I didn’t even see Kall or Chevenga at the morning breakfast table, the same wonderful chaos that it had been for dinner, and thought it must be some combination of them wanting time together, or Chevenga needing to do preparations and Kallijas going over what he was going to say for the ceremony.
It was all very quiet that Kallijas was going to be recounting Chevenga’s career as a warrior. It made sense though because of his position as one of the best warriors next to his alesinas. Other people knew, but Chevenga didn’t. The old warmaster, Azaila, had written to Kall to ask him if he would and Kall, being the courageous man he was, agreed to do the hardest thing in the world for him. Talk.
And talk to thousands of people. Thousands of Yeolis. He’d not shown me the grubby sheet of paper he was carrying to remind himself of all of Chevenga’s exploits, mostly the ones before the great duel. And the falling in love over the sword. And all the rest of it. He was nervous but I was certain he’d do well, since he would do his best for Chevenga and the ceremony.
We went down into Terera and I stood in the crowd with everyone else before the dais. It was a crisp fall day to Yeolis and I was wrapped in a warm cloak because I was just freezing. I could see the scriveners scribbling about it and I had no doubt that half of Arko would be upset that I didn’t mind that I was just standing with everyone equal to equal. The other half, of course, would mind that I did it at all.
I was wondering what Kall would do for the ‘not putting his feet on the ground’ thing, since carrying chairs set off such bad associations in Yeola-e from when they were half conquered and hid my smile behind my hand when I saw him in the middle of the crowd of dignitaries. He got off his horse onto chopines shoes, a good hand-span off the cobbles of Terera square. As tall as he was that put him a good head-and a half over everyone around him and even if he wasn’t wearing anything terribly bright or fancy or stand-outish he was pretty obvious. Of course the Imperial armour and sword were gilded but they were very plain to modern eyes.
How does someone manage to slouch and stand tall all at the same time?
He was visibly relieved when he was allowed to slide his feet out of the strap-on platforms and step onto the dais steps. I had to smile, the one bright, fire blond, straight-haired head in the sea of Yeola-e brown and black and perhaps dark blond if one were generous, more like light brown, and only the occasional bright blond head of curls. He was almost monkishly plain in his dress, the brightest and only piece of jewelry on him the Imperial seals winking in the sun, in this cool mountain air.
I wore a greenish blue shirt with a pair of dark trousers and dark gloves. My jewelry was my chain necklace of silver charms, metal all and very outré in Yeola-e. Joras wore his, now usual, dark red. It seemed a good compromise over the excessive black of my father’s Mahid and the white shirt of his fessas self.
The dais was set up on the side opposite the lake, with the choir split on either side of it. Also on the ground. Very strange to see to Arkan eyes. Any choral work was seen as closer to Selestialis so the choral group would most often be discretely raised… even on a second story balcony behind the celebrants. Raised high and out of the way. This way, they were almost part of the crowd. Did they expect the crowd to join in?
I could not see the Yeoli security but that was good. Any truly excellent security group wouldn’t be noticed at all unless something went very very badly wrong. And Krero had had a lot of experience guarding Chevenga in a lot of strange situations.
There were a number of people on the dais with Chevenga, who was armoured in his wing-silk set; all martial and shining. Though he wore a cloak, it was not an enormous presentation cloak. Arko would have wanted a magnificent flowing secondary cloak over the whole thing for effect. Parade armour of course, not fighting armour. A huge cloak on the field would just get you easily killed for little effect. Could anyone not see that a cloak flowing down to horse’s hooves would just snap someone’s neck if a hoof went wrong?