Note to Perisalas Shefenkas: Please be aware that recent requisitions have been deferred to next year’s budget. I did not think I was that close to the line.
Note to Matthas Tathen re budget: Please find enclosed a revised budget request. – and with a personal note attached. “I was close behind him, I just need a few more chains if you could see to pulling them out of petty cash for me, ser! I might have this problem solved before the end of this year!”
Note to Perisalas Shefenkas: “I know, Perisalas. I’m sorry your budget is already stretched to the limit and I don’t want to take this up with the new Imperatrix quite yet. I think she was talking to her brother and is taking the same line... Not what you wanted to hear, I know.”
Clerical report #2456-a45/3 “The suspect in question, one ‘Minakas Akam’, presented a proper birth certificate for the opening of his first chain account. Twenty-one years of age. Birthday, Muunas 8. Worked occasionally in the Marble Palace. Father, Sakuras Akam, fessas perished in the sack. Records damaged, replaced.” [signed] Sereniteer Gurdas, solas
Perisalas tucked the report carefully into his file, only shaking his head slightly. He’d already thought there might be a real Minakas Akam, given what Koren’s truth-drugging had revealed. This just confirmed it. Smart of you, boy, to take the alias of a real person to confuse things thoroughly.
Hey, Intharas, I’m glad you sent me up to check this out. The guy was right. We found the Wall right where he said, and there’s something like a hundred or more bodies… as near as the scholar can tell. There’ll be more than one story about this. It’ll take some time and they may never find a name to assign to the bones, but after they are all found, the Imperator… actually the Imperatrix… has said they will see to the proper consecration of the Wall as a burial place.
Intharas set the note down and went back to the short little piece by Minakas Akam, The Wall of the Lost. “How did you know? Did you work up there?” he said to himself, tapping his fingers on the marked-up story as if talking to the writer himself. “Keep them coming, man. Stuff like this sells Pages.”
To Misahis, former Healer to the Imperator Kurkas Aan,
c/o The University of Haiu Roru
It’s Minis writing you. I’m going to mail this off from a seaport in case someone tries to figure out where I am and there’s no way to write back, but I wanted to write to you, hoping that you are recovered from the horrific ordeal of having served my father and myself.
I wish I could ask you to write back, but I cannot think of how that would work. I am hoping you are all… all of you… home and safe and healed. I –“
I crumpled the piece of paper.
Shae- Aich- former Imperator
I crumpled that one too.
I sat under a scrap of sail tied between rail and a bucket to keep some of the rain off and I couldn’t write without it smearing anyway.
The waves were slate gray and almost flat calm and a steady drizzle poured almost straight down. This was part of the misery of travel that most bards didn’t sing about. There was very little wind at all and the ship was barely making any headway at all.
The decks were dark gray, the sails were soaked and a light gray a few shades lighter than the gray sky. Ili leaned against my back, then leaned forward and lunged to bump me with his back, hard enough to shove me forward.
“Hey!” He did it again. “Ilesias! Stop that!”
“I’m bored. I’m bored. Bored bored bored I’m so boredly bored!” He began to sing, “Bored, bored bored…”
“Ili, please!” He bounced against me again. I clenched my teeth together and my fists and struggled to remember that I loved my little brother. He was just, just too much today. He bounced on me again. “Ilesias Akam, if you do that one more time I’ll be tempted to hurl you off the ship!”
“I can swim!” He crowed and I whipped around, ready to pound him. He froze at what he saw in my face. Just like Father, when he was annoyed. I froze too. I took a deep breath and saw Gannara come from the back of the ship… aft, he said. Another deep breath. Ili wasn’t moving, just staring at me.
“Sure, you can swim!” I said, unclenching my fist, trying to unclench my face and my heart as well. “But this isn’t like an inland lake or river.” I dropped my voice to a whisper. “This is the ocean.”
My Yeoli brother knew me so well. “Minakas—“ he cut in. “You wouldn’t want to scare anyone from swimming now, would you?”
Deep breath. “Yes, you’re right. Look, Ili, why don’t we get a bit more wet and go to the front of the boat –“ “The bow of the ship—“ Gannara cut in. “The bow,” I repeated through clenched teeth. Why on earth were they so picky about what the parts of a boat… ship… are called? “And see if we can see some of the smiley fish we saw the other day? The friendly ones that danced in the wave we were throwing up?”
He bounced up as if he were on springs. “Gannara, maybe we should start teaching him knife work or how to fight onboard ship… give him and me, something to do?” I stamped up to the bow beside a bouncing Ili and tried to relax my neck and shoulders.
"That's a good idea, Min."
I’d be happier once I got a new book to read. I felt like I’d worn the ink off my books with my eyes I’d read them so often. Or I could come up with some other story to send back to the Pages and see if they liked it.