Sunday, October 30, 2011

573 - We Thought We'd Surprise You

It was cold enough to make my teeth ache as we descended to Vae Arahi. The snow completely whitened the mountainside, except for the stark, wet grey and black and white cliffs and some of the erratic stones.  The lake was white, was it frozen over?  There were dark patches broken all around the mystic’s island where Chevenga was… or perhaps had been?  Was he still there?

The snow all around the village was marked up and flattened… especially over the field given to Diyadesai’s crazy students and researchers.  I could see the dark fuzz of crowd already gathering around the Assembly Palace.

Laisa was whooping in a most improper way, but Kyriala was answering her.  Kallijas… was not, but I drew a lungful of icy air into my lungs and ululated at them as we spiraled down to land on the Hearthstone Independent roof.

I saw Tawaen and Makaina waving as we circled down.  They were all in on the secret of us arriving for the referendum announcement, except for Chevenga.

"Hi, Kall!  Minis!  You made it in time!  Great!"

Once down we unharnessed and the Hearthstone security helped pack up our wings.  "Your rooms are ready," Makaina said.  "Same as last time."

"I'm keeping a watch for dad," he said.  "I'm keeping an eye on the referendum wingers."  They were coming in in waves on the wind, their wings bright with the Yeola-e colours. Skorsas sent his hellos. "The babies are being born -- they're all in the water room.”

Kallijas was gone so quickly I swear the air fell into the space he left behind himelf.  "You're lucky," Tawaen said.  "Dad was on the island till today, and the flyers had to do some mad flying work to get him.  They're all crazy.  I want to try it."

"Really? Something crazy that lets someone get picked up by a flyer?  I want to try it too."

"It's not a necessary risk," Kyriala said.  "Not like relaying."

Laisa laughed.  "But I want to try new flying things."

"Of course you want to," I said.  These two women are mad risk takers.  I just don't understand them a lot of time.

I offered my elbows to both of them.  “Serinae, I am at your disposal for escort.” They'd taken their flying goggles off, slung around both their necks and I could tell they were smiling, the way their eyes crinkled over the soft leather face masks still up against the cold.

They both wanted to change out of flying leathers into their ‘visiting’ court clothes and I did too, so we went down to the rooms they’d given us and Tawaen and Makaina walked us down.  

I felt frozen and in the Hearthstone the water was always lovely and warm no matter how icy it was outside and was marvellous on my face.  Even in the high-sky gloves my hands had gotten stiff from cold.

All my robes were Skorsas-designed so could be rolled and crammed into a flying pack and be shaken out without a crease out of place.

Thankfully my dressing was simplified because of us needing to carry everything on the wing. I slipped into my silks, the long red and gold robe for this freezing country.  I loved being here, though. I'd always felt very welcome.

"Minis!!!" Tawaen knocked and came in just as I was adjusting my collar.  His smile was bright.  Everything seemed to be going well. "My new sibs aren't quite born yet... how are you doing?"

"All ready to surprise your father, once he's not in the middle of becoming more of a father.  He's outside the water room?"

"No, no, he's in with Niku.  She'll be holding on to him."  I blinked and realized that of course he'd be in with the women.  Yeolis and Niahs didn't set the men outside.

“If there’s anything you all need just let me know.”

“Sure, Tawaen.  I don't need any help, thanks. When is the final count for the referendum?”

“Later today is the last,” he said.  "I'm just checking again for Dad."

"We'll head down to Assembly Palace, I don't need to drag you away from the birth."

"It'll probably be just you walking down.  Ky and Laisa went in to the birthing and they don't look like they want to leave."

"Oh.  Well.  Um... of course. Thanks for letting me know."  Ky and Laisa?  Well, birthing is women's business...

"Not a problem, Minis.  I'll see you down there tonight.  I want to see dad's face when he sees you here too."

I had to laugh.  "Thanks, Tawaen."

With Kallijas and Laisa and Kyriala in with Chevenga and Niku I headed down to the Assembly Palace, with my security.  I walked down the mountain along the roughened stone path, stopping to take in the view and letting my breath catch up with me, my heart pounding in our chest.

I and my security joined the crowd, the party, waiting for the final referendum votes brought in by wing.  To be honest if Chevenga thinks Yeolis wouldn't want him after the mental health assessments and things that Surya took him through...  Well, he doubts his own strength sometimes.

I was reminded of election night in Arko. But here, with light snow falling, the bonfires outside were very welcome and someone had swept the square clear. The atmosphere was charged as before thunderstorm and the crowd grew as we waited. 

Someone cheered and pointed out two banners unfurling, flying from the top of the Hearthstone Independent.  "A boy and a girl both!" Someone said.  "Congratulations, Chevenga!” Someone else smirked and said “The two of them could repopulate half of Yeola-e by themselves!” His husband smacked him on the shoulder for being rude. 

Then from the Hearthstone path there was a flurry of activity.  The sleigh that came down was loaded with the family including Niku, bundled in some kind of spotted furs, in it. Chevenga had his arm around her.  They both had a well-wrapped bundle on both their laps.  He had a head-splitting wide grin on his face.  She was smiling but looked tired.

I made my way to where they and Ky and Laisa and Kall and everyone were arriving.  Niku might have looked very tired but she had the same kind of peaceful glow on her that my mother had had after giving birth to my little sister.

“Ch’venga!!!”  I threw my arms wide.  “I'm here too!  We thought we'd surprise you!”

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