It’s finally here! I admit that I’m still not 100% crazy about the audio quality, but I’m a voice over person so I am picky. Much like this whole blog, this is a way to try out the audiobook and deal with all the little kinks in the project. I hope you enjoy it. If you know anybody that likes audiobooks, tell them about it. You can expect the next chapter to be up this time next week! Also, I will hopefully work on getting a better audioplayer installed. Enjoy!
Today while I sat in the gardens, watching my children and grandchildren, I couldn’t help but feel sad. I just had this feeling, even as I obediently took the medication Onan offered me, I just knew, this is it for me. My time is drawing to an end. I wonder if Isaur felt that. I don’t know how to explain this feeling. I am blessed for the life I’ve had. Yet, watching my grandchildren, I felt this dread.
Lossepharr and Arjuna were bickering, at least until Marvena separated them. Katha, as usual, didn’t seem bothered by the arguing. Partly, I am sure, it is because he is worried about me. He has hardly left my side, these past few weeks. I know he is not taking my illness well. Partly, he just refuses to acknowledge what the rest of us know already. Even Marvena is frustrated with Lossy.
So I asked everyone to leave the room, save Katha. When the room was empty, he took my hand in his and asked me, “What is it, mother?” He seemed so tense, his claws were digging into my hand. My poor boy was trembling.
“There is something I need to talk to you about, my son,” I told him.
“Yes?” Katha asked. He seemed apprehensive.
“It is about you and your brother’s children,” I began. He just shrugged his shoulders as though he didn’t know what I was talking about. “You must realise that there is a certain rivalry between them.”
“There usually is amongst siblings,” Katha replied with another shrug.
I patted his hand, and said, “You are a good son. You have treated your brother’s children admirably. However, I sense a resentment and discontent growing amongst your children, particularly Lossepharr.”
Katha just sighed and replied, “It’s hard for him, mother. Under different circumstances, he would have been the next in line for Boentu leader.”
“And because of this,” I told him, “you need to make him understand the situation. I fear for him. I truly do. You do well, Katha, trying to treat the children equally. However, it does nothing to quell Lossepharr and unless you can speak to him, I fear that if Lossy’s discontent goes unchecked, it will rip this family apart.”
Of course I didn’t say it as well as that, because I had another coughing fit. Onan’s giving me increasingly stronger medicine, yet it only seems to help for a short time. Even so, my illness did nothing to keep Katha’s frustration in check.
I know he has already had this conversation with Marvena and Quani. I just wish he would listen to us. I understand his reluctance. I’m sure he’s sympathetic to Lossepharr’s concerns. He himself had his chance to become leader ripped away from him.
“Lossepharr is fine,” he snapped at me, as he rose to leave. “He just doesn’t understand why his father is leader but he won’t be. He’s a child. Eventually he’ll learn.”
As I watched Katha leave, I remember thinking, I pray that you’re right.
THIS WAS THE LAST RECORDING FROM LADY TARI, WIFE OF THE BOENTU LEADER ISAUR. YOU CAN FIND MORE RECORDINGS FROM OTHER LEADERS OF BOENTU AT THE ARCHIVE OF BOENTU, ON ANHUR.
I am exhausted. Doctor Onan has poked and prodded me all day. The news is grim. I had hoped that I just needed a stronger medicine instead of the sickly sweet one he gave me last week, but it isn’t a simple chest infection as the Doctor has thought. It’s in my lungs, and, to be honest, they aren’t doing so well. I have scylla. Onan should have caught it, but apparently I wasn’t presenting any other symptoms. As it is, I don’t feel overly warm, much less feverish, although I admit I have been feeling rather faint lately. I thought it was a side effect of the medicine he’s been giving me, but apparently not.
Onan was ready to admit me but I wouldn’t let him. I know how serious scylla is, especially to someone who has lived as many cycles as I have. Yet I refuse to stay in a hospital ward for weeks in the hope it can be cured. Isaur died in a hospital bed. Chran, my boy, died on his way to a hospital. I don’t know if the scylla will take me, but I won’t let myself be strapped to a hospital bed.
I want, I need, to spend what time I have left with my family. That is where Onan and I disagree. He believes that the best treatment plan is having me in a hospital, monitored day and night, fluids dripping in through my veins while my family watch me, not knowing if I shall live or die. I won’t do that to them. Besides, I am Isaur’s widow. Surely, given my position in the palace, I can still receive the best treatment while being surrounded by those I love. So we have reached a compromise. I am on bed rest and remain under constant medical watch. And, although I am allowed to watch the children, I am not supposed to tax myself. I must be good.
