The Delegation Assembles

It keeps running through my head that the Equi eat only vegetation. I keep seeing all those trees, all that grass, and I wonder if that is what I will be forced to eat. Will I die of starvation? I hear through the cracks that the Telenir Warlord whom my father holds prisoner, is slowly dying of starvation. It seems he cannot keep our good food on his stomach. He vomits it up. They say he paces, paces, paces. Sometimes he sings. Will I pace in my cage, slowly dying of starvation? Will I be brutalized? Will I be tortured for information? I certainly hope not, because I don’t have any information. If I can’t get by on my looks and my sexual prowess, I’m going to be absolutely worthless. Maybe the Equi will give me to the Nargas and I’ll get to see my sister. In any case, I’m about to find out.

I’m not sure what has happened, because of course nobody tells me anything, but my training is being stepped up, and my father is in an absolute frenzy. The delegation is being readied to go to Equus, and now I know for sure that I will be given as a gift to the Thirteenth Dragonhorse. I am being fitted for a bridal gown, not that I have anything to say about how it looks, and Samarra is examining every inch of me, every day, to make sure I’m still a virgin. Sometimes she strips me and pets me. It makes me very uncomfortable. She says it’s supposed to. I am meant for a male, not another female. I find it an odd thing to say. On Lebonath Jas, those who crave sex with their own gender are killed; I cannot imagine it’s any different on Equus. Still, I think she enjoys it a little more than she should.

I wish Anchoress Ensharra was going with us. I am more comfortable with her, and I think she is less a fanatic than Samarra. In fact I know she is. But it is Samarra who is going. On a happy note, I have begged and wheedled and Jasreth is going to go along as my dresser. It will be nice to have a familiar servant when I am among strangers. Strange strangers. It is a large delegation. Jasreth’s uncle is going, and my uncle, to represent the two components of the Council, and our Standard Bearer is going, along with my two half-brothers, whom I roundly detest. Naram, our Nuntius de Affaires, is going also. Again, these are things I have heard; I have no proof for sure as to who is going. There are many servants going, of course, but they’re not really people, so they can’t be counted as part of the delegation.

I wish my mother was going. When I think about it, I’ve never been away from her, and now I’m wondering if I will ever see her again. That thought made me cry, and Samarra gave me a painful shaking, saying that crying would swell my eyes and make me less attractive. I am a gift. I must be perfect.

A commodity is what I am. A prime piece of caron, about to be held to the fire. I must be brave. If I can please a powerful man, perhaps he will allow me to bring my mother to Equus. I must be perfect. The perfect gift. The perfect woman. I wonder if that means the same thing to the Equi that it means to us. Again, I am about to find out.