The Aphorisms of Kherishdar
M.C.A. Hogarth

esar [ eh SAAR ], (noun) . the quality that makes one a superb leader; this is a sublime thing composed of your character, your actions, your social position (rank and caste), your upbringing. There are many different kinds of esar.
      "I am sul Wakedzen Metrel-anathkedi," the youth said before he'd even advanced from the threshold of my studio. I toweled the sizing from my fingertips and set aside the gold leaf, then rose... but not with the haste his pride would have liked.
      "Anathkedi," I said, speaking in the Abased as was proper for one above me. "How may you be served?"
      "Next month I am to undergo the esar ritual," the youth said, drifting from scroll to open book as a butterfly unable to choose between flowers. "I should like an aphorism painted."
      I had heard that the head of Wakedzen was ill, but not so ill as to require his heir to be so swiftly promoted. "Of course, sul Wakedzen. Have you an aphorism in mind?"
      "Choose something appropriate," he said.
      I nodded. This was not an atypical request... but he continued.
      "Something to suit me," he said. "Something rich, in nacre and ground oceanstone. Something to suit my esar."
      "If it may be asked," I said, "what special quality of leadership has sul Wakedzen chosen from the Book of Precedents as his own?"
      "I have not," he said, lifting his chin.
      Despite myself, my ears twitched backwards in surprise. "Of the many pages describing the many forms of esar, there was none to which the heir to Wakedzen could cleave?"
      "What I offer is unique," he said. "Never has it been seen, nor equaled. See that the aphorism reflects this."
      "Yes, sul Wakedzen," I said.
      We spoke of schedules and colors. For many days, I sat in the sunlight and pondered a scroll for Wakedzen's heir. Then I sat at my slanted desk and opened the pots of nacre and ground oceanstone. With the hand that had won me my patrons and the ishas--the soul--that had won me my caste-rank, I penned his scroll. Several days later, a courier came and bore it away.
      Two months later, the scroll returned to me. When I tilted my head, hands outstretched, the irimkedi, the servant, said only, "Wakedzen rejected its heir."
      He said nothing more. We understood one another perfectly. I hung the scroll on the wall to await a more harmonious buyer.
      It reads: That which is old has been tried by time and found good.


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© 2007, M. C. A. Hogarth