Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Morning Meeting

The Monotooth was in the skilled hands of the royal physicians, the Servatori were on guard around its room, the body of Ch’Voga was being…tended to by the family servants, Amisbhake didn’t know if embalming was the word anymore.  What does one do with a dried corpse, especially one which had begun to rot again when the Monotooth carried it into slightly more humid climes?  How long had the undead cyborg walked among the people?  A corpse carrying a corpse, it gave Amisbhake a shiver to consider.  The Sun would not rise for a few hours yet but no one was looking for his bed.  The day had begun.  The Viceroy led them back to the council room, which the uncanny staff in their vigilant prescience had lit and prepared for them.

“So,” this most unique of all morning meetings began with the calming familiar, the Viceroy pouring the first cups of coffee for each of them himself and placing the first question to his advisors, “What do you make of this?”

“Verily,” C’Yashi’s gravely purr was the first heard, also familiar, though possibly not reassuringly so.  “You do not want to know what I think, sire.”

“Probably not, but pretending for a moment it is early and my better judgment slept in, indulge me.”

“Very well.  I think I for one have never been party to so vulgar an act as I have just witnessed in all my years!  And may I never be again should I live a thousand more!”

The Viceroy finished pouring, sat in his throne at the head and adopted a listening posture.  “Indeed.  Do tell?”  They all sat in their places, two divans for the six advisors on either side of the central charcoal. 

“In my long years of service to Milord, I have almost become inured to the battering of my liege’s shocking displays and erratic decisions.  But this!  This, by far, is the most irrational, preposterous and outright irresponsible of them all!”

“It would seem since we’re beginning the meeting early today,” Amisbhake said, “we will be treated to longer preambles.”

“Pre-rambles, you mean,” Moche chuckled.

“Peace counselors,” the Viceroy chastened, “The source of your outrage, C’Yashi?”

“Is this, Milord: the Regent embracing his son’s very murderer?  It is indecent!  Extravagant to the point of forgetting, nay!  Flogging justice, to say nothing of your beloved son’s memory and honor.  Does he not deserve justice?  But!  Milord’s soft-hearted forgiveness and mercy are legendary so one could almost, almost I say, swallow this bitter lozenge.  But to call the very… abomination your son!  To name it your heir!  Have you gone mad, Milord?  I do hope your better judgment awakes and joins us soon!”  Amisbhake always had a violent itch to draw his sword after C’Yashi spoke.  Some low murmurs and hard looks around the council told him he was not alone in the sentiment.

“Should I not honor my son’s last wish?”

“How do we know it was his wish?”

“We have his will.  Written in his own hand or I’m not his Father, sealed with his ring.”

“But what state was your son in, Milord?” the emphasis on ‘your son’ could not be missed.  “Alone, most probably injured or dehydrated, captured by this vile devil,” which, Amisbhake translated in his head, is not your son, “and being dragged back to its lair.  He very well could have been delirious.”

“Yet was coherent enough to instruct a member of a hostile race that to my knowledge, no one has ever managed to communicate with,” Amisbhake countered, “giving him specific instructions on how to get here, how to get in contact with the Viceroy himself, write a legible, credible will and testament and seal it.  A high cognitive delirium indeed.”

“The cyborg had the ring.”

“And knew what it was for?”

“Conceded.  However it could be a joke!  Not to be crass, Milord but Ch’Voga was famous for his dry wit.  Never expecting the creature to make the journey here, much less survive, he could have written it only to amuse himself.”

“Pretty risky,” Moche said, “giving a Monotooth directions to the capitol for a joke.”

“What is it you fear, C’Yashi?” Amisbhake asked.

“Assassins, large dogs, the laundry staff losing his imported robes,” Melchizadek quipped.

“Perhaps,” Moche added, “he fears the assassin is here for him, Ch’Voga’s last joke, as it were.”

C’Yashi waited for the chuckles to settle, “Sire, I apologize for starting this line,” C’Yashi said to the Viceroy.  To Moche he hissed, “Have you no shame?  We have not even buried him!”  All eyes shifted to the empty place on the Viceroy’s throne where the heir sat.

Moche, abashed, also apologized.  “I meant no disrespect, Milord.  I loved him as my own.”

“I know, Moche.  Fear not, Ch’Voga would be the first to complain if we were dour on his account.  The time will come to mourn, to grieve, but we who knew him in this council, may speak as he would have had us speak,” Chofa rumbled with only an extra softness to his distant thunder rumble to betray the pain he must be feeling.  “And I do not believe for a second he would send anyone to assassinate his favorite foil.”  C’Yashi’s smile was wan.  “So what is it that has you so concerned, C’Yashi?”

