The Moon of Xxene

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


[Kada – King’s response to “Umogu”, roughly meaning, “Grace upon you.”]* [Ochuko ("Uh-choo-koh") – a seventh rank court official]* [Orodje (“Oh-roh-jeh”) – “King”. Orodje is a title usually
combined with a court name and can be used to refer to any king, past and present.]* [Ovye ("Ohv-yeh") – “King.” Ovye is a stand-alone title used to address the reigning king.]* [Ovyeme
(“Ohv-yeh-meh”) – “My King”]* [Umogu (“Ooh-moh-goo”) – Deferential greeting only for the king, roughly meaning, “Greetings to the revered”]* [Onorogu – Noble caste]* [Onéki (“Aw-nay-kee”) – second
highest caste]* [Ehwoéki (“Eh-hwoh-ay-kee”) – Third highest caste]* [Ehworegha (“Eh-hwoh-ray-gah”) – Fourth highest caste]* [Ivyogbere (“Eve-yohg-beh-reh”) – Fifth highest caste]* [Yaroy – Subclass
of Ivyogbere]* [Wuhwuh – Lowest caste]

Chapter 13 (v.2) - Thirteenth Phase.2 (Continuation)

Submitted: July 30, 2019

Reads: 16

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Submitted: July 30, 2019

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Entering the Hall of Solar Reflections, Eunuch Edewor bowed in a digwe, announcing, “Ovye, Oga Onomine has arrived.”

His brush paused above the reports arranged on his desk, Aslan looked up and across the long hall to where Eunuch Edewor stood to one side of the wide entrance. A bead of ink dropped from the brush he held onto the embossed lavender paper he used in private correspondences, smearing red like a blood stain. He frowned down at the sheet, then turned to Eunuch Iroro who was already moving to replace the paper. He handed the brush to him, as well, sitting up in the brocade camelback couch.

“Escort him in,” Aslan commanded, lifting his golden, jewel-studded full-finger ring from where it sat on the desk and fitting it onto his right index finger.

Eunuch Edewor bowed out of the hall, returning with a young man who stepped to the edge of the red velvet carpet leading up to the high dais where Aslan’s desk sat. On either side of the carpet was a column of wing chairs with carved mahogany side tables. At the head of the hall, two wide arched windows spanned the wall and flanked the dais, stretching from floor to ceiling. The late afternoon sun poured through them, flooding the hall with brilliant light and making the cool white alabaster, of which the floors and walls were made, gleam. The rooms on either side of the hall stood closed, and marble busts decked its perimeter.

The young man dipped to one knee in a digwe before the velvet carpet. “Umogu,” he greeted.

 “Kada,” Aslan answered. “Rise.”

The young man rose and folded his hands into the sleeves of his yellow robes, the standards for officials of the Royal Secretariat. He bowed his head. “Ovye’s servant has fulfilled his command and reports to disclose his findings.”

Aslan nodded. “Welcome, Emuvoke. You may approach.” He approached the dais and Aslan indicated the wing chair to his right. “Sit.”

Emuvoke bowed, “Miguo, Ovye,” and took the seat.

Emuvoke Iwaka Onomine, son of Minister Onomine, the Minister of Justice, was twenty years of age, of average height and slim build, with light brown skin and clear aquamarine blue eyes. He had an air of reservation, but his eyes were sharp and observant. In his forehead was a lustrous cushion-cut ruby, a blue quill pen tucked in the folds of the yellow headcloth wrapped around his head. Peeking beneath his headcloth were strawy locks of sand colored hair; his blue eyes and sandy hair the hallmarks of the Iwaka tribe.

Eight years ago, when he invited Emuvoke and the other ministers’ sons to join his lectures with the Royal Tutors, Aslan began cultivating a close rapport with them. Now, he was especially fond of Emuvoke, for they had engaged in many stimulating discussions and he found they shared many of the same ideals.

Two Maidens emerged from one of the closed doors on the right side of the hall, bearing trays with cool glasses of coconut water. Eunuch Iroro intercepted one at the steps of the dais, relieving her of her tray while the other proceeded to serve Emuvoke.

“Tell us, Voke,” Aslan said as Eunuch Iroro placed the glass on his desk, “how were your travels?”

Emuvoke had been among a company of officials who journeyed to the government offices in the provinces to conduct the Royal Secretariat’s inspection of records, which Aslan commissioned. Aslan, though, ordered Emuvoke to present his findings directly to him, for though he had begun to wield his authority over court matters, the Queen Dowager still held considerable clout. By the time the official reports reached his desk, their accuracy could not be guaranteed.

