The Yeolis had traded a load of raw wool and fine-finished cloth at Fispur and bought tin and copper which they’d traded in Tor Ench for porcelain ware and fine woodcraft work… and a pair of horses, lifted onto the deck as gently as if they were crates of eggs, even as the stallion screamed and thrashed and made a complete nuisance of himself.
“No. Ili . We are not going to the market to get you a knife yet.”
We’d docked in Dykoftas, as near as I could pronounce it, for the Yeolis to trade for a kind of fancy salt fish. There was other stuff being loaded and unloaded but I didn’t pay much attention.
And then in a little port on a tiny island, called Gupkaras before heading to the capitol port in Hyerne, Piras. It’s not how they spelled it but it was the closest I could come.
“No. Ili. We aren’t getting you a knife here. There are better knives in Yeola-e.”
“No. Ili. I know it’s a big town and a big port. We aren’t going to get off the ship until we are in Selina, and that’s final!”
“No, Ili. You may not help the sailors, you’ll get in their way.”
“Ili!” I caught him away from a crane-rope that was about to uncoil like a whiplash. “Don’t bother the dockworkers. You’re too little yet.” He hit me in the head with Kefasbear and ran to sulk behind the water barrels.
I longed for Kaita. Her sensible, calm way with him… I just hadn’t learned. I checked to see the edge of his sandal poking out from behind the barrels and then bent my head back to my notepad. I was working on a new story I might send to the Pages.
“We aren’t going into the market, Ili,” I said without looking up. “Why don’t you go find Gannara and ask him to tell you what things are in Yeoli or in Enchian?” He didn’t answer me, sulking.
“… the political implications of… “ I chewed on the end of my pen. Perhaps there was a different way to put it.
“Heya, Minakas,” I glanced up. “Heya, Gannara… where did you leave Ili?” He looked confused.
“What do you mean? He was with you!”
“I sent him to find you… Oh, he must still be sulking behind the water barrels…” I leaned forward and looked and couldn’t see his sandals poking out. Maybe he had curled up and fallen asleep… I jumped up and Gannara with me and I leaned over the top, intending to wake him. The space behind the barrels was empty.
“Oh, Celestalis! Where is he?”
“Calm down Minakas, calm down, maybe he went to the jakes… maybe he’s… maybe he’s yelling at the seagulls…”
“ILESIAS!” I bellowed. The sailors all looked. No Ili.
“Oh shen.” I had felt such horrible sinking sensations only when the fat guy was going to torture or kill someone but never the same way. “Oh shen, oh shen, oh shen!” I ran for the gangplank. I just knew where he’d gone. I knew.
“He’s gone to the market! I know it!” I skidded to a stop by the sailor at the gang. “Ker, did you see my little brother go off ship?” Gannara repeating my Enchian/Yeoli mixed question, right on my heels.
“Nay, I didn’t see the little ‘un, at all… now before yeh go haring off,” he said, in his softly accented voice. “We’ll search the ship… all the places he was allowed… an’ we’ll see if anyone saw him…”
Did he have to talk so slowly? Oh, Gods, I pray to you in desperation. Please, please forgive me for approaching you. For my lost little brother, stretch your hands over him, keep him safe. Mother Selinae, I won’t dare pray for me, but for him. For him, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I took my eyes off him… My fault. My fault for not paying attention, my fault. Gods, help me, help him… keep him safe…
I was so frantic, I almost couldn’t think. While they were mobilizing, Gannara with them, I tore down the gangplank, ignoring the shout from behind me, something about a veil. My feet thumped on the sea-greyed dockwood and I stopped at the first woman I could see, seated on a bollard. “Excuse me! Did you see a small boy go by here?” She grinned at me, shaking her head, licked her fingers at me. I turned my back on her.
Where they all ignoring my question? It was a port, forzak bitches, could they not speak Enchian? “A boy… a little boy… lost!”
“Hey, boy! What are you shouting about? You should be veiled, you little slut!” The woman sailor was Hyerne, a head taller than I, rippling muscles, gold-ringed against dark, dark skin, blazing white teeth. Thank the Gods, someone who speaks Enchian or willing to talk to a man without grabbing his dick…
“Never mind that now! My little brother is missing! He’s only five, he’s blond as me… blue eyes…”
“Calm down, silly. You’re hysterical. Hang on. Take a deep breath sweetheart. We’ll ask around. If he’s a sweet young thing, we’d better find him quick… I’ll start asking… you go rent yourself a veil at the kiosk there or we won’t get anyone listening, while staring at you, luscious!”
It made me want to scream. Ilesias is missing and I have to rent a shennen veil before anyone will talk to me?
I ran over and pointed at the first veil, not caring it was an ugly, faded brown. By the time I got back with the world reduced to the stupidest narrow slit, my helper had found a trace of Ili.
“He came this way a while ago, boy… You need to go to the guard post and report him gone.”
“Thank you… thank you... Goddess bless you!”
She waved me back to the ship. “I’ll ask around to see if we can find which way he went, while you get your escort, sweetie.”
I found out it was impossible to run in a veil. I ripped it off and ran back to the ship. “He’s not on the ship… quit looking!” There was a pounding in my head. Ilesias. Ilesias. Ilesias. Oh Gods. Oh Gods. I’m dying. I’m dying. I’m going to die if I don’t find him… Oh, Gods.