Friday, November 12, 2010

382 - Not Cleared for Work

When they let me in to see Chevenga next morning Kaninjer made me swear, not to overtax him. “You may see him... but he is still very weak... plis don’t say anything that is like a report... or that might upset him... all right?”

“I swear.”  No one has said what happened, other than it was a training accident. Which was about as likely as me sprouting metal wings overnight.  And no one was going to until he explained it, I was sure.  What in flaming pink hayel had happened?  It seemed so strange I wanted to go down and talk to Surya about it, but it was none of my business.  He, quite rightly, wouldn’t tell me.
I peeked around the door to see Chevenga full of every kind of Haian tube and health assist, glass mask for pure air, two separate bottles hanging over him from hooks over the bed, tubing from what looked like a drain in his chest, tubing showing underneath the bedclothes.  “Ch’venga?” He was pale, and even though he looked flattened, he smiled big and bright and white and gold.
“Minis!”  His voice was a shadow of itself.  He had no breath, his lung – He was breathing against the cut and stitched lung. “How are you?  How did it go?  How’d you get that?”  I sat down next to him and he glanced at the sling.

Kaninjer came in behind me and sat down at a desk across the room where he could keep an eye on his patient.  Chevenga had that medicated look in his eyes. “So,” I said. “We talk you out of going, it all comes off nearly flawlessly, and—you get badly wounded while safe at home! How do you pull these things off, Chevenga?”

He blinked, pursed his lips under the mask.  His left hand turned up in a kind of shrug, not a chalk.  Kaninjer cleared his throat and gave me a severe “What did you just AGREE to???” look. I cut Chevenga off before he could answer.  “Sorry... I shouldn’t ask you things like that... I’m good.  It went well.  And this, it’s just a bump, I fell.  Not a problem.”

“Usually with a sling, something’s broken, lad... are you sweetening this up because the healer told you to be gentle with me?” We both glanced toward Kaninjer.

“Basically.  Joras fell on me, the clavicle’s busted but that’s all.  It’ll heal up.”

His eyes came back to mine then. “I’ll sweeten it for myself... I won’t ask about losses.  But how’s Joras?”

I grinned at him. “He’s in his room with his wife... she’s sworn and clinging to him like ivy to a wall. They’re... um... resting. It turns out she’s going to be due... in about five moons or so, and he’s just found out.” I’ll tell him all about the fessas mind stuff later.

“So he’s all right then?  I hear sweetening again, I think.  You can hold off and tell me tomorrow if you wish.”

Of course I had to give him something. “We were worried about him on the way home but he woke up fine... Tomorrow will be good for anything else.”

“All right.  I’ll wait with baited breath.  I’m glad she’s sworn... that would have been hard.  What happened to the rest of the Mahid?  If you can tell me today.”

I shrugged my right shoulder. The broken clavicle throbbed like a heartbeat.  “Not to worry. They’re all accounted for.  The men are mostly dead... all but two. The women are all here in their rooms in the Mahid section.  Grandfather has them well under control.”

“So he’s acknowledged you’re his grandson?  Wonderful!”

“Yes.  I’m really surprised at the way he’s acting.  Almost human.”

“Really.  That is even more wonderful.  It’s never too late for a person to change... If anyone can bring the women around, it’s him.  You know...”  He closed his eyes for a moment, and his left hand wandered up to the “A.M.” scar on his chest, gently.  “It’s a weight off me, more than I thought it would be, to know Second Amitzas Mahid is dead... it must be so for you, too.” Oh Ten, I have to tell him.  It’s not like he’s going to be a threat to either Chevenga or I but…

I looked down and off to the corner of the room.  I couldn’t let him go on thinking that.  “Um... 2nd Amitzas is one of the captive Mahid... he didn’t use his poison tooth... sorry but um...”

“He didn’t? Him?” The look on his face wasn’t upset, thank the Ten, just very amazed.  “Well then...!  Still a weight off me, to know we have him... Kahara...” He went a touch paler if that were possible.

“Ch’venga.... with your permission... never mind.  You just breathe.”  I changed my mind about asking him this particular permission.  I really should NOT ask him.

“It’s all right...”  He did take a couple of long deep breaths with his eyes closed.  He was still tense though.  “Permission?”  Of course he’s not going to let me let it go.

I started yanking on a thread on my tunic with my good hand.  This one-handed stuff was already driving me crazy.  “I... this might be too ugly but I want some time alone with the man.  In a Mahid room.  I... won’t kill him.”

