Ad Videndum in Tenebras

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Ad Videndum in Tenebras

Post by Vara Lord on Tue May 12, 2015 4:59 pm

Silence filled the room. Just a moment ago, the sound of an energy weapon firing had shattered the air, followed by the horrible sounds of a body hitting the far wall, and then falling to the floor. Tashi Norvin, stood stock-still, stunned by what she had done. She gazed down at her hands; the plasma blasters she had built into the glove of her armor cooling down, losing their glow. Slowly, she sank to her knees, her knee guards striking the floor with a clank. The man she would have professed to love without condition or exception only weeks before lay dead on the other side of the room.

"He's dead," she thought to herself. "He's dead, and I killed him. Me."

Her head bowed, and a tear slid down her cheek. More followed in quick succession, until she began to weep without shame. How long she remained weeping she neither knew nor cared. Finally, after awhile, the sobs began to subside. She found herself looking back on her life, on all the things she had done, all that had happened, all that had lead to this travesty she had just committed, her tragic story, the tale of how she looked into darkness. . . and how the darkness, in return, looked into her.

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Re: Ad Videndum in Tenebras

Post by Vara Lord on Mon Jun 08, 2015 12:42 pm

It was a dismal day in Medhro. Overcast skies cast a pall over everything, and the rain didn’t help much either. Everything was cold and wet and miserable. Still, the protesters stood, braving the unpleasant elements. They had a mission to fulfill.

About half of those present were Vatarri, with the other being mostly Humdar, along with one or two Andebons present as well. Tashi Norvin stood as close to her mother as she could. Despite her coat, she shivered in the wetness. At eight years of age, she had already had to put up with more than a young Vatarri her age might be expected to go through. She had been bullied more times than she could count, mostly because of her one friend, Fen Boglir. Fen, a female Humdar with soft brown eyes and dark brown fur, had been Tashi’s friend since they were six, and was more often than not the victim of bullying herself.

Such was the situation in Chun, the one nation on Vathoris that was the least friendly to alien races. Here, to be anything other than a Vatarri meant being a second class citizen. For any non-Vatarri person who lived here, life was a constant act of dodging the attentions of the Vatarri Purist groups that seemed in total control here; for those Vatarri brave enough to support the non-Vatarri races in Chun, it was little better.

The family of Norvin was just one such family, indeed, Tashi’s father, Jindar Norvin, was probably one of the most outspoken advocates for the rights of non-Vatarri in all of Chun. This status had made him and his small family of wife and child a prime target for the Vatarri Purists. And it was definitely beginning to take its toll on Geil, Tashi’s mother. Before Tashi was born, Geil had stood alongside her husband in everything. But when Tashi came along, it seemed she started to wilt, her strength starting to drain.

Tashi remembered vividly the one she had eavesdropped on a conversation between her two parents on this subject. Her parents had been in the front room of her house, while she had been hidden behind a closet door.

“I don’t think I can do this anymore, Jindar,” Geil had said. “Not with Tashi around. I’m so afraid for her. Those Vatarri Purists are ruthless. I don’t want our daughter to live in fear for her life. Why don’t we go to Daro? The atmosphere there is much more open to diversity. I hear the new High Prince is an outspoken sympathizer for the oppressed and poor. Let’s go there.”
“What about the people here, Geil,” asked Jindar. “Many of them are our friends. Many of them couldn’t afford to leave, or wouldn’t want to. Are we going to abandon them here when we could stay and help them?”

“Jindar, this place is beyond saving,” pleaded Geil. “Please let’s leave. Think of our daughter.”

“That’s why I think we should stay,” replied Jindar. “I want our daughter to live in a world where there is no racial prejudice, no Vatarri Purists, where free-thinking is encouraged. And this place needs that more than anything. I think Chun can be saved, and I intend to keep trying. I can’t just leave, not after what happened to my family.”

So Tashi’s family had stayed on to continue the fight, and now it had led to this point. The President for Life of Chun, Godmar Fadrin, was returning from a meeting with the other Heads of State of Vathoris. For several months now, Jindar Norvin, along with other members of the Equality for All party, had been preparing a grand push to set up and official lobby, and this was the day. Jindar now stood at the head of the group, a determined look on his face, undaunted by the weather, or the counter-protest building across from them on the other side of the main square in front of the state building. Threats, insults and all manner of violent speech was quite audible from where they to Tashi.

