Part Two of our queer switchblade-and-sorcery web novel, Those Who Create and Destroy, is here, with a new free chapter coming every Monday for the next six months! ✨
In this week’s chapter, “Which to Bury: Us or the Hatchet?”, High Servant Karamat threatens to withdraw the Hermetic Order of Khmun from the Auctoritas Magicae, raising the specter of war; Levi schemes to ensure Thorsten’s reelection as Magistrate; and Elisha discovers a new lead in his covert investigation into the May 14th golem attack.
Download the full Part One free for e-reader, for those who need to catch up.
“Which to Bury: Us or the Hatchet?”
story by Mabel Harper & Emrys Webb
written by Emrys Webb
“Her Divine Wisdom Karamat,” announced the white-clad page, “High Servant of Truth, High Priestess of Thoth, and Most Holy Steward of the Hermetic Order of Khmun.” The boy bowed low from the waist, then stood to one side as Karamat’s procession filed into the Office of the Archmagus.
Two bare-chested, heavy-set guards entered first, took up posts on either side of the door. They were followed by Thutmose IX, the High Servant’s famed Right Hand, whose alchemically reinforced khopesh swayed pendulously from his sword belt. He was looming, well-muscled, with dark blond hair streaking past his naked shoulders and a hard jaw glittering with stubble. His silver gaze pierced Elisha and his father briefly from within thick rings of kohl as he took his place by the chair in front of the Archmagus’s desk.
The High Servant herself was next to advance into the room, with a fresh-faced young swordswoman bringing up the rear of her escort.
Karamat was an imperious, well-built young woman with piercing dark eyes and sleek black hair cut in blunt bangs across a proud brow. She wore regalia like what might have attired an ancient Egyptian priestess or queen: a white linen tunic, jeweled sash, and feather crown, and a leopard skin with a gold Eye-of-Horus clasp, lapis lazuli eyes gleaming from its snarling skull. Her crook and flail she clasped ceremonially crossed over her chest as she paced toward the Archmagus’s desk, her attendants assuming a tight formation around and behind her.
Levi and Elisha rose to their feet.
“Em hotep nefer, Your Honor.” The High Servant’s penetrating stare bored into the elder Weyland’s.
Levi received her with a placid gaze. “Em hotep nefer, Your Wisdom.”
“Em hotep nefer, Your Wisdom,” chimed in Elisha.
Karamat’s eyes did not stray from the Archmagus. “Prefect; em hotep nefer.”
She handed the crook and flail to her page, then lowered herself into the brown leather bergère in front of Levi’s desk. The Weylands, too, took their seats.
The High Servant sat with her left hand flat on her left knee. She held her right fist briefly over her heart, then brought it to rest on her right knee. Ordinators kept silent vigil on either side of the Archmagus’s desk.
“If it’s all the same to you, High Councillor,” said Karamat, “I’ll dispense with the usual pleasantries.”
“Indeed.” Levi smiled. “Who has the time?”
“Given that you have the perpetrator of the May 14th attack in custody, and he is one of your own constituents, it must be apparent to you that no one from my order had any part in that egregious act.”
“Harper is only a suspect as yet,” said Levi. “He has yet to render a confession, and he has not yet gone to trial. Therefore, his guilt is as yet uncertain, and it remains unknown what, if any, accomplices may have supported or facilitated his crime.
“However,” he was quick to add, as the High Servant’s expression turned fierce, “neither is there any evidence whatsoever implicating either membership or leadership of the Hermetic Order of Khmun in the May 14th attack.”
Karamat raised her chin, surveyed him along the length of her aquiline nose. “Your great-nephew and his growing faction seem grievously unconscious of that fact.”
The Archmagus nodded understanding. “Rest assured, I myself do not share Hunter’s views.”
“Yet you have not publicly condemned them.”
Elisha could see his father carefully selecting the words of his response. “I am sure you understand, Your Wisdom, that it would be a violation of Ordo Arcanus law for a sitting Archmagus to issue a statement or otherwise act in any fashion that might be construed as either an endorsement or a denunciation of a candidate currently campaigning for public office within our order.”
Karamat arched one painted eyebrow. “Have you not broad power as Archmagus to change and interpret your own laws?”
She wasn’t wrong. But it was also true, Elisha knew, that overuse of the Archmagus’s sweeping powers, particularly in defiance of time-honored conventions, had historically proven a political liability. Levi Weyland’s sparing use of unilateral action had been credited by most commentators with having kept him safely in his post these past thirty-five years.
“To be perfectly frank, Your Honor,” Karamat went on, “your reticence in this matter leads me to question whether you are truly an ally of our order after all.”
“I urge you not to be overly hasty in your conclusions, Your Wisdom,” replied the Archmagus, evenly.