769 - Lies, like a lot of what was said
We settled in, and I began doing what I wanted, minus politics. My Part in the Arkan War, as I titled the book, I shared with the students of the Circle School as I went, both as lessons to them and to refine the writing. Kaninjer forbade me travel until late summer.
But people wanted other things of me. I had a stack of letters almost a cubit high in my office in the Hearthstone Independent. Very little was political; it seemed word had got around, though of course with Artira, whose letters were so utterly personal you’d never think she was Imperator, it could be that she was determined to be out of my shadow.
Terera University wanted me to teach warcraft philosophy; the Workfast Literary told me if I wrote a memoir they’d publish it in Yeoli, Enchian, Arkan, Lakan and possibly other languages; Intharas asked if I’d start writing my philosophy articles again, saying that a lot of people had complained when they stopped, which surprised me; I thought they’d been interested only because I was Imperator.
I said no to the University, wanting to teach hands-on warcraft only, and no to Intharas, since I knew I’d be tempted to make political points and that could be seen as interfering with Artira’s course. To Literary, I said “Maybe.” You see how I ended up deciding.
We did a lot of entertaining. Skorsas had made sure the Hearthstone Independent was built for it. I’d put out in the Terera Pages that anyone who’d contributed to its building had a standing invitation, so they’d come, mostly just to see it; then there were visiting friends, cousins, war-students, patients of Kaninjer and so forth. Huge though the greater dining room was, it was often three-quarters full, except for special occasions, when it was crammed; for New Years it spilled outside onto the terrace. (It struck me that if the serving dishes had wheels like faibiskitzai, it would be easier for everyone to serve each other, so the first time Diyadesai came I mentioned the idea. About a moon later she came back to present us with thirty vessels that all had little wheels, and rolled smooth and straight. All the kids learned soon how to aim them.)
I noticed from when I’d first seen Tawaen after coming home that he had a constant look of carrying a boulder on his back again. He was nine now. It turned out that Esora-e had talked Shaina and Etana into letting him give him extra training while I’d been in no state to protest. Saying it was not enough, it seemed; if I wanted my son free of this after I died, I’d have to put it in writing.
I did that, sending a note both to Azaila and putting it in the rough-draft will I’d started, now that I owned things to bequeath. Then I took Tawaen up onto the mountain for a talk. I carried him on my shoulders, but he still seemed a little afraid of me as I put him down to face me. “How are you liking your training?” I asked him.
His eyes went glummer than an adult’s should, let alone a child’s. “I’m not doing well enough, father,” he said. Father? Who taught him to go all formal with me?
“My child, I didn’t ask you how you were doing. I asked how you are liking it… meaning, what is in your heart about it?” He stared at me with his green eyes wide, full of amazement, terror and wild hope all at once. But then he bowed his head, one little hand clenching and clawing at the other fist. That told me enough.
“You may quit the extra training if you like,” I said. He looked up shocked, like a wrongfully-condemned innocent hearing his reprieve, but not quite sure he really deserves it. “But if you go on, it will be with me. What do you say to that?”
“With you? Really!!?” I clasped my crystal, and he signed a double chalk and started jumping up and down.
“We are in training now, then,” I said. His eyes widened; he didn’t have his wooden sword, nor did I, he wasn’t in his training clothes, and his revered Teacher, of all things, started a tickle fight as his first drill.
“What are we doing?” he said through his helpless giggles. “And why?”
“Trust me, love. I know what you need.” Just the fact that he’d questioned me was an improvement already. On the mountain we trained, taking joy in play-fighting, taking joy in playing games, taking joy in talking about rya-kya and All-Spirit and the universal balance; taking joy in working our bodies until we were both dizzy and sweating rain-barrels. When we were done he said, “Awwwww…? Fine, then, Daddy. But I can’t wait till tomorrow!”
What Inatallas Shaekrisas said to Shefenkas
Much-ballyhooed assault was provoked by a vicious insult
By Shemeias Asilas and Foranas Delinias
Pages of Arko, Imbas 32, 53rd-to-last Y.P.A.
A Pages investigation has revealed that Shefenkas’s war-time physical attack on Inatallas Shaekrisas, which was loudly hailed by the chalk side as evidence of the then-Imperator’s emotional instability, came about after what can be better described as provocation than “speaking up,” as Ser Shaekrisas himself called it.
Those closest to the most prominent of the faction colloquially known as the Yeoli hawks, who was then a commander of a thousand, all refuse to specify the exact words spoken by him. They say either they don’t know because they weren’t there or they don’t remember clearly, refusing even to be paraphrased on this, except anonymously.
“It doesn’t matter what he said,” says Faraikia Terera, a close friend of Ser Shaekrisas’s, and the most vocal Yeoli in Arko calling for Shefenkas to be dethroned. “You don’t strike someone or throw him down or threaten him with death yourself for something he said. The words are irrelevant.”
But Perhas Shaelemanas, captain of the darya semanakraseyeni, was among the several thousand people present and the scores who were within earshot, and remembers Ser Shaekrisas’s words very clearly. Ser Shaelemanas’s account was confirmed via letter by former captain Kreras Saranyeras, who was close at hand at the time, as well as by Feresinkas Shaerushas, an advocate who has sometimes worked for Shefenkas and was also present. Shefenkas himself was not available for comment on healer’s orders, but court-martial records obtained by the Pages contain an account by him which confirms Ser Shaelemanas’s interpretation of the words. The records contain no denial or contradiction on the part of Ser Shaekrisas.
“What he said was, ‘You’re an old hand at killing Yeolis now’,” says Ser Shaelemanas. “Everyone who was there heard it, because he said it loudly. All his friends who are saying they don’t know now are lying; they know.
“Why was Shefenkas so upset by that? I have to explain? I guess Arkans wouldn’t understand at heart. You know we Yeolis hold it sacred that we don’t hurt each other, let alone kill each other? It’s why there’s no custom of dueling, why you don’t see Yeoli husbands beating their wives like Arkan husbands do, and so on. And no one holds it more sacred than the semanakraseye, who’s raised from birth to serve his fellow Yeolis, to give his life for theirs if necessary. Shefenkas was forced to kill nine Yeolis here, in the Mezem. It tore him up so much that he confessed the moment he got home, even though it might get him thrown out of office right then; he felt he couldn’t fight effectively with that on his conscience if he didn’t. And because it was the custom of the Mezem Yeolis to take a brand-mark on the face if they killed another Yeoli, the court ordered Shefenkas branded, that’s the mark he has right here on his shield-side cheek.
“So when he had to execute a Yeoli during the war for looting—he’d said it was on pain of death and he couldn’t favour his own—he was very torn up. Any stories that he felt nothing or that he relished it are pure [swear-word.] Lies, like a lot of what was said during the campaign. I think it was one of the hardest things he had to do in his life. He was shaking, and he was in tears—I saw it. And it was right after that, when everyone was struck speechless, that Inatallas said what he said. Meaning for everyone to hear him. I don’t think there’s anyone in the world who wouldn’t have lost it in that situation.”
When asked directly if he did indeed say to Shefenkas “You’re an old hand at killing Yeolis,” Ser Shaekrisas declined to comment.