Originally Posted by springs1971
Baelan kept his head down as they entered Abendau city. but they haven't have they? They're still outside crossing the souk. they only enter the city when the guards check him out...I'd finish the sentence at 'down'. Or is the souk inside the city? Confused.com He wore a cloth around the lower part of his face and sunglasses, ostensibly for protection from the harsh sun. Even at nine years old, he knew to avoid confrontation; there were many in the city who did not welcome people from the tribes.X But today was his name day, when he would attend the temple and be recognised as an adult.
As he crossed the souk he watched the traders; soaking in the colours and sounds. In the desert, everything was red.X Here, he could smell the spices baking in the heat. The colours of the city dazzled him: the green of the palace gardens; the light coloured houses, reflecting the hot sun. The myriad people bumped against one another, swaying and moving to the city’s rhythm. It seemed they were part of a song, one he didn’t know. The cacophony of voices, and the frequent roar of space ships coming to the port overwhelmed him, making him both excited and not a little nervous.
His mother stopped to purchase spices for the feast, nightfire for his ceremony and an ankhan pendant. She took her time choosing it, finally picking out one with a heavy silver chain and a large emerald stone, to match the colour of his eyes. At that, he ducked his head again. X To be recognised would be dangerous, deadly even. There had been five mothers, he’d been told, and all but his own had perished before their children were born, murdered by Varnon. X
He turned and looked at the palace. It dominated the whole city. X Built of glistening white stone, in contrast to the red of the desert rock, huge in scale, it’s its domed turrets framed in coloured tiles X seemed to shift in the sun. He wondered if X the Emperor knew that Baelan of the Benadii was his son. He was sure he didn’t, but his urge to be known seemed to cry out across the city, the whole way to the palace, and it seemed impossible his father couldn’t feel him here, watching.
“Baelan,” said his mother, and tugged his arm. He realised he was standing too openly, his cloth falling from his face, exposing him, his too-big glasses slipping down from his eyes. He pushed them back, ducked his head and followed her, glancing back at the palace, just once.
They hurried to the high stone walls which surrounded the tribal area of the city, cutting it off from the rest of Abendau. AAh, they were in the city... silly me. A squad of soldiers stood at the gate. X Baelan stood in line behind his mother, knowing the lack of an ankhan would identify him as a child and should allow him through unchecked. Even so, his breath quickened. Two young men ahead were pulled to the side to have their bags checked and an ID swab taken.
Baelan tried to think what he would do if they asked for his ID. Run? He’d have to; to fight would reveal his powers, and they’d take his swab, for sure. His mother reached to him and stroked his arm. He nodded but X stood poised and alert.
They were called forward and his mother’s purchases were checked. They lifted the ankhan and Baelan was sure they would wonder at the colour and explore further. His mother’s ID was scanned and passed. The soldier beckoned to Baelan, who tried to make himself look as young as he could, for once glad of his slenderness. He walked forward, feeling sick and clammy in the hot sun.
He swallowed and waited.X
“Why are you visiting the city?”
“It’s my naming day.”
“You don’t look old enough,” said the soldier. When Baelan didn’t reply he jerked his head at the gate. “You can go through.”
Baelan nodded, not able to squeeze out his thanks, and passed through the gates into the tribal enclave. Here, there were none of the imported stone houses of the city. Instead they used the traditional red desert rock. It made him feel better to see their softness instead of the harsh white. He took off his glasses, pulled the cloth from his face and stretched his hands out, relishing the warm air against his bare arms. His plain singlet was loose and cooling against his body. His mother nodded to the large building in the centre of the square, red stone with turreted towers and gilded doorways and rooftops glittering in the sun.
“Go, Baelan. You must be pure tonight.”
He took a small roll of clothes from her before entering the temple. He stopped before the icon in the porch-way and bowed, murmuring his obedience to his lady. Her eyes watched him from the picture, soft and kind, and he prayed for her continued good health.
He moved forward to the sunken pool at the centre of the temple, shedding his clothes before entering its cool, cleansing water, naked in the temple of his lady, offering everything he was to her. He swam - tasting the slight soapiness of the water - and stood under the central fountain’s cascading water. He let it pour over his head and down his face while he said the blessing of his lady the required eight times, before swimming back. Dressing in the ornate tunic and wide legged trousers his mother had given him, he left his feet bare. This was what his father was famous for, fighting barefoot, yet his tribal brothers did it every day without thinking about it.
He walked around the pool and lit a candle for his mother, X and took it with him. Reaching the statue of his lady, the Empress, he sank to his knees beside the others being named today and joined the chanting hymn to her. Later, much later, they would come for him but for now there was just the chanting and his Lady, granting her munificence