761 - Havoc of the heart
Now I was thankful for Perahin making me walk. The moment he’d bandaged the needle-hole from the vein-tube, I jumped up, almost threw open the door, remembered they were mostly Arkans, threw on the shirt and kilt Skorsas had lain neatly folded on a shelf, threw open the door and took all the hugs. “At ease, we’re going elsewhere, to me, enact, em… Perahin, lead on.” I didn’t know the way to the House of Integrity from University Hospital, or even from this room to the entrance of University Hospital.
Kall stared at me, his face lighting. “You swo… Yes, ser. I mean, I’ll go get the others.”
“Chivinga… it’s been a long time since you walked any distance,” Perahin said. “You might not be able to make it all the way… I was going to have a litter brought.”
“We’ll see how far I get,” I said, resolving right then to do the full distance. “If I fall down, one of these sword-bucks can throw me over his shoulder. Let’s go!” I suddenly wanted to be in the sun, under the sky, seeing trees, feeling fresh air. My mother and my loves were soon with me, all refraining from hugging me in joy for the sake of appearances.
As we went out, one of the Yeoli guards headed off down the street at a run. As he caught us up again, I felt what he was carrying, in a long linen-wrapped package well-disguised as something else: Chirel.
It’s no longer mine... Because neither Artira or Handaotha had wristlets and Tawaen was far too young, it should be Sishana’s. I had forgotten to hand it off to her in Arko. “Under the bed,” Kunarda whispered to me, smirking. Because it went eight in ten charcoal in Yeola-e, they’re thinking it should still be mine. It could be formalized later.
As we came onto the House of Integrity grounds—so familiar, and yet made strange for all that had happened since—I had a flash of fear, from back then. The Arkans come after me, I have to use it and we’re caught with weapons on Haiu Menshir… Then I was laughing. I need worry about nothing.
I need to write again, to settle my mind. Journaling is a rare thing for me but now that I am here, and what I’m doing is so difficult and confusing and frustrating, I am finding I have to do it much more.
No one is quite so impolite as to come out and say it, but I know what they would if they could. “He had to be in the House of Integrity once before, and now is there again; he allowed the sack, then jumped out of a window afterwards; he assaulted a Yeoli officer just for a comment; he accepted and even welcomed the worship of Arkans; he grew so despotic as Imperator that people in his staff are still so terrified of him they’ll swear everything was fine. How can you not accept that your brother is mad?”
I know why they belabour it, when you’d think it wouldn’t matter now that he’s been impeached. They’re worried I’m going to appoint him to some prominent position after the half year I promised Kaninjer, for the sake of his health. They feel he gave too much power into the hands of Arkans too fast, faster than they can learn how to use it well, when they are so unaccustomed to it. “He paid for that personally,” Inatalla said to me once, “but the rest of us shouldn’t have to, by his choice. The rest of us including Arko as well.”
What I noticed when we were doing the transition is just how incredibly accustomed to snapping commands he’s become, how he doesn’t even blink at Arkans lying down on floors before him, and how brittle he is. He didn’t do it much to me, but I saw him snap nastily at other people for making little mistakes or annoying him somehow more than once, and if he apologized to them afterwards, I didn’t see it. His excuse was always the same: “I’m working too hard, I know, Kaninjer tells me. But I have to.”
I don’t think it’s just that. I don’t think it’s just the corrupting influence of such great power, either. (I’m looking for ways to prevent that from happening to me; him having been impeached helps with that, but I’ve also set myself up to meet regularly with the Yeolis who live here and listen to them as he never did. He acted as if he was the only Yeoli in the world who knew what to do in Arko—typical right from when he came out of the womb, of course—so that only he could write the constitution and only he knew how to change the laws and so forth. But he never was. There are plenty here with good ideas. I’m going to be more of a yeolil kra Imperator, accepting counsel from my own.)
I think it’s from having been tortured in Arko. His healing was never completed, by his own choice; first it was to allow him to return home as soon as possible, so he didn’t lose more of that fighting season… always in such a desperate hurry, my brother... no, listen to me, I am being unfair, when Yeolis were suffering under the Arkan yoke, he was right to be in a desperate hurry. But that meant deferring finishing the healing, and then it was because he was too busy. Admittedly I have not spent much time with him since it happened, but even so I know he is not the same person. I think he was left mentally weakened by it, making him more susceptible to other strains, such as overwork and power-corruption.
Something Faraiko, I think, pointed out to me: Chevenga doesn’t have any of his closest childhood friends any more. I hadn’t thought of it, but it’s true. He drove Nyera away somehow in our teens, Mana sacrificed his life for him in the Mezem, Sachara was killed taking the Marble Palace, and finally Krero has fled back home, broken. I know from people in Vae Arahi that he now speaks to no one, except the winesellers he has delivering flasks to his door.
Rao Irae told me more about it. “He made the mistake of getting himself drawn into a talk with Chevenga—the man who threw him out of the position he considered a sacred calling, for trying to serve that calling—and next thing we knew, he’d struck his name off the impeachment initiative. He made the mistake of talking to him again—we told him it was a bad idea—and after that talk, Krero marched right back to his house here, ransacked it and went back to Vae Arahi, where he’s turned into a recluse. It’s not Cheng’s fault, he doesn’t mean to wreak havoc of the heart in people. It’s the madness.”
How many times did I scold my heart quiet, telling myself that, when we were kids? “He does not intend to hurt me so; it’s just the way he is.” Chevenga has walked like fire across the Earthsphere almost from the day he came out of the stream, not even noticing the burn-marks he leaves.
At least he now is where he needs most to be. Maybe now that he truly does have time, he’ll complete the healing. Though I’ve heard it said that people who have been tortured can never be the same, can never see the world as they did before… time will tell. He has done the impossible before.
I turn all these things over in my mind and I am thinking, I have to accept it for what it is, sick and sad though that makes me. And I have to be very clear on what I understand, in the event he comes back to Arko angling for a powerful appointment... of course he will, I’m a fool if don’t expect it.
None of this has anything to do with how much I love him; he will always be my brother. But... well, as he always said himself: semana kra. Or, sitae desan.