The Aphorisms of Kherishdar
M.C.A. Hogarth

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 for me.
      "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 and waited.
      "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 once."
      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 there."
      "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