We spent the rest of the day in the inn, with Gannara eating in the room. He didn’t want anyone to recognize him and that night when he started weeping in his sleep I heard him. I wasn’t sleeping and pulled him onto my shoulder. In the middle of all the arguing I had heard the best idea.
If the Haians could bring back memories and fix Chevenga enough for him to become Imperator, surely they could help Gannara. And I’d be able to get someone to look at Ili and see if he remembered enough of the madness in the palace to be hurt by it.
Gannara was Yeoli and Ili was only a little boy so even if the Haians hated Arkans, they surely wouldn’t turn him away. For myself I didn’t consider it. We’d broken the world’s compact and even though Haians had returned to the city and the Empire, there must be many still, who would hate us for having done something so evil. Not that I was going to say any such thing to Gannara who would just take it as me shenning on myself.
The ship we book passage on was a huge Brahvnikian three-master that was able to offer us better than deck, though I could have booked a cabin. I wouldn’t, I didn't, because a young fessas like me would never be able to afford such a thing, but a cabin shared with ten others was reasonable.
The weather… that had so far been good, turned sour as a Mahid’s smile and we spent three days snugged up against the lee of a Hyerne island with the rain pounding down and when the master finally headed out the sea was so heavy we rolled hard enough that even Gannara’s stomach was almost affected. Ili and I, after we had thoroughly emptied ourselves over the side, soaked and tied on with safety lines, lay sodden and drying in our hammocks.
He was too tired and sick to cry but was miserable so I took him on my chest and told him fanciful stories about Ili, who had a wicked father and two nasty brothers and was made to sleep in the garden shed like a slave, on the hay next to the donkey’s stall. His magical house donkey would save him over and over again and their adventures grew more and more wild and dreamlike until we did manage to sleep.
The next day dawned sparkling clean and blue and sun. The ship moved over the waves like it was flying instead of like lumbering like an elephant or mamoka up to its hocks in mud and we came up on deck and draped ourselves gratefully in the sun, tucked into nooks and crannies out of the ways of the sailors. “I think I’ll live,” Gan said and leaped up to speak to one of the sailors and a moment later he scrambled up the lines of the tallest mast to the lookout.
There was more than enough time for me to think and write. I thought I would have a lot of time on the beaches and walks of Sailortown while Gannara and Ili got help.
We approached Haiu Menshir from the fire side of the islands, steam an smoke and fire spouted bright even against the sunlight over black and smoking rock. There was enough smoke and steam that we could barely see the green heights beyond.
The heat was more than Arko, even and I wondered that Haians could bear to leave for a colder clime. The green was more intense than Arko and clouds of butterflies floated over flowers no less bright. I’ll be able to find out if the Haians in the dungeons were rescued… if they were safe… if they were whole.
I can make a donation. My funds were dwindling but I had more than enough to give up some of the biggest gems. I could not change them anyway because they were so obviously an Imperator’s Ransom. But they could perhaps used them to repair some of the damage Arko did.
“Look! Look! Min, look!” I caught Ili by the back of the trousers and stopped him from plunging over the side to join the pack of naked Haian children swimming and waving and laughing and shrieking from the water.
“We’ll get a room, Ili… and go up to the University,” Gan said. “Then you can come down and play.”
We locked everything we owned into the inn’s safe room box. The sword, the book… a fortune in gemstones… and Ili’s precious Indispensible Bear, since he was so valuable, before heading through the Sailortown Gate. I felt enough like a weapon in the hand of my father’s ghost that I shuddered, entering, as if I were somehow violating the World’s Compact just stepping onto sacred ground.
There didn’t seem to be any damage at all, but I had nothing to compare it to. And Ili skipped and swung on our hands as we entered the University of Haiu Roru.
Where an Arkan university would have coloured glass windows and heavy, hand-rubbed dark wood and granite or marble floors, the Haian university had turquoise blue painted walls and grass carpets with flowering plants actually growing through the window openings, chirping birds and butterflies entering and leaving at will.
The shutters were white shell on any window that did not accommodate a tree or a plant and heavy overhanging roofs would protect the inner walls from any blowing rain. It looked as though outer walls could be erected if a heavy storm started. Shell and bamboo wind-chimes hung at every door. In some moods the tinkling and clunking would drive me mad.
There were so many planted pots I could not see where the walls actually were in places. Instead of walls there were often thick thick stands of bamboo instead. I hope their healing rooms are a little more private.
I had to stop and look at a whole wall covered with living orchids. I laid my hand on the wall and thought of Misahis and his orchids that I had tried to save.
The clerk’s desk had a waterfall coursing down behind it and split around it. There was a candle-lit bridge over the watercourse and I had to smile at the soft, gentle way they covered the sound of someone’s private conversation – with the flow of water. That way it could be open but no one off the little island could hear a single word spoken on it.
“Hello, welcome to Haiu Roru University. All are welcome,” the clerk said in her soft accent, in Enchian.
“Hello,” Gan replied in the same tongue. “My friend and I would like to get some help… get some healing. We don’t know if Ili… the little boy… needs help but we’d like to have someone talk to him. We’re not crazy but could use Haian help.” The receptionist proceeded to write notes of what he said, in Haian, since I couldn’t make head or tail of them, upside down.
