The Moon of Xxene

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic


[Oga (“Uh-gah”) – “Sir.” Title used for eighth and seventh rank court officials/officers]* [Onori (“Oh-noh-ree”) – “Master.” Title used for fifth and sixth rank officials/officers]* [Onorogu –
Noble class of Xxene]* [Ehwoéki – Third lowest caste of Xxene]

Chapter 11 (v.1) - Eleventh Phase.1

Submitted: July 23, 2019

Reads: 20

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Submitted: July 23, 2019

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On the morning she reported to her assigned office in the Bureau of Court Affairs, Emeravwe donned her new Agaenaye uniform. The pink blouse and matching skirt that barely kissed the ground; the sheer outer robe that stretched as long and loose as the skirt and fastened in place with the gold and silver sun and moons brooch all palace Maidens wore; the transparent pink headscarf whose wide red band covered the ruby in her forehead and distinguished her as part of the Ministry of Justice.

Emeravwe felt empowered by her new apparel. It was a welcomed change from the green Omote garments she wore for ten years, the red band of her new headscarf marking her as an official of the court, a position much more prominent than a mere Maiden of the Bureau of Halls and Chambers. The attire not only signified her transition to womanhood, it marked her entry into a new stage in her life. One she hoped would lead to the king, and distinction.

Upon gaining their new appointments to the bureau, Emeravwe and Akpokene also moved into the apartments in the Maidens’ Quarters designated for Maidens of the Bureau of Court Affairs. They were given the choice to room together but were assigned to different offices within the bureau.

When she arrived at the bureau to begin her duties, Emeravwe and another Eunuch were welcomed by the head of their office, Eunuch Ejerute. She dipped her knees in a butu and the new Eunuch bent his waist in a digwe as they greeted Eunuch Ejerute and their fellow team members.

“I am Eunuch Akpome,” the Eunuch said.

“I am Agaenaye Emeravwe.”

They said in unison, “May you guide us with grace and forbearance as we find our place and learn our tasks.”

“Indeed,” answered Eunuch Ejerute, a Eunuch with a scholarly air who looked to be in his late forties. Wrapped around his head was the red headcloth worn by officials of the Ministry of Justice, and it was adorned with two gold bands which revealed him to be a fifth rank official.

The small office they occupied contained two desks on opposite walls with tall shelves situated beside them holding books, bound documents, brushes and ink wells. At the back of the office, before a wide window, sat a long table about which the other members of the team were gathered. Eunuch Ejerute introduced them, beginning with the Maiden and Eunuch who occupied the desk opposing his.

“This is Eunuch Otase and Aye Chioma,” he said, indicating the short Eunuch with one gold band on his red headcloth, and a petite Maiden with the same number stripe on the red band of her blue headscarf. “They are your direct supervisors. Eunuch Otase handles matters regarding the inspection of Eunuchs, and Aye Chioma, Maidens. They also coordinate with the other offices of the bureau during inspections and manage all cases.”

He turned to the long table where two Maidens, a Eunuch, and two officers stood. He introduced the Eunuch and two Maidens—Eunuch Odeshi, Agaenaye Ugonma, and Agaenaye Fatima—then the officers. One, Oga Adedire, was dressed in the yellow uniform of the Royal Guard and had a sparkling ruby in his forehead. The other, Oga Mudiaga, wore the deep orange garb of the Palace Guard. He especially stood out because of his bright orange curls, the yellow apatite in his forehead, and light scar that ran along his right cheek—and because he brazenly winked at Emeravwe as he was introduced.

 Eunuch Ejerute explained that the officers served as the team’s liaisons with the Palace and Royal Guards, as well as its protection during field missions.

“You will do well to get to know your fellow teammates, as you will be assigned many tasks together, and your teamwork will dictate your performance,” he advised Emeravwe and Eunuch Akpome. “We are assigned tasks by the director of the bureau and often are working on more than one at a time, so cooperation and communication are essential. Aye Chioma and Eunuch Otase will allow you time to familiarize yourselves with the bureau and your colleagues, so make good use of it.” He turned to Eunuch Otase and Aye Chioma, instructing, “I shall be in a meeting with the other division heads and the director of the bureau till later this afternoon, so you will see to the office.” With this, he gathered documents from his desk and exited the room.

