Monday, July 13, 2009

Asael VII

This is part of my ongoing novel. Think of it as Killer Angels taking place in a musket and magic fantasy world with characters that combine the religious sensibilities of American revivalism with Beowulf-like blood feuds. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition is about to take on a whole new meaning.

Introduction, A Note from the Author, Prologue, I, II, III,IV, V, VI

The two of them were silent for a moment, a silence broken by Asael: “You owe me a cigar.”
Serariah looked disapprovingly at his son. “One, as it has already been established, the Colonel does not have any. Two, you do not smoke and, three you are not allowed to smoke.”

Asael starred up petulantly at his father: “You win, you get a cigar; I win so I get a cigar. He can pay what he owes me when he pays what he owes you. I shall likely be an adult by then. Since you smoke this can hardly count as a real prohibition.”Asael stopped and smiled as something else occurred to him: “If Ima finds out that I have been smoking she will blame you and forget about me. So there can be no claim on her side. Since you would not want her to find out, there can be no claim on your side. Hence I get to smoke.”

Colonel Kochba let out a laugh: “he has you there Serariah.”

“Me! This is about not corrupting my son until he has reached a respectable age and you not adding on to debts you will never pay.”

“The travails of the disinherited son of a rich man.”

Colonel Kochba turned to Asael and winked: “what if I pay a holding fee now, as a sign of good faith, and pay in full later.” Nodding to Serariah, “the Ursa Major[1] permitting.” The Colonel walked over to his coat and produced a book and, holding it casually between his fingers, handed it to Asael. Asael could see that it was a copy of the Oraitha. “This is a soldier’s copy,” said Colonel Kochba. “It is compact, with small print and thin pages. It is the straight text, no commentary, just the undiluted word of God. The margins are extra wide for the writing. Think of it as a diary as you go through your day reacting to God’s word in your life.”

Serariah raised an eyebrow at his friend. “Look,” said Kochba. “This is the one present that not even you could object to.”

“Couldn’t this be construed as usury Abba?”

“Asael has been studying the tractate of Riba[2] in school for the past few months,” explained Serariah.

“Apparently the people at my bank have not been studying that part of the Shith.”

“They have not gotten around to discussing how interest might be taken.”

“And the bank, I am sure, simply skipped to that part. Tell me, Serariah, what is the point of teaching laws and teaching how to spit on those same laws, in spirit if not in deed.”

“So that people will know that it is God’s Law that they are spitting on and that they are sinners in need of his Grace.”

Asael flipped through the book then raised his hand: “This is brand new so you must have just bought it before coming here. So you must have planned to give this to someone. Might I presume that the someone was me? If so then you planned on giving me this from the beginning.”

“The boy thinks, Serariah. Are you sure he belongs to you?”

“If this is a simple present that you intended to give me from the beginning with no conditions attached it would completely remove the issue of interest,” said Asael. “A good thing for sure. That being said it raises the question of why. Judging from what I have seen of you, you do things because you have something to gain by it. I am confused, you seem utterly unscrupulous and yet my father clearly holds you in some esteem. Colonel Sir.”

“Call me Hasan. Your father likes me because I am honest in my dishonesty. I actually want two things from your father and one of them involves you. Am I correct, Serariah, that your son is like you?”

“I did win the city under thirteen division at scacordus,” put in Asael, “but the competition was poor. “Abba wants me to go to regionals. He thinks, if I work hard, I can win.”

“That is enough.” Asael stopped and looked at his father and saw that he was actually angry, not at him but at the Colonel.

“All I am asking is that you resume contact with some of your old friends and let Asael serve as a go between.”

“That is a page in my life that I closed and I have no wish to open it again. Nor do I believe that my friends would have that much interest in me as it is. I never was that talented in my youth and I doubt anyone would find it worthwhile to train an old man now.”

“All the reason to bring your son. They will deal with him. And why not; are you truly going to deny him what is his?”

Asael meant to ask his father what this was about, but there was an air of primeval ferocity about his father that made Asael think better of it. “He will know what is needed when he needs it.”

Colonel Kochba walked back over to his coat and this time produced a folder. “In the meantime, while, you make up your mind, Serariah, as to what your son needs and when you are going to give it him, I suggest you consider this.”

A vein pulsed from the side of Serariah’s head and he glared at Kochba, but he accepted the folder and began to flip through the pages inside.

“That is classified information, Serariah, which you did not see and I did not show you. Sorry I cannot let you keep this file, but I will not take it as a personal breach of confidence if you informed your friends about the contents of what you just read.”

Serariah stood reading for a few more minutes before handing the folder back to the Kochba. The two of them walked on ahead, leaving Asael by the table. “We are not in immediate danger. He will get his chance to make a decision when he is capable of making one.”


[1] Great bear.
[2] Interest. Lending with interest violates Oraitha law. This law has traditionally been ignored, much to the chagrin of moralist preachers. Copious volumes have been written in recent years to justify the non application of the law particularly as the Khazars, as a developing capitalist society, have a growing banking industry.

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