The Hirina library, like all Yeoli libraries, had been hidden away from our invading Rejins, since one of the first things we did when we conquered was pull all information that would let us control the indigenes and burn the rest to begin eradicating the culture. As it was, the standard Arkan texts were added in when the restoration happened and with the Great Press’s technology being opened up there were spawn presses springing up everywhere.
So the sheer number of books appearing now was phenomenal. People were taking old hand-copied texts and printing them and there were library caravaneers travelling all over the Yeoli-Arkan Empire and bookfairs in every market now. Gannara had to stop me from just buying too many books, since I had to carry them with us.
“Make a note of the title and just keep a list.”
It was late fall in central Yeola-e and the weather was growing cold fast. We settled in for the winter here, rather than further up the north mountains. I started teaching Ili things. We would go into the big library and he would find a book that interested him. Or we would go to artists displays and the renewed collections and then we’d read about the older pieces whether they were paintings or statues.
We visited blacksmiths and coopers and hostler’s, with Gannara doing the talking so people were friendly enough. The shipwrights were happy enough to teach Ili anything he wanted to know, as long as he didn’t get in the way of a busy build, people working in the boat barns to finish before the river broke free in the spring.
The Haian in town took Gan and I both on... Ili didn't want to; and we hired someone to sit with, or teach him when we were busy, or recovering. Dirinaer was her name and I was very uncomfortable talking to her. Even though she was Haian... she was she... and I was never going to be able to talk to her about my training from the fat guy and Ice Eyes.
Ili's sixth birthday was celebrated in our winter apartment, with his now traditional pan-pastry with whipped cream and fruit layers. He wore JiaKlem wrapped in a wooly red scarf because the creature was not terribly happy in cold and kept blushing from a red -- to match the scarf -- to a pale white as if to try and hide in the snow.
He became a favourite of the fishmonger in town, given that we were his steadiest customers. Jia was also made much of by the shipwrights, even though they built river boats rather than sea-going vessels and they wondered if he might eat fresh-water boat parasites. He seemed to love freshwater clams but disliked the ice-water.
We rode north after it became possible to travel again, up the new road we invaders had begun and the Yeolis had finished. We followed the retreating snow up the mountains and by late spring we were in Vae Arahi.
The University Library at Terera was warm with the carefully tended stone stoves on every floor, and peaceful. Gannara and Ili had seen all they wanted to see the first day and left me to delve into the dustiest of tomes by myself.
One of the largest book I'd ever seen was the “Civil and Tax records” for the year I wanted, and I had four smaller but thicker books piled on top of that; with my loose notes where I'd referenced them all stacked on top. Focused on getting them back to my claimed desk and the other materials there I turned without looking up, and walked straight into someone to a cry of “Dad! Look out!”
The papers went everywhere, the top two books hit the floor and in saving the bottom three, most valuable and fragile, my spectacles were knocked askew. Even clear glass before one's eyes distorts, the frame blocks and my hair was everywhere of course.
“Ker! Oh, aym sorry Ser! Ay din't see ya Ker,” My apology was a bizarre mix of Yeoli and my fessas Arkan.
“It's all right, lad. I didn't see you either.” My heart nearly stopped. It was Chevenga. I'd run straight into Chevenga. I knew his voice and it hadn't changed at all. Oh my great... um... Oh my goodness. What am I going to do?