My head snapped up and I gaped at Gannara. I hadn’t said I wanted healing. He went on without paying the slightest bit of attention to me. Ili giggled at the look on my face, put one hand over his mouth. Have Gan and Ili been conspiring? I thought he would tell me everything.
“We only have a little time for healing… not years,” Gan said, blithely.
“For what problem?” The receptionist poised her pen… an Arkan pen… over her book.
“My name is Gannara… I’m missing memories because I was tortured.” I stared at him. How could he just say it out like that? “I want to get them back.” He jerked a thumb at me. “He was sexually abused. Both of us were badly sexually abused.”
“It was because of my father,” I blurted out. Then clapped both my hands over my mouth. I didn’t want to get help for myself but for Ili and Gan. Not for me.
“He has self-esteem and physical problems because of his father’s behavior.”
The clerk wrote and then looked up. “These may not be short-term problems, gentlemen.”
“I was very sexually abused,” Gannar said staunchly. “Can we start on them and see how long we need?”
“He was badly abused, physically,” I put my hand out and turned his head to show his cheek, raised my other hand to rub the covering makeup off. He let me. “See?”
“Only a healer would be able to tell,” the clerk said. “Yes, you can do that.”
“Thank you,” I said. “Gannara and Ili need help.”
“And you too, Min.”
“Gannara!” Even as I protested I saw the clerk dutifully write it down, obviously used to people protesting. You can stop talking for me about THAT in front of my face, you know. I tugged at his elbow and he hissed at me. I couldn’t get terribly upset with Ili hanging on my one side and Gan who was leaning on the desk in front of me. Where had this Gan come from? He looked at me sideways as if I were a child trying to sneak some kind of infraction past the adult. I wanted to kick him.
“You looked like you didn't know what to say and needed help,” he said to me, quietly.
“I was just wording it politely. She didn't need to know!”
“Yeah, she did, she asked!” I clenched the wings of hair on either side of my face.
“Min! You have to be brave with healers, you know, they make you tell them everything!”
I seized control of the situation. “I’m not in need of a healer, but um, Serina? There should be no problem with payment, either. We will pay in chains if that's all right. For these two.”
“And for him,” Gannara snapped. “Where you or were you not abused by your father?”
I had to cringe. “I haven’t even agreed to speak to a Haian!”
“Ah.” The clerk made another note. “The payment details are wonderful, thank you. Young man, no one will force you to seek help. You must be the first to agree.”
“Minakas, were you or were you not abused?” Gannara put his own hand out to display the tiny scar under my eye were father’s ring had cut me. “He didn’t leave many physical marks. Please?” He waited and then shook me lightly. “Please speak to a Haian.” Some part of me was cringing, some part of me strained to say yes.
Ili poked me. “Father hurt you, Min.”
I had to take a deep breath and smile a little. “You remind me of a friend asking me to speak to another Haian, long ago.” I turned to the clerk. “Sorry to keep you waiting, Serina... Sera. Me too.”
The clerk checked something and then looked at me. “Does it matter to you whether the healer is male or female?”
Female? Oh, Selestialis, no. “Yes… um… I couldn’t talk to a woman, I think.”
“I’d like to talk to a woman,”Gannara said.
I looked down at Ili. “Would you like to talk to a man or a woman?”
“A lady, please.”
I leaned down to whisper in his ear. “Very nicely answered, Ili. Very polite.”
The clerk checked through her big, thick book. “Are the three of you free indefinitely?”
“Yeha,” I said. Gan signed chalk and Ili nodded.
“If you come back tomorrow at ten aers, Zinchaer is available… he is good, very gentle.” She looked at Gan. “At fourteen aers you may see Initaeran, she’s very good too.”
“And me?” Ili said.
“You, young man, will be able to play with Lesatren, at fifteen aers." Ili smiled at her.
"Gentlemen, I suggest you hire a Haian child-minder for the days on which you both are speaking to your healers. The University retains them."
My stomach was in knots and I felt faint. What on the entire Earthsphere had I just agreed to do? This will be worse than telling Misahis about Kallen… and he got clapped in a dungeon for, in part, loving and helping me. I’m too dangerous for a Haian to touch. Surely I don’t need this?
“Breathe, Minakas,” Gan said, just as the clerk said, pen poised. “Names?”
“Oh, Gannara…” he said. “Gannara Melachiya.” The clerk twitched and looked harder at him, repeating ‘Gannara Melachiya?’
He signed chalk. The clerk smiled. “Of course. Melachiya. If I might say, personally, young man, I am so happy to see you here.”
Gan looked startled. “I… yes… thank you.”
“You’re famous,” I hissed in his ear.
“Initaeran will be very good for you.” She turned to me, her professional face once more in place.
“And your name, young gentleman?”
“Minakas Akam, fessas, Sera.” She looked like a married woman rather than a girl. She nodded and capped her pen.
“Thank you, young gentlemen. Do you have any questions?”
“No… no, thank you,” I stammered just as Gannara said “We’ll just go to the beach now… and let Ili play, thank you, kere Haian.”