Emuvoke’s face was grim. “As a mere Ochuko of the Royal Secretariat, dealing with the provincial officials was no easy feat, as Ovye might imagine.” He reached for his glass of coconut water, taking a sip.

Aslan smiled. “Even as an Ochuko, you have proved yourself the equal of your superiors in your work and character. We and the Chief Royal Secretary trust in your meticulousness and dedication. Authority could easily be yours if you did not refuse incentives for your work and allow yourself to be passed for promotions.”

“May Ovye forgive my brashness,” Emuvoke replied, setting the glass down, “but if by incentives and promotions, Ovye means commissions that might fetter me to the machinations of the court, then yes, I have gladly refused them. I wish to not be encumbered by the politics and poetics of court.”

A look of amusement passed Aslan’s features. He knew Emuvoke, with his curious mind, preferred engrossing himself in work and studies rather than in worldly matters. “Yet whether we become entangled in the politics of court is often not a matter of choice.” He looked intently at Emuvoke. “Your case is no different. But it is just as well; you are most effective at the moment as the cat with the shortest tail.”

Emuvoke bowed his head. “I am honored that Ovye finds me useful. May he use me to the benefit of our blessed kingdom.”

“We intend to.” The Maidens had vacated the hall, and Aslan sat back, uttering, “Now, tell us what you have learned, Voke.”

Emuvoke sat erect. “Yes, Ovye. There were no major developments in most of the eight provinces, but it seems the situation with the marauders in the Erhinyoja Province has worsened. The number of pillaging groups has increased, and both the Onorogu and those of the lesser castes live in fear of their raids.”

Aslan lowered his brow. “We thought the groups refrained from plundering those of the lower castes.”

“Yes, they did initially, but of late both the Onorogu and the lesser castes have been targeted in the raids.”

Aslan’s jaw clenched. Though the past ten years of the Queen Dowager’s regency was mostly peaceful, there was increasing unrest in the citizenry, especially among those of the lesser castes, and Aslan could not blame them. As he became more involved in the court, he saw more and more instances of grievances inflicted on the lesser castes. In the Erhinyoja Province, for instance, the land was mostly desert with a few oasis cities where trade and agriculture were concentrated. Though most of the fertile land and businesses were owned by Onorogu and Onéki, the tax burden fell on the lesser castes, and this burden in turn felled many livelihoods, so the people had no choice but to turn to marauding. Hitherto, it was with violence, more than anything else, that the Queen Dowager tried to correct the province’s problem but, apparently, it backfired.

Emuvoke continued, “Also of great concern are the disappearances in the northern Efekodo Province.” The mention of the northern province gripped Aslan’s attention, and he sat forward. “For some years now, there have been random disappearances among the lower castes in that province; the Ehwoéki, Ehworegha, Ivyogbere, and Wuhwuh. The officials of the provincial tribunal did not seem to think much of these cases, however, and most were dismissed as individuals quitting their work or eloping with lovers.”

Aslan furrowed his brow, folding his hands on his desk. The northern Efekodo Province was home to the Efetobo clan; the Queen Dowager’s clan. “We have received no such reports. What do you make of these cases?”

Emuvoke shook his head, his blue eyes sober. “The residents affected certainly do not think their loved ones abandoned their families and homes. Neither does Okémeh.”

“Okémeh?”

“Yes. It is a group which began by protesting the Insurrection of Nobles which occurred ten years ago. I became aware of its activities in the capital when I looked through the records of the Capital Police. I was surprised to find it also operates in the Efekodo Province.”

Aslan was silent in thought.

Emuvoke asked, “Should I look further into the matter?”

“No. We shall have the Bureau of Investigations conduct a formal inquiry.” Exchanging a grave glance with Eunuch Iroro, who stood at the bottom of the right side of the dais, Aslan rose from his desk. “For you, we have a different task.”

Emuvoke stood as well. “Is it regarding my father?”

“No.” Aslan asserted, “That will be another day. We have already assigned Efemuaye the task of surveying the ministers’ records.”

As Aslan descended the dais, Eunuch Iroro skirted its front to approach Emuvoke. “This way, please, Oga,” he directed, taking the lead as they wove past a column of chairs to one of the closed rooms on the left side of the hall. Eunuch Iroro opened the door and stepped aside to allow Aslan and Emuvoke entry, then proceeded within, shutting the door behind him.

