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.The images stopped.Kale opened her eyes to see Leetu had laid her book in her lap.The emerlindian glared at Kale.I’m sorry! Shame washed over Kale.She’d been eavesdropping.Sneaky.Stealing Leetu’s pleasure.It wasn’t sharing; it was trespassing.Despicable.“I’m sorry.”Leetu closed the book with a snap, jumped to her feet, and strode away to a large trang-a-nog tree.She slapped her hand against the smooth green bark and stood rigid, staring into the junglelike woodland.Kale looked over to Dar and saw him watching Leetu.He turned back to Kale.“What happened?” he asked quietly.“I have offended her.She is justly angry with me.”Dar sat back against a tree, relaxed, and apparently examined the fabric of his linen shirt.He doesn’t care.Why should he?Loneliness shrouded Kale’s heart.Frustration, too.She wasn’t very good at this questing business.Not any better at being comrades.Dar cleared his throat, looked speculatively at Leetu, and then addressed Kale in a voice that could be heard by both of the girls.“It is hard to win back the trust of a friend.But we live by the code of Paladin, and Leetu, although young, is well versed in his way.”What should I do?“You’ve said you are sorry.Wait.” Kale heard his words clearly but could not take pleasure in another step of progress in her mindspeaking abilities.Kale waited, her half-eaten sandwich forgotten in her hand.Leetu stood as a statue.Only the breeze lifting strands of her wispy white hair and pushing against the cloth of her tunic proved she had not turned to stone.Eventually, her shoulders moved as she took several deep breaths.She turned, and Kale was relieved to see the ominous, cold expression had relaxed on the emerlindian’s face.She stood as Leetu walked purposefully across the forest glade.Kale swallowed back another hasty apology when Leetu stopped two feet in front of her.“I owe you an apology,” Leetu began, and Kale caught her breath.She started to interrupt, but Leetu held up a hand.“Yes, it is I who must apologize, though I will wrest one from you, as well.“Granny Noon reprimanded me on being lax in my obligation to you.She is right, as usual.”Leetu shook her head slowly and shrugged.“I’ve never seen myself as an instructor, and when given this assignment, I agreed with my lips but not with my heart.” She looked away from Kale and then back.Leetu focused on Kale’s face, deliberately making eye contact.“Just now I was angry because you experimented with your untrained talent and intruded on my privacy.Had I taken the time to guide you, this would not have happened.I apologize.”Kale stood looking at the emerlindian’s colorless face.Her eyes were earnest.Her pale lips twisted in a slight grimace, showing her distaste for this conversation.Dar tugged at Kale’s sleeve.She jumped a little.She had not seen him come close.“Accept,” he urged her.Kale nodded and looked back to the leader of their quest.“I accept.”Leetu let out a sigh.“Now for the intrusion.You have realized, have you not, the error of seeking the thoughts of a comrade to idle the time away?”“Yes,” said Kale.“It made me feel awful when I realized what I’d done.I am sorry, Leetu.”“Fine.Finish your sandwich as we walk.Dar can lead.You and I will discuss etiquette, among other fine points of your talent.Dar, keep an eye out for mordakleeps.Rumor has it they’ve been spotted near waterways farther and farther from the swamps.”12SHADOW IN THE BOGSThe first thing Kale noticed as they went from Fairren Forest into The Midways, an area surrounding The Bogs, was the change in the scent of the air.Fairren Forest had smelled fresh with a breeze carrying the fragrance of tropical flowers.Now warm air lifted a musty smell of rich humus from the black ground beneath their feet.Not a whisper of wind cooled the sweat on their faces as the three stepped over hummocks and around knots of tumpgrass.The trees in Fairren Forest had been alive with brightly colored birds and small furry animals of so many types Kale had only been able to name one or two.Dar offered to tell her the names of all the plants and animals, but Leetu hushed him.“On another trip, Dar,” the emerlindian had said.“Now Kale and I must work to equip her for this journey.”Leetu did not get distracted during the uncomfortable hike in the sweltering afternoon sun.She drilled Kale on the contents of her cape hollows, making sure Kale knew the identity and use of all the things Granny Noon had provided.Leetu also put Kale through some exercises in mind conversation, inserting from time to time the proper way to do things in a mindspeaking society.Kale and Leetu communicated exclusively through mindspeaking.Leetu apologized to Dar, saying they did not mean to talk behind his back, but she wanted to give Kale as much practice as possible.Where Leetu had been negligent before, now she was conscientious, to the point Kale’s head ached from all the mental exercise.Bedderman’s Bog began as abruptly as Fairren Forest had ended.After they had crossed the wide-open space of The Midways, the land dipped, and marshy patches squished under their boots.Kale gladly accepted the hazardous swamp as a reason to concentrate on where she put her feet instead of Leetu’s lessons.Massive swamp trees surrounded them.Their roots, partially entrenched in mud and murky water, made up a portion of the travelers’ walkway.When the soggy ground gave no footing, Dar led them across the roots humped above the water like steppingstones.In Fairren Forest, the vines had been crowded with thick green leaves.In The Bogs, large swamp vines with sparse, pale leaves roped around tree trunks.Tangles of thin, willowy vines draped over all the larger branches in gray-green clouds that looked like dripping foam.Dar said it was moss and burned well in a campfire.Leetu took over the lead.As gracefully as she had climbed a tree before the grawlig attack, the emerlindian stepped from root to root and hillock to hillock.Dar adroitly followed.Kale, at the end of the procession again, hoped she would not land face first in the marshy water.As Kale passed under a cluster of low-hanging moss, she heard a hiccup behind her.She turned abruptly, caught her foot on a vine, and sat down hard on the root of a cygnot tree.As much as the knobby wood hurt her backside, her main concern was the hiccup she heard again [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]