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.
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