Joras looked down at the nakiti in his glass, hating it, raised it and drank a health slug and expansively sighed and wiped his lips as though it were ambrosia. It was entirely part of his pretense. Any Arkan workman who had a free afternoon would drink it. Alcohol was anathema. He forced himself to drink it and had to pretend to let it take him as if he’d been drinking it neat instead of cutting it secretly with water. It was dangerous because it truly did loosen his mind and he hated that it pulled deep and dangerous emotions out of him.
The Imperial Pharmacist had initially instructed him and they had found he was either a bellicose drunk... which was understandable. But he’d also found out that he was a maudlin drunk who wept helplessly into his glass. He had to go into a drunk enraged to ensure the one reaction. Best that he never get drunk but it was so difficult to pretend if one was not.
Haiu Menshir disturbed him, as if everyone here walked around with their hearts open in their chests. That much vulnerability was un-natural. He kept part of his attention on the sweep of the harbour in front of the ‘Repose’, checking any dark curly head. He certainly didn’t want to come all this way and have the Yeoli bastard leave right under his nose. If he were still in the House of Integrity.
It was no secret that he’d tried to kill himself again when Arko had thrown the sheep diddler off the Sacred Crystal Throne. If I can find him here, I shall merely help him in his desired direction, since he wishes to go to Hayel so fervently.
Once through the gate I left my basket hidden in the bushes and waited, lurking behind a tree to see if Joras had seen, or followed us. I waited long enough, watching the traffic through the Gate to the main island for a long time. Then I ran to catch up with Ili, who was waiting for me at the flowering trees marking the edge of the University ground.
He was jumping up and down in his anxiety. “Min, Gods, Min! My protective Goddess! Min! It was him. I was right wasn’t I? I was right! We have to go. We have to go now! We have to go! Let’s grab Gannara and go go go! Min they’ll hurt you, they’ll hurt me! Go, go, go we’ve gotta go!”
“Yes. We do. But we mustn’t run blind, Ili. Let’s give Gannara his bead in peace. Joras hasn’t seen us, found us, he’s just arrived it looks like. Let’s not move so fast we make a mistake. We’ll go to the garden outside where Gannara’s in session and we’ll sit down. You put your hands down and do the breathing exercises that Lesatren’s been teaching you, please. I’ll do them with you, while we wait.”
I got him to sit down in the shade and sat next to him and we did his exercises until he managed to sit still, and then both of us manage quiet. Joras hadn’t seen or followed either of us, as far as I could tell.
Gannara came out of his session, hugging his therapist and with a dreamy look so I really felt horrifically guilty. Ili and I should run and he should turn himself in and get protected here. Perhaps... but he was so tired of me ‘trying to leave him behind’.
But his parents are going to be arriving tomorrow! Agh! No!
He turned around and saw us both sitting on the ground in front of the bench, Jiaklem gnawing on a coconut, ripping off long strands of fiberous husk. His face congealed.
“The Mahid have found rumour enough of us here, somehow. Joras is on the island.”
He actually staggered. “Kyash kyash kevyalin kyash!”
“We need to leave.”
He sat down next to us. “Yeah. Oh, fik.”
Memo to Matthas re: requisition
“Gannara Melachiya has surfaced on Haiu Menshir. May I requisition travel to truth-drug the boy?”
Memo to Perisalas: “You have permission to travel on what military transport is available. Stay at the private resisdence of Serenas Nefas. Anything else… must come out of your own budget.”
Perisalas folded up the memo with a snap, seized up his arms and strode out the door. All he’d needed was permission. He would collect Dagasas and be in Fispur by nightfall.
Dear Shadow Mama and Shadow Papa,
The Mahid have found us. I’m sorry. We have to run again. I’m all right but I can’t let the Mahid catch us. Set the authorities on him! His first name is Joras and he’s pretending to be a fessas. I don’t know what last name he’s pretending to use.
I’m safe but I can’t stay here. I’ll write you later, once we’re in a safer place. I love you.
The first ship we found, off the island, was hauling spices, salt, and cormorant feathers to Brahvniki.
I hired a porter to take our trunk to the ‘Four Kings’ ship, an Enchian trader, paid the hostel master for JiaKlem. Thank my Ancestors the domoctopus wasn’t his childrens’ pet.
Gannara checked his hair dye and I made sure my head was covered when I went down to the dock by myself, my pack full of Imperial book, slung next to the sword.
We all made it onto the ship and held our breath watching the gangplank until they drew it in. My heart didn’t slow down until the ship cleared the harbour. I felt like my heart was ripping out. We were on the sea once again and leaving Selestialis on the Earthsphere behind us.
“Min?” Ili was petting JiaKlem, crying as we watched the healer’s archipelago go from a refuge to a line of green, fading on the mist rising out of the horizon.
“Jia and I were dreaming that we were on Haiu Menshir.”
“Yeha, Min. I know. I was too.”
I had added a line to the letter to go to Chevenga and sent it, since I had promised I would. I had sent a note to Zinchaer and Jeramaer and Lesatren. Gan had told Initaeran right then that he could not continue. Our healing was going to have to wait.