The library of Cetani was much smaller than Machi's. Perhaps a third as many books and codices, not more than half as many scrolls. They arrived on Maati's doorway in sacks and baskets, crates and wooden boxes. A letter accompanied them, hardly more than a terse note with Otah's seal on it, telling him that there was no living poet to ask what texts would be of use, that as a result he'd sent everything, and expressing hope that these might help. There was no mention of the Galts or the Dai-kvo or the dead. Otah seemed to a.s.sume that Maati would understand how dire the situation was, how much depended on him and on Cehmai.
He was right. Maati understood.
He'd left Cehmai in the library, looking over their new acquisitions, while he sat in the main room of his apartments, marking out grammars and forms. How Heshai had bound Seedless, what he would have done differently in retrospect, and the variations that Maati could make - different words and structures, images and metaphors that would serve the same purpose without coming too near the original. His knuckles ached, and his mind felt woolly. It was hard to say how far into the work they'd come. Perhaps as much as a third. Perhaps less. The hardest part would come at the end; once the binding was mapped out and drafted, there was the careful process of going through, image by image, and checking to see that there were no ambiguities, no unintended meanings, no contradictions where the power of the andat might loop back upon itself and break his hold and himself.
Outside, the wind was blowing cold as it had since the middle morning. The city of tents that had sprung up at Machi's feet would be an unpleasant place tonight. Liat had been entirely absent these last four days, helping to find Cetani a place within Machi. It was just as well, he supposed. If she were here, he'd only want to talk with her. Speak with her. He'd want to hold her. Enough time for those little pleasures when Seedless was bound and the world was set right. Whatever that meant anymore.
The scratch at his door was an annoyance and a relief both. He called out his permission, and the door swung open. Nayiit ducked into the room, an apologetic smile on his face. Behind him, a small figure waddled - Danat wrapped in robes and cloaks until he seemed almost as wide as tall. Maati rose, his back and knees protesting from having been too long in one position.
'I'm sorry, Father,' Nayiit said. 'I told Danat-cha that you might be busy . . .'
'Nothing that can't wait a hand or two,' Maati said, waving them in. 'It might be best, really, if I step away from it all. After a while, it all starts looking the same.'
Nayiit chuckled and took a pose that expressed his sympathy. Danat, red-cheeked
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