“Isn’t this exciting?” asked a voice near Tashi. It was her friend Fen. She pointed to where Jindar was standing. “This is the day we’re finally going to be heard. I know your dad’s a great speaker and my parents are with him up there too. This can’t possibly go wrong.”

Tashi always had admired Fen, always courageous and hopeful, even despite the bullying and sometimes outright beating both of them had received at the hands of bullies. The two had sometimes come out of those situations with bruises and scrapes, but Fen had always shrugged it off like it was nothing. “Things will get better. You’ll see,” she had said to Tashi many times. This optimism had been a great source of strength for Tashi through their childhood, and Tashi was glad she was here now. The young Humdar’s parents were indeed standing with Jindar; like him, they were amongst the most outspoken defenders of the rights of non-Vatarri , and had worked closely with Tashi’s father for many years.

“Here he comes!” yelled someone. The whirring hum of a motor filled the other as a large, shiny and very expensive-looking vehicle drove into the square, accompanied by four motorbikes on which were mounted armed and armored security guards. The entourage came to a halt in front of the state building, and the guards promptly dismounted and took up positions on either side of the right back door of the vehicle. The driver of the vehicle got out and hurried to this door which he quickly opened. Out stepped a tall, dark-brown-skinned Vatarri in magnificent attire, none other than Godmar Fadrin himself. The counter-protest promptly set up a cheer, which he smugly acknowledged, pointedly ignoring the Equal Rights group.

It was then that Jindar made his move. Accompanied by Fen’s parents, he walked quickly and purposefully towards the President for Life. The guards quickly jumped on front of them.

“That’s far enough!”

“We need to speak to the President,” replied Jindar calmly.

“The President only speaks to those who have an appointment,” replied the guard. “Get back!”

“Please! This is important,” said Jindar. “Mr. President, Sir!” he called past the guard. “We need to speak to you!”

Godmar turned an exasperated eye in his direction. “Guards, make that pesky fellow and his misguided friends leave,” he said in a bored tone, before heading for the state building.

“Mr. President, Sir” called Jindar. “I promise this won’t take long.” He tried to push forward, but was thrown to the ground by the guards.

“Jindar!” cried Geil. “Daddy!” cried Tashi. The two of them desperately began to push to get to him.

“How dare you, Sir,” Fen’s father began, berating the guard. His blood up, he rushed forward, and received a blow to face from the guard. Then chaos ensued.

Seeming to take this act of violence as an invitation, the counter-protest charged forward. Soon, both Jindar and Fen’s parents were buried under a mob that was screaming for their blood. Desperately Geil, Tahsi and Fen tried to get to them, heedless of their own safety. Many of the Equal Rights group fled, while a small group of them tried to rescue their leaders. Then there were gunshots. A squad of mob police had emerged from the state building. But rather than firing at the instigators of the fight, they targeted the Equal Rights group. Tashi saw her father being pulled from the fray by someone, when both were shot down by the police.

“Daddy!” she screamed, trying harder than ever to get to him. Out of nowhere, someone’s hand lashed out and struck her on the side of the head, either on purpose or by accident. Her head struck the pavement and she knew no more.

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Re: Ad Videndum in Tenebras

Post by Vara Lord on Mon Jul 06, 2015 6:18 pm

The first thing Tashi was aware of was that she had a headache. A splitting one. With a groan, she tried to touch her head, but her arm felt strangely heavy. She made an attempt to raise it again, but it quickly went back down.

“Don’t move too much, dear,” said a sad voice. “Just try to lie still.”

Tashi’s eyes fluttered open, and she managed to move her head to look at the blurry figure next to her. “Mommy?”

“I’m here, Tashi,” she said, as Tashi’s vision cleared. She was gently dabbing at the injury on Tashi’s head with a damp cloth. She looked dirty and disheveled, and there was a bruise over her one eye. Tear-stains were also clearly visible on her cheeks.

“What happened?” asked Tashi. Then the memory of what had taken place earlier hit. “Daddy!” Tashi sat up with a jerk. The motion brought a wave of pain to her head, but she barely noticed. “Where’s Daddy?” she cried. At this, her mother’s eyes brimmed fresh with tears, and she embraced her daughter. Tashi buried her face into her mother’s clothes, weeping bitterly at the realization that her father was dead. For several minutes the two of them sat there, weeping. Then Geil felt Tashi’s grip on her begin to tighten, and her sobs began to be replaced by grinding of teeth.

