Mountains of Learning

The Mountains of Learning

It wasn’t any kind of special day when the lord count came riding into our part of the hills to deal with Harra’s child. The weather was fine, and everyone went about their business like usual. There was nothing in the air, no whispers from the spirits to warn us of the change about to come down on our village in the form of the “Mutie Lord”.

That first sight was jolting, and no mistake about it but my ma didn’t raise her children to be rude, and I’ve taught my sons the same so’s there wasn’t any disrespect to the lord count’s heir in my household. Just because we lived in the hills didn’t mean we couldn’t show proper respect and hospitality.

I’d just got back from visiting some of the elders to find my house filled with the count and his people and not a thing to eat or a bed set clean for the guests.

I could’ve done without that doctor thinking we weren’t good enough to entertain the count’s son.

Thank the ancestors, Serg had brain enough in his head to make them tea. That husband of mine had been Speaker of Silvy Vale for some time and he was a good one, no matter how Lord Vorkosigan decided he’d messed up Harra’s case. There’s many a Speaker in these hills would have told Harra good riddance or had poor, little Raina dead and buried themselves. But my Serg was a good one, and he knew the kind of trouble and heart pain the truth would cause in Harra and Lem’s lives.

Especially if they learned the truth from him. There’d been a great many Silvy Vale folk wouldn’t darken our doorstep again looking for the Speaker if he’d spread the truth through the vale as the count’s son did without fear and without caution.

He was ruthless, and I thought fearless as well, as only the young and powerful are. But I heard him trying to talk over my Zed, and I recognized his fears. Trying to fit his city thoughts and words into our hill folk speech and world. My son, young ‘un that he is, heard the men talking and like all youngsters just repeat what he heard, trying to be grown up for his friends. I listened to Lord Vorkosigan try to teach my son a lesson that he wouldn’t really learn for several more years. Not ’til he left the Vale for Vorkosigan Surleau, and came back a city man with a city job. But by then the rest of Silvy Vale would already have learned that lesson.

That little man, our little lord, brought that lesson to our vale. He was so young and from what I overheard, so ready to pull the hills into the new and shinier galactic Empire. The one so vast no one from Silvy Vale could scarce imagine. But it wasn’t just that. He wasn’t all lightflyers and comm units and vat grown meals. He was honor and respect and Vor.

He spoke of us and our ways as shame upon his house. How our being ignorant as the dirt and rocks cast a blot on him and the Emperor. But in the next breath he spoke of underestimating us. Underestimating our ability to adapt and change and grow into a future where my daughter didn’t die stillborn and the Speaker didn’t need to silence himself or others. A future where those who underestimate us are astonished by what we can do. He spoke as though he knew.

He spoke because he knew.

So we learned from the lesson he provided for us, this young and twisted lord. That our ignorance would not be a blot upon our house and our empire, which are but mountains made up of the dirt upon which they sit.

La petite mort

“I wish to kill you a little,” River whispers as she clutches hard to his chest. She watches as he starts at the word “kill” but then ripens to the semantic behind the syntax.

She slides down his chest, inspecting each inch of skin and running her fingers over the ripples she sees causing ripples she feels. She smiles against his thigh as she brings him closer to the edge.

She once threatened to kill him with her mind. As he comes with her name upon his lips, she finds that killing him with mind-blowing sex will do just fine.