Upon his departure, Aye Chioma crossed her arms contemplatively, regarding Emeravwe and Eunuch Akpome. She had a pleasant heart-shaped face and playful smile. She turned to Eunuch Otase, asking, “What shall we do with them? We are in the middle of preparing for the quarterly inspections of the Maidens’ and Eunuchs’ Quarters, but Onori Ejerute wants to give them time to adjust, so we cannot assign them anything too hard. Do you have any errands they might run?”

Eunuch Otase scoffed, “I would not entrust even an errand to a couple of neophytes fresh out of training. You, Ehwoéki!” he called, pointing his chin at Oga Mudiaga. “You have not reported to the Palace Guard this morning, correct? Take these two with you on your way and show them around the bureau—you can manage that much, I am sure.”

Emeravwe cringed. Her first impression of Eunuch Otase had been that he was short, his small beady eyes stern. Now she saw he was also offensive; she had hoped to leave behind callous harassment and isolation with the Maidens in the Bureau of Halls and Chambers. She held her breath, expecting Eunuch Otase’s coarsely pointing out Oga Mudiaga’s lesser caste to create a tense atmosphere, but saw that only she and Eunuch Akpome, who lowered his eyes meekly, were affected by the comment.

Oga Mudiaga flashed a dimpled grin, bowing theatrically in a low digwe. “Of course, Oga Onorogu! I can manage much more if you’d like,” he said, walking around the long table to approach Emeravwe and Eunuch Akpome. He pointed to the desk Eunuch Otase shared with Aye Chioma. “I see you have unfinished reports there—I’ve finished all mine. Should I lend you a hand when I get back?”

Aye Chioma began to giggle but covered her mouth and feigned a cough when Eunuch Otase glowered at her. He trained his glare back on Oga Mudiaga. “The day I let an ignorant Ehwoéki touch my work will be the day I bury my aspirations!”

“Oh?” Oga Mudiaga inclined his head, blinking naively. His brow furrowed in wonder, “Then what did you bury the day you joined the same office as an ignorant Ehwoéki?” He gasped, “It couldn’t have been your manh—”

Oga Mudiaga!” Oga Adedire interjected, commanding, “That is enough! Be on your way!”

Oga Mudiaga grinned at the other officer who clicked his tongue and gave him a pointed look, then he turned to Emeravwe and Eunuch Akpome, “You heard the man, let’s go!” and winked at Emeravwe once again, flashing a crooked smile.

“Insolent peasant!” Eunuch Otase spat as they made their way to the door.

Emeravwe heard Oga Mudiaga mumble beneath his breath, “Eunuch bastard.”

She thought, So this is why Eunuch Ejerute spoke of teamwork.

Oga Mudiaga took a long detour to the offices of the Palace Guard, taking the time to orientate Emeravwe and Eunuch Akpome to the bureau. It was a general orientation like they received during their training, but Emeravwe listened attentively as he explained to them the roles of the different offices. He informed them that in addition to conducting inspections of Maidens and Eunuchs as part of the Department of Court Inspections, the Bureau of Court Affairs also worked with the Department of Court Investigations. He explained that the Police Bureau in the city transferred cases connected to the royal court to the Department of Court Investigations, and the Bureau of Court Affairs served as the department’s first response in dealing with these cases that occur outside the palace. The bureau’s job was to investigate what or who caused the unrest and for what purpose, then inform the Bureau of Investigations, a part of the department, and hand the case over to them for further action. He said many of these cases proved trivial, and it was for this reason that the department spurned them onto the Bureau of Court Affairs.

“The other offices of the Outer Palace aim their piss towards the Bureau of Court Affairs because though we’re not directly subordinate to it, we need the Department of Court Investigations’ permission to even kiss ass—and we mostly kiss the department’s, anyway,” Oga Mudiaga said as they finally exited the bureau. “But I think we can bring a lot of change to Xxene in our position.” He shrugged, “If anyone can stop mulling over how to rise in rank long enough to give a damn.”