For a long moment or two there was only the hiss of the pure air as he breathed, gazing at me, searchingly. “You want to torture him?  Minis... think about that very carefully, before you do it.  I also suggest talking to your grandfather.  Once you do something like that... you know for the rest of your life that you did it.  You have a mark.”

Of course.  The impulse… I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I was surprised that Chevenga hadn’t wanted to keep him for himself. But then he’d always been a better kind of man than I or my father.  He wasn’t the kind of person who tortured easily.  Some part of me was almost expecting him to say something like ‘Leave enough for me to enjoy...” but that was more like my father.  “Yes.  I know.  I’m praying about it.”

“Gods telling you anything?”

“I might have the least right between the two of us to do anything at all.  But no.  They’re being very quiet.”

Chevenga closed his eyes for a bit and I wondered if he’d faded but then he spoke without opening his eyes to look at me. “It’s not a contest, Minis.  If They are being quiet... perhaps They want to be clearly asked.”

“Or are leaving it to me, to choose to be moral rather than immoral.” I patted his arm.  “I’m tiring you with this.  You don’t have to do or decide anything, Ch’venga.”

“Oh, I will, though.  Next it’s going to be Emao-e coming in here and asking, ‘What to do with these Mahid?’  Well... there are protocols.  What’s most important is that it went off well.  None of the women were killed, then?”  He was being good, not insisting that I wrestle through it with him now.


“Have you talked to your mother?”  He said this more quietly than everything else.
I snorted laughter.  “All the way home.”  He looked at me quizzically, both of his eyebrows up. “She won’t speak to me.  As Mahid, she really shouldn’t if I’m turned... and her husband is still alive... she’s holding hoof...says she will hold off swearing till after the election and Grandfather is allowing it.”

“Ah.  She’s waiting to see if you and Kall win... if so, she can swear to you as rightful Imperator.  And doesn’t have to swear to the black twisty-haired sacking foreigner.  She’s a wise one.”  
“This little accident of yours is going to put things off for a while longer, anyway...”

“A little while... only a little while.  We’ll announce your candidacy... The two of you could do it yourselves, actually.  Kall...?  Is he around here?”

He’d raised his voice and Kaninjer looked up from his book “Planning discussions and announcements is work,Fourth Chivinga.”  A slightly mulish look lay on Chevenga’s face for a moment.
I nodded, firmly.  “Not today.  Akminchaer says I can have a bit of light surgery to set bone-crab stuff in my shoulder... he says it will speed up my healing, even with the cutting...”

“More likely to ensure the bone heals straight, too,” he said.  “I had beautiful bone-crab work done on my sword-hand forearm and wrist once when I was a kid, else I would not be where I am.  The clavicle is important; I suggest you grit your teeth and let him do it.”

“So I shall take advantage of the delay and take some healing time...”  I was counting days in my head.  I would only have fifty-three days to campaign, anyway.  Fifty-three days. My stomach clenched.

“You’ll be up before I am if you have it done today or tomorrow, though I’m talking to the writers tomorrow... that’s about what happened here... I meant to stick to one topic, but then, I’d be just as happy to take their minds off what happened to me...”  His healer gave him another steadily reproachful look.

“Ha. You need to tell them what happened.”

Another shrug.  “I had a training accident.  That’s what happened, so that’s what I’ll tell them.  But then you’re campaigning... so, yes, get it done, it’s not deep so the healer might not even put you under, which is what’s hardest to come back from... tell him you want the needles instead...”

“Exactly.  He said he wouldn’t have to...  I... I’m worried about the timing but... “

“We’ll do it the day after tomorrow.  With bone-crabs you’ll be out of the sling in a day or two, and you can start flying all over Arko with Kall... or without him better still, you can--”

Kaninjer cut him off with a
Hsst! You are planning, when you are not cleared for work!  Do I have to put something else in here?”  He pointed across at the vein-link tube ominously.

“No, no... I surrender, Kan, I’ll stop.”  He looked at me, his eyes full of words and considerations that he kept to himself.  “Tomorrow, lad.”

I nodded. “It’s my fault, Kaninjer.  I keep asking him things... sorry. I’ll let you rest... Gannara was outside most of the time... He’s waiting his turn to see you.’”

“Oh, good.  It’s been nice to get visits from friends as well as family... I’m hoping the healer will start letting me see them more than one at a time after lunch.”  He glanced under his eyelashes across at Kaninjer.

“We’ll see how it goes,” the healer said, without the trace of a smile.

