Like Drums in my Sleep

There is so much confusion around here!  It reverberates even into the women’s quarters, which is usually a pretty quiet place.  I am to be given to the Thirteenth Dragonhorse.  No, I am to be given to the Telenir warlord that my father is holding prisoner.  No, I am to be given to the warlord’s Mahdi, whomever that may be.  I just wish I knew, so I could prepare myself to go in a straight line somewhere.  My father grows ever angrier and less in control of his emotions, and I stay away from him as much as I possibly can.  

I heard that he gave the killing potion to the Telenir warlord, but Anchoress Samarra brushes it aside, saying it wasn’t enough to kill him, only enough to make sure he is telling the truth about who he is.  Jasreth, who dresses me, and is my friend, says she was watching from a distance, and that it was a terrible thing to see.  She says the poor man screamed and screamed and my father laughed and said the Telenir were weak.  I just do not understand why my father would torture him and then ask the Telenir to align with us.  What if we end up with an entire planet of warriors on our doorstep?  Still, my father says he has a mighty army, and that the Gods are on his side.  I cannot speak to that one way or another.  

My uncle, who works with the palace guard, said he watched the prisoner writhing in pain for two days, and says he is still very weak and sick. I can’t help but think that if he gets out of this alive, he’s going to be coming back here with vengeance on his mind, and he’ll probably have a whole lot of angry people with him.  For that reason if no other, I’m hoping I will be given to the Equi leader and not the Telenir.  I truly want to be far, far from here, and the sooner the better.  

The Anchoress of the Ancient City remains convinced that I will be given to the Thirteenth Dragonhorse, and I am praying to the Gods that she is correct.   She says that we should be preparing for me to go in that direction, and that next time my mother and I can slip away to join her, she will show me pictures of planet Equus and begin teaching me what little she knows about the people.  I am anxious to learn, but I am also afraid, because I know my father wants me schooled under Samarra, and all she wants to do is put me through my positions, and my vocalizations, and tell me about my holy duties and my mission from the Gods and my father to further the kingdom of the Lebonathi worlds.  When she teaches, she pounds the table, like a drum.  Like the sound of the drums they beat at executions.  I can hear them in my sleep.