Don’t Tell me What to Think…

I intended to put up a different post here, but circumstances alter plans…

There is a stream of thought nibbling away at the foundations of my country’s society, and like a termite infestation, it is perfectly capable of bringing down the whole building.

I AM NOT – AND I SHARE THIS WITH MOST PEOPLE IN MY COUNTRY – A RACIST.

When I meet, talk to, relate to someone it is with them, as a person.  The colour of their skin will not alter my relationship with them, or how I perceive them.  And I believe, no, I KNOW, that for most people in the UK this is the case.  If I do not like someone, I consider myself free to tell them.  I certainly won’t tell them my dislike is founded upon the color of their skin, that wouldn’t be true.

I am not denying some racism exists in the UK.  It exists everywhere, but in the UK it is (or was?) a relatively minor issue, rating lower, I suggest, than sexism, ageism, or class division.  Generally speaking, the way to acceptance and material success in the United Kingdom is more liable to be barred by any of these, than by nationality or skin colour.

But we are making skin colour an issue!

We are destroying, eating away at the natural tolerance and diversity of the British People by raising some sort of false standard solely dedicated to the advancement of certain career activists who have no regard for the things they wreck.   This is dangerous.  I believe they know it is dangerous.

There may be racist faults with the Royal ‘Firm’.  I am not a Royalist, because I believe it nourishes the ‘Class Ceiling’ but I acknowledge it is a very old institution, and there will be a hell of a lot more issues fermenting behind those ridiculously oversized doors than just race.

There are certainly faults with our Universities, which are the spawning ponds for ‘Woke’ politics, gender identification and a neo-communist resurgence.  A lot of negatives.  A lot that is wrong, yet remains controllable if some sense of balance is kept.

The case may be different in the USA.   I am sure that it is.  With due respect to my many wonderful fellow-bloggers in America, I have to say there are an upsettingly large number of American accents among the camp of UK activists, and they’re leading all of us into their (into your?)  race war.   Not content, it seems, with tearing their own country apart, they appear to be intent upon destroying ours.

The mud that glues the nest of totalitarianism is suppression.  It is everything that drowns the freedom to speak without inhibition, to think without fear.   Zealots everywhere know this.  Weaknesses are best exploited from within.  It is part of their code.  Successful civilisations, historic democracies that thrive upon stability, upon argument in an open forum, also thrive upon strength to resist those deleterious self-interests which prefer the darkness of the basement, the secret places within the floors and the walls.   

Once the presence of their corruption is evident, it is often too late.  Please, people – open your eyes.  You are being taught to hate!

Please, if you have time, give me your thoughts below.  Let’s start a discussion!   (If you can only make your point by using personal insults, BTW, don’t bother.  Trolling is SO last decade!).  

Satan’s Rock

Part Three of Conversations

Quimple

What could have befallen Toqus?  Peter’s mind had already lost itself – his nightmare examination of the afternoon, European History and the dusty room with the dusty, pacing invigilator – all gone.  The history which had fascinated him since he was first old enough to read was written in local history books.  The bricks and mortar of Levenport, its traditions, superstitions, atrocities and victories, all laid out around him.  The Rock – St. Benedict’s Rock, sometimes reputed to be inhabited by Satan himself – that loomed above them all, loomed large in his vision now.  Callow youth, chin on hands, fingers gripping the cool steel of the handrail, the retreating tide singing to his question in ripples among the stones.   Toques, the manservant who never left Crowley’s side, where did he go?   That seagull, gripping the rail likewise a dozen yards away, remained inscrutable.   

“How would you know?”  Peter murmured.   The gull cocked its head.  “Do seagulls talk about history at all?   In the evenings, maybe, perched up there on the ridge tiles, before the kebab shops open?”

The bird fluffed a few feathers as an adjustment, clucking awkwardly, as references to its scavenging lifestyle were obviously discomfiting.