“How could they do that?’ she began, looking up at her mother. Tashi’s face was mess of stains from tears that still brimmed at her eyes. But now, her brow was furrowed, her eyes burned, and her teeth were set. “How could they do that?” she said again, her voice rising. “It isn’t fair! It isn’t right! They . . . CAN’T . . . DO THAT! It’s wrong! They killed Daddy!”

“I know, dear,” said Geil sadly.

“Then let’s make them pay!” cried the young girl with a savage vehemence that shocked Geil. “Call the police and have them put in jail right now!”

“We already tried that,” said a sad quiet voice nearby. For the first time, Tashi saw that Fen was there too. She was sitting a little ways away, and it was clear from the furrows in her cheek fur that she had been crying. “The police aren’t going to do anything, Tashi,” she said, her voice slightly husky. “We already tried calling them.”

“But . . . but . . .” said Tashi, “but they killed him!”

“I know,” said Fen. “They killed my parents, too.”

Tashi stared at Fen in shock. For a moment she didn’t say anything. “I’m sorry,” she said finally. Then she clenched her fists. “Those murderers,” she said angrily. “We’ve got to do something.”

“We are,” broke in Geil decisively. “We’re leaving Chun and going to Daro as soon as possible.”

“But what about Daddy?” said Tashi. “And Fen’s parents? We can’t just let the people who killed them get away with it.”

Geil looked at the two girls sadly. “I know,” she said. “I wish more than anything there was some way to bring them to justice. But the police won’t help us, and neither will the politicians. We barely made it out alive ourselves. This whole nation is against us. And that’s why we’re leaving. We’re going to Daro, where we won’t have to fear for our lives anymore. You have an uncle there whom you’ve never met, Tashi. I’m sure he’ll do everything he can to help us.”

Tashi opened her mouth, but then shut it again. For a moment she was silent. “But what about Fen?” she said finally. “Can she come too?”

“Of course she will,” said Geil. She turned to the Humdar maid. “I know I can never replace your parents, but if you’re willing, you can be a part of our family.”

In response, Fen got up and embraced them, and they hugged her as well. “It’ll be all right, my dears,” said Geil. “From now on, things will be better. I promise.”
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Re: Ad Videndum in Tenebras

Post by Vara Lord on Sun Aug 16, 2015 10:08 pm

It had been said that, of all the ports for atmosphere-traversing vessels to found in Daro, and indeed, all of Vathoris, none were busier than Adrosen Airstrip, the largest airport in Daro. If Tashi had heard that statement, despite having seen few airports herself in her short life, she would have agreed without hesitation. The main lobby was crowded with more people than she had ever seen inside one building at once. Large, holographic screens displayed schedules for various flights in or out, with a small secondary section of each screen being devoted to advertisements. Scattered here and there were vendor stations and convenience stores, selling everything from flight insurance to small snacks. In the middle of the lobby surrounded by some simple yet nicely made couches and benches that people sat on as they waited for the respective flights was an intricately designed crystal fountain, which seemed to be playing music simultaneously. Closer inspection revealed that it in fact had several different adjustable valves and various other structures that would open or close, or shift position swiftly and regularly change the flow of water in such a way that the sound the liquid medium made as it trickled and spilled created  a tune; all in all, it was a treat for the eyes and the ears.

Tashi would have liked to have examined this marvelous thing closer, but a light push from her mother propelled her forward. At the moment, Tashi, her mother, and Fen were part of a group of people streaming out of the supersonic airliner that had brought them here. A few of the more distinguished-looking first-class passengers were heading off to nice-looking areas that seemed to have been designed just for them. Nearby another stream of people was hurrying to board another flight which a voice over a COMM announced was flight 654 to Jannis, the Capital of the nation of Romm. The first thing Tashi noticed was how many more Humdar and Andebon there were here as opposed to back in Chun, although the Vatarri still held the majority. She even saw a few species she hadn’t seen before.

“There he is,” said Geil, pointing, “your Uncle Neric.” Standing near one of the main exits was a tallish Vatarri dressed in a casual toga that was the main style in Daro. He was olive-brown skinned, with decently sized horns and eyebrow crests, and was holding a sign that read “Norvins” on it. Seeing Tashi and her family, he smiled, waved, and hurried over.

