Thursday, November 25, 2010

391 - First Round of Questions

Krero spoke up again. “In turn...  Raise your hand and I’ll call on you.”  In the sea of waving digits, Intharas raised his pen a bit.  I saw one fellow on my other side defer to Intharas, who nodded firmly.  “Intharas Terren, go ahead.”  Chevenga looked at him as though he’d rather dive out the window than be here.

“Imperator, how does this revelation affect your plans towards abdication?  Do you plan to move up the schedule so that the public remains largely unaffected?”

“No, I have no plans to change the schedule.  The election... so much has been planned, so much is in motion, it’s not worth changing all that for this... I’m going to be gone five days, and it’s not as if the campaign can’t go on without me here.”
Krero pointed at the woman beside me, another pages writer with Intharas. “Sisaria?”

“Thank you. Is He-Whose-Strength-Upholds-the-World going to take a hiatus from his regular duties for this healing?” She spoke firmly, even though she blushed. So very strange to hear a female voice.  I wondered if she knew Kyriala and the book restorers
“You know... I don’t mind being ‘you...’”  there was a faint smile upon his face. “I... I’m certainly not going to take a hiatus from what I am doing here in Arko, because time is so short.  I haven’t thought about it beyond that, to tell the truth.  You want to ask me more, go ahead… let’s do it three questions at a time... so Intharas I owe you two more.” The High Editor nodded but didn’t press the point immediately.

“Semanakraseye-Imperator, are all Yeoli Foreseers, or are only members of your family prescient? Did you also know that you would become Imperator?”

“I... had no idea until... well, all right... I was going to say, I had no idea until I read the count for the national vote in Yeola-e.  But... there were some things that happened before that which, on retrospect, were flashes of foreknowledge.  I didn’t recognize them as such at the time.

“No, all Yeolis are not foreseers, and it is certainly not only members of my family, and not all members of my family.  The best foreseer in Yeola-e is not related to me at all.  I’m referring to Jinai Oru.”

“Semanakraseye-Imperator, have you received a new augury that countered your previous Foretelling?”

“Em... no, it’s not that, exactly.  It’s... it’s a bit different from that.”  He glanced sideways at Krero. Is that a help, call on someone else look?

Krero signed chalk.  “Kafiris, go ahead.”  He didn’t want to answer that one.  Che, someone is going to jump on that one.

“Imperator, why did you keep this, what you assumed was foreknowledge, secret aside from the immediate few?  And may I add, I will pray fervently for the success of the cure.”

Chevenga twitched, looking truly surprised.  “Em... thank you, Kafiris.” He seemed embarrassed. “Thank you.  I appreciate that.  Em... you asked... why I kept it secret... at first it was just... everyone was in such grief already from my father’s assassination, I didn’t want to burden them.  Then it was more... um... how do I put this... well... it was strategic once I was a teenager, because I knew how prominent a warrior I would become, and that I would be a general too... you reveal something like that and then enemies know it.  I was also... well, I’ll say it, I was also afraid that I would not be approved of by Assembly as semanakraseye if I revealed it.  There was a precedent, of an anaraseye who wasn’t approved because she had a disease that was going to kill her in her mid-twenties.

“When I was nineteen... I had Jinai Oru, who I’ve already mentioned, do a reading for me... and from that I decided again not to reveal it.  I got him to see for me the results of three different decisions... and the one in which I didn’t tell turned out the best.”
I pushed my glasses up and pinched the bridge of my nose, bent my head and scribbled diligently, eyes down.

“Beyond that... I’m in the habit of secrecy, I guess.  I’ll have to break that now.”
“Further questions, Kafiris?” Krero asked.

“Yes.  Imperator, if this rumor hadn’t leaked now, when were you planning on going public with this information?”

“I... em... wasn’t.”

“One more, Kafiris?” Krero prompted, over the babble of request and the waving of noteboards and pens in the air.

“Yes.  Thank you, You-Who-are-the-Light-the-World-Reads-By. My third question - if you are sufficiently cured in time, will you submit your name as a candidate for the election?”

“No, I’ve already answered that, several times.  The idea here is for Arko to have an Arkan Imperator.” The sound of pens was almost like and insect swarm it was so intense.

Krero pointed in that easy, Yeoli way. “Echera-e, go ahead.”

Semanakrayese...” The Yeoli is looking like a stabbed puppy. “How... you didn’t tell anyone? The Darya could have protected you! You were anaraseye... you didn’t think withholding this from Yeola-e was important?”

“Yes I did think it was important.  That’s why I did it.”

“Further questions, Echera-e?” Krero said.

She looked a bit angry at this point. “So you admit it was to further your own ambitions that you withheld this?”
“No, I absolutely do not admit any such thing.  For one thing, being semanakraseye was never an ambition of mine.  It was the course set out for my life when I was born.  Second... the crucial point... when I was nineteen... it wasn’t about that at all.  When I say, the best result that Jinai Oru foresaw... it was the best for Yeola-e.  In the other two... let’s just say, that was the only one in which we won the war, or which had anything suggesting that we might.”