The room had a wide, thickly curtained window on one wall and plush carpeting. Situated in its center was a long table surrounded by chairs, and at the head of the room sat a desk with a richly upholstered seat. Aslan settled at the desk, Eunuch Iroro positioned beside him. Emuvoke stood before them, hands tucked in his sleeves.

Aslan studied him silently, an air of solemnity falling upon him. “Voke.”

“Yes, Ovye.”

Aslan leaned forward, placing his hands on the desk and interlocking his fingers. He stroked the iridescent black opal on the ring covering his index finger. “You are aware of the controversy surrounding the late Orodje’s death?”

Emuvoke’s brow rose in surprise. “Yes. Though the Queen Dowager forbade the utterance of that topic, even the common Yaroy of the marketplaces know the circumstances involved in Orodje Otaroghene’s death.”

Aslan nodded, staring gravely at his ring. “It was an event which shook the kingdom. We are sure it was to prevent its further disturbance that the Queen Dowager prohibited the discourse of the matter.” He turned his sharp stare to Emuvoke. “But there are uncertainties which must be made clear, and lives to set aright.”

Sensing the air of gravity weighing about his king, Emuvoke fell to one knee, bowing his head and cupping his hands before him. “May Ovye command me as he sees fit.”

Rising, Aslan made his way around the desk. “We spoke before of your dedication and the meticulous nature of your work.” He lowered to one knee before Emuvoke. “We want you to put these to use,” leaning forward, his voice hushed, “and inspect the details of the late Orodje’s death.”

Silence filled the room.

Emuvoke lifted stunned eyes to Aslan’s. He held the intense amber gaze but a moment, then lowered his own, his voice choked as he responded, “But, my Lord, was it not already determined that Orodje Otaroghene died…of poisoning?”

Aslan’s voice was low but compelling. “It was proven without a doubt that Sovereign Father was poisoned. What we want you to find are the minutiae of the events surrounding his death.”

Emuvoke looked up, perplexed. “According to the records, the clans…those suspected of Orodje Otaroghene’s poisoning were put to death. Does Ovye have doubts about the case?”

Aslan simply looked at Emuvoke, his eyes grave and unreadable. Emuvoke bowed his head.

Aslan stood. “As this is a matter concerning the Royal House, and one whose utterance has been prohibited, you must carry out your investigation in utmost secrecy. We have charged the Royal Secretariat with reorganizing the genealogy of the House of Nobles and updating the records of the Royal House. The Chief Royal Secretary will select a team of officials to undertake this assignment, and we suggested he include you. Under the guise of this task, you will be granted access to records concerning the House of Nobles and Royal House without alerting the Queen Dowager and ministers. But even with this access, the records you may be allowed to view will be limited, so you must take care not to be discovered as you conduct your inquiry. Be warned,” Aslan said grimly, “if your actions are uncovered, we cannot guarantee your life. You are dismissed.”

“As Ovye commands.” Emuvoke rose and bowed from the room.

Aslan stared after him, his face clouded. Finally, he had taken the first step after biding his time for the past ten years; his heart felt heavy. “Iroro, once we find the truth we seek…”

Ovyeme,” Eunuch Iroro intoned, moving forward from behind the desk, his face etched with concern, “be freed of this burden. The events that transpired were not Ovye’s doing, and Ovye must not feel responsible to bear every weight.”

Aslan turned somber eyes to him. “You are wrong, Iroro. Everything that occurs in our kingdom may not be our doing, but the people will not accept our silence because of this. They require our response, for we are Ovye. They are all our responsibility.” His expression darkened. “Every one.”

“Yet Ovye’s responsibility to everyone is not the same,” Eunuch Iroro argued, his hazel eyes anxious. “The obligations Ovye has to the Royal House transcend many truths. I fear Ovye will subject himself to a quandary no man should have to face.”

Aslan regarded Eunuch Iroro silently, his amber eyes growing cold and reprehensive.

Eunuch Iroro cast down his gaze, bowing deeply. “May Ovye forgive me. I was careless in my speech.”

“We fear the same outcome, Iroro,” Aslan admitted, his voice harsh, “but let us not jump to hasty conclusions! You are excused.”

“Yes. Miguo, Ovye.”

“No matter our obligations to the Royal House,” Aslan said as he strode to the door, “we cannot allow Emeravwe to continue to suffer. We must restore her identity and return her to her rightful place!” He paused at the door, turning to Eunuch Iroro with a pained expression. “If the outcome is what we have anticipated, and she refuses to stay by our side…we must accept that, too.”


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