“Yes,” he said slowly and paused, but then he went on “As to grieving... it will be what it will be. But if this one may be so presumptuous, You Whose Smile Is the Sun's Light... he has paid.” His nervousness at having been so honest was palpable. I refused to see it.
“True,” I said. “I believe you are more correct than you know.”
The words were out of his mouth before he could stop them. “More correct than this one knows?”
I shook my head. “Nothing you need to know. Ailadas I am going to need your assistance.” It was funny. I had never truly talked to the man, and until now I had only tried to avoid him. I wished I had skated more with him and found I wanted to know what he was thinking, but I didn’t know how to elicit that.
“We... myself and all those close to me are in the guardianship of 2nd Amitzas and he and I do not agree on what kind of Imperator I should be.” I hoped I could make him understand without causing the kind of outburst that would draw the attention of the guard outside my door.
There was a flash of a question on his face as if he were thinking ‘You have an idea what sort of Imperator you should be?”
He hesitated a long moment and I just waited for him to speak. Like taming a deer to come to hand. “How... may this one – ahem -- render assistance in regard to that?” I hadn’t realized how tight I had been holding my chest and stomach until he asked me, until I relaxed.
"I need to begin by being reminded of what Ilesias the Great thought of the Imperatorship... thus 'Power and Cruelty', given what happened between Amitzas and myself yesterday and today.” I paused and sighed. I was so tired and my head hurt. I needed to sit down but couldn’t, quite yet. “I need to know my enemies as you said earlier when you handed me the full version of Lives. I need to at least consider the horrible example of Pitras the Hammer of God or Tatzanas The Terrible.” I was starting to feel nauseated and leaned on the wall opposite the door.
“I want to fashion myself on Great Men. I have had enough examples of how not to be.” Another flicker of emotion on his face, but this time gone before I recognized it. He was softening as I spoke; to be truthful, as I ranted. I had never said this before to anyone and it felt good just to put it all into words, all on the table.
I turned to him and held out my hands, watched them shake and sat down on my bed, abruptly. “Can we do this? Do you have the books and materials I will need?”
A slight expression of delight began lightening the grimness on his face. “We certainly have some of them, Spark of the Sun's Ray. Ilesias is certainly an excellent choice.”
“Then please, let us begin there. Ah. Ailadas…”
“Ah... hmm..?” he was clearing his throat, making the typical little noises as he began to mentally review his books “-- Yes, Spark of the Sun's Ray?”
“Any time we are not in private... or with my friend there” – I nodded at Gannara. “I will be as I was, or worse.”
There was another jolt as he realized I had called him by his first name rather than dismissing him with the servants’ address, as I had since there was no one else to hear it. Then the bigger shock of me referring to Gannara as a friend. I found I liked shocking him in certain ways and wondered if Chevenga had enjoyed jolting me as much. Gannara managed a shy smile that I found I liked… no, not just that. I loved seeing it. Perhaps Haians feel that when a patient makes a breakthrough.
“For your own safety,” I continued.
“As you were....? Em... of course, Spark of the Sun's Ray. And I shall be just as I have ever been.”
The arch look on his face made me laugh in spite of myself, in spite of all the ugliness of the day.
"Diligent as always!”
That pulled a smile out of him, in spite of himself. “And appropriately obsequious. Ah. Hmm. Ahem. Certainly. Now let me see…”
Both of us had smiles on our faces and the day felt less evil to me for some reason. I listened to his hissings and burblings as he thought out loud. “Ahh, errrmm, hmm, Ilesias, Ilesias... ah yes, here we are. I brought a biography... by Apanas Menin, perhaps not the most complete, but it is very effectively concise.”
“Shall we need tea or kaf, then tonight?” I said. “For a short time... I am not feeling well enough to go too late,” I reminded him. “Menin sounds good. And Ilesias wrote many instructions to his son, didn't he?”
“Perhaps may I suggest reading it, until you are no longer inclined,” he said, obviously still thinking of what he had to offer me. “Hmm. Instructions to his son, yes, many... I happen to have them, annotated, also... But I suggest you start with the early chapters of Menin... how Ilesias was himself raised, and his intellect shaped...” His eyes were brighter than they had been all evening.
