The Aphorisms of
menured [ MEHN yoo rehd ], (noun), singular menuredi: loyal
servants of a liegelord or liegelady; a special connotation of fidelity
and intimacy. The liegelord/lady counterpart is masured(i)
I had not expected the irimkedi, the
servant, who came to my studio for the review, but I did recognize her.
Not as tall as the average Ai-Naidari, she was instead supernally
graceful, as if the ancestors sought to compensate for her lack. Her
simple robe had been fashioned of softest silk, the House emblem richly
embroidered, and a flash of sunlight at her tail's end brought the eye to
a ring there with dependent jewel. She had accompanied her Head of
Household when that worthy came to commission a design for her seal. I was
not often called upon to do such work, but I enjoyed it, though I rarely
saw the stone stamp that would be carved from the final design.
She was irimkedi, and so I spoke
first. "Your mistress has not come?"
"The design is to be evaluated by me
in her stead," she replied, politely Abased. She read my incredulity in
the faint twitch of my ears, for she lifted a wrist, the sleeve pulling
back to expose a signet dangling from a chain.
My brows lifted, but I bowed my head
and indicated the table. "The sketch is here."
Her shadow pooled over the
parchment. Her mistress, following convention, had requested an abstract
design, a cylinder long enough for her slender hand to comfortably hold
when she used it to stamp her House sigil on official documents.
"Is your lead available?" she asked.
I glanced at her, but her face
remained impassive. I brought her the requested lead, and she sat and
began to draw--to correct my lines. With a few deft strokes she had solved
several aesthetic errors I hadn't noticed and improved the grace of the
"This," she said, standing. "This
will be acceptable when inked."
I looked from the paper to her face,
astonished. "You have a great talent, irimkedi."
She brushed the dust from her hands
and folded them into her sleeves, preparing to depart. "You are thanked,
"Why... why did you not...?"
She canted her head. "Why was your
path not chosen?"
A tender smile touched her lips. She
glanced at her feet, lost in some memory of feeling. At last, she said,
"To be an artist is to serve many, but without intimacy. To be a servant
is to serve one in a relationship closer than breath." She lifted her
eyes. "My liegelady is loved. There is no other."
I bowed to her then. She returned it
and took her leave, and with it her shining. I stared after her long after
she'd gone, and then I went back to my desk with the revised sketches. In
the book I kept my ideas to be transferred to scrolls, I chased her
devotion into words.
There is no higher calling than to
serve with love.
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© 2007, M. C. A. Hogarth