Jump to content

Chapter 3


Shion
 Share

Recommended Posts

Governor Fedavya Shen, son of the most popular ruler in a century, and yet he chose to remain on an isolated planet of little worth to the empire. The planet called Ruget was important to the textile industry, but beyond that was completely ignored. Fedavya liked it that way. He had no intention of being anywhere near his father, regent or not.

 

The tall tanned man of medium build tied back his hair and continued to watch the glowing sunrise. Brilliant yellow clouds gleamed gold, orange and were softly brushed with pink. His lover, Lady Eashafili Ashanti lay in his bed soundly sleeping. The hard features of his face softened. Today he would finally ask her. Today he would defy all convention and marry her.

 

Sha’id, his lover’s homeworld, was considered a traitor’s planet, and while the lower classes could care less who married who, his peers and his power rested solely on popularity. He would have married her ages ago. His mother had not approved of the match. How had she said it? Fedavya asked himself. “Although I like her, the Council would only see their failure to dominate Sha’id.” The voice of his beloved mother rang in his ears as if she was still there, and then it all faded with the knock of a servant.

 

“My lord,” said quietly the sweet girl dressed in blue uniform. “A message has arrived from the Captain of the Ahara.”

 

Governor Shen nodded and left his bedroom. His long green and gray robes sweeping past as he walked down the narrow hallway to his study. The head of household would know where to redirect his breakfast. She was another victim of this damnable war with the Matazians. She had lost everything in the invasion following the massacre.

 

He sat at his desk, which was rather tidy for a busy man. The desk itself was old and battered, but he refused to spend money on something he considered frivolous. He set his hand on the palm reader, and the incoming message appeared in holographic form at eye level. The Captain of the Ahara spoke, “Governor Shen, I know this is short notice, but there is something we need to discuss upon my inspection of the base.”

 

“Very well, Captain, perhaps we should discuss this upon dinner, vacuum-packed food has to be dull after awhile,” invited Governor Shen.

 

“Sounds wonderful, thank you, my lord,” and the transmission ended.

 

Governor Shen’s smile faded. This visit was quite unexpected. The Captain was not due to inspect the base south of the capital city until the following week. Delthglor what new schemes do you have in store for my world? The soft embrace of Eashafili interrupted his brooding. He inhaled her clove scent and hoped with all his might that Captain Filgae was merely being polite.

 

“More worries from home world,” she said, her large brown eyes staring into his pouting expression.

 

He flushed slightly, “Whatever it is that damned lord wants, I wish he would find someone else to harass!”

 

“You always assume it is something bad,” she laughed at him. “Captain Filgae has dined here before and you enjoyed yourself.”

 

“But my father is Regent!” he exclaimed as if that proclamation alone was explanation enough.

 

“Yes, he is regent,” she said simply. “His policies are eating away the empire and there is little either of us can do about it. We can make our colony prosperous and help those we can. Now go eat breakfast, and I will make sure tonight’s dinner is extra-special for the poor Captain. We can have our little dinner tomorrow.” Her sweet tone put him completely at ease.

 

That evening with the arrival of Captain Barakha Filgae, the usually quiet home of Governor Shen was full of music and dance. Clothed in elegant formal wear of rich colors of silk cloth. For silk was the staple of Ruget. The worms loved the sulfuric excretions of the rain-forest trees. In another month they would cocoon. A month after that they would harvest the threads after the hatching. Lady

 

Ashanti gleamed in gold and rich burgundy fabric, which clung lightly to her hips accentuating her waist. Barakha swallowed at the sight of her and tried to focus his attention upon Fedavya’s face rather then her beauty.

 

“Welcome, Captain,” she said with a polite bow. “You are always welcomed here. Indeed our colony has much to thank the Ahara for.”

 

“It is always a pleasure dining in the presence of such hospitality. Indeed the gods themselves would be hard pressed to find fault in this,” said Barakha politely.

 

They proceeded to the dining hall. Minstrels played. There were elegant dancers dressed only in a girdle of gold chains, and sweet smelling orchids in their hair. Several of the governor’s friends rose to greet Captain Filgae. Twenty people sat in the dining hall, and eagerly listened whenever Captain Filgae chose to speak.

 

“So,” said Lady Ashanti, once silence settled over the diners. “How true are the rumors about the loss of Asteria?”

