From Eminence, a novella
It was during one evening while the soldier lay sleeping on his mat on the floor of a side room, and Ahnna vigilantly sat close by, cutting out cloth to be used for fresh bandages, that she overheard her father and the doctor in the wide foreroom in the middle of the house, discussing the house’s one remaining war patient.
“It makes no sense for him to have gone out to fight,” the doctor asserted. “He did his part for our military in his youth. He has helped to train enough younger men under him.”
Daichi chuckled. “You speak of him as if he is an elderly fool. He is quite younger than you are, old friend. And younger than me and my—what have you called them?—my ‘lagging’ bones. I have told my proximate successor in the village to be ready, but not too ready, to take my place, seeing how you are about set to write me and my bones off.”
“Oh, your blessed bones are only part of the problem, as far as your health goes. You simply do not have the body you had in your prime, decades ago, despite how much you try to ignore it. But let us leave you out of this, shall we? I do not speak of Ikenna as elderly. I speak of him as a man who has already paid his dues on the field. He helped to make us ready for revolution, and everyone knows and thinks much of him for it. But he should not have gone to the front lines. We need him at his estate now, being a master of trade, using that brain of his. The profeta in his village should have told him that, Daichi. You would have.”
“Now, do not blame any of the profeti. We agreed on what we heard: ‘Every man who is able and willing.’ Ikenna is still able, and he was more than willing. He chose to fight.”
“Yes. He chose to fight,” the doctor grunted, “and now he is in there lying on your floor, paying for the fight with his damaged dome.”
Daichi laughed again. “You know, medicus, for one in your healing profession, you can be most cynical.”
“That I know. You have told me so enough times. Remind me to stuff my ears with socks before you say it again tomorrow.” The doctor waited for his friend to finish laughing before he continued. “But you know what I mean. In some ways, Ikenna is a man still living in the past. He should be done with the field, should be raising a family.”
“It is not his fault his wife died childless. She might have been like Delmi.”
“You cannot be serious. No, it is not his fault, but yes, that was nigh on twenty years ago. He was fresh out of boyhood when he married, was younger than your daughter is now, and he was not married for long. I am telling you, he needs to concentrate on his business—and lecturing, if he is to go on with that—and raise up an heir for his estate. Leave the battlefields to the youth, I always say.”
Daichi replied with a sigh. “Hopefully, we can all leave the battlefields for some time, good man. We have warred. So we must rest, and in peace revisit the reasons why we have fought. Ecclesiastical freedom. Autonomy in trade. An unrepressed exchange of ideas. No one else can decide for us what this nation will be. We now have the control to do that for ourselves, and so we must stay focused.”
“Yes, we must. I agree.”
Ahnna nodded unspoken concurrence, especially on the point regarding rest, feeling that her father was as much in need of rest from all of this as anyone. She knew the doctor had advised Daichi to give his complaining bones and joints an extended respite.
As the conversation in the other room turned to separate matters, Ahnna’s eyes moved to the sleeping soldier on the floor. She’d heard mention of this Ikenna a number of times before.
Some revolutions are internal.