“Geil!” he cried, giving his sister-in-law a hug. “It’s so wonderful to see you after all these years. I’ve missed you.”

“I’ve missed you, too,” said Geil, hugging him back.

“And this must be my little niece, Tashi,” said Neric, embracing her in turn. “I haven’t seen you since you were a baby.” Tashi smiled, the first time she had done so for a while. She liked her Uncle; he was cheerful and had a kind face.

“And who is this?” asked Neric, turning to Fen. “Is this Fen? Welcome to the family.”

“Hello, Mr. Norvin,” said Fen politely.

“Heavens,” said Neric with a twinkle in his eye. “You make me feel like a stranger. Call me Uncle Neric.” He turned to Geil. “How was your trip?”

“It was as good as could be expected,” said Geil.

“Well, let’s not stand around till we’re all old,” said Neric. “Supper’s a’waiting back at the house. How does menatro-galoshi sound?” In a heartbeat, they had piled into a small vehicle that was sitting outside, and before long, they were heading down a busy road.

Tashi gazed out the window. The road was quite busy, both with vehicles and pedestrians. There were many different buildings, some tall and some small, but all were elegant. Tashi noticed one medium-sized building that seemed rather heavily guarded, as well as being a convergence point for quite a few heavy power lines. Was that some sort of power plant? It seemed so small.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it,” said Fen, breaking in on Tashi’s thoughts. She was gazing out the other window, quietly taking it all in. “It seems so much more artistic and alive, so happy. Everything back in Chun seemed so strict by comparison.” She sighed, a single tear beading at her eye. “Dad always was interested in architecture. He would have loved it here.”

Tashi felt her own eyes starting to well up at the painful memories. She still had nightmares about that horrible day, the shouts, the mob pulling her father down. Silently, she squinched her eyes shut, tears making their way down her cheeks as she sniffled a bit. Looking over, Fen hugged the friend who had become her sister, and for a moment the two sat silently, comforting each other. The Fen sat up and held Tashi’s shoulders. As Tashi looked at her, it seemed to her that Fen suddenly seemed to have become older, wiser.

“Whatever happens, Tashi,” said Fen, “we have to try move on, and keep hoping. My parents and your father would want us to. They would want us not to give up hope, to be happy. We have to honor them.” She looked out the window. “Somehow I feel we’ve come to a better place than we were before. I think that here our lives can be better. We can be happy, if we want. So let’s be happy.”

Tashi sniffled. “I still miss Daddy.”

“I miss my mom and dad, too,” said Fen. “We’ll always miss them. But they would want us to remember them in happy ways. Besides, we have your mom, and Uncle Neric. And I’ll bet there will be lots of new friends to meet here. Everything will be okay, Tashi. You’ll see.”

So involved had the two girls become in their talking, that they didn’t notice the quiet conversation going on in the front of the vehicle.

“How are you holding up?” asked Neric quietly.

Geil sniffed. “It’s hard, Neric. So hard. I’m not sure how I’ll get by without Jindar. He was always so strong and confident. I feel so lost without him.”

Neric gazed sadly out the windshield. A small traffic jam was slowing things down. “He was strong, alright. Always stood up for me when bullies came for me. He couldn’t stand bullies. He was the best older brother a man could ask for.” Neric choked a little, wiped his eye, and then took a deep breath. “I’m gonna miss him, that’s for sure. But let’s try not to cry in front of the girls.”

Geil nodded. “You’re right. We need to be strong for their sake. Poor children.”

“How are they holding up?” asked Neric quietly.

Geil sighed, chancing a quick look back. “Fen seems to be enduring it best. She’s a strong child. It’s Tashi I’m truly worried about. She was always sensitive, and she’s taking this very hard. I’m so worried about her.”

Neric squeezed his sister-in-law’s hand. “Everything will be all right,” he assured her. “I’ve taken a little leave from work to help you three settle in. I was thinking tomorrow I could take you all on a tour of the city. How does that sound.”

Geil smiled. “Thank you. I think that might help.”

Neric gave her a quick smile before turning back to the road. The traffic was starting to move again.

