Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The El-Ari Sun

"The El-Ari Sun" was written one week ago, just not quite in time for the Wednesday update. It was the product of two prompts, the title, and the first line. Personally, I believe it lends itself to a great deal of expansion, so who knows, perhaps there will be more following in the future.

Please feel free to comment. Enjoy!

The El-Ari Sun

“Kings can do that, you know,” Thaen replied in that smug, matter-of-fact way he had of talking, especially when he was making a point. All it did was make Enada madder, but for once, she managed to hold her tongue. She realized quickly that that was a mistake, since her silence only allowed Thaen to continue.

“It was by the Sun that the King was chosen, by the Sun that he was crowned, and by the Sun that he has ruled for over three hundred years. It is perfectly in his right to do with it as he pleases. And if that means he wants to destroy it, he can do it.”

Enada squinted her eyes at her brother. Normally, that look made him shrink and cower, even though he was almost four years older than she was. He wasn’t cowering now. He was right. “But what are we going to do without the Sun? The crops need it, and without it, how will we see and keep warm? Does the King not think what will happen to us after he destroys it?”

Thaen shrugged. “I don’t suppose so, but that hasn’t stopped him from sending for every wizard across the Four Districts to do it. A few arrived this morning, before you were awake.”

“He can’t destroy the Sun!” Enada stormed off, away from her strangely-complacent brother, in search of someone who would agree with her.


Thaen watched his sister leave, shaking his head at her silliness. The King had always had his way, since long before their mothers were born. Thaen only vaguely remembered his mother; she had been dismissed from the King’s lists while Thaen was still young. It was Enada’s mother who had taken over his upbringing, and she still remained one of the King’s favorites, even after almost twenty years. That was unheard of. Of all the King’s women, three hundred and forty-one years worth of them, only Enada’s mother Lupreesa, had kept the King’s interest for more than a decade.

Thinking about his foster mother made Thaen want her comfort. He strode through the familiar, lavishly decorated hallways, his bare feet making no noise on the marble floors. More of his brothers and sisters were around, older and younger ones, almost as many as there had been mothers to bear them. He was one of the oldest who still had no duties of his own; he had yet to be singled out and set to a task for the rest of his life. Soon, he would be noticed and sent to the clerk tables or to the fields, wherever space could be found for him. That he was a Prince, the King’s own son, gave him no privileges as an adult. There were Princes by the score, and only Vesradu was exempt from a job. He was the oldest living now, and he would be the King next, whenever the King decided his time was finished. Vesradu was nearing his seventieth name day, and looked every day of it, while the King, through the grace of the Sun, looked not a day over twenty-nine. Dozens of Princes had lived their lives, waiting, and died without sitting the throne. There were still dozens to go before Thaen would hold the cushy position of King-in-Waiting.

The marble under his feet abruptly gave way to cool, soft grass, and he smiled at the familiar sight of the tanati garden, where Lupreesa and many of the other women passed their time with the smallest children. Thaen remembered his long-ago days splashing in the pools and wrestling his brothers in the grass under the watchful eye of the King’s women. He had outgrown it now.

There, sitting on a green-and-blue veined marble bench, wearing nothing but a long purple cloth that covered the King’s private parts of her, was Lupreesa. A tiny dark-haired baby, her most recent son, was in her arms and held against her, suckling. Thaen strolled to the bench and sat on the grass.

“You are troubled, Thaen-prince,” she said, adjusting her hold on the baby so she could reach out one hand to smooth his hair. Thaen closed his eyes and let himself enjoy the gentleness of her touch. “It is about the Sun,” she continued, stating it as a certainty rather than a question.

He leaned back on the grass and told her what Enada had said.

“Yes, she was already here, looking for others who shared her ideas of what should or shouldn’t be done with the Sun. It is not for you to worry, Thaen, nor for her to interfere. The King is absolute. It is by the Sun that he rules, and it is by the Sun that we submit to his will.”