For several years following his memorable dip in the Levenport waters, Horace, Lord Crowley did nothing about the rocky island that was his royal gift.  During these (it should be said) quite happy times for the town of Levenport, ownership of its rock was a matter of no concern: a trickle of rent flowed through to His Lordship’s ample London coffers, paid by the tenants of the odd few cottages which nipped like bulldog clips onto the side of the track that led to its summit, but that was all.

Lord Crowley never came, and happily for those who eked a living from certain continental trading activities, The Revenue rarely came – the rock languished in its own particular peace.

At last there befell a time when Crowley’s sun began to sink lower in the Palace sky:  the older ‘Prinny’, soon to be King George IV, with his love of laudanum grew tetchy and difficult to please, so many of those friends who, true or otherwise, had found their fortunes at his noble feet were distanced.   After Prinny’s coronation Crowley spent less and less time at Court.  The parties grew fewer, the invitations sparse.  Also older and more circumspect, he took as his wife one Elizabeth Grey, a society beauty who, though herself considered to be past her prime, was yet thirty years his junior. 

At such a distance of time and space it was hard to know exactly when the old warlord decided to retire from London and Brighton life, still harder to comprehend why, of all his estates, he picked the Rock of St. Benedict as the windy cradle for his autumn years.   He alighted from a coach-and-pair one brisk morning outside Roper’s Hotel on Levenport’s esplanade with his manservant Toqus in his wake, making no secret of his intention to stay.   The town was afire with excitement:  the news that their distinguished guest intended to build a mansion on the rock flew through the salons and drinking houses so rapidly that the proprietor of Roper’s Hotel learned of it from his fishmonger before he heard it from Crowley himself!

In the weeks before construction began the town was full of rumours: what sort of dwelling could the great man be thinking of, to crown the rock and still satisfy his undoubted subtleties of vision and taste?   Would he follow the fashion, so popular at the time, of the Indian Palace, with those great Sezincote windows and high exotic domes?

Unfortunately, enormous wealth does not always imply good taste.  Crowley worked hard upon his plans for a mansion to be perched upon the rock:  he employed the best architect, listened to the wiser counsels of his wife, his family, his friends.  He listened, but he never heard.  One by one, the architect’s best endeavours were rejected until at last the poor man found he could suggest no more.   He returned to London, leaving in his wake a hotchpotch of drawings and uncompleted notes. These, the noble Lord studied for some time.

Days later there was summoned to Roper’s a certain Mr. Quimple. Mr Quimple was well known within the town as the architect who had created, among other things, Levenport’s charity hospital. This was a fine building, although less artistic than functional.   His subsequent commissions, drawing upon this early success, were equally unimaginatively designed, but had the virtue of being built like fortresses, so no-one relished the idea of knocking one down.

“Quimple!”   Lord Crowley instructed him grandly:  “Build me that!”

Joseph Quimple was a mild, slightly oily little man with disorderly clothes and straggly hair which fell on his head like a well-tossed salad.   His outward appearance was in total contrast to that of his buildings.  They were flat and uninteresting.  Joseph Quimple did not have a flat bit anywhere.

“Er, what did you want built, m’Lord?”

“Dammit, have you no eyes, man?  That!”

Crowley’s hand gestured expansively towards a large board propped against a wall:  Quimple had already seen it.   He felt a lump of horror rising in his throat.

“Well!”   He said. 

“My word!”  He said.

He couldn’t think of anything else to say.

Glued to the board were bits and pieces of architectural drawing, cut apparently at random from the work of an obviously talented architect and reassembled to make a plan for a mansion.  Although what resulted was obviously intended to be a vision of a great house, upon first appearance it looked like nothing more than a page from a scrap-book.   There were bits of roof turned on end to make walls, gable-ends stuck over the top of windows, chimneys turned into pillars. Where the scraps failed to fit into the rest of the picture an expansive hand had joined them with bold lines in black ink with brief notations beneath:

‘Add step to match with first floor’

‘More roof here’.

Quimple felt his diminutive soul shrivelling deeper within him.  He struggled for words:

“It’s a very original concept.”  He managed to blurt out at last.

