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

The Admonishments of Kherishdar: COVETOUSNESS

COVETOUSNESS
M.C.A. Hogarth

dashalin [ dah shah LEEN ], (interjection) — "What is repented of is forgiven." Since the public condemnation of wrong-doing is one of the duties of the Ai-Naidar, it is not uncommon for people's misdemeanors to be aired in public. It is essential that those who are so seen are assumed to have paid their debts, repented and are "clean" again. This interjection is an expression of that forgiveness.

     At his direction my own Guardians marched me out of my House as if I were some petty criminal, robes dragging through the gray puddles lining the streets. Head lifted, I ignored the people who stared as we interrupted their shopping on our way to the convergence of all the great markets beneath the shadow of the emperor's residence... to the pedestal there, still wet.
     "Up," Shame said. As the Guardians pulled me bodily onto it I yanked one arm free—
      "—STOP."
      His voice had the force of a blow. I glared at his impassive face.
      "You can stand of your own will," he said. "Or I will chain you."
      I bared my teeth and straightened. He nodded as if it were the first thing I'd done that he approved of. Joining me on the pedestal, he surveyed the watchers we were gathering. I ignored them, just as I had the gawkers on the way, but... there were so many more of them.
      "Your sin, nanaukedi," he said, voice low.
      I ignored him too. It was getting harder.
      "You chased down the male you danced with at the Winter Tryst. The anonymity of the Tryst is sacred," he said. "You abused the power granted to you as nanauked, as a Noble, to expose him."
      Still I said nothing.
      "Speak," he said, in that voice. Despite myself, I answered.
      "I wanted him."
      "He was not an object to be wanted," Shame said. He stepped in front of me and stared at me with insolent eyes. "You don't understand. But you will."
      His hands reached for the knot of my corded belt.
      "Stop!" I hissed.
      But he did not. My Guardians restrained me as Shame stripped me before the entire market... and then walked away, fading into the crowd.
      ...leaving me there. On display in the middle of the city. Before people I did not want seeing me, people I couldn't ignore.
      They stared, and that was awful. But then they turned away, and that was even worse. I had been seen... seen and discarded, just as casually as I had done with the male when I tired of him. The day aged beneath a sullen sky and still they came and stared and moved on, dismissing me over and over and over and over....
      Ancestors, have mercy on this disgrace who dared name herself your child. Thunder murmured. My knees trembled, but before they could buckle Shame emerged from the grey throng. He pulled a wrap around my cold body and allowed me to hide my face.
      "Thank you for the grace of my Correction," I whispered against his chest, shaking. He covered me as it began to rain.


The Admonishments of Kherishdar.
Tags: ai-naidar, excerpts, the admonishments of kherishdar
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