“What’s family for, after all?”
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Re: Ad Videndum in Tenebras

Post by Vara Lord on Mon Sep 14, 2015 11:38 pm

The capital of Daro, Androsen, was a busy city to say the least. But what truly struck Tashi was the diversity of the people here as opposed to Chun. Vatarri still made up the majority, but there were also far more Humdar than she remembered seeing back in her old home. There were even a fair number of Andebon present, whom she had seen practically none of back in Chun, and there were others she didn’t recognize at all. That aside, the whole atmosphere was different. After the austere sternness and racist environment of Chun, this place seemed full of animosity and welcome; people of different aces spoke to each other openly and freely as equals, something that had been rare in Chun.

“This is a beautiful city,” said Fen. “Is all of Daro like this?”

“Can’t say,” said Uncle Neric cheerfully. “I don’t get around much. But you’re absolutely right! This lace is beautiful, the most beautiful city on Vathoris, if I do say so myself, and it ain’t just cause of the architecture.”

“The architecture is lovely,” said Geil, looking around. No one could find fault with this statement; the buildings were all not only made well, but done so with an eye for beauty, the style being akin to what many races might have described as a “Transcendant” style. Stone angels were apparent on many building, on fountains, or simply standing in the middle of a square.

“There certainly seems to be a lot of people out walking today,” observed Geil. “Is there something going on, a festival or something?”

“Not that I’m aware of,” said Neric. “People around just like to walk more, that’s all, though some do still drive. Speaking of which,” he added, quickly directing everyone to one side as a small vehicle went by.

“What do you think, Tashi?” asked Fen. “Isn’t this place wonderful?”

Tashi nodded quietly. She had said little during this tour that they had been given. She did think that the city was beautiful, and the people seemed nice, but she was rather overwhelmed. She was also a bit disappointed on not being able to go inside the power plant they had stopped by earlier. It had been a small, somewhat cone-shaped building that, according to Uncle Neric, powered most of Vathoris. Tashi had found herself rather fascinated by this, but, unfortunately, only authorized personnel were permitted inside.

“Ah, here’s my favorite part of the city,” said Neric, pointing. The group had come to large cathedral, made of polished marble, the pillars glittering in the sun. On each side of the wide steps leading to entrance, stood a pair of angelic beings, modeled after Vatarri, with arms and wings stretched upwards. Neric lead them up the steps to the entrance, which, rather than having automatic metallic doors, had a doors made of wood, with ornately carved copper handles. The doors groaned loudly as Neric heaved one of them open. Smiling, he ushered them inside.

The cathedral somehow seemed even bigger from the inside than from the outside. Marble pillars rose to a loft ceiling covered in artistic designs of angels, while light coming into the building was dyed various colors by stained glass depicting various important people and events in the religion’s history. At the front of the church steps rose up to a dais where an artistically crafted altar stood, while to one side was a pedestal upon which sat a closed book, used for sermons and the conduction of religious services; the rest of the cathedral was taken up by rows of pews. On the wall at the back was the largest of the stained glass windows. The design at the bottom was of a Vatarri writing a book as he gazed into the heavens, from which a light shone down on his face. The source of the light was an image of three pointed ovals that radiated outwards from each other, but were joined at their inwards ends. In the middle of this, was the image of a white bird.

Fen looked at everything with awe, drinking it all in as she quietly took a seat. Neric did likewise, pausing for a moment to make a respectful gesture towards the altar, genuflecting while touching the forefinger of his right hand in sequence to his brow, then his left and right shoulders. Geil and Tashi took a seat next to them, gazing around at the vast interior of the building as Neric, in a hushed tone, began to give them a history of the cathedral as well as the religion that was worshiped here, which he himself was part of. Fen listened closely with great attention; Tashi, however, felt a little lost in the vastness of this place.

“This place is lovely,” said Fen at last, when Neric paused. “It’s so peaceful and quiet. “I could stay here all day.”

“Me, too,” said Neric. “Makes a good place for napping, that’s for sure.” Everyone looked at him in surprise, and he chuckled. “Just kidding. You’re right, Fen. This is probably the most peaceful place there is, but you should see it during service, too. The music is . . .”

Without warning, a roaring sound shook the building, and a shadow obscured the light from the windows for a second. “What the hey?” said Neric. Rising, he paused to make the same gesture of respect towards the altar as before heading outside, the others following. They were out just in time to see a spaceship flying by; it seemed to be towing something along with its tractor beam.