Crowley swelled with pride: “Glad y’think so!”

“But there are gaps.”  Waving a finger at an obvious space:  “Here, for example?”

“Stick in a water-closet, or something. You’ll think of it.”

Quimple felt as though the space beneath his feet was no longer supporting him.  He struggled in vain for firm footing.  “It defies description.”   He said finally.

“Excellent!”  The Lord took this as a compliment.  “Pleased you like it.” 

The little architect’s personal diary had provided an account of this conversation, but it was the last regular entry, and thereafter Peter had been unable to discover much concerning Joseph Quimple, or how he took Crowley’s dream glued to a large piece of board up to the summit of the rock and, somehow, brought it together in the agglomeration of styles and peculiar angles which came to be St. Benedict’s House.   He did know that the little man regarded the house as his master work, that it eventually sent him mad.   He found some clue as to why in a letter from the richly embossed Lord Crowley dated 18th August 1825.

Sir,

I have received missives from you concerning your progress with the house at St. Benedict’s Rock, and I am disappointed that you should feel cause to repeatedly complain about, as you would have it, “constant importuning of tradesmen for payment”. I surely need not remind one such as yourself, sir, that tradesmen are incessant in their pursuit of money and it is a necessary duty to rebuff them.  I do, however, send a draft for a further one hundred and fifty guineas to settle the most necessary accounts, but kindly do not trouble too much with decorators and the like, of whom there are an almost unlimited supply.

You reprimand me for my absence from the project, sir, but I say to you that I placed my complete trust upon you when I gave you instructions, which I expected to be followed to the letter.  Reports which I have received suggesting that there are, in fact, substantial variations from my plans, are disturbing to me, sir.   I am hopeful for an improvement to my health which shall allow me to return to England to correct these matters, but for the meanwhile I must advise you that you should persist no further with extravagances which, I am persuaded, lend to the house a quite undignified appearance.  

 I intend to limit my further investment in the house to a further nine hundred and fifty guineas, which will follow at the commencement of next year. You should dispose of this in such manner as will finish the house to an acceptable standard of accommodation.  I enclose my plan for the finished building.

I am,

Lord Horace Crowley

In even those distant times, though riches beyond the wildest dreams of many nine hundred and fifty guineas for such a project was a completely unrealistic sum,  but Crowley was, of course, by this time stumbling down a dusty road towards bankruptcy.

         “A book of account, Ma’am,”  he said once to Lady Crowley, on one of the few occasions when he spoke to her;  “Is a dreadful devious foe.   Whichever way ye turn him there’s always another within his ranks to find the weakness on your flank.   Set me against an army of the Frenchie and I’ll take ‘im on and thrash ‘im for ye:  but this?   Ye can never beat him Ma’am.  Ye never can!”

In eighteen-twenty-five, after some three years during which he never returned to the seaside town, the old Lord was still battling the elusive book of account.  Now, however, he had a second enemy gathering in his lungs.

On the rainy morning when the messenger arrived bearing Quimple’s request for further funds, Crowley had just seen his doctor.   He was ordered abroad. He must stay a winter in the warmer climate of the south of France; take the waters regularly, rest as much as possible.   If he did not he would live for….a year – two?  Who could say?

So Quimple worked alone, with very little money, constantly battling his Patron’s amendments and alterations to a plan which was structurally unworkable.   This alone, Peter thought, might have driven him insane.  But there were other enticing snippets of history surrounding the rock and its new crowning glory, other pieces to a puzzle which intrigued him and helped, as he returned home this evening, to distract from memories of a bad history examination.

Contemporary accounts relate that a bright summer morning in the Year of Our Lord 1822, when one Matthew Brightley, master mason, laid the first stone of Crowley’s Great House, marked an ending as well as a beginning.  Quimple had hitherto been untroubled by the rock’s natural inhabitants, but from that morning on, as if some truce had been broken, the snake population of the rock  attacked remorselessly.  Viper venom was a constant hazard for all who laboured there.   Several were made very ill by it, and two older stonemasons died.  It was also the time when the seabirds’ yelling became ceaseless, their molestation unpredictable and vicious.  The old title of Devil’s Rock was resurrected more than once in the taverns of Levenport.

