Here’s Chapter 14 of Karda and a brief note about—well, stuff

This is the last chapter I will post. I am frantically working on getting the books up and running for publication next month.

It’s spring here, finally, and I’ve been working outside, planting all my pots with begonias, geraniums, petunias, sweet potato vine—did you know there are black sweet potato vines? 

My one small pot of herbs is doing great already. The sage plant is getting old and woody. The pot is slowly crumbling—I dare not move it. It's been in the same place on the porch there are violets growing out from under where it sits on the concrete. So next year I may have to plant a new sage. The chives, the thyme, the oregano I can repot, but the sage—not so much. Yesterday it was 95 degrees outside, and I had the top down on my car with the AC running. Today is cooler, but yes, summer heat approaches. We’ve had about three days of spring. It would be nice if summer could be cool, too. But—it’s Oklahoma. Probably not much chance of that. 

Enjoy this chapter and look for Karda and  Hunter—Vol II soon.

If you are not already signed up for my newsletters, please do so, because I want you to be the first to know when they are available. 

Here’s Chapter 14. Enjoy

Chapter 14

"Readen has assured me that there are no groups of marauders sheltering inside our borders." Roland looked to Readen. "Tell Altan what you found when you took the Mounted Patrol out there." He looked back at Altan. "He spent two tendays in the most deplorable conditions." His steward entered the room and stood behind him with a handful of papers. Roland flapped his hand at Readen in a come-on-tell-all motion and started going through the papers, carrying on a sotto-voce conversation with the steward.

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Chapter 13 of Karda: Adalta Vol. I

Marta breathed in the brisk upper air of the foothills as Sidhari circled up the rising thermal. She'd fought to be the Mi'hiru for this expedition. Altan was taking Guardian Stefan's place in the annual trade talks with Restal, and Marta knew her assessment of the politics between the two quadrants, as well as the outcome, would be information Kayne would relish. Restal and Toldar were both her territory.

But it was difficult to keep her mental barriers up when she and Altan were together so often. She was still getting used to hearing Sidhari in her head. Altan's voice brought on vicious headaches—and the occasional doubt about her sanity.

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Chapter 12 Karda: Adalta Vol. I

~His name is Baltu,~ said Sidhari. Her head hung over Marta's as she and Altan groomed the little male. Marta handed Altan a soft cloth and the green bottle of the oil she used on wing feathers. She scratched Baltu's head to keep him calm. Altan worked, crooning softly to the little Karda. They ran loose in the mews when they weren't being fed or groomed. Baltu followed Altan everywhere he went, his cries piteous and his immature wings beating futilely whenever Altan flew off on Kibrath. Despite herself, she had to admit Altan was good at soothing the skittish baby.

Marta scratched the downy feathers under the fledgling's neck, irritated that Altan was so close to them. He was there with her every moment he could spare. She couldn't complain that he was interfering. He knew what he was doing. It was just so--irritating. Her fingers tangled with Altan's as they both reached to scratch the same soft spot under Baltu's beak.

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Karda: Adalta Vol: I Chapter 11

Six Karda met them when they were still miles from Toldar Prime. They settled into a V formation around the four weary travelers to ease their flight. When they landed, the mews was a madhouse of Mi'hiru, Karda, as well as Guardian Stefan, Elena, and others from the Guild House and the Keep. Marta was relieved to get away when things settled enough to leave the babies under the care of a tired Eanna who assured her they would be fine for the night. The shutters on her empathic shield were flapping open, and she was getting bombarded.

She pulled off her soft riding boots and found a pair of slippers on one of the shelves in the entryway to the long central hall of the red stone building. She followed Mother Solaira across the flagstones through an archway to the right into the dining room filled with heavy, worn, polished benches, chairs, and wooden tables with bright pottery vases of fresh flowers. They walked through into the big kitchen. A cheerful fire of magma stones, the strange fuel Marta hadn't figured out, glowed in the big metal cooking stove. The smell of fresh baked bread poured out of the hot adobe wall oven to fill the kitchen. Several large loaves cooled at one end of the big worn central table. Piles of papers littered the other.

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Karda Chapter Nine

Altan picked up the heavy pack, carried it to the nest as close as he could get without agitating the babies more than they already were. How could he calm them enough to accept his touch? He'd have to handle them a lot, and it wouldn't be gentle if he were to get them off this narrow mesa. He started singing a song his mother sang when he was little. They watched him; heads cocked at the same angle.

But as soon as he approached the nest they scrambled to the other side, stumbling and climbing over each other. They snapped at him with shrill, agitated cries.

"Ok. I know I’d starve if I had to sing for my soup, but I’m not that bad."

~Keep singing, perhaps it will help calm them. They’ve never seen anything like you,~ spoke Kibrath. ~They are too young to understand when I talk to them, but I'll comfort them as well as I can.~ 

Altan pulled small pieces of the soaked meat and vegetables—which they weren't too sure about—and toss them into the fledgling's mouths, moving a step closer each time. They squabbled and pushed at each other like "me first, me first." He ran out of the soaked morsels and couldn't cut more fast enough. Are they ever going to be satisfied? I don’t think I brought enough. Each toss a little shorter, he coaxed them closer and closer. There was little left when they approached close enough he could touch them over the sides of the nest. They let him scratch their heads, fingers gentle in the soft feathers. They butted against him, knocking the side of the nest trying to get closer, wanting more food. I wonder if they think I am a crippled Karda with no wings and not enough legs.

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Karda Chapter Eight

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.~

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Karda, Chapter 7

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.

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Karda Chapter Six

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.

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Karda: Adalta Vol I Chapter Five

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.

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Karda: Adalta Vol. I Chapter Four

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.

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Writing Interrupted

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?