A Catapult, To Where, No One Knows

Characters: Sech Nelier, Karvos

& Love is an evil word. 
Turn it backwards/see, what I mean? 
An evol word. & besides 
Who understands it? 
I certainly wouldn't want to go out on that kind of limb.
     – Amiri Baraka, "In Memory of Radio"

“Sech Nelier? You sent for me?” The young Brakiri poked his head around Nelier’s door, quickly, as if poised to yank it right out again if he should have been mistaken.

But he was not. “Yes, Karvos, please come in.” The old Minbari gestured, inviting Karvos to find a place to sit amongst the pleasantly cluttered furnishings.

“Is something wrong, Master?” Karvos asked, looking at the unusually sober, almost pained, expression on his teacher’s face.

“I have a difficult decision to make, Karvos, that is all. Since your request has brought this decision to me, I wanted to talk to you about it.”

The Brakiri’s eyes widened in understanding. “About my request to take Kordieh with me to attend the Day of the Dead festivities at our Embassy.”

“Correct. I was somewhat aware of the festival before you made the request, and have done a bit more research since then.”

“I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you more, Master. It only happens every two hundred years, so obviously I haven’t gone through it before, and my family wasn’t very religious, so a lot of the details escaped me.”

“It’s all right, Karvos. I was grateful for the opportunity to learn more about your people. For you, I have no concerns. But for Kordieh, the concerns are very great indeed.”

“But why? Don’t you think it might do him good?”

“Possibly, it could do him tremendous good. But, to use the terms of your people, there is no telling what message the Comet might send. It is also quite possible he could have an encounter which would break his mind again.”

Karvos’ expression fell as he understood. But after a moment, he leaned forward in his chair. “I think it’s worth the risk. We talked a lot when we traveled to Yedor together. I watched him as he studied the temples. He may be sane, but he is still suffering. He feels the ones who have died — even the ones who didn’t die by his hand — like a cairn of stones. I think that will be enough to break his mind again, eventually. And even if not, what if he can know, first hand, that he doesn’t need to bear that weight?”

“There could be a different message. Completely opposite. What then?”

“No one — not even the dead — can punish him any worse than he does to himself. I’ve seen that. I’ve lived it. Please, Master. He is my friend. I have come to care for him more than anyone I have met since I left home. This is the only thing I can do to help him. Let me take him.”

Nelier looked for a long time into the Brakiri’s eager, anxious face. “Very well,” he finally said. “You must explain to him, as best you can, exactly what the festival will entail. Including the risks.”

“What if he doesn’t believe me? He’ll probably think I’m just talking metaphorically.”

“If so, so be it.”

“Thank you, Master,” Karvos said, jumping up. “May I tell him now?”

“Yes, very well,” Nelier said, waving a hand vaguely.

The Brakiri dashed out of the room, leaving Nelier to look after him with a bleak expression. The calling and the love of Karvos’ heart for Kordieh was too strong for him to deny. But Nelier’s own heart still had great misgivings. Something told him this would be a dreadful mistake.

Copyright (c) 2000 Jamie Lawson. All rights reserved.


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