Joseph Quimple’s final entry in his diary had always fascinated Peter:

21st August 1825:

Today completed excavations to level the surface of the central courtyard.  Exposed a shelf of stone apparently intruding deep into rock – possibly a seam.  Not granite.  Warm to touch.  Suggests hot spring, or similar – investigate.

He never did investigate.

In the gathering darkness of evening on 22nd August, the very day after this entry, those who chanced to be looking seaward were just able to distinguish Joseph Quimple’s bent form running atop the rock, inexorably running towards the lip of the cliff and its three hundred foot plunge to the sea.  There were those at the subsequent inquest who testified that madness and obsession were the cause of the little man’s lonely end.  There was one townswoman who saw the event, and her evidence spoke of Quimple as being pursued by a large flock of gulls.

© Frederick Anderson 2021.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Frederick Anderson with specific direction to the original content

Featured Image: Manfred Richter from Pixabay

Continuum- Episode One: Beginnings

A new serial – one I hope everyone will enjoy.  I have written quite a lot of what you might call Sci-Fi or Fantasy, although personally I tend not to think in genres.  If a story fires the imagination, as I hope this one will, it shouldn’t matter where it is set, or in what period.  The pleasure of writing without the inhibitions of space and place is the utter freedom to let the imagination fly.  Care to join me?

Tom MOrel

In the shade of a dark forest where a river passes, around a compound of trodden earth there is a humble cluster of huts; simple, windowless hovels with reed-thatch roofs peaked and open so the smoke of fires can ascend, a village made from reeds and mud.  As yet the sun has not climbed above the mountains at the valley’s edge so it is half-light here, though still possible against the gloom to make out some crude essentials of subsistence living scattered among the dwellings; rough wooden tools, a rail of drying fish, a pelt on a wooden frame, bowls for grinding grain.

A small jetty of wood leads out into the deeper water of the river, moorings for a couple of dugout canoes that bob and rub one another gently in the current.  Two more such vessels are drawn up upon the riverbank a yard or so downstream.

Where all paths join at the center of the village, raised high on a timber scaffold to gain the best advantage of the sun there is a curious thing; a perfectly symmetrical bowl made and molded from cork-bark of the oak.  In depth and width this bowl is large enough perhaps for two grown men to sit inside, but no-one among those who live here would dare to try, for the symbols carved around its rim proclaim it a holy place.

On the compound’s western edge there is a dwelling smaller than the rest and within the dwelling, upon a table at its center, a wooden jar.  From here as a new sun rises the old one steps out with his hands cupped around a precious cargo; a gift he has made, fashioned from the invincible power of his belief.

In the time of The Making all that begin are like this; a space to be filled in the order of things, tiny spoors, germane to a wish.  Triumph of a month of wishing, a century or more of plans and dreams.  And as a wish they come to form in the darkness of the jar, in the darkness of the hut, in the darkness of the night.  The old one takes them up with pride, these last of his life’s labor, to bear them carefully the fifty paces to the middle of the village; to the scaffold and the bowl.  His legs are slow and weary.  Others gather around him as he walks: one steps forward to kindly offer a supporting arm but pride will not allow him to accept.  Though it may be long, this journey, and though his manner of travel may be slow he rejoices with each step and those who follow honor his joy with their respect.

They all await him, clinging to the scaffold or perched upon the narrow walkway around the rim of the cork bowl, chattering eagerly.  They part to allow him room as he falters up steps little better than a ladder, craning their necks to see what it is that he nurtures in his palms and breathing sounds of awe at the sight of the four tiny germs of life that nestle there.

Before the bowl the old one leans, his sinewy arms resting over its edge so his tired eyes can study the intense, odorous brown mist that swirls and fills the vessel.  His experience, his faith tells him where or how the vapor will receive his offering.   Meeting the eyes of the others of his community he begins a chant, a ritual verse that all about him know as well as he.  They join with him, raising their voices in celebration to their sky and then, at his moment, and in a certain carefully allotted place, the fog reaches up.  Gently he delivers his gift into its care.  His work is done.

