This is it–this is all I have of my original morning prayer. It is also a short bit of a scene from my very first ever novel, Isendeni Station. I wrote IS for NaNoWriMo in 2002, and some folks have in fact read it, but not very many.
I’ve cleaned up the pronouns–this is the first thing I wrote in this universe and where I discovered that just assigning genders and pronouns wasn’t working for me. I’ve cleaned up one or two referent problems that fixing the pronouns created, but not all of them, so it still reads a bit sloppily.
Justice of Ente is, indeed, the Justice of Ente that was at Shis’urna–but this takes place during the outbreak of civil war, so it’s set 20 years later and Skaaiat is long gone and working at Omaugh Palace.
Seimet is Translator Seimet Mianaai, Emissary to the Presger, and a character I so loved writing. One of my regrets on trunking this novel was packing her away. I hope I can use her for something in the future.
This is from almost the end of the book. The two speaking characters in this scene, plus several units of soldiers off Justice of Ente, are waiting for the beginning of a pitched battle on the concourse of the station.
The shape she sensed beside her was silent. A whisper started at one far end of the concourse and came stuttering along its length. The flower of justice is peace. The flower of propriety is beauty in thought and action. In a series of lurches the prayer settled itself into a whispered unison. The flower of benefit is Amaat whole and entire. It was steadying, it anchored her to the spot where she knelt, her own lips were moving involuntarily along with the others as the wave passed over her. She began the next line, but suddenly had a vision of Niust saying I am the sword of justice properly wielded, wet with the blood of the wicked, as she surely had nearly every morning of her adult life, like any other soldier, and the words died in her throat. My armor is righteousness and my weapon is truth, continued the whisper. The flower of justice is peace…
“She should have received treatment,” said Seimet’s voice beside her. “Niust ordered otherwise. That kind of self-interest is so easily manipulated. And no family, no house to take offense, no one to complain.”
Who should have received treatment? She frowned, bewildered for a few moments, not even sure how to frame a question. Then the words Niust and no house found purchase. She meant Erkard. Her throat tightened painfully, adding itself to the ache of her face. There is no beginning without an end, whispered the voices. “Why do you care? Why are you telling me this?”
“Niust had years to work on her,” Seimet’s low voice continued, as though she hadn’t spoken. “Captain Toross had only five, to undo what she had done, to do what should have been done in the first place, and do it so Niust would never find a trace of it. Toross did what she could. Lieutenant Erkard didn’t report anything when she arrived on Justice of Ente. She was sent to interrogation, and spent weeks in re-education. She has no memory of it."
The flower of benefit is Amaat, whole and entire. There is no motion without stillness… "How do you know this?”
“The moment I saw her I knew there was something wrong. Niust, favor a self-absorbed, houseless nobody? It wasn’t possible. I watched, and drew my own conclusions, and I reported what I found, myself, to the Lord of the Radch. The rest, your administrator told me. She had it from Captain Toross.” The flower of justice is peace… “Re-education, you may know, isn’t just a question of a few procedures in Medical, especially for cases like this. The places, the people around her were carefully chosen.”
Twenty, on the docks, declaring We’ll stake our lives on it. Erkard’s face, like a mask, her voice asking What do you get? The muted, warm brown sparkle of the strand of chrysolites across her chest and Elaai’s tear-laden voice, How could she do that to you? She was in danger of coming unmoored again, she knew it, and tried to grab onto one coherent thought. “Why do you care? Why are you saying any of this?” There was no answer, just the last few susurrant phrases of prayer. Her face was hurting more than it had a few moments before, and she realized she was clenching her teeth. She forced them apart. “You’re just like Niust,” she whispered into the fresh silence. “You’re better than common, vulgar Citizens. Your agenda, your needs, matter more than theirs, more than even their lives.”
“Yes,” Seimet said, “I am, and they do. They matter more than my own life. More than yours. You understand this.”
There will have been at least four verses (the “flower of justice is peace” etc is a refrain) that will have gone “there is no light without darkness/motion without stillness/beginning without ending/existence without non existence” I honestly thought I wrote those out, but perhaps I didn’t. (Also, yes, those are in the wrong order, sorry.)