At the end of the long summer, fourteen years after the year of madness, the Dhyan of Heasin, one of the seven seats of Arrasta stepped down for his son Kimano Igazivolpur Gam, to be raised to Kimano Igazivolpur Dhyan. The state delved into celebration celebrating the coronation of the new Dhyan while the Dhyan’s of other states watched Heasin and the new Dhyan carefully.
The commoners, celebrated throughout the state along with the Qans and Igazis because the state demanded it so. Yellow bands were tied across their arms symbolizing glory to the king but of course, nobles wore golden ones.
A practice followed by the Shahin Highlords and Kings before, the Igazis and Qans had adopted the practice when they had crossed the Milipur mountains and conquered the old Shahin Dynasty thousands of years ago. The towns and cities of the Heasin filled with hails to a king they didn’t know, the streets and corners of the cities towns and villages decorated as was proper. The border town of Pud, located at the south-eastern end of the state was no exception to the madness.
Shiki walked out of the surgery house feeling the fresh breeze drizzle by him. The loose extended ends of the yellow band with golden thread embroidered to it in a simple design fluttered with the breeze. The sun was shining with a warm air spreading its light but at the same time, the sun wasn’t giving off its usual summer heat. A day a boy should be outside playing not reading about wounds and ailment.
“Glory and blessings to the king”, Someone cried out as he passed him in the street. Shiki returned the gesture speaking the same lines back to no one in particular.
Shiki watched the buzz going around him, he could almost smell the celebration in the air. No one would be sad at the relaxed tax rates that come for a period of time with the transfer of crown, no new king will want a disgruntled public no matter whether they are Igazis or not.
Shiki’s father is Pud town’s chief doctor and his house is attached to the clinic that his father owned, and the house was at the western center of the town, one of the well to do district of the town.
He looked towards the left to see the old man Hanli walking towards the clinic probably to check up on his wounds from last week. Shiki turned towards the other direction and ran. He didn’t want to be called back into the room to help his dad with his work.
He knew his dad expected him to take after him as the village doctor one day, but Shiki hoped one of his little brothers could do just fine. Shiki was the eldest in the family. After all there were three of them, his father can have his choice from them. Shaikn, Shiki’s second brother did have the gift for it. But he was getting too much bored and grumpy by the time being spend inside the house and studying from the old books. His father will have to do alone or with his mother as his assistant. His mother was an outlander, and people in the village tend to have little faith in them. Only the fact that she was married to his father gave her respect among the town’s people.
Shiki passed the spectral streets of the merchants which were marked by the Daichi pillar, one of the first pillars of the village erected to mark the victory against Chenayan Empire also known as the Quanons to the south. The White wolf army of the south in the past was once the most feared army in the land, the wolf’s howl was said to herald their arrival. But all that had long lost after they lost before the might of Igazis. They were defeated by Igazi’s near the riverside where now the town stands. It was said that the Dhyan of Igazi when they were united himself had led the scourge that decimated White Wolf army.
The Daichi pillar was painted in jade green, an upright scaled shaft with prayer markings for the King. According to the Shinga Priests, it represented prosperity and peace. And his father gave great credit to the temple’s beliefs and had tried to lead Shiki in that path but have failed as Shiki felt that half of the old scriptures contradicted the other half. Curse of being too smart, his mother had said when he had told her about it. She had smiled and had asked him to respect his father’s wish and not to spurn the priest by trying to enter a debate with the priest on the matter of theological beliefs.
Even his father’s position wouldn’t have helped them if he had somehow angered the priest by one of his questions. He didn’t know how his mother had come to be so tolerant about his blasphemous thoughts, but then again she wasn’t brought up in the country by the peoples’ beliefs. She had been a slave bought by his father during the time around the year of madness. It was said to be a chaotic time in the history, many stories are told about those days but the many who had suffered through the time usually kept their silence. His mother one of the many.
Shiki’s father had been a traveler in his younger days and with due to some tryst of fate had met his mother in the neighboring state of Akilun in the slave market, had bought her and got married. Shiki didn’t know the details but he did know that his father loved his mother and she him back.
He walked along the town watching the people going on with their work. Some recognized him, as he was the only son of the only doctor in the small border town. The town did have two or three more herbal shops but only his father had dwelt deeper into the medical field and a few steps into shaka craft making him a shakamancer in the region, rest of them had gone to seek jobs in the garrisons to the north and southwest of the town.
He entered the market region people here gave him little acknowledgment as they didn’t notice him in their hurry to get their work done. Shiki walked along the street watching men and women traders and merchants and grocers and butchers all with their work.
There were many changes from the last year, his father had said to Shiki that its only natural for a Dhyan to spend more money for public affairs on first two or three years of his ruling years. It has been only three weeks since the Dhyan had been crowned and he had been building roads and public official buildings and reducing trade taxes and as a result trade was flourishing. Even a public building was being built in the village center to probably act as a meeting place for public councils with the village chief. The building was being made in the traditional style of Siheyuan like almost all of the buildings. Unlike the wooden houses that were common in the village, the new building was being made of stone.
He went on forward and after turning at two other corners, and entering a new narrow street he found the rabble of boys he was looking for. They were his friends from the east quarter of the town. The east quarter of the town was less endowed with wealth, unlike their western counterparts. They had decided to meet here as to decide on what to do with boys from the western side, with whom they had been having.
