Friday, November 19, 2010

387 - I Vomited My Guts Out

He took me into the Malachite salon right next to the Lesser Office and sat down.  He was sweating and looked grim, not at all himself.
“Kallijas... are you all right?  What’s going on?”

“I’m fine,” he said.  “It’s just... well, maybe when I tell you, you’ll understand.  I’m just trying to find the words... he... something about him came out public that he never intended any but his very closest to ever know.  So... I guess... it’s hard for me to talk about it as well...”  He ran his hand through his hair… which was loose… a gesture that reminded me tremendously of Chevenga.
“So... should you be telling me?  I mean...”

“Yes, I just asked him.  Everyone is going to know the true version tomorrow anyway.  Minis, he... he had a vision when he was a child.  When his father was assassinated... he saw himself dead in his father’s place... “


“He had a vision of his own death... young...”

“But... but...young?  How young?”

“Thirty... or at least not older than thirty.” 
My father’s letter to me drifted into my head. Do not worry about Shefenkas, time will take care of him for you... blazed in letters of fire in my memory.
He was twenty-eight.  His twenty-ninth birthday would be this fall. Young. Young… a vision of my death… young. “He’s nearly twenty-nine now! Or...?  Excuse me... I’m sorry I’m interrupting you.”

“It’s all right, lad.  I’m not telling it well, I don’t think I can.  Yes... he turns twenty-nine in the fall.  But this is why he is seeing Surya... there was a Haian who recommended he go to him... and Surya.... well, Sheng has always thought it was inevitable, that there was no escaping it... Surya does not think so at all, and so Sheng doesn’t either, now.”

“But... he’s fighting it... why now?  What happened that he’s letting you tell me?  Now?  I don’t understand what’s going on...”

“He’s letting me tell you because it’s out public... Intharas came this morning and asked him if it was true.  Minis... he’s kept this secret his whole life.  He was seven when it happened... he only told his mother, people he was talking seriously about marriage with and... well, when he was truth-drug-scraped, of course.  Three of his parents didn’t even know until this past month or so.”

I pulled a lock of my hair forward and nibbled on it  It was a habit I had broken years ago and it just tasted weird and hair-oily.  “I guess he told you because of his relationship with you... oh thank the Gods for Surya...”

“Yes.  We are all saying the same.  He told me about a year ago.  Though he didn’t tell Skorsas until... well, it’s complicated.  But he told four people... that training accident, you know as well as I that he couldn’t possibly have an accident like that... it was to do with this.  So he felt required to tell the truth, especially to Idiesas, but he also told Tyirian, who was leading the session, Krero and Kaninjer.  That was yesterday.  We figure a Marble Palace servant must have overheard... it was in the infirmary... he forgot, it’s not truly secure.”

“Oh, Gods.  And this has... flattened him.  How far has this set him back?

“I don’t know, lad.  That’s a Haian question.  But... I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so upset.  He’s... yes, flattened is a good word for it.  He was in the office and he was planning to keep working after Intharas left, but he couldn’t.  He was so pale the trap-booth people got Kaninjer, Kaninjer took one look at him and said ‘Cancel everything else he’s got and get a litter,’ and now he’s in bed.  He’s just going to have to recover from it.”

“Everyone will understand.  I mean it’s only days after a major injury...but why? He’s going to conquer his vision... he’s going to beat it! Why would he not want us to know?”

“Minis, he kept it secret all his life.  Including from his people... from Assembly... from all the military people, everyone.  It’s personal... Besides, he didn’t want anyone to think he was crazy.  And it was not something he ever wanted the enemies of Yeola-e to know, either... I don’t have to explain why, do I?”

“No. I understand... my... sire wrote me something about it... very obliquely...That must have been when he was scraped...” The end of my hair was sodden.  I put it down and it slapped cold and slimy against my neck.  “My Gods...

“There’s a legal thing too... there’s some law in Yeola-e that says a semanakraseye has to reveal anything he knows that might make him unsuited for the position.  This... could fall under that, he is not sure, but he’s been worried about it, about whether he’s been choosing the right thing, since he was about thirteen.  Now that he has Surya, what he’s been hoping is that he could just go from... thinking that... to not thinking that... and live on, without anyone being the wiser.  I think that would have been best.  But...” He shook his head and put his hand over his face, hiding it.

