Marcus Marcus and the Hurting Heart

Enter the tale of
"Marcus Marcus and the Hurting Heart"

Chapter Sixty-one

The discussion was quickly concluded. Twenty-five minutes later there was only If-Dec and I remaining in the room. I was filled with a sudden urge to embrace the man. My vizier smiled and reach out his hand. ‘I think that went well Mister Marcus.’
‘Will it work?’
‘Oh yes, Mister Marcus. If anybody causes problems have them killed or exiled.’
‘It worked for my father.’ I said and took If-Dec’s hand in mine. I felt exhausted to the bone, but in a good way, like an athlete who had just broken a record.
‘It did indeed Your Excellency.’
I did not correct my vizier.
If-Dec left, some crew members came in to begin cleaning the room. One of them carried a plastic wrapped package for me: much needed clean clothes. Another offered to show me the cabin that had been put aside for me.
‘Thank you, officer.’ I said, ‘but I’d like some time to myself. Is the cabin easy to find?’
‘Yes, Your Excellency. I can show you on the screen here.’
I stood beside the young man as he called up a simple map of the interior of the Wolf Craft. My cabin was just a little past Talavv’s. I thanked the officer and let him carry on with his duties. I examined the map for a couple of minutes, then stepped into the corridor.
The Wolf Craft was a compact ship and easy enough to find one’s way around. I was exhausted but in a restless way and decided not to go to my cabin straight away. Instead I wandered the ship, acknowledging the salutes of crew members, but not engaging in any conversation. I made my way to the medical bay but only stayed a moment. Sternbridge sat beside Talavv’s bed. I left quietly before he noticed me.
I was ready now for some rest. As I made my way back up to the cabin prepared for me, I passed Talavv’s quarters. I stood outside her door, holding the package of clean clothes. Then I stepped in. I only intended to stay a moment, but exhaustion buckled my legs and I fell on to her narrow bed. Fatigue was beginning to affect my mood too. I felt empty and listless. I sat up, shook my head. I flicked on the little screen by her bed, began flipping through channels.
To my surprise I discovered that my decisions were already making the news. One channel was hooked up to the space station I had left so suddenly. A pretty young woman was chatting away. She seemed vapid but I quickly recognised her as Joyous Hardiman, If-Dec’s deadliest propagandist.
‘Oh yes,’ she said, her eyes wide and guileless. 'It was a great shock. Freaky too. How so? Well, the thing is, His Excellency had this dream, just after he arrived on the space station. That's why he left so suddenly. He'd dreamt that the sacred swan was flying upwards on a blade of steel. Go figure! Anyhow next thing the news came through that 'Nameless' had died and had spilled his Holy blood on His Excellency's sword, the sword he got into all sorts of fights with when he was a Demos Guard like yonks ago. So now the Sejan family has been blessed with Holy blood. Wow, how cool is that?
‘Oh yeah look I’ve got a sticker here with the new Sejan emblem. Pretty neat huh? Let me stick it on my t-shirt. Mmm, now that’s a worry. Should I stick here just above my breast or on my breast itself? Don’t want to be executed for being disrespectful you know. Oops there goes the gravity again. Sorry if I embarrassed you there - I really should tuck my t-shirt into my shorts more tightly. 
‘Yay! Gravities back on. These creaky old space stations can be a bit tricky. Yeah the party is still going but in a chilled kinda way. But still fun. His Excellency says we need to be respectful but the ceremony won’t be held till next month. Need the time to organise it. Oh yeah people are coming from all over the place. Who? Well, the other En-Feshqa princes of course. Yes, Narn has an invite. And there will be all sorts of celebs from the Three Zones of Humanity. Pop stars, writers, tyrants, generals, porn stars – all the movers and shakers, should be brilliant.
‘Oh the amnesty. I don’t think that’s controversial. It’s just like since we are having a funeral for ‘Nameless’ then His Excellency and the Augurs figured it would be okay to allow people to publicly mourn any loved ones that y’know had been a teensy bit problematic when they were alive. So yeah families of rebels, Kristyanistas, heretics, traitors and what nots will be allowed to do there memorials. Which is pretty cool I think.
‘Yeah, I think His Excellency will be having a quiet ceremony for his departed wife. Which is pretty neat when you figure that she gets like ten out of ten on the controversy scales. But you know it’s been two and a half decades since that whole business – time to let bygones be bygones.
‘Me? Oh now, you make me blush. Of course I’ve had a fun time at the party. But a girl doesn’t kiss and tell y’know.’
I turned the screen off with a sigh. I thought of myself when I was a young man and I thought of Nooma. I smiled. ‘Oh to be young’ I said to the empty room. I noticed my finger had left a bloody smear on the screen. I wiped it off, then began cleaning myself. I stripped off my dirty clothes. As I washed myself I noticed the scar on my right hand. It was pale like the faded mark of a wound that happened years ago.
There were other faded scars but they were from the long gone past. Of my journey through the realm of Melkiresha I could see no trace. It was only after I finished scrubbing off the blood and gore that I noticed a swelling at the top of my left hand ring finger. I looked closer and saw a black skelf protruding out from under my nail. I managed to grip it between my teeth and pulled it out. I spat into my hand and saw that the object was the tip of a thorn.
Naked and clean I walked over to the small alcove that was Talavv’s shrine. The heavy knobbly stave that had been used to punish Bramlint had been returned to the alcove below. I nodded respectfully to the portrait of the Queen of the Universe and to the little figurine of Space. I nodded at the little statue of Es'peth but I also gave her a wink, she being the Goddess of alcohol and licentiousness. I placed the thorn before her and prayed.
I prayed for Nooma and for myself. I prayed for my realm and all my subjects. I prayed for my brave troopers lost in hyperspace aboard the Sejan troop carrier Umnyblaet. I prayed for the demon that he be delivered from his suffering. My most passionate prayer, however, was that Sternbridge should never suffer the loss of his beloved Talavv. 

An Deireadh – The End - Finis

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