Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Asael III

Introduction, Prologue, I, II

Kuphdin burst into the library a half hour later, breathing heavily and visibly annoyed. Asael swiveled around in Kuphdin’s leather chair at the front desk, with his lower jaw jutted out in a grin. He made the mistake of relishing the situation for a second too long and Kuphdin beat him to the first remark. “The reading of the Shith by members of the Holy Order does not constitute a court of law and if you say otherwise in front of the masters at your examination you will fail.”

Asael blinked, confused. “I like how you change the subject at hand to make this all about me.”

“I am not a knack and I cannot read your mind, but I know you well enough to know what you were thinking at tzaphra. Anyway we have had this debate before.”

“And, as I recall, I won that exchange.”

“In the bei dina of pale faced eleven year olds with flapping tongues.”

Asael tapped his fingers together around the book he had been holding, determined to get this conversation back to where he wanted it. “You are late.” He blurted out in his high pitched drawl.

“The library opens upon my arrival so I am late about as often as the Rabanai Mesivta Tochtona[1] are wrong.”

“Oh but the lack of your physical presence has left this library and the approval stamp in the hands of pale faced eleven year olds with flapping tongues. Eloha Elyona![2] Robbed of your guiding hand, can you imagine the heresy that could have been approved with such a stamp?”

Asael handed the book over to Kuphdin for him to see. “The Peaceful Tidings translated into Ashurit, our ancient holy tongue, published by the department of theology of the Reland University in Saebethia.”

Kuphdin looked bemused: “The Melcothian scriptures in Ashurit. Missionary work.”

“Yes Brother! I glanced through it and I have already found three grammatical errors.”

“So this is a grammatical plot to subvert the holy tongue. Considering the events so far today one might think this was divine providence.”

Asael jumped up and began gleefully to circle around Kuphdin while spasmodically waving his hands.

“What Melcothian missionaries from Saebethia are launching an invasion. I know; they are burning the men at the stake, raping the women and torturing the children with sermons worse than death. How horrible!”

“You forgot the pious priests cut down by grammar! And no there is no invasion. I am afraid you will have to push your war plans for another day. Oh grandson of Serariah Dolstoy”

The mention of his grandfather caused Asael to wince: “So what is all the fuss about to make you not late?” Asael said this with particular emphasis on the last two words.

“All the fault of a purveyor of idleness and sin which, Rachmana be blessed, is not to be found within these sacred walls,” said Kuphdin as he brandished a copy of the town newspaper, the Shalma Lantern.

Newspapers were not allowed in the monastery, but for the past few years, at Kuphdin’s insistence, the Lantern had been delivered on a daily basis to the library. “It is a basic requirement and all respectable libraries have them,” he had explained to his superiors. So every day the library received its newspaper, delivered to the front gate of the monastery.

“Apparently one of the novices took delivery and engaged in an act of non reading and the fruits of discord are not filling this sacred institution at this very moment, lifting its leg and taking a pee right on my shoes.” Said Kuphdin.

Kuphdin opened up the despised paper to reveal the headlines in bold print:

Alliance with Saebethia

Kuphdin cleared his throat and continued reading in an absent minded undertone.

The Foreign Ministry admitted today to the existence of ongoing negotiations for an alliance with Saebethia, which have been taking place over the past several months. This contradicts statements made within this very paper only weeks ago, by government chair holders denying any such activity. From the Chamber floor Melchior Feiglin of the nationalist Tol[3] party was quick to denounce the nasia[4] and the ruling Malchia party. “I think it is time that our friends in the Malchia party have the good grace to drop the pretense of being members of the Ashurit speaking nation and call themselves something more fitting for a party of foreigners; may I suggest the Tory party. It seems that after whoring after Danians and unable to satisfy their lusts they have gone searching after foreign nocharin. And lo and behold they have found Saebethia.” Although the Shinar war has been over for twenty five years and there has been peace with Saebethia ever since feelings remain high. …

Kuphdin dropped the newspaper on the desk, beside the stack of new books, and looked up at Asael. “So it seems that we are now set to become allies with your patria.” Asael snorted: “Just because my father and his forefathers going back over a thousand years lived in Saebethia and were oppressed by Melcothians does not mean that I am in any way Saebethian.”

Kuphdin smiled in way that spoke part fatherly concern and part fatherly condescension. “You look Saebethethian, you speak the language and, technically speaking, you do carry Saebethian citizenship. If you ever needed an escape, you could make your way to the Saebethian embassy and a passport and a boat ticket would be yours for the asking.”

Asael rolled his eyes. “And now the Foreign Ministry, the Saebethian government and the Lantern conspire to make this a relevant issue. As if I do not get enough unwanted attention as it is.”

Kuphdin chuckled, taking in the opportunity to put Asael back on his heels. “Just you wait. Before the year is out the war will be history, Saebethia will be the model of civilization that we must aspire to in order to take our place as a leading nation in this modern world. Saebethian fashions will conquer every noble house and well born lady. And you, young sir, will be a symbol of our new Khazaria.”

Asael let out a laugh and smiled. Kuphdin could tell that it was a happy laugh and smile. “You sound as if you support this.”

“Just reflecting on the reality of our government and society. The government will decide that patriotism is loving Saebethia. It will filter down and before you know it no one will be able to imagine loving Saebethia not being patriotic.”


[1] The Sages of the earthly academy. Since, according to Ro’ai-Ana belief, the Sages act according to divine assistance, they are, by definition, never wrong. The exact nature of this infallibility is a matter of some controversy.
[2] God Above
[3] From the Ashurit word for "take." The Tol party preaches a religio-nationalist dogma, insisting on the need to protect the state from non Khazars and non Ro’ai-Anians. There chief target has traditionally been members of the Danian minority group.
[4] Lit. means prince. In the modern Khazarian political usage it refers to the Prime Minister.

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