Story for the day: The Marked Madezda
This is a portion from a "Brothers of Sanhedhran" chapter. Madezda is a new character. I thought you'd like to get to know her.
The Marked Madezda
Bhazdhon, the week-long ceremony commemorating the migration and settlement of the Haanta ancestors, was about to begin and every member of the collective present on the islands was called to attend the opening celebration. During the Haanta observance, one day each was set aside to remark and venerate the wonders of the islands erected by the first of their people to venture to their homeland from the eastern continent. The first day of Bhazdhon was set aside in honour of the temple. This grand construction with its two sanctums and surrounding gardens was a marvel as none who visited the islands had ever before seen. Its numerous domes shone with brilliance, the music within its stone walls trilled throughout the day to tranquilize the nation, and the fragrance from its hanging gardens entranced all those who passed them. The temple was a pillar of wisdom and constancy to mark their society. Every Mivaari on the islands who was born was nurtured within its walls and every important ceremony for the Haanta rites of passage was performed under its auspices.
On the morning of Bhazdhon’s commencement, Unghaahi and Rautu were called to the temple’s inner sanctum to bear witness to a Ghiosa Bhidhaas, a conversion ceremony carried out by the Themari and usually observed by intimates of the one converting. The intended Ghiosa was an escaped Thellisian slave who had made her ascent to the islands through a tumultuous path across the seas separating Sanhedhran from the Empire. She was one of the Marked, a woman deemed unfit for education and useless for work. She called herself Madezda though she could not recall if that was her true name. It had been given her by the man who had purchased her as a servant and when she could not long bare the thrall he had enforced upon her, she leaped into the warm waters of the north, endeavored to reach the islands and beg for mercy from anyone who may pronounce themselves as her new captors. She was spared any cruelty, brought to the temple immediately and given the choice of conversion to the Haanta. She readily accepted if there was food and shelter involved and, as she had come with no witnesses of her own, those with the designation of Den as Unghaahi and Rautu were accorded were asked to attend and vouch presence for her ceremony.
Madezda shook with fear at the sight of the immense giants beside her. She was soothed by the anointing waters gracing her head and was further calmed when she was told what was expected of her as a Haanta. She found all the stipulations agreeable and upon her accordance with the terms reiterated for her, she was given a small feast of Abharaas in the garden to share amongst her new acquaintances. She was nervous when listening to the instructions of how to distribute the meal but she was assured by Unghaahi that all was well and that she could give to her guests without ritual to abide.
The small gathering came to sit at the stone table just beyond the opening to the outer sanctum. Unghaahi took his place to the right of Madezda and Rautu took his place to the left, but upon sitting down, the Den Asaan was graced with an unpleasant surprise. A rock had been placed beneath his seat, presumably by Otenohi in retaliation for the fright Rautu had given his brother the day previous, and though the rock was a small impression beneath his chair, it was enough to pain him when sitting down. Rautu sat with eagerness to eat one of his more preferred meals and in his haste had not looked to his chair when doing so. The sharp pang to his virility was enough to distress him and the anguish he suffered was overpowering. His breath was lost, his bearing stiffened, his ethnaa was culled, and he attempted with all civility to give no consideration to the agony he was made to endure. He sat in an aggrieved silence with his low eyes watering as he struggled to quiet his mind. He was given his portion of the meal but could not eat. Any hope of an appetite had fled the instant he sat down.
When Rautu would not partake in the small feast, Unghaahi immediately detected the severity of what had happened. He excused himself, stood from the table, and asked the Themari to call attendant from the temple to eat with their new sister, as Rautu has been struck with a sudden illness. The priest did as Unghaahi requested and once the temple assistants gathered around the table to wish Madezda joy, the Den Amhadhri apologized for their sudden leave and carried Rautu to the Ankhimari. He went with all possible celerity, hoping his brother would be well, but upon Rautu’s admittance and assessment, it was discovered that the damage done to him was grave.
“How did this happen?” Unghaahi asked, sitting by his brother’s litter.
Rautu inhaled and managed to say, “I cannot scout the gardens in my current state, but I suspect this was Otenohi’s doing.” The Den Asaan attempted to shift his legs but found the task impossible. “I retaliated for his offense during Haakhas and this is his retribution.”
Unghaahi observed the excessive pain the Den Asaan bore and questioned him no further on the subject. He asked what was to be done for his brother’s swift recovery but the reply to his inquiry was not favorable. Rautu would need to remain in the infirmary for a few days under the strict care of the Ankhimari. Salves would have to be administered, balms would need to be applied and even after his release a reinforced cloth would have to be worn to ensure his continued wellbeing. Unghaahi sighed, disappointed that he would be compelled to reproach Otenohi for his actions, but his greatest wish at the moment was for Rautu’s ability to sit and walk once more before the Bhazdhon was over. He was assured that the Den Asaan would be able to stand without strain by the end of the day but any other movement was ill advised.
Unghaahi remained with Rautu until the afternoon. They heard the commemoration for the temple begin from their place in the infirmary. Unghaahi was rueful that the Den Asaan was unable to attend but Rautu remarked that he had little interest in attending the celebration, as he was certain not to gain a partner for Khopra whether in his present condition or otherwise. When the time came for the salves to be applied, the Den Amhadhri gave his brother privacy and went to find Otenohi to question him on the matter. He found him at the entrance of the celebration grounds surrounding by a flock of eager young women. They were donning his long braid with Ostbholaas and entreating him to honour them in the Haanta ritual. He was in the midst of showering his admirers with attention and giving them vauntaaleraa when he noted Unghaahi thundering toward him. The woman turned to see the immense Den Amhadhri arrive in his incensed state, and they bowed and fled before the One who is Feared, leaving Otenohi subject to his terrifying wrath.
“Brother,” Unghaahi’s profound voice boomed. “Are you responsible for what happened at the Ghiosa Bhidhaas?”
Otenohi’s pleasing mouth curled into a soft grin to signify his culpability.
“I am aware you believe what you have done was reasonable, but it was not. Our brother is now greatly injured. Even walking for him will be difficult and his recovery will take some time. You will visit him in the Ankhimarron and apologize for your conduct. Ask for Khostaas and remain with him until he accepts your request.”
Otenohi looked back at his flock of intended partners and then at his brother before him. His retaliation had gleaned a harsher result than he had expected and now he must give compensation for it. He sighed ruefully, more for his plan going so wrong rather than its current outcome, and obeyed Unghaahi’s word. He resolved that perhaps the situation would improve, perhaps Rautu would be well again sooner than determined, and perhaps his horde of adulators would return tomorrow and honour him with their attention. When he entered the infirmary and saw his brother’s bedded state, the shock of remorse had finally assailed him. Though he did not regret the rock he had opportunely placed beneath Rautu’s seat, he did regret the adverse conclusion. He went to Rautu’s side immediately, bowed his head in contrition and begged for forgiveness.
“You may have my khostaas, brother,” the Den Asaan said with a vicious leer. “I have already planned my retaliation.”
Otenohi raised his eyes and grinned, greatly enjoying the notions of every machination contrived for his downfall. He began to wonder what it could be, when it could happen and what could be the result, and his vivid eyes sparkled with delight as his thoughts continued.