Socks made a funny little sound and I realized I had squeezed him a little too hard in my surprise. “Ili. Hello. Serinas… this is my friend Ili. I need to go talk to him in private for a moment, if you’ll excuse me? Ili is this your pet? Your cat too--- no? Oh good. Here…” I was almost babbling. I needed to slow down. Atzana was looking at me in that ‘there’s a story, here’ look. Riala and Laisa were both smiling behind their hands at this noisy little spectacle. Skala sniffed and made sure the glass plates were safely over her fragile pages.
“Sure, Ky… Jiaklem… come, come on!” He bounced and stretched up his arms and the domoctopus swung down on two of its tentacles and slithered down to his shoulders, even as the big cat stopped washing, threw a nasty look down at us and hissed. “Stop that you bad pussy cat!” Ili said firmly.
He’d grown so much and where had he gotten the new pet? I pulled Socks up to my face, both hands, feeling his gruff trill… his little growly noise when he wasn’t sure I was all right. “I’m all right, boy. Stop, shh.” He relaxed as I did. I’d get to the bottom of this.
“Ky! Hey you wanna come to our rooms? Uncle Gan’s gotta girlfriend an’ he an’ Fara make Min blush! Gan’s down with his family or with Fara an he’s gonna come back this evening to be with Min because the Haian’s going to do some fixing on Min’s shoulder…”
Atzana smiled at me and shooed the other fluffies out of the concervancy and I let Ili lead me out to the Rising Sun of Knowledge corridor that led to a spiraling ramp downstairs. He showed me to one of the minor suites in the Marble Palace, for guests of no particular rank. “… I like this because Jiaklem and I can go use the Lesser Baths and I’ve been playin’ with the kids… Tafaen’s older but his sisters are great and I like Kall… there’s some dogs that want to come in swimmin’ with us and Jia hangs onto their tails…”
I sat down next to the fountain and set Socks down. Ili put his pet on a table and it tucked itself… himself?... into a vase half full of water, making it look like an odd, colour flickering stone column. “I have to get his tank from Ailadas’s soon but he’s all right with the big vase that Antras got me…”
“Ilesisas.” He stopped and looked at me. “You mentioned that Minis’s shoulder needs fixing… and from all you are telling me, it seems that you and Gannara and Minis are living here in the Marble Palace, is that right?” He stopped chattering and nodded. “Why does Minis’s shoulder need fixing?”
“’Cause he and Joras went with Kaneka and the elites to kill Ice Eyes and he got this bone…” he pointed to a spot on his chest “… broken. It’s not bad. Minis says it’s not bad but he’s going to get it fixed better with something Haian… he was telling Ch’evenga and th’ Imperator said he should. Joras? Joras Mahid? And Minis is obviously talking to the Imperator.
I felt a little like I had just had an enormous amount of information poured into my ears at one time. Minis and Ilesias and Gannara were safe apparently in the Marble Palace and the Imperator was not going to execute Minis. Gannara was re-united with his family and had a… girlfriend… who apparently made Minis blush. Ailadas seemed to know and I did not? I tried to strangle my growing annoyance.
The unsworn Mahid had been apprehended. Joras had gone with Minis on the expedition to kill them so… had they turned him? Had Minis already been in Marble Palace custody at that time?
That had been just after the Imperator’s second Ten Tens. I had been kept in the dark that long? I found there was even more annoyance in me that I thought. I had controlled it, and I could understand that he would want me to be sheltered from any trouble, but still… Had not our trek to the city convinced him that I was no frail flower? It made me want to stamp my feet in frustration and perhaps bruise the boys shins, adding insult to his injury!
But he was injured and would be worked upon by a Haian this evening. “Ili… have you eaten? Isn’t it time for Mid-Afters? I want to be there when Minis goes to get his shoulder fixed.”
Akminchaer had his clinic set up actually in the old Mahid wing. It was the most changed of the rooms, of course, smelling of Haian incense. There were bright silk draperies mimicking window coverings even if there was only stone behind them and thick, warm, grass-cloth carpet that rustled under my bare feet in a way that made me happy just walking on it.
The clavicle was aching even with the sling and it was nice to lie down and feel the pressure come off it. Ilesias was waiting outside, actually with Grandfather, just around the corner two halls over. The two of them would come when Akminchaer sent a messenger, toward the end of his working on me.
It was interesting. I had the Haian needles with Zinchaer but they had been for mind things, he said. The physical, pain-blocking needles went in with only a pinch or two and then it was as if my whole body relaxed so deeply that I nearly fell asleep. in his soft accent Akminchaer asked me “kin you turn your head away just a bit… kin you look over at the undersea painting I have over to your right?”
I could and it was so realistic I could almost imagine myself floating in that water. I could ignore the tugging and some pulling and the soft Haian commands from Akminchaer to his apprentices. Someone tapped on the door, and an apprentice answered it.
It was harder to ignore the grinding sensations. “What are you doing?”
“Creating a slot for the bone-pin to bridge the gap between the breaks,” he said calmly. “There will be some pushing and pulling to make sure everything is perfect. Then we will close you up and you can go off to bed.”
“That was a note from your Grandfather. He is wondering if you would like another visitor after I am finished with you. I will send for them now, if you would like.”
“Um… Certainly, with him?” I yawned. “Who could know I am having surgery?” My eyes popped open. “It isn’t my mother, is it?”
“No no. He said his presence would be enough to keep everything proper. A young sera by the name of Kyriala.”
I was so glad I had the lethargy of the needles in me so how ever much I wanted to with one part of my mind, I didn’t jump under Akminchaer’s hands. “Ky… Ky… oh my Gods.”
“Should I tell him no? Your heart rate jumped there.” I suppose he’d feel that. “Deep breath.”
I took in a deep breath. I… I… I was trying to protect her… I… suppose… if I am safe… but for me to stay safe I need to win… oh Gods… I don’t know what to think. “That… that’s fine… I’d love to see her again.”
“Your heart rate has definitely become elevated.” I took another deep breath and thought of the needles… the lovely sleepiness… no pain at all… the slightly arkan-herbed feeling… or the drunken feeling…
“I’d love to see her again,” I said dreamily.