Altan and Kibrath spent their first night on the bank of the southern fork of the Barleyn River and a lazy morning waiting for the air to warm enough for thermals to form. He sprawled against his packs drinking tea, relishing growing warmth from the sun moving up the cobalt sky. The sound of the river flowing noisy and icy cold out of the craggy mountains to the West carried away thought. They weren't far from the southern pass through the mountains to the Coastal Holdings.
The energy of Adalta beneath him was tangible, the gentle force that always pulsed through him. He pulled on it and pinched a tiny mix of Earth and Air to form a ball of fire between his fingers. He set a water shield and played with the flame, passing it back and forth between his hands, rolling it from the fingers of one to the other, keeping it small as a match flame. He let it go after several minutes, and it floated away, fading as he withdrew the tiny tendril of his talent connection. He rolled to kneeling and spread his hands flat on the ground in front of him. He stayed that way for a long time, feeling the power curl through him.
Kibrath looked up, his beak stained from tearing at clumps of succulent green grass. ~Let's go, lazy one. It's warm enough by now.~Read More
The dining hall at Toldar Keep was more welcoming than the one in Restal Prime, Marta thought as she looked around. Polished red granite walls, paneled above in rare pale bleached walnut, glowed in the golden light that streamed at a low angle from the tall windows on the far side of the room. A steward lit bronze oil lamps in ornamental brackets on the walls. Several large round tables with chairs stood in no particular order around the room. No head table on a dais separated the "important" from the "unimportant." It was a room designed to make people feel comfortable, not to impress or intimidate as Guardian Roland's hall in Restal had been.
The boy manning the door was as awkward as Marta felt. He blushed as he asked her name, though she knew she was the only Mi'hiru invited for tonight. It was her introduction to Toldar, to Guardian Me'Gerron, and probably at least some of his Councilors. Certainly Altan Me'Gerron, heir and Commander of the Karda Patrol, whom she hadn't met yet. She'd only arrived four days before. They were more prompt to welcome her than had been the case in Restal. She hoped it was indicative of better relations with the Karda. The boy stumbled over his too large feet as he led her to a table at the far side of the room and introduced her.Read More
Marta hurried through the growing darkness, cloak wrapped tightly around her against the chill and drizzle, hood up, glad for its heavy wool. And glad for the long wool divided skirt and high necked jacket of her blue uniform. It would be good to be inside a warm tavern.
Was it summer? Did this planet even have a summer? The red sun gave far less heat than most of the planet's she'd been on, and it rained three out of five days of the long four hundred thirty-two day year. Well, maybe that's an exaggeration. But surely not by much. I may never dry out. At its best summer was only a little less cool than the winter season. And a little less wet, which wasn't saying much.
The lamplighter hadn’t gotten to this part of the Prime yet. The narrow street she turned into was dark between the tall buildings and smelled. She walked faster, careful on the wet, slick stones, still mindful of the lighter gravity on Adalta. A prickle of warning sent her hand to the hilt of her sword. Quick footsteps sounded from behind her. She pushed the right side of her short cloak over her shoulder, flipped the hood back, and loosened the weapon in its scabbard. Whoever followed closed fast, too fast, and threatening intentions battered against her shields. The street was too dark and too empty to be careless. She turned.Read More
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?