Gingerly I leaned over to hug him, careful of both our injuries.  “You rest... I’ll go get patched up. Everything is going as it should, hmmm?”  I meant to reassure myself, trying to think that if the Gods wanted me on the Crystal Throne I would win no matter what time I had, but my words had more meaning for him than I knew, I think.
Tell the truth, lad, I don't feel as if things are going as they should... but perhaps I am not seeing everything.  Surya has taught me quite well already that I don't.  So... perhaps they are.
I’m worried about Minis.  He went away saying he was doing all this stuff he had to do and came back with the tiny front bone in his chest broken.  Teacher Gian said we can study that stuff but my fourth-cousin-Grandfather has a real human skeleton in his office and he showed me first.
And the Imperator, Chevenga, he’s hurt.  He got a sword stuck right through him. I heard the servants who clean up the infirmary say.  And Champion Idiesas… he’s not right… his face has got scabs all over it and Minis said he’s going to get a little bit cut open by Akminchaer to fix the bone… and… everything is going to hayel in a push-cart the way the servants say.  I'm mad and I don't like it.

My mama isn't here... she's in Selestialis and it's not fair that Minis gets his mama and I don't.  I get a Grandfather but it's more pretend than real.
I go say hi to Joras… since Min says he needs people to talk to him and help him settle down, since he was hurt in the head trying to keep Minis safe.  I was scared of him before but he talks good now.
Then I went to show JiaKlem the lightning snake but Grandfather’s office is locked and he isn’t there.  He's talking to one of the Mahid seras or maybe doing something else.  Most grownups are too busy.  

Gan doesn’t know that my class had to go early today because Mia and Huri both threw up.  Uncle Gan had to go down to his family's place and then meet Fara and Min is going to get cut open later and I'm going to be there too and hold his hand, but now I’m just in the Palace, kicking statues and making glass bangles ring by tapping on them with a painted wooden sword I took out of some statue's hand.
They’re all poops.  Jiaklem climbs up my arm and my sword when I’m trying to reach a big flower carved in a basket on a fairy-girl’s arm, and starts climbing the wall.  “Hey! Jia!  Bad domoctopus… you come back!”
He drops onto my head from up high with a splat and I giggle and we go to find another sleeping cat.  We find a lot of them and when we do I put Jia down and he wiggles up behind it really slow and quiet and if I don’t giggle and wake up the puss… he puts out one tentacle really slow... and pokes the cat.
They yowl and jump up and hiss or run and we giggle and sometimes there are fluffies around who come and bark at the cat and then some sera would come and scold the dogs.  Jia and I hide and hug and I try not to giggle.
We find a really really big sleeping kitty.  He’s not a white one but has spots all over him.  He’s as big as Sera Eren’s Ribbons.  I think maybe we shouldn’t bother him when Jia goes over and doesn’t just poke him but hugs him around the back of the neck, the way he did with Ribbons.
The cat jumps up all the way up off the floor and tries to scratch Jia but can’t and he’s howling loud and rolls right over and over, gets up and starts to run. “Jia! No! Cat don’t!  No, come back!” He jumps right over a railing and climbs up the stone vines on the wall.  “Jia! Don’t let go! You’ll go splat! Cat! Come back!”
I run and run and climb up the stairs… I can hear the big cat howling and there’s fluffies barking and I run up and up to a big room full of desks and serinas with boxes of books everywhere and all kinds of lenses on the desks and papers and sharp smelling glue and stuff. The cat climbs up all the way to the top of the shelves and Jia drops off him there.  I can’t breathe from running and the fluffies are barking at the big cat and Jia’s about half way down, swinging off the shelves and the serinas are all sitting like they’re statues.
I’m puffing and leaning on my knees and the head biblio-serina stands up and starts barking orders like a war-teacher.  SIT!  Be QUIET! 

The dogs all kind of sit and loll their tongues out… the cat puts one leg up and he cleans his ass as if he doesn’t care… Jia starts to swing down lower and one of the serinas in a really, really fancy dress, comes and picks up a white fluffy and turns around and my wind comes back and I say… I’m proud of myself that I remember what I’m supposed to call her… “Hi, Kylinia!”


  1. Eeee! Kyrliana! Ohh-ho, I thought when Minis 'came out' he was going to get all these people coming out of the woodwork but somehow I hoped that Ky would get to jump to the head of the line. And I utterly love anything with Jia in it.

  2. I am sure that SOMEONE in the palace is to blame for this - I bet someone cursed them all by saying "how much trouble can 1 kid and his pet get into, really?

  3. Oh yes. I have to figure out which priceless statue Ili took the sword from, and dropped along the way.