Water day

October 29, 2008

There is an intense, almost intimate pleasure that one feels when one has been working with one’s hands all day and drying one’s skin with water and soap and finally one finds a moment to apply sweet lotion. It soaks into the skin like rain being absorbed into grey earth, turning it black and soft. Today it was a gift from Heiye, who gave the pot to me before dinner.

“How much did this cost?” I asked.

“I stole it,” he replied. “Rakka helped.”

It is a comely present, and my hands are the better for it. Can I object to theft on a petty scale if my husband is a thief of thrones? His intent is illegal, even if his motives are understandable. Admirable, some would probably call them. He wants to make a world where children are safe, where people are free, where life is just. For this dream of a world, he will do almost anything in his power. My dreams are different. I would like my family to be secure, my future certain, my goals achievable. I want to want only what I can have, and have what I want. I want to honor my ancestors and my name.

Here, then, is a goal, to run my fingers through Sev’s hair and pull until his eyes cross. I looked in on him with Meyni this evening and found him in council. Unlike the other meeting Sev explained to me in detail, this room was well lit. They also decided to leave off the robes. I recognized many faces from Dri’s poetry reading, but they also did not declaim their strategies in verse. Sev sat at the other end of the square table from Dri. He appeared absorbed in a paper he was reading, written in some code I did not understand. Dri was looking elegant, his hair the color of undyed silk and curled around his ears most becomingly. He has very nice ears, for a man. He was wearing a high collared silk jacket of blue and purple brocade, edged in black. It had very elegant knotwork. He wore a hat to match. I thought the contrast between the deep blue and black and his pale hair very charming. He was wearing less jewelry than usual. Sev, by contrast, looked very much as if he had been rolling in the mud all day, thoroughly disreputable. The other men at the table varied in age and apparent rank, but remained steadfastly men, and serious men at that.

Meyni asked, “Do you know who they are?”

“Dri’s conspirators, I believe.”

“Lord Uru had me watch some of them,” she volunteered. “I can put some names to faces, if you want.”

They were sharing whispers with their tablemates, so I nodded.

“That would be helpful. Thank you, Meyni.”

“I’m curious. Lord Uru had me looking at things, but he’d never explain what they were. Or who they were.”

“Do you just need a name, or-?”

Dri started talking. Meyni, showing good sense, nodded and smiled her affirmative in the room’s twilight, the better to see the image reflected in her bowl.

“My friends,” he said. “Let us resume. I know many of us do not have all the time in the world. Lord Tarsus, please tell everyone what you know of actions in the Kingdom of Alojia, now and temporarily the Province Ojia. I’m sure everyone has heard something, though not, I am sure, anything accurate. Thank you, Lord Tarsus, for your valiant effort.”

“Thank you, Lord Taras. I am pleased to say that the governor’s brother agrees with our ideals and is pleased to assist us in any way. The governor’s traitorous loyalty should not be a problem. I believe with a sharp needle, we can have it.”

Traitorous loyalty is such an interesting concept.

“I don’t want to destabilize Ojia yet,” Sev spoke up, looking up for the first time. “We want to keep winter starvation to a minimum. Ojia is too central to food shipments. Late spring.”

“If we wait too long, our new allies in Ojia will grow impatient,” Lord Tarsus replied.

“Impatience is exactly the problem. Ojia’s rebellions have a short mortal span. I’d give them two months before they crumble and fade. The garrison there is efficient.”

He would know. He fought the last rebellion in Ojia Province.

“Thank you, Lord Uru,” Dri interrupted. “I’m sure there is something to be done there in the meantime. Please come up with a few solutions for that garrison. Now, Lord Tarsus, please continue.”

A dark-haired lord with his hair in an elegant braid said, “I still think Lady Jai Minerva should be here. It would be most respectful.”

“A woman, I may remind you,” said an elderly, grey-haired lord wearing red and marigold, the house colors of the Wushi. I remember he once criticized me in verse. I have taken a new dislike to the man.

“I am not like to forget it,” snapped the lord with the horse-braid.

He got a sour smile in reply.


“Shall I continue?” asked Lord Tarsus of Dri.

“Lord Uru, please make a full report to Lady Jai. Continue, Lord Tarsus.”

Meyni moved to add more silver to the water, a small spoon. I stopped her, laying a few fingers against her wrist. The picture and sound faded, the silver reflection drawing in from the edges of the pottery bowl. First the size of a plate, then a breadfruit, then a saucer, then a closed fist, then a thimble, and the last trace of color vanished. The water was clean and clear once more. Meyni took up the bowl and drank it down.

“Why do you drink it?”

“Why did you stop us watching?”

I was agreeable about answering, though as a response I considered it rude.

“We do not have very much silver.” I paused, but she did not seem eager to speak. “Safer not to know too many details, my girl. For everyone.”

“I drink it to bring myself closer to my element. It makes working invisibility into my body easier. I put my silver in my clothes, too.”

“Interesting. Thank you.”

“I would be more curious.”

“I’m sure you would be. Watching is in your nature.”

“Not yours?”

“I like things I can do better than things I can observe. I prefer women’s work to watching men’s.”

“It’s like having two of my mother,” Meyni said blandly. “Excuse me, I’ve lingered too long.”

“Good day, Meyni.”

Comments (4)

AkedhiSeptember 9th, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Strategy in verse would be awesome, Suki. You have to admit that much.

I like Heiye stealing lotion for Suki – little luxuries probably make the biggest difference.

I am curious about the lord with the long braid who wanted Min to be there, and join Suki in disliking the guy who criticized her in verse and was like ‘ew, lady-cooties’.

I am intrigued by the magic in this universe and would like to see more of it at some point.

adminSeptember 9th, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Suki may not have made this explicit, but she thinks these people are very silly. Heiye is a sweetie! (He might be my favorite character, it’s hard to choose.) Long braid guy needs a name so I can add him to the character tags. As for the magic – I agree, there should be more. It’s on the list~

KunamaOctober 31st, 2012 at 11:20 pm

“Lord Uru had be watch some of them”
be -> me

Soooo nice to see this updating again. I’d forgotten about it for so long.

adminNovember 5th, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Fixed! Thanks for the comments, it’s really nice to know people are reading.

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