Khakhanate Book 2: The Crow HTML version

its task. I recall being afraid to break the silence and remained quite still throughout the ceremony. Never since
have I ever witnessed such reverence at a funeral.
When we returned home, my father gave away all Grandfather’s things to the servants and then sat down to read
his memoirs. When my father finished, he called the family together and told us about the memoirs and urged
us all to read them. I was probably the last to read them, since I was just learning to read at the time and was
hardly ready for such a tome. But when I did finally read the book, I was completely captivated and plagued
everyone with questions raised by it. I wanted to know more about the old land, the frozen north, the oceans, the
plains, the northern people, the southern people; in short, I was a real nuisance. It was at this time my siblings
began calling me the Crow. At first they called me Karl, then began calling me “Little Raven” after my
grandfather; soon my constant pestering earned me the name “Crow.” Since Grandfather narrowly avoided the
same name, I suppose it was inevitable and I was young enough to get used to it and eventually take pride in it.
It was no wonder that I would be curious about the world, for I had spent all of my short life in Cuauhnahuac,
except for occasional trips to Tlatelolco and a few of the other cities of Anahuac, and there was much about
which to be curious. My parents had both been born far to the northwest and had both (especially my father)
seen much of the world. My mother’s children were also born in the northwest, while most of my father’s
children were born in Cuauhnahuac. My brothers and sisters were only at home occasionally during my
childhood, they were all so much older than me, and my father believed in sending us to stay with our northern
relatives for years at a time to keep us “from getting jaded.” By the time I was old enough for such a trip, only
one of my sisters, Mathilde, was back at home and she was about to marry.
Grandfather mentioned my parents in his memoirs, but he only fleshed out my father a little. Since my father
was his youngest son and spent very little time with him, that is not surprising. Still, I think he missed some of
the man. He was most dedicated to healing the sick and worked tirelessly in that capacity— - readily
interrupting whatever else he was doing to help anyone who was ill. He was also no respecter of persons,
spending just as much time and effort on a slave or a beggar as on a wealthy merchant or even a relative. He had
no patience with malingerers, however, and gave any that took up his time a rather strong laxative. His efforts
were not always successful, but whenever he lost a patient, it was not because he didn’t try everything to save
him. On the other hand, when I was a child, I always found him distant and rather melancholy. The only time I
remember him seeking me out was when he heard that there was an outbreak of the Zhen plague nearby and he
gathered me up and rushed there, so that I could have the disease as a child when it was more easily endured.
He was quite attentive to me and the other sick in the stricken town, making sure we did nothing to exacerbate
the symptoms. His attentiveness was such a pleasant surprise to me that I made the mistake of faking illness
after we returned and received his usual remedy along with a thorough dressing down. I never tried that again,
and indeed I was very rarely ill. He had also given me the treatment that prevents the barbarian pox, but I was
too young at the time to remember it. Other than these events, I had little contact with him until much later, not
too long before he died.
My mother is just mentioned in Grandfather’s book, and I suppose that was not strange since he hardly knew
her, and even though they lived in the same house for his last years, she was rather quiet and unobtrusive. She
also had an air of melancholy about her, and I always preferred the company of my siblings and the servants to
either of my parents. It was not that she wasn’t attentive to me, for she was a most conscientious mother, and
the household was smoothly run, and all needs met. It was just that she wasn’t good company. Some years later,
I mentioned our parents’ lugubrious aspect to my sister Mathilde, and she suggested that it was because they
had both been in love with someone else and had lost those loves prematurely. While they were the best of
friends, they still pined for their lost loves. She may have been right, since she knew our mother before she met
my father, but Mathilde was quite young at the time, and perhaps it was just a bit of romanticism on her part. I
did not really feel connected to my mother either, but was moved at her passing because of Mathilde, who
deeply mourned her.
My father’s children were Ignace, Sarah and Theodore. Ignace was twenty years older than me and was only
home on rare visits. He had become a soldier and was posted to an Ordu somewhere in the west while I was
growing up. He had married Goa, a woman from Coosa (one of the Southeastern towns), whom he had met
while he was staying with his Ani’ Yun’-wiya relatives. He had a broad physique, a short stature, and a