A Story for an Age Distant and Past (part 6)

  • Baron

    Part 5

    Year 4 SC (1512 Stayatam), The Miktaban

    “Your scholarliness, Jamitayyin Bkhanif is here.”

    Tajani placed down her pen and nodded. “He may enter.”

    In the doorframe appeared a tall, younger man, early forties at the latest, his robes hanging ornately and his head wrappings well-kept and highly decorated.

    Tajani rose and gave him a curt formal bow, which he begrudgingly returned. Tajani gestured for him to sit at her desk, which he obeyed as she returned to her chair. “I understand we are to speak about the topic at hand?” she asked.

    “My friend you have to understand the pressure I am in.” His voice was light and cordial, the result of a lifetime of aristocratic training.

    “I understand that your clan insists on me defying all precedent and common will in order to appease them.” Tajani steepled her hands and leaned forward on her desk.

    Jamitayyin’s face fell. “I don’t agree with the proposal either. But my family insists that we need insurance that you won’t be manipulating them, and they want a position in the government. I can’t make any argument that will convince them otherwise, and Jitan's death was too convenient of an opportunity for them to latch onto. They won’t give this up.”

    “Well I can’t have it either. Jitan was a respected member of the community, and the Kjalit Bakalasit is one of the highest positions in the Miktaban. If his successor ends up being an outsider to our systems, a Bkhanif, the Mikat will riot.”

    “And if the Bkhanif are spurned one more time, they will riot.”

    Tajani stared hard and long at Jamitayyin now. She had never seen him so resolute in a manner towards her, though they had also never clashed in such a way. Throughout both of their political careers, they had always worked to try to keep the Bkhanif and Mikat together, often ending up at odds with their own people to make that happen. In the end, it was always compromise that saved them. In the end, Jamitayyin has always been the sort of leader who was willing to humble himself to the point of compromise. So she simply looked at him, sitting there resolute. It was always a matter of time.

    “Of course I have tried to come up with a solution,” he finally said.

    “Naturally,” Tajani replied, hiding a smile.

    “I have a younger cousin, Mithnas Bkhanif. We are very close and they hold little power in the clan. They’ve always been sympathetic to the Mikat’s cause, and they don’t have much political experience, so they should be easy to keep under your watch.” Jamitayyin looked cautious, aware of how much of a stretch this proposal was.

    Tajani glanced to the side, running a thumb over her clasped hands. He really did try.

    “My friend, if I appoint a non-Mikat to the position of Kjalit Miktabit, especially a Bkhanif, especially a Bkhanif with little political experience, not only would I risk giving a very important job to someone potentially inept, but I will be accused of trying to fill the government with easily-manipulatable sycophants by a group of people already afraid of my power.” Tajani lowered her hands. “If I appoint a Bkhanif, the Mikat will riot.”

    Shadows danced across Jamitayyin’s face, and he appeared far older, the weight of his leadership being felt for a moment in every ounce of skin and bone. “So,” he said, defeated. “Then I guess we should decide which riot would be worse.”

    There was a knock at the door.

    “Yes?” Tajani asked, confused by the interruption. An aid, not one she’d seen before, meekly dashed in. Their movement was stiff and concerned as they passed her a note.

    Attacks to the west, the Badhit and Iqashit crossing the Khimem River. War had come again.

    Part 7