Now that they were outside, Emeravwe took a closer look at Oga Mudiaga. He was tall, with broad shoulders and lean muscles that were apparent even through his loose Palace Guard uniform. The tunic flattered his broad chest and shoulders, the trousers cut loose and baggy about his thighs, then tight from his knees to his ankles, the long straps of his sandals wrapped around the impressive calves of his legs. He looked to be around the same age as Aslan, with coiled tufts of bright apricot-colored hair that wound as tight as springs atop his head, thick orange eyebrows, handsome square jaw and dimples, and a well-defined nose. His light brown eyes shown with a mischievously playful glint that revealed him to be amiable, the yellow, cabochon-cut cat’s eye apatite in his forehead scintillating merrily as if to attest to this. The thin scar running down his right cheek was a contrasting tan to his light brown skin.

Emeravwe thought him quite attractive, but he was an Ehwoéki, and she had never seen anyone with looser manners.

Oga Mudiaga,” she began.

“No need to be so formal, Emeravwe,” he said, flashing the same crooked smile he had offered in the office. “Call me Mudiaga.”

She did not miss the playful spark in his brown eyes as he said this, and Eunuch Akpome, a bashful, quiet Eunuch around her age, shifted his weight uncomfortably. According to palace rules, Maidens should never grow so intimate with Eunuchs, officers, or officials that they addressed one another by their given names alone. But Mudiaga’s brashness incited Emeravwe, and she looked challengingly back at him; she had broken many more rules with Aslan!

“Mudiaga,” she began again, and his eyebrows soared with surprise before a curious grin settled on his lips, “though Eunuch Otase addressed you distastefully in the office, perhaps it would help if you did not cut your words short or speak so…crudely.”

He snorted. “Well, sor-ry. I didn’t have the privilege of growing up in the palace—I’m an ignorant peasant, you know. Though I’m not sure if it’s really a privilege, seeing how everyone goes around afraid to even pass silent gas. As for Eunuch Otase, I’ve seen his like too often in this palace; Onorogu who think they’re too good to breathe the same air as someone from a lesser caste. At the end of the day, we’re both still called Oga. He’s no better than me!”

Emeravwe stared at him. In truth, she thought she could come to like Mudiaga. He was, perhaps, not so different from her. But it also seemed he stood against all she knew and was aiming for. Life in the palace with its rules, prohibitions, and hierarchy was all she knew and would be her future. Hopefully she would be at the top someday, beside the king. She shook her head. Nowhere in this equation did a close relationship with someone like Mudiaga factor in as beneficial.

Emeravwe changed the subject. “Mudiaga,” his eyebrows rose again, the crooked smile returning, “what did you mean when you said we are in a position to bring change to Xxene? What kind of change?”

His eyes sparked with mischief. “That, you must find out yourself, fair Maiden. Just as I’m now enticed to find out just how fair you really are beneath all that uniform!”

Eunuch Akpome gasped and Emeravwe gaped in amazement, her face heating up with embarrassment. How brazenly flirtatious! And she had thought Aslan was bad.

Mudiaga laughed at their reactions, waving a hand hastily in apology. “Be at peace—I don’t want you reporting me to the Bureau of Corrections! I find it a little hard to live under the palace’s censure, you see.”

Indeed, Emeravwe discovered soon enough that Mudiaga found it hard to live beneath almost any type of censure. He called everyone on their team except their three superiors by their given names and flirted with all Maidens on the team, including their lead Aye. He seemed to flagrantly disregard palace propriety yet, amazingly, except for Eunuch Otase’s glare and generally scornful attitude, she rarely saw him reprimanded for his behavior. Unlike Eunuch Otase, the others in the office seemed to get along fine with Mudiaga despite his lack of manners and his status as an Ehwoéki.

Emeravwe at first found it difficult to interact with Mudiaga. The familiarity he showed initially incited a competitiveness in her, but his crudeness made her uncomfortable, so she tried to distance herself from him. In any case, he was not the type of person someone with her aims should mingle with. First, he was an Ehwoéki, and second, almost every third word that escaped his lips was distasteful; she felt an association with him would surely drag her down.

Ignoring Mudiaga, though, was a task made futile by the individual himself. He had proclaimed his interest in her, so he readily offered his help around the office even when she did not require it, flirting with her all the while. His friendly, unpretentious manner made it impossible for her to cut him short, and Emeravwe began warming to him despite herself. She still attempted to keep him at arm’s length, but she came to like that he was genuine and seemed unaffected by court protocol. It helped, too, that he cut a fine figure as an officer of the Palace Guard.


© Copyright 2019 OE. All rights reserved.

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