Chapter 13 Secrets I Did Not Know About
The next morning we ride out – me on my faithful Sarji, Iris on his Chirita, a playful black mare with a white spot on her forehead and Henessada on a grey horse of an unknown name. Not to mention Immaul, who quickly got in touch with our prophet, and hangs over her, communicating constantly. Somehow they have a lot to talk about and they are very secretive.
We must hurry to Tustridge, the capital, in what looks like a rather silly move. If an armada of ships is coming our way, then let it happen. How can I help the king? Let him get off his wide behind and do something for a change. Yeah, he does not have enough troops, and they are ill-prepared as we haven’t had a war in fifty years… Then so be it! He probably deserves to lose his kingdom for all the poor management.
Sada is convinced, though, that I can actually help save the country by finding my grandfather’s ship. She is seeing something, connected with me, but would not tell us.
We ride fast, leaving behind forests and small villages. We are being followed. It isn’t something I can put my finger on. There is no sound of hoofs behind, there are no angry arrows directed at your heart. Nothing like that. There is a stealth fear behind, making all of us looking back, trying to discern it’s hellish face in a pattern of leaves, in an awkwardly bent tree.
The unseen threat is felt by everyone, but makes Sada shiver most of all. I see it in her concerned face. It’s evening, and everyone’s tired, but the prophet would not let us stay anywhere. She turns down village after village, thus making us ride into the night in a fervent attempt to get ever closer to our destination, as if the capital is any safer than here from something you can’t even see.
“Allright, this is it. I’m going to stop here!” Says Iris, riding into yet another village by a small river.
Several houses are scattered across a field, and coming in we can hear dogs barking, and cows mooing.
Sada is silent, as she is talking with Immaul telepathically. All you need to do for that is think. Then Immaul answers by sending a thought to your mind. The only obstacle would be the fact that, although he can hear any human’s thought, he does not talk to anyone. This old woman is the only one I ever saw him talk to besides me. He must be really freaked out on some level to do that.
“Okay.” She answers finally. “Why don’t we stay in this house?”
Henessada can stay at any house. A useful skill when you’re dead tired and there is not much joy in being turned down house after house…
I get off Sargi and knock on the door. It takes a while, then there is a frightened, coarse female voice on the other side of the door.
“Please open. I have news from your daughter Ila.”
The wind picks up, and suddenly it becomes very cold. The trees look menacing, and the imagination pictures the unseen dangers lurking everywhere.
The reason Sada can stay at any house is because she psychic. So she brings some long-awaited news in exchange of any favor she asks.
The door creaks open and a middle-aged woman looks at us intently.
“How do you know my daughter?” She inquires.
“Your Ila has settled just fine in her new husband’s village, and she is pregnant with her first child. It will be a girl. They sold the amethyst ring you gave her as a dowry and bought two cows.”
“Ohhh!” The woman lets us in with a smile.
And right in time. I swear I saw a tree nearby move in an unnatural way, maybe even towards us. It’s crazy. I’m going crazy with all this.
The owner of the house gives us one room with two beds. Iris and I get into one, and I feel how much he loves me and wants me. He kisses my lips and caresses my body. I love him too, but I do not feel much. The older I get the more my programming comes through – I’m not interested in humans, even such a handsome hunk as Iris. I can only love my creator, Leot. But he is too far away and does not even know if I exist.
Eventually Iris falls asleep, and I cuddle him, and run my hand through his hair, as I must show him love even if I do not feel it. My life turned out better than planned. After all I did manage to marry a boy, not a girl. Secretly, of course, but it does not matter, right? As long as we’re together.
Iris too, is a descendant of a scientist from the same spaceship that crashed somewhere in this country close to a hundred years ago. Baron Iris Leo’s tragic and dramatic life is intertwined with mine more than I would have liked it, and more than I can handle.
But we’re in love as much as I can be in love with anyone, and if this is all we have, then we’re way better off than many men who can’t love who they chose. And we’re going to find my grandfather’s ship if only to visit it as something precious to our hearts.
