I was light-headed by the time I finished speaking, seeing black spots in front of my eyes, but I made it down off the platform before I heaved again. There was nothing left in my stomach and all I threw up was bile.
“Have you been drinking, boy?” Kazien’s voice from the platform above me, contempt in every syllable.
“No.” I managed to choke that out and swallowed a cup of water offered me by Joras, and then threw that up as well.
Joras rushed me into bed. He was Mahid enough still to suspect poison, but the healer at the town hall, backed up by the North Gate Haian, believed it was an illness picked up on my speaking tour. I had been exposed to many people and many young children. “Have you had the Red-Spot fever?” The Haian asked me.
“Yes, when I was still first threshold.” I felt dreadful and couldn’t keep water or anything else in my stomach until they offered me ginger laced juice, or enough water, I didn't care so long as I stopped heaving. Assembly man Asimir was upset that I should be ill in his district as if the district were somehow to blame and I had to assure him I was certainly not upset by becoming ill there. It just made me want to rip my hair out, but that wouldn’t help the headache.
After my gut settled down, so I wouldn’t throw up on my flyer’s shoulder, or the countryside below, I had lost a full day but I could ask to be bundled up and double winged on the end of the amoy, before they cooled, to the city, a long day’s flight away. It wasn’t as if I had really gotten attached to the Liren manor but the words ‘home to my own bed’ worked a certain magic. Thank the Ten that North Gate was the last speaking stop on my first circuit.
In the sideways light of the setting sun I could see Kazien’s entourage below us, on the road, their shadows stretching enormous. Our own wing-shadows flickered over his train of horses, and they checked, to look. I closed my eyes, hoping I would feel better by the time we landed.
“All right, Farasha, I’m done… sorry that it took so long.”
Farasha reached to run her fingers through Gannara’s forelock. “You’re getting shaggy around your face. Why don’t I trim that for you before we go?”
Farasha’s family, except for her and her brother, had been out on their caravan circuit and just come back into the city to settle again in their spot on Grass Lane. “They’ll like you, silly. You met them already, just before they left! It’s not like you’re a stranger!”
“Yeha, but that was when I was just a friend… not someone you've made ‘maybe maybe maybe I’ll marry you noises at!’”
She leaned forward and kissed him. “Don’t worry about it.”
“Is my breath good? Any stains on my shirt?”
“You look and smell fine.”
“I’ll grab a bottle of wine to take to dinner.”
Like all Gybir, the dinner was set around a central ‘fire’ even though they had, in the city, replaced burning wood with a fire pot burning an alcohol gel. Wood burning was prohibited inside the city.
Ilias, Farash’s father leaned forward. “Farasha, love, would you please pass the dvocous?” he asked, out loud. *Is this a good idea, dear?* his fingers asked.
“Certainly papa.” Her head jerk answered simply *yes*.
“This lamb is wonderful,” Gannara said, cross-legged, across from Farasha, on the boy’s side.
“Yeolis don’t prepare lambs like this?” Hafeza smiled at Gan even as her hands snapped, *I like him, Ilias.*
“These are different -- the apricots Hafeza,” he said. “Juicier.” *He’s too close to that Arkan boy.*
*Who might be important.* “I bought them in the main market here. I didn’t even know they imported them from Nellas.”
*Father, stop it. He’s good for me.*
“I’d love to show my ashapapa this recipe,” Gannara said. “Ashamama really likes cooking seafood more than inland.” He wiped his bowl clean with the torn piece of flatbread, rolled it and finished it off. He set his bowl down, his eyes catching Farasha’s over the fire bowl, clearly wanting to ask if there was something he was missing.
“I made Haian palmnut cake,” Yalda, Farasha’s youngest sister said. “I like having the big oven.” She giggled.
*We’ll talk about this later, Papa.* Farasha snapped. “It is nice to have a permanent place to come back to. You can build things that don’t need to be broken down and transported.” She smiled across at Gannara. He shrugged and she nodded, certain there were going to be a lot of out loud conversations after this dinner.
*You’re so young, sweetheart.* “My favourite!” Her father said. “Palmnut cake!”
Hafeza smacked him lightly on the arm. “Don’t eat too much or the horses won’t pull you anymore.”
“So, Gannara…” Ilias just smiled at his first wife. He was her second husband, but Khalid and Shada were off on their own teaching circuit and would not be back in the city for moons. “Do you hope to follow your shadowparents? I understand they have a shipping company?”