766 - I don’t know the etiquette here
I began to know it was my choice, how long I stayed here. It was far enough into winter now that Vae Arahi would be well-snowed and the passes closing. One cannot lie on a Haian beach, feeling its strong sun on one’s skin, and not think Maybe, for healing purposes, I need to stay here another four moons. I had no pressing business, or any business, elsewhere.
Skorsas did, however; he’d left actually before I’d agreed to Kaninjer’s half-year prescription, saying it was a business matter that required his presence. He had, by the way, more or less insisted I put the managing of these funds I’d been given into his hands, after I said something about giving it all to good works in Yeola-e and Arko. “If those people meant it to go to those good works, they’d have donated it to those good works,” he said, staring me in the eyes. “They meant it to go to you. Agree you’ll let me administer it before you get any more such foolish notions.”
“When was it ever not so?” I said, and that was that; I was relegated to merely reading the letters people had sent. I’d been unable to bear it often, or long, before; now I found I could drink in their words for beads.
Perahin untied the ribbon the day before hyerasora started, but on Kaninjer’s urging, Niku and I and the kids stayed another moon on Haiu Menshir, while Kallijas went to Arko to see most of the guard home and to do some other business. The moon turned into two moons; the Elders claimed me as guest for a while, and I got to tour the University Hospital and the University through and through, learning all about how Haian healers are raised and educated, and visit all the islands. We stayed with Kaninjer’s family for a while, as well as Piatsri and Tisimayir and their two kids, and some of the healers who’d been seized for healing me and saved first by First Amitzas and then by Megan and Ikal.
Then Niku suggested we visit Ibresi for an extended time, as I’d never had time to do before. And be with your family? I wanted to say, then firmly told myself, they are family. What they needed was love, so what I set myself to do was bring them a bounty of it.
When we got to the Haiuroru wing-ground, a Yeoli woman dressed in the sharp-lined, often grey, half-Yeoli-half-Arkan style that people around the edges of politics all now wore in Arko came up to me at a run. “Chevenga! Ayasa Kirena, Pages of Arko, may I speak with you?”
“Truly?” I said, as I stepped into my harness, with Roshten in his sling. He was giggling; he’d taken to flying as much as Vriah had. “Intharas has hired a female Yeoli writer now? Congratulations for landing that.” Her face flashed into a smile. “How did you know I’d be here now?”
“I didn’t,” she said. “I’ve, em… been stationed here… Shemeya’s at the harbour.”
“You mean Inth’s had you surround me, like a besieging army, this whole time?” She signed chalk, and I belly-laughed. She was young, but hardened enough not to take it as mocking, or hide it if she did. I almost wished we had decided to sail, so I could give Shemeya a piece of my mind for his false pretenses the night Kunarda had publicly confessed killing Farnias. But maybe it was just as well. “We may speak for a bit, so long as you ask me nothing about politics. I have no place in that now.”
“How are you?”
“Fine, thanks, how are you?”
“All right, maybe I should start with, how were you, so that you had to come here.” Niku hooked me and Roshten on, and I could feel her bristling, and her glare at Ayasa like heat from a smithy-fire.
“Mostly overtired,” I said. “I rested and I am truly fine now. I know you will ask me what I intend to do, so I will say that beyond keeping house for my family and taking a greater hand in raising our children, I want to write about the Arkan war, and teach warcraft, and do much more flying practice, and possibly other things. I have no position lined up; if anyone wants me for one they have not yet let me know. I will not take one for a half-year anyway.” Let it sound like my choice, not healer’s orders. “That’s all I have time to say, Ayasa; thank you for asking and may you write the story well. Enshachik!” I did not answer anything else she asked, about whether I’d come here for healing and had I tried to kill myself or at least thought about it, and we ran off the hill-ridge and were soon rising over the vastly-blue Miyatara.
On Ibresi they feasted us again, and more people than I could count told me, even if they had to gesture it, “You will always be Vaimoy Sala.” Another thing that was mine. They also often still called me “Hakan.” All the respect I won from the allies is mine, not the semanakraseye’s, because I earned it fair and square.
With the family there was one blessing: Rojhai was off on a trading voyage, though if I stayed a moon as planned he’d be back for the last few days. Niku’s mother was her usual poison-thorny self, but heaping love on her eased it, as if finally, for once, she was receiving her due. Or drinking in sustenance she’d somehow never had.
A wheeled chair does little good on an island made of sand, so she must be carried everywhere by younger kin. Much of the time, I was her horse. I toured and visited all over the archipelago with her on my back, using my ears like reins to turn my head where she wanted, making mock propositions and announcing wherever we went with a pat on my head, “Here is my Chevenga!” or “Behold my son-in-law who conquered Arko!” It wasn’t hardship, really; she didn’t weigh that much and was full of stories both funny and instructional. To fly, she needed only a strong-bodied person to heave her from a height, so I did that for her as well, when I was not flying myself. When he came back, Rojhai was struck happy by copious love too, and became much more civil to Niku than usual.
The planned moon again turned into two. You can never do too much flying training, especially sky acrobatics, with the world’s best instructors, and of course in the back of my mind, while I soared in this balmy winter heat, I was imagining the weather in Vae Arahi and counting the fortnights to spring. It was strange to live life at so sedate a pace, but my soul was still drinking it in thirstily. We left when the snow would be melted down to patches and the star-flowers starting to spring out at home. Even though I felt a hunger to be there down to my bones, it was hard to leave Ibresi.
The night we were on Gisir, the last island before Asinanai, I could not sleep, the clacking of paila leaves against the wall of the inn where we stayed and the waves splashing on the shore too loud. Those impeached semanakraseyel who survived went reclusive, as I understood it. But none of them had been supported eight in ten by Yeola-e, I thought. I don’t know the etiquette here. I felt it would be cowardly to hide my face. But what would people think, to see it?