They had decided to meet here as to decide on what to do with boys from the western side, with whom they had been having their little argument about who would have supremacy over the waterside near the bridge which was the usual playground of their gang. The boys from the western quarter had been encroaching on Shiki’s gang’s area for a while. There leader Baok had also started bullying the little whelps from Shiki’s gang.
Shiki had always taken care not to come across Baok. Even though they are practically neighbors maybe it has to do something with that but Baok always saw Shiki as he had eloquently put it ones as something that is stuck between his teeth that he intend to spit out. And the fellows that followed Baok all saw Shiki as a sore thumb. Shiki smiled miserably at the thought of having to face them.
“ This means war “, Shiki heard Bonchi say as he came closer. Bonchi was always the one to talk but never act. He would probably be the first one to run if it came to a fight, the boys from the western side were larger in size when compared to the boys from his gang and most of them are the sons of the richer families of the village. That meant if the situation escalates to the points are bought in. Then they would be in great trouble.
Shiki looked at the boys standing in the crowd and met Lavin’s eyes. Lavin gave him a wide grin on seeing him.
“ What have they decided upon “, Shiki asked Lavin as he got close to him.
He was late and therefore any opinion offered by him now would not be taken even if it was the best one they had. Now he would have to just follow with whatever decision they would come up with. Shiki didn’t hate fights but he did hate the shouting that he would get from his father if he comes to know about the fight. His mom would only pursue her lips she probably understood why he loved to fight after all he had outlander blood in him like his mother, the outlanders of eastern Manchuan mountains are considered great fighters like the white wolf tribe to the south.
The group seemed to be in a disagreement, they still hadn’t come up with a decision even though Shiki was half an hour late to the meeting. The officials in the village council would have made the decision faster than them.
“ Bonchi wants to fight but all knows he would be the first one to run if it came to that “ murmured Lavin.“ Ling and Mivan want to come up with an agreement with the west but how to do that, they don’t have any clue. Likash and Chana also want to fight “
“Why are the girls here… Wait I don’t mind that … Why is Chana here?”, asked Shiki to Lavin.
“Likash was beaten up by the west’s Goshi and he had gone crying to his sister Chana for help”, Lavin replied,” So she had come and for some reason the other girls too, maybe she asked them for it, to garner support for the cause I believe”.
“Lets put it to a vote “, Shiki shouted up at the top of his voice and like it is he was completely ignored. “Hadn’t anyone asked for a vote ?”
” Nope, every one of us was waiting for you come up with that idea”, replied Lavin sarcastically.
Shiki grunted ” And what happened ”
” It never reached the counting “, someone always starts arguing in the middle.
” Maybe we will have luck this time around… I will need to return back home early and with all the girls here supporting Chana’s cause the favor for fight will only get higher, And I do not want to get scolded for getting into a fight by my father”
” You are right with all the girls here I am already starting to envision myself beating Goshi ”
Lavin looked at Shiki and shouted the Shiki’s words again. Apparently, Lavin must have been probably the first one to get there for everyone turned towards them this time and Bonchi said “ well lets put it to vote then but I can swear we can only finish this with fight “
“ Shut up Bonchi, everyone here knows you would be the first one to run when a fight starts. You are angry at Sao of the west gang for bullying you “ yelled Ling at Bonchi . Ling by far the largest in the group and the only few who had a chance at a fight with westerners.
“ Why do the big ones has always a peaceful disposition in them.” Shiki thought to himself “ Li was probably the smallest among them but everyone could expect him to put a good fight even if he was cornered and was to the last man unlike the weasel Bonchi”
“ Well who wants to fight rise your hands “ shouted Chana, the defacto leader of the girls in Shiki’s group from standing upon a barrel. Several hands shot up. Shiki tried to give a head count but Chana from her vantage point had an easier view and was able to finish faster than Shiki.
“ Now the one who wants to come up with an agreement “ Chana shouted. the numbers of the hands up looked less but they were scattered in all direction.
“ Shiki what have you decided upon “ spoke Chana from her raised position as if a judge. Shiki suddenly recalled that he had forgotten to raise his hands while counting.
“ Am good with any decision that the gang would come up with “ replied Shiki . He hadn’t expected Chana to notice him and he didn’t want to be in Chana’s bad book. She was not really bad apart from the fact that she was huge and had slammed Shiki to the ground many times in the past years, just because he was natural in fights doesn’t make him the winner, even in the scuffles against girls. The trauma from the days it seems have not left and also she is one of those who will remember an argument for a long time.
“ Coming with any agreement sounds nice. I would never back away from a fight. Fighting it is“ Shiki said raising his hands to get out of Chana’s scrutiny .
A smile spread on Chana’s face. Shiki hated that smile then and there .
“ Well looks like we have the majority twenty seven to twenty-six .” said Chana with a cheerful grin on her face
“ What the hell thought “ Shiki as some faces turn towards him Li and Mi didn’t look pleased .’ How the hell was I to know my vote was going to be the tie-breaker.” If whatever that is going to go today were to end in trouble for them. Everyone will be blaming him after this. Doubly so the ones who voted no. And there were awfully a lot of them.
“You could have counted”
“You are not helping ”
Well then its decided let’s go to the riverside I wont be surprised to find them there now “ said Feia, now that girl was a beautiful one. Shiki had his eyes on her for a while and was going to ask Feia for the autumn dance.
As Shiki was day dreaming of the day of the dance, everyone else started towards the river bank . Some who didn’t want the fight to happen threw dark looks at Shiki.
“ Don’t worry, no one is gonna hold a grudge against you on this “ spoke Lavin quietly.