You know the drill -- I'm posting unproofread drivel as I write it...
T H E I N F I N I T Y S E R I E S
* III *
Author: D. Sanders
The Rest of this un-proofread BS can be Found here:
“He looks like a Hopa. Hopa partners wear hair jewels traditionally.” Xan grinned wondering if the humans knew the significance.
“Well considering if I had a chamber I would be the Hopa partner all is well I suppose.” Beau grinned; he knew the difference and the significance.
“That goes for me too I suppose. What we bottom boys go through huh Beau? We better get sparkly things out of it right?” Cris winked and Beau laughed.
“Like you complain about it? Not that I can recall.” Val grinned looking smug. Xan laughed.
“Just making sure you knew before you inadvertently advertised sexual preferences to an entire crowd. Being a single gendered race, we have to advertise so we don’t choose someone incompatible to our own tastes.” Xan said as Eran smirked.
“Why do you think I wouldn’t let you tart me up? Shall we go greet the masses?” Eran said offering his arm to Beau who took it smiling. Val followed suit and Cris took his arm with a smile of his own. As they led the way in procession Xan and Kivi arm in arm behind them.
The massive dark wood doors in a rich red patina that lead to the grand main hall stood open and the room was full of long tables and benches filled to capacity. The ornate long table on the raised dais had six empty seats. Four of the ten were occupied, two on either end of the table. Tanvir stood there and by his side was the gentleman they’d met earlier, Sanjay. On the other end of the table were two strangers that Xan was sure he’d get to know better before the day was over.
Everyone stood as they walked in the doors and voices raised in a rich male choir in hymn. It sent chills down Beau’s appreciative arms, he always loved a male choir and this welcoming song was full of spirit and hope. The choir sang the group up the center aisle, Xan smiling and nodding to various people and Kivi even though frightened managed to smile and nod and carry himself elegantly up the long aisle to the table at the head of the room.
Eran took his seat to the right of the large Chair obviously meant for Xan, Beau beside him and next to Tanvir. The other larger chair was only slightly smaller than Xan’s and obviously meant for Kivi to occupy. Val took the seat left of Kivi’s and Cris next to him. They remained standing as Xan escorted Kivi around the left hand side of the table to his seat, which he held out for Kivi.
After Kivi was seated Xan moved to his seat and before he sat he held up his wine glass of cut crystal and full of rich red berry wine. “To new friends, to our shared journey, and to all Sansui men who long to be free. Blessed be one and all and may the Gods smile upon us.”
“Blessed Be!” The crowd returned Xan’s toast with a cheer and everyone drank. Xan seated himself after he drank and once the master of the Hall sat, everyone else took their own seats.
There were no servants, everyone in the room was equal and everyone had helped prepare the feast and the food was already laid out on the tables for the occupants to help themselves.
“Is there a holy one among us who might start off our feast with a prayer?” Xan asked and the man next to Cris stood.
“If it would please you my Lord Indivar. I am a holy scholar, it would be my honor to make a prayer over our meal.”
“Then please lead us with wisdom.” Xan nodded and the older man nodded once at Xan and once at Kivi, his eyes shining with kindness.
“We look not to the heaven’s with expectations, but rather for guidance. We ask not of the God’s what we are not willing to sacrifice ourselves. We thank our ancestors for the wisdom they impart to us and the skills they gave to us that we in turn shall pass on to those that come after us. Let us take a road less traveled, for the journey of a life time knows no certainty, but many adventures, success and failure in equal measure if we choose to walk with our eyes fixed on the road ahead and our hearts true. We are blessed this day to begin a new path, blessed be the day we break our first bread as equals. Long live the Sansui, May we please the Gods and may the path they guide us down bring us all peace. Blessed be.”
“Blessed Be!” The prayer ended and the holy scholar bowed to Xan and to Kivi and returned to his seat. Xan raised his glass to the old man and Kivi smiled and held his hands together palm to palm and bowed his head to the old man in silent respect.
The next few minutes was cheerful chaos and silverware clinked and bowls were passed along tables and plates were filled. Kivi automatically reached for the white meat Xan liked in berry sauce and he piled a portion onto Xan’s plate and then his own with a much smaller portion, he was never a large eater. Xan just sat bemused for a moment before he decided to call Kivi out on his menial habits, again. Kivi was onto placing the roasted tuber roots onto Xan’s plate before Xan leaned close.
“Don’t scold me Xan. Just eat your lunch.” Kivi grinned and Xan chuckled.
“But what fun would I have if I could not scold you for being servile?”
“I suspect you will find other things. This pleases me Xan.” Kivi said as he held up a basket of bread for Xan to select a piece from.
“You spoil me.” Xan said taking a slice of bread as Kivi took his own piece before passing it on to Val and Cris.