Krero looked more than a little thunderous under his eyebrows, but his voice was calm and even enough. “Echera-e, one more.”

Chevenga waved at his guard captain. “Let me add to my answer to that one.  I am about to go home to Vae Arahi, to lay this out for Assembly and through them the people of Yeola-e.  I will be judged, I am sure.  However I am judged is acceptable to me.  I have no argument with that.”

“Echera-e, last question... in this set, we might be able to repeat, go ahead.”

“Does Artira know?”

“Yes, she does, I’m sorry, I didn’t list her off at first.  I told her the night of the vote count that reinstated me as Imperator.”
Kafiris was scribbling to my left.  I raised my pen with the rest, Intharas smiling slightly and the others on my other side shooting daggers at me with their eyes.  Who is this child daring to push himself so?  Krero pointed at me.  “You... I don’t know your name, lad, sorry.”
“Minakas Akam, sor.  Thenk yah, sor.”  Chevenga said something quietly to Krero, probably explaining.
“Minakas,” he said.

Thenk yeh. Semanakraseye, yeh said yeh told yer children, who were of an age to un’erstand.  How’re they dealin’ with this both initially an’ now?”

He sighed again. Perhaps only I caught the slightly ironic eyebrow he raised just at me. “At first... no, all through, they’ve dealt with it really well.  Very very brave... But I... I’ll tell you something, remember when I first came back to Arko after I was impeached, to let people know there was a move to reinstate me... and I brought Fifth?  And everyone wondered, why is he bringing this kid into this political situation, there might be danger and so on...?  It was because, when I told him, he said, ‘If that’s so, why were you away...’”  
He choked and coughed, caught by surprise by his own emotion. “I’m sorry... bear with me...”  Surya supported him while he breathed. “He said, ‘If that’s so, why were you away so much?’  I cried then, too, and I apologized to him.  And I swore him an oath that I’d never go away and leave him behind again, so...”  His laughter was full of tears. “I had to bring him.  He held me to it.

“Now... now they’re asking me, does this mean it’s not going to happen?  And I have to tell them...”  He accepted a kerchief from Surya and blew his nose. “Pardon me.  I have to tell them, it’s now the same for me as anyone else.  I... I can’t say for sure yet that it’s not going to happen, but I know it is not certain. So Tawaen... Fifth, I mean, that’s our family name for him, Tawaen... he just told me he’d let me off the oath in that case.  I can go back to Yeola-e to announce it and I don’t have to take him.  They’re both taking great hope from it.”

Krero said. “Second question, Minakas.”

“Nah more questions at present, sor.” That one was more than enough for one question.

Chevenga took control of the presser. “Intharas, you have two more, go ahead.”

“Thank you, Imperator.  Related to the last question:  how did your various paramours react when told?”

That startled a true laugh out of Chevenga. “Paramours?”  One of his eyebrows rose almost to his forelock.  “All right, tell me exactly who you are talking about.  With the understanding that I might tell you that this is too personal a question to ask.”

“Itrean, Trinisas, those girls you proposed to back home, you don’t have to exhaust the list, I hear it’s quite long, but, you know, the big ones.  The ones with responses that’ll bring in the readers, you know how it is.” Perhaps that’s the Silken Gloves he’s been imbibing?

A smothered snigger from somewhere in the crowd.

He laughed again. “Intharas, I thank you for your candor... it is very refreshing... first point, I haven’t told a long list of paramours.  I’ve only told... five.

“Both my girlfriends who I told when I was young... declined to marry me.  I don’t blame them and I hold no resentment.  I could entirely understand not wanting to live a life... waiting, if you know what I mean. Counting down.

“Niku said that... well, we have a saying between us.  ‘Always and forever, as long as we have.’  It’s why...”  He choked and coughed again, before continuing. “It’s why I wanted so badly to marry her.  Kallijas, and this won’t surprise you, was very brave about it.  Skorsas... he was lucky, because I held off telling him... I knew that he would prefer not to know, if given the choice.  So I didn’t tell him until I’d started that course of healing, so he didn’t hear the version that was, you know, certain.”

Krero: “All right, Kafiris again, go ahead.”

“Imperator, would the Imperatrix be available to do an interview with the Mouth about this, for our gentler readers?”

“We’d have to ask her that...”  He whispered to Krero... who signaled someone and they left. “You’ll have an answer back in a bit.”

“Thank you, You Whose Wisdom is the World’s Guidance.” Krero’s telling him he had two more questions stepped on the heels of his next… “Two more… sorry… go ahead…”

“Imperator, will you be returning to Haiu Menshir for treatment, after the election?”

“No my plan is to go back to Yeola-e, to Vae Arahi.  I have a healer who is not a Haian.”  He glanced at Surya but still did not introduce him. “He is Yeoli.”

“Imperator... why a Yeoli healer, instead of a Haian?”

“He was recommended to me by a Haian.  I think... at some level she recognized that his particular gift, which is seeing the aura, would be good for me.”  I waved my pen once more.

“Minakas... um... Akam, go ahead”

“For sech an apparently deep-seated belief, sor, how did the healer  actu’lly persuade yah to take the course o’ healin?’”

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