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The Sorceress of Karres: Chapter Three

       Last updated: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 19:12 EDT



    Pausert was not prepared for Goth to sniff loudly and retreat, when he made a joke about his lousy take-off, instead of teasing him. The captain was almost sure she was in tears. But he couldn’t leave the navigation controls just then to follow her and find out what was wrong. When she came back, her face looking recently washed, he started to ask. But she waved the question away.

    She remained taciturn for the rest of the day — and all of the next, and the next. By then, Pausert was really starting to worry.

    He tried to pry the Leewit, to see if she knew anything. But the little witch seemed to be in one of her non-cooperative moods.

    By then, they were approaching the Chaladoor, and Pausert had something else to worry about.



    Neldo stopped vibrating after a while, and started breathing. “Touch-talk,” he gasped, just as soon he had enough breath. “The things I do for love. Maleen couldn’t come because of the baby. And I’ve had a team of witches damping the klatha output. We hope that Pausert is unaware of this, but I need to be quick.”

    Goth put her hands against him, and made contact with Maleen. “What have you got for me?” she demanded.

    “Quite a lot. We tracked back the date a lattice ship last landed on Nikkeldepain. And discovered that a girl called Vala, the daughter of Sutherb and Lotl, was a student at the Nikkeldepain Academy for the Sons and Daughters of Gentlemen and Officers, for six months in the same year. Got a picture of her from a yearbook. It’s you, all right. But your hair is curled and red. I’ve sent curling tongs and the dye that mother thought best match, with Neldo. You’ll have to light-shift it a bit longer at first, but long term it’s easier not to have to do light shift all the time. Oh, and here’s a safe set of co-ordinates for you to go to — an impression of a place on Nikkeldepain. Father supplied that.”

    The image flooded into her mind. “Suberth and…?”

    “Mother and father, you dope,” said the Leewit. Complex codes were obvious to her. Mere anagrams were a joke.

    “Oh. Yeah.”

    “The Leewit. You need to know seeing as Goth isn’t going to be here. Someone is spending huge amounts of money on finding the Venture 7333. Offering a small fortune for her flight times and schedules. Whatever is happening in Chaladoor has fingers in crime in the rest of the Empire. We’re digging for whoever has put up the money. But, even by Karres standards, they’ve been spending it like water. And the odd thing is they have a description of someone who looks a lot like mother, that they’re also looking for.”

    “What’s so odd about that?”

    “The person has wavy red hair, and her name is Vala.”



    Goth put on as many layers as she could. The Egger route was tough on the body. The captain thought that he had some way to stop the vibration, but she couldn’t ask him about it now. Anyway, his klatha skills were very powerful… and a bit scary and off the wall.

    The Leewit was oddly silent during the whole process. A little wide-eyed and apprehensive. The Leewit really did not like the Egger route. Actually, Goth didn’t like it much herself.

    “Well,” she said, taking a deep breath and fixing the touch-talk mental co-ordinates in her mind, “Here goes. Look after the captain for me, Leewit. And don’t forget to wash behind your ears.”

    “I won’t,” said the Leewit, not arguing for once in her life, her voice a little small.

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