We’re sitting on a balcony where we’ll be able to see any wings coming into the city from the North West and I’m writing a letter as my exercise in penmanship this morning. Every time I get to the end of a sentence I look up to see if there’s a bunch of wings coming in.
Ailadas and Grandfather are sitting and helping me write my letter to you, even though you’ll be home today. They say it’s good practice. I think they like each other and it turns out that Grandfather watched Ailadas play faibalitz when he was younger.
They are sitting and drinking kaf and talking about a lot of faib guys who were stars years and years and years ago. Not like today. Not like the new picked recruits for the city team. There’s a boy from the mountains who they say used to hurl rocks to make his fingers stronger and he was picked first draft round. Eforon Kyonas. Nuninibas says he’s going to be lame. He’s cheering for the Anoseth team this year. His favourite new player is a fellow by the name of Daril Etzer.
Grandfather says this is perhaps something that you might not be interested in right now, running for being Imperator. He says you will be a little ‘pre… occu… pied.’ I’m not worried. I mean people in Arko are going to take one look at you and Uncle Kallijas and then look at the other guys, Stupid. Stupider. And Party Man… and say ‘I know who's the best.”
Ailadas says that is perhaps not ‘politic’ to write down and certainly not ‘polite’ either. So I’ll just say I think you and Uncle Kall are the best. I know after you win I’m going to have to not pay so much attention to stuff like faib or the speed races on Fast Street, or the house-donkey steeplechase somebody is putting together for Jitzmithra this year.
The garden is sort of back in order with the grass maze only ankle high. The lily ponds and fish ponds are fixed and all the dirt got washed away and the folly looks like it is sitting on top of a huge glass gate now. The Liren’s old baths were easier to fix than the architect thought. Mostly cleaning the old plumbing and Nuni and I got in trouble for trying to help the workmen fix them too much.
He knocked over the plaster. I only stepped in the paint. But that was to keep Roar from drinking it and Jia got all over plaster dust and we had to go give everybody a cascade and didn’t think it was a problem to use the indoor one…I’m sorry but I had to get Jia clean before he got covered in crusty bits stuck to his skin all over. Ailadas said he wouldn’t have hardened into a statue but I wanted to be sure.
Nuni’s mama said it was all right… it was his drain to plug up if he wanted to. But Ky and Ailadas were disappointed in me. He and I cleaned up most of the mess, hone…” I looked up a lot of times while I was writing all of this and jumped up, my pen made a splotch on my letter.
“Hey! Hey lookit! It’s Minis… that’s the wing he’s using… his own wing is pretty much finished but he said it was safer…”
“Ilesias. Calm, please. Order.” Grandfather had a really effective voice to call me to order.
Ailadas set his cup down. “Let us go, Ilesias. You and I will skate and your Grandfather will ride an express chair. We’ll meet them on the Marble Palace roof.”
Kyriala sat, going down her checklist for the party. The garden was just being dressed for the party, with phoenix lanterns being hung. Personally she thought the phoenix theme, though appropriate, was very bright, the blue alcohol flames lighting through and between brass feathers.
“Ky! I have a lovely idea for you,” Skala peeked into the office. “You said you wanted to open the baths so people could see them and use them for the party – the shameless foreigners would swim no matter what? Look!”
She shook out plain linen outfits, with gloves, one was a long shift the other with trousers. “Arkan swimming costume! Everyone decently covered.”
Kyriala had to smile. “Perfect! I have a plain shift I can use that fits me. You’re a genius, woman!”
“So you can announce it.”
“I don’t think Minis will be up to swimming but he’ll want to see the baths. He’s still not entirely recovered from his illness. I’ll set him up in the baths with the door open and people will be able to come to him.”
“Oh we’ll be able to set up Aztana nearby if he needs a secretary. The baths will be wide open through the hill so her paper won’t curl. The butler just said that the caterers are here and that all the flowers are taken care of.”
Ky rose. “Lovely. I shall come and speak to everyone. Would you do me the favour and finish going through this last minute guest list? A whole box of calling cards responding to my invitations just arrived.”
The Liren household buzzed with the number of people doing party preparations. Antras was helping Bilabas and my servants had joined forces with the Liren’s below stairs to make sure everything went smoothly.
But Antras had insisted I nap or try to this afternoon since it was going to be such a late night… and I had several speaking engagements tomorrow. Most of what I was doing was talking.
Ili blasted in around then and asked after my health said ‘Oops, I didn’t mean to wake you…” grabbed about eight things he needed out of his room, tucked Jia and the white cat in with me before being gone again before I could wake up all the way.
JiaKlem cheeped and curled all eight of his arms up under himself next to the pillow and the white cat insisted on pressing his nose against my chin either threatening to bite me or drool on me but he purred so I let him stay too.
I could smell an amazing feast being cooked and that reminded me I need to check with Skorsas, what to do with the last of my ‘winning an empire’ treasury. Perhaps more correct would be ‘wining’ an Empire? How much wine... would it take... to wine a whole empire...one glass per person... no that was too stingy, two... times eleven million… then I needed to figure out how many of that eleven million were children and not voters… divided by the number of glasses per flask gave me how many flasks, times... I should ask Ienas from the Fig… he’d have a better idea. Can’t be plonk… My brain was doing odd things. I cannot just spend it, though I suppose it doesn’t matter if I lose. But if I win… I think I fell asleep around then thinking that would be the foundation of the Aan personal fortune… Ili’s legacy really.
The Assembly was arguing about the keeping of the Imperator whether it should be the Empire who pays for him, or whether he should be paid and allowed to keep accounts of his own. Personally I preferred the more Yeoli style of the Imperator being supported by the Empire.
Gannara and Farasha peeked in and I pretended to still be napping… or perhaps I was half asleep. I’d need my guts if I were to have anything to eat at all tonight at the rally party. I must have been half asleep because I heard them whispering and giggling as they helped each other into their formal clothes. Oh. They’d gone to get clean and I missed it. My head must have drifted off into sleep because they were coming back, giggling about a plugged drain. Weird.
I stirred and sat up and padded out to the suite’s garderobe. Gan was wearing an Asinanai kilt and a fine silk version of his marya… the Arkan version of the Yeoli garment, much lighter than the wool they’d originally been made of. He was not only growing taller than Chevenga but his chin was a completely different shape now. He’d been growing his hair long for two years and it was just brushing the back hem of his marya and Farasha was un-knotting a snarl for him again.
She was wearing a silk on silk embroidered shirt and vest and short trousers, leaving her calves and feet bare. She had amazingly beautiful feet and strong calves. I stopped myself right there. Perhaps later she’d let me fantasize about her legs.
“Morning, sleepyhead. The cascade is free. Antras laid out a nice outfit for you. Party starts in two beads. You might be able to help Kyriala, she’s flying around doing ten things at once and Kallijas just arrived. He looks magnificent.”
I yawned and belched a little. My stomach and my guts felt better. “I’ll take more remedies and try to look magnificent too, instead of ill.”
“Just have fun, heart’sbrother. Just have fun.”
“Right. What’s this about a clogged drain? Or did I dream that?” I asked as I opened the cascade door and Farasha started laughing.