747 - Now I know what we are truly faced with
11 Akim 4978 | City of Arko
Spirit of Life… tears in my eyes… back to the beginning, that was yesterday. I wrote you before that Chevenga did speak to Skorsas about the money and they can afford to keep me on, and that they decided to go to Vae Arahi, with frequent visits to Arko, if Artira didn’t appoint him to anything... well, that’s what has happened.
She did just as I asked her to…!—telling him “Nothing now but if I need you I’ll ask.” Which sets up perfectly for her to ask in half a year. My employer in his wisest self thanks you, Artira, I said to her in my mind, however little his not-the-wisest self knows it.
We got his note at the end of the work-day, just before the Arkan dinner hour, so I found out after I was done with the last of my patients. Spirit of Life, I thought, can everything actually be going wonderfully, for once? The timing was perfect to let Kilalulana know over dinner... the wonderfulness faded, some, to nervousness.
“So you are going to go?” she said. Just right out… it’s one of the things I love her for. “Or stay here?”
“Well,” I said, “I want to marry you, as I’ve said both times. But… Kil… we’ve never talked about this… if I went with him to Vae Arahi… would you… come?”
She looked at me with her big owlish black eyes a little shinier than normal. “Kaneeja, how much call is there, there, for a Hyerne elite warrior?”
Mamin, can you believe I am so stupid that I never thought of this? You must think I’ve been examining my patients so intently that my head has been inserted into their colons. “Uhhh…” Last I heard, the Yeoli elite only takes Yeolis, and the war-schools in Vae Arahi and Terera only want Yeoli teachers. “I don’t know… maybe you could be a peacekeeper of some sort? That far inland, though, they probably wouldn’t want foreigners doing even that… I guess none. But I make enough healing him that we could both live on it.”
“And I keep your house, like a man?”
Mamin… that was the closest I’d ever seen to anger at me from her. She didn’t suddenly say sorry, either. “No, no,” I said. “You… don’t you have any hobbies?”
“Of course!” she said. “Love, you’ve been partaking of them with me!” Every night except when I have an emergency, we’ve been going to dinner, then a show at one of the theatres or the Mezem or even a park if someone’s reading poetry or the Dyers are doing a drum-and-dance-orgy… in the latter case, she’ll join in. (I just sing. Did you know that all Hyerne warriors are good drummers? It’s because they practice it as part of their war-training.) If it were the same four guards always guarding me, they’d probably get no other assignments.
“Ehh,” I said, “I don’t think… there are nearly as many such things in Terera.”
“I know,” she said. The shininess of her eyes clearly became wetness. “Kaneeja, I love you.”
“I love you, too.” I said that, of course I said that, that’s what you have to say right there. But the choice I was forbidding my mind to think I’d have to make… well, I... couldn’t forbid my mind to think that any more. I’m crying harder as I write this, Mamin! I so wish I could throw myself into your arms!
Chevenga or her.
(I already know what he would say to that, because he did say it, right out. “If you have to choose between her and me, it’s obvious which way you should go.” Because his life does not matter so much. But Mamin, it does to me!
Besides I remember him saying, another time, You know if you quit on me, I will die younger than if you don’t.)
“Kilalulana,” I said finally, “I know I have asked this too many times already… but will you give me time to think about it… now I know what we are truly faced with? And…” I did not know how to ask this, Mamin. It seemed too much of an imposition.
“I should think about it, too,” she said. As if she’d read the words out of my mind. You see why I love her so much, Mamin? My lachrymation is so copious I can’t see my own writing, bear with me! “Yes, you’re right, let’s give ourselves time. At least… what… an eight-day?”
I agreed to that, then we ate and sold the tickets to the show we were going to see to some unsavoury character near the theatre door (she always does that sort of thing as I’d get “robbed of my nasal hairs,” as she puts it, whereas she looms over them until she gets a good price). Then we went to her suite and had desperate sex for three aer or so, on and off, mixed with tears. We didn’t want to let go of each other and I ended up falling asleep with my head on her shoulder.