The old one will never look upon those seeds again.  Others will perform the fashioning, tending them as they rise through the mist to greet the sun, honing them, re-forming them, sculpting them to match their dream.  He knows he has taught them well.

But these things the old one will never see, for this afternoon with those he loves the best he will make the long climb to his seat at the hilltop which has been placed so he can look down upon his greatest work.  Here, through as many sunrises as he has left to him he will study the tapestry of the valley, testament to his art.  He will not move from there – will never move again.  With time he will become part of all he has achieved; a part of the forest he has helped to create.

#

Just when it seems that it must snow forever it ceases snowing.  The wind drops, the clouds pass and there is sun upon the white garden.  Southward, the shroud of the storm draws aside to reveal winter-black trees, and across the valley of the Balna River distant hills glisten in the light of morning.

The child watches from his window.  “Mummy, may I play outside?”

She watches too.  Her eyes have not left him since she entered the room to stir him into wakefulness, for she loves this child more than life itself.  “I don’t see why not.  You mustn’t get too cold though, darling.  Promise you’ll come inside immediately if you feel too cold?”  She knows his weakness, loves him for it and because of it.  “Come now, let’s get your warm clothes.  What would you like to do out there?”

He turns to her, eyes alight with joy.  “A snowman!  I want to build a snowman!”

She smiles.  “Then you shall, my dear.”

His face is lit like a thousand angels.  “Then we will have warm honey cakes, Mummy.  Lots of warm, warm honey cakes!”

Again she catches herself wondering if there is any way not to love him, for his beauty constantly astounds her.  Yet she is puzzled for a moment.  “Honey cakes, Hasuga my dear?  I don’t recall…”

“Oh Mother, of course you do!  You make a batter with flour and ginger and eggs, and then you…”

“Ah yes!”  She recollects the recipe.  “Very well.  You make the snowman while I bake the cakes.  Then we shall eat the cakes together, darling, shan’t we?”

-#-

Just when it seems that it might rain forever, the rain stops.  With first light of dawn it parts like a warm curtain to reveal the rising sun.  Insistent sunbeams slip over the sill of Alanee’s bedroom window to nudge at her coverlet, tickle her nose.  She resists their invitation, sighs and turns in search of elusive sleep.  She would dream much longer if she could.

In her kitchen she stumbles beneath the weight of her night-time head as she brews tsakal, tries to think of food.  The hot liquid snaps at her throat, stinging her into wakefulness.  There is xuss mix in the chill room: she pours a measure onto her hot-top, flips the instantly-formed pancake quickly before it burns, adds a pat of sil and folds a xuss-bread sandwich.

She opens her door, tossing the heated xuss between skittish hands and pausing for a moment as she always does, to breathe the fresh new air, to allow the sun’s gentle balm to prickle her skin.  Before her, beyond her patch of garden, the packhorse road winds like mudded rope between terraces of bronzed pledas peas and banks of magnolia down onto the plain: the endless plain of the Hakaan.

The vast fertile plateau that is food basket to her world stretches into apparent infinity, a rolling ocean of lush green and gold, washing into mists of distance.  Somewhere out there the Southern Hills make up a horizon; not visible now, for now, the ancestors have written, begins the Hour of Spirits, when under the first onslaught of morning sun such rain-water as the thirsty earth has not absorbed clings to leaf and branch like a billion jewels, each of which will vaporise and wisp skywards in a wraith no coarser than a hair.  Altogether these fine, transient ghosts cover the land for a while, waving like wheat-grass in a faint breeze and raising long white tendrils towards heaven.  Alanee watches them with eyes that never cease to wonder.  An hour is this, before the fierceness of day, with the power to bring tears.

