The head was seized up by a hand I knew, dragging thin ropes of blood up with it, displaying Father’s head to a crowd who began cheering. Then it was not a crowd but a flame. The whole presentation square was a fire, a Sun. And the laughter there was full of Rage.
I felt calm inside. Ready. I didn’t want to die but it was right. And it would be right that I died at Shefenkas’s hand. He wouldn’t torture me, for the friendship we once had, but kill me he would.
The hand flung Father’s head into the fire and knotted itself in my hair, raising me up. But I didn’t recognize who held me. It was Shefenkas, but... but it was...so bright I couldn’t look at him and squeezed my eyes shut.
“You think you should die? Not yet. I have work for you yet. You will be my slave till the day you die.”
“This most abject one understands.”
“No. But you will.” Then I realized he was speaking to me equal to equal... how like Shefenka... I should try to think of him properly... Chevenga. My hands were heavy, tied down with the weight of chains on them. Gold chains. Of course. Gold chains for a show captive.
I wept because Chevenga was so merciful.
I didn’t wake screaming from that one. I opened my eyes quietly, looking at the images of the moon painted on the ceiling of my bed. I felt all right. I felt calm. As calm as in the dream when I thought it right I should die.
I could take a deep breath and stretch my feet out... I cringed them back realizing where that child, who’d slept on the foot of my bed, was, if he were still alive.
Would the Gods be offended if I prayed for him, who was athye? It was the sort of question that Tobeas couldn’t, or wouldn’t answer me. I prayed anyway.
I smiled. Ancherao. I liked the way she wrote me. And she was obviously still in Olinyera so she hadn’t joined the Yeoli forces yet.
Like I said before, we all got home safe and Inthilin isn’t a bad kid and he’ll be all right once he loosens up. He says he’s going to talk to you about hiring people to build a manor house. You’ll like the location if you ever show up to see the place. It’s on the fjord bluff of the river Dyalinai and the wine cellar is amazing... especially how deep its dug into the rock there. That river happens to connect right to the port, and the manor has a commanding view all the way down.
I appreciated, kid, if you could tell Inthilin that I have absolutely no interest in hearing about his beloved betrothed what’s-her-name’s many and splendored virtues any more, I’m only interested in his work, not his body. He can quit waving her image in front of me like I’m about to chase him around his desk and ravish him and he needs to ward me off with the holy symbol of his betrothed.
Other than his twitchiness, he’s doing all right. And enough people know he’s not here to be the overseer that no one has tried to get past them to kill him on principle. He should be fine when I finally leave him on his own. You don’t need to worry about him, cause I get the idea that you might give a damn.
Hold onto yourself, kid, you’re doing all right.
I had to smile. It was equal to equal in a way that was even more casual than Sh... Chevenga. I would start calling him Chevenga in my head from now on, even if I couldn’t say it. That way I could make him different from my friend, Shefenkas. Shefenkas would forgive me a lot. Chevenga, semanakraseye, the Durakis, the one who had to do what his people wanted, wouldn’t.
But Ancherao... I had to smile at the idea of Inthilin thinking she was after him.
Most honoured Spark of the Sun’s Ray,
Please find enclosed the plans for the divine one’s new manor house. This one picked an excellent architect from the populace and he suggested the river valley bluff location. If approval is granted for the design, building will proceed.
If this abject one may deign to beg the Spark’s momentary attention to this one’s problem. If the Spark would graciously command that the Yeoli woman... cease bothering this abject worm. This one dislikes to bother the exalted but this one is finding the desk between her and himself is rather not enough distance. She is extremely competent and protective of me and I am certain I owe my continued existence to her presence but. Spark of the Sun’s Ray, she upsets me. Could you speak to her, please?
I had to put the letter down and laugh and laugh at the image of Inthilin putting the desk between himself and Ancherao and her waving her hands. He was so upset that he didn’t even notice that he slipped into equal to equal at the end. The Yeolis were obviously affecting him.
Antras looked in to see if I were calling him and, still laughing I waved him away. He’d actually introduced a number of men to me, who I could trust. One of them was, of all people, my garderobe keeper who cleaned me every morning, the man I’d had on my side in a Jitzmitthra food fight. My birthday serving of my household and food-fight was becoming a tradition and the garderobe man and I usually ended up defending against all comers.
It seemed just somehow that the lowest free member of my household should, perhaps, become one of the most trusted. If I could trust my tenderest flesh to him, why not my life?
I’m happy to hear from you and pleased to understand, as your first note mentioned, that everyone is home and safe. I’ll send word to Inthilin that he need not worry about you. I imagine your taste doesn’t run to reedy young Arkan scholars.
I’m glad to hear the manor is so well designed and I’m sure it’s a very safe and secure position, with lovely deep wine and storage cellars that might even reach as far down as the river. I give my approvals for such delving as is necessary.
I’m pleased with your progress and the sketches and plans you have enclosed. As I said I will authorize the funds you need for all of the proposed work. Once the manor is finished I will require you to maintain the estate in readiness should I ever find the time to visit personally – until further notice.
I believe you needn’t flee the lady you are working with. I believe you are reading normal Yeoli hand-talk, as forwardness. You needn’t keep reminding her of your intended. I believe she knows how soon you wish to marry. I will ask her to be more... circumspect.
M.A. (his seals)