“Well, I’ll be,” murmured Neric. “I wonder what they’ve got there.” He led the group in the direction the ship had headed, the Androsen Airstrip. As the group hurried forward, Tashi could see the ship descend, remain stationary for a second, and then ascend again, minus its burden. Tashi also quickly noticed that a growing number of other people were moving in the same direction, obviously just as curious about what was going as they were. By the time they arrived at the airstrip, a large crowd had gathered.

“What is it, Neric?” asked Geil. “I can’t see past all these people.”

Neric peered over the heads of those in front of them. “It looks like some sort of weird escape pod. Well, what do you know? There’s the High Prince Vey Churim himself, and there’s Aarin Tiirmot, and I think that’s Mott Gatiir there.”

“Where?” said Tashi as she and Fen vainly tried to look over peoples’ heads. “I can’t see.”

“Her, I’ll help,” said Neric cheerfully. One by one he lifted them up onto top of a pile of crates that stood nearby. Now able to see, Tashi saw the unusual pod sitting were it had been deposited in the middle of the airfield, its surface dark-colored and dull, almost seeming to carry a threatening aspect about it. Beside the pod were three Vatarri and a Humdar. The one Vatarri on the left was very tall, was greenish-brown-skinned, had smallish eyebrow crests, and a fine pair of sweeping horns; the one next to him was a full head shorter, with dark, almost ash-colored skin, large eyebrow crests, and small horns. The Humdar was pale-grey, almost white, and seemed to be trying to get the pod opened. The third Vatarri stood on the other side of the Humdar, and was pale-green, a color Tashi had not seen in a Vatarri before.

“That there,” exlained Uncle Neric, pointing to the tall Vatarri on the left, “is Aarin Tiirmot, and that next to him is the High Prince himself, Vey Churim. The Humdar is called Mott Gatiir, a famous engineer and inventor.”

“What about that other Vatarri?” asked Fen.

“I’m not sure,” admitted Neric. “I’ve never seen him before.” Suddenly, there was a hiss and a clang; the Humdar had gotten the pod opened. The crowd began to surge forward a little, all eager to see what was inside, but he guards held them back. The Vatarri that Neric had identified as the High Prince said something, and the Humdar handed him a lantern, which the High Prince shone inside the pod.

Fen suddenly heard Tashi gasp, and turned to see a she had gone pale. She looked afraid, and her breathing was coming in gasps. “What’s wrong, Tashi,” said Fen in concern. Turning to look, Geil and Neric quickly took Tashi down from the crates. “What wrong, Tashi?” said Geil anxiously. “Are you all right?”

“He’s afraid,” gasped Tashi. “So afraid.”

“Afraid?” said Neric. “Whose afraid?”

“Suddenly, the murmurs of the crowd reached an even greater volume. Looking over, Neric gazed over the heads of the crowd a moment and then whistled. “Goodness! He’s huge!”

“Neric!” snapped Geil in some annoyance. “Stop looking over there and help! Something’s wrong with Tashi.”

“No,” said Tashi, rubbing her forhead. “I. . . I think I’m all right now.” She tried to look over the heads of the crowd. “Did they bring something out? I want to see.”

Neric stooped down and lifted her up. Looking over, Tashi saw the High Prince had come out of the pod, and had brought something with him. The creature that had emerged was huge indeed, towering over all present. It had pale greenish-skin, was bipedal, had a longish tail, pointed ears, and a mane going from its brow to its neck. The long snout had a bony ridge running up to where the hair began, and the creature had claws on its hands and toes. The creature was incredibly muscular and powerful looking, indeed, it looked like it could tear a building apart with its bare hands.

“Excusssse me, let me through, pleasssse,” said a thin lizard-like creature making its way through the crowd. As it passed by them, Tashi suddenly went pale again, and asked to be let down. “Let’s go home, please,” she pleaded.

“What’s wrong? Are you all right?” asked Geil.

“I’m fine,” said Tashi, a little snappishly. “I just want to go now.”

Fen looked hard at Tashi. Something clearly wasn’t right. “What’s wrong, Tashi?” she asked quietly. “What just happened to you?”

Tashi looked at her friend with a look of fear and bafflement. “I don’ know.”

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