The Aphorisms of
diqed [ DEE kehd ], (noun) (singular: diqedi): mentor; one who
can no longer perform all the duties of his/her caste-rank and is now
primarily engaged in aiding others to perfect their own understanding of
their duties. Often a role that falls to the elderly or disabled, but can
sometimes land on one who is very good at teaching.
I was sitting on the bench outside
my studio door when a passing pedestrian brought the Guardian to me. I
thanked her and helped him sit, moved by the feel of his corded arm
beneath his sleeve. I would not normally touch a Guardian, but this
particular male invoked an Exception: he was burned from cheek to knee on
one side, with one hand transformed into a wasted claw and his knee poorly
"Thank you," he said politely,
I dispensed with the formal grammars
and sat beside him. "It is as nothing. Was it me you sought?"
"If you are the Calligrapher?"
He blew out a breath. "Ah, then I
would put a riddle before you."
"An accident," he said, nodding
toward his arm. "Alas, I did not receive this burn in defense of my
lord... but rather by being beneath a vat of lye when it spilled. Now I
retire from his side to teach his other Guardians what I know."
"Once a son of Saresh, always a son
of Saresh," I quoted.
The burns had unbalanced his smile,
but his laugh was a good one. "Just so. In anger, my lord ordered the
entire run of paper bathed in that lye burned, and gave me a gift of
rather more paper than I know what to do with. You are a man of the pen.
What do I do with several boxes of paper?"
I leaned back; together we enjoyed
the late summer breeze in silence.
"You must keep a third for
yourself," I said presently. "To write what you have learned, to make it
easier to teach."
"One third you should give to the
House that trained you..."
"Eredaeth," he supplied.
"To Eredaeth, for their own teaching
and record-keeping," I said. "And the last third, to the temple of Saresh.
Priests are never done with paper."
His rough face relaxed. "Ah, that is
well-advised, Calligrapher. I thank you."
"It is my pleasure," I said. "May I
help you out of district?"
"If it is not much trouble," he
said, "I think I shall sit here in the sun for a time."
"If it is not much trouble," I said,
"I would remain with you."
And so we did.
A week later, he returned on the arm
of a Guardian wearing the same House sigil. "For you," he said, passing me
a red paper lantern with temple token dependent. "And if it pleases you, I
would have you help me with my teaching book."
"It does," I said, bowing. "And I
I hung the lantern outside my studio
with respect: who did not value the work of Saresh's sons, the Guardian
caste? They guarded our streets, our borders and our lords. Inside, I sat
and began work on the frontispiece for the Guardian's book. In
blood-scarlet and silver leaf, I wrote: When the tree no longer bears
fruit, rest beneath its shade and take grafts of its flesh.
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© 2007, M. C. A. Hogarth