Today, after a year and a half of posting, we conclude Black Blossom, the novel that follows The Aphorisms of Kherishdar and The Admonishments of Kherishdar. The Calligrapher and I thank you for spending the time with us.
Black Blossom, Final.
A Story of Kherishdar as Translated by M.C.A. Hogarth
That, then, is how it happened, that I became the head of Qevellen, attended by my ajzelin Kor, Kherishdar’s Shame. There were the expected frictions that came from a group of people unaccustomed to one another now living in a shared space, but far fewer than I expected; within months, it was as if we had been thus forever. The youths from the temple grew as dear as sons to me, and when summer came I brought them to the Tryst. One by one, they took the wives that Kor and I did not, and then truly Qevellen came alive: there were children and the mishaps attendant with them, and laughter and tears and all the small joys that give life its meaning and its structure. And in time, there were other things as well: an orphan boy who broke and mended my heart, and two perfect babies who completed Kor, who had never understood his lack until the first curled a tiny, perfect hand around his finger.
Though we did not plan it, we even raised a successor to the priesthood of Shame. There was little precedent for his training, since it was more usual for Shame to die before his replacement arrived, but we welcomed the opportunity. It gave Kor practice setting down instructions for those to come, and in truth he took well to the path of the teacher once he permitted himself to let go of a singular responsibility for all Ai-Naidar. It was difficult for him for it was born of love, but he never allowed anyone to see his struggles but me… and then only in the stillest hours of the night, when I would find him awake alongside me, wrestling in silence with what he perceived to be a renunciation of something greater than duty, for who among us feels comfortable abstaining from the demonstration of love?
But he learned, as Kherishdar did. He made his peace with it in the week before his successor’s induction; I found him standing in the Guardian’s yuvrini, having risen from lighting a cone of incense there. He had donned the First Servant’s stole, and he looked… very right in the dim scarlet light, with the flesh-pale yoke of the stole framing his shoulders and the nape of his neck. None of us said anything when he came out of the room dressed thus, but we didn’t have to. He read our gladness all the same.
Our boy acquitted himself with distinction; like the man he had set himself to the task of emulating, he ran the trials through to their very end, and became the third Shame in our history to own all the Corrections, from the most violent to the most tender. On that day, Thirukedi named him Shame… and renamed Kor. For in some things there can only ever be one, and Shame is among them.
I do not know how to translate ashul. There does not seem to be an aunerai word that suits. It is neither pity nor justice, though it has elements of both. Were I to write it out, I would say it is compassion in the face of weakness, so perhaps “mercy” will do. This was the name Thirukedi gave to Kor, and it became the name that all priests of Shame took on when they retired to an elder’s wisdom duties and left the execution of the virtue to their heirs.
So Kor relinquished the active duties of his priesthood to his successor, and this came at just the right moment, for it freed him to rewrite of the Book of Corrections at a time when his mind was still sharp but his spirit had been softened by wisdom and compassion and the years of service he’d undertaken in his virtue’s name. In those later years he spent many days in my studio with his notebooks, debating the philosophy of law with me… precisely because I was so unfamiliar with it, perhaps. Shinje: the light to his dark and the ignorance to his knowledge… in that arena, at least. When the revisions were complete, it was he who gave way with that graceful humility, and I who carried forth the work, crafting the iskadi—the book soul, the blueprint copy from which all other copies were made.
If you look at a modern Book of Corrections, you will find us both there. The dark and the bright; the art and the law…. gentleness and passion entwined. It was a peerless work, a testament to the love that broke a man and freed him, and it came to pass because Thirukedi saved us from ourselves and gave us to one another. And that, surely, is the story of Kherishdar.
You would say we lived happily ever after, but we know that happiness is a moment; it is implicit in the definition of our word for it, anil, to be happy at that time because happiness is now, is a breath, is a tsan, a subjective heart-beat that lasts forever and is gone when next you breathe in. Among Ai-Naidar, we would end by saying that we fully lived the years that followed, and that is entirely true… and if there are others stories there besides, perhaps another time, aunera. Perhaps.
And now, truly, we have come to our ending. I do not know if you recall, but at one point I mentioned the word toril; “broken piece,” that is to say, or “shard,” particularly a shard of glass, through which one can see refractions. There are tales that we call torili ekain—”shard stories”—and we name them thus because they come to us in pieces, broken off from the same truth, and when we look through the shards we see a facet of that truth which we would otherwise be blind to. Is it thus with you, aunera? That there are truths one cannot bear, save to see in pieces, to grasp them obliquely, to know them, like poetry, before they are understood?
Somehow, in this, I feel we are not so different. We are none of us crafted to bear the fullness of what is.
The parables of the broken pot are a torili ekain; they are all variations that speak to us of a single truth. That we are all the pot, and we are all the potter, and we are all the break and the mending. We crack, and in the pieces we find an opportunity to see what otherwise would be unbearable when witnessed as a whole. Indeed, this story you have just read is also a torili ekain; mine and Shame’s and Haraa’s and the lord’s… all of us, we were all the pieces that a loving hand put back together, and we made sense of our truth in those pieces. Thus hope finds us, even at the ultimate end; as Thirukedi Himself said, what has broken is free, forever.
My crack is mended at last, and I am whole. I pray that you too find your mending, aunera, and perhaps as your shards are set you might see, in the brief darkness of the break before it is sealed, a hint of that great and unbearable truth. And if you do not find that mending… then it is my dearest hope that you embrace your broken self, and know that you are free.
Until we meet again, aunera… my friends.
Love will break us all: there are no exceptions. So why try to avoid it? There is no use in an unlived life. Best to let it in. Regret nothing, and when the time comes: shatter, shatter into glorious pieces.
Observations from the End of a Life
Mirrored from MCAH Online.