The restaurant hummed with quiet conversation when the two Mi'hiru walked in. Marta strengthened her mental dampers. She didn’t need the assault on her emotions that intruded even in small crowds. She was hungry, and Philipa said this place had exceptional food. Three men at a table in the far corner of the room were the focus of the energy in the room. One, whose long brown hair and face resembled Daryl’s, looked up as if expecting someone when they came in. Irritation flicked across his face, then disappeared in a laugh at one of his companions. Marta had seen him, Readen, the oldest of the guardian’s two sons, in other taverns several times in the tendays she'd been in Restal, often with the same two Mounted Patrol guards and the center of activity, laughing, joking.
"Watch out for those two guards. The Karda refused to carry them when they applied to the Karda Patrol. They don't like Mi'hiru," Philipa murmured. "Readen’s friendly enough and fun. He tolerates Mi’hiru, but that’s about all. Karda won’t accept him either. If the revolt against the so-called aristocracy of talent every amounts to anything, he’s probably the one who will lead it. He was born without any. Not even a hint. The only person in all our history to not have talent."
There’s that word again. Talent. I know it means something more here than the ability to play an instrument or write a poem. I’m missing something critical about the people here.Read More
Marta unbuckled the leather straps of Sidhari's saddle rig. She lifted it onto the crude rack in the corner of the large open stall of the stable in the Talons Inn. One day of flying through Restal left Sidhari and me as tired as any three days of flying across Rashiba and the edge of Toldar. Sidhari had hunted for herself in the afternoon, but Marta asked the boy lingering in the hall, watching her Karda with fascinated eyes, for tubers and seed-heavy hay, and she filled the large manger anyway. She picked up her heavy saddlebags. "Apparently one wild goat wasn't enough for you," she said as Sidhari attacked the food. "I'll see you in the morning. Looks like you're more tired than usual tonight. Rest well."
I talk to her as though she's a person, Marta thought as she walked across the guesthouse courtyard toward her dinner and a bed. When it comes down to it, she's the only one I can trust. Sidhari doesn't know what I'm saying and can't answer back. What a sad way to live my life, connected to nothing and no one. No family, what few friends she'd made left behind, scattered on too many worlds. She curled her fingers as if she could feel her father's hand around hers, anchoring her then shook them out. She'd made her decision. There was no reason to feel sad. She needed to concentrate on doing her job.Read More
I know I haven’t posted chapters of Karda for several weeks. First, it was Thanksgiving. I have a very big family, and Thanksgiving is our major get-together holiday for the year. We meet at my brother Bob’s cabin on Grand Lake of the Cherokees. This year there were sixty-four of us, with, I think, fourteen who weren’t able to come. Bob’s cabin is pretty big.
Wow, there could have been almost eighty of us. And we’ve been doing this for all my long life. At mother’s, then at my house, then at my farm, and now at Bob’s cabin. We’ve had other people, too, in-laws, friends—from Austria, from Japan, Germany, Brazil, Venezuela, from Spain and France, This year there were people from Houston, Portland, Atlanta, Durango, North Zulch. (Yes, really, North Zulch) When I tell people about our Thanksgivings, they are, well, they are flabbergasted.
In this day and age of what I often feel is a fracturing world, I realize how very fortunate we are. We can get together, that many of us, with differing personal, political, and religious beliefs, and have a great time. Several small fish get caught by small fisherpersons from the dock. We take walks and kick leaves, eat turkey and pecan pie, mashed potatoes, dressing and giblet gravy, and pumpkin pie, canned olives (a family tradition), chocolate pie and brownies, and this year Jeri made pralines, which Rachel informed us go really well with red wine.
Where else could you get Thanksgiving cheese grits, first brought by Chris, who’s gone, now a tradition carried on by Abbie and one day, perhaps, by Lucie.
One tiny five-year-old Mia got lost, causing panic, and then found upstairs watching a movie. Another five-year-old was sick to her stomach because that morning she had fallen off one of Uncle Allen’s horses. Ada Jane mounted back up when he put the saddle on because then she could have a seat belt. Five-year-old Miles lost some tiny legos someone stepped on. Ouch, legos hurt. We laughed, old people talked about all the trouble we got into when we were kids. We remembered those who are gone with love.
Because below all those differences, in this world where differences are pulling us apart, we have a web of love, a warp and weft of love, a give and take of love that stretches and binds us together. If any one of those eighty plus people says, "I need help," there will be someone there to help. Just knowing that, feeling that fabric, means I don’t need to ask for support. It’s already there holding me up.
This is a precious thing. This is a priceless, precious thing. This is a thing for giving thanks, for Thanksgiving.
On the Wednesday night before turkey day, I invite everyone who is in town plus some other friends and in laws to my house for tamales (formerly pizza). There were only about twenty-four, I think. Then, Thursday morning I cooked a turkey and dressing and made gravy. So you can see I didn’t have time to post anything here that week.
Then, as I was recovering from that, someone snuck into my house and poured Gorilla Glue into my sinuses. I was pretty much down for more than a week, and I’m still snuffling and blowing and coughing. But I’m alive. It wasn’t a terminal cold after all.
So today I’ll post two chapters, four and five. I’m working hard on finishing book two. It’s with my editor now, and I’m waiting with fingers crossed that he doesn’t have much ink left in his red pen. Or has forgotten how to use Track Changes in Word. How likely is that?
I also have an idea for the first scene in Book Three!!!! Yay. And my (prize-winning mid-grade novelist sister) Alice V. Brock—check out River of Cattle—made me sit down and try to plot it at our Sisters’ Writers Workshop. She stayed for four days after Thanksgiving and we worked. So I have a start. Sometime in January we’re planning a One Brother and Two Sisters Writers Workshop at her house. Brother Phil Vincent is writing an adventure-diving-drugs novel. A great plot! Phil is the adrenaline junky in our family and has had lots of adventures. No drugs—well, except when he was very young and driving the requisite Volkswagon Van. Pot doesn’t really count anymore, does it?
A shaky Marta followed Mother Cailyn down the spacious aisle of the mews to a roomy open stall. Her shoulders were so tense they ached. So much was riding on this. Her whole assignment. Success or failure. She was breathing so fast the cold air burned through her sinuses. Cailyn stopped in front of a stall.
It was unlike any stall she'd ever seen on any world—half walls of smooth stone, flagstone floor, rare, gleaming, dark wood framing the opening. An enormous pile of clean golden straw laid in one corner partitioned off by another half wall of polished wood. Light from a row of clerestory windows at the back brightened the space. A long, bronze-colored flight feather lay against a side wall, reflecting fire in the light.
"This is Sidhari."
Marta couldn't move. Cailyn pushed her inside.
The enormous Karda was beautiful. No, she was beyond beautiful. Her hawk head sat atop the long graceful neck of her horse body. A dark mane started just below the feathers of her crest, long and glossy. Her tail swept the ground. Sidhari's wings were lighter than the hair on her body, gold mahogany, with long bronze-gold flight feathers. Her sleek body shone; her bay coat shaded to black from hocks and knees down. Four long, sharp, black talons tipped huge avian feet.Read More