“But what will happen if he destroys the Sun? Is that not what has given him his god-life? Is the Sun not what will give the god-life to the next King when he comes? How will the Four Districts keep under a King who will not live long enough to sustain the peace?”

“That is King’s business and best kept out of the minds of Princes,” Lupreesa said softly. The baby in her arms began to fidget and fuss. “And it is far more than I can hope to understand. Trust in the King and the Sun, as you always have and stop your questioning, Thaen-prince.”


Enada’s search was unfruitful, which was more than she could stand. Her sisters were everywhere in the palace, and none were of any help. Zual, Sayash, Ryntia, and Irquee pestered her to play at balls in the grass; Samest, Soash, Alerana, Belsale, and Uskina wanted to brush and braid her hair and paint her with skin-dye to make her beautiful like a bride; Fina and Daneldi and twenty others simply turned their backs when they realized that she had come to discuss matters of the Sun. None of them were of any use. And her brothers were worse. Of all the boys, Thaen was the only one who treated her like more than just a girl, but her conversation with him had gone terribly.

She found herself in the King’s wing, staring at the gilded carvings on the wall, a long row of golden images of the Sun. Blood was pounding in her ears, and she knew her face was deep red from frustration and anger. The carved line of Suns stared back at her, and she decided at that moment to go deeper into the King’s wing than she had ever been allowed. She crept along toward the chamber where the Sun was kept.


Thaen felt a shiver down his back for no reason. The temperature was warm as always, there was nothing to frighten him, he was in good shape… there was no reason for the shiver, but there it was. He almost forgot about it after a moment, but then something else came unbidden: a thought. Enada. She was in trouble. Or was going to be. But where was she, and what kind of trouble?

The Sun. Of course! It would have something to do with the El-Ari Sun, the medallion that the King wore sometimes, the emblem that gave him his god-life, that shone on him and made him King those centuries ago, the Sun he was determined to destroy. Thaen broke into a run, toward the chamber where he was certain he would either find Enada and the Sun, or he would find neither if she had already run somewhere with it.

The gilded door of the chamber where the Sun was kept was closed, but it opened smoothly and silently when Thaen pushed. He slipped soundlessly inside and eased the door closed behind him. It was dark, almost too dark to see. The El-Ari Sun was still on its pedestal, the golden disc shining, giving off its own light, but not enough to illuminate the whole chamber. It didn’t even give off enough light for him to see his own hand before his face. Except for the Sun, it was pitch black. He stepped forward warily. Had he been wrong? Was the shiver really meaningless? Where was Enada?

His feet moved, closing the distance between him and the Sun. His eyes wouldn’t leave the golden medallion, but he knew it was his sister he was really searching for. He came close enough to the Sun to feel the warmth it gave off. His hand reached out, growing visible in the disc’s faint light. He was drawn to it, almost against his will. Where was Enada? Why couldn’t he tear his hand away?

“My own children…” Thaen knew his father’s voice only a little; the King had no time for any of his dozens upon dozens of children, except for his heir, Vesradu. At first, Thaen didn’t know who it was that had spoken, but the Sun gave a great flash. Thaen was blinded for a moment, but when his eyes adjusted and came back into focus, he could see everything in the chamber. On the other side of the Sun’s pedestal was the King, looking no older than a young man in his prime, draped in rich silver and indigo cloth and ornamented with gems and gold; precious stones and small gold and silver ornaments had even been set into and pierced into his deep bronze skin. One of his gem-encrusted hands was stretched out over the El-Ari Sun; the other arm was wrapped around Enada’s neck and shoulders, holding her tightly to him.

“My own children seek to dethrone me, to steal my power and my god-life. Take him.”

Hands seized Thaen’s shoulders, arms, and legs. He was dragged past the Sun’s pedestal and held still next to the King and Enada. Only then did he notice the strangely-clothed men lining the walls of the chamber. Some wore small floppy hats, some wore tall pointed ones, and some were bareheaded. A few wore dazzling robes in colors Thaen had never seen; some were in plainly colored short tunics and breeches like common farmers. All had wizened looks on their faces, and all looked intently at either the King or the Sun. These must be the wizards the King had sent for.

