709 - See why I love her?
1 Jin 4977 | City of Arko
I must terribly terribly apologize for sending you only the brief notes I have for the last month! I am so sorry. I do still love you—I will never stop loving you—what a lesion on my heart it is to think I need to tell you that, so neglectful I’ve been!
All along I promised myself I’d send you a long one on the first of Jin, I told Kilalulana that and she understands, so here it is.
Mamin—as you must have gathered from the notes—and (again, forgive me!) from their shortness and infrequency—it is wonderful. I am so much in love!
The morning after that first dinner we had, Chevenga did indeed debrief me. When he stopped laughing—sheep brains aren’t funny, who can understand mainlanders?—he told me he didn’t see any danger signs so far, and in fact some promising ones. “She feels she does not fit in at home is the best news you could have got, Kanincha,” he told me. Of course he didn’t think it was funny when I started laughing, remembering him in that tent thing again.
Kil—that’s the short form of her name, luckily, not Kila, which would get me mixing her up with Chevenga’s shadow-daughter Kilalere—says they make special dispensation for Haian men, not making us wear the thing because we are above other men. Good to know, for whenever we visit to meet her family.
Conversely, I am training her not to pick meat out from between her teeth with her dagger after eating. “You’ll have to do something very different when I take you home to meet my family,” I’ve told her. “There’s no meat and you have to leave your weapons at the trust in Sailortown.”
“Of course!” she said, and Mamin, that’s how it always goes. These cultural differences we have, we seem to always laugh off. There is this harmony between us that seems to go much deeper than that. I never felt it with She-Who-Blah-Blah even though she wanted to make healing her calling… well, I mean, she said she did. Maybe that’s why I never felt it; because she was all false. I never felt it with Sera Milera, either… maybe because she didn’t show me enough of herself, and because of that I didn’t show her enough of myself… I could never speak truly frankly with her, really, without even counting the language barrier.
Kil and I speak in Enchian, sometimes even a little Yeoli since she picked some up in the war as everyone did. She did read that article by Ara Min Kian, and looked at me amazed afterwards, and said, “Maybe this is what happens to our men, Theen help us. It would explain so much.”
We have been spending a lot of time together… I guess I don’t need to tell you that. Every evening now except when I have an emergency. I cleared her for sex twenty-five days after she took the wound, and… well, Mamin… that is wonderful, too. I knew that she wouldn’t mind me telling her my penis was engorged, and in fact she’d likely tell me her clitoris was, but we really didn’t need to tell each other anything. I checked her pulses, told her she was cleared, we flung our arms around each other and it went from there.
Mamin… I often can’t believe it. I will wake up and look at her lying naked in the lamplight… she is so huge, her limbs so massive. She has war-scars like Chevenga’s, and war-calluses on her hands, as I said before. I look at her hands, and I can’t know how many people she’s killed, how many pairs of testes she has hung on her spear. I think to myself, ‘What is wrong with me? She is a warrior, a person to whom human life is nothing at least some of the time, a Hyerne… how can I love her?’ But then she smiles at me, or says something so sweet or tender or utterly understanding, or caresses me.
When we had got to know each other well enough, I decided to raise it with her… well, why not? We are generally frank about everything with each other; we both want that and so have an unspoken agreement. “There’s nothing wrong with you,” she said. “It’s not a crime to be a warrior… pimijiya, one of you is, now.” (Pimijiya is a Hyerne term of endearment. It means “silken shaft.”)
“One of us!” I spat. “Yes, and the rest of us all abhor his name now, because what he did allows things like that to be said by people like you.”
She is wonderful but she does not always take my hints to drop a subject. “I wonder how it was for him,” she said, her eyes musing. “Did you ever speak with him?” She had to ask me that, so I had to say yes and then I had to recount Boralaer’s blooding as he had told me. And I made sure to emphasize that he hung up his sword after the war, though then she pointed out to me that he was teaching warriors his techniques. “I sparred with him once,” she said. “We all had to try it, we all wanted to know what this thing was he did, and what it felt like. Haha… we all told ourselves, ‘He can’t fell me with that.’ And we all went down, every last woman of us. Then of course we were saying ‘Teach us! Teach us!’ Based in healing techniques… do you know how to do that, Kaneeja?”
Mamin… I had been frank with her about many things. But not everything. There are some things that happened in the war that I never want anyone to know. But what was I going to say—no? A lie?
“He taught me one thing,” I said. “So, yes, I know how to do it.”
“You can’t really know whether you know how to do something until you do it,” she said. “You’re only going on faith… you should do it to me, so you know.”
“No no,” I said. “I know how to do it.”
She looked at me, her big clear dark eyes thinking, her generous lips calm but slightly pursed. She paints them sometimes, usually a dark warm red, along with the edges of her eyelids, which she does in gold. She even does a gold border around her moles, and on special occasions, designs on the backs of her hands. Or she’ll decorate her warrior-mark—the tattoo/scar of downwards-crossed jagged swords between her clavicles and her breasts—by adding gold trim to the hilts and blades.
“You mean you’ve done it,” she said, and I could tell she meant ‘done it’ as in done it… not tried it on someone in training. I guess I gave it away by the way I said ‘I know how to do it.’ I had to tell her.
“Remember the infirmary raids?”
“Who could forget that?” she said. “Chevaga was merciful, killing them in one pull instead of over a day or two, which he knows how to do… he did it to give the army a good taste of gruesomeness to slake our anger, you know.”
I… had never thought of that. It made a sickening sense; though knowing Chevenga as well as I do I knew it could be just as much that he was in a hurry to get to the next place.
“I was in one of the infirmaries,” I said. “An Arkan was going to kill me, he was about to stab me, and I did it to him with my pin-scalpel. I just wanted him to leave me alone, and I did that, and he fell down. But then… the patient I’d been examining killed him. So I didn’t kill him, but I did… perhaps the best way to put it is, I had a hand in his death.”
I could barely believe how easy it had been to tell her.
You know, Mamin, I thought she’d light up with a satisfied smile or clap me on the back and say “Congratulations” or metaphorically lower her spear to me again. You know what she did? She put her arms around me, her eyes full of sympathy. And said, “You felt as if you’d betrayed everything you believe in, didn’t you?”
See what I mean? See why I love her?