Thursday, August 26, 2010

331 - Big Brothers Can Be Stupid

Sometimes big brothers can be so stupid.  Did he think I wouldn’t understand that something was going on when he stopped pretending to be my wild cousin Sinimas?  When he scrubbed all the cool blue out of his hair and actually let the nose-ring hole grow shut?

It was after the Ten Tens and I figured he’d do something big. Watching it made me want to do something big myself, but I’m too little.  It was the most awesome thing I’d ever seen and I asked Gian for lessons about it.  Most everbody else in the class was interested too and I sat next to Ala and Tuboras while we talked about the difference between the Ten Tens we’d seen and the Ascension ritual, or the first Ten Tens. Gian had seen the first one and we wrote down all the differences.  

But Minis was still having nightmares ever since Haiu Menshir and Yeoli and they’d been getting worse. Just after the feast he did something and now he was sleeping at night.  I knew he had nightmares because Indispensible Bear and I would sometimes be up later than we should and hear him and Uncle Gan talking about it.  I got up once, a while ago, so I wouldn’t pee the bed and IB and I'd heard him.  He’d been crying in his sleep.

The fat guy was a lot harder on him than he was on me and I feel guilty that I’m kind of glad I escaped.  Is that bad? Anyway... he’s not crying at night anymore and he’s Minakas again... selling his stories to the Pages...  Even if I don’t understand what he’s talking about a lot of the time I try to read some of them. And I always read his stories for me, the Ili and his magic donkey stories.

I’m not a great reader.  Gian sighs at me and we spend more time with the interesting books, about mechanisms or about how to actually make the swords and armour.  Those make sense to me.

But Minis told me today he needed to talk to me tonight... kind of warning me that it’s important.

Jiaklem cuddles me and I hold onto one of his tentacles and look around at this apartment room.  It’s been good to have a room all to myself and in one place for moons at a time.  I liked all the travelling but it was hard making new friends all the time, and just for a bit, until we had to run away again.

This one... this change that he has to tell me about is different.  He tried to leave me with Ailadas before and I changed his mind, but this time I don’t think I’ll be able to.  Indispensible Bear’s eyes twinkle in the light across the room and Kefas Bear is next to him, ready to his hand... kind of like Muunas and Aras I guess, Gian would say they were ‘metaphors’, something that stands for something else.  But I say another prayer to Them because I’m thinking about them a lot since the Ten Tens.

Next to the bears are my daiyanal.  I got more than one because they live in groups and one would be lonely by herself.  And I kinda quit getting stuffed animals when Jiaklem wanted to come with us.  I pull all the stuffed animals onto my bed and sit down with them all, Jia in the middle holding on to them at the same time.  I address them all solemnly.  “Troops, something is in the wind.”  That's the kind of thing that Mil Toras Jenas, Aitzas, the Bold says, in the plays and in the stories.  “We have a problem.  Our brother has or is going to do something stupid.  So stupid that Gannara is staring after him with puppy-dog sad eyes and sniffling sometimes.  He’s getting rid of things and saying goodbye to people... he even pretended to be Sinimas yesterday to say goodbye to Sera Eren and she actually hugged him like she knew he wasn’t just going out of the city for a visit.”

Jia lets go the stuffies and comes onto my lap and I cuddle him, gently because I’m getting bigger fast and need to be careful.  I can see my first threshold coming.  It’s a long long long way away but I can see it like a horizon when you’re standing on a boat deck.  “I bet... I bet he’s going to talk to the Imperator.  Who’s a good guy but he’s worried that he’s going to get locked up or killed because the law says he has to.  Because we’re Aans and the Aans were thrown down when father... the fat guy... did everything wrong and hurt Arko.”

“Ili?”  It’s Minis in the door.  “I heard part of that... may I come in... or did you want dinner first?”

“I wanna talk and get it over with.  I’m not hungry.  You’re gonna do something dumb aren’t you?”

“Not dumb, Ili.” He comes in and sits down and puts his arm around my shoulders.  I like that.

“You’re going to go talk to Ch’venga and fix it so we don’t need to keep running and hiding anymore?” He stares at me, blinking.  “I’m not stupid.  But you’re scared, right?”

“Yes, I’m scared,” he admits at last.  “I’m scared that Arko is going to want me dead and you too.  I’m scared that Chevenga won’t be able to save us.”