I woke up at cocklight and remembered immediately that I hadn’t done Chevenga’s night-time check and remedies and massage…! I’ve never done that before, never forgotten it! I felt so terrible… I jumped right out of her arms, threw on my robe, gave her a fast kiss and ran all the way to the Imperial section. How was I going to explain—I’d been distracted with sex? What kind of excuse is that? I guess I’ve made my decision, I kept thinking as I ran, gasping for air, because now he’ll fire me for sure. “Chevenga, Chevenga, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m here!” I yelled as I ran in. It was a little past the time he’d normally wake up.
They were all gathered around his bed. “Get lost, lazy good-for-nothing healer,” I was braced to hear them say. Instead, it was, “Kaninjer! Check him, check him!” O Spirit of Life… I’d missed his night check and now there was something wrong, this was a nightmare, I so wanted to wake up. I almost didn’t have to take his wrist, Mamin. Just one look at his face told me. A person’s face smoothes so much… all the character goes out of it, like wax. The scars don’t seem real, as if they were on a baby, who could never have got them. He was in ketanin. Just about then, Alchaen came in, and started to try to call him up out of it.
I almost did not know I was saying it, “This is all my doing, this is all my fault,” until Kallijas put his big hand on my shoulder firmly, and said, “Kaninjer. He didn’t go like this because you forgot to check him once.” Skorsas added, “I massaged him and he took the medicines. This was coming.” I took a deep breath, quit my childish self-recrimination and said “Yes. It was.”
I knew from his pulses, no one would be able to call him up out of it. Because so much of it was exhaustion. What he needed was pure bed rest. His body was just claiming it, same as Chinisinal, but even more so, not even letting him talk to anyone. But part of it was emotional, I couldn’t deny. Spirit of Life, is it that Artira didn’t give him a position? Mamin… I know him well enough that I was certain. If she had, this wouldn’t be happening. It is all my doing.
I wanted to fling myself down and smash my head against the gold-veined marble floor. I wanted to scream and cry like a child. But a healer doesn’t do that while someone is lying in severe condition in front of his family. So I just sat there like wood, condemning myself silently, until I remembered, he still would have been exhausted. I think it would have been a different kind of collapse, probably slower and with no loss of consciousness (though I know ketanin isn’t really that… you know what I mean), but still a collapse.
“What he needs is pure bed rest,” I said. “For a long time.”
“We should we tell the wingers to stop preparations,” Skorsas said. “Sish, run—”
“No, wait,” said Niku. “Not here. He needs to be away from here. From this Palace. We can fly him in a wounded harness.”
“I’m not sure why, but my heart agrees he needs to be away from here,” Kallijas said.
“He needs to be away from prying fikken eyes until he’s out of it,” Skorsas half-hissed. “Think of how the writers would pile on this.”
“There are prying eyes in Vae Arahi.” Kall has been there longer than any of the rest of us. “Unless we found some remote place…”
“With him there are prying eyes everywhere!” Niku’s voice was tight like a cord pulled near to breaking. From a distance down a corridor, I realized, I was hearing Vriah screaming. “I was thinking Niah-lur-ana, but it’s just the same there.” She stroked his hair, and it looked like stroking a statue with realistic hair, so it must have felt like that. “Mi omores… why?” His brown eyes stared upwards unmoving as glass, except for blinks that had too long between them. From down the corridor I heard the child’s voice, high as a bird: “Aba! Nooo! Don’t die!” Niku took in a hissing breath.
“A patient can be sequestered well, and his needs met better than anywhere else, on Haiu Menshir,” I said. “Can we take him there?”
“Yes. Yes.” They all agreed to it. “Sish,” she snapped, “go tell the flyers, change of destination, alter the preparations as they must.”
“We’ll send all the crated items by ship to Vae Arahi as we were going to,” said Skorsas. “Though someone has to go with… Sish! You’re old enough.” She a-e kras’d back over her shoulder. “Personal things for the trip are already separated out, and it’s a shorter trip,” he said. I said, “he should be wrapped thickly; people in ketanin are more susceptible to cold.” In a moment they had it all planned.
Except for one thing. I had to let Kilalulana know I was leaving for Haiu Menshir in an aer.