 

Captain Filgae cleared his throat and said, “It depends on what you have heard, my lady. The press has shielded the public from much of what happened there, for the Regent fears that the truth would cause panic.”

 

“And loose his popularity, no doubt,” said the Treasurer sourly. “

 

Barakha smirked and said, “I see the Regent is not a popular man here, and for that I do not blame you. Asteria was a slaughterhouse, enough so that the High General was called back to be interrogated by the Order of Ma’at. If we had not intervened no one would have survived that battle. Nearly three hundred million people died on those colonies, and now it is a contest of charisma in the courts. The Regent has not given word if the Council will take action or not.”

 

“No doubt, our dear Council will discuss it over a few rounds,” groused a crone, the Head of Colonial Education.

 

Barakha flinched from her stern rebuke, and wanted to tell her that their governor could take all of this away. He had to be quiet though. He could not speak of it until he was alone with Fedavya, and he dreaded that conversation.

 

“I think we have heard enough of politics for this evening, wouldn’t you agree Captain?” said Lady Ashanti.

 

“Whole-heartedly, dear lady,” he replied.

 

“Perhaps a song?” suggested Fedavya, with a nod the band struck up boisterous song about the priestesses of Hawtahur (the goddess of lust and beauty). Soon everyone was laughing at the bawdy tale and joining in the chorus.

 

It was late into the night when Barakha and Fedavya retired to the governor’s study to talk. They sat across from each other the door to Fedavya’s left was shut, and to the right one could see the elegant gardens, which supported the governor’s household with food.

 

Fedavya spoke harshly, “My father is a worm of a man, and Delthglor well knows this. He also knows I despise Kalychya and everything in it. So why send you a week early during one of the largest scandals of this year?”

 

Fedavya’s tone caught the captain off-guard, after listening to Lady Ashanti’s melodic voice and polite manner for the past four hours. However, he was not too surprised by Fedavya’s tactics. This was a sore contention between Fedavya and Delthglor, and if it were not for the great need of the empire, Barakha would not ask. “I think the need is quite plain. Your father is more dangerous to this empire then Matar, and you are the only one fit to take the throne without struggle. We cannot afford a civil war.”

 

“I do not want it, and I will not have it,” said Fedavya stubbornly.

 

“He is going to kill the Regent regardless. If you don’t take the throne Fedavya, the Keyas and the Daecha will fight to the death for that power. We need you,” said the Captain.

Silence.

 

The Captain spoke, “Fedavya, we have been friends a long time. I would hate to see what the Order of Ma’at would do to you or worse yet what they would do to her if you refused and dragged the empire into civil war. Prejudice has no mercy.”

 

Fedavya let out a long sigh. “It figures. I plan something wonderful and the damned universe destroys it!”

 

“You weren’t going to marry her, were you?” asked Barakha.

 

The pained look on Fedavya’s face was answer enough. “What am I to do Barakha? Save the empire and destroy her? Could you do it?”

 

Barakha looked away. He stood. “I will talk to Delthglor when I return to Kalychya, and see if there is any other way. All right?” He waited for Fedavya’s reply.

 

Fedavya asked, “How bad is he Barakha, seriously?”

 

“He injects, smokes, eats, and quaffs every recreational pharmaceutical he can find. He parties and allows a few good academics decide everything from military policy to taxation. Right now the Council and the Order are floundering in the paperwork, and every other week there is a new title, a new promotion, a new hierarchy. Everyday Keitara dies a little. I should know, I was appointed to the mass burial project,” replied Barakha.

 

“I will give you my reply in the morning,” said Fedavya. Barakha nodded and left his study.

 

Fedavya paced his study, but he found it confining. So he walked out in to the greenhouses, but not even the sweet blossoms of the fruit trees could ease his heart. The Empire or his woman, murder his father or disgrace her, and quietly he whispered, “If only there was Feakara, and all of this would be unnecessary. Damn this war!”

 

Eashafili approached him. “We have only a few hours before dawn, my love. Come to bed with me,” she said softly.

 

“I can’t do this,” he said shakily. “I can’t take you to Kalychya they would devour you…”

 

“So it was as we suspected,” said Lady Ashanti. “Delthglor wants you on the throne, and Captain Filgae was his messenger.”

 

“Oh gods, Easha,” he moaned.

