768 - I wrote dreams with that pen
The lightning rise and fall of the man still named Shefenkas
By Temarkas Shiren
Pages of Arko, Imbas 32, 53rd-to-last Y.P.A.
At age twenty-one, he was a helpless slave. At age twenty-four, he was Imperator of Arko. Now, at age twenty-six, he is a has-been. Shefenkas Aijeresa, formerly Fouth Shefenkas Shaearanoias, has somehow managed to travel a rise and fall in fortunes that would more commonly last a lifetime well within his twenties, as if somehow driven to condense what should take forty years into six.
After being defeated by fodaisin on Aras 3, Shefenkas stepped off the Crystal Throne utterly voluntarily, making no resistance or even protest. After staying in the Marble Palace to train his younger sister Artira in the ways of Imperatorship for a half-moon, he vanished from public view, raising concerns that he had followed a fairly strong Yeoli tradition among fodai-dismissed semanakraseyel of suicide. But about a month later he was discovered by the Pages to be in the House of Integrity on Haiu Menshir, then flew out of Haiuroru with an apparently clean bill of health three moons later, as reported here.
Now after a two-moon sojourn in his wife Niku’s homeland of Niah-lur-ana, Shefenkas is back in his own hometown, Vae Arahi, moving with his large, polyglot family into a new mansion built for him through the donations of tens of thousands of grateful Yeolis—and not a few grateful Arkans.
Despite widespread speculation that he was in the House of Integrity to take cure for suicidal urgings, Shefenkas said he was suffering mostly from overtiredness. And now, by all reports, he does not seem afflicted by any urges to self-destruction, or even downheartedness. The buzz in Vae Arahi is that he seems happier than he has been since he was a child.
The conqueror and former Imperator of Arko honoured this writer with his first conversation at length with an Arko-based journalist since his relinquishment of the seals on Aras 11.
T.Sh.: Shefenkas, if I may ask, why exactly were you in the House of Integrity?
Sh.A.: You may ask any question you wish, but I reserve the right not to answer this one, as I am now a private citizen and my health has no bearing on the lives or welfare of either the Yeoli or Arkan people.
But I know people are wondering out of kindness and concern for me, so I will say, in return: yes, I was tempted by the same inclination that many past semanakraseyel who were fodai’d out of office have had. What was affecting me most, however—and this surprised me, to tell you the truth, because I got so much in the habit of ignoring it in myself—was exhaustion. Accordingly, I was prescribed a regimen of rest, starting with bed rest, as well as talk-healing, and I’m actually still in the milder phase of that regimen, with just one stricture: not to follow or engage in politics or war, which is in effect for another moon and a half or so.
T.Sh.: Politics and war being the most irritating and aggravating activities for you?
Sh.A.: Politics and war being the activities in which I drive myself hardest, since their imperatives are so important to me, thus the most tiring.
T.Sh.: So may we trust, if you were to engage in those activities again, that you will do them in such a way as not to compromise your health?
Sh.A.: Well, you can’t engage in war without risking the most severe compromise to your health. But avoiding exhaustion is simple; I just have to precisely follow the instructions of my healer.
T.Sh.: Your dedication as semanakraseye and then Imperator was complete and utter, as everyone knows; after living life that way, how does it feel not to be semanakraseye and Imperator?
Sh.A.: There are certainly things I miss, mostly the capacity to easily make changes to the benefit of many people at once. I definitely miss wielding the Imperator’s golden pen, by which I had some of the most soul-satisfying moments of my life… freeing the slaves, raising the age of purification, all the laws that made things fairer, and then—though I had to give up the golden pen to do it—getting Arkans to vote in true numbers. It will be necessary for the Imperator to give up that power to Arko’s Assembly, and so it should be, but I wrote dreams with that pen.
I also miss the bond I had with the people of Yeola-e, that goes right back to my childhood, as soon as I was old enough to understand it. I know no one has forgotten me, but it’s not active so it’s not the same. I miss being in it, doing it.
But at the same time it’s been very good for me to have surcease from the responsibility of those positions, which is so huge. Since being semanakraseye was so entwined with my notion of myself, when I lost it I had to go through a rebirth of a kind; I had to learn who I was, choose who I would be, outside that. I’m living more the way Yeolis typically live now, free to follow their inclinations, and I had to learn what they were… I had to learn how to have inclinations, other than inclinations on how to be semanakraseye and how to be Imperator. At one point when I was on Haiu Menshir my psyche-healer asked me what I wanted to do with my life, and the idea of doing with my life what I want to, rather than what duty requires, was so strange to me that it took me three full days to think of the first thing. Three days on the beach thinking, “Want to do with my life? What does that mean? I do what I must… I don’t have a mandate for anything else!” but knowing that this is not normal for a private citizen, which I now was. But eventually I did… I had to hark back to childhood, very young childhood, to remember wanting to do things that I actually never did do. Once I saw the first, before I knew it I had enough things I want to do to fill up my time. It’s been a revelation, and it’s been broadening. Same as my first time on Haiu Menshir, I understand myself better and I have grown.
T.Sh.: What do you want to do?
Sh.A.: The first thing that came to me was to spend more time with my children, and my loves. The next was to spend more time flying, so of course I’m spending more time flying with my children and my loves. I’ve started writing an instructional memoir about the Arkan war, which will be published by the Workfast Literary, and I’m teaching at the School of the Sword and at the Circle School.
But once I’m cleared for politics again, I’m going to throw myself into something I had to put aside when I was Imperator for lack of time: working to join together all nations in a federation, an all-encompassing alliance treaty, through which disputes will be settled in talks rather than by war. I am certain the world could live in total peace if every head of state were fully honest with himself about what war truly costs, and would look at the truth of how it can be prevented, which it can even over decades and centuries, with the right measures. I will be presenting this proposal first to those leaders with whom I already have good relations, then to ones further afield, and my hope is that they’ll see the merit of it and join together to enact it.
T.Sh.: That’s… a very grand idea.
Sh.A.: I don’t expect it to be easy.
T.Sh.: Do you expect it even to be possible?
Sh.A.: You can’t know whether something is either possible or impossible without trying it.
T.Sh.: When did you have this idea?
Sh.A.: In the winter of the 55th-to-last, late winter, after the not-quite-war with Sria. I wrote the proposal and a number of other things, which now I’ll revise to bring up to date. It’s because I had to put it off for so long that I haven’t gone public with it until now.
T.Sh.: Well… we shall be following that. In the meantime, are you hoping for an appointment from your sister the Imperator, as Minister of Border Defense, or Supreme General, perhaps?
Sh.A.: Artira has someone who I know very well is very capable in both those roles, Hurai Kadari. Whether she wants to appoint me to any position is entirely up to her. I’m at her service as needed.
And at my discretion.