I put my hand on his shoulder.  “I think... I think everyone will say something like ‘that explains so much’ -- like why he drives himself like a maniac or why he... well... does everything as if its the last thing he’s ever going to do... and forgive him for it... it’s not as if it’s something he would have wanted.”

“He’s not so sure his own people will forgive him... you know how at least some of them can be, throwing spears at him for stupid little things.  But of course he could be entirely wrong... you know how hard he is on himself too, it might just be that he expects the same from them because of it.”

“Sometimes... some Yeolis are idiots.  They don’t know what they’ve got in him.”

“I personally think most of them do.  I mean... how can they not?  Look what he’s done!  But he’s terrified.  And, I guess, embarrassed.”

I sighed.  “In a way we Arkans almost understand him better.  His sense of responsibility is almost Mahid-like in its intesity.”

“Yes.  You’re not the first to notice that.”

“So... he needs his recovery time. Intharas will put out a special edition... what then?”

“He’s doing a press conference to announce it tomorrow morning... and yes, it means postponing our announcement... he’s going to fly back to Yeola-e, too, because he wants to try to be the first with the news there.  But I can tell you, lad, he feels like shit for this happening when he should be announcing his endorsement of you.  He said so.  He said, ‘I can’t even look him in the face right now.’”
How long will my coming out be delayed? Ten days? Twelve? I will only have fifty-one days if that is true.  Oh Gods. You don’t want this to be easy, do You? I clamped down hard on my dismay and lurking despair.  It might be that the Gods wanted me to try and fail?  It didn’t matter, either way. I would have to do my best and leave the rest to the Ten.
I shrugged, Yeoli style.  “You can tell him it’s...” I swallowed hard.  My gut clenched tight enough that I could feel my breakfast surging up and burning. “…All right.  It just means I... we… have to campaign a bit harder in the time we have left when we can announce it... The Gods aren’t going to make it too easy.  I can either get upset for no reason or see it as a test.”

“Or we announce it without him.  He suggested that, if we were willing.”

“I... I don’t like that idea...  What do you think?”

“I’d hate to be taking questions from the writers without him there.  He is so much better at it than me.  Or, if you’ll forgive me, you.”

I eyed him sideways. He thought I needed telling the Chevenga was one of the best at handling rabid writers?  Thank you Commander Obvious. I remembered Karas Raikas plowing through the questioning, pen-wielding horde and suppressed a smile.

“Nobody's as good at dealing with writers as he is.  He has a lot more experience.” I said.  “Rather than pretending to be one.

I took a deep breath and returned to the problem.  We’ll still have more than a moon to campaign however long this takes and I don’t think it will actually take more than a few more days.  The value of having him with us versus the time lost I think is an acceptable risk.”  I was starting to sound more like Grandfather.

“Yes... it’s my preference too, but I’d have done it if you were willing.”

“Thank you for telling me, Kallijas.”

“You’re welcome... though I wish I hadn’t had to.”

“You need to go be with him -- Just to let you know... I will have the Liren family’s support -- at least through Kyriala -- she found out yesterday that I was here, and you should see what suggestions she...and everyone came up with last night.”

“I would like to know.  Don’t worry, lad, there are many people with him... what was suggested?”

“She was suggesting that she and her friends would attend our functions.  We should perhaps attend at least one of her salons, at least I should.  They are apparently quite popular.  Apparently the Fenjitzas and the Fenjitzas attend occasionally as well as a wide cross-section of the new Arko.”  I was blushing for some reason as I spoke.  I wasn’t entirely sure why.  

“She said she would bring her women’s reading group along.  There are a number of teacher’s groups that Farasha told me about and Gannara says that his parents’, though Yeolis, are reasonably well connected with Arkan merchant groups.”  I took a deep breath.  “Though we need to do the speeches to big groups... I want to focus on as personal an approach as I can.”

“It’s a trade-off, Chevenga was telling me.  But we should do some of both... the personal with those people who are most influential, who will convince the most Arkans to vote for us.  Aras... I mean, Muunas... I never thought I’d do so many speeches in my life, to people not wearing helmets.”

“Kallijas…” I recalled some life or death struggles I'd seen over kaf cups.  “Considering some of the aitzas armour I've seen and the bun fights... I figure it's a different battlefield with similar impulses.  Helmets or not... wouldn't you think it’s the same on some levels?”

