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.They would allow no danger to come to the mri without raising alarm about it, and their present manner was one of great ease.Unharmed by the wind of the ship, a clump of blue-green pipes grew nearby.The dusei destroyed it, munching the plants with evident relish.Their digestion could handle anything, even most poisons; there was no concern for that.Where plants grew, there was surely water, be it ever so scant.Duncan looked on that sparse growth with satisfaction, with pride, for he had found them a place where life existed in this otherwise barren land, had put their little ship down within reach of waterAnd close also to the power source that scan detected.There was no reaction to their presence, none in their descent, none now.The ship's instruments still scanned the skies, ready to trip the sirens and warn them to cover, but the skies remained vacant.both desired and undesired, that hush that prevailed.He felt the pleasure-feelings of the dusei, lotus-balm, and yielded.Almost timidly he came down the ramp, feeling out of place and strange, and approached the mri silently, hoping that they would not take offense at his presence: well as he knew Niun, he felt him capable of that, toward a tsi'mri."She'pan," he heard Niun say softly, and she turned and noticed him, and reached out her hand to him.They put their arms about him as they would a brother, and Duncan felt an impulse to tears that a man who would be kel'en could not shed.He bowed his head for a moment, and felt their warmth near him.There was a healthy wind blowing, whipping at their robes.He put his arms about them too, feeling on the one side the fragility that was Melein and on the other the lean strength of Niun; and themselves alien, beast-warm, and savoring the chill that set him shivering.The dusei roved the area more and more widely, emitting their hunting moans, that would frighten anything with ears to hear.And they looked about them, and save for the ship's alien presence, there was nothing but the earth and sky: flat in one direction, and beyond that flatness at the sky's edge lay mountains, rounded and eroded by time; and in the other direction the land fell away into apricot haze misted with purples, showing a naked depth that drew at the eye and disturbed the senses no mere valley, but an edge to the very world, a distance that extended to the horizon and blended into the sky; and it reached up arms of cliffs that were red and bright where they were nearest and faded into the ambiguous sky at the far horizon.Duncan breathed an exclamation in his own tongue, forbidden, but the mri did not seem to notice.He had seen the chasm from above, had brought them down near it because it seemed the best place easier to descend than to ascend, he had thought when choosing the highlands landing, but he had kept them far from the edge.From above it had seemed perilous enough; but here, themselves reduced to mortal perspective, it gaped into depths so great it faded into haze at the bottom, in terraces and slopes and shelves, eroded points and mounts.and distantly, apricot-silver, shone what might be a lake, a drying arm of what had been a sea.A salt lake, it would surely be, and dead: minerals and salts would have gathered there for aeons, as they had in Kesrith's shallow, drying seas.They stood still for some time, looking about them at the world, until even the mri began to shiver from the cold."We must 'find that source of power you spoke of," said Melein."We must see if there are others.”"You are close," said Duncan, and lifted his arm in the direction he knew it to be."I brought you down as near as I dared.”"Nothing responded to your attempts to contact.”"Nothing," Duncan said, and shivered.'We must put on another layer of robes," said Niun."We must have a sled packed with stores.We will range out so far as we can shall we not, she'pan? and see what there is to be seen.”"Yes," said Melein."We shall see.”Duncan started to turn away, to do what would be necessary, and finding no better time he hesitated, pulled aside the veil he had assumed for warmth."She'pan," he said."It would be better that I should stay with the ship.”"We will not come back," said Melein.Duncan looked from one to the other of them, found pain in Niun's eyes, realized suddenly the reason of that sense of loss."It is necessary," Duncan said, "that I take the ship to stand guard for you, she'pan.I will not leave this sun.I will stay.But it is possible that I may be able to stop them.”"The markers that you have left.Are they for that?”Shock coursed through him, the realization that Melein had not been deceived."Yes," he said, hoarse [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]