“I know. That is what pleases me.” Kivi smiled as he placed his napkin on his lap to protect his robes.
“You took very little Kivi. Are you sure you have enough to eat?” Xan asked noticing just a few bites on Kivi’s plate.
“I am waiting for the cheese tray to make it down to this end of the table.” Kivi grinned and Xan laughed.
“I forgot. Sipa, would you be so kind as to pass the cheese tray down this way? It is Kivi’s favorite.” Xan asked and all four humans did a double take as Tanvir nodded and handed the tray toward Xan.
“Sipa?!” Eran asked passing the platter down.
“I will explain later. Eran I am surprised you do not recognize me, but then again you only ever saw my face behind a veil.” Tan said and Eran slapped his forehead.
“Tanvir!” Eran gasped and Tanvir nodded.
“I can put two and two together, but yes, I’d like to hear more later.” Eran smiled as the platter reached Xan’s hands and he held it for Kivi to select cubes of cheese and fruit to add to his plate.
“Xan would you care for any since you seem to have your hands full?” Kivi grinned and Xan nodded.
“Yellow cheese, I prefer it. Just a taste I have more than enough on my plate already thanks to you. I will grow fat if you feed me like this always.”
“You’ll get enough exercise.” Kivi winked and Xan almost choked and dropped the tray. Kivi only smirked as he took it from Xan’s hand and passed it on down the table.
The meal continued with a myriad of conversations going on around the room. The rumble and buzz of voices, the occasional hearty outburst of laughter and gasp of shock could be heard as Xan surveyed the room and it’s occupants.
Kivi was watching a group of small children play in the corner when he noticed one of them not quite like the others. He sat there very still, his eyes distant, as the others played around him. Kivi stood as if on a command from voices only he could hear and all eyes watched him as he walked on silent and bare feet down the dais and to the small toddler. He said nothing, his eyes were fixed solely on the child and he knelt before the boy and his long fingers ran through the boy’s messy hair, the child did not react.
“He’s autistic my Lord, he cannot see us.” His Sipa said and Kivi just looked up and smiled.
“He sees what you or I cannot.” Kivi whispered taking the boys face in his hands and turning to look into the child’s eyes.
“I know the lights are beautiful. Do not get lost in them little one.” Kivi said to the child as his eyes danced with the same lights. The boy instantly reacted and reached a hand to Kivi’s cheek. Kivi kissed it as his own hands cupped the toddler’s face never breaking eye contact.
“Pretty.” The toddler said and his parent’s hands flew to their mouths, he had never uttered a single word before.
Kivi just smiled as the brighter light faded from his eyes into the lighter luminous orbs that now seemed to glow with eternal inner flame constantly. He leaned forward and kissed the child’s forehead tenderly. “Live in this light sweet one.” Kivi said turning him to face his parents.
“He was just lost. He is fine.” Kivi said as the toddler beamed at his parents in a true smile of recognition.
“Sanda!” Both his parents wept and fell to their knees gathering their son in their arms. His Sipa prostrated himself before Kivi who still knelt on the floor.
“Lord Kivi Bless you! Bless you!”
“Get up please. I am just Kivi and I did nothing but show him a way out of the maze in his mind. Please don’t.” Kivi said reaching a hand down to urge the man to rise.
“Lord Kivi I will follow you until my dying day. No Mind healer has ever been able to help him. You have my undying loyalty. You healed my son.” The man said as Xan walked over and knelt beside Kivi.
“Kivi follows his heart and instincts. He did nothing he would not do for anyone. We are all blessed with him.” Xan said proudly taking Kivi’s hand and urging him to rise.
Eran kicked back in his chair and lit up a cigarette, his job was way too easy. Kivi had just cemented himself in his role. No one in this room would ever doubt him. “Eran quit smirking.” Beau nudged his husband as Xan lead Kivi back to his chair at the table so he could finish his meal.
Several men, Prima and Ounta alike took it upon themselves to help clear away the dishes and left over food and once the volunteers for clean up duty disappeared Tanvir stood and addressed everyone in the room.
“As you all well know, this was the day my beloved Devapa desperately longed for. They day he would see our son grow into such a splendid man a Sipa and Hopa can be proud of, Xan you are everything we ever wished you would be, I am honored to be your Sipa.” Tanvir smiled and Xan stood and bowed to him.
“As I am honored to be your son.” Xan replied sitting back down to allow Tanvir the floor again.