“On some levels, sure -- they want to hear something that makes sense to them for one thing.  But... solas you know what they want.  At least I do; I was one.  Plain citizens... what they want is much more complicated.  They’ve only just learned this vodai thing anyway.  They can actually be quite nasty... when I think about it, you’ll get it less than I, traitor that I was.”

“Hmm.  I think people tend to forget that the Gods have pointed out you were not a traitor, but correct in seeing the New Son of the Sun before everyone else.  We’ll be prepared for that, and I think a lot of solas will vote for you as Regent, because they trust you.  They will be more distrustful of the Aan brat that I was.”

“If you don’t know it yet, Minis, you will find out.  People can be idiots.  And I am going to lose some solas now because I will not be permanent Imperator.”

“So we’ll address that.  Tell them I’m learning from you.  I am.  Not that I will ever be anywhere close to your skill.  Just you teaching me will be a point for those solas.”

“Maybe.  Unless they think it’s just for show.  They don’t respect warriors as warriors until they’re blooded anyway.”

“I don’t think they’d want to know how I’ve killed.  When we go together to speak to garrisons and solas... I need to train with them...  I wish there were a way of showing solas that I am training with you.”

“Well, I can just tell them that.  What do you mean, you don’t want them to know how you’ve killed?  I thought you backstabbed a Mahid or two to get out, which was totally understandable in those circumstances... what’s wrong with that?”

“It’s not like being blooded in battle.  And it was a backstab.”

“You were a kid, and vastly outnumbered, as well as trying to rescue a number of non-warriors with you.”

I sat down again.  “So I’ll just tell people that part...” My thoughts flitted back to Chevenga.  “He’ll really beat this with Surya’s help?”

“Well... we have to count on that, don’t we?  I know he is sworn to... do his utmost.”

“That’s a relief.  He’s his own best advocate... even as he’s his own worst enemy... You know I think I understand better why he had this accident... he’s fighting himself.”

“Yes.”  His jaw muscles bunched tight.

“Surya... is a force of nature, Kallijas.  I’m certain he can even out-stubborn, Ch’venga.”

“That’s not the question, from what I understand.  Surya’s already convinced him to undergo the course of healing.  It’s... well, it’s more about gaining understanding, from what he’s told me.  But Surya is very powerful, yes.  He is.” He glanced toward the Imperial Chambers, obviously wanting to be with Chevenga.

“He needs you, Kallijas.”  His gaze snapped around, eyes narrowing at me. I blinked.  I hadn’t meant to annoy him.  I’d been trying to be good and tell him he didn’t need to coddle me... umm... I had to think more like my dyer self... “I didn’t put that well... I’m sorry I’m taking your attention away from him.”

“Well, you asked what was going on.  I didn’t mind answering.  Nor did he.”

I took a deep breath.  “And now I know.”

I could tell that Surya had been with all of us.  Kallijas took a deep breath as well.  “You know what Surya says?  ‘Everything’s going as it should.’  He thinks this is all fine, really.  I wish I could be so sure.”

“Oh.  Yeah... he sort of said the same... Ch’venga arranged for me to talk to Surya... and he told me that, too.  Would you... please excuse me?”

“Are you all right, lad?  You’re pale.”

I nodded.  “I’m just going to go throw up.  Nothing I haven’t done before.”  I swallowed hard a couple of times.

“Do it like in training.”  Kallijas’ voice turned into the war teacher’s, appallingly firm.  “Do it and feel good about it.”

“Yes, Teacher. Thank you for telling me, again.”  I got up. “If it won’t tire him I’d like to visit later.” I didn’t hold much hope of that.

“Not a chance today, lad.  Tomorrow he does the presser, and you can see him then...  all you need to do is put on the fessas get-up.”

“I’ll do that.  Thanks.”


“Hmmm?”  I had to keep my mouth closed.
You're going to be Imperator,” he said just as firmly.  “No matter what happens, you must not lose your nerve.
He was not doubting my intent, I told myself.  He couldn’t know me that well yet.  I nodded.

Then I went out to the the garderobe and vomited my guts out.


  1. <=. Woah... I knew this and still... well done.

  2. Thanks GG! Trying to get the different perspective...

  3. I agree, this is very well done, this is immediate and new and emotionally gripping- in short - this section of the story is powerful as it ties together many threads

  4. Thank you, Cat! Things are coming together...