Tuesday, June 23, 2009

69 - Like two strange dogs.

While the truth drug wore off, I called Mil Loren. “You will have to hire another clerk to keep track of my kennel expenses. I’ve just hired Inthilin Amras as my new estate’s administrator.” “He came up on his own initiative, and I liked that.” I hadn’t picked one of the career clerks my secretary had presented. I guess I’d have to teach him what my taste in servants was. He’d never had to figure out what kind of household servant I wanted.

“Call the Yeoli slave… the woman in the closest hut… in, when you go, please.” He nodded and left and Inthilin began groaning and muttering the way some people do when coming out of truth drug. Some people giggle. Some people weep. On rare occasions people convulse or drool. I was glad to see that Inthilin was not a drooler. The chaise he was on was in the back of my office, in the glass alcove where I’d ordered the curtains drawn to make it dim and quiet. I leafed through the Pages as I waited for Ancherao to arrive and for Inthilin to throw off the drug.

She came in before he recovered, sat down across from me in a way that would have had other Arkans fainting from shock that she would be so cavalier. “Heya, Minis.”

"How are you doing today?” She flexed the one shoulder, carefully, turning the arm, opening and closing the fingers as she did.

“Not too bad. The stitches came out last night.”

“I’ve found a bureaucrat for the position.” I nodded toward the back of my office where Inthilin muttered as if to introduce himself. He shifted in the dimness.

“He’s back there now?” She looked startled, a little shocked. “You mean truth-drugged?”

“Yes. I thought you’d want to meet him.” I was confused. She seemed upset but I couldn’t figure out why.

“And you’re… and I… are just talking about him where he can hear and not respond?”

She looked like Shefenkas, sort of. “Was that… rude?” I asked quietly. I felt very ashamed but wasn’t sure why.

She nodded. “Yes, but that’s not what I’m afraid of. You told him our secret?”

“Not yet, but I intend to. Rather than find a stupid clerk I found one that I thought I could trust.” She signed chalk and looked over at the chaise, considering. I couldn’t read her face but figured she was thinking that if Inthilin made a move to betray us she could kill him.

“I believe I can trust him… and I’ll have to apologize for my rudeness and make it up to him after.”

“Better you not make the gaffe in the first place, lad,” she said. Right around then Inthilin sat up, rubbing the back of his neck.

“Amras… when you are ready, please join us. There’s kaf and Yeoli tea available,” I said to him in Arkan. He spoke Enchian so he probably understood what she and I had said before.

The Yeoli woman looked at the Arkan man and I was glade to see that Inthilin didn’t automatically dismiss her as a mere female. “Ancherao Shae-Lemana, this is Inthilin Amras, Aitzas. I poured the three of us the Yeoli tea to point out I was treating the three of us as equals. “Inthilin… My Father gave me the estate in Yeoli and a thousand Yeoli slaves. I’ve manumitted the lot of them but I don’t want Father to be offended.”

He blinked at me, his head tipping down from its arrogant aitzas tilt. “Spark… of the Sun’s Ray… the exalted one freed them all?”

“Yes. And I want to get them all home to the land that was gifted me. They will be selling their wines to me. I need you to be my factor as if you were the estate supervisor. But you need to hide the fact that these people are free and the land is theirs, not mine.” He looked as though I had played a prank on him and pissed into his kaf. “Have some water, Inthilin, while you think about that.”

I turned to Ancherao while he reached for a cup of water. I noticed that he actually seemed to appreciate the taste of the tea. A good sign. “I have to go back to the city but I’ll trust you -- the two of you-- to get your… um Ancherao’s… people home safe. Inthilin has the knowledge of how to make it all official. Oh, Inthilin,” I added in Arkan, “Your pay… I didn’t mention what it would be.” I named a sum I thought was reasonable but it made his jaw drop a moment, though he managed to keep his mouth closed. “Ancherao… I was thinking… your people might need tools and supplies that were ruined depending on how the war went. Just ask Inthilin and he’ll pass on the requests…I’ll see you get them. That way it will still look as though I am concerned for my new properties.” I looked between the two of them. I hoped they could work together.

The two of them looked like a couple of strange dogs not yet allowed to sniff each other’s behinds. I figured they had enough motivation to work together without savaging each other.

“I look forward to reports from both of you, please.”

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