Thursday, November 11, 2010

381 - Fourth cousin, once removed

I made it to the door and found Kallijas and Gan and Ili all waiting for me out of the way of the rest of the wings landing.  Ili I had to fend off before he knocked me over, he still hit me pretty firmly with his hello’s. Gan stared at the rig that secured my slung arm tight to me but caught me in a careful hug.
“Min! Min! Min! You got hurt? Are you all right?”
“It’s fine Min, It’s all right,” Gan said. “Are you all right?”
“Min! Min! Min!”
Kallijas took in the sling. “The Imperator is well on the mend. Am I correct in assuming you will not be sparring for the near future?”
I wanted to scoop Ili up but he was too big and my shoulder hurt too much so I hugged him to my side.  I was surprised to see a welcoming smile on Kallijas’s face.  It was so good to see.  I smiled back at his gentle teasing.  “It’s broken but it should heal up well.  I fell on it, that’s all.”
“We got them… you saw…Kaneka was planning to lock everyone into their old rooms in the Mahid section pretty much… Kallijas since you are here, Ser, he must be out of danger.”
“He is asleep.  Once I see you in, safely, I shall return to the infirmary.”
“Of course. When may I see him? Tomorrow morning? We have stories to exchange.  How in Selestialis did he get hurt?”
We walked down from the roof, following along down to the Mahid Section where my grandfather was overseeing everyone being secured.  The two gagged and bound men had already disappeared into the cells.  Joras was speaking.  He stood in front of 1st Amitzas, looking very odd in his onyxine, not standing to perfect attention.  “I don’t remember, Senior. My apologies for speaking like this but I don’t remember how.  I need to report like a fessas, ser, because that’s all I remember.”
Elsha stood next to him, correct as anyone could be, but between the two of them… was she actually holding his elbow?  I could not see.
“Continue, Joras,” the Senior said.
“Right, thanks, ser.  You see… I don’t remember… I got hit with a dart apparently that had me obeying like a mechanical doll… Acce… Accedence?  Something like that.  I’m told I was made to pick up my cousin Min… and carry him and someone hit me with another dart that knocked me down like a freakin’ tree… sorry, ser, I’ll stick to it, ser… but since I woke I can’t remember…”
“Joras.  I accept your report.  I understand.  You may be dismissed.  Your wife?  She is correctly sworn?”
“Yah, ser.” He actually put his arm around her shoulders.
“Then rest.  I shall speak to you both, later.”
“Sure, ser.”
1st Amitzas turned to Kaneka who was standing arm’s length away.  “Is Inensa Mahid here, Raid-Commander?”
“She’s right over here,” Kaneka beckoned.
“Min is one of these Sera’s your mama?” Ilesias asked me loudly.  “Is one of them my mama?”
“Shh, Ili… my mama is there, I don’t know if yours is.”  We were on the landing under the Ilesias the Great painting so I could see over people’s heads to where 1st Amitzas stood below.  “We’ll find out.”
They escorted my mother up to where grandfather stood, a handkerchief draped formally over his clasped gloves.  They stared at one another and he nodded at her, precisely, carefully.  “Welcome home, Daughter. Report.” I could just hear him, he spoke so quietly.
She was sword straight before him for a long moment before sinking into a deep, graceful, daughter’s curtsey.  “My sire.  I report. My oath is still in question, though I have commanded the women to cease fighting.  As you observed…1st Elsha has sworn to the current Imperator and tends her injured husband, Joras.”
Was that a lightning swift glance from 1st Amitzas to me? From our place on the stairs, I couldn’t see.  “Understood.  Daughter… your oath is in question you say?”
“I…” she actually paused.  “I am giving myself permission to wait before I must swear, Senior.  I will wait till after the election, honoured father.”
“Indeed.”  He turned to the other women.  “Mahid, I shall speak with all of you before you are asked the loyalty question crucial to your future. Remain in the rooms you have been assigned.”
Kallijas touched my elbow.  “Did you wish me to accompany you?”
I cast him a grateful glance.  “Thank you, Kallijas, I think I can manage.  Why don’t you head back to the infirmary?”
He nodded and let the three of us come all the way down the stairs.  They weren’t taking chances with any of the unsworn women, locking them in and setting two new guards on this corridor.  “Grandfather.”
He raised an eyebrow at me and his lip twitched, almost as if he would have smiled.  “I realize that a Haian will have seen your injury but if you would permit, I should like to examine you myself.”
I nearly stumbled.  What? “Of… course… Grandfather.”
He directed us straight into his office which surprised me.  It was lined with more books if that were possible, warm for the snake and dim and green.  A puddle of light shone over the snake’s tank and another lamp on his desk.  Gannara watched him from the door, pale.  He hated the Mahid section of the Palace even as changed as it was. I put my free hand on his shoulder… the oddest change in 1st Amitzas’s office was an actual reading chair that was not just wood, but padded in leather.  It had a green shaded reading light hung over it.  I got Gan to sit down there. 
Ili reached up and took hold of Grandfather’s sleeve.  “You’re my brother’s grandfather…are you mine?” I held my breath watching Ili gazing up so trustingly into 1st Amitzas’s face.
Grandfather twitched but didn’t pull away. The look he turned on Ili softened from the usual Mahid razors turned on a child who should know better, to something more… accessible. Using the kerchief he cupped Ili’s glove and directed him to sit in a chair next to the tank.  “It is warmer here, boy.  Sit.”
His wheeled chair squeaked as it always had as he sat down in it and turned himself all the way around to face Ili.  “Ilesias Aan.  Your mother was named Tesha I believe, rest she in Selestialis. She died in the sack, I am sorry to say. Her Great, Great, Great Grandfather Ilesias was my Great, Great, Grandfather. Technically I am your fourth cousin, once removed.”
“Really? Then we’re family.  What should I call you?”
1st Amitzas examined Ili’s face as if he were trying to discern something.  He took a deep breath.  “You are correct.  We are family. In the situation we are in, I believe that Grandfather would be most appropriate.”  Ili’s smile was enough to make my heart clench. I’d been holding my breath.
“I’m glad! Minis gets a mama and I get a grandfather!  I like that.  Can I touch the snake?”
Gan, 1st Amitzas and I all said ‘NO.’ as if we were one person and Ili looked chagrined.  “Ilesias,” Grandfather said.  “The snake is very venomous and very dangerous.  You see the streaks on the inside of the glass?” Ili nodded. “That is from him striking at me through the glass.  Though innocent, he is still very aggressive.  You may look, but not touch.”
“All right, grandfather.  He’s very brightly coloured.  Can I show my class? Can I bring them down here?”
“Not this very instant, no. I shall consider it and inform you when it will be convenient.  Perhaps even to the Most Venomous Menagerie. Now I will attend to your brother.  You be silent now.”
He nodded and put his chin on his crossed arms, nose up against the glass, tempting the snake to strike at him, just as I had done years ago.

“Now, grandson.” 1st Amitzas turned to me, his gaze becoming more intent.  “Have some of this odd tasting Haian tea and tell me how you broke this bone -- and what Akminchaer has been giving you.”


  1. Oh my professional god indeed! 1st Amitzas is allowing himself to be the healer he must have wanted to be, instead of a poisoner? Wow, just LOOK at all those cracks in his Mahid-façade!

  2. *Giggles* YAY Min and ILi get to have the same Grandpa!!