Smells and other sign...
Should this place had been the first I encountered since beginning to walk on all fours it might have driven me mad. The odors of human societies are for the most part quite familiar, or at least fairly easy to put into context. The cloak and now my form simply augment the sensations I knew as a man. Sensations that are now far more complex and vivid, while these eyes may not see the colors I once knew as well my world is richer in many ways.
This place makes it difficult to relax completely. I never really was completely comfortable on the ship but even now the upper berth I claimed is the most familiar place in all of this difference. I have stole away on several occasions to curl up completely when the need for a deeper sleep calls. Otherwise stretched out on whatever floor of in front of whatever hearth I never completely sleep. Too many things that were strange, voices, smells, sights and sounds that have kept me on nearly perpetual edge. Now that the palace is in possession and as its many hallways and rooms become familiar I do find myself becoming less restless in its confines.
I cannot say I loathe this place as much as it becomes more familiar. It is every bit the nightmare of the best and scariest childhood "morality tale," more vivid in every detail although I have yet to discover the "newly captured child soup" that seemed to be the dish de jour of all of my mother's tales. I would not be surprised to find it but men have a value slightly beyond live stock. I sense a great deal more respect as Adric's "dog" than Jack truly receives. Men are known quantities to these dark ones, even ones with Jack's power. He would be better suited as a fox man in this company.
As we inherited the staff of the palace I have paid some attention to their speech and mannerisms. Some are familiar but I have yet to encounter a man slave who would be old enough to be one of our contemporaries as of yet. It is clear when a slave looses his or her utility they are "used" for other purposes.
Some were clearly born here. The youngest of the man slaves I have seen has maybe lived six or seven summers. They seem to be learning the tasks that will be expected of them in the near future. I can smell younger ones in their quarters but I never hear them. Perhaps they are too used to other "wolves" in their midst that they have learned that silence is life.
Since Adric has accorded some authority to the men of the staff they do seem more chatty. More speech gives me more time to listen. There are some from what used to be our village, or at least from where the toads now roam. I can't help but think that this existence is preferable to the alternative that home has become.
The slaves form the lowest caste of this society. The "common" folk of the city above them with a ruling elite apparently above all. Wedged between are a race of beings that must be one of Zome's more proud creations.
The lower castes of common folk seem to have but one ambition, rise to the elite. Ambitions that for most will never come to be. What power a commoner holds seems to be proportional to what they have to offer their overseer. For most this value ends with a violent death. Grandmother was right about many things.
The elite are cunning enough and individually strong enough to remain in the upper castes for others to notice that they are there. The failure of assent a constant reminder of the risks of power and privilege in this society. The females of the race have an upper hand. Many of the males seem to have too little of the qualities that make a husband useful to his wife in the societies of men and too many of the qualities that too often lead to a premature demise.
Proof of this lies with the fate of those caste off as the collateral damage in the struggle for power. The "dark", supposedly infallibly loyal guardians of the upper tiers are nearly exclusively female. Such an imbalance implies much in this society where guile and might make what is "right." It seems that the value of most males in this society is to die in the most useful way, presumably taking as many others opposed with you as possible.
Adric, or what Adric has become, clearly has thrown this society into a buzz. The new "queen" has taken the hive. Although I cannot help but think that Adric may be more akin to a mantis than a bee. While the elite of the society clearly procreate I suspect it is in this breeding, and the investments made, that truly make for shifts in the balance of power. One does not see, nor do I smell, many females with child in this society.
As the surprise and shock of our arrival wear off Adric is beginning to navigate the more treacherous pathways of politics. He has acquired an adviser who has counseled his to court the "princess" of one of the houses.
He invited her to the ship for a dinner and a brief cruise. Her smell was complex and initially enamoring, at least for me. The feelings of the basal instincts of a man mixed with that of my body were odd. Adric's head has not been bitten off at least as of now. His adviser says there is great power in winning this one, but a fat score of others heads have rolled trying.
Something is different about the smell of her. Something is not quite right. That something is likely the greatest danger. She simply does not pass the "smell test". Her odor is literally distinct in a manner I cannot quite describe. What is it?
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Posted on October 24, 2013 12:11