In truth, I know the diagnosis is grim. My chest aches from all the coughing. The only reason I am able to do this recording now is because of the stronger medication Onan prescribed. Whatever happens, I have lived a long time. I had hoped to see my grandchildren grow up, but I know that I am lucky. At least I got to know them, unlike Isaur. Or Chran. I’m trying to be a good patient. Being an active, independent Boentu female, I don’t respond well to bed rest, but I will do my best. Yasana and Marvena, old gods bless them, have fussed over me all evening since receiving the news. I am so grateful for my family.
I had to separate Lossepharr and Arronanto this afternoon. They were fighting again. Apparently Lossepharr and Andor had conspired to lock Dennethom in the training dojo after practice today. Arronanto was furious when he found out and attacked his cousin. I’m just glad Arjuna didn’t hear about it, or things might really have gotten nasty. She’s very protective of her older brothers.
Renecke tells me that when he found Dennethom locked in the dojo, he was just seated on a mat, meditating, waiting for someone to let him out. I’m grateful to see that Dennethom is not as impetuous as his father might have been in such a situation. He will certainly make a different kind of leader. He is not a coward, that is for certain. He almost got into a fight with Lossepharr himself, that time Lossepharr was teasing Arjuna about being too small to play with them. He is more of a thinker. Maybe those Arthemian geneticists put a little of their own nature in the mix when they helped Yasana and Chran have children.
Lossepharr and Arronanto were made to stay in and meditate on their wrongdoing, during recess. They were not happy about it. I thought to speak to Katha, Marvena and Yasana about the situation tonight at dinner. However, the moment I brought it up, Lossepharr interrupted me. I would have rebuked him right then, but I was too shocked at his words: “My father has led the Boentu people for four cycles. Why should Dennethom be the next leader?”
I don’t think I have ever heard a silence more profound. Well, aside from my coughing. I shall have to get that looked at soon. I remember glancing at Katha, waiting for him to respond but he said nothing. He just shrugged it off. Marvena eventually had to fill the void, and explain that Katha was not leader of Boentu. That he is merely a Steward. I think Lossy was going to argue the point, and apparently so did Marvena, because she excused him from dinner.
During the whole exchange, Katha just smiled amiably. I asked him what he thought of Lossepharr’s questions and he shrugged. Said “he’s just a boy. Of course he doesn’t understand how it works.” Perhaps Katha’s right. Yet I cannot help noticing the way Lossy has been acting around Chran’s children. And now he’s getting his brothers involved. I just worry that there could be bad blood between the cousins.
We just received word from Doctor Onan. The Boentu Atten has arrived at Mandos. However, it was too late. The infection spread too quickly for the Doctor to contain it. My son is dead.
We haven’t released the news yet. We need a few hours to regroup and handle the situation. Yasana…. poor Yasana is devastated. She says she ought to have been with him. The medic on board had to give a her a sedative. We’ll be arriving back on Anhur soon. I hope Yasana is okay to be seen in public. I’d be glad to do as much as I can for her, but really, the system will want to see her, the wife of the Boentu leader.
Katha is handling things as well as can be. I have been in constant contact with him. And Draddo, thank goodness for my brother-in-law. He took charge. He will be handling the announcement just as soon as we sort out succession. Chran’s children are just cubs. The system needs a Steward. It makes sense that it should be Katha. Draddo agrees. Yet Katha seems so reluctant. Hopefully Draddo can make him understand the necessity of his role.
As for myself…. I feel…. numb. When Isaur passed, I didn’t think life could hurt like that. But Chran… he is my child. So young. So why do I feel so numb? I suppose it is because everyone else is falling apart. I tend to feel calmer when others need me. I am sure my grieving time will come.
Despite my numbness, there is still a part of me that wants to rail at the universe, the old gods, all of them. Why Chran? Why like this? He was a warrior. He went to Hadad twice, and returned triumphant. Why did we have to go through all of that, only for this to occur? Why my boy?
I should probably go and check on Yasana. Perhaps the medic has something to calm my nerves. It seems I am not quite as numb as I originally thought. I just want to be home right now holding my grandchildren. They are all I have left of Chran.
I spent the afternoon taking care of the children. Chran is off to Adonis in the morning to look at a new mining operation. I let Yasana and Chran have the afternoon alone together before he leaves. I always hated when Isaur went away. As a young female, I resented having to share Isaur with the rest of the system.
Marvena was looking rather tired today. This pregnancy seems to be more draining for her than the others. So it ended up being me, the nanny, and six miniature Boentu warriors, determined to outwit their old grandmother.
They tried to sneak off into the dojo at one point. I have to admit, they work well together as a team. Little Arjuna, sitting on my lap, pretending that she wants me to brush her thick mane, while the others stealthily moved towards the door. I don’t know what Arjuna would have done when the others left. She hates feeling left out because she’s a girl and the youngest. I’m sure she’ll be thrilled to no longer be the youngest.
