The Fiction of Philip Kaveny
He hesitated and added,
“Tell me that and you are the wisest man in my Empire”
Zeno spoke as if he was something was channeling through him.
“Igor is Ivan’s father we are never to speak of Ivan under the penalty of roasting inside the Brazen Bull.”
“Yet you risk that to tell me the truth why Zeno?”
Said Basil, why?
“We all die I would rather die this day than die a little each day knowing I had shirked what my family for Had sworn generations sworn to yours since before the days of the city.”
There was a long excoriating silence then Basils said,
“Tell me you will not die today”
“You remember so long ago when you sent me North to meet the Young North Man Ivan, and gave the instructions I would know him when I saw him?” Zeno asked,
How do know this that you are about to tell me?
Basil asked impatiently,
“I know it as If I watched from the time Ivan was two to and Igor took the Wergild it goes like this and starts on the day Sylvia Ivan’s mother and Igor’s wife were murdered. It is like I can see Orfa the Old crone in my mind in my mind and see her say these words to the Vikings.”
The Zeno went on as if speaking for her, and drew Basil inside his mind to see what he had seen
“This boy will hate you forever. It was not in the Runes for you to die this day. Borguild will keep his bargain and you will never forget her. “
Indeed, Borguild died the next winter and kept his barging. Igor’s kingdom stretched across a small corner of the North. Igor did seem to care about anything for the first years of his son’s life. By the time that twelve summers had past Ivan could look his father in the eye. Igor would leave to trade and plunder but Ivan never would accompany him. By the time Ivan was seventeen he stood a head taller than his father. The crone was very old now, but she acted as a mother for Ivan. Only once did someone question Ivan’s manhood and it was over in an instant. He had his mother’s height and grace and all of his father’s strength.
Once, Ivan looked at his father. His waist had grown huge, his hair was matted and his face lined. Yet his eyes were still clear. Igor had grown morose and fatalistic, yet his small section of the world prospered. Igor’s raids were less frequent and he seemed happy with bribes rather than battle. The times he fought, however, he was like a mad wolf. Igor had lost his indurance but kept his strength and quickness. None, challenged his leadership more because they loved him rather than feared him.
When Ivan reached his seventeenth summer he asked Orfa, “Is that red haired monster my father? Tell me he was not; tell me that my mother had another. Tell me that Bjorn is my father and not prince Igor “
The crone answered.
“You judge your father by what you see now. You look at him and try to wonder how your mother could have loved him.
Ivan spat. They should have all died that day when I was 2.
Orfa answered, “If he and the rest would have died that day you would have been no better than Borguild’s footstool. “
“Next you will tell me that he was a hero with his every step he bares the guilt for leaving her. Ivan spat again.
He bears it heavily, that is why he has grown bloated and drunk most nights. “
Orfa and Ivan faced each other across a small circle. Ivan sat down on his haunches and took the great-grandmother’s hands. She pulled a piece of ivory from inside her breast and drew a circle in the ground. It was more oblong than round. The symbols were strange to his eyes in that he seemed to sense what she was doing. In the circle she drew other shapes. Earlier in his life she had taught him to read runes and also enough of the lanquage of Universal Latin of Ishmar so that he could recognize the letters on the map. In one section of the map she drew the symbol of three Yak tales. To the south she drew the Imperial seal.
You are drawing the world, aren’t you great grandmother? Said Ivan
“Go south to the one who wears the locket,”
Ivan wrinkled his forehead.
“Old woman, your brain has turned to Yogurt in your age “