Here’s an excerpt that hopefully will whet a reader’s appetite:
“You know us?” Jon queried, for the first time feeling threatened, though he couldn’t say why.
“Don’t be disturbed,” Triena replied. “You’re in no danger from us.”
There she goes again, Jon thought.
“What did you mean by the Gift?” asked Manny from her other side.
“It’s a term we use to describe our ability to discern things about others and our surroundings and, in certain cases, particular abilities of the some minds that can manifest physically. It varies from person to person, but each Rhiava has the Gift to some degree, for one specific purpose or another. Some have more than one manifestation.”
“You referred to those elders remaining not being strong enough in the Gift, so what does that mean?” Manny queried, glancing at Jon, who didn’t understand either.
He figured Manny probably didn’t even know what questions to ask.
“You’re a curious people to be sure,” interjected one of the other Rhiava from across the table.
“Allow me to introduce Sernov, one of the senior elders.”
“Do you object to our asking questions?” Jon asked. “If so, please accept our apologies. We meant no offence.”
“No offence has been taken, young one. I see nothing wrong with curiosity; it’s the way one learns. Mistress Triena explained to you we all possess the Gift. What she didn’t tell you is that, when necessary, we can combine our Gifts for the good of all. Those who didn’t attend Ritual and who faced the Midea alone were not strong enough, even when joined, to discern the truth of their intention until it was too late.”
“Enough talk for now,” interrupted Wirva. “My good food will be cold if you don’t stop talking and start eating.”
Everyone gave Wirva a small bow and began eating dutifully. Jon was very pleasantly surprised at how good the stew was. He finished his meal in record time.
“I appreciate your gesture,” Wirva said on seeing his empty plate.
“It was no gesture…that was delicious.”
“Yes, it sure was,” Manny agreed. “It’ll make a welcome addition to Martin’s collection when we return to Questor, if you’ll allow us to take the recipe, and perhaps some supplies?” He raised a questioning eyebrow. “If we can discuss some form of exchange when you’re ready.”
“That can be discussed later. When will your vessel begin to be concerned that you do not return?” asked Sernov.
“They probably already are. We were supposed to contact our vessel when we attained orbit, but the transmission was very garbled due to interference. I’d said we’d try again on landing. That was before I entered your atmosphere and discovered just how bad the interference was. Manny, how long was I unconscious?”
“About three hours I’d say. Triena and Lector found us immediately following our crash and then brought us here. It must be over four hours since we last spoke to the X.O.”
“They’ll certainly be anxious already, but how long before they can come after us is another question,” Jon said.
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