K is for Kion and Kush


KION: title of the Nurian monarch, once a constitutional ruler of the Nurian Empire. Though the monarchy still exists it has been outlawed by the Priests’ Council, forcing members of the royal family into hiding.

According to the history books at the seminary, the Nurian monarchy had become corrupt and ineffective by the times of Saint Loa. Kings were nothing but pampered playboys and the government run by shadowy counsellors and grand viziers behind the scenes. Barely fifty years after the departure of the Saint and his followers, the Empire had already collapsed and the Eastern Canopy shattered into several bickering states. All nominally owed their allegiance to the king who continued to live in the ancient capitol of old Nur, but in practice the Kion had little power beyond that of a figurehead. In the centuries that followed, political instability combined with environmental factors conspired to further weaken the monarchy. By the time the first Argosian colonists arrived in the East, a hundred years before the events in ‘Tymon’s Flight’, they found a group of petty nations so disorganised and a leadership so ineffective that within a quarter of a century they had managed to install themselves in all positions of influence. A further twenty-five and they were openly running the Eastern Canopy, using a system of governance far more despotic and corrupt than the monarchy had ever been and bringing in their own soldiers to enforce it. What little wealth remained in the East was drained away into Argosian pockets; from being weak-willed playboys, the outlawed Nurian royal family became, more or less in spite of themselves, symbols of a nascent rebellion.

…………

Kush: strong liquor distilled from tubers and bark and found primarily in the Eastern Canopy.

Flustered, the priest gathered himself into a semi-sitting position, his bare toes searching the floor in vain for the missing slipper.

“Who… who the devil are you, creeping up on me like that? Didn’t anyone tell you it was rude to play jokes on a priest, you damned Nurry?” He stared blearily at Tymon, and paused. “You’re no Nurry.”

“In the beauty, Father. My name is Tymon and I’m here on my mission service. Sorry to have woken you.” Tymon looked down, furiously fighting the urge to smile.

“Ah, the indentured student,” yawned the priest. “You certainly do know how to make an entrance! I’m Verlain. No need for ‘beauties’, or ‘fathers’, or any such like. We’re at the rotten rear end of the world and there’s no point in standing on ceremony. But you’ll soon learn that…” He heaved himself up with a resigned grunt and salvaged the remaining green slipper from under the couch.

“Would you like to see my papers, sir?” Tymon couldn’t bring himself to do without an honorific altogether. He held out his travel pass to the priest, who waved it away impatiently.

“None of that, no need. Why bother? They sent you to this hole, that’s good enough for me.”

He lumbered off towards a room opening onto the courtyard, motioning the boy to follow him. Inside the stale smell of jar-weed hung in the air, as well as another cloying odour Tymon could not identify. The room was furnished with a crude table, two chairs and a rickety cabinet. The fat priest rummaged in this last item, retrieving a stoppered cask and two bowls which he brought to the table. He squeezed himself into one of the chairs, wheezing heavily, and indicated that Tymon should join him. Then he opened the cask and poured a clear, pungent liquid into the bowls.

“To Argos city!” he announced, raising his bowl in a toast. “And the mean-spirited bastards who live there!”

Tymon stared at his companion in shock. The other shrugged his ample shoulders, gulped down the contents of the bowl in one go and poured himself another.

“To Argos city,” he said again. “May they rot in their own damn rainfall.”

Down went the priest’s second bowl: a third was poured. Tymon sipped his portion of the acrid liquid in an attempt at courtesy. He was barely able to swallow a mouthful.

“To Argosh city,” said the priest, more blurrily, “love of my life.”


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