781 - You are bleeding from the soul with it
“Aaaaaaah-baaaaaaahhhh! It’s all right, it’s all right, I’ve brought Ama!” I lay on the floor, purposely, thinking it was best to get blood to my head and to keep myself from falling if I did lose all my strength. I fought to hold to sanity by keeping warrior-mind. My daughter ran to me, got down and took my face between her little hands; much higher was my wife, until she got down too, and took my hands hard in hers. “It’s all right, Aba, it’s all right, we love you!”
“Omores, come back to us,” Niku said. “Whatever it is, it cannot hurt you any more, it’s far away and long ago, you are safe, you are with us… Chevenga, look at me, keep your eyes on mine, come back to me… do you know where you are?” I could not speak; I signed chalk by turning my hand in hers. “What happened? You can’t tell me…” I signed with my head, Arkan-style, toward the desk. “Something on there, in writing?” It was as personal to Minis as it was to me, so not her business, but I wasn’t in a state to have tact right now.
“Vriah-riah, get it for me, the paper that’s in the clear space.” I felt I’d fly apart if she let go my hands, and she somehow knew it. Vriah couldn’t reach, so clambered up onto my chair, while Niku pulled me up into her arms. My four-year-old helps save me from something most parents would want their children never to know, the part of me that was split off thought. Niku read it over my shoulder as I laid my head on hers.
“Ama Kalandris, it’s from Minis… maybe he’s made it up to give you a turn,” she said. I signed charcoal against her back. “Kakr… we have to get your words back before we can do a thing about this.” Same as when we’d tell the little ones, “Use your words!” The part of me that was split off wanted to rot to liquid and seep through the floor. Three and a half years from now I will be relieved of shame forever. Niku said, “I know, pehali… can you get up, and come where I take you?” and Vriah said “No no, Daddy, don’t be ashamed, it’s not your fault!” both at the same time. I got up, and took Vriah up onto my arm. She wrapped her arms around my neck and clung hard as a barnacle.
Some cures a Haian does not have. Niku led me by the hand down to the training room. As we came to the door, and weapon-sense sharpened to everyone’s gear on the racks—Chirel, Kall’s ancient Itrean sword, Niku’s double-axes, Hope, our spears and bows and all the rest—she said “Close your eyes, omores.” I did, so that I could see my way in by weapon-sense alone, the angles and intervals of the row of steel and obsidian edges a matrix of light-lines in my mind. She had me put Vriah down, then brought me to Chirel, slung it on my shoulder, and put my wristlets on my wrists. I felt her take up the axes. “Keep your eyes closed and spar me, pehali.”
While our Mezem child watched rapt, my wife made me spar her all out, going easy herself, all defense, and yelling at me to come at her as hard as I could, until there were puddles of my sweat on the floor. When she let up I wanted to drop. “You remembered who you are, omores,” she said. “I felt it. Speak to me.”
“Thank you,” I said. “Yes, I remembered who I am.” Enact your strength and your gift, and you cannot help but feel it in yourself. In fact, I’d all but forgotten Minis’s letter, naturally enough. Soaking in the hot tub, I decided to plan what thoughts to keep in my head while I considered it. Weakness requires so much extra care, whether it’s of the body or of the heart.
Back in the office, I read it again. I felt dragged toward the blackness again, but the pull was weak enough to resist, and the black less dark, so my heart did what it naturally should: went out to him.
Of course he’d left no clue in the letter by which to find him, lest I give it to Irefas and Ikal; thus there was no way to answer him. The words that burned across my mind would have to keep burning there, unsaid and unwritten. No, I do not blame you for what he did. No, my despite of him does not fall on you, any more than it ever did—remember what I told you, power and responsibility are one and the same? Listen to your Haian. He had you write this letter because he knew I would feel this way and it would be good for both of us. Understand, understand, you must understand, above all: a twelve-year-old child being made to do such a thing is being outraged himself, no less. Minis, you’ve been left scarred far worse by this than I. Minis, you are bleeding from the soul with it, and I with you. I am still the father of your spirit and this doesn’t change that even slightly. Don’t hate yourself; I don’t hate you!
He was out there, somewhere, and must live without hearing these words. I had no memory of what he described, but then the whole moon of my life I was in the oubliette in the dungeon of the Marble Palace, and a few moons after, were and still are lost to me. Knowing Kurkas, I doubted none of it. It was his style, to make his son and his most hated enemy rape each other, both at once.
There was nothing I could do but weather my own emotions.