37 Poråkol 1865
The hospital staff released me to my apartment. The morning dawned clear, and I have access to writing materials. Kati has gone to stay with a friend, and I have my room back. Once my parents left for the satellite home, I called Suka and asked lim to come with Liga.
I have the bug, and the data won’t sync to my computer. I need to write down what happened before it becomes unusable and I forget.
38 Poråkol 1865
I failed as a Tveshi citizen, as a lover, and as a friend. Still, the dead Fadehin’s aunt wants to speak to me. And I guess I’ll have to go.
Suka came to my apartment in the early afternoon and brought food for us, creamy Khessa-style layered porridge and sautéed dried seafood. We sat down at the table and ate. Suka gave me a long hug, and I fell apart because le had brought me pickled kyenyat fruit, which I love eating when I am slightly sad. It tastes divine with root vegetables, and it makes me want to cry less.
“You still love lim,” le said.
Sehutañi touched my hair inappropriately when we first met. Sehutañi participated in a plot to murder the Fadehin. Sehutañi’s faction murdered the Fadehin.
Soon enough, the State will put an arrow between those eyes.
“How can I still feel this way?” I asked. It’s that one question, isn’t it? I wiped tears from my cheeks with my usable arm and let Suka hold me.
Le really is too good. I am so happy that I have lim.
39 Poråkol 1865
Regent Thassañi is an elderly woman whom I haven’t seen in the media. Niakhė, the only daughter of the late Fadehin, will not reach the age of majority until 1878.
If Thassañi dies, Akah Shekhuñi, the late Fadehin’s sister, will assume the role of Regent. It is a complicated dance like that of any matriarchal family, but the royal family practices visiting marriages: The daughters are married out as well as the sons and the jomela, and while some come back to Tveshė when they are gray and well-traveled like Thassañi, most remain in their host countries until they die. It is an odd practice, but the royal family carries responsibilities that most of us would never wish upon ourselves.
My grandmother had to coach me before I visited Regent Thassañi. My father brought me to the palace, and we used the disability compliance override on the commuter pods to make the trip run parallel to one of the Skyrail lines. I have a temporary pass until I finish physical therapy.
A small crowd of people waited near the palace, and some whispered when they saw my father helping me. Le has never softened ler Īpahi characteristics: The piercings, the layered high collars in vivid colors, and the tiny braids gathered around ler head. I am one-quarter Narahji, one-half Īpahi, and one-quarter Atarahi. This is my heritage. I should not be afraid to admit it.
Le left me sitting on cushions in an appointment room, where a palace attendant relieved lim of assisting me. Le took the wheelchair with lim, so I was trapped. Two charcoal-clad security guards said that they would help me if necessary. I mean, was that really necessary?
Regent Thassañi filed in with two of the advisers behind lim, both unknown to me. Le wore ler natural white hair in a collection of braids in the Tveshi style, and le had delicate hands. The Regent greeted me in the traditional way, but I couldn’t respond in kind due to my shoulder. I cannot observe proper greeting etiquette until my injuries heal.
The Regent said in Narahji, “It is a pleasure to meet you in person. The photographs don’t do justice to you.” Then, in Tveshi, le indicated to the others that they should go.
The guards protested, of course — I mean, who wouldn’t so soon after an assassination? — and the Regent negotiated a compromise: The guard who did not speak Narahji could stay inside.
The Regent’s Narahji accent sounds almost exactly like my grandmother’s, but the latter’s voice is higher.
“Thank you for your hospitality,” I said.
The Regent set up a table in front of us for the tisane and fruit ceremony. We went through it quickly and started the business at hand. I thought that le wanted to ask me about my role in the anti-Daybreak investigations.
I wanted to tell the Regent that I thought I had behaved like a coward, that I am for all intents and purposes a young girl, barely an adult. I could have gone to the authorities somehow, and I could have done something to prevent this horror from happening at all. Certainly, the authorities might have placed me in jail and they may never have believed me. Certainly, everything points to a larger conspiracy, the one I’ve barely hinted at, and they would have known that I had known too much.
Le spoke first. “I want to comment that I’m sorry this happened to you. When the Taritit Invasion ended, everyone was accusing neighbors of being conspirators. It was absolute chaos. We needed to act on real information, not misplaced grief. They — they were killing us. The laws that caused this situation have never been repealed because the political climate is delicate.”
“Thank you for the apology,” I said. “Adviser Tenes Sari explained that to me, too, in a bit of detail.”
“By Enahari, le never gives them a millimeter.” Le clicked ler tongue. “I need to speak to you more seriously, however, because I have the honor of overseeing the country until our future ruler comes of age. You have proven yourself loyal to the government in exceptional circumstances. Your connections to the Kohjenya make you very desirable to me, and you have a unique background and perspective. I would like to offer you a position as an adviser.”
I opened and closed my mouth. It took a while for me to form words. “I cannot accept that. Do you know how old I am? Do you realize that I failed to save your niece? That is — many apologies — it is my hope that you would prefer to see my failures.”
The Regent laughed at me. “No. I need someone with connections to the Kohjenya. You know things, Akah Nitañi, that one can never forget. You know who instigated Daybreak to kill my niece. You know that they must have helped it.”
“But I failed. At the very least, we live in politically delicate times, and I am Narahji.”
“All times are politically delicate times, Akah Nitañi. It is true that you are Narahji, but that you have foreign ancestry. The Tveshi Cultural Coalition will try to focus on that after the appointment. They will also say that your Narahji background means that you would sympathize with all of the unrest happening right now in Narahja. Those arguments have little weight. The true problem, that some want to overrun the government with people sympathetic to draconian ideologies, matters more. When Sehet Añi appointed my sister as the new ruler of Tveshė, the Karatha were completely unaware just how much my family hates them.”
“Who are you that you can talk like that?”
“Does it matter? I am the sister of a Fadehin and the aunt of a Fadehin who died. My family inherited a country that has the Shiji, Galasuhi, Iturji, Ịgzarhjenya, and Hicịptụ. It matters little to me where fathers have come from. The Coalitionists see the shadow of the Taritit wherever they look. We need to keep this fear from becoming a poison. I will appoint you?”
I could not argue: Le tolerated my first outburst, so I couldn’t make a second.
Le separated out the Iturji from the Shiji and did not use the term Sabaji at all. The Iturji are not Ịgzarhjenya. This is another thing I wanted to ask: What does it mean that le did this, that le acknowledged that? Has Regent Thassañi, by living abroad, learned how to be a true ruler?
40 Poråkol 1865
Suka and Liga brought me candied meña balls from one of the Iturji markets in the city. I propped myself up on my good arm and entertained them in my room for several hours. In the afternoon, my grandmother, parents, and I had a meeting.
If I am to be an adviser, I need to at least be married — children are not feasible in the short term. Kitesrati is the most obvious match. I like lim, and the marriage could work. My mother will find suitable matches just in case Kitesrati’s family does not want to have lim join our family. It is possible: My previous relationships have a fatality record.
(And my father just pointed out that Sehutañi is technically still alive, so.)
I told Suka what happened. Le laughed at me. Of course Kitesrati will want me. I’m to be an adviser, for gods’ sakes. I can’t even believe it.