The Aphorisms of
emethil [ eh meh THIHL ], (noun) . chain; biological concept, of
self as part of a long, unbroken line of blood family, from ancestors to
children. Has connotations of eternity and immortality, but without the
strong sense of individual persistence.
"Permit a question," the merchant said.
"Ask," I replied as she opened the gate
"Is this necessary, to see him?"
I glanced at her, then said, "Yes," and
walked up the path to her family's modest home. I entered before her, for
though I was her Public Servant I was still a higher caste than she and
her merchant family... and the need was great.
Inside her husband, the silversmith, was
prostrate on a divan. In the wan sun, motes of dust floated toward the
abandoned tools on his work table. I crouched beside his head; he opened
his eyes, a crack of watered amber, but he did not greet me though I wore
the mulberry stole embroidered with my office.
I rose and returned to the room's
entrance, where his wife awaited me.
"How long?" I asked.
"Since the Physician said there would be
no children," she replied. "This one... grieves, Calligrapher, but is rich
in family. But he ...he is the last of his generation." She looked
anxious. "Surely an aphorism...?"
I shook my head. "This illness is greater
than my art. I will return."
By the afternoon I had been ushered into
the office of one of the osulked
--a Public Servant whose aegis was
so broad he answered to Thirukedi Himself, rather than to any individual
lord--in this case, the high priest, overseeing all the temples and
shrines. We shared a caste but his rank was the greater, and so I bowed
"Calligrapher," the old man said, smiling.
"What brings you to my threshold?"
"The silversmith," I said, for in the
capital only one merchant's art was so great as to merit no other
identification, "is sick of broken emethil
The priest rose. "I'll bring help at
I waited outside while he instructed his
messengers and then I accompanied him to the merchant's house. By the time
we arrived, two priestesses stood beside the gate, one in the Maiden
Shemena's roseate robes and the other in the green of Ganaeda, the Mother.
Opening the door on such a gathering of powers flustered the merchant's
wife considerably, but she could not but let them enter. I watched until
they entered and then went home, disquieted.
I heard no more of the matter until the
cafe-owner's sister asked me, several weeks later, if I'd heard the sad
news, "that we will have no more art from the silversmith."
"How is that?" I asked.
"He has become one of Ganaeda's priests,"
the merchant said, "and his wife has returned to her family."
"Ah," I said, with regret and some
surprise. Ganaeda's priests are a small sect, rare compared to her
priestesses, but I could well imagine that this particular sorrow might
drive a man to the Mother's devotions. "Hopefully he will find peace
"Hopefully," she said, in shared
understanding. There is no sorrow like knowing the end of one's family. No
Ai-Naidari should stand outside the chain.
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© 2007, M. C. A. Hogarth