Personal Journal: 1282.0702.0900
We just received a message that the Boentu Atten is being re-routed to Mandos. Chran has caught some kind of infection while he was on Adonis. They told him not to go down there, but he insisted. Even though he was only planet-side for a few hours, he apparently caught it. Thank goodness Doctor Onan is with him. Chran’s been confined to his quarters because they don’t know how contagious he is.
Mandos is closer to Adonis and has the best hospital facilities outside the Arthema System. Or so Doctor Onan tells me. In truth, I am a little beside myself. It must be serious if they’re routing to Mandos. He must need hospitalization. If that’s so…. I haven’t felt this worried about Chran since he snuck his way to Hadad.
I can’t let myself sit here and stew about it. I have to pack. I have to be strong for Yasana. She seemed fine while she was sitting with the children, but I know she was putting on a front for their sake.
At the doctor’s suggestion, we’re going to rendezvous with Chran on Mandos. Hopefully this is all just a silly scare, but, I don’t know, I can’t help feeling this sense of dread.
I am having trouble sleeping again. I cannot stop thinking about the funeral. I didn’t think I was strong enough to bear it, but I did. Although I could not have done it without the help of Katha and Chran, and their beautiful wives. Yasana and Marvena both looked so radiant today. It is odd seeing carrying females dressed in mourning. It has taken a long time, but Yasana is finally carrying Chran’s seed. And, I’ve realised, in the end, it is Chran’s seed. It’s his and Yasana’s blood that will run in that child’s veins. It doesn’t matter to me how that child was conceived. I only wish it had happened sooner, so that Isaur might have met his grandchildren.
I keep going back over it. If only I had sent him to Doctor Onan sooner. When he was Boentu Leader, he had weekly check-ups. But in these later days he fussed so much about going. Doctor Onan says it might not have made much difference. The tumour spread at such a rapid rate.
I should have known. I should have sensed something when he started cutting back on his training. But that man never was one to complain. Sometimes I hate him for that. I know what Doctor Onan said. I know what the specialist in the Arthemian System said. But am I wrong to think that if we’d just caught it in time, they could have operated?
Instead he was forced to take drugs that did more to hurt his body than help him. At least he is at peace now. I know he didn’t feel much like a Boentu warrior, while laying in a hospital bed.
And now he is gone, and there is just me. No. Not just me. There’s Katha, Chran, Yasana, Marvena, and my grandchildren. I wish the universe had let Isaur meet his grandchildren.
Chran’s doing a bit better. I wasn’t sure how well he’d be, with the entire star system focused on him in mourning. It’s not fair. It’s too much to ask of any Boentu warrior, but he took it in stride. Draddo has offered to stay on as an advisor. I know Chran appreciates it. Both he and Katha are rather preoccupied right now. And Draddo knows more about running the Boentu star system than anyone else on Anhur.
The balance has shifted and I am filled with despair. But soon it will shift back and we shall be okay. My family is strong. And yet, every time I think about Isaur being gone, I cannot seem to breathe. I miss him more with every day that passes. I feel weaker without him by my side.
Chran has finally taken the title of Boentu Leader. I don’t think I have ever been more proud of him. Of both of them. Chran has had to learn a great deal these past few cycles. He has had to learn how to lead an entire star system. He is loved by his people. He will do well. And Katha, he too has settled so well into his new position: teaching and advising his younger brother on diplomacy and international relations.
Sometimes, just occasionally, I’ll catch a look of deep sadness on Katha’s face. Never resentment though. He never seems to resent the fact that he is not leader. I think he was more resentful of having to rely on others. Ever the proud Boentu, that must have been a hard lesson for him. But now to look at them both. Chran is a leader, with a lovely bride, Yasana. And Katha is wiser than he ever was before. He and Marvena are happy together. She knows how to handle him, and she takes great pains to make sure he doesn’t feel dependent on her. I hope they have children and soon. I cannot wait to meet my grandchildren.
Now that Chran is leader, Yasana will be going to the Arthema System to look at options for producing a male heir. I don’t know how I feel about that. To have a child conceived so unnaturally. Yes, it will have his genes, but to be born in that way, well, I realise it’s not uncommon in the Arthema System, but it certainly isn’t our way. How will the people accept Chran’s offspring? It worries me.
As for Isaur, he seems tired. I think he’s having a difficult time letting go of his position. He’s been leader now for 25 cycles. It is only natural he would have trouble. I noticed he is coughing a lot too. He has been working far too hard, considering his role is now purely advisory. Personally, I think we both need a good holiday. Perhaps the bioluminescent lake on Iapetus.
In 25 cycles, I have never see Isaur relax for more than a few moments. He’s sure to hate it.
Chran just left on the Boentu Atten. I had hoped that he would get a few days to recover, but Isaur insisted that it was best Chran leave right away, while the proving ground was still fresh in his mind. Chran agreed. He was home long enough to get patched up, eat, and explain the situation to the people.