 

“You will go to Kalychya,” she told him with solemn resolution. “Because no matter how much you love me, it all means naught if the empire collapses. We will be fine, and I doubt that city is as terrible as you make it out to be. Now, come to bed with me, rest and sunlight lighten any burden.”

 

He took her hand and they walked to bed. Lying naked in her arms, the coolness of her soft body, he finally fell asleep.

 

Sunlight surrounded them when he awoke to her warm kisses along his neck, and half awake he returned them. Entangled and laughing with joy they surrendered to one of the few ecstasies left to humans. When they were done, she spoke, “now you must go. You shouldn’t keep Barakha waiting.”

 

Fedavya left, and when she knew he was far enough down the hall not to hear her, she cried.

 

Fedavya was glad that the Captain was running behind. It gave him time to prepare for his visit and get a few other things done. It was nearly noon when the Captain came to his office to announce his inspection was done.

 

“Tell Delthglor,” said Fedavya at last. “I will go to Kalychya, when the time comes.”

 

Barakha nodded, and left for Keitara. He could not help feeling he had delivered Fedavya into the hands of death. He returned to the palace on Kalychya.

 

He walked into the throne room, where the Council members were arguing amongst one another, and the Regent sat delirious on the throne.

 

Lord Keya exclaimed, his bushy brows bunched up in anger, “Here he is at last! He is the one responsible for this terrible breach of security.”

 

As the Captain of the Ahara approached, he noticed that the council members had surrounded one of his own, Jellkae Unas, the man he had left in charge of security over the palace. Looking up to the throne briefly, he concluded whatever happened could not have been too serious for the Regent still breathed.

 

“What is the issue?” asked Captain Filgae blandly.

 

Lord Keya looked as if he was going to explode when Lady Sheta Enarea uncrossed her arms and answered, “Four whores and the former secretary of the treasury were found in the Regent’s bedchambers. This morning they were found, but the Regent could not be. So the alarm was sounded. Our esteemed Regent passed out in the bathroom.”

 

“Were they allowed in?” he asked the council members.

 

Again Lady Enarea answered, “The Regent gave permission for all five of them.’

 

Jellkae Unas said, “The Regent demanded that they be allowed in, captain. They were well watched all night and anything of value to our enemies was secured.”

 

“I see. Well Lady Daecha and Lord Keya, I do not see any reason for this harassment. If you would excuse me I need to speak to Lord Delthglor immediately,” said the captain. He left the chamber listening to the odd chant of the Regent saying, “Pretty cows…pretty, pretty cows…”

 

It was in the courtyard of the chapel of Bashini, where the Captain found Lord Delthglor. Delthglor appeared agitated and tired. “I see you have returned from Ruget. How was your trip?”

Barakha smiled, “My welcome was less then warm.”

 

“I am sure Lady Ashanti kept things civil,” said Delthglor.

 

Barakha laughed and said, “You know how she is. Governor Shen says he would assist us.”

 

Delthglor nodded.

 

“You should return the throne room. Things are getting out of hand, and the press certainly does not need more fodder,” said the captain.

 

Delthglor agreed. Captain Filgae left and Delthglor sat for a moment staring at the cold water of the reflecting pool. The ice was cracking. He whispered to himself, “What has happened to my dear Kalychya?”

 

Lord Delthglor shook his head and stood up. He remembered when the Council appointed Lord Velkh Shen as Regent five years earlier. Each year took a heavier and heavier toll on the empire, and tragically most of the public was not aware of it. The colonists who complained loudly were immediately portrayed as backward barbarians or as warmongers. Regent Shen had won the press and nearly the Net.

 

He walked into the throne room and was not too pleased by what he saw. Lady Enarea and Lady Daecha were nearly pulling each other’s hair out. The Regent climbed onto the back of the throne and yelled, “GIANT DIFI CANTELOPES!” Those not completely distracted by the catfight burst out laughing. He then began to rock back and forth on the throne in absolute terror.

 

Lord Delthglor told the guards, “Take the lord to his bedchambers immediately.” He turned to Lord Arachyak and said, “Go fetch Doctor Senefkh and bring him here discretely.”

 

Now Delthglor turned his attention to Lady Daecha and Enarea. “Sheta,” he said gently, placing a hand on her shoulder. “This isn’t necessary.” She looked up at him, her anger for the moment forgotten. She flushed, and pulled back from his grasp.