This ship will smell like Leot. I was there many times in my dreams and visions that seeped into my psyche from Ari’s files. It was his home. The place he lived at, the place he traveled in, the place he made love to the most important person in his life – Leot.
I don’t know if I can take it. But I could not refuse to help Henessada and Midlandori to keep their lands from being taken over, even I could not care less for the country itself.
“So, that’s why you’re having an affair with Kallitris, right? He can take any shape, and he makes love to you in a shape of Leot? Then you can imagine that you’re Ari.”
The whisper is sharp as a knife. I jump up in bed, and Iris moans in his sleep, as his head was on my hand.
I pull my hand from under him and look into the darkness. It has the shape of a disheveled old woman.
“Why, yes.” I reply, not eager to discuss my relationship with Kallitris, when Iris can wake up at any moment.
“How is this that this advanced creature with vast wealth and unbelievable possibilities had parked his spacecraft over Deikren, and has been keeping his vigil over you for over twenty years. What did he ever find in you, when he can have any creature in the Universe?
“I don’t know, but it sure sounds flattering the way you put it!” I smile.
“You are such an idiot! He is using you. How? Will you tell us, or will we have to beat it out of you?!”
The moon suddenly comes out from behind the cloud, and the shadow of Immaul is lit up by it from behind in a grotesque expression of his otherworldly beauty – he is hanging in the air with his wings spread. Batlike, and yet, a humanoid called arkchil from a race of chroniclers, collectors of all and every bit of information to store and organize, to make sense of it all, only to suggest more successful routs to anyone who’d listen.
Immaul’s native planet is a planemo by the name of Derelen. It rushes through space and time, unhindered by a gravitation of any other planet or a star, like a single person, concerned only with their own business. Freedom is exhilarating, but to a certain point.
Sometimes I find sadness in Immaul’s eyes. Sadness of not belonging to any system, sadness of the world not lit up by a sun, sadness of loneliness in space.
“Since when you guys are in league?” I swallow hard, as I was not prepared for an angry mob in the middle of the night.
“Essentially since I can’t penetrate any memories of you being on Kallitris’s ship. Every time you leave with him, you come back clean as a plate. He does something to you there, and then blocks that memory, and I can’t see it. So I got an ally you can’t say no to!”
“It’s my private relationship!” I raise my voice, challenging them both.
“That’s not all of it. I would not intrude on your life if that was it.” Sada shakes her head in disappointment. ‘Whatever he is doing to you is somehow connected to your programming by Leot. You become a slave to whoever gives you a certain command!”
I sigh. The moon hides again. Why do I owe them an explanation? Frankly, I never thought of not being able to remember anything that happens on the ship. I always thought it was because of neurotoxin that Kallitris would inject into me in generous dosages. That stuff is inebriating, it penetrates your whole body, and uplifts in a surge of pleasure. Then we make love. I can’t remember anything later. Big deal.
“Wait, what was that last thought?” The prophet comes closer to me, and grabs my face with her wrinkled hands with dry, scratchy skin. “Immaul, are you recording this?”
“Yes. But I’ve been up and down that alley for twenty years, Sada. There is nothing new for me here.” Immaul answers in his lifeless voice. He has no throat or an ability to produce a sound in a frequency a human can hear. He can only create an illusion of a voice when he has to. The rest is telepathic.
“No, did you hear about the injection of neurotoxin? Have you ever analyzed his tissues for any foreign substance when he’s back from the ship?” Sada starts pacing there and back nervously.
“Why would I do that? It’s a standard solution Kallitris synthesizes for Demi all the time. There is no mystery here.”
“I beg to differ, my friend, I beg to differ.” Henessada frowns and wants to add something, when the window flies open, showering us all with pieces of broken glass.
Iris wakes up and looks around, bewildered.
Immaul disappears and Sada freezes, studying the darkness outside.
“Whatever he is doing to you on the ship is what will help you to save this country.” She whispers almost inaudibly, staring at the shadows that dance in the moonlight.