The response from the Boentu people has been good. They cheer him on. No Boentu has ever gone to the proving grounds twice. If all goes well, Chran will easily be accepted as the new leader. He’ll probably be hailed as the greatest Boentu leader of all time.
I hope he is okay. Maybe Isaur’s right. Maybe going so quickly is for the best, but I cannot help worrying.
I must go now, to visit Katha. He is still in the hospital wing, and I know he feels so guilty about sending Chran to Hadad again.
Personal Journal: 1274.0603.0930
He’s back, and he’s okay. He suffered a twisted ankle, but he’s healthy. Doctor Onan assures me that Chran will be just fine. He and Katha are both resting. Poor Katha stayed up with me the whole night and sat waiting for news of the Boentu Atten’s return.
I wanted Katha to rest, but he wouldn’t. He needed to know, just like I did, that Chran was coming home. We even meditated together.
I don’t honestly know how Katha will be in these next few weeks. He’s lost his eyesight and his future is murky. I worry for him. Actually, I worry for both of them. Plans for celebrations are already in the works throughout the system. This will be overwhelming for both of them. Chran will have to learn to lead a star system.
I can’t help feeling that Hadad is only the beginning of the trials for my two boys.
Doctor Onan finally let us see our sons. It was much more difficult than I thought it would be. Seeing them both so helpless. I still cannot believe that my eldest son is blind.
If only that were the end of our problems. One can be a leader of Boentu and be blind. However, when Doctor Onan met us in the hospital ward, I could tell just by the expression on his face, he had more bad news. I thought perhaps it was to do with Katha, but Onan assures us that aside from a broken leg and being blind for the rest of his life, he is well.
So he is talking about Chran. I actually thought Chran was fine. He looked exhausted and hungry, but mostly healthy. Chran’s not injured. Not precisely. According to Doctor Onan he will live a long life. However, there is a strong possibility he will never be able to have children. Apparently he was exposed to too much radiation inside the glowing caverns.
I know I should be grateful he’s otherwise unharmed. I should. Except… I’ll never get to meet his children.
He’s taking the news well enough. He’s young though, he doesn’t yet understand the full implications. He also has a lot on his mind.
Isaur hasn’t had a chance to yell at him. I doubt he will now. And that leads me to the biggest news of all. I’m still not sure how this all happened. We went to visit Katha. Chran was sitting watch by his bed already. He looked so guilty when he saw me. More so, when I hugged him.
Poor Isaur. The whole time he’s been worrying about his sons, he’s also been worrying about protecting the star system. You see, the proving ground must only be undertaken alone, and Katha wasn’t alone. For a moment, I thought Isaur was saying he would have to return to Hadad. I don’t think I’ve ever been so upset at Isaur than I was just then. Katha wouldn’t last on Hadad, not when he cannot see. But Katha, foolish, loyal son that he is, he looked ready to go back in that moment. And then Chran, poor Chran, asked if there was any other way.
Isaur shook his head, saying the only other way would be to keep this all a secret. It wouldn’t be a lot of work. Just a few of us, Quani included, knew that Chran had hidden aboard the Atten. But Katha refused. “Lying is dishonourable,” he replied, and I admit I felt torn. On the one hand, I knew I had raised him well, that the warrior tenets are strong within him. On the other hand, I am selfish and just want my son safe.
My poor husband, I think he hoped Katha would agree to the lie. Sometimes I forget that Isaur doesn’t have the luxury of being just a father. He solemnly asked Katha “Do you honestly believe you can survive Hadad in your condition?”
I felt faint. I didn’t think I could breathe. And then a miracle happened. Katha said that he would forfeit his title as Leader of the Boentu. My joy is selfish, I know. And I hope in the days to come, Katha will not regret his decision.
Chran argued with him but Katha wouldn’t listen. Instead, he told us about Hadad. He didn’t go into detail, but he explained what happened there. How Chran had saved his life. How he had become trapped in the room of sunrise within the No’Sha cave. That’s how he lost his sight. Chran saved him. Although, Chran denies having played such a huge role. But Katha insists Chran kept him going, throughout the proving ground. According to Katha it is Chran, not he, who should be leader.
Isaur pointed out that the law still requires that the future leader must go to Hadad alone, and Chran, my foolish, brave boy, volunteered to go again. He didn’t even hesitate.
And so everything has changed. The son I thought would be leader, is now blind. While the son I thought was safe, will now return to the proving ground for a second time. If he lives, he will become the childless future leader of the Boentu star system. I am filled with pride for my sons. Chran, for taking care of his brother and saving his life. Katha, for giving up the title he had dreamed of for so long. I just hope Chran stays safe on Hadad.