In springtime the nobles of Nazagul would gather in the finer districts of the city, or, for those of particular fortune, in the court of the Emperor himself, to watch the blossoming of the baha flowers. Such an occasion, which came but once a year and lasted for only a week—two if the season was truly favorable—was an opportunity to observe the ephemeral splendor of nature. Life itself was transient and fleeting, a moment that passed and disappeared without a thought. A beauty that could never be captured and held.
Genha felt herself to be in such a moment now, an exquisite perfection that she would spend the rest of her days seeking to replicate, all to no avail. Everything stood on the precipice ready to collapse, but it yet stood, all in balance. The flowers bloomed, and though she knew the day would come, not long from now, when the blossoms would fall and scatter to the winds, they seemed so alive that she could almost believe it was impossible that they should perish.
The moment of her realization came during that year’s baha festivities. She and her husband attended the celebration of one of the Emperor’s viziers in the hills above the imperial city in the park the Emperor had set aside for the nobility. The group of them—the vizier and his wife, Genha and her husband, their children and retainers—sat beneath one of the baha trees, five trees from the Emperor himself. Two trees further yet was the family Leiy’s celebration, and sitting with them was their firstborn son and his wife and their children.
They spent the afternoon beneath the trees contemplating the baha blossoms, amidst laughter and joking , eating and drinking,. The moment that Genha would remember, that she would treasure for the remainder of her days, came as the sun’s descent became obvious. The shadow’s began to lengthen around them, the air seeming to change, as if to announce that night would not be held at bay for long. As she sat at the edge of the vizier’s blanket, watching her second–born son play with the vizier’s firstborn daughter, she felt the eyes of someone upon her and glanced up to see the Firstborn Leiy staring at her. Their eyes met for an instant, and they both looked away before anyone noticed. It was in that instant, that exquisite glance, that Genha realized she had never known such happiness.
The day went on and the blankets were folded up and the Emperor led the procession back into the imperial city. As they descended from the hills, down the wide imperial avenue, everyone could see as smoke began to billow from the Xavin District near the city walls. A quiet murmur passed through the crowd, as various parties speculated about the fire and its cause, as well as its location, so near the army barracks. The Emperor made no comment and gave no sign he even noticed the blaze, leading the procession below with his head held high.
The fires turned out to be far more serious than even the most pessimistic might have ventured on that day. They were but one of many fires at imperial buildings throughout the land. An uprising against the Emperor had begun. The viziers, and many other important nobles, were summoned to discuss the matter, including Genha’s husband. More importantly for Genha, so was the Firstborn Leiy. She felt his absence keenly in those first days of the rebellion, when the advisers argued throughout the day and deep into the night.
At the height of her longing for him, on the second day of the meetings at the palace, a messenger arrived with a poem from the Firstborn Leiy. In it he expressed his own unreserved delight at their shared glance, comparing the cataclysms in his heart at that moment to the ones that now threatened to consume the empire. It was a scandalous poem, with it’s suggestion that their affair could be equated in any way with the struggle to overthrow the Emperor. To even have it in her possession was a risk to both her and the Firstborn Leiy, and it thrilled her to no end.
It also proved to be the beginning of the end of this moment of exquisite perfection, whose brief season it seemed had passed. Genha’s husband had sent his own messenger that same afternoon with his own unimaginative poem. He arrived just as the Firstborn Leiy’s was leaving with her reply. The servant informed her husband, and when he returned home from the palace two days later, he demanded to know what message had been delivered to her. Genha could not produce a message or provide a suitable explanation to allay his fears and so they settled into a period of suspicion and hostility.
The uprising proved to be far more intractable than anyone had anticipated, word arriving soon after the end of the meetings in the palace of certain borderland outposts being overrun and seized. The streets of the imperial city became fraught with tension, the imperial guard on every corner. It became hard to move about the city, though as a noble Genha was granted allowances others less fortunate were not. It only served to heighten the illicitness and the danger of what she was doing with Firstborn Leiy when they met next.
Still, when the fevers of their passion had died they found little to say, the reality of having to traverse the garrisoned city, as well as avoiding her husband’s spies, settling upon both of them. Word had come of still further losses in the provinces of the empire and of a gathering force, a consuming whirlwind, that had begun to move toward the imperial city. The Firstborn Leiy had an audience with the Emperor and the rest of his advisers that evening to discuss matters and Genha could sense his thoughts already casting there as they embraced and kissed goodbye.
The news grew only worse in the days that followed. It seemed nothing the Emperor did could quiet the rebellion and his advisers were soon at a loss as to what to say. The Firstborn Leiy sent Genha another poem, but it was hurried and distracted, the matters of the day calling for too much of his attention. She felt the moment slipping away, taken by the wind, even as her ardor for him did not quiet.
That was the world they lived in, she knew, a transient place where heartbreak was the only constant. Celebrations of the baha blossoms were cancelled, deemed too dangerous to attend with the unrest growing. Genha spent those last days of the bloom alone in her quarters, remembering that glance and all that had gone with it. It was all over by the time the blossoms were gone.
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