“Then why do it?”  I ask him.  “Why risk it?”

“Well.”  He takes a deep breath.  “You know about how to tell who as power and responsibility?”

“Yeah.  Like you had Ili’s Donkey say.  If you can do something about a hurt or a wrong, you SHOULD.  If you want the Gods to love you more, you must do the right thing, even if it hurts.... oh.” He's nodding.  “But you aren’t doing anything wrong or making anybody hurt...”

My bedroom is dim.  I don't have any lamps in there usually for fear of fire.  The window is open and there's a little breeze, like usual this time of day.  It's warm and the air is a little thick and kinda sweet from the tree flowers and a little skunky from people's alcohol stoves.

“Suppose we stay in hiding, Ili until we are old and gray and never have children... and somebody like a kid of Ice Eyes... or a kid of his... comes and says ‘I’m Third Minis!  Or I’m 22nd Ilesias Aan!  What would happen?”

That's easy.  “There would be a lot of fighting.  The Yeolis and the rest of Arko would fight back.”

“So do we have the power to stop that threat?”  I turn my head and hide my face in his side.  I don’t want to answer that.

“But you’re going to go by yourself, to talk to Ch’venga.”  He nods. I can feel it and he signs chalk like Uncle Gan does.

“Gannara is going to come with me and wait outside.  He says he can’t let me go alone.”

“GOOD FOR HIM!”  I grab Jia and say ‘sorry... sorry, Jiaklem... shh it’s all right. I’m sorry I yelled.  I don’t think you should go alone and I’m too little.  You’re going to take me to Ailadas aren’t you?”

“And if we’re very lucky you’ll be able to take his name and grow up as Ilesias Koren and no one but the Marble Palace will know that... but they’ll know so no one can steal your bloodline and hurt Arko with it.”

I have two big fat tears roll down my cheeks but I don’t want to wipe them or sniffle because then Minis, the big old poop, would know I'm crying.  I take a deep Haian-type breath instead.  “You’re talking like I’m not going to see you again, Minis, not ever never never.  I hate that.”

“I have to prepare,” he says, kissing the top of my head and giving me a handkerchief even if I haven’t let on I was being a big baby.  “I’m fairly sure everything will be all right, Ili... I just... I want to be as sure as I can be.  They caught Joras Mahid, right after the Ten Tens...”

“Oh kyash! They’re still looking for us too!”

He pokes my cheek gently with one finger.  “Now who has been teaching my tender little brother such language?  But you’re right.  Even with less money and hopefully dwindling resources they are dangerous.  I’ll be able to help the Imperator... the rightful Imperator of Arko... catch them.”

I let go Jia and fling both my arms around Minis.  It's getting dark now and the lamplighters are calling from the street below.  I can hear the tree outside whisper against the wall and windows.  My window lets it all in.  The music from the cantina on the corner is really quiet and the sound of people talking and laughing, the clinking of bottles and dishes but we can hear that too.

“The city sounds so... quiet.” I say. I don’t know what else to say.  I don’t want him to do this. I don’t want to never see him again.  Hey, Ten Gods, it’s Ilesias Tathanas Kurkas Joras Aan here.  Can you do something to keep my brother safe?  You’re Gods.  He’s doing the right thing even if it hurts so can You reward him instead of kicking his teeth in like Rinas threatened to try and do with me last week? Please and Thank You.  Since we know You’re there... we saw You at the Temple.  I... trust You.  “It’s that peace I want to help preserve Ili.”

“I know.  So I’ll just be good tomorrow and I’m starting to pray to the Gods; since They can fix everything.” He goes really really still. “This isn’t goodbye or goodby forever, this is just until the Gods can fix it.”

He takes a deep breath and I can’t see his face in the dark.  “From the lips of the innocent, shall true wisdom fall,” he quotes from Selinae’s Book. “And when all seems lost, the light will come again and songs of joy shall replace tears.”


  1. An instant favorite. Beautiful. I need a check-box, but I don't have a word for it. That's how you know when I'm truly impressed, by the way. When I ramble because I don't know what I can say... =.)

  2. I love the ramble! Unfortunately there's no room to put 'Beautiful' in as well as what I've got... so... Thank you.

    Ili says "Cool! I can draw a picture for you too, if you like!"