The Aphorisms of
osulkedi [noun] -- "minister"; highest rank in Public Servant
caste, with few members. Osulked serve Thirukedi (the Emperor) directly,
but this is not their distinguishing characteristic, as all Ai-Naidar may
be called to serve Him. Osulked are known by their service to anyone in
the Empire who asks, no matter their rank or their location. They are
often sent by Thirukedi to different communities to offer their services,
if it is perceived those communities need special aid.
There is a special quality to the
Guardians who ward the Emperor, so when the nakked
swept into my
studio my heart seized in my breast and my knees fell from beneath me. I
was prostrate before they had finished spilling into the room, bringing
their scent of weapon oil and leather with them.
Into their perfect silence came the
whisper of robes and the perfume of incense. Rolled silk hems slid over my
hands where I held them outstretched before me on the wooden floor. As I
waited, shaking, more people crowded into my little domain: six, ten,
twelve, more... ancestors preserve!
Rustle of robes... then long
fingers smoothed through my hair and cupped my jaw, stealing my breath. I
kept my eyes downcast as He lifted my face but could not still my
shuddering. How often in one's life is one touched by the god of
"Good servant mine," Thirukedi said
in the highest Implacable. "I have heard much about you."
Shock stilled my trembling then.
"Is he always so?" Thirukedi asked,
a hint of gentle amusement in His voice.
My liege-lord replied. "He serves
"Look at me," Thirukedi said.
Speechless at this honor, I looked
on His face and found it lined with the work of centuries, with eyes both
tender and somehow merry.
"Is that so, then, Calligrapher?"
"Yes, Thirukedi," I whispered.
"It must be," Thirukedi said. "As
you have served so well that even I have heard of your talents with pen...
I swallowed and He smiled. "Speak
"It is all that I long for," I
said, stripping the grammars as He asked.
"And would you be pleased, then, if
you were asked to do it for all my Empire?"
I almost swayed on my knees. At my
wild glance, my lord smiled and said, "You are worthy. How could I keep
you? Though I would be honored if you would maintain your residence here."
"What say you, servant mine?"
What could I say, save yes?
The dye used to mark Thirukedi's servants
is permanent, and poison. But I bowed my head to Him gladly and He painted
me once on the nape of the neck, where only He may touch with impunity...
and then, rather than the expected abstract design, He painted the signs
of Empire on my hands.
The fever came swiftly afterward,
but it was His arms that cradled me until it broke... His arms where I
I was Farren Nai'Sheviet
: humblest member of my family Sheviet, Public
Servant to Neriethen's regal Household and its district. Now I am Farren
, and my work belongs to all Ai-Naidar... to
Kherishdar itself. I could want nothing else. I could be no one else.
You and I shall meet again,
. Until then, may you find the place where you belong.
Previous | Next
© 2007, M. C. A. Hogarth