“Get on with it before any more of my children come to steal the Sun from me, or anyone else. Destroy the Sun!” the King demanded. Thaen tried to break away from the men-- the King’s guards-- who were holding him. Their hold was too strong. In the King’s arm, Enada was thrashing and kicking and trying to squeal, but their father’s arm covered her mouth and stifled her pleas. Even as she kicked him, the King seemed to feel nothing. He certainly didn’t let her free.

The wizards all made different hand gestures and intoned numerous strange-sounding words. It appeared that every one of them had his own way of conjuring, but at the same moment, crackling bolts of light shot from their hands in as many different colors as there were wizards-- red, blue, yellow-gold, green-grey, indigo, silvery-white-- all aimed at the Sun. Thaen felt the crackling behind his eyes and was forced to blink. When he managed to open his eyes again and look, the sun was on the pedestal, no longer shining, broken in two large pieces and looking not at all like gold anymore.

Enada screamed. The arm around her shoulders and neck was nothing but bone; there was not a bit of flesh clinging to it. There was nothing left of the clothes the King had worn. The jewels and ornaments he’d been pierced and adorned with were scattered on the floor.

Thaen broke loose from the stunned guards and pulled at the skeletal arm that still held his sister. It came away easily-- too easily, for it broke off at the elbow, and he found himself holding a good bit of his father’s arm. He dropped it hurriedly and watched the scene in front of him.

The wizards seemed less stunned than the guards. In fact, chaos erupted as all of them suddenly dashed towards the pedestal, arms outstretched for the two fragments of the El-Ari Sun. Before Thaen and the shaking Enada could move, one of the wizards got hold of one fragment at the same time another grabbed the other half. A fight ensued, the wizards forgoing all their conjuring for punches and kicks and scratching, all trying to get hold of one or both halves of the broken medallion. Thaen and Enada could do nothing but watch, afraid to move, afraid to do anything but watch the madness in front of them.

One of the wizards finally came up victorious. Separated from the mass of arms and legs striking and pulling and grabbing, he had both halves of the medallion. With a quick glance around him, he held the two halves over his head in what Thaen supposed was meant to be a grand gesture, and pushed the two halves together again as if trying to rejoin them. There was a loud crack and the Sun fell to the floor in two pieces; nothing of the wizard remained except a small pile of bone dust.

At the sound, the other wizards abruptly froze in their fight and turned their attention to the fallen Sun. When they saw the remains of their comrade and the pieces of medallion on the floor, the fight began anew.

Twice more, there were loud cracks and sudden disappearances of wizards, until they finally appeared to get the idea that rejoining the pieces of the Sun was a bad idea. In a mass, they fled the chamber until Thaen and Enada were all that remained, them and their father’s skeleton, three mounds of dust, and the broken Sun.

Thaen finally let go of his sister and warily approached one of the pieces. Enada whimpered softly as he bent down and lifted the half. It was surprisingly light in his hand, not at all like the weight of gold. He gently pressed it into Enada’s hand. “Give this to your mother, but wait until you’re alone, and give me some time to get away.”

She stammered for words as he took up the second half and wrapped it in a strip of cloth torn from his own tunic. He was almost out the chamber door when she finally called after him, “Where are you going?”

“I’m going to bury this. Far away. Tell your mother what happened. Exactly what happened. Make sure Vesradu knows, too, and make sure he’s a good King. I love you, sister.”


Enada was frozen in place as Thaen disappeared out the chamber door. The piece of the Sun he had left in her hand was warm, but not hot. It was light for its size. She stood in place, her eyes wandering around the chamber, taking in all that had happened in the last hour. Clutching the fragment to her, she ran to tell her mother that the King was dead.

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