 

“Well, well, Lord Delthglor playing mother again?” said a goading and all too familiar voice.

 

“Javya, what brings the Regent’s entertainer to this early session?” asked Delthglor, his voice loaded with cynicism.

 

The Regent’s renowned philosophers Javya, Jary and Claedja were half the reason why the Council had been in disarray for the past four years. Interestingly Delthglor did not see Claedja, and secretly wished they would all spontaneously combust. They had been given the status of lords on the Council, and carried political weight equal to Delthglor’s.

 

“The Regent himself asked us to sit in on this session. We have an official invitation,” said Javya snidely. “What’s more the Regent is not present, clearly it is this council that is out of line.”

 

Javya’s calm smile burned Delthglor, but he let no hint of that reflect in his response. “The Regent is inebriated.”

 

“And under the new guidelines,” stated Jary. “This Council must disassemble until he is well enough to make decisions. Too bad Feakara is not here, otherwise, today’s debates would have been quite invigorating.”

 

The tension in the Council was mounting, but Delthglor smiled. “I believe it is time for lunch anyhow,” he said, and then left the chambers followed closely by Sheta Enarea.

 

Delthglor was walking rather quickly. His mind raced, until her voice shattered his stern concentration. “They grow bolder,” she commented.

 

“I know, and with their growing power, our demise.”

 

“What I wouldn’t give to see HeartandFeather tear into them in public,” she said.

 

Delthglor thought, there are days they deserve each other… “I doubt that rabble rouser would do much in that tangled skein of egos,” he said.

 

“I disagree, Delthglor. Somehow I think that is exactly what the Council needs, but I think you are afraid of it.”

 

He scowled but a little voice in his mind said, maybe… in a little way, I am. “Set up a meeting with the Ambassador from Marnic, tonight,” he said.

 

“I already made the dinner arrangements. We are to meet at Lord Daecha’s estate tonight,” replied Lady Enarea. She watched as Delthglor turned to walk down a narrow alley running northeastward. “Where are you going?”

 

“I need to go to Degorine,” said Delthglor.

 

“As if those ancient relics care,” she scoffed. “Well remember to be back by nightfall.”

 

Delthglor nodded. He needed the guidance of the Neter. So he climbed the steps leading up through the shopping district, between the two largest temples in the Keitaran empire, the temple of

Bashini and the temple of Aran, through the large blocks of housing for the priesthood, and finally out into the sacred forests of Degorine.

 

Degorine was fifteen miles northeast of the city limits of Kalychya. The dense trees of the virgin forest shielded its existence from satellites. Law and religion protected the forest around Degorine. It was forbidden for all but a few Keitaran to cross here. Those who broke this rule rarely returned alive. The ones who survived came back clinically insane. Delthglor remembered the law he wrote so many years ago. Was there even a Feakara then? He cocked his head to one side trying to remember. Yes, there had been one, the first one. She had reluctantly agreed to the Neter’s demands.

Degorine, the holy shrine to the ‘gods,’ or so the priests spoke. The Neter gathered there to speak with the leaders of Keitara. Six thousand years ago, when Keitara was founded, the first inhabitants (humans and Scuntharians) were granted sanctuary. The humans looked at the Neter’s ethereal forms, advanced technology, agelessness and wisdom, and worshiped them. Lord Delthglor merely bowed his head, because he had no other choice. He was their tool after all.

 

Six thousand years ago, before he knew Keitara even existed, he had been a young aristocrat living on Scuntharia. He served the Emperor, but secretly he was apart of the Constitutionalists movement. The Constitutionalists desired to restore the balance between emperor and council, but they were weak compared to the Emperor’s power. His closest friend Professor Scornthene Rolana was also a nobleman of some standing within the emperor’s circle. Yet, Delthglor betrayed both Emperor and friend, and so the Neter judged him unworthy of death. He served the new land. Here he led the wandering Scuntharians from the ruins of their former empire.

 

The afternoon sun peaked out behind the clouds. Tiny white flowers bloomed amongst the fern and moss that lined the path that Delthglor traveled. Their scent filled the air and left Delthglor in a state of reminiscing. Hours passed and the path only meandered farther ahead into denser and older trees. Delthglor knew he would reach Degorine soon, but before he could reach the shrine, three beings appeared in his path. They appeared in a translucent form, refracting the golden light of the sunset. He recognized them immediately not by their looks, but the feeling they emitted. Each felt different to him.