"Thank you. I will read them both. Do we have Sifarnas's "Great Men?" I didn’t’ think he would have brought it, since it was a very large, very heavy book.
“Alas, Spark of the Sun's Ray, we do not... I limited myself as I was ordered that we must travel light.”
“Ah. Well, he was overbearing, I thought.”
“However... as it is a very popular book... I imagine that we might, if we can find a way, acquire it from some out-of-city library...
“That should be possible.”
“If there is anything we will need I suggest you make a list and submit it to Amitzas... he cannot object to any of these.”
“Em..... Spark of the Sun's Ray.... if I may ask... how... em... how do you imagine... the illustrious Mahid might be inclined to... em... acquire books?” With his worried look I suddenly imagined the ugly raids that might be inspired by an innocent request on my part.
“May I perhaps suggest out-of-city book stores instead...” He looked sick enough I almost had to laugh, either because of the horrific possibilities or talking back at me, I couldn’t tell. “Which might be paid a fair price.”
“Yes. Ailadas, I doubt Amitzas would risk drawing attention to us by raiding libraries and stealing books.” I couldn’t helped snorting, thinking of it. “We have the funds and I will certainly argue they are required spending.”
“Do you know what my father instructed 2nd Amitzas regarding me? You told me earlier you had been given permission to beat me if I did not apply myself.”
He had the grace to look uncomfortable. “I do not, Spark of the Sun's Ray. I would think, to protect you first and foremost. Yet .... he seems to be in authority over you.”
“I am in his guardianship... I am to be raised as he - my father - should have been raised. In his own words.”
“As..... as he should have been raised?” The astonished look was becoming permanently engraved on his face.
“I am in 2nd Amitzas's control until my third threshold. Yes. I cannot show you the letter, but those are his exact words.”
“Ahh.... ahem... well. And this order was to 2nd Amitzas.”
“Yes. I’m sure you've seen the results, so far.” The thinking look was one that I suddenly wanted. Him, applying his intellect for me.
“So the upshot is... your raising will continue as Second Amitzas thinks the Late Imperator should have been raised.”
I nodded sharply. “I shall have to be careful to stay within his rather narrow parameters.”
“I have noted that they have started you on war-training, Spark of the Sun's Ray.”
Sometimes I didn’t understand where he was going. “Yes. I still hurt but they aren't going to stop. So it is something I will learn.”
“Like a War Imperator. And starting rather late. Indeed. Well...... Ilesias was a war Imperator.”
“Yes. I hang on to that idea.”
“As were a number of Sifarnas's other great men. You said, Spark of the Sun's Ray, two things, ‘Shaping yourself as Imperator, and knowing your enemies.’”
“From your ancestors, besides Ilesias... Spark of the Sun's Ray, perhaps you should give me your definition of great... your conception of what you wish to emulate. An assignment for you.”
I nodded. “So, please leave me Menin's book and I will... unless my war training gets in the way... have that essay for you tomorrow evening then.”
“Excellent, Spark of the Sun's Ray.”
I could see he expected me to just dismiss him and was surprised when I said. “Thank you, Ailadas. It must be very hard for you to be here for me.”
He struggled with himself for a long, long moment before he could make the words come out. “You Whose Presence is the Hope of the Future... very hard... well... let us just say, I have had my moments of... em... discontent. But no matter! You are more than welcome. Em.... erm....” He yearned to say more, but couldn’t make himself.
“Did you wish to say something else?”
“I wish... if I may be so insolently importunate... to ask something, Spark of the Sun's Ray."
“Ailadas, please feel free to ask what you need of me.”
“I... em... well... no more than to read the latest Pages. Cause me suffering though it would.”
I waved my hand at the discarded Pages on the floor, giving him permission. “Of course. And any other news I get I will let you know. Good night, then. Um... sleep well, as well as can be expected.”
“You sleep well too, Whose Presence is the Hope of the Future.” He gathered up the paper and gave me the obeisance to the Heir in a way I had never seen him do. I was reminded of the first time I had been polite to a chair-bearer. He means it, this time.