Apologies. I know I’m meant to be doing marketing for Nabatea, but I just finished a scene from Kahti [book 2 of The Suns of Vokhtah] that I rather like. -dance-
“Too old,” Death thought as it held a glowworm near the Escapee’s face. The iVokh on the flight ledge had been young, probably no older than a third year acolyte. This one looked to be in early middle age.
Hissing in frustration, Death placed the glowworm back on the table and began to pace. The trap it had set for the Escapees had worked, but not as well as it had hoped. Five of the seven had been caught, but the Trader was not amongst them, nor was its Accomplice. So where were they?
None of the Acolytes had reported any stolen food, and neither had the Master of Stores. If anything, the old iVokh’s scrupulous reporting had simply added to Death’s frustrations; it now spent half of every day chasing up suspicious activity that turned out to be nothing more than a figment of the old iVokh’s guilty imagination.
And the Escapees had been equally unhelpful. Four had taken the long drop already, and Death did not hold out much hope for the fifth. Nevertheless, the questions had to be asked.
“What can telling about Stranger?”
“Only knowing that smelling bad…and killing Guard.”
“Knowing why killing Guard?”
“Ki. Only supposed to be escaping.”
“Knowing of plan to escape?”
There was a long silence as the Escapee stared at the sand on which it knelt. “S’so.”
Death felt hope stir; the other four all swore they had simply followed everyone else.
“What being plan?”
“Distraction,” the Escapee said in a whisper. “Not even thinking to escape.”
That too gelled with what some of the other Escapees had said. The original plan had been to distract the Guard so the Trader and its Accomplice could escape. The general exodus had only been in response to the Guard’s death.
“Who thinking of plan? Stranger?”
“Ki! Scars organizing.”
The Escapee held its hands out to the front, palms down. “Being oldest Refugee…and having scars on hands. Thick scars.”
Turning away so the Escapee would not see the surge of excitement that lit up its eyes, Death walked to the table and poured itself a cup of water. Its hand trembled slightly as it brought the cup to its mouth. None of the other Escapees had mentioned any scars. Was the Escapee making something up in the hope of earning a gentle death, or was it telling the truth? The possibility was too important to ignore.
“Where being Yellow?” Death asked as it turned towards the two Messengers flanking the Escapee.
“In meeting with Council,” the Senior Messenger replied, an upward inflection to its voice.
Death declined to answer its unspoken question. “Taking Escapee to alcove and making sure being fed.”
“Thanking! Thanking!” the Escapee cried as it was yanked to its feet and led away.
Death watched it go with a strange, hollow feeling in the pit of its stomach. Hope was a luxury none of them could afford. But at least the Escapee would get one last meal before the Yellow began its interrogation.
To provide a little bit of context, the Escapees know Kahti as the Stranger. Only Death and its master, the Yellow, know that Kahti is a Trader. They think it has infiltrated the Settlement in order to spy on the Healers.
And finally, the long drop is what happens to Escapees who do not provide the Yellow with any useful information. They’re thrown onto the midden heap, a drop of over forty wingspans. Not all die immediately.
Okay, that’s it. Thank you for allowing me to crow a little. 🙂