 

Bashini appeared to him first. He felt a modicum of relief in her presence. However, the second, Tehuti unnerved Delthglor with his calculating gaze. Aran, their leader, did not appear, and for this

 

Delthglor was somewhat glad. Aran was egotistical and obsessed with the following of rules.

 

Bashini radiating a green and golden light finally manifested in a human form and spoke, “She dreams Delthglor. You need to let her go.”

 

“But, my lady, she should not be moved. Not yet, the Council is not ready, and I fear the growing unease amongst the Karae,” said Delthglor.

 

“It would be unwise to keep her there,” said Tehuti. “She is to be the next Feakara, and already you are burning time. She will not live long, and she is your true weapon against Matar and his allies.”

 

“But the complications will be great, and right now I am too busy trying to baby-sit the Regent,” grumbled Delthglor.

 

“It is the way,” stated Tehuti, who quickly left the grove.

 

Bashini stayed her eyes brimming with love and compassion, “Delthglor, the road you have tread has been long and wearisome. Wake her; wake her soon, before she too pays dearly. Time ticks away for both of you. I am afraid Matar is not your only problem. Now go, Delthglor.” With those words she vanished.

 

Delthglor walked back towards Kalychya hardly happy. He shuddered beneath his cloak. Although he loathed Lady Daecha and her husband, he looked forward to a good dinner and mindless conversation. How he longed for the days when Feakara Serpetra were alive. She was wiser then he, and she usually could comfort him.

 

The strange floating lanterns of Kalychya were alight, when Delthglor finally reached his apartment. He had a larger estate north of Kalychya, but here he could crash if need required it. Lately he spent more time here then in his actual home. He wondered if he should just sell the other place, but then thought of sorting through all of the stuff. Maybe he could have Christine live at the estate, once the Regent was dead.

 

He showered. His computer program had already chosen his attire for the night. He pulled it from the closet and dressed without giving it much thought. It was a black tunic with green leaves embroidered on the sleeves, and deep green trousers. They were coming into springtime, after all. He combed out his long black hair. He took little notice of the gray streaks that had appeared in the past hundred years. He attributed it to stress. Fully garbed, he took the tram to Lord and Lady Daecha’s estate thirty miles south of Kalychya.

 

He walked up the well-manicured path to the entrance of a large stone house sprawling near the banks of the Bashini River. The servants lead him into the parlor where Lady Enarea, Lord Arachyak, Ambassador Seth Ara of Marnic, Lady Daecha, and Lady Keya sat. Lady Daecha and Lady Keya were dressed in pale green and yellow gowns, which ruffled slightly by their bare feet. Lady Enarea wore duller clothes. She wore a shift of pale blue, which was unadorned by embroidery, beads, or jewelry. She still wore the colors of mourning, for the war had claimed much of her joy and her family.

 

“It is good to see you again, Lord Delthglor,” said the ambassador. The bald, rotund man with dark beady eyes rose from his well-cushioned seat and bowed.

 

Delthglor bowed similarly.

 

“Have a glass of wine,” suggested Lady Daecha. “Please you are one of our most esteemed guests after all.”

 

Delthglor took a glass of red wine and sat down in a low chair across from the ambassador. Soon Lord Daecha and Lord Keya joined them. There were many hours of pointless talk. The food was surprisingly good. Lady Enarea appeared nauseated. Delthglor suspected that this was from the abundance of meat on the table, a rather new fad in Keitaran cooking. During the era of Feakara, the eating of meat was almost completely prohibited. Sheta being a traditional woman, Delthglor doubted the woman had ever tasted flesh before.

 

When the plates were cleared away, Delthglor began his negotiations with the ambassador. Delthglor explained which narcotic he was particularly interested in. “Ahh, your regent has expensive tastes,” said the ambassador.

 

“Could we have it by the start of the Spring Festivals?” asked Delthglor.

 

“For anyone else, I would say they could not afford it, but you my dear, old friend, I will try. I have an old friend, who is now the president of that pharmaceutical company,” answered the ambassador with a sly smile.

 

“I have great faith in your abilities, dear ambassador,” said Delthglor.

 

The ambassador laughed and said, “I believe it is my discretion you have faith in and not the man.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.