“And Dear Kivi, I remember the day vividly that my mate came to me with a vision he’d had. Our own Xan was not even a pearl yet and I remember Devapa’s voice still to this day telling me that we were to have another son, and that our son would be the one Ameretat would choose. I remember Devapa how he had described you in his waking dream. When I first saw you this afternoon I was reminded how vivid Devapa’s dreams were. You were exactly as he described you would be, I was taken breathless and am even more charmed by your grace and humility. You also put a smile back on my son’s face that has been absent since we lost his Hopa. For that alone you have my undying love.” Tanvir bowed to Kivi who smiled shyly and turned to lay a hand on Xan’s cheek.
“I would have him smile always Sipa-ka. For he has my undying love.” Kivi replied and Xan took Kivi’s hand from his cheek and kissed his palm.
“As I love you Kivi-ki.” Xan replied keeping hold of Kivi’s hand as Tanvir continued.
“We of the society have spent many long years laying the groundwork for your coming of age. We have men and we have arms if needed but we pray we have no need of such physical means of rebellion. But changing a society so rooted in place History has shown that sometimes force is a sad inevitability. We are prepared for that worst case scenario, but I have faith that the charm of Kivi and Xan’s charisma in the political arena will help pave the way for a new order. I will turn the floor over to Sipa-Juhi to continue.” Tanvir bowed to the Holy scholar who had said the prayer at the beginning of the meal. The Sipa added to his name a sign of respect for the historian of spiritual pursuits. He was much older than most in the room, he had an aged wisdom in his kind eyes that still sparked with youthful enthusiasm.
“Thank you Tan. Lord Indivar, Blessed Kivi I stand here today with such joy in my heart. I was your Hopa’s tutor in his youth. I was always amazed by Devapa’s gifts and insight. Even as a boy his kindness of heart was inspiring. I was honored to have him touch my life and make me see how beautiful a world can be when kindness of heart rules over greed and avarice. I watched Devapa throw off the shackles of class and station when as a youth barely beyond his first cycle he fell in love with a headstrong, bitter boy. I had to watch with a breaking heart, because such dreams of youth are cast aside for political whims and society stigmas.” Here Juhi wiped his eye, tears of a memory that still moved him.
“I remember your Hopa sobbing in my arms when he was told he was to be united with Xartova. I remember Tan trying to be strong for them both. Love like theirs, like yours…” Here Juhi nodded to Kivi and Xan “… Should never be cast aside, because it will find a way. As Did Devapa and Tan’s, so will yours. For centuries how many other lovers had had to go through the torment of not being able to be together simply because society labeled one a Prima or an Ounta? We are all one race, and love over the centuries did find a way.”
Here Juhi walked off the dais toward the children. “See the beauty of Children born of love. See their gifts shine, gifts know no station, Ountas and Primas have mixed enough over the years that one child is now no longer different than the next. It’s the lack of education, plain and simple. We all see this, and others do too but are too afraid to speak up against the seven-chair counsel for fear of retribution. The more support we can gain from the people the weaker the counsel grows. Seven men have held too much power for too long it has become corrupt and unstable. Deception, greed, power, tyranny all the worst aspects of our nature have festered in what was once a good thing. It was once thought by our ancestors that dividing the power would keep our world pure and untainted. But alliances and personal weaknesses made the division of power pointless.” Juhi sighed and Eran raised his hand.
“Yes Captain Callum. You have a statement to make?”
“I do. Call me devil’s advocate for a moment, but stand back a moment and look at the statements you are making. You would trade one system that rules with personal opinion with another whose values more closely match your own. Granted your values are those shared by most decent people regardless of race or species or gender, but what would protect your new rule from the same mistakes made by this one. You said yourself it once started out with good intentions. There is a human saying that states ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions.’ You have to look farther than the immediate problem of change. You have to look at building a foundation that works. I am afraid in all my years I’ve yet to come across a perfect ruling body. You have to consider much more long term. Are you seeking a monarchy or a parliamentary system like you already have? I have made a few observations in my time I would offer some opinions.” Eran said and Juhi smiled.
“Captain Callum, we are all ears. You have seen more in your lifetime than any of us. I myself remember meeting you as a boy. Your wisdom is eagerly accepted.” Juhi stated sitting on a bench next to the children to listen.
“The best working systems are indeed senate based, there are flaws, but with elected officials change happens more readily than inherited seats. That’s the one fatal flaw in this one. The same families have run this world for centuries. The elections here are mockeries; the candidates are the same four families year after year. Three of the seats belong to Indivar, two Mavoohi, one Kadapali and one Sripa. The first step is to take over one of the seats from the inside. You affect change when you have a strong voice. Once you have a foot in the door, you demand more candidates, when a counsel member demands change people are more apt to add their voices to a stronger one.”
“I can see where you are heading Eran. You wish me to run for counsel.” Xan said and Eran smiled.
“Precisely. I doubt you’ll grab your father’s seat, but running against a brother you’ve got a decent shot. Your brother’s do not have a lot of loyalty, they are bullied by Xartova.”
