Wednesday, January 12, 2011

415 - Maybe it's This Way

There was a tap at the door right around the time Grandfather gave me his hand to help me sitting up.  It was good that I had someone in the Marble Palace.  If he hadn’t been there I would have felt very bereft.  A very snide part of me, in the back of my head, said that the Gods were all very well but kind of insubstantial for every day support.
“S… ser?”  An underservant, obviously.  The senior Marble Palace servants would never stammer, even faced with the Imperial Pharmacist, the Lightning Snake in White, himself.  “M… Minis Aan is still here ser?  I have a message for him, ser.”
“He is.  Come and give it to him.”  Grandfather let the messenger in and it was one of my Dyer messengers, not an underservant at all, and he came in straight to me.
“Ser it is urgent.  Your alesinas, Gannara said ‘come right now, Ili and Nuni are missing.”
In the dark, in the tiny puddles of light given off by a child’s marbles, two little boys stood and conferred. “It was this way… wasn’t it?”  “No, I think it was that way.” “We just came around that way.  We’ve been around three times.” “No we haven’t.  This is different.” “No… you can see… Flapper came and sat there last time you can see the marks he made.” “Oh. Yeah.” “My mama is going to kill me.” “Minis is going to beat my behind red and blue… he said so…” “He did?” “Yeah… when I gots lost in Hyerne.” “You got lost in Hyerne? You’re pulling my kilt.””Let’s go this way.” “Ok. But we already tried that.”
A sigh and sniffled, stifled tears.  “This isn’t an adventure anymore, Ili.”
“Sure it is.  It’s just us in deep shen, not somebody else.  When Minis finds me it’ll be a funny story.  I know.  When he finds us.”
“Maybe we’re lost here forever?”
“Nah.  My big brother won’t quit.  He says that’s one good thing about Mahid.  They don’t.  Quit I mean.”
“Isn’t that just because they’re not allowed to quit?”
“No.  It’s ‘cause they’re Mahid and are like that.”
“Oh. Um.”
“We were just here.” “Yeha. Maybe we should try that way?” “Sure. It all looks the same.”
“Yeha. Icky, cold and I’ll bet there’s poop in that water down there.”
“Yeah. Smells like it.”
“I’m tired, Nuni.”
“Yeah. Next time we find a dry stone let’s sit for a bit, okay?”
I had planned to take a nice leisurely chair ride home after being truth drugged.  As it was I sweated the last of it out of me, tearing across the city as fast as I could skate.  Even with my guards struggling to keep up to me, it was faster than the fastest express chair. 
My skates rumbled over smoothed cobbles.  I’d have to pick another route tomorrow.  The washing of this street tonight would make the street too slick.  It was a little trick I’d learned as a messenger.  The pools of lanternlight made unofficial goals for me to conquer I counted under my breath. There were only ten more, eight more, two more…
Not that speed was necessary. I would only be one more body in the hunt.  Gannara had also already contacted the Sereniteers and they would likely be there.  Has someone snatched him? Did I not leave Joras with Ili and someone decided that 14.8 should apply to ANY Aan? Gan didn’t say anything about a note so he was not kidnapped. This… is so much like the dock in Hyrene. But this time no one is going to pat me on the head and force me to wear a sack on my head. If someone has taken him hostage for any weird reason… fik being good, fik being saintly.  I’ll kill him.  Anyone touches a hair on my brother’s head I’ll fik him up with everything that Ice Eyes taught me and THEN kill him.
The Diamond on the Earthsphere was lit up like daylight, with torches and alcohol torches and reflecting mirrors shining those lights into every corner of the estate. My guard and I came tearing out of the more dimly lit, lantern-lit city into a crowd of searchers.
It wasn’t just for Ili, I knew, it was for the Master of the House too so I tried to tell myself that, but it lifted my heart.  Surely with so many looking they would be found soon?
“Gannara! Farasha!”  They were both there. I didn’t bother to remove my skates I hopped the pavement curb just over, dug the wheels in the grass to fling my arms around him… around them… “Is he found yet?  Are they found?”
“No… no, Minis.  Take a breath.  The Sereniteer there…” he waved a hand over at… a woman Sereniteer.  She was organizing the searchers who were coming back to report where they had searched and she was marking off parts of the manor systematically. There was something vaguely familiar about her but I couldn’t think of where I’d seen her before.  Probably while I was a Dyer.
I had to slow down to untie my skates and Farasha helped me when my hands started shaking.  “Thank you, Fara.”
“We’ll find them, Minis.  Gian and some of my people are here to help too.”
“Oh, thank you.”  How could two small boys just vanish from an enclosed garden?
The grass maze had been mowed to ensure they were not in there. The fish-ponds had been dragged, the lilies lying broken, like so many limp bodies on the raised edge of the pools. “The house has been searched from top to bottom but the last place they were seen was in the garden.”  That was the Sereniteer.
“Thank you, Sereniteer ---“
“—Oonilis, fessas.”
“Sereniteer Oonilas.  Has anyone checked the trees?  My little brother is a climber… and he does like small spaces –“
“Thank you, Serin.”  She was completely no nonsense.  “Why don’t you check and see if we have somehow missed something on my map here.  You’ve just rented this wing?”
“Yes, Sereniteer.”  Kyriala settled onto the bench beside me.  “I know the house.  Let me help.”
“Thank you Ky.” I was still somewhat wobbly… I could feel tears start and bit my lip and held my breath.  Blood-fire can burn almost anything out of you but it can’t be maintained long, things go flat and cold and despairing. The fire… the Sun… in the blood sets.

Ili where are you this time?  You never left the house.  No guards saw you leave by door or gate.  Where did the two of you vanish to?

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