needed no other.”
“You are useful here,” I said firmly.
“I doubt I am even welcome here,” she said. “Given my behavior earlier.” She looked past me at Shame. “I am sorry.”
I expected some dissertation on how he understood that her actions had been affected by the extremity of the situation. But instead, he merely inclined his head, and beside me Haraa breathed out so softly I would have missed it had I not been so near her.
I closed the door behind her firmly and said, “You are welcome here, and we are glad of your company.”
“He speaks for you?” Haraa asked Shame.
“You don’t belong there anymore,” Shame answered, quiet. And that was both reassurance, and doom, and well we all knew it.
She hung her head again. “I won’t trouble you,” she murmured. “If I can just have the blanket from the massage table.”
Kor met my eyes over her bowed head, and with them asked a question.
Do you have a word for this, aunera? The wordless communication between those who are close? We call it banaj. The verb form is baneje, to speak without speaking; that is a word only used to describe that silent communication when it is exchanged and understood between two people. It is a good sign, a relationship that has trustworthy banaj. I knew implicitly what Kor was asking, and what he was permitting by making the question, so I said to Haraa, “You should sleep in the room, with us.”
She glanced up at me, startled. “Osulkedi?”
“Farren,” I reminded her. “You should not be alone.”
“I…” She began, then stopped. “All right. Yes, please. I’d like that. And thank you.”
“Go prepare,” I said, and she went, too dispirited to argue. Once she had vanished into the bathing chamber, I glanced at Kor. “You don’t mind?”
“No,” he said, beginning to put my materials away.
“Even though she called you impotent?” I said.
He chuckled. “Don’t worry, I don’t hold her words against her.” More seriously. “To do so would be to hold her pain against her. And she is suffering, Farren.” He looked toward the closed door. “More keenly than anyone else in this.”
“Even the lord?” I murmured.
“The lord of Qenain remains the lord of Qenain,” Shame said. “It is his fathrikedi whom his actions have condemned to being rakadhas. His heart is broken, but he has shattered her spirit.”
Put that way, the whole of it raised the fur up my arms. I rubbed them under my thick sleeves as I joined my gaze to his and wondered at the woman behind the door.
“Come,” Kor said, touching my wrist to bring me back from the reverie. “Let’s prepare for bed.”
“I don’t like that Ajan is alone,” I said. “When will he sleep, if no one can relieve him?”
“The same way he did in the Merchant Hall when we first met,” Kor said. “When he tires, and lying across the door with his sword naked under a palm. That is the way, with Guardians… and we will not deprive him of that when everything else is so out-of-place.”
I thought of Ajan’s gift to the lord of Qenain and my feelings about the nuance of it and found it appropriate that Kor had just made the same sort of gift to his lover. Truly they were well-matched. It made me smile, and I had need of one then. “Very well,” I said, and repaired to the bedchamber. Given the day, I was ready.
We didn’t reach the cap but I am posting anyway; enjoy.
As usual, you can vote for us on Top Web Fiction here.
Mirrored from MCAH Online.