“Kaita cannot come to look after you, Ilesias. She is still working for the Etzen. And your schooling… you will not be able to walk down every day, to Grass Alley, unfortunately.” Gannara was signing chalk. He’d been at the house when I got home and he and Ailadas were sitting in the front room. There was a solas in armour waiting by the door. And he -- Ailadas-- had just told me I was going back to the Marble Palace with Uncle Gan.
“That STINKS!” I shouted.
Ailadas pinched the bridge of his nose, closing his eyes. “I know, Ilesias. For now, your class will be allowed to come up to you… Gian has agreed that he could teach everyone here, just as well as in the Grass Alley school, in fact it will be an opportunity for everyone to study the palace itself. Gannara will be here to help you and when I am not teaching I will be spending a lot of time there with you boys.”
I stood in the front room with Jiaklem on my shoulder, one hand knotted in a ball of tentacles. My face felt like it was one big pout. I knew I shouldn’t yell. I yelled anyway. “IT’S NOT FAIR! I’M TIRED OF THIS!” It wasn’t that bad, I just felt horrible. Jia tried to scramble down my back, letting go my hand and my head and I caught him just as he dropped. “Shh… it’s all right, Jiaklem… I’m sorry… I’m sorry I yelled. It’s all right, I’m just mad.”
He turned orange and then a weird green but quit trying to ooze down between my arm and my chest. Minis had gone and turned himself in and I was tired of being a good boy. I was tired of having stuff changed on me for no reason. I pulled a big breath and held it, my cheeks full, my eyes closed. That way I wouldn’t bug Jia and still let Uncle Gan and Ailadas know how mad I was. I couldn’t close my ears though.
“Ilesias Koren!” Ailadas was still using my fake name but he was mad. “I was not going to mention this to you but your brother has just put himself in tremendous danger and we are doing this to make sure you will be safe!” All the air blew out of my cheeks and my eyes opened up.
“Min is in danger? Why? He’s safe! You told me it was all right! Everything was going to be all right! You said you got notice from Min! You said!” I didn’t yell because of Jia but I said it really, really hard. Uncle Gan said “You can stay with me in the Marble Palace Ili… it will be more secure.”
He coughed a bunch of times. “Ilesias, ahem.” He had his driest tutor voice on. I stuck my lip out, stubbornly. “I will explain,” he said, but didn’t, right away. “Once you grab your things and when we are in a more protected place.” Uncle Gan flipped his hand over to show chalk.
I stared at my toes and Jia put two tentacles up to stick on my cheeks, the way he sometimes pats. “The Baths… would they be safe for Jia to swim?”
“Ahem… the cleanser for the water… ahem…” Ailadas said. “Is salt, so I believe it will be safe for your pet.”
Minis is in danger. And they want me safe. I’ll bet it’s Ice Eyes. I hate him, I hate him, I hate him and I hope this is about that pile of evil dog poops getting killed. As long as Minis is home safe soon. I picked at a splinter in Ailadas’s floor with my toe for a moment, twisting my foot.
“’n my class will be coming up to the Marble Palace every day?”
“For now, yes.”
Without looking at either of them I nod. “All right. I’ll get my stuff.”
“Do you need help, Ili?” Uncle Gan called that up after my back as I ran up the stairs.
I really wasn’t mad any more. But I wasn’t going to not be mad that easily. It would be like going home after a long, long time away. The trunk in my room had my clean clothes in it already. I stuffed the dirty laundry bag next to the trunk, emptied Jia’s bowl out the back window into the garden and wrapped it up in it’s padded bag. He was on my head again, cheeping.
I’m really too big for bears and dayanal and I stood looking at my troops on the bed, biting my lip. Jia plopped from my head to my shoulder and down onto the bed, curling up around my stuffed animals. I smiled… if they were for Jia to cuddle then I should take them. “Hey, Jia! Toss!” I clapped my hands and he coiled two tentacles around Kefas Bear and threw him to me.
I caught him and tucked him and then all the others into my trunk as they got thrown to me. I have to stay safe. I promised Minis. Mama Selinae…Most High Mother of us all… please be with my brother. Keep him safe… I prayed as I stuffed a spare undercloth into Jia’s empty tank and packed up my school books and papers.
One thing. Moving around so much meant I knew how to pack quick. Minis be safe. Don’t get killed now. You disappeared into the Marble Palace and just sent a note telling me to stay that everything would be all right.
If he got killed I was going to be mad. If he got killed I’d kick his shins and punch him! I sat down on the bed, with my project about the laefetas power system in my hands. Who was I fooling? I really knew what dying was. I saw the Mahid kill enough things… heard the man they made Minis torture to death. I was scared. I needed to finish packing quicker so I could get told what was really happening.
The trunk wouldn’t close all the way at first so I sat on it and clicked the lock. Then I didn’t say anything at all, all the way up to the Marble Palace. It was busy enough that we kind of blended in, our little parade with my trunk being carried by a porter.
When we got to the Marble Palace and the solas walked us all into the guest halls. I wanted to go to my old rooms but I couldn’t. Some other kid was living there now. A girl was the Coronet Regal because Yeolis figure girls can think. Meggia would poke me… hard… and call me an Arkan pig if I said stuff like that, even if she got in trouble. And Sayaporo… who must be safe home in Hyerne with her mama by now… she’d laugh really hard at me and call me a baby to think that.
I sat down on the fountain seat in the sitting room and crossed my arms once the door closed behind the porter and the solas guard. “All right. We’re in a more secure place. Why’s Minis in danger?”
Uncle Gan sat down and said “He and eighty elite went after 2nd Amitzas and the rest of the unsworn.”
“Yeah.” I wanted to cry but wasn’t going to. I wasn’t a baby any more. “But he had lots of elite with him.”
Oh Gods… Papa Muunas… Mama Selinae… High Gods keep him safe.
“They’ll be back in less than an eight-day, if everything goes according to plan.”
“And I get to live here, after Minis gets back? With my brother?”
“Yes, of course, Ili.” If Ice Eyes doesn’t kill Minis. Don’t be silly he has a lot of really really good warriors keeping him safe.
“I need to set up my room.” I said, getting up. “I’m still not happy.”
Ailadas coughed and answered what I didn’t say. “I’m sure they’ll come home safe, Ili. He’ll come home in triumph.”
I could see Gan glance at Ailadas before he signed chalk. They’re more worried, too. I might not be as smart as my brother, but I’m not stupid. “If Muunas wants him to, he’ll come home,” I said, and swung Jia up on my shoulder, not looking at them. I want a brother hug… but he’s not here, so I get a Jia hug instead and slam my door on their poopy, lying faces.