“Your highness, I do not trust what I do not understand.  A barely sentient cyborg killing machine I understand.  One here in the capitol, in the very palace infirmary, this I do not understand.  Ch’Voga naming it like a pet; that I could understand.  Like his own child, I do not.  Wanting a connection while he is alone, someone to belong to, even this I could attempt to understand.  Showing it the way here so it could sit in that very place at the council fire,” he gestured to Ch’Voga’s empty seat, “and someday yours, Milord, that I most certainly do not understand!  Nor can I certify it as wise.”

“What would you have me do?”

C’Yashi waved his hand, “It is not my place to say…”

“What would you do, C’Yashi?  If you were Viceroy, what would you do with this pitiable creature?”

C’Yashi met his eye.  “Kill it, Milord.  For the sake of our posterity.  For the sake of all that’s holy.  And for Ch’Voga, your beloved son, I say, kill it.”

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Son of Chofa

The Harvester-taken-prisoner stood in the circle of large, avian meat animal drones swaying a bit.  Had it read the signs correctly?  The Fire-maker had been very insistent in its directions but after weeks of feeding only on rodents and fruit, its wounds sealed but festering, the Harvester-taken-prisoner was in a perilously weakened state and easily confused.  It shifted the Fire-maker’s husk and got a better grip on its weapon for all the good it would do. 

Doors opened somewhere in this great warren and a monster of a meat animal, easily as large as the drones, entered the chamber.  It saw the circle of avians.  It saw the Harvester-taken-prisoner.  The primary of the avians came to it and spoke with it and though the meat animals were not near and the chamber full of echoes, the Harvester-taken-prisoner still heard what was said.

“Sire, it is a cyborg soldier from the Sand Sea.”

“I’m familiar with what it is, Servitor Sobyeit.  What I am wondering is what is it doing in my antechamber?  And how it has come to be in possession of my son’s body?  Or should I say, why it has chosen to bring it here?”

“Apparently because your son told him to.”


“Perhaps you should read this first, sire.”

“Ch’Voga’s copy of the Scriptures.”  The voice went from distant thunder to whispered breeze.

“The creature was carrying it.  Your son seems to have written his will in the margins.” 

The meat animal carried the book nearer to one of the lanterns lining the walls.  It read with it’s back to the Harvester-taken-prisoner for some time.  At one point, four more meat animals entered the chamber with fresh linens and a long plank.  The primary of the meat animals spoke with them and they came, timid and fearful to the Harvester-taken-prisoner.  The primary of the avian drones spoke for them.  “They have come to take the body to prepare it for burial.”

The Harvester-taken-prisoner tried to comprehend.  The four meat animals tugged gently at the Fire-maker’s husk.  Their heat was coming at it in waves, soft, vulnerable.  The Need was rising yet it must not feed.  It didn’t know what was happening.  It didn’t know what would happen when they took the husk.  The primary animal had the book.  If they took the husk, the Harvester-taken-prisoner would have only one last gift of the Fire-maker.  Would the drones attack then?  “Please,” one of the soft ones said.  It realized it was still gripping the husk tight.  It released its burden to them, if only to make them leave sooner.  It took its weapon in both hands and waited on ever weakening legs for the inevitable.

It peered at the drones with its remaining eye.  They peered back.  No one moved.

“Ch’Loi,” the primary animal said, “Come here please.”

It took a beat or two.  The last precious words of the Fire-maker.  So much to remember.  So hard now to recall.  The Harvester-taken-prisoner took a halting step outside the circle of avian drones.  They made no move to stop it though one muttered, “Good Lord!”  It limped over to where the great primary meat animal stood waiting for it.  It was only a few strides but it felt longer than all the steps it had taken since it turned its face toward the East.  The primary of the meat animals waited.  At last it stood before the shaggy great monster.

“My son,” the monster said, “Ch’Voga, he gave to you the name Ch’Loi didn’t he?”  The Harvester-called-Ch’Loi chopped the air weakly.  The primary watched the gesture with great interest.  “He gave you something else, did he not?”  The Harvester-called-Ch’Loi raised its hand, not to chop or slash but to show the gift.  “Do you know what these gifts mean?”  The Harvester-which-chose-not-to-harvest-and-was-without-kin-and-was-taken-prisoner-and-was-completely-overwhelmed slashed.

“I am Chofa.  My son, my beloved son Ch’Voga, named you his heir and gave you his ring.  He named you Ch’Loi.  It means, “Son of Chofa.””  The primary of the meat animals took its shoulders in great furry paws, no claws, just firmness.  “It means, you are my son, I am your father and you are home.”  The great monster wrapped it in its arms.  No longer able or needing to support its own weight, the Harvester-named-Ch’Loi fainted.