“You’ve done your homework. Yes, neither of my brothers hold sway on the counsel, Xartova intimidates them.”
“He never did you.”
“He’s a bastard. I am the cancer in his side. I have a mind of my own.”
“What better way to make the cancer spread than to be in his face opposing him? Tell me you are not inclined to see him fall? You can start the avalanche Xan. The people for one actually like you, you’re front-page gossip fodder, you’re charismatic, you’re outspoken, you’re the exact opposite of what they hate. I took the liberty of checking out the news a few hours ago, after we arrived. Right now you are the top story everywhere. Lord Indivar suddenly suffering fatigue has them all worried. Not to mention Kivi is on everyone’s lips too. The strange healer you left with, Tibiae and his entourage from last night have been talking all night. The morning news broke with speculation your fatigue is an excuse and you are in fact off getting united in secret with the Heir of Ameretat Beauty.” Eran reached into his robe pocket and tossed over a print out of the news. “You’ve never been more popular. If you want a counsel seat, you just have to reach out and take it.”
“He’s absolutely right Xan. Your Hopa saw this too. You will head the counsel one day, and as head seat you can change the world for the better.” Juhi said and Xan nodded.
“I would make a request. I would hear more of Eran’s insight on senatorial workings. I have studied a few myself. The ones that work best are the ones where you are limited on how long you may actually hold your chair. Here there is no limit, I like the ones that say every few years you must be voted on again and after a set limit you can no longer run for the seat an must retire from it. Those seem to have the least woes that impact the people.”
“Xan you are a bright man. That’s precisely what I meant. I see we think alike and I’ll research the best governments I know of and give you a report on it. But that’s the second step in the long-term goal. The first is to actually get you on the counsel. We can’t make changes without you there speaking for the people who put their faith in you. That’s the governmental side of things. The flip side of this reformation is Kivi. You’ll need to announce your intentions of a formal uniting and soon. You need to be seen with Kivi in public as often as possible, Kivi just needs to be himself, he can charm the spots of a leopard. They will be so infatuated with him if the news ever breaks he was born Ounta there’s not a person alive who would dare refute him. Well Xartova probably will, but he won’t dare touch him because it will affect his own political standing. You’re his son; he’d look a fool if his own son united with an Ounta under his very nose. He’ll have to condone it, because well it’s pretty damn obvious Kivi is different, he’ll be the exception to the rule that will be the catalyst for you to make the rule crumble for good. Did I make any sense there? I’m rambling.”
“You’re making very logical sense. Brilliantly linear. Xartova is so subtle and twisted, walking a straight line up to him he won’t even see.” Xan said and Juhi clapped.
“Captain Callum, you are an asset indeed.”
“I just have experience. I would help move this along quickly, Devapa was a dear friend, and I have my own reasons, personal reasons I’d like to see the last of slavery here. I will help all I can and where I can.”
“Then shall we open up the floor for questions?” Tanvir asked and Xan nodded and the next few hours were small details and clarifications over Eran’s suggestions discussed in length. It was late in the afternoon and early evening before the great hall was emptied and people wandered off in groups to talk about current events.
Kivi had sat silent most of the day, listening and it was with great relief when he found himself alone in the garden by the fountain while Xan stood nearby with Tanvir and Eran still discussing matters. The sound of the water was calming and cool under his fingers. His head was swimming and when Beau and Cris appeared with Beau’s guitar and they settled under a shady tree to talk about unimportant things and eat the sweets Cris carried in a basket and to listen to Beau play soft melodies in the tranquil setting. Kivi found peace and before he realized it, he had dozed off leaning against the tree in the warm afternoon with the scent of flowers and the sound of Beau’s lullaby and didn’t wake until Xan sat beside him and moved Kivi to rest in his lap. “Go back to sleep Ki, you’re exhausted. It has been a long day and you’re scent is gone. Your cycle is ended; I know mine always drains me on the last day. Tomorrow I will more than likely be in your shoes too. Funny how yours started after mine and ends before.”
“Mine are usually short. Forgive me for being so suddenly tired.”
“Nothing to forgive. Rest Ki.”
“I love you Xan. I am nervous for you. You do not like politics.”
“I hate it yes, but I do want change, this is the way to go about affecting them. I will not always be political. I would much rather be a studious man, lost in my library in my books with you being lazy and academic.”
“I just want to be by your side, wherever you are.” Kivi sighed closing his eyes and using Xan’s legs as a pillow as Xan stroked his hair.
“Me too.” Xan replied, his own voice sounding tired as he leaned back against the tree and shut his eyes.
Neither of them awoke until Tanvir found them and woke them for dinner.