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"Kumoshim, you will not interfere with master Tono. To do so would

be most dishonorable", said Shiko Murai'Tashi, a Shanokim of the

Spider-snake domra.



"Damn it, brother! Are you blind to the disgrace this causes our

sister?"



"You are too excitable. Senbasho should be happy to have such good

company."



Rakam was sick of his brother continuing to use formal titles for his

family. One should be proud of one's name. Unfortunately, the domra

disagreed. All members lose their names and have them replaced by

titles describing their position. Rakam was a pupil of the spider, and

Sima was a servant girl. Kumoshim and Senbasho were their names the

day they took up service in the Spider-Snake domra. Now, as far as

Rakam knew, there were no Murai'Tashi left in all of Mateef. Their father

had died before Rakam was born, and their mother a few years later.



"I regret the day that I brought her into the filthy clutches of the

Spider-Snake. And damn it, her name is Sima Murai'Tashi, and I am

Rakam Murai'Tashi!"



Shiko gasped through clenched teeth. "Kumoshim, you should not use

that name. If the elders heard of it, you would be severely punished.

And as for Senbasho, she is much better off. Would you have her

harvesting rice instead?"



"Ask her yourself, and hope that she loves you enough to tell you the

truth. Good bye, Shanokim." Rakam took his cloak and left his

brother's quarters. Shiko did not try to stop Rakam. There was one

advantage to losing your name when you joined the domra: you were no

longer connected with the disgraces of your family members, at least

as far as the domra was concerned.



As Rakam made his way to the exit of the dormitory, he was blind with

rage, and was full-set on going in fists first to extract his sister.

He didn't realize what a stupid idea that was for some time. The

masters' quarters were well-guarded, even if you only counted the

guards who were visible.



Rakam went to the bar to think. Ten minutes later, he came out wearing

a chef's robe, carrying a box of fish. He went to the side door of

the masters' quarters where servants entered. That door also happened

to be guarded by Rondo, a friend of Rakam's, or the closest equivalent

of a friend that you can have in a domra.



"A special order of fish for master Tono", said Rakam as he approached.



It took Rondo a few moments to identify Rakam. He was confused.

"Rakam? What the hell are you doing?"



"A fish special was ordered by master Tono for himself and the lovely

Senbasho. I am here to deliver it."



"Rakam, you're crazy! Get out of here!"



"I must deliver this dish, guard."



Rondo looked disgusted. He began to shout "Anadomra", the word for

one of no domra, but was cut off at "An". A dagger was in his throat.

Rakam kept him upright and tried to take him inside the door as

naturally as he could manage, as if Rondo was escorting him. It might

not draw attention if any hidden guards were only glancing past. And

they happened to be half-blind.



Rakam dropped his friend's corpse in a closet just inside the door and

continued on, but not before he took one of the passes from Rondo's

pocket that signified you were a servant allowed temporary access to

the building's servants' area. Another guard inside just noticed Rakam

as he was exiting the closet.



"You there. What business do you have here?"



Rakam flashed his pass and said "A delivery of fish for master Tono. I

mustn't keep master waiting. In what room can I find him?"



The guard was distracted, looking at the closet. "Second floor. . .

In the room at the end."



"Thank you", said Rakam, and hussled toward the stairs. A few seconds

later, the guard shouted as he found Rondo's body in the closet, but

Rakam barely heard him, as he was at the top of the stairs.



The hall was quite wide and had walls which were covered in beautiful

artwork. Long, swirling images of abstract scenes went down the

length of the hall, all traced in gold. Rakam, of course, was more

concerned with the two guards at the end of the hall, in front of what

was presumably Tono's door.



It seemed Rakam had to revert to his original plan after all. Before

they paid him any attention, he grabbed a handful of shuriken from his

robe and threw them with precision at the guards. One of the

blades stuck into the nearest one's temple, but the other guard only

had his weapon-hand wounded. The one who got the shuriken to the

temple shouted weakly and passed out, but the other one jumped up,

startled, to find a chef with fire in his eyes charging with two long

sai. He shouted and swung his sword with his wounded hand, but Rakam

easily grabbed it away with a twist of one of his sai. The other was

planted deep into the guard's chest.



Rakam was now left only with one sai and a locked door, and no doubt

dozens of guards would be upon him soon. A secret guard had made

himself visible by this time, charging with speed from down the hall.

Fortunately, at Rakam's wish, the door came unlocked and even opened.

But it wasn't magical; Tono was standing on the other side of it,

still tying up his silk robe. He managed to say ""What the hell's

going on out here?" before Rakam tackled him inside. He immediately

turned around and locked the door again.



Sima, the lovely Senbasho, was bloody and sobbing on the beautiful bed,

obscured by silk lace curtains. "Rakam!", she shouted, "What are you

doing here! You must go, you will be killed!"



Tono, huffing from the blow, said "Shut up, wench! Guards, Anadomra!"



Rakam decided not to use his remaining sai, but instead fell onto Tono

and beat his face with his bare fists. While he was doing so, he

screamed such things as "You filthy old man, the domra will pay for

what you have done!"



After Rakam decided Tono was beaten enough, he once again wielded his

sai. The doors were being beaten on by the guards, but Rakam paid no

attention. He did horrible things to Tono's lower half with the sai.

Tono shrieked, and Sima did as well, after she realized what her

brother was doing.



Rakam snapped out of his bloodlust when he heard his sister. He went

to her and picked her up, after fixing her clothes. He was still

mumbling horrible curses on Tono and the domra as he did so. He went

to the window, opened it, and jumped straight out, tumbling as best he

could to protect his sister as he landed from the second story fall,

and ran as best he could, sticking to the shadows.



Now, Rakam was an anadomra in the middle of the domra with a bloodied,

sobbing girl in his arms. He hadn't thought this far yet. "Where do

we go now?" he asked his sister, but she continued sobbing into the

side of his face, occassionally kissing him and murmuring "thank you,

thank you, Rakam". He went towards the intermediate dormitory.



Rakam reached his brother's quarters with no incident. The

intermediate dorms were much less guarded than the masters' quarters.

When Shiko opened the door and saw his brother and sister, he gasped

through his teeth in the same way he did before, but then quickly let

them in.



"Brother, please protect Sima. I must flee, but she can still be

safe."



The Snake-master looked grave for a moment, and said "Yes, Rakam. I

will of course do what I can to protect my sister. Run now, far away.

The domra is surely searching for you. Here, take my cloak."



Rakam looked at his brother sadly and lovingly as Shiko handed his

cloak to him, and then fled with all his speed.