Her reverie is interrupted by a cry from the village street.  The Makar!  She has not troubled to dress – why dress?  The morning is already warm and her kitchen door is not overlooked:  nothing between it and the majesty of the plain; nothing between her and the plain but the shift she wears when she sleeps.  Hurriedly, she retreats to her room, slurping tsakal with one hand, rummaging clothes with the other.  Shorts and a top of thin linen, a passing thought that in her shift she would show far less of herself, but…ah, such are conventions: conventions of dress, conventions of class, conventions of behavior; conventions, conventions, conventions…

The Makar cry sounds again; much nearer now.  She snatches a Mak-Card from her chill-room.  No time to review it – she reaches her street door just as the Makar does, still buttoning the front of her top and treating herself to one of the sun-withered little man’s leery stares for her pains.

“Late again, Alanee-mer!   Scarce out of bed, eh?”

Alanee affects nonchalance, leans against her door-post.  He thinks she does not notice when his eyes slither down to feast upon a glimpse of her long legs.  “You are too much for me, Makar-meh.  Do you never sleep?”

The Makar grins broadly.  “If I begin my day early I have time, Alanee-mer.”

“You do?  You do indeed?  Ah, such a busy man.  Two calls only on the street and it is your tsaka-time already!”

“We could enjoy a cup together, Alanee-mer.  What do you think of that?”  The Makar knows the most tempting young woman in his village will do no more than flirt with him.  And in his heart he would not wish it.  His wife and child live close by.

Alanee flashes him a look.  “It would not be appropriate. Register my card Makar.  You are wanted at Shellan-mer’s door.”

Shellan-mer is indeed standing on her porch.  Shellan is Alanee’s neighbor, with whom she has enjoyed many a good joke at the Makar’s expense.

Grinning toothily the little man slots Alanee’s card into the reader strapped onto his hip.  It bleeps threateningly.  “Aargh!  A warning!”

Alanee sighs.  “Now what?”  Every day there is a warning.

The Makar turns the machine so Alanee may see its display.  “You haven’t any honey.”

“I don’t like honey!”

He shrugs.  “It is not for me to say.  Better order some or they’ll censure you.”

The Makar walks away, leaving Alanee to glare at his retreating back.  Honey, now!  To keep company with the chocolate bars, the sugary cereals, the fizzy drinks, the processed beans and all those other things she does not like, but which clutter her chill room just so she can escape ‘censure’!  Is everybody’s chill room the same as her own?  She knows the answer to this of course.  Shellan’s chill room is as neat and balanced as the system can make it.  But then, today she will be invited to join her neighbor for honey cakes.

Across the village street Malfis, the old bell-ringer, tends his garden.  Alanee would return within doors but something about his behavior takes her eye.  His spade is turning the rich soil into a large ball.  What in Habbach’s name can he be planting this time?

#

Ellar discovers Cassix the Soothsayer standing alone in the dome of the watch-tower.  From here seabirds can be seen wheeling in grey winter silence over white fields:  the snow is back, misting the unmoving distance in waves like ripples of soft organdie across a painting of pale hills.  But Cassix will not see this, for he is drawn to a thing beyond.

“Is it stronger this morning?”  Ellar asks.  “Sometimes I believe that even I can see it.”

Cassix turns to her so she may read the apprehension in his eyes.  Those eyes; those deep, deep inclosures of wisdom!   If she could see but a hundredth of what those eyes could see!

“Cassix, is it stronger?”

She will not address him by the ‘Sire’ that is his title; they have been familiar friends too many years.  Beside him at the glass she seeks his hand as she squints into the distance, above the black ragged fissure of the ice-bound Balna, far, far into the horizon.  In a moment Cassix will join his senses with hers and then, if she has practised well, she might gain a scattered ounce of his greater vision.  She feels the surge, sees that slate of far-off sky become distinct, picks out the ribs of racing cloud – and there!  A place above the Pearl Mountains (or is it east of that?) where the sky-scape might seem to lift and the direction of rolling procession turn inwards upon itself, a grey vortex in the greyer grey.  Just for a moment.  Then the pain comes and she must close her eyes to let it pass.  When she opens them once more the clarity is gone.

“Your mind is pure, Ellar.”  Cassix speaks in clear, bell-like syllables.  “That is good.”  He sighs.  “And yes the Continuum is bigger this winter, without doubt.”

The snow is its fiercest now.  Below them in the garden Hasuga’s snowman is hunched to windward, figurehead upon the prow of a white ship foundering in a whiter sea.

“He wants a war-game again.”  Ellar says.  Cassix says nothing.

“Go on, say it!”  She spits the words.  “Say he may not have one!”

“That is blasphemy.  You know it.”

“Cassix!  Oh, Cassix, it must be said!  A war game!  Thousands of lives!  Was that the intention of The Dream?”

“This was foretold in the time of Karkus.  It is Lore.”  The Soothsayer shakes his head.  “He comes to his manhood.  These emotions must be expected.  They will pass.”

Ellar restrains the angry outburst she feels rising inside.  “The Treatise of Karkus was a criticism.  Karkus recognised the folly of electing a male child.  It’s a pity we cannot acknowledge the same.”

Cassix treats her to a bemused smile.  “What would you have us do?”

“Don’t patronise me.  Whose decision was it to move him on?”

“Again you remind me?  Mine.”  Wearied by his efforts, Cassix slumps into one of the heart-shaped blue chairs that are scattered about the timbered deck of the watchtower.  He is growing old now, and though his perception has burgeoned with the years he has no energy to sustain it.  His body is ravaged by time, his craggy face blasted as a rock before an easterly gale.  “I know you doubted, Ellar.  I understand why:  but there were physical issues; very substantial ones.  When you keep a child at the same biological age for two thousand years it must deteriorate unless….unless it is permitted to grow.”

Ellar has remained by the window.  “And now?”

“He had to be allowed to go through puberty.  It had to be done.”

“And now we have a monster!”

“We have a teenage boy with all the fallibilities and angst and aggression any boy his mental age confronts.”

“For another two thousand years!  Two millennia of frustration, rebellion and war.  What price The Dream, Cassix?”  Ellar stands over him, forcing him to meet her stare.  “I don’t care if what I say is a blasphemy, I really don’t; because I know that when the Old Ones decreed that we should be governed by the pure mind of a child this was not what they planned.  They would have, they should have, foreseen this.”

“You under-estimate Hasuga.”  Cassix is unflinching.  “That brilliant mind is capable of so much more than you will acknowledge.  However, I hear what you say to me Ellar.  There will have to be changes.  The Domo and I have been getting our heads together on this.  In the meanwhile, you must find some way to divert our young master from his chosen task.”

The Lord Domo; the leader of Council.  In his hands so much of the administration of the land, so much of the trouble of the land.  The Lord Domo; unlikely as a master of anyone’s universe; short in stature, fleshily substantial in most other ways, yet with a mind that would hold all minds, other than that of Hasuga, in thrall.  A tower of intellect, a pillar of virtue:  what changes he could wreak if only he were inclined!

“I will try.”  Ellar hesitates.  “Is the Lord Domo amenable to change?”

“Is he ever?  We have agreed certain…shall we say subtle…alterations?”

“And may I know them?”

“They must first be sanctioned by the Council.”

Ellar seems to accept this.

The descent from the watchtower is long; one hundred and forty stairs, eight landing levels.  Ellar takes them with a practised ease, though her mind is deeply troubled.  And Cassix, behind her, does not intrude upon her thoughts; he knows how hard is the road she travels.  He admires much in Ellar:  she is the mouthpiece of Hasuga, the link between Mother and the members of the Council.  And Hasuga’s demands are never easy to satisfy, in either their complexity or their immediacy.  When Ellar emerges into the private courtyard of the inner palace he assumes Hasuga will be waiting for her, and if she fails him it will almost certainly be at cost of her life.

 

 

Copyright 2019 Frederick Anderson

all rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

This book is a work of fiction.  All names, characters, businesses, organizations, places and events in the story or stories are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.  Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, places or events is entirely coincidental.

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